Ex-Cop Jailed For 56 More Murders In Russia

Serial killer Mikhail Popkov sits inside a defendants’ cage during a court hearing in Irkutsk on December 10, 2018. Anton KLIMOV / AFP


A Russian court on Monday found a former policeman guilty of 56 murders, while he is already serving a life sentence for killing 22 women, making him one of Russia’s most prolific serial killers.

The court in the Siberian city of Irkutsk found Mikhail Popkov “guilty of killing 56 people between 1992 and 2007,” Irkutsk regional prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

Prosecutors said Popkov “has a pathological attraction to killing people.” He was also found guilty of raping 10 of the victims.

He received a second life sentence on top of the one he is already serving and was also formally deprived of his pension as an ex-policeman.

Popkov in 2015 was found guilty of killing 22 women. He later confessed to 59 further murders but was convicted only of 56 on Monday because the investigators had not managed to prove three of the crimes took place, Interfax news agency reported citing the court’s press service.

He killed his victims after offering them rides late at night, sometimes in a police car, while he was off-duty around his home city of Angarsk near Irkutsk.

The number of killings for which he has been convicted exceeds the total of several notorious murderers in Russia and the ex-Soviet Union.

“Chessboard killer” Alexander Pichushkin was sentenced to life in prison in 2007 for 48 murders and Andrei Chikatilo was convicted of 52 Soviet-era murders.


Trump To Cancel Meeting With Putin Over Russia-Ukraine Clash

US President Donald Trump has said he may cancel a long-awaited summit with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin after a confrontation at sea between Russia and Ukraine led Kiev to warn of the threat of “full-scale war”.

Trump is scheduled to meet Putin at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires at the end of this week but warned it would depend on the results of a report being prepared by his national security advisers about Russia’s seizure of three Ukrainian ships.

“Maybe I won’t have the meeting. Maybe I won’t even have the meeting,” he told the Washington Post on Tuesday.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko earlier warned that the standoff could herald more drastic developments as tensions escalate between the ex-Soviet neighbors.

“I don’t want anyone to think this is fun and games. Ukraine is under threat of full-scale war with Russia,” Poroshenko said.

The number of Russian units deployed along the Ukraine-Russian border has “grown dramatically” while the number of Russian tanks has tripled, Poroshenko said, citing intelligence reports but giving no precise timescale for the buildup.

He spoke after Russian forces seized three of Kiev’s ships off the coast of Crimea on Sunday and captured 24 Ukrainian sailors.

On Tuesday, a court in Simferopol, the main city in Russian-annexed Crimea, ordered 12 of the sailors to be held in pre-trial detention for two months. Three hospitalized sailors were also formally detained for two months. The rest are to appear in court on Wednesday.

The move stoked already high tensions between Moscow and Kiev, as Russia continues to accuse the sailors of crossing illegally into Russian waters and of ignoring warnings from its border guards.

Kiev has demanded the release of the sailors and urged Western allies to impose further sanctions on Moscow.

The US State Department has termed Russia’s actions “a dangerous escalation” and said Washington wants to see “our European allies doing more to assist Ukraine.”

Putin warns of ‘reckless acts’ 

The incident was the first major confrontation at sea in the long-running conflict pitting Ukraine against Moscow and Russian-backed separatists in the country’s east.

It has raised fears of a wider escalation — in a conflict that has killed more than 10,000 people since 2014 — and prompted international calls for restraint.

Putin on Tuesday warned Ukraine against any “reckless acts” after Kiev declared martial law in response to Moscow’s seizure of the navy vessels.

The Ukrainian parliament on Monday voted in favor of Poroshenko’s request for the introduction of martial law in border areas for 30 days.

This gives Ukrainian authorities the power to mobilize citizens with military experience, regulate the media and restrict public rallies in affected areas.

In a phone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel Tuesday, Putin expressed “serious concern” over its introduction.

He said he hoped Berlin could intervene with Ukrainian authorities “to dissuade them from further reckless acts”.

Moscow has accused Kiev of planning Sunday’s confrontation as a provocation aimed at drumming up support for Poroshenko ahead of elections next year and convincing Western governments to impose further sanctions on Russia.

Putin said Kiev’s actions were “clearly taken in view of the election campaign in Ukraine”.

Sunday’s incident has been playing out on Russian and Ukrainian television screens, with dramatic footage of Russian ships chasing down a Ukrainian tugboat that was trying to pass through the Kerch Strait from the Black Sea into the Sea of Azov.

 Sailors on Russian TV 

Russian state television has aired footage of some of the captured sailors being questioned by Moscow’s security services.

One of them is heard saying “the actions of the Ukrainian armed vessels in the Kerch Strait had a provocatory character” — parroting the version of events put forward by Russian authorities.

Ukraine’s naval commander, Igor Voronchenko, said the sailors were pressured into giving false evidence.

“I know these sailors, they were always professional. What they are saying now is not true,” he told Ukrainian media.

Western governments have rallied behind Kiev in the dispute, accusing Russia of illegally blocking access to the Sea of Azov and of taking military action without justification.

The European Union, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, and others expressed support for Kiev on Monday, in statements pro-Kremlin newspaper Izvestia denounced as “predictably anti-Russian”.

The foreign minister of Austria, which holds the rotating EU presidency, said Tuesday that the bloc will next month consider further sanctions against Moscow over the flare-up.

“Everything depends on the accounts of events and the actions of both sides. But it will need to be reviewed,” Karin Kneissl told reporters.

UN chief Antonio Guterres called for “maximum restraint,” urging both sides “to take steps without delay to contain this incident and reduce tensions”.


Finland Summons Russian Ambassador Over GPS Blocking Claims

Ambassador Pavel Kuznetsov


Finland has summoned Russia’s ambassador to answer allegations that Moscow was behind the jamming of GPS signals in Lapland during recent NATO exercises, the foreign ministry in Helsinki confirmed Saturday.

Ambassador Pavel Kuznetsov “has been invited to the ministry on Monday to discuss the GPS issue,” spokeswoman Hanna Paivarinta told AFP.

Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipila has said the jamming of GPS satellite signals in the Arctic region had put civil aviation at risk.

The jamming coincided with Trident Juncture 18, NATO’s biggest military exercises since the end of the Cold War, held several hundred kilometres (miles) from Norway’s border with Russia from October 25 to November 7.

Prior to the manoeuvres, Russia had vowed to “retaliate”, calling the exercises “anti-Russian”.

On Thursday, Finland said it stood behind Norway’s assessment that Russian ground forces in the Kola peninsula, close to the border with Norway and Finland, were responsible for jamming the signals.

“The source of the interference is obvious to us, and Norway has the same experience,” Finnish foreign minister Timo Soini told the national news agency STT during a visit to Washington on Friday.

“When the time comes for reaction and dialogue, we will have those conversations, but not in public,” Soini added.

Russia has denied the allegation as “baseless”.

The disruption led to Finnish and Norwegian civil airspace operators issuing warnings to pilots that navigation signals in northeast Lapland were unstable.

In September 2017, Norwegian authorities reported jammed GPS signals affecting civil flights in the north of the country during Russia’s large Zapad military exercise.

“The foreign ministry has on several occasions in the past raised the question with Russian authorities,” Norway’s defence ministry said at the time.


U.S. Imposes Fresh Sanctions For Russian Cyber-Related Activity


The United States on Tuesday imposed sanctions on two Russians, one Russian company and one Slovakian firm for what it said were their actions to help another Russian company avoid sanctions targeting Russia’s malicious cyber-related activities.

The U.S. Treasury said in a statement that the sanctioned companies – Saint Petersburg-based Vela-Marine Ltd and Slovakia-based Lacno S.R.O. – and the two individuals helped Divetechnoservices evade previously imposed sanctions.

The United States had sanctioned Divetechnoservices in June for procuring underwater equipment and diving systems for Russian government agencies, including Russia’s FSB intelligence agency.

The Obama administration sanctioned the FSB in December 2016, citing the Russian government’s aggressive harassment of U.S. officials and cyber operations aimed at the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

In its statement, the U.S. Treasury said the two individuals sanctioned on Tuesday – Marina Igorevna Tsareva and Anton Aleksandrovich Nagibin – had both helped Divetechnoservices attempt to circumvent U.S. sanctions.

Iraq Sentences Russian To Death Over IS Membership

Alleged Bribery: Witness Testifies As Rickey Tarfa’s Trial Continues
File photo


A court in Iraq on Thursday sentenced to death a Russian jihadist for being a member of the Islamic State group, a judicial source said.

The person who received the sentence in Baghdad’s central criminal court was only identified by the name Hassanov, said the same source.

More than 300 people, including around 100 foreigners, have been sentenced to death in Iraq in the past few months, while many others have received life sentences, according to the source.

Most of the convicted foreigners are Turkish or come from former Soviet states.

A German woman and a French woman were recently sentenced to life imprisonment.

Hundreds of Iraqis appear in court near-daily, accused of being jihadists.

On Wednesday, two Iraqi defendants were released, a judicial source told AFP.

IS took over nearly one third of Iraq in a blistering 2014 offensive, seizing control of the country’s second largest city, Mosul, among others.

Baghdad declared military victory over the jihadists in December, after expelling them from all urban centres.

During its three-year long self-proclaimed caliphate, IS perpetrated “crimes against humanity,” according to a UN commission of inquiry that has called for the group’s leaders to be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court.

The president of the court of appeals in eastern Baghdad met David Marshall, an official at the UN’s Human Rights Office, on Thursday.

Marshall said a UN delegation would visit Iraq soon, according to a statement by Iraq’s judiciary.

Court Recommends Psychiatric Test For Russian Who Stabbed Journalist


A Russian man who stabbed a well-known journalist and Kremlin critic in the neck last year will avoid jail but undergo compulsory psychiatric treatment, a Moscow court ruled Friday. 

Boris Grits, a dual Russian and Israeli citizen, stabbed radio presenter Tatyana Felgenhauer in October 2017 while she was at work, in a case that shocked the country.

Felgenhauer, a deputy editor at the liberal Echo of Moscow radio station, survived the attack after undergoing surgery and returned to work shortly afterwards.

Following an investigation, prosecutors ruled Grits was unaware of his actions during the attack.

“The court has decided to release Grits from criminal responsibility and to send him for medical treatment,” judge Alexei Chernikov, quoted by Russian agencies, said.

Speaking on air on Echo of Moscow, Felgenhauer said she was satisfied with the ruling.

“It’s good that it is over, that he is being isolated,” she said.

“Thank you for not letting him go. The main thing is for him to be cured.”

She added that she initially doubted Grits was psychologically ill and believed the attack was “planned” but has since read his relatives’ claims and does not want to “dive into any sort of conspiracies.”

Before the attack, Grits complained on his blog that Felngengauer had been stalking him and that the two had a “telepathic connection.”

Felgenhauer is involved in political opposition rallies and has thousands of followers on her public Facebook page.

Many commentators blamed the authorities for the attack, saying they had created an atmosphere in which such an assault became possible.

Russia has a disturbing record of attacks on reporters, with 58 killed since 1992, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.


Buhari Congratulates Russian President, Putin On Election Victory

President Buhari Congratulates Ex-Federal Commissioner Okunnu At 85
File photo

President Muhammadu Buhari has extended his “sincere congratulations” to President Vladimir Putin of Russia on his victory in the recent presidential election in the Asian country.

The President through his spokesman, Femi Adesina, said, Putin’s “success for the fourth time in the election is a clear testimony of the confidence” Russians have in his leadership.

He also urged his Russian counterpart to “see this victory as a base to continue to promote international peace and stability.”

President Buhari assured President Putin of “Nigeria’s commitment to a stronger and mutually beneficial relationship with the Russian Federation under your watch.”

He said he looked forward to continuing working with the Russian leader “to strengthen our defence, trade and technology partnerships as well as the promotion of private sector participation in all sectors of our economies.”

Russian Plane Crash In Syria Kills 32



A Russian transport plane crashed on landing at Russia’s Hmeimim airbase in Syria, killing all 32 on board, the defence ministry said in a statement carried by RIA Novosti.

There were 26 passengers and 6 crew, the ministry said.

“The reason for the crash according to preliminary information could have been a technical fault,” the ministry said, adding that the plane had not come under fire according to a report from the ground.

The transporter was around 500 metres from the runway, the statement said.

A commission will investigate the causes of the crash.

Moscow began conducting air strikes in Syria in September 2015, and its intervention has swung the nearly seven-year conflict firmly in favour of its ally in Damascus.

The latest accident comes after a Sukhoi military jet crashed while trying to take off from Hmeimim in October last year, killing two crew.

Russia’s most recent officially acknowledged military loss in battle in Syria was last month when a pilot was killed after his plane was downed over Idlib province.

Russia’s official military losses in the war before the crash were 45.

Moscow last month also said that five citizens, not officially affiliated with the Russian military, were likely killed in the strikes in eastern Syria — the first admission of non-military combat casualties.


71 People Killed In Russian Plane Crash



A Russian passenger plane carrying 71 people crashed outside Moscow on Sunday after taking off from the capital’s Domodedovo airport, officials and local media said.

The Antonov An-148 plane operated by the domestic Saratov Airlines was flying to Orsk, a city in the Urals, and crashed in the Ramensky district on the outskirts of Moscow. Russian news agencies reported 65 passengers and six crew were on board and all were feared dead.

News agencies said witnesses in the village of Argunovo saw a burning plane falling from the sky.

A source from Russia’s emergency services told Interfax that the 71 people on board “had no chance” of survival.

President Vladimir Putin offered “his profound condolences to those who lost their relatives in the crash,” his spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

State television aired a video of the crash site, showing parts of the wreckage in the snow.

Russia has seen record high snowfall in recent days and visibility was reportedly poor.

The Russian-made plane was reportedly seven years old and bought by Saratov Airlines from another Russian airline a year ago.

Hard-to-reach crash site 

Russian media reported that the emergency services were unable to reach the crash site by road and that rescue workers walked to the scene on foot. Emergency services said in a statement that more than 150 rescue workers were deployed to the site.

A source at Domodedovo, Moscow’s second largest airport, told agencies that the plane disappeared from radars within two minutes of takeoff.

The Russian transport minister was on his way to the crash site, agencies reported. The transport ministry said several causes for the crash were being considered, including weather conditions and human error.

The governor of the Orenburg region, where the plane was flying to, told Russian media that “more than 60 people” on board the plane were from the region.

Prosecutors opened an investigation into Saratov Airlines following the crash. Russia’s Investigative Committee will consider all possible causes, RIA Novosti news agency reported.

Saratov Airlines was founded in the 1930s and flies to 35 Russian cities. Its hub is Saratov Central Airport in southern Russia.

Local media website Ural56.ru in the Orenburg region showed footage of distressed relatives at Orsk airport, where the plane was due to land.

Andrei Odintsov, the mayor of the city of Orsk, told Russian state television that six psychologists and four ambulances with medics are working with the relatives in the small airport.

Orsk is the second biggest city in the Orenburg region, near Russia’s border with Kazakhstan.

Russia has suffered numerous plane crashes, with airlines often operating ageing aircraft in dangerous flying conditions.

A light aircraft crashed in November in Russia’s far east, killing six people on board.

In December 2016 a military plane carrying Russia’s famed Red Army Choir crashed after taking off from the Black Sea resort of Sochi, killing all 92 people on board.

The choir had been due to give a concert to Russian troops operating in Syria.

Pilot error was blamed for that crash.

In March 2016, all 62 passengers died when a FlyDubai jet crashed in bad weather during an aborted landing at Rostov-on-Don airport.


Britain, US Oppose Russian Bid To Revise Syria Gas Attacks Probe

Britain’s May in handshake with Russian’s Putin Credit: AFP

Britain and the United States on Friday sought to thwart a Russian bid to attach conditions to the extension of a UN-led panel tasked with identifying who is behind chemical attacks in Syria’s six-year war.

Russia has circulated a draft Security Council resolution that calls for a six-month extension of the panel, known as the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM). Its mandate expires on November 16.

The United States has put forward a rival text seeking two more years for the JIM following the release of its latest report blaming the Syrian government for a sarin gas attack.

Moscow’s text proposed that the council shelve that report on the use of the nerve agent to allow for a new investigation of the April 4 attack on the opposition-held village of Khan Sheikhun.

US Ambassador Nikki Haley said the panel must be allowed to continue its work to identify of perpetrators of many other chemical attacks including another case of sarin use on March 30 on the village of Ltamenah.

“Unless the Security Council takes immediate action to renew the mandate for the JIM, there will be no independent, impartial tool to identify who is responsible for these terrible attacks,” Haley said.

“Now more than ever, Security Council members must put aside political games and meet our responsibility to protect the world against chemical weapons use,” she said.

– Shoot the messenger –
The Security Council will discuss the fate of the panel and its findings on Khan Sheikhun on Tuesday.

British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft accused Russia of “trying to shoot the messenger to cover up for the crimes of its abhorrent ally.”

“The Russian draft resolution is a cynical ploy to discredit a professional, independent and impartial body.”

Britain called on the council to renew the JIM’s “existing mandate, which has already delivered rigorous and conclusive findings.”

Russia has questioned the work of the panel because the experts did not go to Khan Sheikhun and worked from samples Moscow maintains may have been tampered with by Western intelligence.

The Russian-drafted measure “requests the JIM to retain its findings… until such time when full-scale and high-quality investigation on the site of an incident becomes possible.”

The US draft resolution expresses “grave concern” over the findings on the sarin attack and said the experts should “undertake their respective investigations in a manner that they deem appropriate to fulfill their mandate.”

More than 80 people, including young children, died in the Khan Sheikhun attack that provoked global outrage and prompted the United States to fire cruise missiles at a Syrian air base.

Russia in late October vetoed a US-drafted resolution that would have extended the mandate of the JIM for a year, casting its ninth veto at the Security Council to block action against its Syrian ally.


Britain Rejects Russian Bid To Revise UN Probe Of Syria Gas Attacks

Britain’s Prime Minister, Theresa May at 10 Downing Street Ben STANSALL / AFP

Britain on Friday rejected a Russian bid to attach conditions to the extension of a UN-led panel tasked with identifying who is behind chemical attacks in Syria’s six-year war.

Russia has circulated a draft Security Council resolution that calls for a six-month extension of the panel, known as the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM). Its mandate expires on November 16.

The United States has put forward a rival text seeking two more years for the JIM following the release of its latest report blaming the Syrian government for a sarin gas attack.



Russian, South Korean FMS Discuss Bilateral Ties In Moscow

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha met on Friday (August 25) with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow.

The two ministers discussed bilateral ties and announced a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and South Korean President Moon Jae-in on the sidelines of the upcoming Eastern Economic forum in Russia’s Vladivostok.

Kang also announced the arrival of prime-minister Lee Nak-yon for the meeting with the Russian government.