Daily: 14/01/2022

Росія: ФСБ заявляє про затримання 14 хакерів угруповання REvil, яких розшукують США

Цього ж дня суд у Москві взяв під арешт двох із затриманих

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Russia Takes Down Hacking Group at US Request, Intelligence Service Says

Russia has conducted a special operation against ransomware crime group REvil at the request of the United States and has detained and charged the group’s members, the FSB domestic intelligence service said Friday. 

The arrests were a rare apparent demonstration of collaboration between Russia and the United States, at a time of high tensions between the two over Ukraine. The announcement came even as Ukraine was responding to a massive cyberattack that shut down government websites, though there was no indication the incidents were related. 

A joint police and FSB operation searched 25 addresses, detaining 14 people, the FSB said, listing assets it had seized, including 426 million rubles, $600,000, 500,000 euros, computer equipment and 20 luxury cars. 

Russia informed the United States directly of the moves it had taken against the group, the FSB said on its website. The U.S. Embassy in Moscow said it could not immediately comment. 

“The investigative measures were based on a request from the … United States,” the FSB said. ” … The organized criminal association has ceased to exist and the information infrastructure used for criminal purposes was neutralized.” 

The REN TV channel aired footage of agents raiding homes and arresting people, pinning them to the floor, and seizing large piles of dollars and Russian rubles. 

The group members have been charged and could face up to seven years in prison. 

A source familiar with the case told Interfax the group’s members with Russian citizenship would not be handed over to the United States. 

The United States said in November that it was offering a reward of up to $10 million for information leading to the identification or location of anyone holding a key position in the REvil group. 

The United States has been hit by a string of high-profile hacks by ransom-seeking cybercriminals. A source with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters in June that REvil was suspected of being the group behind a ransomware attack on the world’s biggest meatpacking company, JBS SA. 

Washington repeatedly has accused the Russian state in the past of malicious activity on the internet, which Moscow denies. 

Russia’s announcement came during a standoff between the United States and Russia. Moscow is demanding Western security guarantees, including that NATO will not expand further. It has also built up its troops near Ukraine.

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Українські дипломати працюють із міжнародними партнерами для посилення кібербезпеки – МЗС

«Вживаємо практичних заходів для посилення кіберзахисту МЗС та українських посольств і консульств за кордоном», – повідомив речник міністерства

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Turkey, Armenia Hold First Talks in Years on Normalizing Ties

Turkey and Armenia on Friday said a first round of talks in more than 10 years was “positive and constructive,” raising the prospect that ties could be restored and borders reopened after decades of animosity. 

Turkey has had no diplomatic or commercial ties with its eastern neighbor since the 1990s. The talks in Moscow were the first attempt to restore links since a 2009 peace accord. That deal was never ratified and relations have remained tense. 

The Turkish and Armenian foreign ministries said Friday the talks were held in a “positive and constructive” atmosphere, adding both sides were committed to a full normalization without any pre-conditions. They said special envoys had “exchanged their preliminary views regarding the normalization process.” 

The neighbors are at odds over several issues, primarily the 1.5 million people Armenia says were killed in 1915.

Armenia says the 1915 killings constitute a genocide, a position supported by the United States and some others. Turkey accepts that many Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire were killed in clashes with Ottoman forces during World War One but contests the figures and denies killings were systematic or constitute genocide. 

Tensions again flared during a 2020 war over the Nagorno-Karabakh territory. Turkey accused ethnic Armenian forces of occupying land belonging to Azerbaijan. Turkey has since called for a rapprochement, as it seeks greater influence in the region. 

In separate but similarly worded statements, the foreign ministries said a date and location for the next round of talks would be finalized later. 

Turkish diplomatic sources said the discussions between the delegations lasted for about 90 minutes. 

Russia’s TASS news agency cited Armenia’s foreign ministry as saying Thursday it expected the talks to lead to the establishment of diplomatic relations and opening of frontiers closed since 1993. 

Thomas de Waal, a senior fellow with Carnegie Europe, said in November opening borders and renovating railways to Turkey would have economic benefits for Armenia, as the routes could be used by traders from Turkey, Russia, Armenia, Iran and Azerbaijan. 

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said last year the two countries also would start charter flights between Istanbul and Armenia’s capital Yerevan under the rapprochement, but that Turkey would coordinate all steps with Azerbaijan. 

The flights are set to begin in early February. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday Armenia needed to form good ties with Azerbaijan for the normalization effort to yield results. 

No easy breakthrough 

Despite strong backing for normalization from the United States, which hosts a large Armenian diaspora and angered Turkey last year by calling the 1915 killings a genocide, analysts have said the talks would be complicated. 

Emre Peker, a London-based director at Eurasia Group, said a cautious approach focusing on quick deliverables was expected on both sides due to the old sensitivities, adding that the role of Russia, which brokered the Nagorno-Karabakh cease-fire and is the dominant actor in the region, would be key. 

Cavusoglu also has said Russia contributed to the process of appointing the special envoys. 

“The bigger challenge will come from the question of historic reconciliation,” Peker said, adding that the fate of talks would depend on “Ankara’s recognition that it must right-size its ambitions.” 


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Путін призначив колишнього голову Держдуми Бориса Гризлова послом Росії у Мінську

Гризлов – четвертий посол у Білорусі за два роки

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Західні країни закликають Косово допустити ОБСЄ для проведення референдуму серед місцевих сербів

«Ми закликаємо уряд Косова дозволити сербам у Косово реалізувати своє право голосу», заявили п’ять західних країн та Євросоюз

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Зеленський припускає тристоронню зустріч із Байденом та Путіним – Єрмак

«Я думаю, що це може бути одним із майданчиків для врегулювання війни на Донбасі», – припустив голова Офісу президента

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Суд призначив обрання запобіжного заходу Порошенку на ранок 17 січня – ДБР

Суд обиратиме Порошенку запобіжний захід у справі про постачання вугілля з тимчасово окупованих частин Донбасу

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‘Be Afraid’: Ukraine Hit by Cyberattack, Russia Moves More Troops

Ukraine was hit by a massive cyberattack warning its citizens to “be afraid and expect the worst”, and Russia, which has massed more than 100,000 troops on its neighbor’s frontier, released TV pictures on Friday of more forces deploying in a drill.

The developments came after no breakthrough was reached at meetings between Russia and Western states, which fear Moscow could launch a new attack on a country it invaded in 2014.

“The drumbeat of war is sounding loud,” said a senior U.S. Diplomat.

Russia denies plans to attack Ukraine but says it could take unspecified military action unless demands are met, including a promise by the NATO alliance never to admit Kyiv.

Russia said troops in its far east would practice deploying to far-away military sites for exercises as part of an inspection. Defense Ministry footage released by RIA news agency showed numerous armored vehicles and other military hardware being loaded onto trains in the Eastern Military District.

“This is likely cover for the units being moved towards Ukraine,” said Rob Lee, a military analyst and a fellow at the U.S.-based Foreign Policy Research Institute.

The movements indicated Russia has no intention of dialing down tensions over Ukraine, having used its troop build-up to force the West to the negotiating table and press sweeping demands for “security guarantees” – key elements of which have been described by the United States as non-starters.

Ukrainian authorities were investigating a huge cyberattack, which hit government bodies including the ministry of foreign affairs, cabinet of ministers, and security and defense council.

“Ukrainian! All your personal data was uploaded to the public network. All data on the computer is destroyed, it is impossible to restore it,” said a message visible on hacked

government websites, written in Ukrainian, Russian and Polish.

“All information about you has become public, be afraid and expect the worst. This is for your past, present and future.”

Ukraine’s foreign ministry spokesperson told Reuters it was too early to say who could be behind the attack but said Russia had been behind similar strikes in the past. Russia did not immediately comment but has previously denied being behind cyberattacks on Ukraine.

The Ukrainian government said it had restored most of the affected sites and that no personal data had been stolen. Several other government websites had been suspended to prevent the attack from spreading.

The European Union’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, condemned the attack and said the EU’s political and security committee and cyber units would meet to see how to help Kyiv: “I can’t blame anybody as I have no proof, but we can imagine.”

The message left by the cyberattack was peppered with references that echoed long-running Russian state allegations, rejected by Kyiv, that Ukraine is in the thrall of far-right nationalist groups. It referenced Volhynia and Eastern Galicia, the site of killings carried out in Nazi German-occupied Poland by Ukrainian insurgents, a point of contention between Poland and Ukraine.

The United States warned on Thursday that the threat of a Russian military invasion was high. Russia has consistently denied that. 

Moscow said dialogue was continuing but was hitting a dead end as it tried to persuade the West to bar Ukraine from joining NATO and roll back decades of alliance expansion in Europe.

The United States and NATO have rejected those demands but said they are willing to talk about arms control, missile deployments, confidence-building measures and limits on military exercises.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday that Moscow was awaiting a point-by-point written response to its proposals.

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Masks Rules Get Tighter in Europe in Winter’s COVID-19 Wave

To mask or not to mask is a question Italy settled early in the COVID-19 outbreak with a vigorous “yes.” Now the onetime epicenter of the pandemic in Europe hopes even stricter mask rules will help it beat the latest infection surge.

Other countries are taking similar action as the more transmissible — yet, apparently, less virulent — omicron variant spreads through the continent.

With Italy’s hospital ICUs rapidly filling with mostly unvaccinated COVID-19 patients, the government announced on Christmas Eve that FFP2 masks — which offer users more protection than cloth or surgical masks — must be worn on public transport, including planes, trains, ferries and subways.

That’s even though all passengers in Italy, as of this week, must be vaccinated or recently recovered from COVID-19. FFP2s also must now be worn at theaters, cinemas and sports events, indoors or out, and can’t be removed even for their wearers to eat or drink.

Italy re-introduced an outdoor mask mandate. It had never lifted its indoor mandate — even when infections sharply dropped in the summer.

On a chilly morning in Rome this week, Lillo D’Amico, 84, sported a wool cap and white FFP2 as he bought a newspaper at his neighborhood newsstand.

“(Masks) cost little money, they cost you a small sacrifice,” he said. “When you do the math, it costs far less than hospitalization.”

When he sees someone from the unmasked minority walking by, he keeps a distance. “They see (masks) as an affront to their freedom,” D’Amico said, shrugging.

Spain reinstated its outdoor mask rule on Christmas Eve. After the 14-day contagion rate soared to 2,722 new infections per 100,000 people by the end of last week — from 40 per 100,000 in mid-October — Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez was asked whether the outdoor mask mandate was helping.

“Of course, it is. It’s not me saying it. It’s science itself saying it because (it’s) a virus that is contracted when one exhales,” Sanchez said.

Portugal brought masks back at the end of November, after having largely dropped the requirement when it hit its goal of vaccinating 86% of the population.

Greece has also restored its outdoor mask mandate, while requiring an FFP2 or double surgical mask on public transport and in indoor public spaces.

This week the Dutch government’s outbreak management team recommended a mask mandate for people over 13 in busy public indoor areas such as restaurants, museums and theaters, and for spectators at indoor sports events. Those places are currently closed under a lockdown until at least Friday.


In France, the outdoor mask mandate was partially re-instated in December in many cities, including Paris. The age for children to start wearing masks in public places was lowered to 6 from 11.

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer announced last week that people must wear FFP2 masks outdoors if they can’t keep at least 2 meters apart.

In Italy, with more than 2 million people currently positive for the virus in a nation of 60 million and workplace absences curtailing train and bus runs, the government also sees masks as a way to let society more fully function.

People with booster shots or recent second vaccine doses can now avoid quarantine after coming into contact with an infected person if they wear a FFP2 mask for 10 days.

The government has ordered shops to make FFP masks available for 85 U.S. cents. In the pandemic’s first year, FFP2s cost up to $11.50 — whenever they could be found.

Italians wear them in a palette of colors. The father of a baby baptized this week by Pope Francis in the Sistine Chapel wore one in burgundy, with matching tie and jacket pocket square. But the pontiff, who has practically shunned a mask in public, was maskless.


On Monday, Vatican City State mandated FFP2s in all indoor places. The tiny, walled independent state across the Tiber from the heart of Rome also stipulated that Vatican employees can go to work without quarantining after coming into contact with someone testing positive if, in addition to being fully vaccinated or having received a booster shot, they wear FFP2s.

Francis did appear to be wearing a FFP2 when, startling shoppers in Rome on Tuesday evening, he emerged from a music store near the Pantheon before being driven back to the Vatican.

In Britain, where Prime Minister Boris Johnson has focused on vaccination, masks have never been required outdoors.

This month, though, the government said secondary school students should wear face coverings in class. But Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said that rule wouldn’t apply “for a day longer than necessary.”

When the British government lifted pandemic restrictions in July 2021, turning mask-wearing from a requirement to a suggestion, mask use fell markedly.

Nino Cartabellotta, president of the Bologna-based GIMBE foundation, which monitors health care in Italy, says Britain points to what can happen when measures like mask-wearing aren’t valued.

“The situation in the U.K, showed that use of vaccination alone wasn’t enough” to get ahead of the pandemic, even though Britain was one of the first countries to begin vaccination, he said in a video interview. 


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У сина президента Казахстану є квартира і будинок у Швейцарії – ЗМІ

У розслідуванні журналістів йдеться і про статки інших персон з оточення Касима-Жомарта Токаєва

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У 2021 році Росію залишили 1,5 тисячі активістів і журналістів – Фонд «Вільна Росія»

При цьому організація враховує лише «політичних» емігрантів. Членів їхніх сімей або тих, хто просто не захотів жити в Росії та вирішив поїхати, у статистиці немає

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Президенти України й Азербайджану проводять зустріч у Києві

Після завершення зустрічі відбудуться українсько-азербайджанські переговори в розширеному складі. Також заплановане підписання двосторонніх документів

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Федоров про хакерську атаку: дані українців – у безпеці

У кіберполіції повідомили, що спільно з Держспецзв’язку і Службою безпеки України збирають цифрові докази і встановлюють причетних до вчинення кібератак

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Dutch King Won’t Use Carriage Criticized for Colonial Image

The Dutch king ruled out Thursday using, for now at least, the royal family’s Golden Carriage, one side of which bears a painting that critics say glorifies the Netherlands’ colonial past, including its role in the global slave trade.

The announcement was an acknowledgement of the heated debate about the carriage as the Netherlands reckons with the grim sides of its history as a 17th-century colonial superpower, including Dutch merchants making vast fortunes from slaves.

“The Golden Carriage will only be able to drive again when the Netherlands is ready and that is not the case now,” King Willem-Alexander said in a video message.

One side of the vehicle is decorated with a painting called “Tribute from the Colonies” that shows Black and Asian people, one of them kneeling, offering goods to a seated young white woman who symbolizes the Netherlands.

The carriage is currently on display in an Amsterdam museum following a lengthy restoration. In the past it has been used to carry Dutch monarchs through the streets of The Hague to the state opening of Parliament each September.

“There is no point in condemning and disqualifying what has happened through the lens of our time,” the king said. “Simply banning historical objects and symbols is certainly not a solution either. Instead, a concerted effort is needed that goes deeper and takes longer. An effort that unites us instead of divides us.”

Anti-racism activist and co-founder of The Black Archives in Amsterdam, Mitchell Esajas, called the king’s statement “a good sign,” but also the “bare minimum” the monarch could have said.

“He says the past should not be looked at from the perspective and values of the present … and I think that’s a fallacy because also in the historical context slavery can be seen as a crime against humanity and a violent system,” he said. “I think that argument is often used as an excuse to kind of polish away the violent history of it.”

The Netherlands, along with many other nations, has been revisiting its colonial history in a process spurred by the Black Lives Matter movement that swept the world after the death of George Floyd, a Black man in the United States.

Last year, the country’s national museum, the Rijksmuseum, staged a major exhibition that took an unflinching look at the country’s role in the slave trade, and Amsterdam Mayor Femke Halsema apologized for the extensive involvement of the Dutch capital’s former governors in the trade.

Halsema said she wanted to “engrave the great injustice of colonial slavery into our city’s identity.” 


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Верховний суд США скасував указ Байдена про обов’язкову вакцинацію працівників великих компаній

Вимоги мали стосуватися близько 84 мільйонів працівників середнього і великого бізнесу

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Сенат США не підтримав санкції проти «Північного потоку-2», запропоновані республіканцями

Серед тих, хто голосував проти – демократи, які заявили, що законопроєкт Круза зашкодить відносинам із Німеччиною в той час, коли США намагаються виступити єдиним фронтом проти Росії

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Western Diplomats Warn of Impending Disaster in Sahel

Western diplomats fear the spread of extremist groups and persistent economic and social problems in Western Africa and the Sahel are nearing a tipping point that could have disastrous consequences for the region and beyond. 

The officials from both Europe and the United States warned Thursday that international efforts have so far failed to counter factors that are driving young people to take up arms and called for increased cooperation with countries in the region. 

“The rise of violent extremism and the worsening of the humanitarian situation in the Sahel and the wider West African region is threatening the future of the entire African continent and of all of us,” European Union Ambassador to the U.S. Stavros Lambrinidis told the virtual conference. “This is as high stakes as it gets.” 

U.S. officials described the situation as no less dire. 

“Despite a decade of robust international investments, the region continues to trend in the wrong direction,” said U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Michael Gonzales. 

“Armed groups continue to expand their presence as well as their capabilities and their violence,” Gonzales added. “We need to address the underlying drivers of insecurity more holistically in order to turn the tide.” 

The biggest concern has been Mali, where terrorists linked to groups like Islamic State and al-Qaida have continued to make inroads, and where the military government, which seized power in August 2020, postponed elections scheduled for this February until 2026. 

Earlier this week, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) imposed a series of sanctions against Mali’s interim government for refusing to hold elections as initially agreed, including the suspension of all commercial and financial transactions, and putting financial assistance on hold. 

The EU on Thursday announced it would follow suit with its own sanctions against Mali’s interim government. 

“Despite all the warnings that we made to the Malian authorities, we see no sign of progress on the part of these authorities,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said following a meeting with the EU defense minister in the French city of Brest. 

“The risk that the situation in this country [Mali] continues to deteriorate is evident,” he said. “We will follow the situation closely.” 

Borell said that despite the imposition of sanctions, EU missions to Mali to train and advise Malian armed forces will continue. 

Mali’s ambassador to the United Nations decried the ECOWAS sanctions as “illegal, illegitimate and inhumane” but said the interim government remains open to additional talks with its neighbors.

Further complicating matters, European officials have raised concerns about Mali’s decision to bring in mercenaries from the Russia-based Wagner Group to bolster its security forces – a charge that Mali’s interim government has denied. 

The U.S. Defense Department, while declining to confirm the reports, described the prospect as worrying. 

“Given the Wagner Group’s record, any role for Russian-backed Wagner Group forces in Mali will likely exacerbate an already fragile and unstable situation,” spokesperson Cynthia King told VOA.

The U.S. suspended military training and cooperation with Mali following the August 2020 coup. 

Germany, which has about 1,000 troops in Mali, has said it would be taking another look at its mission. France, which had 3,000 troops in Mali, has slowly been reducing its military footprint, withdrawing from all but one of its military bases in the country. 

Despite the drawdown, French officials insist they remain committed to helping Mali defeat terrorist groups on its soil. 

“France will not abandon Mali or the other Sahel countries,” French Ambassador to the U.S. Philippe Etienne told Thursday’s virtual conference on the region. “At the request of African nations, France is continuing to combat these armed groups in the Sahel with very appreciated support from the United States.” 

“Young recruits who join these terrorist organizations are doing this not necessarily because they want to engage in jihad but also because they have no other prospects,” he said. “Stabilizing the Sahel in the long term will take time, and there’s a long way to go.” 

Emanuela Del Re, the EU special representative for the Sahel, said the goal, ultimately, is to “keep Mali engaged and not isolate it.” 

“We must keep the dialogue open and alive and hold the transitional authorities to their commitments,” she said.

VOA’s Margaret Besheer and Annie Risemberg contributed to this report.

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Угорщина пропонуватиме четверту бустерну дозу вакцини від COVID-19

«Будь-хто зможе отримати четверте щеплення від коронавірусу на основі консультації з лікарем», заявив керівник апарату Орбана

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