Russia’s Prigozhin admits interfering in US elections

Yevgeny Prigozhin. (AP)
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Updated 08 November 2022
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Russia’s Prigozhin admits interfering in US elections

  • Prigozhin, who is often referred to as “Putin’s chef” because his catering company operates Kremlin contracts, has been formally accused of sponsoring Russia-based “troll farms” that seek to influence US politics

LONDON: Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin said on Monday he had interfered in US elections and would continue doing so in future, the first such admission from a figure implicated by Washington in efforts to influence American politics.
In comments posted by the press service of his Concord catering firm on Russia’s Facebook equivalent VKontakte, Prigozhin said: “We have interfered (in US elections), we are interfering and we will continue to interfere. Carefully, accurately, surgically and in our own way, as we know how to do.”
The remark by the close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin was posted on the eve of the US midterm elections in response to a request for comment from a Russian news site.
“During our pinpoint operations, we will remove both kidneys and the liver at once,” Prigozhin said. He did not elaborate on the cryptic comment.
Prigozhin, who is often referred to as “Putin’s chef” because his catering company operates Kremlin contracts, has been formally accused of sponsoring Russia-based “troll farms” that seek to influence US politics.
In July, the US State Department offered a reward of up to $10 million for information on Prigozhin in connection with “engagement in US election interference.” He has been hit by US, British and European Union sanctions.
Prigozhin, who served nine years in prison in Soviet times for robbery and other crimes before going into business during the 1990s, had long kept a low public profile. But this year he has become more outspoken, including by criticizing the performance of Russia’s generals in Ukraine.
In October, after Ukraine’s successful counteroffensive in the Kharkiv region, Prigozhin issued a statement calling for Russia’s military commanders to be stripped of their medals and “sent with assault weapons barefoot to the front.”
WAGNER MERCENARY FIRM
In September, he admitted to founding the Kremlin-aligned Wagner Group mercenary firm, which is active in Syria, Africa and Ukraine. Prigozhin had previously sued journalists for reporting that he was linked to Wagner.
Last Friday Wagner opened a defense technology center in St. Petersburg, a further step by Prigozhin to highlight his military credentials.
Moscow has made no secret of the fact that it would like to see the United States end its military support for Ukraine and pressure Kyiv into striking a peace deal with Russia that would entail territorial concessions.
But although Russian state media have poured scorn on President Joe Biden and the Democratic Party over everything from their economic record to their Ukraine policy, foreign policy experts close to the Kremlin do not expect Tuesday’s midterm elections to tilt things in Russia’s favor.
Even though a few Republicans oppose continuing military aid to Ukraine, the view from Moscow is that the aid will continue to flow regardless of whether Biden loses control of Congress.
“The old Congress will sit until January and it will approve quite a serious package (of military aid to Ukraine) before it winds up,” Fyodor Lukyanov, editor of the Russia in Global Affairs journal, told the online rbc.ru news portal.
“Then there is likely to be more tricky and prolonged negotiations (over the aid). Perhaps such aid will be a bit less frequent. But essentially the consensus view is that Russia should be weakened as much as possible by supporting Ukraine.”
Commenting on attempts by Russian trolls and bots to influence the election, Sam Greene, a professor of Russian politics at King’s College in London, said he thought the goal was to try to shape the agenda on Ukraine that Republicans will pursue after the vote.
“(The aim is) to get the (Republican) base clamouring for a drawdown in US support for Ukraine,” Greene wrote on Twitter.
But he said he thought that was “a tall order” given the party’s lack of a consolidated position on the Ukraine war.
“Half want to bash Biden for supporting Ukraine, the other half for not supporting Ukraine enough,” said Greene.

 


Thirty-five Democrats in US Congress have called on Biden to drop out

Updated 10 sec ago
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Thirty-five Democrats in US Congress have called on Biden to drop out

WASHINGTON: Thirty-five congressional Democrats have publicly called on Democratic President Joe Biden to end his re-election bid after the 81-year-old incumbent’s halting debate performance against Republican rival Donald Trump.
They represent more than one in eight Democrats in Congress, where Biden’s party controls 213 seats in the House of Representatives and 51 in the Senate.
Here is a list of the Democratic US lawmakers who have publicly and directly called for Biden to not run again.
Senators
Sherrod Brown (Ohio)
Martin Heinrich (New Mexico)
Jon Tester (Montana)
Peter Welch (Vermont)
Representatives
Mark Takano (California’s 39th district)
Earl Blumenauer (Oregon’s 3rd district)
Ed Case (Hawaii’s 1st district)
Sean Casten (Illinois’ 6th district)
Jim Costa (California’s 21st district)
Angie Craig (Minnesota’s 2nd district)
Lloyd Doggett (Texas’ 37th district)
Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (Illinois’ 4th district)
Raul Grijalva (Arizona’s 7th district)
Jim Himes (Connecticut’s 4th district)
Jared Huffman (California’s 2nd district)
Greg Landsman (Ohio’s 1st district)
Mike Levin (California’s 49th district)
Zoe Lofgren (California’s 18th district)
Seth Moulton (Massachusetts’ 6th district)
Betty McCollum (Minnesota’s 4th district)
Morgan McGarvey (Kentucky’s 3rd district)
Scott Peters (California’s 50th district)
Brittany Pettersen (Colorado’s 7th district)
Mark Pocan (Wisconsin’s 2nd district)
Mike Quigley (Illinois’ 5th district)
Pat Ryan (New York’s 18th district)
Adam Schiff (California’s 30th district)
Brad Schneider (Illinois’ 10th district)
Hillary Scholten (Michigan’s 3rd district)
Mikie Sherrill (New Jersey’s 11th district)
Adam Smith (Washington’s 9th district)
Eric Sorensen (Illinois’ 17th district)
Greg Stanton (Arizona’s 4th district)
Gabe Vasquez (New Mexico’s 2nd district)
Marc Veasey (Texas’ 33rd district)

More than 1,200 UK cyclists ride to raise awareness, funds for Gaza

Updated 20 July 2024
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More than 1,200 UK cyclists ride to raise awareness, funds for Gaza

  • Rides will run across London, Belfast, Liverpool, Sheffield, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, and South Wales

LONDON: For three weeks, more than 1,200 people will be cycling in cities across the UK, calling on the newly-elected Labour government to demand an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and to end arms sales to Israel.
The Big Ride was founded in 2015 by activists seeking to combine a passion for cycling with solidarity for Palestine.
This year’s events start on Saturday and run until Aug. 10 in London, Belfast, Liverpool, Sheffield, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, and South Wales.
The grassroots organization will also be raising funds for Palestinian charities, including the Middle East Children’s Alliance, The Amos Trust, and the Gaza Sunbirds para cycling team, which continue their work in Gaza amidst the ongoing conflict.
Ellen Logan, one of the organizers of The Big Ride, said: “For years we’ve witnessed the daily oppression of the Palestinian people — discrimination, subjugation, and inhumanity. And now we’ve spent the last 10 months watching a live-streamed genocide. Everyone should be outraged and campaigning for an end to this violence.”
Logan added: “We use our bikes and freedoms to raise awareness and provide crucial aid for children and disabled cyclists on the ground in Gaza.”
A recent letter published in British medical journal, The Lancet, estimated the actual death toll in Gaza could be as high as 186,000.
British actress Maxine Peake, who is participating in the cycling event, said: “The Big Ride for Palestine has been raising awareness of this for nearly 10 years now. This year, more riders than ever have signed up, so please join a Big Ride near you.”
 


Bangladeshi military enforces ‘unprecedented’ curfew as protest deaths mount

Updated 20 July 2024
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Bangladeshi military enforces ‘unprecedented’ curfew as protest deaths mount

  • Supreme Court hearing on contentious job quotas expected on Sunday
  • At least 103 people dead, including 44 killed in Dhaka on Friday alone

DHAKA: The Bangladeshi military was deployed to the streets to impose a nationwide curfew on Saturday, after more than 100 people were killed in clashes between police and students protesting government job quotas.

The curfew follows a communications blackout that has left the country of 170 million cut off from the world. Television channels were off air and most local news websites were down as the government shut internet services a day earlier.

“Army members will operate in aid to the civil administration under the guidance of district administrators and city commissioners,” Home Minister Asaduzzaman Kamal told Arab News.

In the capital, the military joined riot police and thousands of Border Guard personnel after the Dhaka Metropolitan Police banned all gatherings amid increasing numbers of casualties.

Students have been demonstrating since the beginning of July against a rule that reserves a bulk of government jobs for the descendants of those who fought in the country’s 1971 liberation war.

At least 103 people have been killed in the past five days and thousands injured, according to a count based on reports in the local media. On Friday alone, at least 44 people were killed in Dhaka, which saw intense clashes between protesters, government supporters and security forces.

Air Commodore (Rtd) Ishfaq Ilahi Choudhury, a security analyst, told Arab News that the nationwide military-backed curfew and the amount of violence across the country were “something unprecedented.”

He was referring to reports that numerous administration offices were set on fire and government vehicles vandalized on Friday. On Thursday, the headquarters of a state-owned television station was set ablaze.

“We have not seen such vandalism earlier in the country where many significant government establishments were vandalized and set on fire,” Choudhury said.

The government abolished the controversial quota system after student protests in 2018, but the High Court reinstated it in June, triggering protests.

An appeal hearing is expected at the Supreme Court on Sunday morning.

Under the quota system, 56 percent of public service jobs are reserved for specific groups, including women, marginalized communities and children and grandchildren of freedom fighters — for whom the government earmarks 30 percent of the posts.

These quotas, which reserve hundreds of thousands of government jobs, hit young people directly.

The country’s unemployment rate is the highest among people aged between 15 and 29 — more than a fourth of Bangladesh’s population — who constitute 83 percent of the total unemployed.


Trump to hold first campaign rally after assassination attempt

Updated 20 July 2024
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Trump to hold first campaign rally after assassination attempt

  • Trump and Vance will take the stage in Grand Rapids with the Republican Party unified behind them after this week’s nominating convention

GRAND RAPIDS:Donald Trump will hold his first campaign rally on Saturday since he narrowly escaped an assassination attempt one week ago and fresh from his nominating convention where his takeover of the Republican Party was cemented.
Trump will appear in Grand Rapids, in the battleground state of Michigan, along with his new vice presidential pick, Ohio US Senator J.D. Vance. It will be their first campaign event together as the now official Republican presidential ticket.
Republican Party officials said during Trump’s nominating convention in Milwaukee this week that his brush with death last Saturday had changed him, and that when he made his acceptance speech on Thursday night he would call for national unity.
While Trump began the address with a call for unity and national healing, much of his speech was his well-known list of grievances and attacks on opponents.
It is unclear what type of a speech Trump will deliver on Saturday, but his diehard supporters typically flock to such events to hear Trump’s more traditional inflammatory rhetoric.
Trump and Vance will take the stage in Grand Rapids with the Republican Party unified behind them after this week’s nominating convention. In contrast, the Democrats are in turmoil and it is no longer certain that President Joe Biden will be the Democratic nominee facing Trump in the Nov. 5 election.
Biden is facing mounting calls from many elected officials in his own party to step aside as the party’s White House candidate and to end his re-election bid, after his poor debate performance against Trump last month.
Biden is trailing in opinion polls and is behind in every swing state against Trump. Many Democrats fear he may have virtually no path to victory and that the party needs a new presidential candidate to take on Trump.
The rally in Grand Rapids will be in an indoor arena, unlike the event in Butler, Pennsylvania last weekend, which was outdoors. At that event, the gunman was able to scale the roof of a building outside the Secret Service perimeter before opening fire on Trump, clipping his ear, killing a rally-goer and wounding several others.
The US Secret Service, which is responsible for protecting Trump, declined to comment on security for the Grand Rapids event. An investigation is under way into the security failures at the Butler rally.
“The Secret Service does not discuss the means and methods used for our protective operations,” the agency said in a statement.
Trump gave a detailed account of his narrow brush with death in his convention speech on Thursday, telling the audience that he was only talking to them “by the grace of Almighty God.”


Senegal detains boat carrying 200 migrants

Updated 20 July 2024
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Senegal detains boat carrying 200 migrants

DAKAR: Senegal’s army said Saturday that it had intercepted a boat carrying over 200 migrants trying to reach Europe, after nearly 90 died when attempting the dangerous Atlantic crossing earlier this month.
The boat intercepted by the patrol boat in fishing waters near Lompoul in northwest Senegal on Friday was carrying 202 people, including five women and a minor, the army posted on X.
In early July, a boat carrying around 170 people who set off from Senegal capsized off the coast of Mauritania, killing nearly 90 people.
The disaster prompted Senegal’s President Ousmane Sonko to urge people not to risk the Atlantic Ocean’s currents in overcrowded vessels that often are not seaworthy.
But the route is increasingly used as authorities step up surveillance in the Mediterranean.
“I once again make a plea to the young: your solution is not to be found in boats,” Sonko told a crowd of youths in Saint-Louis.
“The future of the world is in Africa... the only continent that still has the significant scope for progress and growth.”
According to the Spanish NGO Caminando Fronteras, more than 5,000 people died trying to reach Spain by sea in the first five months of this year, representing the highest daily average toll since it began keeping records in 2007.