Marina Litvinenko, widow of Alexander Litvinenko (a British citizen who was assassinated in London by two former KGB agents who poisoned him with radioactive polonium) has accused the British government, Secretary of State William Hague, and PM David Cameron of sabotaging the coroner's inquest into her husband's death. Hague and Cameron intervened in the coroner's hearing to seal key evidence that implicated the Russian government in Litvinenko's killing.
Sir Robert Owen, who is leading the inquest and who has seen the material, characterised it as "documents that examined whether UK officials could have done more to prevent his murder." 's widow says that this is part of "a secret political deal with the Kremlin." This comes against a charm offensive by the UK government to increase Russian investment in Britain.
The former Labour government severed all contacts with Russia's FSB spy agency in 2007 after concluding it had played a leading role in Litvinenko's assassination. Putin is the agency's former chief.
Mrs Litvinenko added: "This is a very sad day, a tragedy for British justice which has until now been respected around the world, and a frightening precedent for all of those who have been trying so hard to expose the crimes committed by a conspiracy of organised criminals who operate inside the Kremlin."
In his ruling (pdf), Owen said the inquest scheduled to take place later this year might now result in an "incomplete, misleading and unfair" verdict.
The coroner said he would consider inviting Theresa May, the home secretary, to hold a public inquiry instead. The inquiry could hear the sensitive evidence buried by Hague in secret sessions.
In a move absolutely no one expected because things like this never happen after high-profile incidents of mass violence, Russian President Vladimir Putin today "urged closer cooperation between other countries' security services after the Boston Marathon bombings," reports CNN, Said Putin, "If we combine our efforts, we will not suffer blows like that." [CNN.com] — Xeni
The bizarre explosion in the skies over in Russia on Feb. 15, 2013 left scientists dumfounded. The asteroid 2012 DA14 was expected to pass some 17K miles over Indonesia, but the Russian impactor wasn't foreseen: it flew from the direction of the sun where telescopes couldn't see it, and surprised everyone hours before the more-publicized asteroid's flyby.
A meteor has exploded over
, a remote part of Russia 150km north of Kazahstan. The meteor's descent was captured by many video cameras (largely the ubiquitous Russian dashboard cams, it seems). There are no reports of deaths, but apparently there are now 400 reported injuries. At least one large building, a zinc factory, had its roof demolished by the explosion.
A witness in Chelyabinsk reported hearing a huge blast early in the morning and feeling a shockwave in a 19-storey building in the town centre.
The sounds of car alarms and breaking windows could be heard in the area, the witness said, and mobile phones were working intermittently. "Preliminary indications are that it was a meteorite rain," an emergency official told RIA-Novosti. "We have information about a blast at 10,000-metre altitude. It is being verified."
"I was driving to work, it was quite dark, but it suddenly became as
bright as if it was day," said Viktor Prokofiev, a 36-year-old resident of
Yekaterinburg in the Urals mountains.
"I felt like I was blinded by headlights," he told Reuters.
From English Russia, original source unknown, "These are the Chechen homemade guns. There is a risk that the war will never end if they use such weapons..." No way to tell how accurate that description is -- Chechens are such bogeymen in the Russian press-pantheon that I always take anything ascribed to them with a grain of salt.
Syria's brutal Assad regime has damned few allies left in the world, but one of them, Russia, is governed by a dirty-tricking ruling elite who've made a science out of manipulating Internet opinion. This may explain the weird, stilted pro-Assad astroturf army who appear in any discussion of the regime's atrocities to explain that it's all a Jewish conspiracy.
Security researcher Brian Krebs picks out some choice exchanges out of a dump from an elite Russian spammer message-board, and suggests that this contains clues to the identities of the world's most prolific spammers.
“Everything is all right with John. We drank with him recently in Europe. He is getting married soon. He is no longer spamming stocks. He got squeezed [arrested/questioned] once very badly some time ago. Now he is all clean. His friend – SP – screwed him and also is not working with stocks now. Rin is in total shit. He is going to be in jail (or he is going to be hiding) for a long time. He calls me pretty often, so he is alive so far. I am helping his wife with money from time to time.”
The two exchange recommendations about their favorite nightclubs in St. Petersburg, Russia. Tarelka inquires how Severa is doing, which elicits the following reply:
“I am okay. Damn, where to find sponsors? I am sure I can spin off stocks even in the current market. Are there any more contacts? Maybe I will ask Apple. Maybe he can give me some referrals. Who could think two years ago that this “theme” would die, huh? Give my regards to Igor [possibly Igor Gusev, the co-curator of SpamIt]. I wish you luck and patience.”
Tarelka says he tried to convince John/Apple that there was still money to be made in stock spam, but that John insisted the market was dead, and that no one was coming forward to pay spammers to send pump-and-dump spam anymore.
Brian Krebs has published an ad from "Foreign Agents," a notorious Russian crime service. They're advertising the availability of foot soldiers in the USA who can help cash out hacked bank accounts and credit cards. Unlike traditional bank-fraud mules, who don't know that they're part of a scam, these "associates" are "неразводные" ("nerazvodni" or "not deceived").
The proprietors of this service say it will take 40-45 percent of the value of the theft, depending on the amount stolen. In a follow Q&A with potential buyers, the vendors behind this service say it regularly moves $30,000 – $100,000 per day for clients. Specifically, it specializes in cashing out high-dollar bank accounts belonging to hacked businesses, hence the mention high up in the ad of fraudulent wire transfers and automated clearinghouse or ACH payments (ACH is typically how companies execute direct deposit of payroll for their employees).
According to the advertisement, customers of this service get their very own login to a remote panel, where they can interact with the cashout service and monitor the progress of their thievery operations. The service also can be hired to drain bank accounts using counterfeit debit cards obtained through ATM skimmers or hacked point-of-sale devices. The complicit mules will even help cash out refunds from phony state and federal income tax filings — a lucrative form of fraud that, according to the Internal Revenue Service, cost taxpayers $5.2 billion last year.
Say what you will about their criminal tendencies, those bank robbers have excellent art direction.
In the NYT, a piece by Sophia Kishkovsky on Svetlana Kuritsyna, "the very antithesis" of the imprisoned protest-art group Pussy Riot. Sveta is described as "a disarmingly direct, red-cheeked, 20-year-old Putin supporter from an impoverished rural region" who stands out "for her very normality and has become an accidental celebrity after an innocent, and somewhat inarticulate, video interview in which she glowingly praised Mr. Putin." The clip became a meme, with more than 2 million YouTube views, she now has her own reality show. — Xeni
Here's Dmitry Golubovskiy, CEO of Esquire Russia, reading the longest word in Englis. It's the chemical name for titin, and it runs to 189,819 letters. It takes him 3:33 to read the whole thing. Here's a bit of it:
On Retronaut, Viktor Bulla's "Pioneers defense drill, Leningrad." It dates from 1937, four years before the Siege of Leningrad, and that makes the weirdness vivid and poignant. So many of the children here would have died in the Siege, or lived through it in the civil defense force, eating wallpaper paste and digging trenches. How brave and ready they must have felt in 1937, though.