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Harris, Buttigieg in spotlight amid questions about Democrats’ future


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The Brooklyn Times Posts Review – 9:30 11.13.21: Angela Merkel urges Germans to get Covid vaccines | Biden warns, Putin fires, Xi exports, Modi gives a price – The Manila Times


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Putin says Russia has ‘nothing to do’ with Belarus-Poland border crisis


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nMoscow (AFP) xe2x80x93 Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday denied claims Moscow is helping to orchestrate a crisis that has left hundreds of migrants from the Middle East trapped on the Belarus-Poland border.

Blaming Western policies in the Middle East for the crisis, Putin hit back at claims from Poland and others that Russia is working with Belarus to send migrants to the border of the European Union.

“I want everyone to know. We have nothing to do with it,” he said in an interview with state television broadcast Saturday.

Putin said European leaders needed to talk to Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko to resolve the crisis and that “as I understand it” German Chancellor Angela Merkel was ready to do so.

“We should not forget where these crises associated with migrants came from… Western countries themselves, including European countries,” he said.

The migrants, mainly Kurds, have been stuck for days in a no-man’s land on the border in near-freezing temperatures, setting up a tent camp and burning wood to keep warm.

Belarus says there are about 2,000 people in the camp, including pregnant women and children. Poland says there are between 3,000 to 4,000 migrants on the border, with more arriving every day.

Tents, heaters brought to camp

There is growing concern for their plight as temperatures continue to fall, with Poland refusing to allow them to cross and accusing Belarus of preventing them from leaving the area.

Belarusian authorities said Saturday they were delivering aid including tents and heaters to the migrant camp — a move that could make it a semi-permanent presence on the borders of the EU.

State news agency Belta reported that government bodies were erecting tents at the camp and that a generator had been delivered.

“The Belarusian side is doing everything to provide them with what they need. Water, firewood and humanitarian aid have been delivered,” Igor Butkevich, the deputy head of the state border committee, told Belta.

Migrants have been trying to cross the border for months, but the crisis came to a head when hundreds made a concerted effort on Monday and were pushed back by Polish border guards.

Sporadic attempts to cross have continued, and Polish police said Saturday that the body of a young Syrian man had been found in a forest close to the border.

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Police said the cause of death could not be immediately determined and that a group of around 100 migrants had attempted to cross the border during the night in the area.

The death brings to 11 the number of migrants found dead on both sides since the crisis began in the summer, according to aid groups.

European leaders have accused Lukashenko, who has ruled ex-Soviet Belarus for nearly 30 years, of luring the migrants to his country to send across the border in revenge for sanctions imposed over a bloody crackdown on his opponents.

The EU is expected next week to widen the penalties to include new sanctions for “human trafficking”.

EU set for new sanctions

European Commission vice president Margaritis Schinas said in an interview in Saturday’s edition of French newspaper Le Figaro that the sanctions would be “approved and applied”.

He said they would apply among others to Belarusian state airline Belavia, which has been accused of ferrying groups of migrants from Turkey and elsewhere to Minsk.

The EU said Friday it was having some success in efforts to stem the flow of migrants to Belarus, after Ankara banned Iraqis, Syrians and Yemenis from flying to the country from Turkey.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s top foreign policy adviser told AFP on Saturday that Turkey was also not to blame.

“Travellers are going to Belarus and from there to Lithuania, Poland and other EU countries. Blaming Turkey for that, or Turkish Airlines, is simply so misguided, misplaced,” Ibrahim Kalin said.

Tensions remain high at the border, where thousands of troops have been deployed on both sides.

Belarus said Friday it would “respond harshly to any attacks” and held joint drills with Russian paratroopers near the border.

Russia, Lukashenko’s main ally, sent planes including strategic bombers to patrol over Belarus this week.

But Moscow’s support for Minsk is often cautious, and Putin in the interview said Lukashenko was acting entirely on his own when he threatened this week to cut off Russian gas transit through Belarus to Europe.

xc2xa9 2021 AFP

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North Carolina man wrongfully imprisoned for 24 years pardoned | US news


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A North Carolina man who spent 24 years behind bars for a murder he has long said he did not commit has been pardoned by the statexe2x80x99s governor.

Dontae Sharpe has been out of prison since 2019 and the pardon allows him to apply for compensation of up to $750,000 for his wrongful conviction.

xe2x80x9cMr Sharpe and others who have been wrongly convicted deserve to have that injustice fully and publicly acknowledged,xe2x80x9d the governor, Roy Cooper, said.

In 1995, Sharpe was given a life sentence at age 19 for the first-degree murder of 33-year-old George Radcliffe, whom he was accused of killing a year earlier during a drug deal. Sharpe had maintained his innocence throughout and said in a 2019 interview that his faith and knowledge he was innocent guided his refusal to accept offers of a lighter sentence in exchange for a guilty plea.

At a virtual news conference on Friday just an hour after Cooperxe2x80x99s announcement, Sharpe said he was in disbelief when his lawyer called him with the news. He said he was still processing it and also was thinking of those who had taken to the streets and held vigils on his behalf.

xe2x80x9cIxe2x80x99m still in a haze, kind of,xe2x80x9d Sharpe said. xe2x80x9cWhen youxe2x80x99re dealing with us human beings, it can go any way, yes and no. I didnxe2x80x99t know what to expect. I was believing for a pardon.xe2x80x9d

The governmentxe2x80x99s case against Sharpe relied in part on testimony from a 15-year-old girl at the time who claimed she saw Sharpe kill Radcliffe but later recanted and said she wasnxe2x80x99t present at the time of the shooting. She later said her claims were made up, based on what investigators told her.

Sharpe was unsuccessful in his repeated efforts for a new trial until a former state medical examiner testified that the statexe2x80x99s theory of the shooting was not medically or scientifically possible. A judge subsequently ordered more evidence to be heard. Sharpe was released from prison in August 2019 after the prosecutor said the state wouldnxe2x80x99t pursue a retrial.

The NAACP had long pushed for Sharpexe2x80x99s release. In recent months, racial justice groups have demanded the governor grant Sharpe the clemency needed in order to apply for compensation for his wrongful conviction. They held vigils in front of Cooperxe2x80x99s state residence in downtown Raleigh for several weeks.

Anthony Spearman, a longtime North Carolina NAACP leader who was among those who participated in a vigil outside the governorxe2x80x99s mansion, said: xe2x80x9cThis should have happened a long time ago.xe2x80x9d

Sharpe said he will continue to press for other inmates to receive justice.

xe2x80x9cMy freedom is still incomplete as long as therexe2x80x99s still people going to prison wrongfully, if therexe2x80x99s still people in prison wrongfully and therexe2x80x99s still people that are waiting on pardons,xe2x80x9d he said.

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Three senior officials reportedly quit Mossad over moves by new spy chief | The Times of Israel


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Mossad chief David Barnea at a ceremony marking his taking the helm of the agency, on June 1, 2021. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Mossad chief David Barnea at a ceremony marking his taking the helm of the agency, on June 1, 2021. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

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Three senior officials in the Mossad espionage agency have resigned overxc2xa0 decisions made by the organizationxe2x80x99s new director, David Barnea, according to a Thursday report.

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The resignations took place in the past few weeks, Channel 13 reported.

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Barnea took over as director of the intelligence agency from Yossi Cohen in June.

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The officials who left the agency were three of its most senior officials, holding the comparative rank of major-general in the military, the report said.

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Those said to have quit include the head of the technology division, the head of operations and the head of the branch dealing with the anti-terror war. A fourth senior official is reportedly considering quitting as well.

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The resignation of the officials was said to be directly linked to organizational decisions made by Barnea to divide up responsibilities in the spy agency and split existing branches.

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Barnea, who is also known by his nickname Dedi, served as a combat soldier in the elite Sayeret Matkal commando unit and has been in the Mossad for the past 25 years, including in prominent operational roles that saw him rise to lead the branch that handles the organizationxe2x80x99s agents worldwide. He was appointed Cohenxe2x80x99s deputy in 2019.

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Announcing Barneaxe2x80x99s appointment in May, then prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his top task was xe2x80x9cto prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.xe2x80x9d

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Cohen had served as head of the Mossad since January 2016. He was considered a close confidante to Netanyahu, reportedly served as the former prime ministerxe2x80x99s special envoy for various tasks, and was said to be seen by Netanyahu as his preferred successor as prime minister.

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Cohen played a prominent role in last yearxe2x80x99s deals to normalize ties with Arab countries. He traveled to the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, as the US brokered deals between them and Israel.

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In Streetwise Hebrew for the Times of Israel Community, each month we learn several colloquial Hebrew phrases around a common theme. These are bite-size audio Hebrew classes that we think you’ll really enjoy.

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This month, we’re learning phrases on the topic of strength and power. Ready to get tough with us?xc2xa0

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US warns Moscow embassy could stop functioning in row over visas | US foreign policy


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The US embassy in Moscow could stop performing most functions next year unless there is progress with Russia on increasing the number of visas for diplomats, a US official has warned.

The United States earlier this month stopped processing visas in Moscow, and Russians are obliged to travel to the US embassy in Warsaw.

xe2x80x9cWe need to make progress soon,xe2x80x9d a senior state department official told reporters.

xe2x80x9cWexe2x80x99re going to confront the situation xe2x80x93 not next month, but sometime next year xe2x80x93 where itxe2x80x99s just difficult for us to continue with anything other than a caretaker presence at the embassy,xe2x80x9d he said.

xe2x80x9cWe will do everything humanly possible to keep that mission open,xe2x80x9d he said, while warning that more functions of the embassy, such as sending diplomatic cables, would become difficult without more staff.

Russia and the United States withdrew their ambassadors in April after the incoming Biden administration issued sanctions and expelled 10 Russian diplomats over actions including the SolarWinds cyber attack and election interference.

Those ambassadors returned in June, but the staff at the embassy in Moscow xe2x80x93 the last operational US mission in the country after consulates in Vladivostok and Yekaterinburg were shuttered xe2x80x93 has shrunk to 120 from about 1,200 in early 2017, the state department official told reporters at a briefing.

He said that the United States lacked staff for basic tasks such as opening and closing the embassy gates, ensuring secure telephone calls and operating the elevators.

Russia on 1 August barred embassies from hiring Russian or third-country staff, forcing the United States to lay off more than 200 locals at missions across Russia, according to the state department.

The United States complains of a lack of reciprocity with Moscow, which counts local staff in its tally of US diplomats, while Washington only factors in Russian nationals in its limit on numbers.

The United States has about 120 people at its Russian missions, far down from 1,200 in 2017, while Russia has 230 people in the United States, excluding those posted in New York for its UN mission.

xe2x80x9cThey have a much bigger presence here in the United States than we have in Russia,xe2x80x9d the official said.

Russia and the United States continue to engage in talks over nuclear threat reduction and climate change, but relations remain strained by issues like the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Europe and Vladimir Putinxe2x80x99s suppression of his domestic opponents.

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From Borough Park to Upper West Side: How Jews voted, and fared, in NY elections


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The Jewish Weekxc2xa0viaxc2xa0JTAxc2xa0xe2x80x94 Itxe2x80x99s official: Eric Adams will become the 110th mayor of New York City and the cityxe2x80x99s second Black mayor xe2x80x94 even as one major bloc of Jewish voters spurned him.

Adams, a Democrat who ran on the strength of his public safety record, easily defeated his Republican rival. At his victory party, he broadcast an inclusive vision at a precarious moment for the city.

xe2x80x9cIt doesnxe2x80x99t matter if you are in Borough Park in the Hasidic community, if youxe2x80x99re in Flatbush in the Korean community, if youxe2x80x99re in Sunset Park in the Chinese community, if youxe2x80x99re in Rockaway, if youxe2x80x99re out in Queens, in the Dominican community, Washington Heights xe2x80x94 all of you have the power to fuel us,xe2x80x9d Adams said in his victory speech at the Marriott Hotel in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

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But while Adams had beenxc2xa0endorsed by the Satmar Hasidic group in June, which may have helped him come out ahead in the summerxe2x80x99s crowded mayoral primary, he was not the favorite in Borough Park on election night. In the 48th Assembly District, a district represented by an Orthodox assemblyman and which encompasses much of Borough Park, 54.9% of voters chose Republican Curtis Sliwa, with only 39.2% voting for Adams.

Jewish voters in the district also delivered a win to a Republican City Council candidate, Inna Vernikov. Vernikov, a Jewish attorney and Ukrainian immigrant outspoken in her support for former president Donald Trump, will fill the seat vacated when Democrat Chaim Deutschxc2xa0was expelled from the council in April. She defeated Steven Saperstein, another Jewish candidate and a former special education teacher.

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Members of ultra-Orthodox community gather to listen to an interview conducted by a journalist on a street corner, in the Borough Park neighborhood of New York as Gov. Andrew Cuomo moved to reinstate restrictions on houses of worship in and near areas where coronavirus cases are spiking, October 7, 2020. (John Minchillo/AP)

Both Vernikov and Saperstein campaigned on promises related to public safety, supporting Israel and reducing crime at a time when antisemitic incidents are on the rise in New York City. District 48 contains the cityxe2x80x99s largest population of Russian speakers as well as a significant Orthodox Jewish population and was one of a few districts that went for Trump in the 2020 presidential election, with 65% of voters backing the former president.

District 48 is an anomaly in a city where there are seven times as many registered Democrats as Republicans. The dynamic means that Democratic primaries typically decide who wins citywide office in New York City, so Adams had virtually been guaranteed a victory after winning the Democratic primary in June.

Adams will take office during one of the cityxe2x80x99s most vulnerable periods in recent history, still reeling from thousands of deaths and economic loss due to the pandemic. Adams, 61, has served as the Brooklyn borough president since 2013.

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As was expected, Brad Lander, a progressive Jewish candidate with ties to Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, will become the cityxe2x80x99s next comptroller, and Jumaane Williams will continue to serve as New York Cityxe2x80x99s public advocate.

In other race results, Mark Levine will become Manhattanxe2x80x99s borough president, replacing Gale Brewer, who returns to her former City Council position representing the Upper West Side. Julie Menin will represent the Upper East Sidexe2x80x99s District 6 on the City Council.

Illustrative: New Yorkers line up outside a polling station at Louis Brandeis High School in Manhattanxe2x80x99s Upper West Side (Jacob Magid)

Eric Dinowitz was reelected to the City Council representing the Northwest corner of the Bronx in District 11, which includes the heavily Jewish area of Riverdale. Dinowitz, the son of state assembly member and a one-time member of the Jewish a capella groupxc2xa0Six13,xc2xa0was first elected in a special election in March after fellow Democrat Andrew Cohen was elected to the New York Supreme Court.

Progressivexc2xa0Lincoln Restler will represent the Brooklyn shoreline and South Williamsburg in District 33, which encompasses a large Hasidic community, after an uncontested race.

District 32 in Queens, the only New York City Council district represented by a Republican outside of Staten Island, will remain that way. Republican Joann Ariola will be the next Council member after beating Democrat Felicia Singh, a progressive candidate who captured endorsements from Jewish groups. District 32 includes a number of beachfront communities, including Howard Beach and Rockaway Park.

Voters in District 29 elected Democrat Lynn Schulman, who had been endorsed by Jewish groups in Queens. The district includes large Jewish communities in Forest Hills and Kew Gardens.

One race remains too close to call: Ari Kagan, a Jewish immigrant from Belarus who lost to Deutsch in District 48 in 2013, had been favored to replace Mark Treyger in Brooklynxe2x80x99s District 47. But the Republican candidate, Mark Szuszkiewicz, has outperformed expectations in the district, which spans Bensonhurst, Coney Island, Gravesend and Sea Gate.

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Russia blocks website that exposed Putin’s cleaner-turned-millionaire ‘mistress’


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Russia has blocked the website that exposed President Vladimir Putin‘s cleaner-turned-millionaire ‘mistress’ and herxc2xa0 ‘xc2xa374m business empire’.

Proekt, which also published axc2xa0series of exposes of the country’s super-wealthy elite, was blocked after it claimed, among other things, that Svetlana Krivonogikh, 46,xc2xa0was in a relationship with the then-married Kremlin leader before and after he first became president in 1999.

It also published allegations her daughter – Elizaveta, or Luiza, now 18 – was fathered by Putin, and is his third daughter after Maria and Katerina from his marriage.xc2xa0

The news outlet, known in English as Project, was earlier designated by the Kremlin a ‘foreign agent’ and an ‘undesirable organisation’ – the same labels given to opposition leader Alexei Navalny‘s Anti-Corruption Foundation.xc2xa0

Proekt founder Roman Badanin, who has halted his work in Russia where he faces jail on ostensibly unrelated charges, was also labelled a ‘foreign agent’ over the sites’s alleged US backing.xc2xa0

Russia's state media watchdog has blocked an investigative news website after it revealed details of Vladimir Putin's alleged former mistress and love child

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Russia’s state media watchdog has blocked an investigative news website after it revealed details of Vladimir Putin’s alleged former mistress and love child

Proekt published claims Svetlana Krivonogikh, 46, (pictured) was in a relationship with the then-married Kremlin leader before and after he first became president in 1999

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Proekt published claims Svetlana Krivonogikh, 46, (pictured) was in a relationship with the then-married Kremlin leader before and after he first became president in 1999

Proekt also published allegations her daughter - Elizaveta, or Luiza, now 18 (pictured) - was fathered by President Putin, and is his third daughter

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Proekt also published allegations her daughter – Elizaveta, or Luiza, now 18 (pictured) – was fathered by President Putin, and is his third daughter

Proekt was blocked in Russia after it published an investigative article (pictured) including details of President Putin's alleged mistress and love child

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Proekt was blocked in Russia after it published an investigative article (pictured) including details of President Putin’s alleged mistress and love childxc2xa0

The move by Roskomnadzor to ban the site reportedly came at the behest of the country’s prosecutor-general.xc2xa0

The Ministry of Justice has claimed the company behind Proekt posed ‘a threat to the foundations of the constitutional order and security of the Russian Federation’.xc2xa0xc2xa0xc2xa0

The outlet’s investigative journalists had claimed Krivonogikh owned a business empire worth in excess of xc2xa374 million, including a yacht that has been seen under naval escort in St Petersburg.

The recent Pandora Papers leak also linked her to a xc2xa33.1 million luxury fourth-floor home, located in the Monte Carlo Star apartment block just below the famous casino, in Monaco.xc2xa0

The papersxc2xa0also revealed her total worth to be around $100million.xc2xa0

A series of photos posted to Instagram -xc2xa0one showing a firework display, one of a rainbow overlooking the ocean, and a third showing yachts in the harbour – also linkedxc2xa0Krivonogikh and her daughter to the apartment.xc2xa0

On the yacht photo, which was posted in 2014, daughter Elizaveta replied with comment which said: ‘Beautiful! I know this place!’xc2xa0

Her other assets, many of which are also controlled by offshore firms, include a yacht as well as shares of some of Russia’s most-valuable state-owned firms.xc2xa0

Neither Krivonogikh nor her daughter has commented on the disclosures which unmask the hidden financial dealings of world leaders and their associates.xc2xa0

Svetlana Krivonogikh, 46 and believed to be Putin's mistress, owns a $4million apartment in Monte Carlo through a secretive offshore firm, the Pandora Papers have revealed

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Svetlana Krivonogikh, 46 and believed to be Putin’s mistress, owns a $4million apartment in Monte Carlo through a secretive offshore firm, the Pandora Papers have revealed

Photos posted toxc2xa0Krivonogikh's social media further link her with Monaco, including this one of a firework display over the ultra-rich enclave

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Photos posted toxc2xa0Krivonogikh’s social media further link her with Monaco, including this one of a firework display over the ultra-rich enclave

Krivonogikh also posted this image of Monaco's harbour from Monte Carlo, which her daughter and alleged Putin lovechild commented on - saying: 'I know this place!'

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Krivonogikh also posted this image of Monaco’s harbour from Monte Carlo, which her daughter and alleged Putin lovechild commented on – saying: ‘I know this place!’

Kremlin brushes off Pandora Papers leak and investigation

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Since being ‘outed’ by the opposition media last year, student Luiza has become a social media star with more than 80,000 followers, her own fashion line, and has been in demand as a DJ.

In recent months, she had spent time in Paris despite the Covid-19 restrictions.

Neither she nor her mother has commented on the Proekt claims but Luiza told Russian GQ that she ‘probably’ looks ‘similar’ to a young Putin.xc2xa0xc2xa0xc2xa0xc2xa0xc2xa0

Putin’s spokesman said when the story originally broke that the love child allegations were ‘not very convincing’ and ‘de facto unfounded’, but this has not prevented widespread speculation.

Another image from Krivonogikh's social media showed a rainbow over an ocean view, which she also tagged as being taken in Monaco

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Another image from Krivonogikh’s social media showed a rainbow over an ocean view, which she also tagged as being taken in Monaco

Elizaveta

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Elizaveta

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Elizaveta isxc2xa0Krivonogikh’s daughter and is believed to be Putin’s lovechild. Her mother suddenly came into wealth after her birth in 2003

Proekt’s closure coincides with a Washington Post article by Badanin – now a John S. Knight Senior International Journalism Fellow at Stanford University – headlined: ‘Why we should care about Putin’s love life’.

In it he argued: ‘Where Krivonogikh got her wealth is relevant not only to Putin’s personal life, it is also a matter of life and death for the people of my country.’

The Covid-19 crisis in Russia has reached new peaks yet ‘our kleptocrats, enabled and encouraged by the Kremlin, continue to enrich themselves even as regular people continue dying in underfunded state hospitals’.

While deaths soar, hospitals like the Botkin State Clinic in St Petersburg, are crumbling due to lack of renovation, he said.

‘Even as public facilities such as Botkin were falling apart, Putin’s friends and relatives – including his ex-mistress Krivonogikh – our reporting showed, have been busily building multimillion-dollar residential buildings for themselves,’ he wrote.

Funding for such properties has come from Bank Rossiya, of which she is an owner, he said.

Proekt's closure coincides with a Washington Post article by Roman Badanin (pictured) - now a John S. Knight Senior International Journalism Fellow at Stanford University - headlined: 'Why we should care about Putin's love life'

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Proekt’s closure coincides with a Washington Post article by Roman Badanin (pictured) – now a John S. Knight Senior International Journalism Fellow at Stanford University – headlined: ‘Why we should care about Putin’s love life’

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18+ В пыточной ОТБ-1 насиловали русских, чеченцев, дагестанцев, грузин, азербайджанцев. 6 эпизодов. – YouTube


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b’18+ xd0x92 xd0xbfxd1x8bxd1x82xd0xbexd1x87xd0xbdxd0xbexd0xb9 xd0x9exd0xa2xd0x91-1 xd0xbdxd0xb0xd1x81xd0xb8xd0xbbxd0xbexd0xb2xd0xb0xd0xbbxd0xb8 xd1x80xd1x83xd1x81xd1x81xd0xbaxd0xb8xd1x85, xd1x87xd0xb5xd1x87xd0xb5xd0xbdxd1x86xd0xb5xd0xb2, xd0xb4xd0xb0xd0xb3xd0xb5xd1x81xd1x82xd0xb0xd0xbdxd1x86xd0xb5xd0xb2, xd0xb3xd1x80xd1x83xd0xb7xd0xb8xd0xbd, xd0xb0xd0xb7xd0xb5xd1x80xd0xb1xd0xb0xd0xb9xd0xb4xd0xb6xd0xb0xd0xbdxd1x86xd0xb5xd0xb2. 6 xd1x8dxd0xbfxd0xb8xd0xb7xd0xbexd0xb4xd0xbexd0xb2.

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Polish PM blames Vladimir Putin for Belarus border crisis | Poland


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Polandxe2x80x99s prime minister has accused Vladimir Putin of xe2x80x9cmastermindingxe2x80x9d the migrant crisis on Belarusxe2x80x99s border with the EU, while Minskxe2x80x99s key ally in the Kremlin pointed the blame at Europe.

The escalating rhetoric, including claims from the Belarusian leader, Alexander Lukashenko, that Russia could join a potential conflict at the border, has underlined the role that regional alliances are playing in the standoff and ensuing humanitarian crisis.

Poland and Lithuania have declared a state of emergency on their borders with Belarus, where Lukashenko has been accused of ferrying asylum-seekers from the Middle East to the EUxe2x80x99s borders as revenge for the blocxe2x80x99s criticism of his crackdown on opposition.

The arrival of more than 1,000 migrants and refugees, many from Iraqi Kurdistan, at the Polish border on Monday brought the crisis to a head. Polish border guards said on Wednesday that two groups of several dozen people had breached the borders overnight. They were arrested and expelled, they said. Lithuanian border guards said they had prevented 281 attempts to cross the border illegally on Tuesday.

At an extraordinary session of parliament on Tuesday evening, the Polish prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, squarely pointed the blame for the crisis at Moscow and Putin, calling the Russian leader an xe2x80x9cenablerxe2x80x9d of Lukashenko.

xe2x80x9cThis attack which Lukashenko is conducting has its mastermind in Moscow, the mastermind is President Putin,xe2x80x9d Morawiecki said in the Sejm, Polandxe2x80x99s lower house of parliament, which is dominated by the rightwing Law and Justice party.

Morawiecki said Putin was determined to xe2x80x9crebuild the Russian empirexe2x80x9d and called the crisis at the border xe2x80x9ca new kind of war, in which people are used as living shieldsxe2x80x9d.

The remarks are the most direct accusations against Russia yet in a crisis where the Kremlin has not played an overt role. Belarusian travel agencies have issued visas and brought hundreds of people from Iraq, Syria and other countries to Minsk, from where they then travel west to try to cross the border and from Poland pass on to Germany. Many of the airlines carrying the migrants and refugees are Belarusian or based in the Middle East.

Moscow has been an increasingly crucial ally for Belarus in the past year, backing Lukashenko after his brutal crackdown on protests and after his grounding of a Ryanair flight in May that set off a fresh round of sanctions and pushed Minsk further into isolation.

EU countries have threatened new sanctions and accused Lukashenko of xe2x80x9chuman traffickingxe2x80x9d and xe2x80x9cgangster-stylexe2x80x9d tactics.

On Tuesday, Russiaxe2x80x99s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, said western countries including EU member states, and Nato, were the xe2x80x9crootxe2x80x9d of the migrant crisis.

xe2x80x9cThey were pushing for a western-style better life and democracy the way it is interpreted by the west,xe2x80x9d he said, referring to US-led interventions and alleged western backing for the Arab spring.

Lukashenko and Putin held a phone call to discuss the border crisis on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, a military alliance of ex-Soviet states, said it was following the crisis xe2x80x9cvery closely and with concernxe2x80x9d.

xe2x80x9cThe migrant crisis may evolve into a great disaster for thousands of civilians, including numerous women and children,xe2x80x9d the CSTO secretariat said in a statement. Dominated by Moscow, the group is seen as the Kremlinxe2x80x99s answer to Nato.

Earlier, western media reported remarks from a Nato spokesperson that the military alliance xe2x80x9cstands readyxe2x80x9d to provide help to end the crisis.

Reuters reported on Wednesday that the EU was close to imposing more sanctions on Belarus, targeting 30 individuals and entities including the foreign minister and the Belarusian airline Belavia, with approval likely as early as next week.