Russia’s Alexei Navalny barred from contesting presidential elections 

Opposition leader and Vladimir Putin’s critic Alexei Navalny was barred from contesting the 2018 presidential elections. The ban was imposed by Russia’s Central Election Commission. 12 out of 13 members of the commission were in favor of barring Navalny, citing a suspended prison sentence he has received. 

Navalny has been imprisoned three times in 2017 in an embezzlement case. Even though he denies wrongdoings, he has broken the law by repeatedly organizing public meetings and rallies. The 41-year-old has been charged for the same. 

 According to polls, Vladimir Putin is on course to be re-elected as Russia’s President until 2024. HoweverNavalny believes that Putin’s support has been exaggerated. 

 In oppositionNavalny has asked his supporters to boycott the March elections. He also stated that the ban would lead to protests across the country. 

 Navalny is perceived as a fierce competitor and threat to Putin. He held that Putin’s main support came from a biased state media and an unfair system. He also held that he could defeat Putin in a fair election. 

 Artice Source – Scroll, Al Jazeera

US fuel stock rises unexpectedly

US saw an unexpected rise in fuel stock, despite the oil prices witnessing a sharp decline on November 29 and the cut in trading crude oil. On November 28, a report from the American Petroleum Institute claimed that US crude inventories rose from 1.8 million barrels to 457.3 million barrels within a week in November.

UAE and Russia have confirmed that the output scenario will remain constant throughout 2018. Various economists had different opinion regarding this policy of the oil-rich nation.

According to some experts, an extension should be given which is much needed before shutting down output, mainly to keep the demand-supply balance proportionate. On the contrary, there are a handful of experts who completely disagreed to this. Their claim being, this policy will do no good to the economy.

Nevertheless, the overall opinion as seen by majority of the experts, is that the decision is great indeed for the oil market as well as for a healthy global economy, as reported by Reuters.

Sources:

Moneycontrol, Hindu Business Line

U.S. – South Korea begin bombing drills, Russia – China commence naval activities

The U.S. military organized bombing drills with South Korea over the Korean peninsula and Russia and China started naval activities in front of a U.N. General Assembly meeting on Tuesday where North Korea’s atomic risk is probably going to pose as a potential threat.

The whirlwind of military drills came after Pyongyang fired mid-range ballistic rocket over Japan on Friday and the disruptive North led its 6th and most intense atomic test on Sept. 3 in resistance of United Nations sanctions and other international weight.

A couple of U.S. B-1B aircraft and four F-35 planes flew from Guam and Japan and joined four South Korean F-15K warriors in the most recent venture, South Korea’s guard service said.

The drills are the second part of China-Russian maritime activities this year, the initial segment of which was organized in the Baltic in July.

China and Russia have more than once called for arrangement and converses to resolve the issue.

On Sunday, U.S. Diplomat to the United Nations Nikki Haley said the U.N. Security Council had come up short on alternatives on containing North Korea’s atomic program and the United States may need to turn the issue over to the Pentagon.

Sources: SBS, Newsweek

Syria: U.S. backed Militias hit by Russian Strike

Syria is a battleground with corpses, blood and ruins for the eyes, as far as they can see.  For years we have seen horrifying images from the civil war, sprouted as an uprising and turned into a full-scale conflict. A Russian strike wounded members of the US backed militias in Syria on Saturday from Russian jets. Six of its fighters were wounded in the strike, The Syrian Democratic Forces, an alliance of Khurdish and Arab militia fighting with the U.S. led coalition said.

Russia bombed a position east of the Euphrates river where it knew SDF fighters and coalition advisers were stationed- said The Pentagon. However, the jets did not injure any coalition forces.

The SDF accused Damascus of trying to obstruct the fighters, and that “such attacks waste energies that should be used against terrorism… and open the door to side conflicts”, it said. The attacks by Russia backed Syrian army and U.S. supported SDF have at times raised fears of clashes, which may result into greater tension between the world powers. 

Russian military request to strike an area in the province of Deir Ezzor, as they were coalition advisers and US backed Syrian forces there. Bu the Russians decided to carry out the strike anyway.

Ahmed Abu Khawla, the commander of the SDF’s Deir al-Zor military council, said Russian or Syrian fighter jets flew in from government territory before dawn on Saturday. 

The warplanes struck as the SDF waged “heated and bloody battles” in the industrial zone on the eastern bank, seizing factories from Islamic State militants, he said. 

Both the U.S. led coalition and Russia are battling in ISIS in Syria, but they are on two very different sides of the civil war. The United States and its allies support some anti-government rebel groups in their fight to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. And Russia backs his regime.

Sources: Reuters, CNN

Doping-tainted weightlifting must reform or risk 2024

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has made it clear that weightlifting will have to prove it is doping-free or risk losing its spot for the Paris 2024 Games.

In July, the IOC had already told the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) to provide a report by December describing how it plans to tackle the issue of doping in the sport.

Post December, the IOC and the World Anti-Doping Agency will be monitoring to ensure that the changes have been made to their satisfaction.

The IOC President Thomas Bach made it crystal clear at the body’s session meeting in Lima that if the sport is declared non-compliant with the WADA code, then the situation might be different with regards to Paris 2024.

“This is the idea behind this formula concerning weightlifting, that the decision to include them (for Paris) is subject to the compliance with the WADA code.”

Out of the total 106 positive tests emerged from the re-tests conducted by the IOC in the past two years of samples from the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London games, about half of them came from weightlifters.

Along with athletics, the sport represented more than 80 percent of the positive cases from the re-tests, informed IOC member Denis Oswald.

The IWF banned Russia from the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro for “bringing weightlifting into disrepute”, now several other countries are facing potential bans after a series of positive tests.

Sources – Reuters, India Today

Image Source – REUTERS/Mariana Bazo

U.S. Probe: Uncovering needles in the haystack

Congressional agents have uncovered an email sent in June 2016, from a reliable Trump aide that referenced a formerly unreported push to orchestrate a meeting a year ago between Trump crusade authorities and Russian President Vladimir Putin, as indicated by sources with coordinate information of the issue.

The email was sent by Rick Dearborn, now the president’s deputy chief of staff, to crusade authorities with data about a man attempting to interface them with Putin, CNN said. The individual was just recognized in the email as being from “WV,” which one source said was a reference to West Virginia.

It was an indistinguishable time where Donald Trump Jr. met with Russians offering data to ruin his father’s opponent in the campaign- Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Dearborn did not react to various requests looking for input. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders declined to remark, and would not react to request about Dearborn’s email and whether the campaign brought through with that meeting.

“We aren’t going to comment on potentially leaked documents,” Sanders said.

The demand made by the unidentified West Virginian fits an example of Russians endeavoring  to accumulate human knowledge and look for unwilling – and once in a while unwitting accomplices – as a major aspect of their incognito operations, says the Intelligence experts.

“The Russians are really experts at this,” heaved Steve Hall, a retired CIA chief of Russia operations.

News Source: Reuters, CNN

Image Source: Reuters

Long anticipated Trump-Putin meet to take place during G-20 Summit

U.S. President Donald Trump will be meeting with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit taking place in the first week of July in Germany.

In a press briefing on June 29, White House National Security Advisor, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster said that, “Next Wednesday (July 5), President Trump will first travel to Warsaw, Poland, and later to Hamburg, Germany for the G-20. While in Hamburg, the President will meet with many world leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, UK PM Theresa May, Japanese PM Shinzo Abe, South Korean President, Moon Jae-in, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and others.”

The White House, however, did not assert whether Trump would discuss the alleged Russian meddling in US Presidential Elections last year with Putin in their first ever meet since Trump assumed office. After being asked about Trump’s objective, McMaster replied that there is no specific agenda of these meetings. “It’s really going to be whatever the President wants to talk about,” he said.

Broaching the topic of climate change, Director of National Economic Council, Gary Cohn said that USA will not comply with a deal in which they have to cut down emissions while other countries continue to grow until 2030. “President Trump is going to ask for a fair and level playing field when it comes to Paris Climate Agreement,” he said.

The 12th G-20 Summit will be taking place on 7 and 8 July, 2017 in Hamburg, hosted by Chancellor Merkel.

 

Source: White House National Security Council press, New York Times