MH17: Australia and Netherlands accuse Russia of complicity

Foreign minister tells Australia will seek financial compensation from Moscow

Russia is facing international calls to accept responsibility for the downing of flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014, which caused the deaths of all 298 people onboard.

Australia and the Netherlands on Friday accused Moscow of complicity in the incident, while Britain’s foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, said the Kremlin” must now answer for its actions “.

” The Kremlin believes it can act with impunity. The Russian government must now answer for its actions in relation to the downing of MH17 ,” told Johnson in a statement.

A Downing Street spokesman used to say during a phone call with Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, Theresa May said the alleged actions” fit into a well-established pattern of Russian aggression “.

Despite longstanding mistrust and a mounting body of proof pointing to Russia’s involvement, this is the first time governments have officially accused Moscow over the incident.

” Australia and the Netherlands have now informed the Russian Federation that we hold it responsible under international law for its role in the bringing down of MH17 ,” said Australia’s foreign minister, Julie Bishop, on Friday.

She called on Russia to” enter into negotiations to open up a dialogue about its conduct and to try reparations “.

The call is likely to bring about a diplomatic standoff, with Russia continuing to deny complicity and refusing to cooperate with investigators.

On Thursday, a team of international researchers said they had hard proof that the missile system to participate in shooting down the Malaysia Airline airplane came from a Russian military brigade.

The plane, which was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was shot down over the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine in July 2014. More than half of the victims were Dutch, and there were also 44 Malaysians and 28 Australians onboard.

Bishop said her country seeking ways financial compensation from Russia for the families of Australian victims.” They want to see closure but they also deserve justice and we will be seeking reparations for the cruelties caused by this conduct ,” she said.

Johnson said the MH1 7 incident was ” an egregious instance of the Kremlin’s disregard for innocent life” and he offered his support for the Dutch and Australian demands.

” The UK fully supports Australia and the Netherlands in their request to the Russian Federation to accept state responsibility and to cooperate with them in their efforts to deliver justice for the victims of this tragedy ,” he said.

The EU and Nato also issued statements calling on Russia to accept responsibility.

Witnesses told shortly after the incident that they had ensure a Buk missile system travel through separatist-controlled areas of eastern Ukraine on the day of the downing, while a variety of photo and video proof has pointed to a Buk system that intersected from Russia.

On Thursday, the Joint Investigation Team( JIT) said it had” legal and persuading evidence which will stand up in a courtroom” that the missile system came from Russia’s 53 rd anti-aircraft missile brigade, based in the western city of Kursk.

Russia has vetoed a UN tribunal to decide guilt for the incident, so the JIT intends to issue indictments for a trial to be held in a Dutch court. On Thursday, the Dutch chief prosecutor, Fred Westerbeke, said the investigation was in its “last phase” but he declined to say when a court case might start.

He said the JIT was investigating” several dozen” suspects for complicity in the incident, though he did not say how high up the chain of command they went.

Russia has issued a series of blanket denials over the active involvement, and officials and state-linked media have floated a series of implausible alternative theories suggesting Ukrainian armed forces were to blame.

On Friday, the Russian defence ministry issued a fresh statement indicating all Buk rockets with the serial numbers indicated by the JIT had been destroyed in Russia in 2011, indicating the missile must have come from the Ukrainian armed forces. The foreign ministry complained that” these gratuitous accusations are an attempt to discredit our nation in the eyes of the international community “.

However, the evidence against Russia continues to mount. On Friday, the online investigations group Bellingcat held a press conference to reveal that it had identified a Russian military commandant operating in eastern Ukraine at the time of the crash.

Bellingcat said the military commander, known by his call sign Orion, about whom the JIT had called for information, was in fact Oleg Ivannikov, an officer in Russia’s GRU military intelligence service. Bellingcat said Ivannikov, operating under an alias, was responsible for the transfer of Russian weaponry into eastern Ukraine during 2014. The group, which utilizes principally open source research, identified the 53 rd brigade as the potential source of the Buk system virtually two years ago.

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MH17 downed by Russian military missile system, say investigators

International team says proof indicates missile came from a Russia-based unit

A Russian military missile was responsible for shooting down flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014, an international team of researchers said on Thursday, for the first time pointing the thumb immediately at Moscow.

The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was shot down over the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine on 17 July 2014. All 298 people onboard were killed.

In 2016, examiners announced they had evidence that the BUK system involved in the incident had intersected the border into eastern Ukraine from Russia and returned after the plane had been shot down.

At a press conference in The Hague on Thursday, the investigators presented photo and video evidence that they said proven they had identified the specific BUK missile system responsible.

They said they had” legal and persuading proof which will stand up in a courtroom” that the BUK system involved came from the 53 rd anti-aircraft weapon brigade based in Kursk, in western Russia.

Previously, the investigative website Bellingcat has pointed to involvement of the same brigade using open-source info.

The joint investigation squad( JIT) looking into the incident is made up of Dutch attorneys and police and others from Australia, Malaysia and Ukraine. They proved photos and video of the convoy that carried the missile system over the border from Russia to Ukraine, and a series of distinctive commemorates and serial numbers which they said had were allowed trace the exact system being implemented in the two attacks, and tracing it to the 53 rd brigade.

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Investigators identify Russian military rocket that might have downed MH17 – video

Russian officials have denied all involvement in the incident, and on Thursday the defence ministry repeated these refusals, claiming that no Russian missile had ever crossed into Ukraine. Kremlin-linked media outlets have floated a range of implausible theories indicating Ukraine was responsible for shooting down the plane. Russia has use its veto in the UN to prevent an international court from being set up to determine remorse, meaning any eventual trial would be held in the Netherlands under Dutch law.

Fred Westerbeke, the chief prosecutor, said the investigation was in its last phase but could not say when he would be ready to file indictments. Two years ago, prosecutors said there were about 100 people under suspicion of direct or indirect involvement. On Thursday, Westerbeke said that number had come down to several dozen, but he declined to name them.

He said there was other evidence that would be kept secret until a court hearing began.” We don’t want to tell everything we know because then we are opening our cards to the other side and we do not want to do that .”

The big question will be how a future court will operate, dedicated Russia is likely to continue its policy of stonewalling and denial. Examiners had asked Russian authorities for information about the 53 rd brigade but had been dismissed, said Westerbeke. If specific Russian military personnel or commandants are indicted, Russia is almost certain to refuse their extradition.

Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop said the countries that make up the JIT were now” considering alternatives” about how to proceed.” That a sophisticated weapon are members of the Russian army was dispatched and used to shoot down a civilian aircraft should be of grave international concern ,” she said.

The JIT stopped short of saying it believed the BUK system was deployed as part of a Russian military mission, saying only that they had identified the base from which it came. In a sign that some evidence is still missing, the JIT repeated a call for those with information about the incident to come forward, including information about the 53 rd brigade, promising anonymity.

” The next crucially important step is to identify some members of the military in the 53 rd brigade … who can immediately tell who was involved in the transfer or operation of the BUK ,” told Ukrainian army general Vasyl Hrytsak, a member of the investigation team, in comments to Reuters.

Bellingcat said it would hold a press conference on Friday to present new findings on MH17.

In the weeks before MH17 was shot down, the separatists had shot down a number of Ukrainian military aircrafts over east Ukraine, and intercepted communications between separatist fighters made it clear that they initially believed they had made another military airplane , not a civilian liner.

Russia has repeatedly denied it was militarily active in eastern Ukraine, despite an overwhelming body of evidence to the contrary. In 2014, Russian troops and hardware were introduced at key moments to back pro-Russia separatists fighting against Ukrainian government troops.

After a series of Russian media claims of Ukrainian responsibility were all presented to be false, Moscow appears to have settled on the idea that it was ” impossible to tell” which side was responsible.

This week a group of families of the MH17 victims wrote an open letter to the Russian people before the World Cup begins next month.

” We are painfully aware of the dark irony that the Russian leaders who will profess to welcome the world with open arms are those who are principally held accountable for shattering our world ,” the letter tells.” And that it is these same leaders who have persistently sought to hide the truth, and who have evaded responsibility ever since that dreadful day in July 2014.”

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Trump ’embarrassed, frankly’ by Mueller investigation, John Kelly says

Chief of staff who calls Trump a super-smart guy says investigation unavoidably crops up when chairman hosts foreign leaders

John Kelly, the White House chief of staff, has said Donald Trump is” somewhat embarrassed” by the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Kelly told National Public Radio( NPR ) in a rare interview broadcast on Friday that Robert Mueller’s investigation inevitably crops up when the US president hosts his foreign counterparts.

” There may not be a cloud, but surely the president is, you know, somewhat embarrassed, frankly ,” Kelly, a retired four-star marine corps general, said.” When world leaders come in, it’s kind of like you know Bibi Netanyahu[ of Israel] is here and he- who’s under investigation himself- and it’s like, you know, you walk in and you know the first couple of minutes of every conversation might revolve around that kind of thing .”

Kelly, who is Trump’s second joint chiefs of staff, said he spends five to eight hours a day with the president. His tenure has been the subject of recent supposition after reports that his influence is waning and that he branded the president an “idiot” . But he told NPR he thinks Trump is” a super-smart guy “.

He added:” My opinion is to speak truth to power. I always give my opinion on everything. He always listens. Sometimes he takes the opinion, sometimes he doesn’t .”

Kelly denied reports he had threatened to resign but acknowledged :” There’s times of great frustration, mostly because of the stories I read about myself or others that I think the world of, which is just about everybody who works at the complex, and wonder whether it’s worth it to be subjected to that .”

He did not name his predecessor, Reince Priebus, but said he wishes he had been in the role sooner.” I think in some cases in terms of staffing, or serving the president, that first six months was pretty chaotic and there were people some people hired that maybe shouldn’t have. It’s not that things were a disaster that first six months, but I believe they could have been better .”

Kelly also addressed the Trump administration’s efforts to combat illegal immigration. He told most people coming into the country without documentation” are not bad people”, but they will not assimilate easily.

” They’re overwhelmingly rural people ,” he said.” In the countries they come from, fourth-, fifth-, sixth-grade educations are various kinds of the norm. They don’t speak English; obviously that’s a big thing. They don’t integrate well; they don’t have abilities .”

Kelly was seen as a hardliner on immigration in his pre-chief of staff role as head of the Department of Homeland Security. Now questions have also been raised about the future of Kelly’s successor at the DHS, Kirstjen Nielsen. The New York Times reported that she had drafted but not submitted a resignation letter after Trump lambasted her at a meeting for failing, in his view, to procure US borders.

The DHS denied the claim. Spokesman Tyler Houlton tweeted :~ ATAGEND” The NY Times article alleging that the secretary drafted a abdication letter yesterday and was close to resigning is false .”

Nielsen herself issued a statement that said:” The chairman is rightly frustrated that existing loopholes and the lack of congressional action have prevented the authorities concerned from fully securing the border and protecting the American people. I share his frustration .”

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Trump-Russia: Pence urges Mueller to end investigation ‘Time to wrap it up’

Vice-president tells NBC: I would very respectfully encourage the special counseling and his team to bring their work to completion

Mike Pence, the US vice-president, said Robert Mueller should aim his investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and alleged collusion between Donald Trump’s campaign and Moscow.

” In the rights and interests of the country, I think it’s time to wrap it up ,” Pence told NBC News early on Thursday morning after session three Americans only released by North Korea .

Trump declared in late April that the investigation “MUST END NOW!” after congressional Republican released a report saying they found no evidence of collusion between his campaign and Russia.

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Andrea Mitchell of NBC asked Pence if he believed the investigation was a “hoax”, borrowing a term Trump has repeatedly used to describe Mueller’s inquiry.

” What I think is that it’s been about a year since this investigation began, our administration provided over a million documents, we fully cooperated in it ,” Pence said.” In the rights and interests of the country, I think it’s time to wrap it up. And I would very respectfully foster the special attorney and his team to bring their work to completion .”

The vice-president hired outside legal counsel in June 2017 to assist him in Mueller’s investigation.

Mitchell also pressed Pence about the hundreds of thousands of dollars of payments from companies to Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen. She asked how that meshed with the administration’s goal, often recurred during the electoral campaign of” draining the inundate”, a reference to a perceived culture of favors and lobbyist influence in Washington.

Pence, often insured at Trump’s side but seldom heard on the national or international stage, said it was a” private matter” and” something I don’t have any knowledge about .”

In the nearly four-minute interview, as Pence celebrated the administration’s role in freeing three Americans from North Korean labor camps. The men landed at Andrews air force base at 2.42 am and were greeted by Pence, his wife Karen, and Donald and Melania Trump.

Trump and Pence are heading to Indiana on Thursday for a rally.

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Trump friend Tom Barrack has been questioned by Mueller, sources say

One source says questioning of real-estate developer who was chair of inaugural committee included financial campaign matters

Investigators working for special attorney Robert Mueller have interviewed one of Donald Trump’s closest friends and confidants, California real estate investor Tom Barrack, the Associated Press has learned.

Barrack was interviewed as part of the federal investigation of possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia in the 2016 election, according to three people familiar with the issues who spoke on condition of anonymity. The topics covered in questions from Mueller’s team were not immediately clear.

One of the people who spoke said the questioning focused entirely on two officials who have been indicted by Mueller: former campaign chairperson Paul Manafort and his longtime deputy, Rick Gates. Gates agreed to plead guilty to federal conspiracy and false-statement charges in February and began cooperating with researchers. Manafort preserves his innocence on fiscal charges.

This person said Barrack was interviewed “months ago” and was asked a few questions about Gates’ is currently working on Trump’s inaugural committee, which Barrack chaired, and but there were no questions about money raised by that committee.

A second person with knowledge of the Barrack interview said the questioning was broader and did include fiscal matters about the campaign, the transition and Trump’s inauguration in January 2017. Barrack’s spokeswoman, Lisa Baker, declined comment.

Barrack has rare access and insight into Trump going back decades. He played an integral role in the 2016 campaign as a top fundraiser when many Republican were shunning the upstart nominee. Barrack subsequently directed Trump’s inauguration.

Mueller’s team has asked several other witnesses about the flow of fund related to the campaign. Researchers have for months been inquiring about the Trump campaign’s finances and compliance with federal election law, according to four people familiar with the matter.

Prosecutors’ questions have been wide-ranging, these people said, touching on the campaign’s data operations, its relationship with data-mining company Cambridge Analytica, payments to Gates and whether there were arrangements that were not are set out in filings to the Federal Election Commission, they said.

The four people very well known the investigation spoke on condition of anonymity. The examiners’ questions about the campaign’s finances have come up in interviews dating to early autumn while attorneys were preparing the first indictment against Manafort and Gates.

Barrack, a wealthy real estate investor with close ties to several middle-eastern leaders, satisfied Trump in 1988 when he negotiated the sale of the Plaza Hotel in New York to Trump. Barrack’s publicist in 2016 described the men as having since” solidified a lifelong friendship between themselves and their families “.

Barrack applied Gates last year, wrapping up operations on the Presidential Inaugural Committee, before Gates was charged by Mueller.

Barrack spoke glowingly of Trump in a CNBC interview in early 2016.” He’s one of the kindest, and actually most humble, friends that I’ve had ,” Barrack said.” I have so much respect for him because at this point in his career, wandering into the surrounding was not easy, and he’s changed the dialogue of the debate .”

Barrack also was among the featured speakers at the Republican convention. Days after Trump’s victory in November 2016, Barrack told CBS Trump was like an ultimate fighter during the campaign who employed” whatever tools necessary to convey a really disruptive message “. Barrack said America would insure” a softer, kinder” Trump in the White House.

In Fire and Fury, his explosive book on the first year of the Trump presidency, the author Michael Wolff claimed Barrack told a friend Trump was ” not only crazy, he’s stupid .” Barrack denied it.

Mueller’s researchers have interviewed dozens of witnesses. They have also procured the cooperation of former Trump national security consultant Michael Flynn and former foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos. But few witness have as much insight into the president’s lengthy business career and all facets of his campaign and administration as Barrack.

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Russia’s Alexei Navalny arrested as 1,600 detained nationwide

Authorities arrest opposition leader at Moscow anti-Putin rally that was part of demonstrations across the country

Russia’s opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, was one of about 1,600 of people detained by police during nationwide protests before Vladimir Putin’s inauguration for a fourth presidential term.

Navalny, 41, was arrested by police shortly after joining thousands of protesters at Moscow’s Pushkin Square, a short distance from the Kremlin. Officers carried the governmental forces critic from the landmark square by his arms and legs as he fought and angry opposition supporters jeered and screamed. A police helicopter circled low, almost drowning out chants of” Putin is a bandit! and” Down with the tsar !”

After the arrest, police said Navalny was arrested for disobeying police, an offence punishable by up to 15 days behind bars. He spent two months in prison last year on protest-related charges.

Navalny had called for the protests on Saturday prior to Putin’s inauguration on 7 May, a ceremony to mark the start of a new six-year term of office of members that will keep the former KGB officer in power until 2024.

” Putin is not our tsar ,” Navalny said in an online video before the rallies.” He intends to manage Russia as his own personal estate in the interests of his allies, his family, and a narrow ruling group that has seized power .”

Police in Moscow appeared to be taken by surprise when hundreds of protesters surged from Pushkin Square on to Strastnoi Bulvar, a key road that leads to Tverskaya, the Russian capital’s main boulevard. Traffic police diverted vehicles before riot police, some lashing out with batons, built repeated attempts to try and clear the road. There were isolated clashes as some protesters attempted to hold their ground.

Anti-Putin
Protesters shout anti-Putin slogans at a rally against the Russian president in Moscow’s Pushkin Square. Photograph: Mikhail Svetlov/ Getty Images

Almost 600 people were taken into custody in Moscow, according to OVD.info, a rights organisation that monitors police detentions. One human wearing a red robe and a crown, an apparent deride reference to” Tsar Putin”, was among those dragged from the crowd by riot police on one of the hottest days of the year so far in Moscow.

” I spent 18 years of my life living under the rule of[ Leonid] Brezhnev, and I’ve already expended 18 living under Putin ,” told Alexander, 63, an opposition advocate in Moscow.” Two words was enough. He has no right to rule for so long. He’s never won a genuine election .”

Putin, who has now ruled Russia for longer than anyone since Joseph Stalin, the Soviet despot, took 76% of the vote at presidential elections in March that some international observers and opponent figures said were marred by election fraud and intimidation.

Navalny was barred from standing over a fraud conviction that he says was trumped up to prevent him from challenging Putin at the ballot box. Russian authorities have also twice refused to allow the Kremlin critic to register a political party that could field candidates at parliamentary elections.

Moscow’s protest was the biggest in the Russian capital since last year, when opponent advocates repeatedly took to the streets in large numbers over allegations of massive corruption against Dmitry Medvedev, the prime minister.

Russian
Russian police detain protestors at a demo against Vladimir Putin in St Petersburg, Russia. Photograph: Dmitri Lovetsky/ AP

Protesters also collected on Saturday in ratings of other towns and cities across Russia, including St Petersburg, where over 150 people were detained. About 160 people were also detained in Chelyabinsk, in central Russia, and 75 in Yakutsk, the capital of a diamond-mining region in north-east Russia. Many of those taken into custody were minors, reports told. Some opponent activists were reportedly beaten by police.

Police were assisted in Moscow by hundreds of members of the pro-Kremlin Molodaya Gvardia youth movement, reports said. Nationalists and people who claimed to be Cossacks also confronted protesters in the Russian capital. Some assaulted protesters with leather lashes, OVD.info reported.” I’m here to protect my country from those people who want to stage a Maidan ,” said Alexei, a pro-government activist, referring to the violent protests that toppled Ukraine’s pro-Moscow president in 2014.

Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s deputy director for eastern Europe and central Asia, said 😛 TAGEND

” The forceful dispersal of today’s opponent demonstrations is outrageous. The Russian authorities once again refused to authorise protest rallies, and then used this ban to crackdown on those gathered in Moscow and elsewhere.

” But what is worse is the total police inactivity, which permitted the beating of protesters by unknown humen in Moscow. On what grounds people in’ Cossack’ uniforms were allowed to use force remains a question .”

Although demoes will have constructed unpleasant viewing for Putin just two days before his inauguration and six weeks before the World Cup kicks off in Moscow, the protests were far from the scale and intensity of the 2014 revolt in neighbouring Ukraine or the massive demonstrations that forced Armenia’s prime minister, Serzh Sargsyan, from office last month.

The protests were also far smaller than the rally that took place in central Moscow before Putin’s inauguration for a third term in May 2012. That were engaged in tens of thousands of people and conclude with violent conflicts between riot police and protesters. Almost 500 people were arrested and it signalled the end of the Russian opposition’s anti-Putin coalition.” They ruined my big day. Now I’m going to ruin “peoples lives” ,” Putin reportedly told after the 2012 protest, according to opposition figures citing Kremlin insiders.

Saturday’s opposition protests demonstrated once again that Navalny has the ability to bring relatively large numbers of people on to the streets, but they also underlined that he has not experienced a groundswell of popular support that builds him a serious threat to Putin’s long-term grip on power. His supporters say that is partly because he is banned from state television, which carries out regular smear campaigns against Kremlin critics. Navalny has been accused by national television of working with the United States and Britain to bring down Putin, a claim that he has laughed off.

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Russia starts blocking Telegram for failing to turn over encryption keys

The Russian nation telecommunication regulator has started to block Telegram, as expected. This arrives after the messaging company refused to accept Russian security services encryption keys. The service is expected to be blocked in the coming hours.

According to several reports, Telegram is still operational in the country, though several service providers have started blocking the company’s website.

Run by its Russian founder Pavel Durov, Telegram has more than 200 million users and is a top-1 0 messaging service stimulated popular by its strong posture on privacy.

Russian regulators classify Telegram as an operator of information dissemination in Russia, therefore the company to provide keys to its encryption service to Russia’s Federal Security Service. This is so the FSS can reportedly read the messages of suspected terrorists. On March 20, the Russian communications regulator Roskomnadzor devoted Telegram 15 days to comply. This was followed by Durov publicly decrying the order, saying Telegram will stand for freedom and privacy.

“The terrorist threat in Russia will stay at the same level, because radicals will continue to use encrypted communication channels- in other messengers, or through a VPN, ” he said according to a report by Reuters.

Durov has long stood by this stance. Back in 2015 at TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco, Durov revealed that ISIS was utilizing Telegram.

” I think that privacy, ultimately, and the right for privacy is more important than our dread of bad things happening, like terrorism ,” he told at the time.” Yes, there’s a war going on in the Middle East. It’s a series of tragic events. But ultimately, the ISIS will always find a way to communicate within themselves. And if any means of communication turns out to be not procure for them, they’ll merely switch to another one. So I don’t think we are actually taking part in these activities. I don’t think we should be guilty or feel guilty about it. I still think we’re doing the right thing, protecting our users’ privacy .”

It’s unclear how this block will change Telegram’s plan for a billion-dollar ICO. We’ve reached out to Telegram for comment.

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Russias game of Telegram whack-a-mole grows to 19M blocked IPs, hitting Twitch, Spotify and more

As the messaging app Telegram continues to try to evade Russian authorities by switching up its IP addresses, Russia’s regulator Roskomnadzor( RKN) has continued its game of whack-a-mole to try to lock it down by knocking out complete swathes of IP address. The resulting chase how now ballooned to virtually 19 million IP addresses at the time of writing, as tracked by unofficial RKN observer RKNSHOWTIME( updated on a Telegram channel with stats accessible on the web via Phil Kulin’s site ).

As a result, there have been a number of high-profile services also knocked oput in the crossfire, with people in Russia reporting dozens of sites affected including Twitch, Slack, Soundcloud, Viber, Spotify, Fifa, Nintendo, as well as Amazon and Google.( A full listing of virtually forty addresses is listed below .)

What’s notable is that Google and Amazon themselves seem still not to be buckling under pressure. As we reported earlier this week, a similar — but far smaller — instance happened in the case of Zello, which had also devised a technique to hop around IP addresses when its own IP addresses were shut down by Russian regulators.

Zello’s circumventing lasted for nearly a year, until it seemed the regulator started to use a more blanket approach of blocking entire subnets — a move that ultimately led to Google and Amazon asking Zello to cease its activities.

After that, Zello’s main access phase for its Russian users was via VPN proxies — one of the key ways that users in one country can effectively appear as if they are in another, allowing them to circumvent geoblocking and geofencing, either by the companies themselves, or those that have been banned by a state.

It’s important to note that the domain fronting that Google is in the process of shutting down is not the same as IP hopping — although, more generally, it will mean that there is now one less road for those globally whose traffic is getting blocked through censorship to wiggle around that. The IP hopping that has led to 19 million addresses get blocked in Russia is another kind of circumvention.( I’m pointing this out because several people I’ve spoken to assumed the latter are the same .)

Pavel Durov, Telegram’s founder and CEO, has induced several public bellows on Telegram and also third-party sites like Twitter to praise how steadfast the big internet companies have been. And others like the ACLU have also waded into the story to call on Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft to hold strong and continue to allow Telegram to IP hop.

But what could happen next?

I’ve contacted Google, Amazon and Telegram now several times to ask this question and for further details on what is going on. As of yet I’ve had no answers. However, Alexey Gavrilov, the CTO and founder of Zello, a little more potential insight 😛 TAGEND

He said that ultimately they might ask Telegram to stop — something that might become increasingly hard not to do as more services get affected — and if that doesn’t work they can suspend Telegram’s account.

” Each cloud provider has provisions, which let them do it if your use interferes with other customers utilizing their service ,” Gavrilov notes.” The interpreting of this rule may be not trivial in case when the damage is caused by third party( i.e RKN in this case) so I think there are some legal hazards for Amazon/ Google. Plus that would likely cause a PR issue for them .”

Another question is whether there are bigger fish to fry in this story. Some have floated the idea that just as Zello preceded Telegram, RKN’s battles with the latter might lead to how it negotiates with Facebook.

As we have reported before, Facebook notably has never moved to house Russian Facebook data in Russia. Local hosting has been one of the key requirements that the regulator has enforced against a number of other companies as part of its “data protection” regulations, and over the last couple of years while some high-profile companies have run afoul of the these regulations, others( including Apple and Google) was allegedly complied.

Regardless, there’s been one ironic silver lining in this story. Since RKN shifted its focus to waging a war on Telegram, Gavrilov tells me that Zello service has been restored in Russia. Here’s to weathering the storm.

Bill Moore, Zello’s CEO, believes that there is a fight to keep fighting here.” We are small ,” he told.” Technology leaders like Amazon, Google, Apple and Facebook can cooperate with each other to avoid becoming a tool governments use to control speech. We hope Amazon and Google remain firm even if the short term expense is real .”

We’ll update this post as and when we get responses from the big players. A more complete listing of sites that people have reported as affected by the 19 million address block is below, via Telegram channel Netsifrovaia ekonomika (” Non-digital economy “). Some of these have been disputed, so take this with a grain of salt 😛 TAGEND

1. Sberbank( disputed )
2. Alfa Bank( disputed )
3. VTB
4. Mastercard
5. Some Microsoft services
6. Video agency RT Ruptly
7. Games like Fortnite, PUBG, Guild Wars 2, Vainglory, Guns of Boom, World of Warships Blitz, Lineage 2 Mobile and Total War: Arena
8. Twitch
9. Google
10. Amazon
11. Russian food retailer Dixy( disupted )
12. Odnoklassniki( the social network, ok, ru )
13. Viber
14. Dilery Volvo
15. Gett Taxi
16. BattleNet
17. SoundCloud
18. DevianArt
19. Coursera
20. Realtimeboard
21. Trello
22. Slack
23. Evernote
24. Skyeng( online English speech school )
25. Component of the Playstation Network
26. Ivideon
27. ResearchGate
28. Gitter
29. eLama
30. Behance
31. Nintendo
32. Codeacademy
33. Lifehacker
34. Spotify
35. FIFA
36. And it seems like some of RKN’s site itself

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Mueller has evidence Michael Cohen traveled to Prague, report claims

McClatchy, which reported the news, said it was unclear if researchers have evidence Cohen satisfied prominent Russian, as Steele dossier claimed

Robert Mueller has evidence that Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen traveled to Prague in 2016, refuting Cohen’s claim that he never visited the Czech capital and bolstering the Christopher Steele intelligence dossier that first described the journey, McClatchy reported on Friday.

Investigators for Mueller, the special advise in the Russia probe, have evidence Cohen entered the Czech Republic through Germany in late summer 2016, McClatchy reported, quoting two unnamed sources.

The news agency said it was unclear whether Mueller’s examiners have evidence that Cohen met with a prominent Russian, as the Steele dossier claimed.

Mueller is investigating alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign. Russia has denied meddling in the election and Trump has said there was no collusion.

The special attorney and an lawyer for Cohen did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Reuters or McClatchey.

But on Saturday he tweeted to repeat his refusals that he had ever been to Prague 😛 TAGEND

Michael Cohen (@ MichaelCohen2 12)

Bad reporting, bad information and bad tale by same reporter Peter Stone @McClatchyDC. No matter how many times or routes they write it, I have never been to Prague. I was in LA with my son. Proven! https :// t.co/ ra7nwjUA0X

April 14, 2018

The dossier by former British intelligence agent Steele alleged that Cohen met in Prague with Russians with ties to Vladimir Putin.

Agents with the FBI raided Cohen’s New York office and home the coming week, partly based on a referral from Mueller.

They were seeking information on pays made by Cohen to porn superstar Stormy Daniels, who has said she had sexuality with Trump in 2006, a person very well known the issues said.

Investigators have also looked for a possible broader pattern of scam, tax evasion, fund laundering and other crimes in Cohen’s private dealings, including his work for Trump and real estate purchased by Russian buyers, the person or persons said.

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US says it has proof Syria carried out Douma gas attack

White House and state department say with very high confidence that regime was responsible

The US has said it has proof that the Syrian regime carried out a chemical weapon attack on the outskirts of Damascus on Saturday, rejecting a Russian assert that it had been staged by British intelligence.

Both the White House and state department announced on Friday that the US had” a high level of confidence” about the regime’s culpability for the use of poison gas in Douma.

The declaration marked a transformation from a statement by the defence secretary, James Mattis, on Thursday, that the US was still looking at the evidence. But the US envoy to the UN, Nikki Haley, told the security council that the Trump administration had still not decided on a military response.

The UK denounced as” a blatant lie” Russian claims that the country’s intelligence services were responsible for staging” the fake chemical weapons assault” in Douma, as a pretext for launching a wider military assault on the Syrian regime forces.

Moscow has hitherto said there was no traces of any chemical assault in Douma. Inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons( OPCW) are due to visit the scene on Saturday. However, France, UK and the US have said their own proof already points to Damascus.

Western diplomats would not rule in military action while the OPCW is on the ground, but said their capitals would try to avoid a situation in which inspectors could be vulnerable to harm or being taken hostage.

Asked about the Russian accusation against the UK, the White House spokeswoman, Sarah Sanders said:” Our intelligence tells us otherwise … We have a very high confidence that Syria was responsible “.

The state department spokeswoman, Heather Nauert, told:” We can say that the Syrian government was behind this attack … We know there are only certain countries, like Syria, that have delivery mechanisms and have those types of weapons .”

Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, said he had obtained documentary evidence showing that” special services of a country, which is now seeking to be in the first ranks of the Russophobic campaign, were involved in this staged event “. The UK Foreign Office said the claims were preposterous.

Alexander Yakovenko, the Russian ambassador to London, told reporters the UK-funded Syrian civil defence forces, the White Helmets, were responsible for staging fake chemical attacks by the Syrian army in an attempt to mislead the world. Igor Konashenkov, a Russian defence ministry spokesman, went further saying:” We have … evidence that proves Britain was directly involved in organising this provocation .”

He said Russia had proof that London put pressure on the White Helmets to stage the attack. The White Helmets is a humanitarian organisation made up of 3,400 volunteers who rescue civilians from the rubble after airstrikes.

Karen Pierce, Britain’s ambassador to the UN, described the claims as” grotesque, bizarre and a blatant lie “. She added:” I want to country categorically … that Britain has no participation and would never have any participation in the use of a chemical weapon .”

A Foreign Office spokesperson told:” Russia has wielded its UN security council veto six days since February 2017 to shield the Assad regime from scrutiny for its use of chemical weapons. These accusations from Moscow are just the latest in a number of ludicrous allegations from Russia, who have also said that no assault ever happened.

The accusations plunged the two countries’ intelligence agencies into yet more conflict, and came as the first each member of a UN weapons inspectors fact-finding mission arrived in Damascus to see whether evidence remained to prove a chemical weapons assault had passed, as photograph, blood samples and accounts from witness have shown. The inspectors are expected to be given access to Douma on Saturday.

Antonio Guterres, the UN secretary general, insisted labour inspectors from the OPCW must be given full and unfettered access to witnesses and houses.

Russia, in conjunction with the forces of the Syrian chairperson, Bashar-al Assad, is in charge of the Douma area.

At another highly charged session of the UN security council on Friday, Russia’s Vassily Nebenzia repeated the claim that the two attacks was staged. Hayley, his American counterpart, said she was ” in awe” that Nebenzia could make such asserts “with a straight face”.

Pressed outside the UN chamber on when the US would decide whether to launch a military ten-strike, Haley said:” You don’t hurry-up decisions like this .” She added that if there was haste,” you make a mistake “.

On Thursday Trump called Theresa May, the UK prime minister, and the two agreed” it was vital that the use of chemical weapons did not run unchallenged “. But the US delay in taking action appears to be caused by divisions between the White House and Jim Mattis, the US defence secretary, on the viable targets that could be struck in an effort to wipe out Syria’s alleged chemical weapons stores and factories.

The hesitation in Washington devoted Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish president, a chance to consult with Vladimir Putin to see whether they can construct a compromise that will avoid a military attack but still satisfy western demands that Russia stops protecting Assad’s breaches of the chemical weapons conventions.

Macron, who on Thursday said he had proof of use of chemical weapons by Syrian regime- also called for dialogue with Russia.

But the glimmer of hope for diplomacy came alongside continued planning for a military assault. Britain’s military chiefs have been working on a range of scenarios over the last few days. The focuss of an attack would be on Syria’s alleged chemical weapons research and storage facilities.

Other targets under consideration by the Ministry of Defence, working in coordination with the US and France, include Syrian command and control centres as well as airbases, airliners and helicopters.

An attack on Assad’s presidential palace in the hills above Damascus has been ruled out as a step too far. May will be challenged by MPs to spell out her military schemes on Monday, if no weekend assault has been launched.

The planners are anxious to avoid destroying Russian equipment or killing Russian personnels based in Syria, potentially eliciting a reaction from Moscow. They insist weapons and intelligence are better than in the 1991 Iraq war in which the Amiriyah bomb shelter was made killing more than 400 civilians, or the Nato bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade in 1999.

A spokesperson for the French defense ministry, chiming with MoD partners, told Macron had specified there would be no targeting of Russians in Syria and the focus would be on Syria’s alleged chemical weapons capabilities.

A prime target is the Scientific Studies and Research Centre, west of Damascus, which the US has claimed have engaged in the preparation of chemical weapons.

Targets could include airbases where the chemical weapons are alleged to have been stored, as well as aircraft which have allegedly been used attacks.

Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, an expert who led the UK and Nato chemical weapons reply squads, said it was highly unlikely that an attack on Syrian chemical facilities risked spreading the poison.

” The best style to destroy chemical weapons is to blow them up ,” he said.

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