Voices from Russia

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Donald Trump’s America is Starting to Look Like Boris Yeltsin’s Russia

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While many attempt to debate who or what is in charge of the USA, the truth is that no single individual or even a single entity is in charge of the USA anymore. This was true under Barack Obama, but Obama’s middle-management style of governing helped to hide this fact. Donald Trump is a single-minded, straight-talking, and deeply-opinionated man… by contrast, he’s thrown a great deal of light onto the reality of just who governs the USA. The truth is that in 2017, the textbook balance of power between the President, Congress, and the judiciary no longer applies.

The reality is more of a combination of business oligarchs, foreign money, foreign lobbying groups tied to Israeli geopolitical interests in some cases and Gulf gold in others. Then, there’s the deep state including the intelligence agencies, the military-industrial complex, and its financial partners. Then, there are random corrupt and criminal mafioso interests in the Beltway and a renegade mainstream media that ought to be classed as a super-rich NGO. While this might sound unfamiliar to the “Schoolhouse Rock” generation where everything in America was functional, the story will be very familiar to those who can remember the horrors of Russia between 1991 and 1999.

During the dark Yeltsin years, Russia had no real leadership. Instead, it had competing factions of local, national, and supranational oligarchs and economic pirates, a governing class made up of both ageing traitors and young ambitious greedy individuals. Often, organised crime held more sway amongst the alleged governing classes than ordinary people did and foreign influence (including and especially from the USA) helped to sway the political process away from anything that could be remotely called democratic. It’s little wonder that at this time, Russia’s economic strength, military strength, international prestige, and living standards all plummeted.

While America isn’t yet in economic doldrums that one can compare to 1990s Russia, other similarities are already present. Nikki Haley, America’s Ambassador to the UN, increasingly looks like Boris Berezovsky, if he decided to dress up as a cocktail waitress. Like Berezovsky, Haley is conducting a kind of unilateral foreign policy interdependent of the official dictates of the State Department, which in theory she is answerable to. While she threatens what amounts to military attacks on Russian and Iranian interests, no one can find the actual Secretary of State. She’s clearly aiming to position herself as some new leader, perhaps a new President of the US. Will her hubris get the better of her as it did with Berezovsky? Only time will tell.

Within the White House, domestic policies seem to be a tug-of-war between Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner. This reminds one a great deal of the war of policy war and ideological power struggle between Gaidar and Yavlinsky. All the while, Paul Ryan is becoming something like Chubais, trying to cling onto his neocon Republican values in spite of a public that has clearly rejected them. Ryan may become a major thorn in the side of the Trump agenda, just as the public hatred of Chubais ended up tarring what little dignity left in the Yeltsin Presidency. With some statements coming out of the USA seemingly prepared for war against Syria and others, including from Defence Secretary Mattis saying the opposite, it’s clear that the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing.

Making things worse, while Russia in the 1990s did have a stalwart opposition movement led on the left by  Zyuganov and on the right by Zhirinovsky, it’s difficult to see if Tulsi Gabbard and Rand Paul will be able to weather the storm and remain prominent leaders of the real US opposition as Zyuganov and Zhirinovsky did. Indeed, Zyuganov and Zhirinovsky are among the only major political figures of the 1990s who are both still successful politicians. The internal chaos in the USA, matched by increasing social divisions, falling living standards, and an out-of-control media is a lot like the situation in 1990s Russia. The next time people hold a mirror up to Trump, they shouldn’t see Putin. In time, they might see Yeltsin, a man who came to power on a sea of vodka-soaked promises, all of which were broken and broken “big league”. Trump can still save his administration if he holds fast to his principles and is willing to fight for them with both strength and tact. While Yeltsin never meant well, I personally feel that Trump does mean well. However, if the oligarchic swamp of Washington DC consumes him, Trump may end up having a similarly failed legacy as Russia’s giant failure, Yeltsin.

28 June 2017

Adam Garrie

The Duran

http://theduran.com/donald-trumps-america-is-starting-to-look-like-boris-yeltsins-russia/

Friday, 7 March 2014

Russia to Respect Democratic Choice in Crimea Referendum

together-forever-russia-and-ukraine

Together Forever!

Unknown Artist

1942-45

Great Patriotic War poster

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On Friday morning, delegates from the Supreme Soviet of the Autonomous Republic of the Crimea (VS ARK) led by Chairman Vladimir Konstantinov met with RF Gosduma Deputies. RF Gosduma Chairman Sergei Naryshkin announced Russia’s readiness to respect any choice made by citizens of the Autonomous Republic of the Crimea (ARK) in the 16 March referendum. He said at the meeting with the VS ARK delegation, “We’ll treat this historic choice of the Crimean population with respect. We’ll support the free and democratic choice of the people of the Crimea and Sevastopol”. Konstantinov said, “No matter what happens to us, the referendum will go ahead; it’ll clarify things for Crimean citizens. It’s obvious that the country that the Crimea once loved no longer exists. We don’t understand this new entity. It’s illegitimate. We’re scared of it”. He pointed up that all the decisions taken by the VS ARK are licit, saying, “We’re heading in the right direction”. Konstantinov noted that the VS ARK decision that the Crimea should return to Russia again is historic, “There’s only one question… will Russia take us back?” At the same time, a rally near the Gosduma building, right before the arrival of the VS ARK delegation, supported Crimean-Russian friendship. Public groups People’s Militia and Officers of Russia organised the rally, whose participants chanted, “Russia and Crimea… Friends Forever”. According to police estimates, about 300 people met where Bolshaya Dmitrovka and Mokhovaya Streets intersect.

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A source told us that RF Federation Council Chairman Valentina Matviyenko would meet with a VS ARK delegation on Friday, saying, “A large delegation of our Crimean colleagues, led by VS ARK Chairman Vladimir Konstantinov is coming to Moscow. The delegation will meet with the chairmen of both houses of the RF Federal Assembly; the upcoming all-Crimea referendum will be high on the agenda of these negotiations”. Our source also said that the Federation Council would like the Crimean delegation to tell them about the situation in the ARK and in the Ukraine as a whole, to tell us about the progress on the preparations for the referendum, noting, “We’re ready to share our legislative expertise with the VS ARK People’s Deputies. We’ll also discuss the sending of an observation mission composed of Gosduma Deputies and Federation Council members. Another item is on the agenda… we’d like to discuss the prospective development of relations between Russian federal subjects and the Ukraine, the Crimea in particular. In short, we wish to discuss an entire range of political and socioeconomic issues”.

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SK Rossii spokesman Vladimir Markin said that authorities in Belgorod, Kursk, and Bryansk and Voronezh Oblasts opened criminal investigations after local governors received threats allegedly linked to the current situation in the Ukraine, saying, “We opened criminal cases under Article 318 Part 1 of the UK RF ‘Threats to Use Violence Against a Representative of the Authorities or His Family Member in Connection with the Fulfilment of His Professional Duties’”.

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On Friday, SK Rossii spokesman Vladimir Markin said that the SK opened a criminal inquiry against Aleksandr Muzichko, the coördinator of the Ukrainian Right Sector ultra-nationalist movement, for involvement in acts of banditry targeting RF forces in Chechnya in the 1990s.  It put Muzichko, nicknamed Sashko Bily, on an international wanted list on suspicion of killing Russian servicemen. Markin said, “Muzichko faces accusations of killing at least 20 soldiers of federal forces held in captivity. Today, we named Muzichko as a defendant and put him on an international wanted list. We filed a petition to put him in custody in Yessentuki City Court in Stavropol Krai. The Main Investigative Department (GSU) of the SK RF in the North Caucasian Federal District opened a criminal case against Ukrainian citizen Aleksandr Muzichko, nicknamed Sashko Bily, under Article 209 Part 1 of UK RF ‘For Formation of a Gang to Attack Russian Citizens and Heading It’. We opened this criminal case due to information obtained in our investigation of a clash between illegal armed units led by warlords Shamil Basaev and Khattab and servicemen of the Pskov Airborne Division near the village of Ulus-Kert in Chechnya in 2000”.

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On Friday, the leaders of all four factions represented in the RF Gosduma, the lower chamber of the RF Federal Assembly, declared their support for the VS ARK decision to hold an all-Crimea popular referendum on 16 March on the ARK’s future status. At a meeting with VS ARK Chairman Vladimir Konstantinov and his delegation presided over by RF Gosduma Chairman Sergei Naryshkin, KPRF First Secretary Gennady Zyuganov said, “The will of the people is sacred for me, as a human being and as a political figure. We’ll support it as strongly as possible”. Gosduma Deputy Chairman and United Russia faction leader Vladimir Vasilyev said that the Gosduma resolutely supports the Crimean population in this difficult time, after the Euromaidan putsch in Kiev. Gosduma Deputy Chairman and United Russia Deputy Sergei Zheleznyak said, “Most Russian citizens rejoiced and were proud to learn of the decisions adopted by the VS ARK”.

LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who also attended the meeting with the Crimean delegation, said that the news of the VS ARK decision pleased millions of Russian citizens, saying, “It was the most joyous piece of news since 1945”. Zhirinovsky called on Crimean citizens not to be afraid of anything because Russia would certainly support the results of this referendum, noting, “I’d like to assure you that everything will happen just the way the people of Crimea want it to happen. You should stand firm. You shouldn’t have any doubts. People will carry you on their shoulders. Your names will create a new chapter in the history of the Crimea”. A Just Russia faction First Deputy Chairman Mikhail Yemelynov also assured the Crimean delegation that Gosduma Deputies would support any decision democratically made at the all-Crimea referendum, saying, “Russia is able to extend financial support to Crimea, and we’ll prepare amendments to the budget in the near future”. Gosduma SNG Affairs Committee Chairman Leonid Slutsky said, “A few days after the [all-Crimea] referendum, the Gosduma will ratify the decision made by the people of the Crimea in that referendum”. Naryshkin told the VS ARK delegation at the end of the meeting, “[Gosduma] Deputies support you in the most resolute way”.

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On Friday, VOR correspondent Lada Korotun reported that the RF Federation Council would back the VS ARK’s decision to join Russia after an all-Crimea referendum scheduled for mid-March. Federation Council Chairman Valentina Matviyenko told VS ARK Chairman Vladimir Konstantinov, “The Federation Council will support the VS ARK decision about the referendum, and this decision will be legitimate”. She emphasised that the decision to hold the referendum is consistent with contemporary international practise, going on to say, “It’d suffice to remember the referendum in Scotland. Besides, the VS ARK chose the most democratic form… a referendum is the final expression of the people’s will”. She called the VS ARK decision historic. The Crimean delegation repeatedly elicited applause during the meeting.

Matviyenko said that it was a symbol that they recognised the courage of her Crimean colleagues, saying, “We admire your fortitude and courage. Many made threats against you; there were threats of attacks, in particular, against the Black Sea Fleet base, but you endured that and protected your people. This applause is for you”. She said that she was confident that there’d never be war between Russia and the Ukraine, noting, “Claims that the people of the Ukraine will wage a war against Russia are absolutely absurd. There’ll never be war between our fraternal peoples”. She repeated that the Kiev junta is unlawful, noting, “They plunged the Ukraine into the chaos of the Orange Revolution. Russia unwaveringly supported a return to constitutional order, to restore the rule of law in the Ukraine”. Matviyenko added that Russian lawmakers are ready to send an observation mission to the all-Crimea referendum so that the voting process and its results “make no one doubt their legality”.

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mikhail-khmelko-unity-of-the-russian-people

The Unity of the Russian People

Mikhail Khmelko

1948

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Presidential Press Secretary Dmitri Peskov urged people not to look for “the hand of Moscow” in protest actions in the eastern Ukraine and in the Crimea. In an interview on Sunday Night with Vladimir Solovyov, shown on Rossiya-24, he said, “What’s happening in the [eastern Ukraine] and the Crimea has nothing to do with the Russian Federation. These aren’t manipulated events, let alone the consequences of actions by Russia. On the contrary, parties called for Russian help, and, as Putin rightly said, Russia can’t ignore this situation. However, these events in the Ukraine have purely domestic sources”.

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On Friday, in comments to reporters on events in the Ukraine, PRC Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said that China opposes threats of sanctions in international relations. Speaking of the VS ARK vote to join the Russian Federation as a federal subject, Qin said, “In the current situation, we hope that the parties would manage to avoid further deterioration and join efforts to search for a political solution. This is the only way out. We urge all parties in the Ukraine to settle issues by peaceful means, to protect the interests of all people in the Ukraine within the framework of law and order through dialogue and consultations”. Qin expressed a hope for a quick restoration of peace and order in the Ukraine.

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VS ARK Chairman Vladimir Konstantinov said that he pledged to do everything possible for the Ukraine to reunite with Russia. He said at a meeting with RF Gosduma Chairman Sergei Naryshkin and leaders of the Gosduma’s factions, “I hope that you’d be able to bring up a new leader in the Ukraine. We talked about it several times. We said that we need a new Bogdan Khmelnitsky (leader of a popular rebellion against Polish rule in the Ukraine that ultimately led to the Ukrainian lands east of the Dnepr rejoining Russia) to emerge and unite these two great states, which can’t exist separately. Yesterday, I received many calls from the eastern regions of Ukraine and from Odessa. People congratulated me. They all said it was great. Sadly, we have big problems, but the Ukraine is part of a united Russian world. After we solve the Crimea’s problem (I’m sure that we’ll solve it), we must exert the maximum effort to protect not only ethnic Russians. In general, we should protect all Ukrainian citizens… both ethnic Russians and Ukrainians… from Nazism and from the Western pressure to impose a foreign ideology. I believe that the present Ukrainian junta will collapse. The junta will face serious tension within the year. Today, instead of trying to unite the Ukraine, it refuses to hear the interests of the southern and eastern Ukraine”.

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In an interview on Sunday Night with Vladimir Solovyov on Rossiya-24, Presidential Press Secretary Dmitri Peskov called the actions of Western countries towards the Ukraine “a triumph of double standards”. He said, “Overall, what we see now happening in and around the Ukraine is a triumph of lawlessness, a triumph of cynicism, and a triumph of the collapse of international law; it’s a triumph of double standards. Our Western partners recognised the legitimacy of those who now refer to themselves as the leaders of the Ukraine, despite the fact that these people came to power with the support of those who led a coup. They rushed to recognise them as legitimate, they insist on their legitimacy, whilst completely denying the right of anyone else in the Ukraine to take action at their discretion. The west and the east are all people of a united Ukraine, but the leadership denied parts of this people the right to self-determination, the right to a legitimate choice, the right to action to defend their dignity and personal safety. Regretfully, the West ignores this. To our great regret, despite all the attempts by our president, and his readiness to explain the Russian position effectively on a daily basis, we still face a wall of misunderstanding. This is quite sad, and more importantly, it’s very bad from the viewpoint of further possible consequences”.

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On Friday, VS ARK Chairman Vladimir Konstantinov told reporters that the upcoming all-Crimea referendum would restore historical justice and reunite the peninsula with Russia, noting, “We were given away as a gift in 1954 for unclear reasons, like a sack of potatoes, in disregard of the rights of Crimean residents”. He said that people accepted it 50 years ago because it wasn’t a transfer to another country. Konstantinov emphasised, “It came to no good, the gift turned into something given”. In his opinion, the label “separatist” is unfairly stuck to the ARK, saying, “They labelled us as ‘separatists’, no matter what we said, even though we did everything to preserve the country and warned that [the Kiev events] would end badly”. Konstantinov said, that Crimean citizens can restore historical justice and decide “where to live and with whom” at the referendum. Jokingly, Konstantinov said that they had only one condition… “Please… don’t give us away as a gift again”.

7 March 2014

Voice of Russia World Service

http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_03_07/Russia-will-support-democratic-choice-of-Crimean-population-State-Duma-speaker-3080/

http://voiceofrussia.com/2014_03_07/Crimean-parliament-delegation-to-meet-with-Matviyenko-3168/

http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_03_07/Threats-received-by-Russian-governors-about-Ukraine-probed-investigators-2727/

http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_03_07/Russia-launches-criminal-case-against-Ukraine-nationalist-over-links-with-terrorist-Basaev-9536/

http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_03_07/Russias-State-Duma-faction-leaders-back-Crimean-legislatures-decisions-March-16-referendum-8020/

http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_03_07/Federation-Council-to-support-Crimean-accession-to-Russia-after-referendum-2937/

http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_03_07/Events-in-east-Ukraine-Crimea-have-nothing-to-do-with-Russia-Peskov-5755/

http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_03_07/China-opposes-sanction-threats-in-intl-relations-in-comments-on-Ukraine-0719/

http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_03_07/Crimean-parliament-to-do-everything-possible-for-Ukraine-reunion-with-Russia-speaker-2641/

http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_03_07/Western-double-standards-over-Ukraine-leads-to-collapse-of-intl-law-Moscow-4255/

http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_03_07/Crimean-Supreme-Council-speaker-asks-Russia-not-to-give-Crimea-away-as-gift-again-4913/

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Monday, 23 December 2013

Putin Names Russia’s Top Political Figures

00 28.09.12. KPRF on religion

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President Vladimir Putin listed Gennady Zyuganov, the First Secretary of the KPRF, and Vladimir Zhironovsky, a firebrand nationalist, as Russia’s most influential politicians. When asked Thursday at his annual press conference marathon who he deemed Russia’s No. 2 politician, Putin first named KPRF head Zyuganov, raising giggles among the 1,300 reporters assembled. He then named populist LDPR leader Zhirinovsky, who first came to prominence in the 1990s, but whom pro-Westerners dismissed as a clownish presence on the political scene. Next, Putin named the leftist leader of A Just Russia, Sergei Mironov. Only then did Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev, head of the ruling United Russia bloc receive a relatively cursory reference. Medvedev served as President from 2008 to 2012, during which time some thought that he had a liberalising, if ultimately minor, impact on public life. Putin has since rolled back some of his “reforms”. All the first three figures named by Putin are mainstays of the Russian political scene, but pro-Westerners in Moscow accuse them of working with the Kremlin. Putin didn’t mention any leaders of the mass protests that erupted in 2011-12, including Aleksei Navalny, a popular Kremlin-basher and runner-up in last September’s mayoral elections in Moscow. Putin refused to state whether he’s picked a successor, saying, “I say nothing because there’s nothing to say”.

18 December 2013

RIA-Novosti

http://en.ria.ru/politics/20131219/185724067/Putin-Names-Russias-Top-Leaders-But-Appears-to-Snub-PM.html

Editor’s Note:

The reporters giggled because most of them are neoliberal sorts from Moscow. VVP knows better. He knows that in the REAL Russia… the Russia outside the two capitals… the zapadniki have no cred whatsoever. A spectre haunts the neoliberals in contemporary Russia… the only real organised political force in the country is the KPRF, especially, in the provinces. VVP knows this… he knows that the days of the oligarchs are numbered… the country is returning to its roots. Look at the 2013 Victory Day parade… and look at any Red October or Victory Day parade from the ‘80s. Russia has embraced Christianity and rejected the West’s godless capitalism. The Church has picked up the Red Banner (HH just gave the second-highest church decoration to Soviet icon Iosif Kobzon) and it EMBRACES socialism. After all, socialism is Christian, whereas American-style crapitalism is the vilest anti-Christian rot out there.

This development discombobulated the woollier elements in the ROCOR. They’re in communion with the MP… but they don’t want to give up their Far Right notions. Ergo, there’s all sort of wild stuff circulating from the First Families. Some actually pump up Maria Vladimirovna Romanova (the disgusting pretender who calls herself the “Grand Duchess of Russia”… what a maroon!)… she has about as much chance of attaining real power as I do! Therefore, most priests are hunkering down and repeating Potapov’s silly drivel. No one knows what they really believe, but they’re not crackbrained John Birchers, that’s for sure! Cut ‘em some slack… if they don’t parrot the Party Line, the First Family apparat would dump on them, and the First Families make Stalinists look like choirboys (in fact, the First Families are the last of that noxious breed… don’t let their “niceness” and smarmy pious exteriors fool you).

A new world is dawning… both in Russia and in the Russian Orthodox diaspora. There are those who don’t want it… oppose them. Don’t argue with them… oppose them. You can’t dialogue with those who’ve sold out to Mammon (and, thusly, to Satan). After all, Christ was a WORKER… NOT an oligarch… NOT an official… NOT a salesman… NOT a clergyman… reflect on that, if you will…

BMD

 

Friday, 15 February 2013

Some 400 Injured in Russian Meteor Shower

00 Meteorite Strike. Chelyabinsk. Russia. 15.02.13

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The MVD reported that more than 150 people sought medical help in one of three Russian oblasts hit by a meteorite shower on Friday. It said that dozens of people suffered cuts from broken glass as the meteorites smashed windows in numerous buildings across the Chelyabinsk Oblast, but “no-one suffered serious injuries”. On Friday, Russian government officials confirmed that the meteorite shower hit three oblasts of Russia and Kazakhstan. The police are searching for the fallen meteorite pieces and protecting affected buildings from looting. Reports are inconclusive about whether one large meteorite or several smaller ones caused the incident. Residents of three villages in Sverdlovsk Oblast reported witnessing the shower, but nobody there was injured.

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The hail of meteor pieces that hit Russia on Friday fell in an area with a cluster of major nuclear facilities, including the largest Russian nuclear fuel-processing plant, but officials said early on that none suffered any damage and that they detected no radioactive contamination. In a statement released within hours of the strike, which damaged factories, schools, and residential buildings, Rosatom, the state nuclear agency, said, “All of Rosatom’s facilities in the Urals region are working normally. They’ve suffered no consequences from the meteorite shower”. The most well-known facility in the area, located in hard-hit Chelyabinsk Oblast, is the Mayak nuclear-fuel processing plant, where a major accident in 1957 caused some of the worst nuclear contamination in the USSR’s history, second, perhaps, only to the infamous Chernobyl reactor accident. Local officials said that they had noticed no contamination there.

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The MVD reported that the number of people who sought medical help across three Russian oblasts hit by a meteorite shower on Friday climbed to over 400. Officials said that hundreds suffered cuts from broken glass as the meteorites smashed windows in numerous buildings across Chelyabinsk Oblast. An MVD spokesman said, “The condition of at least three [people] is considered serious”. The shower hit at least six cities in three centrally-located Russian oblasts. On Friday, Russian government officials confirmed that the shower also affected some areas of neighbouring Kazakhstan.

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On Friday morning, Russian officials said that falling meteorite particles and the shock waves and sonic booms caused by them damaged buildings across Chelyabinsk Oblast. The MVD reported that a roof and wall partly collapsed at a zinc factory in Chelyabinsk Oblast after a shock wave from a meteorite struck it. The officials didn’t specify which factory it was. In an online statement, the oblast authorities said that the factory continued working normally despite the damage. South Ural State University cancelled classes for at least two days due to damage to its buildings. A university spokesman told RIA-Novosti, “The roof didn’t collapse, but the damage is quite significant. The windows are broken; some of them were blown in with their frames”. She also added that some ceiling tiles also fell down. EMERCOM reported that windows were also broken at least a dozen schools and three hospitals. The roof of a Chelyabinsk ice rink also suffered damage.

Chelyabinsk municipal authorities reported that at least 454 residential buildings had their gas supply cut off in central Chelyabinsk as of 16.30 local time Friday afternoon after protective safety systems were activated, but they reported no damage to gas pipelines. Energy supplier Inter RAO reported that the Yuzhnouralskaya district power station had 10 percent of its windows broken, but there was no effect on its operations. Rosatom, the state nuclear agency, said that its facilities across the affected regions were functioning normally. The Defence Ministry also said that none of its property was damaged. In Chelyabinsk Oblast alone, hundreds of people were injured, mainly due to cuts from flying glass. People in at least three Russian oblasts (Chelyabinsk, Sverdlovsk, and Tyumen), as well as those in the northern area of neighbouring Kazakhstan, witnessed the meteorite shower early on Friday morning.

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Chelyabinsk Oblast Governor Mikhail Yurevich said in a statement posted on his website that a meteorite that injured scores of people in central Russia when it fell to earth early on Friday plunged into a lake in the Chelyabinsk Oblast, noting, “The meteorite that passed over Chelyabinsk Oblast fell into a body of water 1 kilometre (2/3 mile) from the city of Chebarkul”. Almost 500 people were injured when fragments from what EMERCOM said was a single meteorite fell across central Russia. Most people were hurt by shattering glass. Five people are in hospital, an MVD spokesman described the condition of three of them as “serious”. Roscosmos confirmed that the object was a meteorite and said that it was moving at “around 30 kilometres per second (108,000 kph/18.6 miles per second/67,100 mph) at a low trajectory”.

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The European Space Agency (ESA) said that the meteorite that hit the Urals on Friday morning was not debris from the 2012 DA14 asteroid, which is due to pass close by the Earth later the same day. ESA said on its official Twitter that its experts confirmed that there’s no link between the meteorite and the asteroid, but provided no details of its analysis. The 2012 DA14, which is roughly 50 metres (165 feet) in diameter, will pass 27,000 kilometres (16,800 miles) from Earth… closer than satellites in geosynchronous orbit, which is 36,000 kilometres (22,400 miles). The 2012 DA14 flyby will take place at 19.24 UTC (11.24 PST 14.24 EST 23.24 MSK 06.24 16 February AEST), about 16 hours after the meteorite incident in Chelyabinsk Oblast which left at least 400 injured, mostly from glass broken by the shock wave as the meteorite flew past. Numerous media reports linked the asteroid to the meteor. Tatiana Bordovitsina, an astronomy professor at Tomsk State University in western Siberia, told RIA-Novosti two hours before the ESA statement that the meteorite could’ve been debris preceding the asteroid, but she said that we needed a more thorough examination of the incident. NASA confirmed that 2012 DA14 isn’t on a collision course with the planet, but said that if the asteroid hit the Earth, the resulting explosion would be 1,000 times more powerful than the nuclear bomb that obliterated Hiroshima in 1945.

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On Friday, health officials confirmed that a hail of meteorite fragments injured hundreds of people in central Russia. Various officials said that as of mid-day MSK, as many as 725 people, including up to 159 children, sought medical assistance in hard-hit Chelyabinsk Oblast because of the strikes. Figures on hospitalisation in the oblast varied significantly, from 34 to 112, with several reported to be in “serious” condition. Most people were hurt by shattering glass. President Vladimir Putin ordered EMERCOM officials to provide “immediate” assistance to the people affected by the meteorite. Gas supplies were cut off to hundreds of homes in Chelyabinsk as a safety precaution, and some 3,000 buildings were reported to have been damaged. The government mobilised an estimated 20,000 emergency response workers. Reportedly, background radiation levels remain unchanged. Both EMERCOM and Rosatom confirmed this, as the area has a fair number of nuclear facilities.

Reports about whether this was one large meteorite or many smaller ones initially varied, but Roscosmos confirmed by early afternoon that the object was a single meteorite, a report given earlier by EMERCOM. Yelena Smirnykh, deputy head of the EMERCOM press office, said, “Verified information indicates that this was one meteorite, which burned up as it approached Earth and disintegrated into smaller pieces”. Roscosmos stated that the meteorite fragments were moving at a speed of 30 kilometres per second.

A teacher in Chelyabinsk Oblast told RIA-Novosti, “All the city’s residents saw blinding flashes, very bright ones. Suddenly, it was very, very horribly bright. Not like the lights got turned on, but as if everything was illuminated with unusual white light”. Officials are trying to determine where the fragments landed. The governor of Chelyabinsk Oblast said that one had fallen in a lake in his oblast, whilst others were reported in Tyumen, Kurgan, and Sverdlovsk Oblasts as well. Police said an eight-metre-wide (26-feet-wide) crater was discovered near the Chelyabinsk lake. They reported that the radiation levels around the crater were normal.

Emergency officials in west Kazakhstan said that they were searching for two unidentified objects that fell in Aktobe Oblast. The European Space Agency (ESA) said that there was no link between the meteorite and the DA14 asteroid, which is due to pass close by the Earth later on Friday. NASA also said that there was no connection because the asteroid and the “Russian meteorite” are on “very different paths”. Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev, speaking at an economic forum in Krasnoyarsk Krai in Siberia, called the meteorite “a symbol of the forum”, saying, “I hope that there’ll be no serious consequences, but it’s a demonstration that it isn’t only the economy that’s vulnerable, but our planet as well”.

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On Friday, nationalist lawmaker Vladimir Zhirinovsky, long known for his flamboyance and outrageous remarks, said that meteorite fragments hadn’t rained down on Russia in the morning, but that the light flashes and tremors in several oblasts resulted from American weapons tests. Zhirinovsky, leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, told journalists several hours after EMERCOM began issuing statements on the incident, which injured hundreds and damaged scores of buildings, “Those aren’t meteors falling, it’s the Americans testing new weapons”. He also said that US Secretary of State John Kerry wanted to warn Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov about the “provocation” on Monday, but couldn’t reach him… a reference to US State Department comments earlier this week that Kerry had spent several days trying to speak to Lavrov by phone to discuss North Korea and Syria. Zhirinovsky went on to say, “Outer space has its own laws. Nothing will ever fall out there. If [something] falls, it’s people doing that. People who’re instigators of wars, provocateurs”.

NB:

Click here and here for a video; click here for a photo gallery

15 February 2013

RIA-Novosti

http://en.rian.ru/science/20130215/179481989/Meteors-Injure-Over-150-in-Chelyabinsk-Region.html

http://en.rian.ru/russia/20130215/179483089/Russian-Nuclear-Sites-Unharmed-by-Meteors–Atomic-Agency.html

http://en.rian.ru/science/20130215/179483483/Some-400-Injured-in-Russian-Meteor-Shower.html

http://en.rian.ru/science/20130215/179484907/Russian-Meteor-Leaves-Trail-of-Damage-Across-Region.html

http://en.rian.ru/science/20130215/179484346/Russia-Meteorite-Fell-in-Lake–Regional-Governor.html

http://en.rian.ru/world/20130215/179485761/Russian-Meteorite-Not-Asteroid-Debris–Space-Agency.html

http://en.rian.ru/russia/20130215/179481049/Meteorite-Shower-Hits-Russia-Kazakhstan.html

http://en.rian.ru/russia/20130215/179489080/Russian-Politician-Denies-Meteorite-Claims-US-Weapons-Tests.html

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