Fourteen Russian sailors on board a submersible military vessel were killed after a fire broke out and they suffocated on the fumes. The deep-sea research vessel was carrying out a survey in Russia’s territorial waters when the blaze erupted on Monday, the defense ministry said. President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday called the loss of 14 navy officers in the fire a “big loss”, ordering a full investigation into what happened.
A Russian investigative journalist who was charged with drug dealing, widely seen as fabricated charges, has been freed after a widespread public outcry and media rebellion against the case. Journalist Ivan Golunov was arrested last Thursday by police in Moscow who said they found mephedrone on Golunov and cocaine at his flat. He was then charged over the weekend with possessing drugs with intent to supply. Golunov denied all the accusations and said the drugs had been planted on him.
China’s Huawei, considered a security threat in the United States, signed a deal with Russian telecoms company MTS on Wednesday. Over the next year, Huawei will develop a 5G network in Russia. Huawei’s reported potential involvement in Britain’s 5G network has proved politically sensitive, and the government of British Prime Minister Theresa May insists no decision has been made on the issue.
Russia may be violating a ban on the testing of low-yield nuclear weapons capabilities at a site in the Arctic, a top US intelligence official said. Lt Gen Robert Ashley, the director of the US Defense Intelligence Agency, said Moscow was “probably not adhering to” the rules of a recognized treaty. He was referring to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), a multilateral agreement prohibiting nuclear testing. Russia, which ratified the treaty in 2008, says it complies with the CTBT. He added that the US expected Russia, which he said was likely testing weapons in the Novaya Zemlya islands, to increase its nuclear arsenal “significantly” over the next decade.
The Russian plane that burst into flames during a dramatic emergency landing in Moscow, killing 41 people, was struck by lightning moments before the crash, the pilot and surviving passengers said. Fliers said the lightning strike happened at the start of the flight, the BBC reported. The plane’s pilot, Denis Yevdokimov, told Russian media the aircraft lost communication and needed to switch to emergency control mode “because of lightning,” but stopped short of saying the plane was struck directly. Investigators have not commented on the claims that the plane was struck by lightning.
A Russian airliner burst into flames while making an emergency landing at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport Sunday evening, and at least 40 people died, officials said. The Sukhoi SSJ100 operated by national airline Aeroflot had 73 passengers and five crew members on board when it touched down and sped down a runway spewing huge flames and black smoke. The airport said in a statement that the plane, which had taken off from Sheremetyevo Airport for the northern city of Murmansk, turned back for unspecified technical reasons and made a hard landing that started the fire.
A beluga whale found off Norway’s coast wearing a special Russian harness was probably trained by the Russian navy, a Norwegian expert says. Marine biologist Prof Audun Rikardsen said the harness had a GoPro camera holder and a label sourcing it to St Petersburg. The tame beluga repeatedly approached Norwegian boats off Ingoya, an Arctic island about 415km (258 miles) from Murmansk, where Russia’s Northern Fleet is based. Belugas are native to Arctic waters. Russia has a naval base in the region.
Russia on Wednesday (Apr 24) made it easier for people living in eastern Ukraine’s separatist territories to obtain Russian passports, drawing swift condemnation from Kiev only three days after it elected a new president. President Vladimir Putin signed the decree aimed at residents of the unrecognized Donetsk and Lugansk republics that broke away from Kiev in 2014 and are governed by Moscow-backed rebels. People living in the separatist regions will now be entitled to receive a Russian passport within three months of applying for one.
A Moscow court has sentenced a 63-year-old Norwegian, Frode Berg, to 14 years in a strict-regime labour camp for spying on Russian navy submarines. Berg, arrested in Moscow in 2017, denied the accusation. He formerly worked as a guard on the Norwegian-Russian border. Berg’s lawyer, Ilya Novikov, said his client would not appeal against the verdict but would seek a pardon from President Vladimir Putin. Mr Novikov, quoted by AFP news agency, said Berg “expects his government to undertake diplomatic efforts” and “we see no practical use in appealing”.
The United States on Monday accused Russia of “reckless escalation” of the situation in Venezuela by deploying military planes and personnel to the crisis-stricken South American nation that Washington has hit with crippling sanctions. The Russian planes and military personnel arrived outside the Venezuelan capital Caracas on Saturday, according to local media reports, two months after the Trump administration disavowed President Nicolas Maduro. Washington has recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country’s legitimate president and demands that Maduro leave power, which Russia has described as a U.S.-backed coup against the socialist government.