UK Poisonings Leave Soviet Defector's Family In Fear

London: The family of a Soviet defector who died in Salisbury in 2001 is living in fear following the recent poisoning of a Russian ex-spy in the same English city, according to his son.

Nikita Pasechnik, whose scientist father Vladimir Pasechnik defected to Britain in 1989 and suffered a stroke 12 years later, said his relatives are now "scared to death".

"Every normal person would fear," Nikita Pasechnik told AFP in a recent interview in the southwest English county of Dorset where he lives, blaming the death on Russian security services.

Russian former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned in Salisbury in March with the Soviet-made Novichok nerve agent. They spent weeks recovering in hospital.

Britain has blamed the attempted assassination on Moscow, which has denied involvement.

Dawn Sturgess, a 44-year-old English woman who also came into contact with the toxin along with her surviving partner Charlie Rowley in nearby Amesbury, died on July 8 and was cremated this week.

"Even here in the UK I don't feel safe -- that was one of their goals with Skripal," Pasechnik said.

"These two cases are different but the similarity between them is that I believe they killed my father.

"They poisoned him and they poisoned Skripal," he alleged.

Pasechnik, an IT specialist, wants his father's death 17 years ago probed.

But other relatives worry it could make them targets.

"My family don't want to be exposed. They're scared to death," the 53-year-old father said.

'Very unusual'

Vladimir Pasechnik was a senior biologist who fled the Soviet Union as the Cold War was ending and exposed its vast clandestine programme adapting germs and viruses for military use.

He defected in Paris and settled near Salisbury, working at a public health microbiological research centre at Porton Down, where the British military also has research facilities.

His family joined him in stages through the 1990s.

In November 2001, aged 64, he was hospitalised after suffering a stroke and died within weeks.

Local authorities ruled his death was from natural causes, and no inquest or criminal investigation was launched.

But Pasechnik said the doctors who treated him said they could not pinpoint its cause and the stroke was more widespread than normal.

"There were many clots simultaneously," he said. "Basically two-thirds of the brain was affected and the doctor said 'It's very unusual.... It is strange.'"

Vladimir Pasechnik had voiced concerns he would be targeted, according to his son.

He remembers his father referring to Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov, who was poisoned in London in 1978 using an umbrella.

The son's suspicions grew following the 2006 poisoning death of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko, also in the British capital.

The British government in March vowed to re-examine 14 Russia-related deaths on UK soil following claims of possible Kremlin or mafia involvement.

Vladimir Pasechnik's case is not among them.

- Game changer -
After defecting, Vladimir Pasechnik revealed a vast network of Soviet biological weapons laboratories.

It led the West to confront Moscow with the evidence and forced unprecedented inspections of its facilities.

"His defection was one the most important in modern history... it completely changed the game," a Western source familiar with the case told AFP.

"I was quite surprised," he said of learning of his death. "He wasn't that old, but on the other hand strokes are relatively common."

The source added: "I am sure that the Russians were extremely upset that he was the whistleblower on their illegal BW (bio-weapons) programme of course."

Both the Russian embassy in London and the foreign ministry in Moscow recently referred to Vladimir Pasechnik amid ongoing recriminations against British authorities over the Skripal case, saying he had died "mysteriously".

"The fact that his son is not satisfied with official conclusions regarding his death is an ample illustration thereof," a spokesperson for the embassy told AFP.

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Insults, demands & advice: Trump’s whirlwind European tour causes stir online

On his EU visit, US President Donald Trump lectured Germany on doing business with Russia, demanded tribute from NATO and offered advice on British politics. Many Europeans were having none of it, venting their spleen on Twitter.

Trump flew into Belgium for the NATO summit on Wednesday, then jetted to the UK for a state visit on Thursday. He is scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, on Monday.

Trump vs Germany

The US leader started off the NATO summit by accusing Germany of being a “captive to Russia,” arguing that Berlin’s position within the military alliance was compromised because of its reliance on energy from Moscow. This led some journalists to accuse Trump of projecting his insecurities onto a rival, while others pointed out this dispelled claims he was soft on Russia.

@mitchellreports @Yamiche in Brussels: President Trump blasted his way into NATO, and for someone who is being blasted at home for being controlled by Russia, he really projected that on Germany.

@mtracey The funny part is Trump has taken far more consequential actions that are averse to Russia's interests (expelling diplomats, sending arms to Ukraine, approving sanctions, repeatedly bombing their client state) than Germany's, but listen to US media you'd assume the exact opposite

While Trump’s comments provoked fierce reaction online, Chancellor Angela Merkel was more restrained in her response. Online commentators were in no mood for civility, with some calling for Merkel to mete out some rough justice.

READ MORE: Merkel slams Trump’s ‘Russian captive’ comment, defends Berlin’s ‘independent policies’

@TheSarcasmShow I'm pretty sure Angela Merkel could take Donald Trump in a fight

@MrFilmkritik I can’t be the only one who just wants to see Merkel lose it and deck Trump.

One German TV network reportedly responded by digitally replacing the US president with an image of a Trump-shaped blimp made by some British protesters.

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He said, no one else said

If making culturally insensitive statements is a Trump trademark, so is declaring victory in disputes before being contradicted by the supposedly vanquished. The NATO summit produced a few such moments.

The former reality TV star has long berated NATO over military spending or lack thereof. Trump came to the summit looking to pick a fight with 24 alliance members failing to meet an agreed target of making their military budgets two percent of their GDP.

Trump later told the press he’d successfully pushed for a spending increase. French President Emmanuel Macron disagreed. Twitter weighed in to mediate. 

READ MORE: Trump warns NATO allies US can ‘do our own thing’ if 2% spending goal not met – reports

In another seemingly off-the-cuff remark, Trump said he wanted NATO members to double their spending, to four percent of GDP. Some felt they could see the malign hand of shady defense contractors at play.

Trump does Britain

UK Prime Minister Theresa May must have choked on her tea when she read Trump’s interview with The Sun on Friday morning. In a bizarre exclusive, Trump was scathing about her Brexit plan and even backed rival Boris Johnson to succeed her at 10 Downing Street. Later in the day, he insisted that the story was “fake news.” Online commentators knew who they were going to believe.

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Several injured after ‘minor explosion’ at London tube station

A “minor explosion,” likely caused by a battery short circuit, triggered an evacuation at London’s Southgate tube station on Tuesday evening, police said, adding that a number of people received minor injuries.

Police said a small number of people were treated at the scene. Emergency services arrived at the station just after 7pm following reports of a small explosion. Local reports suggest that one person was taken out of the station on a stretcher.

@999London

BREAKING: Southgate Underground Station has been evacuated by the @BTP and @metpoliceuk due to a suspicious package. The whole of Southgate High Street has been closed to the public. BTP explosive/bomb detector sniffer dogs are also on scene.

People in the area were warned to stay indoors and the road outside the station has been cordoned off. Pictures on social media showed police sniffer dogs outside the station. One local told the Evening Standard newspaper that he witnessed “around 50 or 60 police, an ambulance, fire arms and dog units” at the scene.

@metpoliceuk station has been examined by specialist officers. It appears at this stage that the cause of the explosion was a battery short circuit. http://news.met.police.uk/news/cause-of-explosion-at-southgate-station-thought-to-be-battery-short-circuit-311364  pic.twitter.com/o4IA1MDQxY

A Metropolitan Police statement said its officers inspected the scene along with colleagues from the Transport Police and other services. The apparent cause of the explosion was a battery short circuit, it said, adding that the investigation is ongoing.

 

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‘Not a matter of censorship’: Ecuador FM defends restrictions on Assange

Ecuador’s foreign minister is denying her government is trying to censor WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange by restricting his internet access and denying him visitors at the embassy in London.

Maria Fernanda Espinosa defended the move to cut Assange’s internet access in March, saying that he disregarded a vow to cease all “political activity” when he spoke out about the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury. He also made repeated statements about Spain’s bid to stifle the independence movement in Catalonia.

“On several occasions he [Assange] has agreed on not intervening in internal politics of third-party countries and unfortunately he has not complied with his commitment, so for the time being he is not allowed to have access to the internet,” Espinosa told the Associated Press, adding that the restrictions are “not a matter of censorship.”

"I think all parties are interested in finding an outlet, a solution, to this complex situation," she said. Espinosa was speaking from the UN headquarters in New York ahead of an election for the presidency of the next General Assembly.

Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno, who was elected last year, recently told DW Spanish that Assange “continues to be a problem,” but added that his country “will respect his right to asylum if Assange respects the margins.”

The WikiLeaks founder was granted asylum by former President Rafael Correa in 2012, and he has been at the embassy in London ever since. Assange was facing charges in the US over WikiLeaks’ publication of secret US documents in 2010. His legal troubles in the UK, however, stem from allegations of sexual assault in Sweden, which were dropped last year. Assange feared Sweden would extradite him to the US, which is why he sought refuge in Ecuador. That, however, violated the conditions of his bail, according to the British High Court.

@RT_com Roger Waters displays pro-Assange message at Berlin gig https://on.rt.com/96pk https://twitter.com/wikileaks/status/1003244645030268928 

Ecuador is continuing its effort to get Assange out of embassy without him being arrested. The plans have been met with resistance by the British government.

READ MORE: Ecuador will respect Assange’s asylum right if he obeys ‘no politics’ condition

In addition to the secret US documents about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, WikiLeaks published emails from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and private emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair, John Podesta, in the month before the 2016 US presidential election. US intelligence officials have accused WikiLeaks of being a “hostile foreign intelligence service.”

Assange fears that if he leaves the embassy, he will be arrested by the British authorities and extradited to the US, where he would be charged under the Espionage Act.

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British choreographer Lea Anderson will work with Contemporary Dance of Cuba

The company Danza Contemporánea de Cuba -DCC-, is working on a new project together with the British artistic director Lea Anderson.

Through social networks, the Cuban dance group expressed their enthusiasm for receiving the renowned choreographer with

According to the announcement, the artist will begin her work as part of the Cuban-British creative islands project, devised by DCC with the British Council Caribbean to promote and promote the passion for dance and artistic work of both nations

Founder of the renowned companies The Featherstonehaughs and The Cholmondeleys, Anderson is one of the most renowned and transgressive creators of the European country, which has n his list of more than 100 choreographies.

In his work he maintains an aesthetic line and a choreographic language that distinguish him in his presentations, always accompanied by live music and novel costume, stage and lighting designs.

His career has taken her to several international stages, from the most alternative places to renowned festivals such as Glastonbury.

She has also made presentations for television and film, and her work is study material in different levels of dance education in the United Kingdom.

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Back to ‘normal’? Ecuador withdraws Assange’s extra security at London embassy

he president of Ecuador has ordered the withdrawal of enhanced security from the country’s London embassy, which was assigned to protect Julian Assange, who remains holed up there to avoid possible deportation to the US.

The Ecuadorian government “will maintain normal security similar to the level of security at all other Ecuadorean embassies in the rest of the world,” Lenin Moreno, national secretary of communication, said in a statement. He added that “additional security at the Ecuadorian embassy” in London will be withdrawn immediately.

Assange has been residing at the Ecuadorian embassy in the UK since August 2012, after British judges denied his appeal against extradition to Sweden, where he was wanted for questioning in connection with sexual assault accusations.

The Australian native, whose WikiLeaks whistleblowing website published secret documents pertaining to US national security, feared that Sweden would extradite him to the US. There, he could face a similar fate as Chelsea Manning, who was court-martialed and sentenced to 35 years behind bars for violations of the Espionage Act and other offenses. Manning was subsequently pardoned by former president Barack Obama after seven years in prison.

Eventually, Assange became an Ecuadorian citizen but remains trapped inside the walls of the embassy, despite the fact that Sweden has abandoned its extradition request. The UK authorities still have an active arrest warrant against the 46-year old for skipping bail back in 2012.

READ MORE: Ecuador’s new rules ban Assange from taking visitors and phone calls – WikiLeaks

Earlier this week, The Guardian reported that Ecuador has spent $5 million accommodating Julian Assange in its UK embassy. Moreno’s predecessor, Rafael Correa, blasted the report as a “sensationalized story,” and said that there is “nothing unusual” about providing extra security. He argued that his government “spent what amounts to a small amount of money” for that purpose.

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Mike Jackson in Cuba

The English LGBTI community rights activist, whose story is part of film “Pride”, is participating these days at the 11th Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

Film “Pride”, historic drama-comedy, was released in the United Kingdom on September 11 and has earned over 14 million dollars. However, monetary collection was not its greatest worth, but the visibility it gave the LGBT (lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals) community in the 1980s, when it was demonized by the Margaret Thatcher government.

Mike Jackson, one of the gay activists, who had an active participation in favor of the miners who were on strike for better labor rights, is in our country these days as guest of honor of the National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX), on the occasion of the 11th Day Against Homophobia and la Transphobia.

http://test.cubasi.cu/Dc4wmOXWkAAptl6-cubasi.gif

During one of the activities organized as part of the 11th Cuban Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, at Havana’s Infanta multicinema. Mike, on the right, next to Mariela Castro, CENESEX director, and Dr Anthony Stokes, British ambassador to Cuba.

The experience in favor of the striking miners lived by Mike along those days was one of the stories that Stephen Beresford, the screenwriter of the film, took to “Pride” with actor Joseph Gilgun.

Mike feels happy to be in our country for the first time and believes that Cuba has made a lot progress —similar to Great Britain— as regards the rights of the LGBTI community. The last letter (I) in the initials has been added in recent years and means intersexual).

http://test.cubasi.cu/HG--Gay-02-cubasi.gif

Mike Jackson, British LGBTI community rights activist.
 

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Mariela Castro and Mike Jackson in the conga against Homophobia held last Saturday. 
 

Me incluyo cubasiPoster of the 11th Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

“In 1984 was the moment when Margaret Thatcher rose to power for the second time. She wanted to close 20 mining wells and to leave about 30000 people without work. I was simply a young man with a socialist thought”.

Why did the LGBT community support the miners?

“For this community it was not only important to recognize its rights, but those of other people as well”.

The screenwriter even respected the real names of those who supported the miners. Undoubtedly, it was a real pride…

“Yes, of course! Stephen, the writer, approached me; he had heard my story and thought it was amazing and worth making a film on what happened at that time. The experience was different for each of us. Some had previously had a link with the miners; however, I hadn’t, but from the onset, I felt identified with them, because I came from the working class.

“The struggle lasted around a year; then the miners invited us to go to Wales to live with them and their families”.

What did it mean to you that a film based on those events has been made?

“It was incredible! Many young people started to feel attracted by our way of acting. For example, new gay support groups have emerged today, such as the ones that support dock workers and migrants. People are trying to do what we did in 1984. We couldn’t expect anything better than that!

“The film allowed us to raise our voices not only in the United Kingdom, but in other countries as well and to speak about struggle and commitment”.

How do you see respect for the LGBTI community in Cuba?

“I’ve barely been three weeks here, and I’d like to stay longer. Cuba is a pretty safe country, there are no drugs on the streets, nor homeless people. It is a great contrast to London, where people live pretty frustrated. In my country, the strength of the political right has been in power for forty years, but now, the new leader of the Labour Party, , Jeremy Corbyn, is a pretty good leftwing candidate.

“In 1987, Margaret Thatcher introduced a law, the so-called Section 28, which banned people from speaking about homosexuality in schools and other public places. Then, it cannot be said that everything is liberal and open in Great Britain. Unions have been strangled and today it is pretty tough to fight openly for the rights of one or the other sector”.

If they tell you that “Pride” is going to have a second part, what would you think?

“If that happens, I am going to migrate to the moon”.

Brief synopsis of Pride

fotos pride 1 cubasiOne of the film's scenes .

The film depicts a group of LGBT activists who raised money to help the families affected by the strike of British miners in 1984, at the start of what would be the “Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners” campaign. The National Union of Mineworkers was reluctant to accept the group’s support because of the concerns over the public relations of the union, to be associated with an openly gay group, therefore the activists, instead, decided to take their donations directly to a small mining town in Wales, resulting in an alliance between both communities. The alliance was unlike any other seen before, but it was a success.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / Cubasi Translation Staff

Ecuador’s new rules ban Assange from taking visitors and phone calls – WikiLeaks

Julian Assange has been hit with new rules limiting his communications by officials at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. The new measures include bans on using the phone and having visitors, according to WikiLeaks.

READ MORE: Assange Twitter account back tweeting as #ReconnectJulian campaign takes over

The founder of the whistleblowing website has reportedly found himself isolated within the embassy recently. In March, he had his internet access curtailed after taking to Twitter to criticize Britain’s response to the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury, as well as repeated comments about Spain’s dispute with Catalonia. At the time, the Ecuadorian government said Assange had breached a written commitment “not to issue messages that might interfere with other states.”

Speaking with the foreign press Wednesday, Foreign Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa confirmed that Assange was still being denied internet access while talks between the UK and Ecuador to decide on his fate are still ongoing.

"He still has no access to the Internet and communications. There is a dialogue, there is a will and an interest to move forward in the solution of that matter," he said, according to El Tiempo.

WikiLeaks claims Assange has been silenced because of pressure from the US. The website also says the description of the measures as a “social media ban” undersells the extent to which he’s being held “incommunicado.”

READ MORE: 'Assange is a war hero, he exposed American war crimes' – Vivienne Westwood

Assange has been a resident in the embassy in Knightsbridge in central London since June 2012. He had been facing extradition to Sweden over allegations he sexually assaulted two women, but he fled to the embassy after violating his bail, claiming he feared Sweden might extradite him to the US, where he would face charges over WikiLeaks’ release of classified US government cables and documents. He remains subject to arrest in the UK for jumping his bail.

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