Russians, in peaceful protest, call for Putin to quit | Reuters

Saturday’s protest in the capital — called “We’re sick of him” — was organized by the Open Russia movement founded by Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Once Russia’s richest man, he was freed by Putin in 2013 after spending a decade in jail for fraud, a charge Khodorkovsky said was politically-motivated.

Source: Russians, in peaceful protest, call for Putin to quit | Reuters

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United Barred From Russian Airspace ‘For Diplomatic Reasons’ | The Daily Caller

Flight from San Fran to Shanghai forced to refuel in Japan

Those diplomatic concerns forced the flight to refuel at Tokyo’s Narita airport, the flight’s captain told passengers, several of whom posted about it on social media.

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2017/04/12/united-airlines-barred-from-russian-airspace-for-diplomatic-reasons-pilot-announces/#ixzz4e7FIFqGk

Source: United Barred From Russian Airspace ‘For Diplomatic Reasons’ | The Daily Caller

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Report: FBI granted FISA warrant to surveil ex-Trump aide Carter Page | TheHill

House and Senate Intelligence committees both have ongoing investigations into whether Trump associates worked with the Kremlin in an attempt to help Trump win the election.

Page has been at the center of speculation about links between Trump aides and Russia because of his ties to the country and a trip to Moscow in July.

Page and the White House have denied all allegations of improper communications.

Source: Report: FBI granted FISA warrant to surveil ex-Trump aide Carter Page | TheHill

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Putin is floating a bizarre new conspiracy theory about the US’ intervention in Syria – Business Insider

Vladimir Putin slammed the US on Tuesday over Trump’s decision to target an airfield believed to have been used by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s military.

Putin was asked specifically about US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s comments on Tuesday morning — that Russia is either “incompetent” or has “failed” to hold up its end of the deal to destroy Assad’s chemical weapons, and needed to choose whether to abandon or “maintain its alliance” with Assad.

Tillerson is due to meet today with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, in Moscow.

Source: Putin is floating a bizarre new conspiracy theory about the US’ intervention in Syria – Business Insider

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Protesters Gather in 100 Cities Across Russia; Top Putin Critic Is Arrested

MOSCOW — The Russian police arrested hundreds of people in nationwide anti-corruption protests on Sunday, including the opposition leader Aleksei Navalny in Moscow, where thousands gathered for the biggest demonstration in five years against President Vladimir V. Putin.

Source: Protesters Gather in 100 Cities Across Russia; Top Putin Critic Is Arrested

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(the new york times) – Russian Buildup in Syria Raises Questions on Role

John Kerry, right, at a joint news conference in London on Saturday with his British counterpart, Philip Hammond. CreditPool photo by Evan Vucci

LONDON — Russia’s military buildup in Syria now includes surface-to-air missiles as well as combat aircraft with air-to-air capability, deployments that raise “serious questions” about Moscow’s role in the region, Secretary of State John Kerry said Saturday.

Russian officials have said that the purpose of the buildup at a base near Latakia, Syria, is to combat the Islamic State.

But the deployment of air defense systems and fighter aircraft — weapons that can be used against a conventionally armed foe but that have little utility against extremist fighters — has spurred concerns that Moscow’s goal is also to establish a military outpost in the Middle East.

It has also added to the Pentagon’s worries about the risk of an inadvertent confrontation between Russia’s military and the American-led coalition that is carrying out airstrikes in Syria against the Islamic State.

“Clearly the presence of aircraft with air-to-air combat capacity” as well as “surface-to-air missiles raise serious questions, which is precisely why Secretary Carter talked with the Minister of Defense of Russia Shoigu yesterday,” Mr. Kerry said, referring to Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter and Russia’s defense minister, Sergei K. Shoigu.

At the White House’s direction, Mr. Carter began a dialogue Friday with Mr. Shoigu aimed at ensuring that American and Russian aircraft avoid unintended incidents as they operate over Syria.

While Mr. Kerry did not provide details, an American official, who requested anonymity because he was discussing intelligence reports, said that a Russian SA-22 air defense system was already in place at Latakia. The United States had observed elements of the system at the base in the last week, but now the launcher and the missiles it fires are there, too, the official said.

The American official added that the four Su-27 aircraft Russia had flown to the air base were armed with air-to-air missiles.

“What’s the air-to-air threat there for them?” asked the official, who called the development “troubling.”

Other American officials suggested, however, that the deployment might simply reflect the Russian military’s standard defensive precautions as it established an air hub in a foreign country.

The prefabricated building Russia has erected at the base now has the capacity to house 2,000 military advisers and personnel. Ferrying weapons and equipment to the base has involved well over 20 flights by Russian Condor transport planes — almost all of which have flown to Syria by passing over Iran and Iraq.

Syria, and the migrant crisis it has spawned, has been a major focus of Mr. Kerry’s trip to Europe. After a meeting Saturday morning with Philip Hammond, the British foreign secretary, Mr. Kerry said that it was vital to pursue a diplomatic solution to the crisis but that Moscow was not putting enough pressure on President Bashar al-Assad of Syria to make him negotiate seriously.

“We need to get to the negotiation,” Mr. Kerry said at a joint news conference with Mr. Hammond. “That’s what we’re looking for, and we hope Russia and Iran, other countries with influence, will help to bring that about, because that’s what’s preventing this crisis from ending.”

Source: Russian Buildup in Syria Raises Questions on Role – The New York Times

 

Aleppo, Syria, on Thursday after what activists said was an aerial bomb attack by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad. CreditReuters

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