Putin takes questions from the media in annual year-end press conference


19-12-19 09:20:00,

  • 19 December 2019

    09:55 GMT

    A question from a Ukrainian journalist, who asks if Russia “will disband occupational administrations” in the self-proclaimed republics, referring to the governments of the Donetsk and Lugansk areas.

    Putin says the Ukrainian government itself was willing to see leaders of the republics as legitimate authorities when the Minsk Agreement was signed, but refused to talk to them directly later. He says Kiev should take responsibility for its own actions like the use of warplanes against the militias and civilians, the economic blockade it imposed and others and start an earnest attempt to reintegrate the rebellious regions.

  • 09:48 GMT

    A question about Ukraine and aftermath of the Normandy Four talks in France.

    Putin says he is reluctant to voice his personal opinions about foreign leaders like Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, even after they retire. As for the peace process, a statement by Zelensky that the Minsk peace agreement should be revised is concerning, Putin said. The Minsk deal is the core of the reconciliation process, but the new Ukrainian government seems to be taking the same stances as the one before it.

    There is no permanent autonomy enshrined in Ukrainian constitution for the breakaway regions, no direct talks between Kiev and the self-proclaimed republics in the east. But there is progress in curbing violence and disengaging troops. So there is hope and diplomacy should continue.

  • 09:42 GMT

    The first question about international relations is about the doping scandal and WADA’s decision to suspend Russia from international competitions for four years and how Russian athletes are the party most hurt by the stand-off.

    Putin says the WADA decision was unfair and contrary to both the law and common sense. It essentially punishes Russia for a second time for the same alleged misdeeds. The sanctions are also a form of collective punishment. Our teen figure skaters can do what nobody else can do – and WADA’s decision simply bars them from wining.

    The decision is apparently biased due to political motives, Putin said.

  • 09:36 GMT

    Here comes another regular topic for Putin’s pressers – the state of healthcare in Russian regions.

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    The Spanish Case Takes a Turn, Activities of Security Outfit Aimed at Wikileaks. Julian Assange in Video Conference? – Global Research


    02-12-19 04:23:00,

    Judge José de la Mata of Spain’s High Court, the Audiencia Nacional, had been facing a good deal of stonewalling on the part of his British colleagues.  He is overseeing an investigation into the surveillance activities of a Spanish security firm aimed at WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, during his stay at the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

    De la Mata had issued a European Investigation Order (EIO) in September seeking the assistance of British authorities in trying to interview Assange on the matter. This involved allegations that David Morales, owner of the security outfit UC Global SL, “invaded the privacy of Assange and his lawyers by placing microphones inside the Ecuadorean embassy in London without consent from the affected parties.”  Morales, for his part, was indicted in October on privacy violations, bribery and money laundering.

    While EIO requests are generally regarded as mundane and automatic, the United Kingdom Central Authority was not so sure.  De la Mata’s requests, specifically to interviewing Assange by videoconference, were initially blocked.  The initial response, signed by Rashid Begun, claimed that “these types of interview are only done by the police”.  The justice, Begun stated curtly, had also lacked clarity in his description of events, and the appropriate elaboration on what jurisdiction was being invoked.

    It took an irritated De la Mata to retort in a subsequent letter that, “In this case, Julian Assange is a witness, not an accused party”, a point that enabled him to be interviewed by videoconference.  He also reiterated that “all the events and crimes under investigation” had been clearly stated.

    The question of jurisdictional bar was also given short shrift.  As the alleged crimes by UC Global had taken place on Spanish territory; given that the microphones deployed against Assange had been purchased in Spain; and given that information obtained in London was uploaded to servers in UC Global SL’s headquarters in Jerez de la Frontera, a clear nexus was established.

    The UK Central Authority has had a change of heart.  On December 20, Assange is set to be transferred from his current maximum security abode, Belmarsh, to Westminster Magistrates Court to answer questions that will be posed by De la Mata.

    To date, the evidence on Morales and the conduct of his organisation is bulking and burgeoning. 

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    Syria takes back its oil fields


    24-10-19 12:32:00,

    On 23 October 2019, President Putin’s Special Envoy in the Middle East, Mikhail Bogdanov, asserted that all Syrian oil and gas sites must return under the control of the Syrian Arab Republic.

    President Bashar al-Assad had already granted concessions to Russian companies, which have so far not been able to exploit them.

    During the negotiations preceding the Turkish “Operation Peace Spring,” the United States had insisted that the Rojava oil fields be operated by US or Israeli companies.

    The war against Syria was planned by the United States as early as 2003 (Syrian Acountability Act), that is, at a time when its underground riches were still unknown and the competing Qatar and Iran pipelines were not yet on the map. It is therefore a mistake to assume that this war, like many others, was driven by oil interests.

    Nevertheless, at the beginning of the war, the “Friends of Syria” learned about the three-dimensional explorations secretly conducted by the Norwegian company Sagex (since then bought by the multinationl Schlumberger). Germany and the United Arab Emirates, as co-chairs, were then charged with handing out contracts to those states that joined in the war against Syria.

    It remains to be seen whether the reported outcome of the explorations is accurate. If confirmed, Syria is sitting on gas reserves comparable to those of Qatar, which is likely to cause a problem with her two allies and major gas producers: Russia and Iran.

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    EU Commission takes Hungary to court for ‘criminalizing the helping of asylum seekers’


    25-07-19 07:38:00,

    The European Union executive on Thursday took Hungary to court over a law that makes it a crime to help asylum seekers.

    The commission filed a case against Hungary at the EU’s top court, the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, over the law, which was passed last year. The ‘Stop Soros’ legislation also enforces new restrictions on the right to claim asylum.

    The Hungarian legislation “curtails asylum applicants’ right to communicate with and be assisted by relevant national, international and non-governmental organizations by criminalizing support to asylum applications,” the Commission said.

    The court case could lead to hefty fines for Hungary, Reuters said.

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    France Takes Unprecedented Action Against Reporters Who Published Secret Government Document


    25-05-19 04:57:00,

    Journalists in France are facing potential jail sentences in an unprecedented case over their handling of secret documents detailing the country’s involvement in the Yemen conflict.

    Earlier this week, a reporter from Radio France and the co-founders of Paris-based investigative news organization Disclose were called in for questioning at the offices of the General Directorate for Internal Security, known as the DGSI. The agency is tasked with fighting terrorism, espionage, and other domestic threats, similar in function to the FBI in the United States.

    The two news organizations published stories in April — together with The Intercept, Mediapart, ARTE Info, and Konbini News — that revealed the vast amount of French, British, and American military equipment sold to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and subsequently used by those nations to wage war in Yemen.

    The stories — based on a secret document authored by France’s Directorate of Military Intelligence and obtained by the journalists at Disclose — highlighted that top officials in the French government had seemingly lied to the public about the role of French weapons in the war. They demonstrated the extent of Western nations’ complicity in the devastating conflict, which has killed or injured more than 17,900 civilians and triggered a famine that has taken the lives of an estimated 85,000 children.

    The French government did not want the document to be made public, and officials were furious when its release made headlines around the world. Not long after it was published, Disclose’s co-founders Geoffrey Livolsi and Mathias Destal, along with Radio France reporter Benoît Collombat, were asked to attend a hearing at the DGSI’s headquarters in Levallois-Perret, a suburb northwest of Paris.

    In rooms located four floors below ground level inside the heavily fortified, beige-colored DGSI building on Rue de Villiers, for an hour the journalists were asked about their work, their sources, and their posts on Facebook and Twitter. They declined to answer questions, citing their right to silence, and instead presented a statement about their journalism and their belief that publishing the document had served the public interest.

    “They want to scare journalists and their sources away from revealing state secrets.”

    Press freedom has been strongly protected in France for more than 130 years under the Press Law of 1881,

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    San Francisco Takes a Historic Step Forward in the Fight for Privacy — First to Ban Gov’t Facial Recognition Tech


    15-05-19 02:23:00,

    By Nathan Sheard

    The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted today by 8-to-1 to make San Francisco the first major city in the United States to ban government use of face surveillance technology. This historic measure applies to all city departments. The Stop Secret Surveillance Ordinance also takes an important step toward ensuring a more informed and democratic process before the San Francisco Police Department and other city agencies may acquire other kinds of surveillance technologies.

    Face recognition technology is a particularly pernicious form of surveillance, given its disparate propensity to misidentify women, and people of color. However, even if those failures were addressed, we are at a precipice where this technology could soon be used to track people in real-time. This would place entire communities of law-abiding residents into a perpetual line-up, as they attend worship, spend time with romantic partners, attend protests, or simply go about their daily lives.

    It is encouraging to see San Francisco take this proactive step in anticipating the surveillance problems on the horizon and heading them off in advance. This is far easier than trying to put the proverbial genie back in the bottle after it causes harm.

    Today’s 8-1 vote appears veto-proof, especially because two sponsors of the ordinance were not in attendance. However, the fight for the privacy and civil rights of the people of San Francisco is not over. EFF will continue to work with our members, coalition partners, lawmakers, and neighbors, to urge Mayor Breed to sign into law the Stop Secret Surveillance Ordinance. Please join us in this fight by contacting Mayor Breed and expressing your support for the Stop Secret Surveillance Ordinance.

    Nathan Sheard — As EFF’s Grassroots Advocacy Organizer, nash works directly with community members and organizations to take advantage of the full range of tools provided by access to tech, while engaging in empowering action toward the maintenance of digital privacy and information security.

    This article was sourced from EFF.org

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    Russia takes steps to survive global internet shutdown with its own web – MPs


    13-02-19 08:45:00,

    Russia is preparing itself to be disconnected from the World Wide Web. The Lower House of Parliament passed in the first reading a law ensuring the security of the Russian part of the internet.

    The bill envisions the ‘Runet’ – the Russian segment of the internet – being able to operate independently from the rest of the world in case of global malfunctions or deliberate internet disconnection. The measures to ensure internet stability include the creation of a national DNS system that stores all of the domain names and corresponding IP numbers.

    The new legislation was drafted in response to the new US cyber strategy that accuses Russia, along with China, Iran, and North Korea, of using cyber tools to “undermine” its economy and democracy. It also threatens dire consequences for anyone conducting cyber activity against the US.

    Also on rt.com
    Russia will launch ‘alternative internet’ only in worst-case scenario – Foreign Ministry

    The autonomous system would ensure that Russia doesn’t face a total internet shutdown if relations with the West completely collapse and the US goes as far as cutting off Russian IP addresses from the World Wide Web.

    Back in 2012, then-US President Barack Obama signed an executive order allowing him to take control of all communications on American soil, including those crucial for the normal operation of the internet.

    The US National Security Agency actually caused a three-day internet blackout in Syria in November 2012, whistleblower Edward Snowden told Wired magazine. NSA hackers accidently ‘bricked’ one of the core routers while trying to install spyware on it.

    Like this story? Share it with a friend!

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    Assange Takes Legal Action to Force Trump Administration to Reveal Charges Against Him – Global Research


    24-01-19 08:14:00,

    Lawyers Further Seek To Compel Ecuador To Prevent Extradition To The United States

    Lawyers for Julian Assange have filed an urgent application to the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR), based in Washington D.C., to direct the Trump Administration to unseal the charges it has secretly filed against Mr. Assange.

    Assange’s lawyers are also asking the Commission to compel Ecuador to cease its espionage activities against Mr. Assange, to stop the isolation imposed on him and to protect him from U.S. extradition. The urgent request is in the form of a comprehensive 1,172-page application for “precautionary measures” directed to the international body which monitors compliance of the U.S. and Ecuador with their binding legal obligations.

    The calls to extradite Mr. Assange to the United States, as the result of his work as a publisher and editor, is the reason Mr. Assange obtained political asylum at Ecuador’s embassy in London in August 2012.

    Baltasar Garzón, the international coordinator of Mr. Assange’s legal team, highlights a situation that gravely undermines the legal safeguards that must be guaranteed by the state protecting Mr. Assange from the Trump administration’s political persecution. Mr. Garzón is requesting the IACHR to make an urgent intervention in favor of Mr. Assange and is calling for “international solidarity for this case in which the right to access and impart information freely is in jeopardy”.

    Source: Popular Resistance

    The Trump Administration is refusing to reveal details of the charges against Mr. Assange despite the fact that sources in the U.S. Department of Justice have confirmed to Associated Press and the New York Times that Mr. Assange has been charged under seal.

    “The revelation that the U.S. has initiated a prosecution against Mr. Assange has shocked the international community”, the legal submission states. The U.S. government “is required to provide information as to the criminal charges that are imputed to Mr. Assange in full”, it adds.

    The submission reveals for the first time that U.S. federal prosecutors have in the last few months formally approached people in the United States, Germany, and Iceland and pressed them to testify against Mr. Assange in return for immunity from prosecution. Those approached are associated with WikiLeaks’ joint publications with other media about U.S.

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    AIPAC Takes Newly Elected Congress Members, CNN’s Setmayer on Propaganda Trips to Israel


    10-01-19 01:18:00,

    AIPAC Takes Newly Elected Congress
    Members, CNN’s Setmayer on Propaganda Trips to Israel

    By Alison Weir

    Newly elected Congressional Reps David Trone, Dan Crenshaw,
    Elaine Goodman Luria, Tim Burchett, Denver Riggleman, and Susie Lee on a
    December 2018 AIPAC trip to Israel. AIPAC’s educational arm spends about $10,000
    a piece on these trips. By using a nonprofit entity, the Israel lobby gets
    around a U.S. law intended to prohibit Congressional junkets funded by lobbying

    January 03, 2019 “Information
    Clearing House

    –    The Israel lobby has been busy taking a wide variety of government officials
    and opinion makers on fully expense paid trips to Israel this month. The trips
    cost in the range of $10,000
    per person

    Six newly elected House members are on a 5-day visit to Israel, a delegation
    of northern California “progressive leaders” are on a week-long trip, media
    commentator Tara Setmayer has just returned from such a trip, and a delegation
    of southern California progressive leaders returned from their trip earlier this

    The House participants include liberals and conservatives, Jewish
    representatives and Christian fundamentalists, Trump supporters and Trump
    opponents: Tim Burchett (R-TN), Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), Susie Lee (D-NV), Elaine
    Goodman Luria (D-VA), Denver Riggleman (R-VA) and David Trone (D-MD).


    California participants
    are County Supervisors John Gioia and Joe Simian,
    California Democratic Party Executive Committee Member Andrea Beth Damsky, and
    unknown others. The delegations are named “Northern Pacific Progressive Leaders”
    and “Southern Pacific Progressive Leaders,” but no one will divulge the rosters.

    The AIPAC loophole

    The trips are organized and funded by the

    American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF),
     the nonprofit arm of the
    powerful Israel lobbying group AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee).
    AIEF was founded in 1989 “to advance the purposes of the American Israel Public
    Affairs Committee.”

    AIPAC is widely believed to be the most powerful organization in the US
    lobbying Congress on behalf of a foreign country. An outgrowth of the 1939
    organization “American Zionist Emergency Council,” AIPAC’s annual convention is
    attended by ambitious politicians from across the political spectrum (see


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    Salvini Takes Control Of Europe’s Future (And The Goldman Angle)


    26-11-18 12:30:00,

    Authored by Tom Luongo,

    Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini just declared himself the leader of the Europe’s future.  He refuses to budge one inch in negotiations with the European Union over Italy’s budget now threatening to take down the government.

    And in doing this he not only speaks for Italians, he is now speaking for that growing part of the European population who sees what the EU is morphing into and recoiling in horror.

    Protests in France over Emmanuel Macron’s new tax on diesel have turned violent.  The British leadership has completely betrayed the people over Brexit.  They may win this battle but the animosity towards the Britain’s leadership will only grow more virulent over time.

    As the core leadership in France and Germany fades in popularity, held in place because of domestic political squabbling, Angela Merkel and Macron are ratcheting up the rhetoric against the rising nationalism Salvini represents and are now pushing hard for their Federation of Europe before both of them leave the scene in the next few years, at best.

    If they lose their battles with Salvini and Hungary’s Viktor Orban they may be run out of office with pitchforks and firebrands.

    Bernard Connelly, author of the brilliant expose The Rotten Heart of Europe (which should be required reading) asks the salient question about Brexit no one associated with Project Fear can confront.

    If separation from the EU is so complicated, why was no one talking about blockades and economic catastrophe before the Scottish Independence referendum in 2014?

    The answer is simple. No one in power expected the referendum to pass and when it didn’t the issue ended.

    Now, back to Italy.   

    Salvini can do make these bold threats because his Lega keeps rising in opinion polls every time he makes them.

    From Zerohedge:

    Since then, Salvini has continued to pull ahead of Luigi Di Maio, the country’s other deputy premier, as the public face of hardline opposition to the EU. Salvini’s League party rose to 36.2% in voter intentions in November, the fourth straight poll showing an increase, according to an Ipsos survey in newspaper Corriere della Sera.

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    Whatever It Takes

    Whatever It Takes

    08-08-18 03:19:00,

    Authored by Michael Lebowitz via RealInvestmentAdvice.com,

    At the end fiat money returns to its inner value – zero.”  – Voltaire

     “Within our mandate, the ECB is ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro. And believe me, it will be enough.” – Mario Draghi July 26, 2012

    On July 26, 2012, European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi essentially guaranteed the ECB would not allow the markets to cripple the Euro region. This shot across the bow finally remedied the instability caused by the sovereign debt crisis. The markets quickly reversed the damaging trends and uncertainty that had plagued the Euro-zone for months.

    Draghi’s statement essentially boiled down to a promise that the ECB would print unlimited amounts of money to stop the “harmful” will of investors.

    Fiat currency, be it dollars, euros, yen, or any other major currency today, are backed by confidence in the government, its ability to tax and the status of its economy. Importantly, however, it is also largely based on the trust and confidence in the central bank that issues those notes. If Draghi did not have the market’s trust and confidence, his statement would have been ignored, and there is no telling what might have happened to Greece or the Euro for that matter.

    In September 2016, the Bank of Japan (BOJ) introduced Quantitative and Qualitative Easing (QQE) with Yield Curve Control. The new policy framework aimed to strengthen the effects of monetary easing by controlling short-term and long-term interest rates through market operations. The announcement also introduced an “inflation overshooting commitment” with the BOJ committed to expanding the monetary base until the year-over-year inflation rate “exceeds and remains above the 2 percent target in a stable manner.” Essentially, the BOJ pulled a “Draghi” and promised to do “whatever it takes” to ensure interest rates did not rise more than they wanted.

    Recently, the BOJ amended the 2016 statement because bond investors were increasingly testing the central bank’s resolve. We are not claiming this just yet, but if the BOJ is losing the trust and confidence of investors, they could be the first domino in a long line that will change the markets drastically.

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