Tag Archives: Russian

Plea deal by Russian agent Maria Butina describes 2016 influence campaign

Plea deal by Russian agent Maria Butina describes 2016 influence campaignRussian agent Maria Butina’s plea deal includes a description of the “Diplomacy Project” she ran, under the direction of Putin ally Alexander Torshin, to influence American policy leading up to the 2016 election.



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

Russian Orthodox church calls on UN for help in Ukraine

Russian Orthodox church calls on UN for help in UkraineMINSK, Belarus (AP) — The Russian Orthodox Church on Friday called on the United Nations, the leaders of Germany and France, the pope and other spiritual leaders to protect believers in Ukraine in the face of pressure on Moscow-affiliated clerics.



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

Accused Russian agent Maria Butina pleads guilty to attempting to sway US policy

Accused Russian agent Maria Butina pleads guilty to attempting to sway US policyA Russian woman has admitted to acting as an agent for the Kremlin to get close to the Republican party in an effort to influence US policies.  Maria Butina, 30, pleaded guilty to a single charge of conspiracy in a court in Washington on Thursday, admitting to working under the direction of a top Russian official to infiltrate the National Rifle Association (NRA), a powerful gun rights group closely aligned with senior Republican politicians. She is the first Russian citizen to be convicted of working to shape US policy in the run up and through the 2016 election campaign, agreeing to co-operate with prosecutors for less prison time. Appearing before Judge Tanya Chutkan, she admitted to conspiring to work with Alexander Torshin, a former deputy governor of Russia's central bank, and two US citizens as a Russian agent from 2015 until her 2018 arrest.  Butina, a former graduate student at American University in Washington who publicly advocated for gun rights, was arrested in July and has been held in jail without bail ever since.  Maria Butina was said to be directed by Alexander Torshin, previously described as Vladimir Putin's "emissary" Credit: AP She initially pleaded not guilty to the charges against her but in the last week it was revealed she had reversed course and agreed to co-operate with prosecutors.   Her aim was to make contacts with officials at the NRA, conservative figures and 2016 presidential candidates in order to set up unofficial back channels with high-ranking American politicians. Butina is known to have met with the president's son, Donald Trump Jnr, during one of the NRA's conventions as well as reportedly hosting a party in Washington attended by Trump campaign aides in November 2016. Prosecutors told the court that Butina drafted a March 2015 "Diplomacy Project" that called for establishing unofficial channels of communication between high-ranking American politicians in order to help advance Russia's interests. In this courtroom sketch, Maria Butina, left, is shown next to her attorney Robert Driscoll Credit: AP To carry out the plan, Butina requested $ 125,000 (£98,000) from a Russian billionaire to attend conferences and set up "separate meetings with interested parties" such as other Russian businessmen or people with the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, they added. The prosecutors said Butina invited "powerful members" of the NRA for a visit to Moscow where they met with high-level Russian officials. Apparent photos of the NRA Moscow trip are posted on her social media accounts. After the visit, according to court records, she sent a Russian official a message apparently referencing the NRA saying, "We should let them express their gratitude now, we will put pressure on them quietly later." The alleged Russian agent was arrested in July Credit: Reuters Butina also hosted "friendship dinners" in the hope of establishing ties with people who "would have the ear of the next US presidential administration," prosecutors said. After the 2016 election, she proposed creating a dialogue with President Donald Trump's advisors, but the Russian official told her he did not think the foreign affairs ministry would "go for it," prosecutors said. The actions occurred during the same time period that US intelligence agencies have concluded Russia engaged in a campaign of propaganda and hacking to sow discord during the 2016 presidential race and boost Mr Trump's chances against Democratic rival Hillary Clinton. Butina was a gun rights activist Butina's lawyers previously identified the Russian official as Alexander Torshin, who was a deputy governor of Russia's central bank and was targeted with US Treasury Department sanctions in April.  One of the two Americans referenced in the prosecution's case was Paul Erickson, an conservative political activist who was romantically linked to Butina. His lawyer William Hurd said: "Paul Erickson is a good American. He has done nothing to harm our country and never would." Russian officials hit back at the case, calling it a "modern political inquisition" in comments quoted by the RIA state news agency. She faces a maximum of five years in prison and deportation. As part of her agreement prosecutors dropped a second charge of violating a law that requires foreigners working for their government to register with the US Justice Department. Her lawyer, Robert Driscoll, estimated that under sentencing guidelines for similar crimes Butina could face up to six months in prison.  Because of Butina's ongoing co-operation, the judge did not set a sentencing date but scheduled a hearing for February 12.  



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

Reports: Accused Russian agent Maria Butina ready to plead guilty and cooperate with U.S. prosecutors

Reports: Accused Russian agent Maria Butina ready to plead guilty and cooperate with U.S. prosecutorsMaria Butina, the Russian national charged with acting as an agent for her country, will plead guilty to conspiracy, according to ABC News and CNN



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

Accused Russian Agent Maria Butina Reaches Plea Deal With Federal Prosecutors: Reports

Accused Russian Agent Maria Butina Reaches Plea Deal With Federal Prosecutors: ReportsMaria Butina, a Russian gun-rights activist accused of working as an agent for



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

Pentagon sends flight over Ukraine following Russian naval incident

Pentagon sends flight over Ukraine following Russian naval incidentA US Air Force observation plane flew over Ukraine on Thursday in a mission to show US support for Kiev following Russia’s seizure of three Ukrainian naval vessels in the Sea of Azov, officials said. The November 25 confrontation was the first open military incident between Kiev and Moscow since 2014 when Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula and a conflict erupted in eastern Ukraine. “Today, the United States and Allies conducted an extraordinary flight under the Open Skies Treaty.



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

Astronauts blast off for space station on Russian rocket after October crash

Astronauts blast off for space station on Russian rocket after October crashA Russian, an American and a Canadian astronaut have taken off for the international space station in the first manned launch of a Soyuz rocket since a harrowing crash in October.  Monday's launch of the MS-11 ship was a closely watched test for Russia's space industry, which has suffered several high-profile failures in recent years but remains the only reliable way to deliver crew to the orbiting station.  A source of national pride for both the Soviet Union and Russia under Vladimir Putin, missions into the cosmos are virtually the only area of cooperation left between Russia and the United States after the Ukraine crisis.  Space station veteran and mission commander Oleg Kononenko, 54, Quebec family doctor David Saint-Jacques, 48, and Anne McClain, 39, a US army helicopter pilot who earned masters degrees from the University of Bath and Bristol in the UK, lifted off in a cloud of flame and smoke from Kazakhstan's Baikonur cosmodrome on Monday afternoon. From bottom, Oleg Kononenko, Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques board their Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft in Kazakhstan on Monday Credit: Shamil Zhumatov/Reuters In the course of an eight-minute flight through the atmosphere, the craft first jettisoned its boosters and then its second stage rocket to successfully deliver the spacecraft into orbit.  The trio were scheduled to dock with the space station six hours later to relieve the current crew, which will return home on December 20.  On Tuesday, Elon Musk's SpaceX plans to launch from Cape Canaveral a long-delayed reusable Falcon 9 rocket with 5,600 pounds of research equipment and supplies including holiday food for the space station. The MS-11 mission was moved up after the same kind of Soyuz spacecraft and FG rocket booster crashed at Baikonur in October, risking the lives of Russian commander Alexei Ovchinin and Nasa astronaut Nick Hague. One of the four boosters caught on the second stage as they detached, sending the rocket careening toward the ground a little more than two minutes after takeoff. The capsule automatically aborted the mission and parachuted the two men to safety about 250 miles away on the plains of Kazakhstan.  Soyuz MS-10 takes off from Baikonur before its crash in October Credit: Dmitri Lovetsky/AP Russia blamed the crash on a sensor in the booster separation system that was damaged during installation in what the space agency head could have been an act of sabotage. Having taken apart two rockets during an investigation, its specialists have now fixed the problem, a special commission said. Arianespace launched a European weather satellite into orbit on an unmanned Soyuz rocket last month. Monday's mission follows a scare at the space station in August when a drop in pressure was traced to a small hole in a panel in a Soyuz MS-09 module, which had docked with the station in June.  Russia's space czar at one point suggested the hole could have been drilled by the German or American crew member on the station. MS-11 crew member Anne McClain said she had absolute confidence in the Soyuz despite the crash, telling CBS News she “would have gotten on a rocket the day after that happened”.  But crashes of unmanned Russian spacecraft in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 have called into doubt the viability of the country's space industry, where low wages have reportedly hurt operations. In the most egregious incident, an unmanned Soyuz rocket carrying 19 international satellites crashed in November 2017 after it was programmed with the coordinates for the wrong launch site.  A Russian Orthodox priests blesses the MS-11 spaceship with holy water on Sunday Credit: Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP Monday's mission started from the same launchpad that Yuri Gagarin did when he became the first man in space in 1961. Russian Orthodox priests flicked holy water on the rocket, launch team and assembled journalists during a blessing the day before. On Friday, Russia launched three communications satellites into space and an unidentified fourth object that some think could be a new spy satellite.  



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

Mattis reveals Russian government attempted to interfere in U.S. midterm elections

Mattis reveals Russian government attempted to interfere in U.S. midterm electionsDefense Secretary James Mattis revealed that the Russian government attempted to interfere in the U.S. midterm elections last month during remarks at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, CA.



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

Merkel protege suggests blockade of Russian ships over Ukraine crisis

Merkel protege suggests blockade of Russian ships over Ukraine crisisAnnegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who is leading the race to succeed Merkel as leader of her ruling conservatives, also said Germany must be ready to take more responsibility in foreign policy and to spend more on defense. Russia seized the Ukrainian vessels and their crews on Sunday near Crimea, the Ukrainian region which Moscow annexed in 2014, over what it said was their illegal entry into Russian waters, which Ukraine denies. “If it’s confirmed that the aggression came from Russia … then I think there must be a clear answer,” Kramp-Karrenbauer told Reuters in a television interview.



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines

Trump ‘Not Happy’ with Russian Aggression toward Ukraine

Trump ‘Not Happy’ with Russian Aggression toward UkraineSpeaking at the G-20 summit Friday, President Trump expressed frustration with the recent acts of Russian aggression directed at Ukraine in explaining his last-minute cancellation of a previously scheduled bilateral meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin. “We don’t like what happened, we’re not happy about it, no one is,” Trump said when asked by reporters about the Russian attack on Ukrainian ships in the Kerch Strait off the coast of Crimea this week. “And hopefully they’ll be able to settle it out soon because we look forward to meeting with President Putin.



Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines