Home Tags Posts tagged with "Moscow"



Former Pussy Riot member Nadya Tolokonnikova and another activist were arrested in Moscow on June 12 after staging a brief street performance to support women prisoners.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Katya Nenasheva were posing dressed as prisoners while attempting to sew a Russian flag before being dragged away.

Both were released after three hours.

Nadya Tolokonnikova spent 21 months in jail after a Pussy Riot protest against Vladimir Putin in a Moscow cathedral.

The human rights campaigner staged her new protest on Russia’s national day.

Photo Facebook

Photo Facebook

While under arrest on June 12, Nadya Tolokonnikova posted messages on Facebook saying she wanted to draw attention to the struggles of female prisoners, both while incarcerated and once released.

Russian media reports said Nadya Tolokonnikova and Katya Nenasheva had been detained for holding an “unsanctioned rally” in Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square – the site of mass anti-government protests that began in 2011.

Since being released last year, Nadya Tolokonnikova has focused on campaigning around the world against President Vladimir Putin.

She was jailed along with fellow Pussy Riot members, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich, in August 2012 after being convicted of hooliganism.

They were among five members of the activist group to stage a “punk prayer” in Moscow’s biggest cathedral.

The act was seen as blasphemous by many Russians, and was condemned by the Orthodox Church.

Yekaterina Samutsevich was freed on probation in October 2012, but Nadya Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina remained in jail until their release in December 2013.

In February 2014, members of Pussy Riot signed an open letter insisting that Maria Alyokhina and Nadya Tolokonnikova should no longer be described as part of the punk rock collective.

Pussy Riot said the pair had forgotten about the “aspirations and ideals of our group” and were wrong to appear at an Amnesty International concert in New York.


French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are meeting Russia’s Vladimir Putin to try to end escalating fighting in Ukraine.

Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande are taking to Moscow a peace proposal crafted in the Ukrainian capital Kiev on February 5, but details have not been released.

Meanwhile a truce has allowed civilians to leave Debaltseve, at the heart of the latest fighting in eastern Ukraine.

Russia is accused of arming pro-Russian separatists – a claim it denies.

The Kremlin also rejects claims by Ukraine and the West that its regular troops are fighting alongside the rebels in the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Clashes have left nearly 5,400 people dead since April 2014, the UN says.

A September ceasefire, signed in Minsk, Belarus, has failed to stop the violence. Since then the rebels have seized more ground, raising alarm in Kiev and among Ukraine’s backers.Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande in Moscow peace talks

Before he left for Moscow on February 6, Francois Hollande said the goal of his visit was not just a ceasefire, but a “comprehensive agreement” – though Angela Merkel said it was “totally open” whether that could be achieved.

Meanwhile Vice-President Joe Biden accused Russia of “continuing to escalate the conflict” and “ignoring every agreement”.

Joe Biden was speaking in Brussels, where he is meeting top EU officials.

He accused Vladimir Putin of continuing “to call for new peace plans as his tanks roll through the Ukrainian countryside”.

He said Russia could “not be allowed to redraw the map of Europe”.

Ukraine is also set to dominate an annual multi-lateral security conference in Munich.

The fighting has intensified in recent weeks after a rebel offensive, and a temporary truce was declared in Debaltseve on February 6, where Ukrainian forces are fighting to hold the town against surrounding rebels.

Convoys of buses travelled to the town on Friday to evacuate civilians who had been forced to shelter underground from the bombing.

They were escorted by monitors from the OSCE security watchdog, Reuters reported.

Washington is considering Ukrainian pleas for better weaponry to fend off the rebels, raising European fears of an escalation in the conflict and spurring the latest peace bid.

On February5, Francois Hollande and Angela Merkel examined the peace proposal with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, without releasing any details.

Moscow says it is ready for “constructive dialogue” – though still denying any direct role in the conflict – while Kiev insists above all that Ukraine must remain united.

A spokesman for the Kremlin said President Vladimir Putin would discuss “the fastest possible end to the civil war in south-eastern Ukraine”.

Some 1.2 million Ukrainians have fled their homes since April 2014, when the rebels seized a big swathe of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions following Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

[youtube OaFJIs8HIXg 650]

Romania has won this year’s Art-football championship held in Moscow, Russia, after defeating the Israeli team on penalties, 0:0 (4:3).

The international football and music festival Art-football which was invented and organized for the first time in Russia became one of the most remarkable world sports and music event in support of the ideas of Kindness and Humanity.

Art-football festival is held in the frame of the “Under the Flag of Kindness” campaign with the aim to raise funds guaranteeing treatment of seriously ill children.

Romania has won this year’s Art-football championship held in Moscow after defeating the Israeli team on penalties

Romania has won this year’s Art-football championship held in Moscow after defeating the Israeli team on penalties (photo art-football.ru)

The teams including film, TV and music celebrities from 16 countries, participated in football competition with a format similar to the FIFA championships.

The charity Campaign “Under a flag of Kindness!” organized similar matches in Sochi in 2007. The second championship was also held in the south of Russia – in the city of Novorossiisk on the Black Sea.

The list of the countries included: Britain, Brazil, Germany, Israel, the Netherlands, Poland, South Korea, Russia, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Estonia and Japan.

Every team was allowed to have not more than two professional football players (football veterans) in their ranks. Other members were obliged to confirm that they belong to the artistic world.

The 16 teams were divided into 4 groups.

The music part of the Art-football festival was also part of the competition. Every night in Gorky Park the two teams who were free from the games that day presented national gala concerts, backed by performances of Guests of Honor — the world class pop stars.

Among the Guests of Honor performing in the Gorky Park as part of the Art-football festival were the legendary Uriah Heep, renowned Serbian film maker and musician Emir Kusturitsa and his No-Smoking Orchestra and Russian famous outstanding pianist and passionate football fan Denis Matsuev.
[youtube 4g7ltlE2euU 650]

Four people died after a freight train hit a passenger train near Moscow, Russian officials say.

Several carriages were derailed in the crash, said to have occurred at 12:38 local time near Bekasovo 1 station, 37 miles from Moscow.

Injured people were reportedly carried from the train as emergency services rushed to the scene.

Four people died after a freight train hit a passenger train near Moscow

Four people died after a freight train hit a passenger train near Moscow (photo AFP)

The passenger train was on its way from Moscow to Chisinau in Moldova.

Russia’s Emergencies Ministry said at least four people were killed and 15 were injured.

According to Russian news agency ITAR-TASS, several carriages on the freight train came off the rails near the town of near Naro-Fominsk and hit the passenger train.

Several carriages on the passenger train are said to have then derailed, and some of them overturned.

The cause of the accident was not immediately clear.

Traffic on the line – which also serves Kiev in Ukraine – was suspended as a result.

[youtube g7Vgp_fh8Tw 650]


Russia held a huge parade to mark 69 years since the Soviets defeated the Nazis, amid a surge of patriotism over the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

President Vladimir Putin said it was a day when an “overwhelming force of patriotism triumphs”, and vowed to defend the interests of the motherland.

Unconfirmed reports say Vladimir Putin will visit a parade in Crimea later.

Festivities in Ukraine will be muted amid fears of provoking further violence in the south and east.

Moscow denies fomenting pro-Russian separatist unrest in Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin did not mention Ukraine in his speech, instead stressing how the “iron will of the Soviet people” had saved Europe from slavery.

He told the crowd that May 9, known as Victory Day in Russia, was a “day of grief and eternal memory”.

Russia held a huge parade to mark 69 years since the Soviets defeated the Nazis

Russia held a huge parade to mark 69 years since the Soviets defeated the Nazis

“It is a holiday when an overwhelming force of patriotism triumphs, when all of us feel particularly acutely what it means to be loyal to the motherland and how important it is to defend its interests,” Vladimir Putin said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said it would be a pity if Vladimir Putin were to use the commemorations to visit Crimea.

The parade in Moscow traditionally features a display of military hardware and a show of patriotic fervor on Red Square.

The scope of this year’s event was bigger than usual:

  • The parade lasted 59 minutes, compared with its usual 45 minute running time
  • Fifty more military vehicles were on display compared with last year
  • The Sevastopol-based Black Sea Fleet played a larger role

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s interim authorities have discouraged public gatherings amid fears that pro-Russian activists might try to stoke violence.

“Roadblocks have been set up around our capital, where serious checks are being carried out, because we expect that provocative actions may occur on May 9,” said Ukraine’s acting President Oleksandr Turchynov.

A low-key wreath-laying ceremony is planned in Kiev.

In south and eastern Ukraine, pro-Russian separatists have said they will go ahead with independence referendums on Sunday.

Vladimir Putin had called for the referendums on autonomy to be postponed to create the conditions for dialogue.

Activists remain in control of many official buildings across the south and east despite a military operation by Kiev to remove them. Dozens of people have been killed in the unrest.

Ukraine is preparing for elections on May 25 following the ousting of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych in February by pro-Western protesters.

Nazi Germany invaded the USSR – which included Ukraine – in June 1941 and advanced almost as far as Moscow before being driven back to Berlin in some of the fiercest fighting of the war.

Russia estimates that 26.6 million Soviet citizens were killed in the war, about 8.7 million of them members of the armed forces.

[youtube 0_ZzWLGpx5Y 650]

Russia has warned the US not to take “hasty and reckless steps” in response to the crisis in Ukraine’s Crimea region.

In a phone call with Secretary of State John Kerry, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said imposing sanctions on Moscow would harm the US.

Pro-Russian troops have been in control of Crimea for the last week.

Earlier, a stand-off involving pro-Russian soldiers at a Ukrainian military base outside Sevastopol reportedly ended without incident.

Crimea’s parliament announced on Thursday it would hold a referendum on March 16 on whether to join Russia or remain part of Ukraine.

In a phone call with John Kerry, Sergei Lavrov said imposing sanctions on Moscow would harm the US

In a phone call with John Kerry, Sergei Lavrov said imposing sanctions on Moscow would harm the US (photo Reuters)

Russia’s parliament has promised to support Crimea if it chooses to become part of Russia.

The vote has been denounced as “illegitimate” by the interim government in Kiev, which took power after President Viktor Yanukovych fled to Russia last month in the wake of mass protests against his government and deadly clashes with security forces.

In their telephone conversation on Friday, Sergei Lavrov warned John Kerry against taking “hasty and unthought-through steps capable of causing harm to Russian-US relations”, Russia’s foreign ministry reports.

Sergei Lavrov said imposing sanctions on Russia in response to its involvement in Ukraine “will inevitably have a boomerang effect against the US itself”.

The US State Department said John Kerry had “underscored the importance of finding a constructive way to resolve the situation diplomatically, which would address the interests of the people of Ukraine, Russia and the international community”.

“Secretary Kerry and Foreign Minister Lavrov agreed to continue to consult in the days ahead on the way forward,” said the US statement.

The Pentagon estimates that 20,000 Russian troops may now be in Crimea, while the Ukrainian border guards’ commander puts the figure at 30,000.

[youtube 9yPJkq4zfS0 650]

A student has been detained in Moscow after entering a secondary school and taking more than 20 fellow pupils hostage, Russian police say.

The gunman killed one police officer and one biology teacher, police said. Another policeman was shot and injured.

The hostages the gunman took have been released, police said.

The incident, on the outskirts of Moscow, comes as Russia prepares to host the Winter Olympic Games, due to start in Sochi this week.

The gunman is believed to be a pupil at School No. 263 on the northern outskirts of Moscow.

The gunman entered the Moscow secondary school and took more than 20 fellow pupils hostage

The gunman entered the Moscow secondary school and took more than 20 fellow pupils hostage

“The person who took 20 people and a teacher hostage is a student in the upper classes at the same school,” an interior ministry spokesman said on state TV.

“He has been neutralized and all the students have been freed,” he said.

“One policeman was fatally wounded during the operation and died in hospital, and a teacher at School No. 263 was also killed,” he added.

It is not clear how the teacher and the policeman died.

A school official told Russian television that all children and teachers had been evacuated from the school after the incident.

The gunman opened fire on police officers who arrived at the scene, reports say.

[youtube QVk2v-eGPtY 650]


Elton John’s concerts in Russia “will go ahead as planned” despite concerns over the country’s crackdown on gay rights, the Russian promoters announced.

In June, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a national law banning the “propaganda of homos**uality” to minors.

Elton John vowed last month to raise the issue on stage when he plays tonight’s sold out date in Moscow and a show in the Volga city of Kazan on Saturday.

Elton John's concerts in Russia will go ahead as planned

Elton John’s concerts in Russia will go ahead as planned

The singer said he also planned to “meet with the LGBT community” there.

Russian promoters, SAV Entertainment, issued a statement reassuring fans that the two shows would be going ahead.

“Despite the groundless rumors spread by the internet and media that Elton John’s concerts in Russia could be cancelled, the organizer assures you that Elton John’s shows in Moscow and Kazan will go ahead as planned,” it said.

Elton John will be the first major Western star known for his support of gay rights to play in Russia since the new law, which critics fear could be used to ban any gay rights event.


Alexey Khodorkovsky, a restaurant owner in Moscow, has decided to only hire sets of twins in a bid to attract new customers.

The Twin Stars diner employs identically-dressed siblings to serve its hungry clients with food and drink – taking inspiration from an old Soviet-era movie.

The 24-hour bar is run, from the management all the way to the cooks, only by identical twins.

The Twin Stars diner employs identically-dressed siblings to serve its hungry clients with food and drink

The Twin Stars diner employs identically-dressed siblings to serve its hungry clients with food and drink

Alexey Khodorkovsky says that he aimed to create a fairy tale atmosphere and to provide an exclusive bar for these fraternal couples.

He said: “I had some friends that are twins and I thought that there are no places for twins, where twins could be the main feature of the business. And I wanted to do something <<circus>>, something more of entertainment plus food.”

Alexey Khodorkovsky assures that it was not an easy job to find qualified twins: “Of course, it wasn’t easy to bring twins as employees, we had to relocate some people from Ukraine, for example. And of course twins that are experienced bar tenders, waiters and so on, we couldn’t find them, so we had to first find twins and then teach them to work as bar tenders and waiters. But it’s coming out alright.”

Hollywood stars pictures displayed with their fake twin decorate the walls of the restaurant, which every Sunday hosts a twin party day.

[youtube Hyd5T22amo4]


Edward Snowden is set to fly from Moscow to Ecuador where he will seek asylum, WikiLeaks has revealed.

Whistleblower Edward Snowden, 30, flew into the Russian capital just after 5 p.m. local time on Sunday after fleeing Hong Kong, where he had been hiding out since leaking explosive details of the U.S. government’s widespread surveillance programs.

Unable to leave Moscow’s Sheremtyevo airport without a Russian visa, the former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor is reportedly booked into a $15-an-hour capsule hotel on the airport premises where he will stay before he flies out to Ecuador tomorrow via a “safe route” – presumably Cuba.

In a statement on Sunday afternoon, WikiLeaks said Edward Snowden was bound for Ecuador – a country which has been harboring the anti-secrecy agency’s founder Julian Assange for the past year – “for the purposes of asylum, and is being escorted by diplomats and legal advisors from WikiLeaks”.

At around 8:40 p.m. Moscow time, Ecuador’sf oreign minister, Ricardo Patiño Aroca, tweeted that Edward Snowden had officially requested asylum from the South American country.

WikiLeaks said the request will be formally processed once Edward Snowden touches down in Ecuador.

It is not clear if Edward Snowden has arrived at the Vozdushny Express hotel, located in Terminal E, where The Guardian reported that he was booked in. Guests must pay by the hour, however a minimum stay is four hours. On its website, the hotel describes its rooms as resembling “cabins of (a) cruise liner” rather than “capsules”. It is not clear when on Monday Snowden is due to fly to Ecuador – presumably the capital, Quito.

Meanwhile, it was revealed that Edward Snowden’s passport has been revoked by the U.S. though he should still be able to travel to a country that wants to take him, CBS News reported.

A revoked passport, however, may complicate travel to a third country – namely Cuba, which is where he is believed to be passing through en route to Ecuador.

State Department Jen Psaki said in a statement: “As is routine and consistent with US regulations, persons with felony arrest warrants are subject to having their passport revoked. Such a revocation does not affect citizenship status.

“Persons wanted on felony charges, such as Mr. Snowden, should not be allowed to proceed in any further international travel, other than is necessary to return him to the United States. Because of the Privacy Act, we cannot comment on Mr. Snowden’s passport specifically.”

Edward Snowden is set to fly from Moscow to Ecuador where he will seek asylum

Edward Snowden is set to fly from Moscow to Ecuador where he will seek asylum

Edward Snowden is not expected to leave the airport in Moscow so his immigration status shouldn’t be a concern in Russia.

An Aeroflot source earlier told Interfax: “He has arrived. He cannot leave the terminal, since he doesn’t have a Russian visa.”

Ecuador’s ambassador to Russia, Patricio Chavez, along with crowds of journalists, was waiting to meet with Edward Snowden inside Sheremtyevo airport after his Aeroflot flight from Hong Kong to Moscow landed. Two diplomatic cars from the Ecuador embassy were photographed in the car park.

It was earlier reported that Edward Snowden would fly to Havana, Cuba tomorrow and then on to Caracas in Venezuela, though Ecuador perhaps makes more sense as a safe haven given the country has been harboring WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in its London embassy for more than a year.

The White House said President Barack Obama has been briefed on Sunday’s developments, which could prove embarrassing for the government.

After news spread of the whistleblower’s departure from Hong Kong, U.S. politicians began again labeling Edward Snowden a “traitor” and demanding the Obama administration chase him to the ends of the earth.

“I think it is important for the American people to realize that this guy is a traitor, a defector, he’s not a hero,” Republican congressman for New York Peter King said on Fox News on Sunday afternoon.

Meanwhile, Republican senator for South Carolina, Lindsey Graham, told the same station: “I hope we’ll chase him to the ends of the earth, bring him to justice and let the Russians know there will be consequences if they harbor this guy.”

WikiLeaks said in the statement Edward Snowden requested its legal expertise and experience to secure his safety.

“The WikiLeaks legal team and I are interested in preserving Mr. Snowden’s rights and protecting him as a person,” Former Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon, legal director of Wikileaks and lawyer for Assange, said in a statement on Sunday.

“What is being done to Mr. Snowden and to Mr. Julian Assange – for making or facilitating disclosures in the public interest – is an assault against the people.”

WikiLeaks already helped Edward Snowden flee Hong Kong. He caught Aeroflot flight SU213 from Hong Kong to Moscow on Sunday morning.

WikiLeaks said in an earlier statement that its legal advisers had been on the plane to Moscow with Edward Snowden and they would help ‘secure his safety’ at his ‘final destination’.

In tweets from its official account, Wikileaks said: “WikiLeaks has assisted Mr. Snowden’s political asylum in a democratic country, travel papers and safe exit from Hong Kong.

“Mr. Snowden is currently over Russian airspace accompanied by WikiLeaks legal advisors.”

The site has confirmed British journalist and legal researcher Sarah Harrison was with Edward Snowden on the flight, adding she was “courageously” assisting him “in his passage to safety”.

The Hong Kong government confirmed he had left the country “on his own accord for a third country through a lawful and normal channel”.

Edward Snowden got an Aeroflot flight from Chep Lap Kok airport at 11.04 a.m. Sunday (Hong Kong time) and landed at Moscow’s Shermetyevo International Airport at 5.15 p.m.

A Moscow-based agent for the airline said Edward Snowden was traveling on a one-way ticket and had one person with him, the New York Times reported.

The U.S. Department of Justice said it had been informed Edward Snowden had left Hong Kong.

“We will continue to discuss this matter with Hong Kong and pursue relevant law enforcement cooperation with other countries where Mr. Snowden may be attempting to travel,” spokesman, Nanda Chitre, told CBS News.

The Hong Kong government said in a statement that it had told the US about the whistleblower’s departure.

The U.S. government Saturday warned Hong Kong not to drag its feet over extraditing Edward Snowden after he was charged with theft, espionage and theft of government property.

[youtube iz2N3dPWUCc]


Former Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler has decided to cancel two concerts in Russia in protest over what he called the country’s “crackdown” on human rights groups.

Mark Knopfler pulled out of Moscow and St Petersburg concerts in June after Russian authorities searched the offices of organizations including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

Critics say the raids are an attempt to crush government dissent.

“I hope the current climate will change soon,” the singer wrote on his website.

Mark Knopfler pulled out of Moscow and St Petersburg concerts in June after Russian authorities searched the offices of organizations including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International

Mark Knopfler pulled out of Moscow and St Petersburg concerts in June after Russian authorities searched the offices of organizations including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International

Mark Knopfler’s statement said: “Given the crackdown by Russian authorities… I have regretfully decided to cancel my upcoming concerts in Moscow and St Petersburg.

“I have always loved playing in Russia and have great affection for the country and the people.”

His decision was backed by opponents of President Vladimir Putin, whose United Russia Party passed a bill in November requiring all non-governmental organizations (NGOs) engaging in political activity and receiving overseas funding to register as “foreign agents”.

Anti-government blogger Anton Nosik wrote: “I don’t just understand Knopfler’s decision. I respect it.”

More than 100 NGOs are said to have been searched in recent weeks.

Last month, human rights watchdog Agora said it had been swamped with calls from NGOs complaining about visits by officials from the prosecutor-general’s office, the justice ministry and tax officials.

Russian authorities claim the searches are routine but Pavel Chikov, a member of the Russian presidential Human Rights Council, said up to 2,000 organizations had been targeted with inspections and searches last month, in connection with the NGO law.

“It goes full circle across the whole spectrum – they’re trying to find as many violations as possible,” Pavel Chikov added.


Sleepbox Hotel, located in the centre of Moscow, Russia, is the first capsule hotel to open in the city.

The hotel features fifty cramped, windowless pods, some of which can sleep up to three people, and which can be booked for the night, or for a matter of hours.

A night’s accommodation is reported to cost around $50.

Each modular capsule is kitted out with a bed, shelf, lamp, small wardrobe and table, while shared bathrooms are fitted with a shower.

Already a hit in Japan, the capsule hotel features a number of identikit rooms measuring around 10 square metres intended to provide cheap and basic overnight accommodation for guests not requiring the services offered by more conventional hotels.

Space-saving hotels in Japan are often located near railway stations and cater for business people or commuters who have missed the last train home.

The absence of windows ensures the hotels can be erected in such unlikely sites as underground stations.

Sleepbox Hotel, located in the centre of Moscow, Russia, is the first capsule hotel to open in the city

Sleepbox Hotel, located in the centre of Moscow, Russia, is the first capsule hotel to open in the city

One capsule hotel in central Tokyo boasts more than 600 pods.

Many are used primarily by men and some have separate male and female sleeping quarters.

In the UK, YO! Sushi founder Simon Woodroffe came up with the idea for the YO! hotel chain after seeing the capsule concept in Japan.

The first Yotel opened at Gatwick South Terminal in 2007, offering travellers a pay-as-you-go base.

Staffing is kept to a minimum: guests check themselves in, while the purple-colored pod rooms cover essential needs.

Simon Woodroffe boasted of the high quality of the rooms describing them as “luxury liner meets The Fifth Element”.

He added that they included flat screen TVs, rotating beds and broadband internet access.

Yotel managing director Gerard Greene said: “The rooms are very comfortable, highly fitted, with things like the leather you would get in an Aston Martin

“It is the look of a four or five-star hotel.”

Further Yotels have since opened at Heathrow Terminal 4 and Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, and near Times Square in New York.

A Russian passenger plane has crashed into a main road outside Moscow killing at least four people, reports say.

Russian state television says the plane overshot the runway after landing.

Details are still emerging, but images of the scene on Twitter appear to show a badly-damaged aircraft lying in several pieces across a major road.

Some reports say the aircraft caught fire.

Reports said there were between eight and 12 people on board the Red Wings Tupolev-204, flight number RWZ9268, which was landing at Vnukovo airport.

Images of the scene show the aircraft split into several pieces, with the cockpit on the road.

Four people were severely injured, emergency officials said.

A Russian passenger plane has crashed into a main road outside Moscow, killing at least four people

A Russian passenger plane has crashed into a main road outside Moscow, killing at least four people

The plane’s tail and cockpit had broken off but the fuselage was largely intact.

There were fire engines at the scene and smoke could be seen rising from parts of the wreckage.

The plane had arrived in Moscow from the Czech Republic, government officials said.

The incident is said to have taken place at Moscow’s Vnukovo airport.

The images on Twitter show a plane bearing the Red Wings airlines livery, with the tail and cockpit broken off but the fuselage largely intact.

There are fire engines at the scene and smoke can be seen rising from the wreckage.

Unconfirmed reports say the plane had arrived from the Czech Republic with around eight passengers and four crew on board. The plane was reported to be a Tupolev-204.

[youtube u9QyhqAexxk]

Russia’s Federal Customs Service found radioactive material in the luggage of a passenger bound for Iran – at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo international airport.

Federal Customs Service made the discovery after the material triggered an alarm in the airport’s radiation control system.

A search of the luggage revealed 18 pieces of radioactive metal packed in individual steel casings.

Federal Customs Service said that tests showed the material was a radioactive isotope which could be obtained only “as a result of a nuclear reactor’s operations”.

Radiation levels in the area were 20 times above normal. An airport customs spokesman said the material had been identified as sodium-22 but gave no other details.

Sodium-22 is a radioactive isotope of sodium that can be used in medical equipment.

The objects sent to a Moscow prosecutor’s office that deals with air and water transport, the service said in a statement. Russian authorities have opened a criminal investigation.

Over 25,000 protesters have gathered so far in Moscow in a show of anger over disputed parliamentary polls.

The opposition says the protest – on an island just south of the Kremlin – could become the largest the country has seen in two decades.

Smaller rallies have taken place in cities across the country.

Protesters allege there was widespread fraud in Sunday’s polls – though the ruling United Russia party saw its share of the vote fall sharply.

Hundreds of people have been arrested during anti-Putin protests over the past week, mainly in Moscow and St Petersburg.

At least 50,000 police and riot troops were deployed in Moscow ahead of Saturday’s protests.

Authorities have permitted up to 30,000 to attend the demonstration dubbed “For Fair Elections”.

Thousands have turned out for rallies in cities across the Urals and Siberia and as Far East as Vladivostok.

According to police, at least 25,000 people – among them communists, nationalists and liberals – have so far thronged in Moscow, and more crowds are heading towards the rally.

Protesters allege there was widespread fraud in Sunday's polls - though the ruling United Russia party saw its share of the vote fall sharply

Protesters allege there was widespread fraud in Sunday's polls - though the ruling United Russia party saw its share of the vote fall sharply

In Moscow, the two sides reached a deal by which authorities would allow a high turnout if the rally was relocated from central Revolution Square to Bolotnaya Square, a narrow island in the Moscow River where access points can be easily controlled.

Hundreds of police are standing by to make sure they do not rally in Revolution Square, though Reuters news agency said hundreds of people had gathered there anyway.

“This is history in the making for Russia,” Reuters quoted a 41-year-old employee in the financial services sector, who gave his name only as Anton, as saying at Revolution Square.

“The people are coming out to demand justice for the first time in two decades, justice in the elections.”

If the protests come even close to expectations, they will shake the 12-year-long political domination of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

The authorities permitted demonstrations to take place in specific locations in certain cities after negotiations with opposition leaders.

In St. Petersburg, 13,000 people have pledged on the social networking site Vkontakte to take part in protests, with another 20,000 saying they might take part.

Authorities have granted permission for a demonstration in one location, but say protests anywhere else will be illegal and will be dealt with.

Earlier in Vladivostok, seven time zones to the east of Moscow, several hundred people marched. At least 20 people were detained following a protest in the far-eastern city of Khabarovsk, local news agencies said.

The official results of the elections to Russia’s Duma showed that the ruling United Russia party saw its share of the vote fall from 64% to 49%, though it remained easily the biggest party.

But there is a widespread view, fuelled by mobile phone videos and accounts on internet social networking sites, that there was wholesale election fraud and that Vladimir Putin’s party cheated its way to victory.

On Friday, the presidential Council for Human Rights advising President Dmitry Medvedev said the reports of vote-rigging were of deep concern, and that the elections should be rerun if they were confirmed.

However the council has no power to order a fresh ballot.

Earlier this week, security experts said attempts had been made to counter online dissent in Russia, with hijacked PCs being used to drown out online chat on Twitter.

Analysis of the many pro-Kremlin messages posted to some discussions suggested they were sent by machines, according to security firm Trend Micro.

These are the most significant street protests against Vladimir Putin since he took power, but at this point they are not drawing the big numbers they would need to really put the Kremlin in trouble.

It will be a question of seeing whether the momentum builds and spreads from the metropolitan middle classes.

Even so, our correspondent adds, it is an extraordinary thing to witness Vladimir Putin under fire like this.

Vladimir Putin, who was president between 2000 and 2008, remains widely predicted to win a presidential election in March.

On Thursday, Vladimir Putin blamed the US for stoking the recent unrest, after Secretary of State Hilary Clinton expressed reservations over the poll.

The prime minister said Hilary Clinton’s remarks had “set the tone for some opposition activists”.

[youtube 8VioX5Z1Cd8]

[youtube VweF63hVoZg]