‘Let him go’: Joe Biden calls on Russia to release US journalist

President Joe Biden
President Biden spoke to journalists about the detention of Evan Gershkovich on Friday. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters


Human Rights Watch describes arrest of WSJ’s Evan Gershkovich as ‘depraved cynical move’ designed to silence critical voices

Shaun WalkerFri 31 Mar 2023 16.44 BST

President Joe Biden has called on Russia to release Evan Gershkovich, a Wall Street Journal reporter arrested earlier this week on espionage charges and facing 20 years in jail.

“Let him go,” said Biden, when asked about the case on Friday. Previously, the White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, described the espionage charges levelled against Gershkovich as “ridiculous”.

The prospect of a speedy release seems increasingly unlikely, however, as Russian officials continue to speak about Gershkovich in terms suggesting his conviction is a foregone conclusion.

“We are dealing with activity conducted under the cover of journalism, activity that is essentially espionage. Since he was caught red-handed, the situation is plain and simple,” said Dmitry Peskov, a spokesperson for Vladimir Putin.

Gershkovich was arrested in Ekaterinburg on Wednesday, and flown to Moscow, where a court on Thursday officially charged him with espionage and remanded him in custody until the end of May.

The Wall Street Journal has vehemently denied the charges against the 31-year-old reporter, and friends and colleagues of Gershkovich have described the accusations as ludicrous.

Observers have suggested two possible motives for the arrest: to stifle critical reporting on Russia even further, and to take Gershkovich “hostage” as a bargaining chip for a possible future exchange for Russian spies caught in the west. Being included in such an exchange may be Gershkovich’s best chance of a speedy release.

Rachel Denber of Human Rights Watch described the arrest as a “depraved cynical move” designed to silence critical voices and dissuade foreign journalists from covering Russia.

Evan Gershkovich
Friends and colleagues of Gershkovich have described the accusations as ludicrous. Photograph: AP

“It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that Gershkovich’s arrest marks Russian authorities’ desire to keep foreign journalists away and stop their reporting on topics that are critical of the government or that unmask its abuses,” wrote Denber.

Since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year, most independent Russian journalists have left the country, after a spate of repressive new laws essentially making honest journalism illegal.

Many foreign journalists left too, but some stayed or continued to visit for short trips. The arrest of Gershkovich has changed the stakes.

“It’s a message to the journalists, and it’s also a very important message to Russian elites: don’t speak with foreign journalists. Keep your mouth shut,” said Yevgenia Albats, a veteran Russian journalist who left Moscow last August.

Working as a foreign correspondent in Russia has never been easy. Gaining or renewing official accreditation could be a long and tedious process, and insinuations of “Russophobia” or espionage activity were frequent. Hostility, intimidation and occasionally being followed by sinister watchers came with the territory.

But until now, the worst possible outcome for accredited foreign journalists had always been deportation or blacklisting. The arrest of Gershkovich shows Russian authorities are now willing to arrest even a well-known reporter from a high-profile publication, and will lead to a reassessment of the risks in reporting from the country for many.

“In the Soviet times there were clearcut red lines. It was known to us, I guess it was known to foreign journalists, what they could do and what they couldn’t. Now there are no red lines: you just don’t know,” said Albats.

Journalists who know Gershkovich paid tribute to him as a passionate and diligent reporter.

He is being held in Moscow’s notorious Lefortovo jail. Friends of his have set up an email address, freegershkovich@gmail.com, where wellwishers can send messages for the detained journalist. If in English, the messages will be translated into Russian, as required by Russian law, and then sent to Gershkovich in prison.

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Dmitry Muratov: Nuclear warning from Russia’s Nobel-winning journalist

Dmitry Muratov
Image caption,”People in Russia have been irradiated by propaganda,” Dmitry Muratov says

By Steve Rosenberg

Russia editor, Moscow

The Russian authorities may have shut down his newspaper, but journalist Dmitry Muratov refuses to be silenced.

When we meet in Moscow, the editor-in-chief of Novaya Gazeta and Russia’s Nobel Peace Prize laureate is worried how far the Kremlin will go in its confrontation with the West.

“Two generations have lived without the threat of nuclear war,” Mr Muratov tells me. “But this period is over. Will Putin press the nuclear button, or won’t he? Who knows? No one knows this. There isn’t a single person who can say for sure.”

Since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Moscow’s nuclear sabre-rattling has been loud and frequent.

Senior officials have dropped unsubtle hints that Western nations arming Ukraine should not push Russia too far. A few days ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced plans to station tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus.

Then one of his closest aides, Nikolai Patrushev, warned that Russia had a “modern unique weapon capable of destroying any enemy, including the United States”.

Bluff and bluster? Or a threat that needs to be taken seriously? Mr Muratov has picked up worrying signs inside Russia.

“We see how state propaganda is preparing people to think that nuclear war isn’t a bad thing,” he says. “On TV channels here, nuclear war and nuclear weapons are promoted as if they’re advertising pet food.”

“They announce: ‘We’ve got this missile, that missile, another kind of missile.’ They talk about targeting Britain and France; about sparking a nuclear tsunami that washes away America. Why do they say this? So that people here are ready.”

On Russian state TV recently, a prominent talk-show host suggested that Russia “should declare any military target on the territory of France, Poland and the United Kingdom a legitimate target for [Russia]”.

The same presenter has also suggested “flattening an island with strategic nuclear weapons and carrying out a test launch or firing of tactical nuclear weapons, so that no one has any illusions”.

Yet state propaganda here portrays Russia as a country of peace, and Ukraine and the West as the aggressors. Many Russians believe it.

“People in Russia have been irradiated by propaganda,” Mr Muratov says. “Propaganda is a type of radiation. Everyone is susceptible to it, not just Russians. In Russia, propaganda is twelve TV channels, tens of thousands of newspapers, social media like VK [the Russian version of Facebook] that serves completely the state ideology.”

“But what if tomorrow the propaganda suddenly stops?” I ask. “If it all goes quiet? What would Russians think then?”

“Our younger generation is wonderful,” replies Mr Muratov. “It’s well-educated. Nearly a million Russians have left the country. Many of those who’ve stayed are categorically against what is happening in Ukraine. They are against the hell that Russia has created there.

“I am convinced that as soon as the propaganda stops, this generation – and everyone else with common sense – will speak out.”

“They’re already doing so,” he continues. “Twenty-one thousand administrative and criminal cases have been opened against Russians who’ve protested. The opposition is in jail. Media outlets have been shut down. Many activists, civilians and journalists have been labelled foreign agents.

“Does Putin have a support base? Yes, an enormous one. But these are elderly people who see Putin as their own grandson, as someone who will protect them and who brings them their pension every month and wishes them Happy New Year each year. These people believe their actual grandchildren should go and fight and die.”

Last year Mr Muratov auctioned off his Nobel Peace prize to raise money for Ukrainian child refugees. He has little optimism about the future.

“Never again will there be normal relations between the people of Russia and Ukraine. Never. Ukraine will not be able to come to terms with this tragedy.”

“In Russia political repression will continue against all opponents of the regime,” he adds.

“The only hope I have lies with the young generation; those people who sees the world as a friend, not as an enemy and who want Russia to be loved and for Russia to love the world.

“I hope that this generation will outlive me and Putin.”


On the night of March 10, Russian partisans set fire to a Su-27 fighter jet of the 22nd Regiment at a Russian Air Force base near far-east

Western allies take note: if you want to beat Putin in Ukraine, target his wicked little helper in Belarus

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya

Alexander Lukashenko put our airbases and resources at Russia’s disposal. His fall would accelerate victory for UkraineTue 7 Mar 2023 08.00 GMT

Last week, residents of Machulishchy were intrigued as soldiers and police swarmed across their small town on the edge of Minsk, the capital of Belarus.

Cordons and checkpoints were hastily erected for miles around the local airbase, which has played host to Russia’s forces during its abominable war against Ukraine.

It was clear to anyone out and about on that frosty winter morning that Belarusian security services – known as the KGB – were panicking. The Belarusian people, who are disgusted at their government’s support for the Kremlin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, had struck a symbolic blow right at the heart of Russia’s military.

Our anti-war partisans had flown two drones over the former Soviet airbase and dropped bombs on an A-50U surveillance aircraft, a £275m Russian spy plane used to pinpoint targets inside Ukraine. The Beriev A-50, which uses a long-range radar detection system to track up to 60 targets at a time, was severely damaged.

Unfortunately for the Belarusian KGB, the heroic resistance fighters who made a mockery of Russian military might managed to escape the checkpoints. They are now safely outside the country.

A satellite image shows aircraft, including a Beriev A-50 military surveillance plane, at the Machulishchy air base outside Minsk, Belarus, February 19, 2023.

Doubtless Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus’s tyrannical dictator and solitary Kremlin ally, would have had an uncomfortable discussion when he next took a phone call from Vladimir Putin. Lukashenko will be particularly nervous as he owes his position to the Russian president. I beat him in the general election of 2020, before he stole it back with the help of the secret police and Putin. The Russian president sent propagandists, financial support and, eventually, tanks in a bid to prop up his old Soviet ally – then forced him to pay his debts by enlisting support for the catastrophic invasion of Ukraine 18 months later.

The vast majority of my people are horrified at what is happening in Ukraine. The attack on the Russian spy plane is not the first example of resistance. Cyber-partisans have performed a series of audacious hacks on Belarusian state databases. Resistance fighters have blown up transport networks in an attempt to constrict the supply of Russian arms into Ukraine. And hundreds of Belarusians have enlisted to fight the Russian aggressor on Ukrainian territory itself.

As long as Lukashenko barks like a Russian lapdog, the Ukrainian struggle for freedom will be tougher. There will be no secure Ukraine without a free Belarus. Lukashenko’s invitation for Russian troops to perform a hybrid occupation of Belarus has placed my country at the centre of the crisis in eastern Europe. Yet it remains part of the solution. Overthrowing Lukashenko would accelerate victory for Ukraine.

Today, I am meeting Leo Docherty, the UK’s Europe minister, and Lindsay Hoyle, the speaker of the House of Commons, to discuss how we can bring about a peaceful and democratic revolution inside Belarus. I am grateful for the support of the UK thus far.

The UK has led the way in imposing sanctions against the tyrant and his cronies. But it could go further. We need more monetary and secondary sanctions targeting the state economy that fuels Lukashenko’s KGB intelligence agency and Putin’s war machine.

Karim Khan now wields enormous influence as the chief prosecutor at the international criminal court (ICC) at The Hague. He has correctly identified the abhorrent war crimes perpetrated by Russian armed forces in Ukraine, including attacks on civilians and critical infrastructure. But Khan needs to glance across to Belarus next door. Lukashenko is also a state sponsor of terrorism.

Shopping mall in Minsk.
‘Most Belarusians are quintessentially European, and want to live peacefully in a democracy.’ Shopping mall in Minsk. Photograph: Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP/Getty Images

The UK and the west need to fully grasp this point. We still pick up misguided signals from some allied nations that wish to believe Lukashenko is a man they can do business with. Some still like to think of him as a potential honest broker who, through no fault of his own, is trapped as a prisoner of geography and unwilling hostage of Putin. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The west needs to stop falling for his lies and understand that Lukashenko consciously desires Belarus to be a vassal state of Russia. Most Belarusians are quintessentially European, and wish to live peacefully in a democracy. They want Russian troops to be withdrawn from Ukraine and from Belarus immediately. They recognise that Lukashenko is a war criminal and hope that he will eventually face justice at the ICC.

The UK and the west need to throw their wholehearted support behind these key strategic objectives. I am not pretending it will be straightforward. Tyranny is like cancer, it cannot be tackled easily. Lukashenko and Putin won’t feel troubled by half-baked measures from the west.

Belarusians understand this, which is why my people continue to take extraordinary risks to show the west that they are worth fighting for. On the anniversary of the Ukrainian invasion last month, activists in Minsk managed to avoid the KGB and briefly raise a huge Ukrainian flag at the top of a high-rise building in Minsk. The message that accompanied the poignant image as it was broadcast on resistance Telegram channels said: “Belarusians raised Ukraine’s flag in Minsk to mark their solidarity with the Ukrainian people. Long Live Belarus! Glory to Ukraine!” It could not be any clearer.

  • Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya is the leader of the democratic opposition in Belarus

Source Guardian

Strijd in Ukraine wordt steeds moeilijker voor Russen

Dinsdag 7 maart 2023 | Het laatste nieuws het eerst op NU.nl

Weer ruzie tussen Wagner en Kremlin: ‘Front stort in als wij ons terugtrekken’

Door onze nieuwredactie

06 mrt 2023 om 20:04Update: 8 uur geleden

607 reacties

De relatie tussen Wagner Group en het Kremlin staat weer op scherp. Het huurlingenleger van Yevgeny Prigozhin zou opnieuw geen munitie meer krijgen van het Russische ministerie van Defensie. Ook zou een afgevaardigde van Wagner de toegang zijn ontzegd tot een gebouw van de Russische legerleiding. “Als wij ons moeten terugtrekken, stort het hele front in Donetsk in”, waarschuwt Prigozhin.

De huurlingenbaas was eind februari ook al des duivels over het Kremlin. Toen sprak hij van “hoogverraad” en “opzettelijke vernietiging van de Wagner Group”, wederom vanwege uitblijvende munitieleveringen.

Moskou ontkende de beschuldigingen. Een dag na de woede-uitbarsting van Prigozhin leek de lucht tussen de partijen gezuiverd en werden nieuwe munitieleveringen toegezegd.

Maar de soldaten van de Wagner Group beschikken nog altijd niet over de nieuwe kogels, laat Prigozhin weten in duidelijke taal. “We zoeken uit of dit om een bureaucratische blunder of hoogverraad gaat”, zegt hij.

Wat doet de Wagner Group voor Rusland?

  • De Wagner Group vecht al maandenlang aan de zijde van de Russen, vooral in de Oost-Oekraïense stad Bakhmut.
  • Prigozhin wil president Vladimir Poetin de stad in feite ‘cadeau’ doen, zodat hij zijn invloed in Moskou kan vergroten.
  • Officieel heeft Wagner geen banden met het Kremlin. Maar het huurlingenleger staat erom bekend vrijwel altijd het buitenlandbeleid van Moskou uit te dragen.

‘We worden richting een nederlaag geduwd’

Prigozhin vermoedt dat hooggeplaatste Russische functionarissen willen dat zijn troepen een nederlaag lijden bij Bakhmut. “Maar als wij ons gedwongen moeten terugtrekken, zakt het hele front als een kaartenhuis in elkaar”, waarschuwt hij.

De troepen van Wagner hebben de Oekraïense verdediging in Bakhmut vanuit drie windrichtingen omsingeld. Er zou nog maar één uitweg beschikbaar zijn voor een tactische terugtrekking. Het duurde ruim een half jaar voordat Wagner de Oekraïense verdediging in deze positie kreeg.

En de Oekraïense president Volodymyr Zelensky denkt nog niet aan terugtrekken. Hij kondigde zaterdag juist aan dat elitetroepen naar Bakhmut worden gestuurd om de overgebleven verdediging te versterken. Zijn adviseurs hebben al wel toegegeven dat een terugtrekking “niet uitgesloten” is.

Beeld uit video: Drone filmt rookpluimen boven belegerd Bakhmut
Drone filmt rookpluimen boven belegerd Bakhmut

Ook eerder dit jaar al wrevel zichtbaar

De scheurtjes in de relatie tussen de Wagner Group en het Kremlin waren al langer zichtbaar. Eerder dit jaar werd Prigozhin bijvoorbeeld het recht ontnomen om Russische gevangenen te ronselen voor zijn privéleger. Volgens persbureau Reuters is die stap genomen, omdat andere Russische bewindslieden vonden dat Prigozhin te veel macht kreeg.

Vorig jaar wist Wagner zo’n 20.000 tot 40.000 gevangenen te ‘rekruteren’. Als ze voor Wagner gingen vechten, zouden ze strafvermindering krijgen. Maar het Westen vermoedt dat velen van hen gedwongen naar Oekraïne zijn gestuurd.

“This war which was launched against us…” Lavrov’s statement has crowd burst into laughter :)

3 Mar 2023 #sergeylavrov#russiaukrainewar#raisinadialogueRussian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergey Lavrov at the Raisina Dialogue 2023 while talking about Ukriane war, made the crowd burst into laughter after he said “this war which was launched against us”. “The war that was launched against us, using the great Ukrainian people, influenced the policy of Russia, including our energy policy. Russia’s energy policy will be oriented towards reliable credible partners like India and China,” said Lavrov while talking to ORF Chairman Sunjoy Joshi.

Ukrainian Nobel peace laureate calls for special tribunal to try Putin

Oleksandra Matviichuk says putting Russians on trial for crime of aggression may prevent further atrocities

Jennifer Rankin in BrusselsMon 27 Feb 2023 10.20 GMT

A Ukrainian Nobel peace laureate has called for the swift creation of a special tribunal to try Vladimir Putin and his associates for the crime of aggression, arguing that it could have “a cooling effect” on atrocities committed by the Kremlin’s invading forces.

Oleksandra Matviichuk, the head of the Centre for Civil Liberties, also said a speedy start to war crimes trials against the Russian president and soldiers could save people’s lives by deterring Russian forces from committing further crimes.

Starting legal proceedings could have “a cooling effect” on the brutality of human rights violations that Russian troops were committing daily in Ukraine, she told the Guardian in an interview.

Some troops, perhaps not all, would realise that Putin’s authoritarian regime had an end date, Matviichuk said, if they knew they would be held to account. The possibility of justice would help them realise “I will not be able to hide under abstract Putin and maybe I will have to be responsible for every thing which I commit by my own hands”, she said.

The Centre for Civil Liberties (CCL) won the Nobel peace prize in 2022, along with the Russian human right organisation Memorial and the jailed Belarusian activist Ales Bialiatski.

Founded in 2007, the CCL has campaigned for democratic change in Ukraine. Since 2014, it has documented more than 26,0000 war crimes in Russian-annexed Crimea and two self-proclaimed republics in Donetsk and Luhansk run by Russian proxies.

Based in Kyiv, Matviichuk travels frequently to rally support in western capitals for closing “the accountability gap”. She advocates for the Ukrainian government proposal of a special tribunal to try Putin and other political and military leaders for the crime of aggression, which cannot be prosecuted at the international criminal court in The Hague.

Ukraine’s allies are discussing the idea, but officials say talks remain at an early stage. Earlier this month, the EU promised that an international centre for the prosecution of the crime of aggression based in The Hague would be operational from July, with the purpose of gathering and storing evidence, but it remains unclear where and when this evidence would be heard.

Oleksandra Matviichuk delivers a lecture at the Kyiv security forum in January 2023
Matviichuk delivers a lecture at the Kyiv security forum in January. Photograph: Vladimir Sindeyeve/NurPhoto/Rex/Shutterstock

Matviichuuk also urged western nations to increase their focus on a second dimension of the “accountability gap”: helping Ukraine’s overloaded national prosecutor investigate tens of thousands of war crimes and atrocities. She would like to see international judges and prosecutors working with their counterparts in Ukraine, who are grappling with a vast and growing caseload. On 17 February, Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Andriy Kostin, said his office was investigating 67,000 war crimes cases.

“It’s very obvious that even the best prosecutor’s office in the world couldn’t effectively investigate up to [so many] criminal proceedings effectively, especially during war. So the question is, who will investigate it?” Matviichuk said.

She would like both elements – the special tribunal and support for Ukraine’s domestic prosecutor – in place as soon as possible, rather than at a distant moment once the fighting has stopped. The world still has the “prejudice” of viewing international justice through the prism of Nuremberg trials, she said, when war criminals were tried only after the Nazi regime had collapsed.

“It’s important to establish [these mechanisms] now because when I spoke with victims, they told me that their perpetrators always felt very confident that they will avoid responsibility. They enjoyed impunity,” she said.

She cited a survey by the Kyiv International Institute for Sociology last summer, which showed that two-thirds of respondents (65.8%) said their biggest disappointment at the end of the war would be Russian impunity for war crimes.skip past newsletter promotion

Putin and his circle should also be held responsible for war crimes and genocide, as well as the crime of aggression, Matviichuk said. These were not sporadic acts by particular brigades, but a policy choice made at the highest levels in an attempt to break the will of Ukraine to resist, she said.

“This policy is very cynical and pragmatic,” she said, noting it was especially visible after Russia’s defeat in Kharkiv and before the liberation of Kherson, which Russia anticipated by destroying civilian infrastructure. “Russia tried to break people’s resistance and occupy Ukraine by the tool which I call the immense pain of civilian population.”

Matviichuk was speaking from Belgium, where she was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Louvain earlier this month. Her first trips abroad last year after the invasion were discombobulating. When sitting “in a safe place in some European country, with meetings, with coffee, with people who speak calmly, smiling”, she began to feel she was going mad, that maybe the war was a terrible nightmare. Now these feelings have gone. “I don’t need any more this survival mechanism,” she said.

Even after 20 years working in human rights, including eight documenting atrocities in Russian-controlled territories, she was not mentally prepared for the large-scale invasion of 24 February 2022. “We will never be the same as we were before the large-scale invasion, because violence changed people and pain has a very unique characteristic … Sometimes you can feel that you’re burned out with this pain.”

Her organisation has been working with Russian human rights defenders for years. Cooperation stepped up after 2014 when the kleptocratic authoritarian government of Viktor Yanukovych collapsed, triggering Putin’s annexation of Crimea and the occupation of Donetsk and Luhansk by Russian-backed proxies. “Putin is afraid not of Nato, he’s afraid of the idea of freedom, which came closer to his own borders in 2014,” she said.

Russian human rights activists are facing unprecedented persecution: “They are blamed by their own society. They are labelled as foreign agents, they are jailed, they are beaten, some of them have to leave the country. Some of them are waiting for criminal prosecutions and decided that they will remain to the end.

“When I asked them, how I can help them in this situation, they always respond: If you want to help us, please be successful. Because democratic success of Ukraine will provide a huge impact to the chance of any democratic future of Russia itself.”


Harris accuses Russia of crimes against humanity in Ukraine

Harris accuses Russia of crimes against humanity in Ukraine

Russia is guilty of crimes against humanity in Ukraine. US Vice President Harris said this at the Munich security conference. She said the conclusion is based on a legal analysis of evidence. “To those who committed the crimes and to the principals and executives I say: you will be held accountable.”

The American determination does not seem to have a direct consequence for the war, but the hope is to further isolate Russian President Putin. In her speech, Harris referred to Russian military misdeeds in Bocha, where countless bodies were found in the streets, and in Mariupol, where a maternity hospital was bombed. The US has already concluded that Russian soldiers in Ukraine are guilty of war crimes.


after this war responsible figures have to go to a war crime tribunal same as after WW 2

Russian missiles crossed NATO airspace

Ukraine claims that two Russian missiles flew into the airspace of Moldova and Romania before landing in Ukraine. That writes the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian army, Valery Zaluzhny, on Twitter. Romania is a member of NATO. Article 5 of the NATO treaty states that an attack on one Member State is an attack on all Member States.

The missiles were said to have been fired from the Black Sea. Ukraine could have taken the missiles out of the air, but did not do so because it did not want to endanger civilians in other countries, the commander-in-chief told the Ukrainian newspaper Ukrainska Pravda, according to Reuters news agency.

Reuters news agency was unable to verify the claim. Russia has not responded.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak hold a news conference at an army camp on Feb. 8, 2023, in Dorset, England.

#Russia threatens ‘consequences’ if UK gives jets to Ukraine. If the U.K. gives Ukraine fighter jets, there will be consequences for Europe and the entire world, the Russian embassy threatened on Feb. 8.

( I know a country and regime who have face big consequences by murdering folks in civil planes and civil peaceful folks, woman, children in other nation city’s ) .