Russia fights wildfires on over 165,000 hectares of forest
Active firefighting efforts are underway on an area of 165,831 hectares across Russia, where 246 wildfires are raging, with the country’s Far East being worst hit, official data showed on Monday.
“Fires have engulfed 41,284 hectares on the Chukotka Peninsula, 40,262 hectares on the Kamchatka Peninsula and 36,140 in the Magadan Region,’’ the Russian Federal Aerial Forest Protection Service said in a statement.
Wildfires have also been reported in Siberia, the Transbaikal Territory, and some other regions.
“The firefighting efforts are involving 3,340 people, 512 pieces of equipment and 45 aircraft.
“More than 530 wildfires on an area of over 20,000 hectares in Russia have been put out over the last seven days,’’ it added.
Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye/Ali Baba-Inuwa (NAN)
Russian Agency to provide water solutions to parts of South Africa
Ryan Collyer, the Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Rosatom Central and Southern Africa, made this known in a statement on Monday in Lagos.
Collyer said: “South Africa is considered to be a water scarce country with an average rainfall of 450mm per year.
“This is almost half the global average of 870mm per year, making it the world’s 30th driest country.”
He said, while it was estimated that close to 90 per cent of South African households could access piped water, most of these households did not have water running directly into their homes.
“Rosatom Central and Southern Africa saw the immediate need for short term water treatment solutions in the region.
“And we, therefore, decided to fast track the introduction of our mobile water treatment units into South Africa.
“The aim is to distribute these units across the continent to give people assess to clean water to improve living standards.
“This is with the hope that it will help curb the spread of the Coronavirus as well as prevent the spread of water borne diseases such as cholera, which sadly still claims lives of thousands in Africa each year.
“The company aims to bring its mobile water treatment solutions, which are designed and produced by Rosatom subsidiary JSC Science and Innovations into South Africa.
“It is an intermediate solution for urban and rural areas that currently, don’t have access to clean water or are experiencing water disruptions due to failed infrastructure,” he said.
Collyer said the company offers various technologies for the treatment of water and had a vast amount of experience in water treatment and desalination.
“The UMKWA mobile water treatment solution is a fully containeried system that is mounted to the back of a standard one ton pickup truck.
“The units, which are produced in Russia, can be deployed to South African customers in a very short period of time to help solve the current issues.
“They can be used along rivers, dams or even the ocean. Clean water can then be distributed at the site of treatment or can be transported by tanker and distributed to nearby residents.
“The units can also add much needed support to ailing municipal water treatment facilities. We also offer larger containerised solutions which may replace existing outdated facilities,” he said.
Edited By: Olagoke Olatoye (NAN)
Russia detains 5 suspected IS terrorists
Russia said, on Monday, it has detained five suspected members of the Islamic State terrorist organisation in the country’s southern Rostov region.
The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) said in a statement that it “uncovered and stopped the activities of a conspiratorial cell of supporters of Islamic State in the Rostov region, which consisted of six local residents, including citizens of one Central Asian country and Russia.
“They had been preparing attacks on police officers and planned terrorist acts at medical and educational institutions’’.
Five members of the group were detained, while their leader opened fire and blew up an improvised explosive device, killing himself, the statement said.
There were no victims among the civilian population and law enforcement officials, it added.
A home-made explosive device, automatic firearms and ammunition as well as drugs were seized during the operation, the FSB said.
Law enforcement authorities filed charges against the detainees on the grounds of plotting terrorist attacks, illegal arms trafficking and encroachment on the life of law enforcement officers, according to the statement.
Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)
Thousands call for release of Russian governor held on murder charges
Thousands marched in Russia’s far eastern city of Khabarovsk on Saturday in support of its regional governor, who is being held in pre-trial detention after being charged with organising the murder of several entrepreneurs 15 years ago.
Observers in the city of Khabarovsk spoke of the biggest protest in years, with demonstrators said to have taken to the streets and squares chanting “Freedom,” “Moscow, go away” and “Putin is a thief.”
Local media outlets reported that the demonstrations were largely peaceful and there were no arrests.
A spokeswoman for the governor, Nadezhda Tomchenko, took to Instagram to thank the demonstrators for their support.
She wrote that the region had seldom experienced such unanimity and directly addressed the demonstrators, telling them: “We are sure you will be heard.”
Furgal, who has pleaded innocent, was elected governor of Khabarovsk, which borders China, two years ago in an upset of the long-time incumbent who had represented the ruling United Russia party.
“He is considered the organiser of an attempted murder and the murder of a number of business people in 2004 and 2005,’’ the Investigative Committee said in a statement.
Furgal’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) has denounced the murder charges as politically motivated.
“This is a very big political case,” LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky said after Furgal was detained on Thursday.
Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye/Ali Baba-Inuwa (NAN)
Russian LGBT activist fined for ‘gay propaganda’
A Russian LGBT activist said she was fined 75,000 roubles (1,000 dollars) on Friday on charges of spreading “gay propaganda” among minors by publishing drawings of same-sex couples with children online.
Yulia Tsvetkova and her lawyer said she was prosecuted over a series of colourful pictures, some showing two men or two women, holding babies or standing with young children, sometimes surrounded by rainbow-coloured love hearts.
The court in the eastern city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur confirmed the 27-year-old had been fined under a 2013 law that bans disseminating “propaganda on non-traditional sexual relations” among young Russians – legislation condemned by rights groups.
“Today I was fined for posts about discrimination and how to fight it, for posts that family is where love is,” Tsvetkova told Reuters.
Her lawyer Alexei Bushmakov said Tsvetkova was also awaiting trial on separate charges of producing and disseminating pornography – offences punishable with up to six years in jail. He said investigators had told her not to discuss that case.
Homosexuality in Russia, where the influence of the socially conservative Orthodox Church has grown in recent years, was a criminal offence until 1993, and classed as a mental illness until 1999.
Gay marriage is not recognised and only heterosexual couples can legally adopt children in Russia.
President Vladimir Putin has said he is not prejudiced against gay people, but that he finds a Western willingness to embrace homosexuality and gender fluidity out of step with traditional Russian values.
Tsvetkova has built up an online following with her colourful drawings that she says promote LGBT rights and celebrate the female body. Many are published on Facebook and the Russian social media site Vkontakte.
Her prosecution has sparked a wave of support among activists and artists in Russia and abroad. Dozens of women were arrested in Moscow last month at a protest against her trial.
Russian LGBT Network, the country’s most prominent gay rights campaign group, called charges against Tsvetkova “nonsense”.
“Russian homophobia… is largely an outcome of authorities’ homophobic policies,” said Svetlana Zakharova, one of the group’s board members.
Edited By: Isaac Aregbesola (NAN)
Russian Orthodox Church criticises Turkey’s decision on Hagia Sophia
The Russian Orthodox Church on Friday criticised a Turkish court’s decision to enable the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul to be turned back into a Mosque, revoking its status as a museum.
According to its spokesman, Vladimir Legoida, the concern of millions of Christians has not been heard.
“Today’s court ruling shows that all calls for the need for extreme delicacy in this matter were ignored,” Legoida said.
The Hagia Sophia is landmark of Istanbul, once serving as Christian cathedral, later as a Mosque, then as a museum.
Edited By: Yahaya Isah/Ali Baba-Inuwa (NAN)
Netherlands sues Russia over Flight MH17 downing over eastern Ukraine
Almost 300 people on board Flight MH17, en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, were killed when the passenger jet was shot down by a missile that a Dutch-led investigative team has determined came from Russia.
Most of the victims were Dutch.
“With this state complaint, the Netherlands stands up for all 298 MH17 victims, of 17 different nationalities, and their relatives,” the Dutch government said in a statement announcing the lawsuit.
Russia has rejected the allegation that it provided the missile to a pro-Russian rebel group fighting the Ukrainian military for control of eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region, near the Russian border.
Although Russian President Vladimir Putin has represented such rebel groups in international peace talks, the Russian government has repeatedly denied direct involvement in the conflict.
The Netherlands found Russia liable for the shooting-down of Flight MH17 in 2018.
“It believes it is important that talks with Russia within the context of state liability, continue”, it said.
The legal proceedings “aim to find a solution that does justice to the enormous suffering and damage caused by the downing of Flight MH17,’’ the Dutch government sdded.
Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye (NAN)
Russian activists planning anti-Putin protest detained by authorities- opposition
Two Russian activists involved in a campaign against what they say are President Vladimir Putin’s illegal plans to remain in power were detained by authorities on Thursday.
“While four others had their homes searched,’’ an anti-Kremlin group said.
Moscow’s Investigative Committee, which looks into serious crimes and the city’s police force, did not immediately respond to comment requests.
Activists had planned a protest in central Moscow on July 15 advertised on social media as “No to an eternal Putin”.
A landslide vote this month handed Putin the right to run for two more presidential terms, an outcome the Kremlin described as a triumph. [nL8N2E82EI]
Opposition activists say the vote was illegitimate, marred with violations, and that it is time for Putin, who has ruled Russia for over two decades as president or prime minister, to step down.
Mass gatherings are currently banned in the capital due to COVID-19 restrictions and protests of over one person require authorities’ advance consent in normal times.
Open Russia, a movement founded by Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky, said its offices in central Moscow were being searched and that two of its employees, including executive director Andrei Pivovarov, had been detained.
Pivovarov earlier posted a link on Twitter encouraging people to attend coming week’s protest.
Yulia Galyamina, a Moscow city councillor, said police arrived at her apartment and threatened to tear down the door if they were not let in.
“It’s because of the campaign against the constitutional reforms, also because of the planned protest,” she told Reuters.
The homes of Tatiana Usmanova and Olga Gorelik, from Open Russia, were also searched on Tuesday, Open Russia said.
“Sergei Prostakov, editor-in-chief of MBKh Media, a news outlet founded by Khodorkovsky, was also targeted by the searches,’’ his organisation said.
Alexei Navalny, a prominent opposition figure, said the searches were designed to scare Kremlin critics.
“This is an attempt to demoralise those who are against Putin and publicly punish those who opposed Putin’s amendments,” Navalny wrote on Twitter.
Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye/Ali Baba-Inuwa (NAN)
Cinemas miss out on upgrades as Russia diverts funds in COVID-19 battle
About 140 cinemas in Russia will miss out on scheduled modernisations after the government moved nearly 1.2 billion Roubles (16.5 million dollars ) earmarked for culture spending in 2020 to its reserve fund as it tackles COVID-19.
The coronavirus outbreak has forced the government to adjust spending goals in 13 key areas, known as the national projects, first announced by President Vladimir Putin during his bid for re-election in 2018. The projects are intended to spur economic growth.
“Funds amounting to 1.17 billion Roubles from the ‘Culture’ national project for 2020 were transferred to the (government’s) reserve fund,” the TASS news agency quoted Deputy Culture Minister Olga Yarilova as saying on Wednesday.
She said 200 cinemas were to have been modernised this year but only 60 of the development plans would go ahead under the scheme, and plans to digitise materials from the state film fund would also be affected.
The plan had been by 2024 to equip 1,200 cinemas with professional equipment in settlements with up to 500,000 inhabitants.
Artem Ryzhkov, programme director of a short film festival in Russia’s Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad, described the move as very sad, saying a modern cinema can transform a city.
“It is a great programme,” he said. “I really hope this is temporary and that next year everything will come back.”
Under the original spending plan, Russia had intended to spend 113.5 billion Roubles on culture between 2019 and 2024.
The government’s reserve fund is separate from its National Wealth Fund and is used for emergency spending needs.
Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Ali Baba-Inuwa (NAN)
Russia’s COVID-19 cases surpass 674,000
The death toll grew by 168 to 10,027, while 446,879 people have now recovered, including 8,986 over the last 24 hours, according to the statement.
Moscow, the country’s worst-hit region, reported 680 new cases, taking its tally of infections to 224,210.
As of Friday, 280,415 people were still under medical observation, while more than 20.7 million COVID-19 lab tests have been conducted nationwide, Russia’s consumer rights and human well-being watchdog.
Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)
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