Cuban leader congratulates Putin on winning presidential election

Cuban leader Raul Castro has congratulated Vladimir Putin on winning the presidential election, Cuba’s Ambassador to Russia Gerardo Penalver Portal said.

"Raul Castro has conveyed his warm congratulations to Russia’s President-elect Vladimir Putin on his convincing election win on Sunday," the ambassador wrote on Twitter.

According to Russia’s Central Election Commission, incumbent head of state Vladimir Putin has garnered 76.56% of the vote with 95% of the ballots counted.

Director of the Lenin State Farm Pavel Grudinin, nominated by the Communist Party of Russia, is second with 11.92%, while leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) Vladimir Zhirinovsky is third with 5.77%.

  • Published in Now

Militant groups split & clash in E. Ghouta, civilians seek shelter – Russian MoD

Militants groups holding Eastern Ghouta have begun fighting each other after one faction attempted to separate from the terrorists, the Russian military said. Civilians are seeking shelter and trying to escape street fighting.

The confrontations broke out a day after the Russian Defense Ministry demanded that the Failak Ar-Rahman group separated from Jabhat Al-Nusra terrorists, currently known as Jabhat Fateh Al-Sham. In exchange, the militants were offered safe passage out of the embattled suburb of Damascus.

“Open fighting between the members of illegal armed units is underway in the streets, civilians are forced to seek shelter not to accidentally become victims of hostilities," Major General Vladimir Zolotukhin told reporters on Monday.

© Ruptly

A Russia-backed ceasefire came into effect in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta around two weeks ago, in order to allow humanitarian aid deliveries and the evacuation of civilians. Two humanitarian corridors were established in the areas of Muhayam al-Wafideen and Mlekha to provide for the safe passage of local civilians. Both passages have been constantly shelled by the militants, injuring and killing those who were trying to escape, according to Russian MoD and eyewitnesses.

The first group of 52 civilians, half of whom were children, managed to flee the militant-held Eastern Ghouta on Sunday. Their safe passage was secured by the Russian and the Syrian forces after they had held talks with the armed groups controlling the area.

The situation in the militant-held enclave remains “tense,” according to Zolotukhin. They also continued the bombardment of Damascus and its suburbs, firing seven mortar shells on Sunday, the official added. No one was injured in the attacks.

Despite the provocations, the humanitarian operations went on, the Russian military said. The spokesman reiterated that the safe routes in Eastern Ghouta remain open to both civilians and militants who are willing to flee.

  • Published in World

‘Urgently engage with Russia’: US senators call for dialogue after new nuclear arsenal unveiled

A group of US lawmakers have called for strategic dialogue with Moscow. They feel that the matter is “more urgent” following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s unveiling of a number of cutting-edge weapons systems.

“A US-Russia Strategic Dialogue is more urgent following President Putin’s public address on March 1st when he referred to several new nuclear weapons Russia is reportedly developing, including a cruise missile and a nuclear underwater drone,” a letter signed by US Senators Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) reads.


Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers his annual Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly at the Manezh Central Exhibition Hall © Grigoriy Sisoev

The letter, addressed to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, was published on Thursday. The senators stressed that while the countries have many “significant” disagreements, including alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US elections and the “annexation” of Crimea, Moscow and Washington need to come to the negotiation table.

“Due to these policy rifts, not in spite of them… the United States should urgently engage with Russia to avoid miscalculation and reduce the likelihood of conflict.”

The lawmakers are concerned that some of the brand-new Russian nuclear weapons are not covered by the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, commonly known as the New START, and thus call for the agreement to be extended. The weapons in question include a cruise missile with virtually no range limit and a nuclear-powered underwater drone.

However, the letter did not miss a chance to accuse Russia of non-compliance with the 1982 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), and called on the State Department to address the alleged violation. Moscow and Washington have traded accusations of INF-Treaty violations for several years. The US constantly accuses Russia of developing missile systems with ranges prohibited by the agreement, without providing any specific information to support such allegations.

Moscow has its own list of complaints regarding US shortcomings in relation to the INF Treaty. These include the US drone program, and the ground placement of a naval vertical-launch system in Europe as part of the Aegis Ashore program. Russia contends that these constitute violations of the treaty. In December 2017, Putin said that Washington was apparently creating conditions to leave the accord, and said that the process of its withdrawal has actually already begun.


Two US soldiers standing outside the base for the Nato protective shield in Deveselu, Romania, 12 May 2016. The Aegis system, developed by the US Navy, is stationed in Deveselu © KAY NIETFELD

There had been rumors that the Russian and American top diplomats, Sergey Lavrov and Rex Tillerson respectively, may meet while they are both in Africa. However, the US State Department denied that there had been any discussion of possible bilateral talks. When asked about it, the Russian Foreign Minister said the claims that such discussions never happened are “untrue.”

On March 1, the Russian leader presented a set of advanced Russian nuclear weapons, some of which are not yet named. During his state of the nation address, Putin stressed that Russia would not need all these new weapons had its legitimate concerns been heeded by the US and its allies. “Nobody wanted to talk to us about the root of the problem. Nobody listened to us; so listen to us now!” he said.

The speech drew a hysterical reaction from the Western media and accusations of saber-rattling and starting “a new arms race,” Putin told NBC Washington was in fact to blame for it. The Russian president referred to the US decision to withdraw from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty) back in 2002.

  • Published in World

Russia Participates in Modernizing Cuba's Textile Industry

Russia will participate in modernizing Cuba's textile industry, said Russia's Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade, Gueorgui Kalamanov.

The Russian official is participating in bilateral talks with the objective of signing agreements with the Caribbean island, according to Cubadebate website.

The Cuban partners, he said, made proposals for the modernization of a series of textile factories and now we need to define the exact amount and if the information of the required supplies are established.

Gueorgui indicated that the major part of the machinery will be of Russian production and these projects are expected to materialize with the support of the Russian Export Center.

Regarding the Russian-Cuban cooperation perspectives in other areas, the Vice Minister of Industry highlighted that both countries are carrying out intense work in several directions.

He highlighted energy cooperation with the modernization of the Maximo Gomez and Habana del Este thermoelectric centers and the Antillana de Acero Steel Plant.

We also expect to continue developing cooperation in cargo and light transportation supplying Kamaz trucks and Lada cars that has prestige in Cuba.

  • Published in Cuba

US pumps billions into meddling in affairs of foreign states – Russian senator

Billions of dollars from the US budget are spent on interfering in the internal affairs of foreign countries, with Russia being the prime target, Andrey Klimov, a top Russian senator, said.

“According to open sources, billions of dollars from the US budget were allocated” on interference in other states, Klimov, who heads a temporary Federal Council committee tasked with protecting Russia’s sovereignty, reported.

And it is Russia that gets a “special treatment” from the Americans, he added. “We are the only country in the world that is capable of giving the US an immediate tangible response, therefore meddling into our affairs will continue.”


FILE PHOTO © Alexei Druzhinin / Global Look Press

“At the moment, the battlefield is the election,” the Senator said, referring to the presidential vote in Russia on March 18.

The US is accusing “a dozen people,” who have no connections to the Russian authorities, as part of the so-called “Russiagate” probe, Klimov pointed out. Meanwhile, “from 500 to 700 employees at the CIA headquarters, and thousands – in the State Department, the Pentagon and Congress are working on the Russian issue,” he said.

The Senator also ridiculed attempts by Washington to support its own accusations of Russian meddling into the US 2016 election, by citing RT’s spending on advertising in the US “which amounted to no more than several dozen of thousands dollars.” This is “laughable” compared to the sums spent by Washington on meddling into other states, he said.

The Federal Council member also said that the “score isn’t in their [US] favor” when it comes to cyberattacks carried out from the territory of either country. Hacking attempts from Russia constituted just two or three percent of the total amount of cyberattacks on the US in 2017, while "cyberattacks from the US towards Russia amounted to 25-27 percent.” Every year the number of American hacking attempts increases multi-fold, Klimov added.

Another commission member, Senator Oleg Morozov, said that the US meddling into Russia’s internal affairs has been growing exponentially in recent years and is now affecting almost all fields of life.

READ MORE: Putin: US interferes in other countries’ affairs, should expect mirror reply

He singled out non-governmental organizations as a “very interesting subject,” saying that the US has provided 72 billion rubles (over $1.2 billion) to NGOs in Russia in 2016.

“One state is actively infusing money into the life of another state under the pretext of creating a proper civil society here (in Russia), despite nobody asking it to do it. And it’s the American taxpayers who are paying for the creation of civil society institutions in our country,” Morozov said.

READ MORE: Foreign sponsors boost funding of Russia’s opposition, upper house commission claims

According to Russian law on NGOs, organizations that receive money from abroad can be classified as foreign agents, which makes it obligatory for them to file regular reports on their funding and activities. Late last year, the Russian Justice Ministry put similar restrictions on six media outlets, including US-funded Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, in response to RT and Sputnik news agency being forced to register as foreign agents in the US.

  • Published in World

FIFA Broadcasts Special Video 100 Days Before Russia-2018 World Cup

The 100-day countdown to the Russia-2018 world Cup started today with a special video broadcast by FIFA, in which legend players from the countries classified appear touching a ball.

Figures like the Argentine Diego Maradona, Brazilian Ronaldo, Uruguayan Diego Forlan and Colombian Carlos Valderrama excel among the Latin stars who play with their own Tesla, the ball that will roll on the Russian fields.

Likewise, other universal stars such as the Spanish Carles Puyol, the Englishman Wayne Rooney, the Danish Peter Schmeichel and the Japanese Hidetoshi Nakata combine to reach the final sequence, in which FIFA President Gianni Infantino exchanges several passes with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, until getting 100 contacts.

The governing body of world football cup does not specify the filming date of each segment, although press reports indicate that the last meeting between the two leaders took place on February 12.

Russia has planned numerous events throughout the country to start the countdown to the inaugural match between the hosts and Saudi Arabia on June 14.

  • Published in Sports

‘Syrian ceasefire problematic because of sponsors fueling violence’

Terrorist groups have instructions to escalate violence in Syria, and are so desperate that they could resort to using chemical weapons, political science professor Maged Botros told RT.

Syria's ceasefire agreed upon by the UN Security Council on Saturday appears already to be unraveling with reports of violations in the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta.

The Western media was quick to point the finger at the Assad government. Damascus has been bombing Eastern Ghouta for a week, targeting Al-Nusra Front terrorists – something which is allowed under the UN resolution.

However, according to the Russian Defense Ministry, it was militants in Eastern Ghouta who violated the truce. Moscow says Damascus was shelled several times after the ceasefire came into force.

Political science professor Maged Botros says the violence is unlikely to end soon.


FILE PHOTO © Bassam Khabieh

In his view, while the ceasefire could break the “vicious circle of seven years of human atrocities,” no government would “allow its capital to be shelled all the time.” Besides that, he told RT, the Syrian government is alleging that the terrorists are using human shields in Ghouta.

He is also skeptical that the truce will work “simply because there are sponsors of violence, they are fueling violence: you have Qatar, you have Turkey, you have other states, they have interests in Syria.”

Following the vote, Russian Ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzia said that “it would be naive to think that internal Syrian questions can be solved by a resolution.” He added that Moscow had “supported the intentions” behind the document, but that no ceasefire was possible “without agreement from warring parties.”

According to Botros, “all the parties involved have interest to continue on with this violence.”

In a joint telephone call with the Kremlin on Sunday, Germany’s Angela Merkel and France’s Emmanuel Macron urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to ensure the ceasefire was fully implemented as soon as possible.

Botros argues though that it is not in Russia's hands as Moscow cannot put pressure on terrorist groups.

“Terrorist groups have instructions to escalate violence. Terrorist groups are in the state of desperation. They are so desperate that I can believe that they use chemical weapons as the last card on the table,” he told RT.     

‘It is imperative for the Syrian govt to take over Eastern Ghouta’

Dr. Jamal Wakeem, professor of history and international relations at Lebanese University in Beirut, told RT that “the US thinks that the ceasefire was meant not for the Syrian government to take control of Eastern Ghouta, which should remain a region to direct a threat to the capital, to Damascus.”

RT: Do you think this ceasefire will be possible to implement?


Eastern Ghouta in Damascus, Syria. February 22, 2018. © Bassam Khabieh

Jamal Wakeem: I believe that the ceasefire is conditional and this is noted in the UN resolution because the Syrian government and its Russian ally will continue its operation against Al-Nusra and ISIS (Islamic State/IS) which are on the terrorist lists. This is on the one hand. And on the other hand, I believe that we need to see what would be the reaction of the US because the US was the one to call for the UN resolution, for the ceasefire at the beginning. However, the Russian intervention amended this ceasefire to fit the needs for fighting terrorism in Syria. While the US thinks that the ceasefire was meant not for the Syrian government to take control of Eastern Ghouta, which should remain a region to direct a threat to the capital, to Damascus. And there were plans to link Eastern Ghouta to Al-Tanf region controlled by the US, to open a corridor that would allow US troops and US-backed terrorists to reach the outskirts of Damascus. I don’t trust the American intentions.      

RT: Turkey claims the resolution doesn’t affect its operation against Kurdish groups in Afrin. Is this a fair interpretation of the ceasefire agreement?

JW: The Turks are manipulating the resolution the way they want because so far after one month of military operation they didn’t achieve tangible results in the outskirts of Afrin. They couldn’t take hold of the city. The Kurdish parties mended fences with the Syrian government. And the city went back to government control in Syria. Erdogan wanted that a certain situation would be imposed in northern Syria that could fit his own interests and that he could present it as a gain to the Turkish public. And that is why the Turkish government declared that… it will continue its military operation.  

RT: With parts of Eastern Ghouta occupied by terrorist groups that are not party to the ceasefire, how can any safe humanitarian access be guaranteed?

JW: I believe that the humanitarian aid that the US called for is a mere pretext for it to open the corridor to the terrorists and to supply them with ammunition and with other logistics. I believe that this was the true intention of the US. That is why I believe that Russians has to intervene and to amend the resolution as to fit the strategy of fighting terrorism, mainly ISIS and Al-Nusra. We need to admit the fact that the US is using terrorist groups as tools for its war by proxy on the Syrian government and on Syria and also on the Iraqi government to control these two countries that are highly strategic for American geopolitical strategy in the region.  

Eastern Ghouta is the last stronghold for the terrorists to direct attacks on the Syrian capital. The insurgents or the terrorists are launching continuous attacks on civilians in the eastern part of the city. And many civilians have died so far. That is why for the Syrian government it is imperative to take over Eastern Ghouta.

  • Published in World

Did the CIA Sabotage Russia at the Olympics?

It makes no logical sense that an athlete would do a one-time consumption of a chemical that is of no value in circumstances where it is almost certain to be detected with huge negative consequences.

That is precisely the situation. The Russian Mixed Curling bronze medal winner, Alexander Krushelnitsky, had to give up his medal, plus that of his partner wife, because traces of meldonium were found in his urine sample. He had previously tested clean. Meldonium is a medication which helps keep the heart healthy by increasing blood flow. That would be of no benefit in a sport like curling which requires accuracy, strategy and focus but is not taxing physically. The “sweeping” to help guide the rock down the ice lasts only 20 seconds or less. International curlers were astounded at the news and bemused at the idea of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) for curling. The skip of the Danish curling team said ”I think most people will laugh and ask, ‘what could you possibly need doping for?”

Image result for Alexander Krushelnitzky

Krushelnitsky (image on the right) strongly denies taking banned drugs.

“I am categorically opposed to doping …. never, at any time that I have been involved in sport, have I ever used prohibited substances”.

Similar curious circumstances apply in the second ADRV.  Russian bobsledder Nadezhda Sergeeva had numerous negative (clean) tests before she was tested positive for banned trimetazidine.  Bobsledding is another sport which requires physical and mental skill but not physical endurance.

In the February 25 IOC meeting to close the Peyongchang Winter Games, the head of the IOC Implementation Group, Nicole Hoevertz, said the Russian athletes had been tested “more than any other athletes”. She and her group were convinced that the 168 member Russian athletic team was clean. At about 35:00 in the video, she says the two Russian doping violations were “very peculiar.” She introduced the Director of the IOC Medical and Scientific Commission, Dr. Bludgett, to provide more detail. He suggested that meldonium would not be of benefit in curling. He then went further and suggested the ADRV regarding trimetazidine may be in error. He said trimetazidine “is a substance where there is a parent compound which is a common headache migraine treatment available particularly in China and Japan and if that is found then it is not considered an ADRV. And if there is a very low level, as there was in this case, that is a possibility.”

Image result for Nadezhda Sergeeva

Sergeeva (image on the left) denies ever taking banned drugs and even went on social media
with a T-shirt declaring her commitment to clean sport.

In summary, it seems highly unlikely that two different Russian athletes would intentionally take medications that have no benefit but which are almost guaranteed to be detected resulting in huge harm to them and their team.

Who Benefits?

Another possibility is that meldonium or trimetazidine powder was surreptitiously put in the food of the athletes. This one time consumption would cause a positive test.

In fact there are forces on the international scene who are pleased that Russia has been battling defamation and charges of “state sponsored doping” for the past two years. They want the current denigration and punishments of Russia to continue, perhaps influencing Russia’s upcoming national election and undermining Russia’s hosting of the Football World Cup this summer.

One such group is the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The CIA has a long history of big and small criminal deeds. Presumably it would not be difficult for them to infiltrate Olympic facilities or bribe a corrupt individual to put traces of meldonium or another powder in someone’s food or drink.

Those who quickly dismiss this possibility probably also thought that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction in 2002. That was a false claim supported by evidence fabricated by the CIA.

It is well documented the CIA carries out murders, coups and major sabotage. The CIA has documented some of their methods in “The Official CIA Manual of Trickery and Deception”. They don’t just carry out assassinations and coups. In the book “In Search of Enemies”, former CIA officer John Stockwell documented how the CIA created a false story about Cuban soldiers raping Angolan women to defame Cuba.

Corrupt police forces sometimes plant evidence on a suspect they wish to convict. It would be essentially the same thing to get a Russian athlete to ingest spiked food or beverage. The CIA has motive and expressed intent:

  • In contrast with Russian leaders who call the US a “partner”, US officials increasingly call Russia an “adversary”. The latest US National Security Strategy explicitly says they intend to respond to Russia as an adversary: “ The United States will respond to the growing political, economic and military competitions we face around the world. China and Russia challenge American power, influence, and interests, attempting to erode American security and prosperity.”

  • Despite the lack of clear evidence, there is widespread belief that Russia “meddled” in the US election. The anti-Russia sentiment has been fanned into the exaggerated claim that the unproven Russian action was “an act of war, an act of hybrid warfare”.
  • Neoconservatives forces openly talk about “punishing” Russia. The former Deputy Director of the CIA, Michael Morrell, said “We need to make the Russians pay a price” . He confirmed on public television that means killing Russians (and Iranians) in Syria. This is the 33 year veteran CIA leader who publicly campaigned for Hillary Clinton.

Did the CIA plant the doping evidence? We don’t know for certain but it should not be dismissed out of hand. The CIA has the means, opportunity and above all the motive to falsely implicate Russians in new doping cases with the goal of preventing Russia from getting beyond the international sporting sanctions and punishments.  They have done vastly more deceitful, manipulative, and outrageous things than this.

Media Bias

Unfortunately, western media will not investigate this possibility. Western media cannot even accurately report on events like the IOC meeting yesterday. The fact that the head of the IOC Implementation Group warmly praised the Russian participation at the Peyongchang Olympics is not mentioned in western media. The fact that Dr. Bludgett raised questions about the accuracy of the ADRVs against Russia is not mentioned in reports from NY Times, the UK Guardian or Inside the Games. Instead, the writer at Inside the Games once again exaggerated the voice of critics of Russia as he downplayed the voices of international athletes who want to put the doping scandal behind and move forward.

Western media have reported deceptively that the Russian athletes have “admitted” to the violations. In fact, both Russian athletes strongly deny taking banned drugs.

Western media bias is also shown in the focus on alleged Russian doping and minimization or ignoring of other possible violations. For example the story about the Norwegian cross-country ski team and their use of banned asthmatic medications. They get around the restrictions by having their doctor claim that most of their athletes are asthmatic. This situation is a result of the inconsistent rules and regulations. A Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE)  can be given to any athlete designated by a doctor and in secrecy. They are not required to publicly disclose this, giving incentive to corruption and misuse.

Richard McLaren’s Bias

Image result for wada richard mclaren

The World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) has also been biased. Over one year ago, their investigator Richard McLaren (image on the right) claimed “over one thousand Russian athletes benefited” from the alleged Russian conspiracy to cheat the ant-doping system. McLaren said the proof would be provided to the various sport federations. In September 2017 it was revealed that charges had been filed against 96 athletes. Of these, WADA cleared 95 athletes of wrongdoing; only one athlete was proven to be in violation. More recently, the Court of Arbitration in Sport completely overturned the bans on 28 Russian athletes. In summary, it appears that McLaren’s accusation about “over one thousand athletes benefiting” was a huge exaggeration or fabrication.

Where Do Things Go From Here?

The IOC Executive Board has indicated they intend to lift the suspension of the Russian Olympic Committee if no more “anti doping rule violations” are found in the last batch of athlete samples from the Peyongchang Olympics. The results are expected in a few days.

Another ADRV may appear. If so, that will greatly complicate the effort to reintegrate Russian athletics. Even if the final tests are all clean, those who oppose Russia will continue trying to delay or prevent the full integration of Russia within the world sporting Community.

The former Moscow Laboratory Director Grigory Rodchenkov is the primary weapon in the campaign accusing Russia of “state sponsored doping”. “Icarus” is a movie about him which has received huge funding and promotion. It is nominated for an an Oscar Academy award. This will serve the campaign well.

The Russian have been accused of trying to murder Rodchenkov  But if he suddenly dies one day, it is more likely to be by the CIA.  At this point, Rodchenkov has done all the damage he can to Russian sports. The only thing he could possibly do is to recant or fall apart. His handlers have prevented him from appearing before the various committees looking into the accusations. At this point, Rodchenkov could be more valuable dead than alive. His death would be a powerful weapon to disrupt the normalization of relations with Russia.

In conclusion, going back to the Peyonchang Olympics, there should be caution before assuming the guilt of the Russian athletes who received ADRVs. It makes no sense that two Russian athletes would take useless medications knowing they will be tested and found out.

The doping incident serves the interests of those in the West who seek more not less conflict and seek to weaken Russia through “hybrid” warfare. It is possible the CIA has a hand in the latest incidents, just as they have a hand in Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov. They have the means, opportunity and motive. They have the experience and history.

If this is true, it’s another example of the dangerous descent in international relations. The Olympics movement has the goal of fostering peaceful relations. The sad truth is there are forces who want to prevent that. They prefer to demonize and divide in a quest for economic and geopolitical supremacy over “adversaries”. International sports is just another arena for them.

  • Published in Sports
Subscribe to this RSS feed