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Russia Supreme Court bans Jehovah’s Witnesses

Russia’s Supreme Court has ruled to recognize Jehovah’s Witnesses as an extremist organization and liquidate it.



Russian Supreme Court

MOSCOW, April 20. /TASS/Russia’s Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that Jehovah’s Witnesses was an “extremist” organisation and must hand over all its property to the state, Russian news agencies reported.

Interfax news agency quoted Sergei Cherepanov, a Jehovah’s Witnesses representative, as saying that the group will appeal the decision in the European Court of Human Rights.

“We will do everything possible,” he said.

Russian authorities have put several of the group’s publications on a list of banned extremist literature and prosecutors have long cast it as an organisation that destroys families, fosters hatred and threatens lives.

The group, a United States-based nonsectarian Christian denomination known for its door-to-door preaching and rejection of military service and blood transfusions, says this description is false.

The religious organisation has expanded around the world and has about eight million active followers. It has faced court proceedings in several countries, mostly over its pacifism and rejection of blood transfusions, but has Russia has been most outspoken in portraying it as an extremist cult.

Its Russian branch, based near St Petersburg, has regularly rejected this allegation. It has said a ban would directly affect around 400 of its groups and have an impact on all of its 2,277 religious groups in Russia, where it says it has 175,000 followers.


Row over ex-spy’s poisoning : Moscow expels UK diplomats

The diplomatic crisis between UK and Russia has escalated after the first offensive use of a nerve agent in Europe since the Second World War”.




After  the leaders of the United States, Britain, France and Germany have squarely blamed Russia for the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal in Britain with a powerful nerve agent,the Russian Foreign Ministry had asked 23 UK diplomats to leave Russia.

The diplomatic crisis between UK and Russia has escalated after the first offensive use of a nerve agent in Europe since the Second World War”. Russia acted in response to Britain’s “provocative actions and groundless accusations” over ex-double agent Sergei Skripal’s poisoning.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova stated that the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Britain or Sweden were likely sources of the nerve agent. Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated British accusations of Moscow’s involvement were intended to distract public attention from the UK’s troubled exit from the European Union.

Where as British PM Theresa May has warned Moscow that Britain “would never tolerate a threat to the life” of its citizens, or others in the country.”This act of Russian aggression is the very antithesis of the liberal and democratic values that define the United Kingdom,” she said.

US President Donald Trump then apparently supported the accusations made by May, saying that “it looks like” no one other than Russian President Vladimir Putin could have been behind the attack.. As the probe into the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal is still ongoing and needs time for tangible results, UK is contemplating appropriate response to the poisoning that  includes legislative powers to defend against hostile state activity and the suspension of high-level contacts between the two countries.

Moscow has repeatedly offered its full cooperation in investigating the incident, which London claims involved a Soviet-era nerve agent called Novichok.

Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in Brussels that the alliance nations have followed through with some high-profile moves to deter Russian interference, the secretary general noted. In 2017, NATO nations deployed four multinational battle groups to the Baltic republics and to Poland. Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States each lead a battalion-sized group, and troops from many NATO nations are members.

Toltenberg discussed the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal, his daughter and a British police officer with a military-grade nerve agent – that was traced to Russia. British officials say this attack is an unlawful use of force by Russia against the United Kingdom.

“This is the first offensive use of a nerve agent on alliance territory since NATO’s foundation,” the secretary general said. “All allies agree that the attack was a clear breach of international norms and agreements. This is unacceptable. It has no place in a civilized world.”

NATO regards any use of chemical weapons as a threat to international peace and security, he said. “The attack in Salisbury has taken place against the backdrop of a reckless pattern of Russian behavior over many years,” Toltenberg said.

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Trump administration imposes sanctions against 19 Russians over interference in the 2016 U.S. elections.

Trump himself ignored a question about the new sanctions Thursday during a short press availability in the Oval Office. He did respond to a question on the U.K. attack, saying it “certainly looks like the Russians were behind it.”



Putin Trump

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration took a tougher tone on Russia Thursday, signing on to a statement sharply criticizing Moscow for allegedly orchestrating a chemical weapons attack against an ex-Russian spy in the U.K., and issuing long-awaited sanctions against Russian “cyber actors” for interference in the 2016 U.S. election.

The new sanctions — against five entities and 19 individuals — come amid criticism that President Donald Trump had failed to firmly confront and aggressively counter alleged Russian attacks on allied soil and continued efforts to destabilize U.S. politics.

The sanctions, while new from the Treasury Department, overlap with previous steps taken by the U.S., including naming all 13 Russians previously indicted by Robert Mueller for 2016 election meddling. The president has previously sought to delegitimize Mueller’s investigation as a “witch hunt” and called claims that his campaign colluded with Russia “phony.”

On a call with reporters Thursday a senior national security official called the sanctions “just one of a series of ongoing actions we’re taking to counter Russian aggression.”

“There will be more to come,” said the official, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity and offering no further specifics.

Speaking to the disinformation campaign that Russia employed during the 2016 U.S. election, another senior national security official advised that propaganda disinformation campaigns “lose their effect if the American people are aware of foreign actors attempting to manipulate them.”

That awareness could be bolstered by the president, who has been reluctant to speak out at length about Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election. An official demurred when asked if Trump would speak out as part of these stepped up efforts.

Trump himself ignored a question about the new sanctions Thursday during a short press availability in the Oval Office. He did respond to a question on the U.K. attack, saying it “certainly looks like the Russians were behind it.”

The president begrudgingly signed a bill last year that imposed sanctions on Russia, pressured by his Republican Party not to move on his own toward a warmer relationship with Moscow in light of Russian actions during the 2016 elections. Trump called the bill “seriously flawed — particularly because it encroaches on the executive branch’s authority to negotiate.”

The sanctions announcement came shortly after the release of a joint statement from the U.S., the U.K., Germany, and France on Thursday morning in which the U.S. said it shared British assessments “that there is no plausible alternative explanation” to the military-grade nerve agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, adding that “Russia’s failure to address the legitimate request by the government of the United Kingdom further underlines Russia’s responsibility.”

The White House’s tough response on the chemical attack comes after an initially tepid one from the briefing room lectern on Monday. Asked if the Trump administration shared the U.K.’s assessment that Russia was behind the attack, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders offered “the fullest condemnation” of the “reckless, indiscriminate and irresponsible” act — falling short of saying Russia was definitely behind it.

Just hours before his surprise firing-via-Twitter, outgoing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson broke with the administration on the issue, telling reporters traveling with him on an overseas trip that the poisoning attack “clearly came from Russia” and “certainly will trigger a response.”

The administration’s response evolved by midweek, however, culminating in a forceful and direct statement from Ambassador Nikki Haley at the United Nations Security Council in New York in which she said “the United States believes that Russia is responsible for the attack on two people in the United Kingdom using a military-grade nerve agent.” She also voiced the “absolute solidarity” of the U.S. with Britain after the U.K.’s decision to expel 23 Russia diplomats in response to the chemical attack.

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Trump ‘personally invited’ Putin to 2013 Miss Universe pageant

The White House and attorneys for the Trump Organisation have declined to comment.



Putin Trump

Washington, March 10 : Donald Trump before becoming the US President, personally wrote a letter inviting Russian President Vladimir Putin to attend the 2013 Miss Universe pageant which was held in Moscow, a media report said.

At the bottom of the typed letter, Trump scrawled a postscript adding that he looked forward to seeing “beautiful” women during his trip, informed sources told The Washington Post.

Trump, the real estate magnate who owned the Miss Universe pageant, wrote the note at a time when he was looking to expand his brand to Russia.

The letter has been turned over to investigators probing Russia’s interference in the 2016 campaign. It is unclear whether Trump’s missive was ever delivered to the Russian President – and if so, whether Putin responded.

Meanwhile John Dowd, an attorney for President Trump, said he was not familiar with the letter.

“It’s all nonsense,” he said.

The White House and attorneys for the Trump Organisation have declined to comment.

At the time, Trump made no secret that he hoped Putin would attend the Miss Universe pageant, which was being held in Russia for the first time, The Washington Post reported.

In a June 18, 2013, tweet, Trump wrote: “Do you think Putin will be going to The Miss Universe Pageant in November in Moscow – if so, will he become my new best friend?”

However, Putin did not attend the pageant and instead sent Trump a “friendly” letter and a gift of a Russian lacquered box.

Over the years, Donald Trump has offered inconsistent stories about whether he met Putin before he became president.

In October 2013, a month before the Miss Universe pageant, he told late-night host David Letterman that Putin was a “tough guy” and that he had “met him once”, reports The Washington Post.

During a Republican primary debate in November 2015, Trump said that he knew Putin “very well”.

But in July 2016, he told a CBS affiliate in Miami: “I have nothing to do with Russia, nothing to do, I never met Putin, I have nothing to do with Russia whatsoever.”

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