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August 3, 2015 / 18 Av, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Moscow’

Russian Jewish Billionaire’s Death a ‘Mystery’

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

London forensics experts found no traces of hazardous materials to explain the mysterious death of Boris Berezovsky, a 67-year-old Jewish oligarch and Kremlin critic.

Russia’s Channel One reported that his body was found on Saturday in the bathroom of his home in the London area, and that he had suffered a heart attack last week. But ThamesValley police say his death is being treated as “unexplained,” the Guardian reported.

“Officers found nothing of concern in the property and we are now progressing the investigation as normal,” said a statement from police about tests for biological or chemical poisons,

Berezovsky fled to Britain about 10 years ago, after a bitter falling out with Russian President Vladimir Putin amid fraud charges that Berezovsky said were politically motivated. He was born in Moscow in 1946 to a Jewish father and a mother with Jewish roots. He immigrated to Israel in 1993 but later renounced his Israeli passport.

Berezovsky became a strident and frequent critic of Putin, accusing the leader of ushering in a dictatorship.

He accumulated his wealth in the years following the collapse of Soviet Russia, when he acquired local firms, among them oil companies and television stations, rising to prominence during the term of Boris Yeltsin in the nineties. Russian media reported recently that Berezovsky, once the richest man in Russia, had suffered heavy losses.

Russian Jewish Group Offers Free Matzah

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

The Russian Jewish Congress has partnered with one of the country’s leading Internet companies to deliver free matzah to Muscovite Jews. The only cost to recipients will be the price of the delivery.

The collaboration with the online marketing giant Vigoda.ru will allow the Jewish organization to send two million emails on Thursday in the hope that the offer will help introduce matzah to the homes of young professionals who would otherwise not get them.

“The idea is to reach out to young and secular Jews and to reintroduce or sometimes introduce this basic custom of Judaism,” Matvey Chlenov, the RJC’s deputy executive director, told JTA. “Like most Muscovites, they are busy with careers and raising children and will often not take the effort to spend two-three hours in Moscow’s notorious traffic jams to get to a handful of places where matzot are on sale.”

The emails that are meant to place matzah on the menu this Passover were sent through Vigoda.ru, a Russian website and company that, similar to the American website Groupon, offers various deals for reduced prices in a daily email that it sends to a large number of people.

The Russian Jewish Congress has stocked up on a ton of matzah it hopes to give out with help from Vigoda and through the organization’s own campaign on social media.

David Shostak, co-owner and CEO of Vigoda, said his firm decided to include the Russian Jewish Congress’ offer in an email to two million recipients in Moscow as “a service to the community.” Shostak, who speaks Hebrew, said he runs the company from Moscow but travels often to Israel.

Russia, Syria Blast Turkey for Forcing Plane Landing to Search for Arms

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Relations between Russia and Turkey have been strained by the forced landing of a Syrian passenger plane which Turkey said it need to inspect for smuggled military equipment.

Moscow has said Ankara endangered the lives of Russian passengers when it commanded the Syrian plane to land, and Damascus said the interception was akin to piracy.

Moscow has been providing military assistance to forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad, while Turkey and Syria’s border has been heating up, with Syria attacking Turkish border towns and Turkey offering asylum to Syrian nationals associated with the opposition.

Turkey issued military jets to escort the planes after receiving intelligence that “non-civilian cargo” was aborad the Airbus A0320 bound for Damascus.  There were 30 Russian passengers aboard the plane, 17 of whom were denied requests to meet with Russian diplomatic services.

No arms were found aboard the plane.  Some cargo was seized and the plane and passengers continued to their destination.

Russia Bans “Innocence of Muslims”

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

In a show of solidarity with movements seeking to preserve respect for Islam, a Moscow ruled on Monday that the anti-Islam film “Innocence of Muslims” may not be shown in all of Russia.

In a report by the Tehran Times, the court’s decision followed one of the previous week in a court in Grozny, capital of the Muslim-dominated Russian province of Chechnya.

Justice Ministry spokeswoman Marina Gridneva said the film – which aimed to suggest to viewers that there are deviant and unsavory aspects of Islam and founder Mohammed – could incite ethnic and religious intolerance.  Various terror acts across the Middle East have been attributed to Muslim outrage over the low-budget US-made film.

The Russian communications minister threatened to block access to YouTube if owner Google did not immediately block access to the film.  Google said it would comply with court orders.

Meet the Israeli Olympians: Judo – Arik Ze’evi (Video)

Sunday, July 29th, 2012

Arik Ze’evi, a Judoka & a writer, is a 4-Time European champion, including the 2012 European Championship. Ze’evi is also the Winner of last year’s (2011) Grand Slam in Moscow, and has won a bunch of titles & medals throughout his career, but in London 2012, Ze’evi aimes to go for the Olympic medal, again!

Russia’s Masterstroke: Bailing Out Cyprus

Monday, June 25th, 2012

What a fine mess the Europeans have made with their deluded dream of a common European currency for 17 countries with different languages, cultures, traditions and economic systems. As a result of the experiment with the euro, almost all countries along Europe’s southern rim are on the brink of bankruptcy. One of them is Cyprus. It, too, urgently needs a bailout. This week, the Cypriotic government needs €4bn to recapitalize the country’s second largest bank.

Cyprus, however, is in a comfortable position. The other beggars are forced to accept bailout from the European Union in exchange for diminished national sovereignty, EU imposed austerity measures, and direct supervision from Brussels over their budgets and economies. Cyprus, however, has an alternative. “We have other options,” the Cypriotic Finance Minister Vassos Shiarly recently told journalists in Nicosia. Economists expect that to keep Cyprus afloat, it will need between €25 and 50bn in the coming years. Nicosia, however, is resisting pressure from the other EU countries to take a first bailout package worth as much as €10bn.

Cyprus does not want to accept the strings attached to the European offer. The Cypriotic alternative is called Russia. Already last December, Moscow gave Nicosia a bilateral loan of €3bn. Eager, since the era of Peter the Great, to acquire a strategic foothold in the Eastern Mediterranean, Russia is now offering even more. And with President Demetris Christofias of Cyprus happy to accommodate his friend Vladimir Putin, there is no doubt that Nicosia will turn to Moscow rather than to Brussels.

Christofias is a Communist – he is, in fact, the only Communist leader in the European Union – and, under the EU’s rotating chairmanship, he will be chairing the EU meetings from July 1st until the end of the year.

As pointed out earlier, if Russia steps in, the strategic situation in the entire Eastern Mediterranean could change. Russia stands to gain most out of the eurozone crisis. Cyprus is a prey which it has long been eying. If Moscow loses Syria as its ally, it needs Cyprus as a substitute. Bailing out Nicosia is a bargain price to acquire a permanent naval base for the Russian fleet in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Cyprus is said to be so high on Russia’s priority list that President Putin himself is currently dealing with the €4bn loan request from Nicosia. The interest charged by the Russians is 4.5%, which is far better than Cyprus can get anywhere else. The financial risk for the Russians is limited. There is every chance that Cyprus will be able to repay their bilateral loans fairly soon. Nicosia hopes to start exploiting the huge gas reserves off the Cypriotic coast in the coming decade. With Russian help, it might even be able to exploit these gas fields within the next five years.

The gas fields are an additional reason why Cyprus is a good long-term investment for the Russians. But there are many other reasons. The Russian presence in Cyprus is already very strong. Cyprus is a favourite holiday resort for the Russian middle and upper classes. It could easily become a Russian Florida. Some 50,000 Russians – mostly retirees – are already living permanently on the island. They are attracted by its climate and by the cultural affinities with the Cypriots, who, like the Russians, are Orthodox Christians. Cyprus is also used by Russians as an offshore banking center. This, too, is why the Russians will do their best to support the Cypriotic banking system.

A Russian deal is a win-win situation for both Russia and Cyprus. As soon as Russia has acquired a solid foothold on Cyprus, the third largest island of the Mediterranean Sea, it will be able to drop Assad, thereby reducing the current diplomatic tensions between Washington and Moscow over Syria. Cyprus, on the other hand, welcomes Russian backing: its intention to exploit the gas fields has merely led to tensions with Turkey. With the Russian bear behind its back, it will be easier to deter the Turks. The pro-Turkish attitude of the EU authorities in Brussels has long angered the Cypriots.

Few regions in Europe have the importance of Cyprus. Situated on the doorstep of both North Africa and the Middle East, the island has been of strategic importance since ancient times. From Cyprus, the Russians will be able to reach the whole area surrounding Israel. Russia, an ally of Syria, has never been a close friend of Israel. This might change once Assad is toppled. Although the Russian bear has interests rather than friends – it dreads anything resembling a democracy, and is always on the prowl for its next lunch – the presence in Israel of many Jewish immigrants of Russian origin may lead to a slight rapprochement between Jerusalem and Moscow. If Russia, as a result of its interference in Cyprus, becomes involved in a quarrel with Turkey, this, too, might lead to superficially better, if unreliable, relations with Israel. The animosity between Israel and its NATO ally Turkey has been rising lately. There is little doubt that Putin, during this week’s visit to Israel, will discuss not just Syria, Iran and Turkey with the Israeli leadership, but also Russia’s growing involvement in Cyprus.

If Cyprus proves to be better off with Russia’s financial, political and strategic backing than Greece with the assistance of the European Union, the close relations between the Greeks and the Cypriots might convince Greece that it, too, should turn to Moscow rather than to Brussels for financial and economic help. A strategic realignment in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East might then be in the offing. If the EU and NATO keep regarding the pro-Islamic government in Turkey as their preferred ally, before they know it they might be confronted with an alliance of Russia, Cyprus and Greece – a strong Christian-Orthodox axis against the Turks. And whom would this alliance target after that?
Originally published by Gatestone Institute http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org

World Powers Begin New Round of Iran Talks with Little Hope for Progress

Monday, June 18th, 2012

Another round of nuclear talks began on Monday in Moscow, with diplomats representing the six-nation ‘P5+1′ (US, UK, France, China, Russia, and Germany) pessimistic that a breakthrough will occur in the ongoing stand-off with Iran over its controversial nuclear program.

Heading into this the third round of negotiations since talks resumed in April, EU spokesman Michael Mann said: “We haven’t seen engagement on the Iranian side yet. We’re not prepared to talk for the sake of talking, we need to drive things forward.”

Western diplomats continue to accuse Iran of foot-dragging and obfuscation, noting that the five-point proposal presented by the Islamic Republic in Baghdad last month calls for discussions on matters that are tangential to the nuclear issue. Yet the P5+1 continues to hold out hope that Iran will finally “engage seriously” the proposal that the six-nation bloc made last month. The proposal calls on Iran to stop enriching its uranium to 20% – which brings it close to the threshold of weapon’s grade. It offers Iran badly-needed spare parts for civilian airliners, medical isotopes, and nuclear safety cooperation as incentives to agreement. Iran’s negotiator, Saeed Jalili has already rejected these these terms as insufficient, and is demanding an immediate easing of current economic sanctions and suspension of the onerous sanctions set to be imposed by the EU next month. It appears the sides are headed for another fruitless round of talks though, as the EU indicated it has no intention of to postponing the sanctions.

An Iranian diplomat accompanying the Iranian delegation in Moscow told Iran’s state-run news agency IRNA that Iran would not even acquiesce to another round of negotiations unless the P5+1 accepts its proposal. The diplomat also elaborated on the uncompromising stance Iran would take in the negotiations: “The least expected by Iranian negotiators […] is acknowledging Iran’s right to uranium enrichment. If they do not admit Iran’s right to nuclear enrichment in Moscow, therefore the talks will surely fail… Iran does not fear the failure of negotiations anyhow.”

The Obama administration is facing increasing pressure to break off with the Islamic regime in the face of continued Iranian intransigence. 44 senators sent the President a bi-partisan letter on Friday demanding actual concessions from Iran to continue negotiations.”It is past time for the Iranians to take the concrete steps that would reassure the world that their nuclear program is, as they claim, exclusively peaceful. Absent these steps, we must conclude that Tehran is using the talks as a cover to buy time as it continues to advance toward nuclear weapons capability.”

The letter, coordinated by Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ), calls on Iran to implement the steps proposed by the P5+1 in Baghdad, which they said is the “absolute minimum” required to “demonstrate a level of commitment by Iran to the process and could justify continued discussions beyond the meeting in Moscow.” The letter is signed by, among others, Charles Schumer (D-NY), Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).

Meanwhile in Israel, Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Yaalon Yaalon told Israeli newspaper Haaretz on Friday that if Israel has to choose between Iran having a nuclear bomb and bombing Iran, it will opt for the latter. He also said that Israel is not bluffing when it comes to decisive action to stop Iran and does not need an American ‘green light’ for a military strike. He predicted that the Iranian crisis will culminate in the coming months.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel/world-powers-begin-new-round-of-iran-talks-with-little-hope-for-progress/2012/06/18/

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