“Monkey”

Ailama Cesé Montalvo. Photo courtesy of the Lokomotiv Volleyball Club’s press service

Andrei Voronkov, the coach of the volleyball club Lokomotiv Kaliningrad, called a player on the competing team a “monkey” during Lokomotiv’s championship final match against Uralochka-NTMK. His remark has sparked a scandal, with the sports community demanding that the winning club’s skipper at least apologize.

On May 12, during a timeout in the decisive match, Voronkov chastised his players for losing the initiative and getting behind in the score. He turned to blocker Valeria Zaitseva and shouted, “Why are you trying to catch that monkey again?” Viewers of the match’s broadcast thought that the coach had directed his remark at Uralochka’s Cuban striker Ailama Cesé Montalvo, who is an important part of the Sverdlovsk team’s offensive line.

A screenshot of a video of the scandalous conversation between Coach Voronkov and player Valeria Zaitseva, as posted on Uralochka’s VK page. You can listen to Voronkov’s “pep talk” there. He does indeed audibly say what he is accused of saying.

In conversation with E1.ru, Uralochka-NTMK CEO Valentina Ogiyenko stressed that the insult could not be put down to the emotionally charged atmosphere during the Super League’s decisive match. She is sure that public apologies and the volleyball federation’s reaction will help to remedy the situation.

“Emotions are no excuse. Nikolay Vasilyevich Karpol worked [as Uralochka’s coach] for many years, but he never did such a thing, although there were much more serious and emotional matches in his career. Even at the Olympics, I have never heard such a thing from any coach. But we have three coaches in our country who excel at this behavior. […] I think that Andrei Voronkov should make a public apology in the same format as the insult was inflicted. […] He should not call Ailama and whisper ‘Sorry, dear’ in her ear. [His apology] should be broadcast on a national TV channel,” Ogiyenko said.

Uralochka’s press service also stated that the club expects an apology from the Lokomotiv coach. And the disciplinary commission, which monitors unsportsmanlike behavior during the championship, should put the matter to rest, reports Sports.ru.

Sports commentator Dmitry Guberniev has been the most categorical of all. On his Telegram channel, he called Andrei Voronkov a “racist” and a “disgrace,” saying that the Lokomotiv coach should be demonstratively banned from the profession.

The general director of the Kaliningrad team, Alexander Kosyrkov, has not yet evaluated the incident in any way.

“This is the first time I’ve ever heard about it. I was sitting in the stands and didn’t hear the break. I didn’t see that moment at all. I’m not up to reviewing videos and anything else right now. I’m not going to review the match yet. I’m a little bit not up to it now,” he told the newspaper Sport Ekpress.

Uralochka missed winning the heavily fought five-set match only on the tie-break. For the first time in six years, the team took second place in the Russian Volleyball Championship. But the Cuban athlete Ailama Montalvo will leave the team: the Ural climate does not suit her. She will continue her career at another club.

Source: “Opposing coach called Uralochka volleyballer a ‘monkey’, sports community demands punishment,” Vse novosti, 13 May 2022. Translated by the Russian Reader


How a Russian Hacker Ended the White Sands Pupfish

How a Russian Hacker Ended the White Sands Pupfish

8/23/2021 – Alamogordo Daily News Article – The White Sands Pupfish were known as Pecos League Team number one. On the Pecos League’s digital platform the original team numbers were White Sands #1, Las Cruces #2, Roswell #3, Alpine #4. The Pupfish played in Alamogordo, and Alamogordo was the first city to sign a lease to host a Pecos League Team. Matt McNeile’s efforts were remarkable and the Pupfish were born. Many people ask to this day why are the Pupfish no longer in the Pecos League?

The Pupfish have deep history playing the entire decade from 2011-2019. Despite never qualifying for the Pecos League playoffs after 2011 the Pupfish produced players that would go on to play in the Major Leagues. Chris Smith reached the MLB with the Toronto Blue Jays and Yermin Mercedes reached the MLB with the Chicago White Sox. Mercedes was the most popular player to ever play in the Pecos League with his huge early success with the White Sox.

Things changed for the City of Alamogordo during the 2018. An Alamogordo city employee received an email request to change banking information from someone who appeared to be a Cooperative Education Services (CES) representative. CES is a New Mexico purchasing cooperative. The email appeared to come from a person known to work for CES. The email contained an outdated version of the CES logo. The city accepted the change in banking information and paid all the CES invoices, only to discover that the email was fraudulent. The city paid the invoice in the amount of $250,000. The City believed they would recover the money.

The City was already facing budget cuts and coupled with this loss, things would change for organizations like the Pupfish. Alamogordo never recovered the money, so the City decided to restructure the terms of many of their programs including the Pupfish deal in Alamogordo. In the new deal the Pupfish would be responsible for paying a ballpark lease, making all improvements, maintenance and repairs to the ballparks while the City would keep all revenue from alcohol sales. This deal went into effect in the 2019 season.

Matt Chambers the 2019 Field Manager of the Pupfish stated “This is a real simple deal, The City of Alamogordo makes profit off of the Pupfish Beer Sales, while the Pupfish are liable for all repairs and expenses associated with the team. The Pupfish are left with whatever ticket sales and sponsorships are left. It is very tough to get sponsorship dollars in Alamogordo. I don’t see how this deal will work compared to other Pecos League Cities.”

In 2021 the Mountain Division South of the Pecos League saw the Santa Fe Fuego, Roswell Invaders, Alpine Cowboys and Tucson Saguaros. Without the Pupfish it made things tougher on travel. Moving Santa Fe into the South it broke up traditional rivals Santa Fe and Trinidad.

Source: Pecos League, via Pecos League Facebook page, 24 February 2022. Photo courtesy of White Sands Pupfish Facebook page

The Scarlet Flower

The musical on ice The Scarlet Flower is not only a colorful performance, but also a socially significant project. The show’s mission is to play a significant role in educating the younger generation and fostering a sense of patriotism through a combination of music and sports. “Of course, our musical on ice encourages young people to be more interested in their native literature. The Scarlet Flower and its Western European counterpart Beauty and the Beast have a lot in common and no less important differences. Our task is to make a show that no one else has done in terms of its scope and beauty, and to prove to the whole world that our work is much more colorful, more interesting, deeper, more romantic and brighter,” said Tatiana Navka.

Source: Bileter.ru. Translated by the Russian Reader

From 2014 to 2015, [Tatiana] Navka was the beneficiary of Carina Global Assets Ltd., an offshore company in the British Virgin Islands. In February 2019, questions were raised over Navka and her husband’s wealth following reports about their ownership of multiple properties in the Moscow region. An investigation by The Guardian suggested that Navka may have underreported income, claimed married status for several years after her divorce from Zhulin, and falsely told the IRS that she had sold a house.

In 2016, Navka caused controversy when she and her dancing partner, Andrei Burkovsky, appeared in the Russian version of Dancing on Ice dressed as Holocaust concentration camp prisoners.

In 2021, Tatiana Navka made and published homophobic comments to Spanish gymnast Cristofer Benítez. Through her social networks, she said that rhythmic gymnastics gymnastics was a “feminine sport,” and that she is glad that in her country men are not allowed to participate in rhythmic gymnastics “and hopefully never will.”

Source: Wikipedia

Crimson Sails

vera.afanasyeva
“A man depicting Alexander Nevsky, on a ship that [was built] 500 years after Nevsky, sings the Soviet song ‘It’s Fun to Walk Together’ at a Putinist festival in St. Petersburg at the height of the epidemic.

Russia: Chronicles of Mass Madness”

And also people in elven armor, people in 18th and 19th century European dress, one dude in a hockey uniform. Peter the Great and someone who looks like Lomonosov.

Only Lenin and Stalin are missing from this picture.

Poor, poor [Alexander] Green . . .

See Alexander Petrosyan’s photos of last night’s Crimson Sails festivities here. Translated by the Russian Reader

__________________

Saint Petersburg Posts Record Covid Toll Following Euro 2020
AFP (Moscow Times)
June 26, 2021

Sweden supporters cheer during the UEFA EURO 2020 Group E football match between Sweden and Poland at Saint Petersburg Stadium in Saint Petersburg on June 23, 2021. Maxim Shmetov/AFP

Russia’s Euro 2020 host Saint Petersburg on Saturday reported the country’s highest daily Covid-19 toll for a city since the start of the pandemic, data showed.

Official figures said the city, which has already hosted six Euro 2020 matches and is due to host a quarter-final on Friday, recorded 107 virus deaths over the last 24 hours.

Russian news agencies said this was the highest toll of any Russian city since the start of the pandemic.

Saint Petersburg was where dozens of Finland supporters caught coronavirus after they traveled to the city for their team’s defeat against Belgium.

Russia has seen an explosion of new coronavirus cases since mid-June driven by the highly infectious Delta variant first identified in India.

The nation as a whole reported 21,665 new infections on Saturday, the highest daily figure since January.

The dramatic rise in infections come as officials in Moscow are pushing vaccine-skeptical Russians to get inoculated, after lifting most anti-virus restrictions late last year.

“To stop the pandemic, one thing is needed: rapid, large-scale vaccinations. Nobody has invented any other solution,” Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin told state-run television on Saturday.

“To fundamentally solve this problem, you need to be vaccinated or go to a lockdown,” he was cited as saying by the RIA Novosti news agency.

Russia also reported 619 new coronavirus deaths on Saturday—the highest daily toll since December—bringing the total to 132,683 fatalities since the pandemic began.

But officials in the sixth-worst hit country the world—and the hardest in Europe—have been accused of downplaying the severity of the outbreak in the country.

Under a broader definition for deaths linked to coronavirus, statistics agency Rosstat at the end of April said that Russia has seen at least 270,000 fatalities since the pandemic began.

Just 21.2 million out of a population of about 146 million had received at least one dose of a vaccine as of Friday, according to the Gogov website, which tallies Covid figures from the regions and the media.

Penalty Kick in the Teeth

Krylya Sovetov Goalkeeper to Be Punished for Unauthorized Interview in Which He Criticized Regime
OVD Info
April 27, 2020

According to MBKh Media and the club’s website, the Samara football club Krylya Sovetov will take disciplinary action against goalkeeper Yevgeny Frolov for giving an interview not authorized by the club.

In an interview with football columnist Sergei Yegorov on the YouTube channel Futbolnyi Bigi, Frolov called the Russian president’s televised addresses “empty talk.”

In particular, the footballer said, “Like it or not, we won’t be getting anything—the regime will just blow us off.”

Prompted by media coverage, the club’s management issued a statement that it and the coaching staff do not share Frolov’s opinion.

“Recently, the federal and regional authorities have done a great deal to grow football in Samara Region and Russia,” it says in the statement.

According to team management, the new Samara Arena stadium “would not have been possible without the support of the senior leadership not only of the region but also the country.”

“By giving an interview without prior agreement with the club, [Frolov] violated the terms of his contract, harming the team’s interests. The player will be punished according to the club’s regulations on disciplinary actions, ” the statement reads.

______________________

141760-27Krylya Sovetov goalkeeper Yevgeny Frolov. Photo courtesy of Sport

On April 26, Yevgeny Frolov gave an interview to the YouTube channel Futbolnyi Bigi. In particular, he said that Russian authorities have not been helping ordinary citizens during the coronavirus pandemic and [and the ensuing economic] crisis.

“Like it or not, we won’t be getting anything—the regime will just blow us off. It will blow us off and say, ‘There’s no money, but hang in there.’ They have money for themselves, but they have nothing for people. Take America and Europe: in many countries, [the authorities] have been helping their citizens, helping business. There is none of that here in Russia. What the president says on TV is all empty talk. There is no real action at all,” said Frolov.

Source: MBKh Media

Translated by the Russian Reader

The All-Russia Airsoft Conspiracy

airsoftAirsoft enthusiasts at Playland in Petaluma, California

Sakhalin Airsofters Suspected of Terrorism
Kirill Yasko
Sakhalin.Info
April 6, 2020

Sakhalin.Info has learned that today the Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk City Court has remanded in custody three residents of the city. They are accused of organizing and participating in a “terrorist community,” punishable under Article 205.4 of the Criminal Code. According to reports, on April 4, their homes were searched, and at least one person was found with an object that might be an explosive device. It is currently undergoing a forensic examination. All three people were detained the same day.

The Federal Security Service (FSB) is investigating the case.

As relatives of one of the detainees told Sakhalin.Info, all three detainees were airsoft players and quite fond of the game, as well as sports, and were even involved in searches for missing people. The relatives were certain they had no criminal background and no intention of attempting to overthrow the government. The relatives insisted there could be no question of their wanting to threaten society and the state: even suspicious objects could have been planted by the authorities during the searches of their homes.

“I get the sense that things are being done in the same as in such high-profile cases as the Network Case and the New Greatness Case. People were not involved in anything of the sort, and they have no equipment except airsoft equipment, but they are being asked questions like, ‘Did you plan to storm government buildings and police stations?’ by [FSB] interrogators,” said a colleague reporting on the case.

Lawyer Yevgeny Balabas confirmed to us that a criminal case had been launched and three people remanded in custody. He declined at this stage to comment on the merits of the charges, citing the need to study the cases files and obtain the results of the forensic examination.

The Sakhalin Airsoft Federation is an officially registered non-profit organization. The organization has been accredited by the Ministry of Sports and in accordance with Federal Law 329 (“On Physical Education and Sports in the Russian Federation”). It has been developing the rules of the sport and conducting official sporting events, which are included in the Sakhalin Regional Sports Ministry’s calendar.

After the above-mentioned news was published, the federation carried out an internal review. It determined that none of its members, including athletes and airsoft players, had ever been charged with any crimes. Moreover, the arrested persons were not listed among the federation’s members or among those who had attended the federation’s events.

In addition to the Airsoft Federation, there are other associations involved in the sport in the Sakhalin Region.

Translated by the Russian Reader

In the Land of Great Achievements

IMG_6258“Citizens! Given our level of indifference, this side of life is the most dangerous!”

Sergei Medvedev
Facebook
March 14, 2020

The cowardly “recommendations” of [Moscow Mayor Sergei] Sobyanin and the Defense Ministry regarding “voluntary attendance” of schools and universities instead of closing them altogether is a very bad sign. It means the authorities fear panic more than the virus itself and have chosen a cowardly hybrid strategy for evading responsibility. “Parents in this case know better,” it says in Sobyanin’s decree. Hang on a minute! This means parents will decide whether their children become potential carriers of the virus, not doctors or the federal epidemic headquarters. This is not just absurd, it is criminal. Just as you cannot be a little bit pregnant, you cannot declare a partial, optional quarantine. Either there is a quarantine or there isn’t one. Even one person who is not quarantined upsets the whole system.

It seems the authorities are torn between the growing need for a full quarantine (as the avalanche of news from abroad can no longer be hidden) and the impossibility of taking this step. The impossibility, as it seems to me, is purely technical: Russia simply does not have the level of governmental and public organization, the kind of screening, testing, equipment, discipline, and strict enforcement of the law that we have seen in China and,  in part, in Italy. Can you imagine the Moscow subway being closed? It would be a disaster not just for the city but for the country: if this megalopolis of twenty million people ground to a halt, it would be like cardiac arrest for the whole country. And secondly, for purely political reasons you cannot declare a state of emergency before April 22 [the scheduled date of a nationwide “referendum” on proposed changes to the Russian constitution] and May 9 [the 75th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s victory in WWII]. They must be marked in the pompous atmosphere of national holidays, not in the post-apocalyptic trappings of Wuhan, dressed in hazmat suits, getting doused with chlorhexidine.

Therefore there will be no quarantine, only cowardly half-measures like voluntary school attendance, “recommendations” for cutting down on public events (when the authorities want to ban a protest rally, they ban it, with no ifs, ands or buts), the partial restrictions on air travel (just take the ridiculous ban on flights to Europe, but not to the UK, dear to the hearts of oligarchs and members of parliament because they have children, families, and houses there), and so forth. Excuse the pun, but the regime has washed its hands of the problem and told the population that it is to up to the drowning to save themselves. You decide how to protect yourselves, and if something happens, well, we gave you “recommendations,” so we’re off the hook.

Meanwhile, the populace has been eating up tall tales about “just another flu,” reposting memes about more people dying every year from mosquito bites, shaming “alarmists” and “hysterics,” and leading a carefree life. It’s the typical infantile reaction of an unfree, patriarchal, closed society, which denies threats, displaces fear, and is ostentatiously careless.

Meanwhile, the virus has been here for a long time already, and hardly anyone believes the ridiculous figures of 59 people infected in a country of 146 million that is open on all sides. (Before the quarantine went into effect in China, the Chinese freely walked and drove back and forth over the Amur River in Russia’s Far East, while in European Russia, tens of thousands of our compatriots traveled to and from the most infected regions of Europe throughout February and March.) The longer this goes on, the more ridiculous the official figures will be, but the real figures will be ferreted away in overall mortality statistics for the elderly, among figures for “seasonal flu” and “community-acquired pneumonia,” while death certificates will contain phrases like “acute heart failure,” which is what they also write when someone is tortured to death. Just try and object: heart failure really did occur, and facts don’t lie!

I remember the terrible summer of 2010, when there was a heat wave, and the forests were on fire. Moscow swam in a scalding smog, and up to 40,000 old people died, according to unofficial estimates. Among them was my 83-year-old father. When the policeman came, wiping the sweat from his face, to a draw up the death report, he lowered his voice and told me that his precinct alone had been processing hundreds of people day, and that there were tens of thousands of such people citywide. However, there were no statistics on heatwave-induced deaths: the whole thing was disappeared into the usual causes of death for old people.

So, I’m afraid we will remain in the mode of “voluntary attendance,” of voluntary quarantines and voluntary mortality, a regime in which even getting diagnosed will be voluntary because we are the freest country in the world! The regime’s evasion of responsibility, the mighty smokescreen concealing the epidemic’s true scale, and the habitual carelessness of the populace (aggravated by the atomization of Russian society, its low levels of social capital, the absence of trust, discipline, and social solidarity, and the Gulag principle of “you die today, I die tomorrow”) will all boomerang back on us. Yes, the epidemic will reach its natural limits by summer, and maybe Merkel is right that sixty to seventy percent of the population will be infected, and many of these people will not even suspect they are sick. At the same time, however, not only will the [Russian] constitution and Putin’s [previous] terms [as president] be nullified, but so will many lives that could have been saved if not for the things mentioned above. But when did human lives ever count for anything in the land of great achievements?

Sergei Medvedev teaches at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow. Thanks to Elena Zaharova for the heads-up. Translated by the Russian Reader

Fedor Pogorelov: “A grand charge. We’re all going to die!” Footage of Zenit fans chanting “We’re all going to die” on March 14 at Gazprom Arena Petersburg.

 

Thousands of Zenit Fans Chant “We’re All Going to Die” at Match
Radio Svoboda
March 15, 2020

More than 30,000 fans attended Saturday’s match in St. Petersburg between Zenit and Ural in the Russian football championship. It was one of the last mass events in the city before restrictions were imposed due to the coronavirus infection. The restrictive measures come into force on March 16.

Fans of the Petersburg club chanted “We’re all going to die” several times.

They also hung up a banner reading “We’re all sick with football and will die for Zenit.” It is reported that the fans had their temperature checked. Zenit won the match with a score of 7-1.

Despite the threat of the coronavirus, the Russian Football League did not cancel matches this weekend. However, the possibility of taking a pause in the championship has been discussed. All the major European leagues have already announced a break, and play in the Champions League and the Europa League has also been suspended. On March 17, UEFA will discuss whether to postpone the European championship until next years.

Translated by the Russian Reader

Riot Cops Raid Ivan Khutorskoi Memorial Tournament in Moscow

khutorskoi

Riot Police in Moscow Disrupt Ivan Khutorskoi Memorial Tournament: Fifty People Detained
Radio Svoboda
November 17, 2019

Law enforcement officers in Moscow have disrupted a martial arts tournament organized by antifa activists in memory of Ivan Khutorskoi, one of the antifa movement’s leaders.

Eyewitnesses report that two buses loaded with riot police drove up to the tournament venue. The police officers, who wore masks, burst into the facility and forced all the event’s participants and guests to line up against the wall face-first after confiscating their mobile phones. The detainees were then transported in several groups to police precincts in the Sokol, Airport, and Khoroshovo districts of Moscow.

At one of the precincts, the antifascists were told they had been detained after a particular BOLO was issued. Currently, police are photographing their internal passports and checking their names in the Interior Ministry database. In total, around fifty people have been detained.

Ivan Khutorskoi, a leader of the antifa movement, was murdered in the stairwell of his own apartment building in Moscow on November 16, 2009. Police investigators believe he was killed by Alexei Korshunov, a member of BORN (Combat Organization of Russian Nationalists), which was responsible for a dozen high-profile murders.

After the murder, Korshunov fled to Zaporozhye, where he died in September 2011. Local authorities allege that he blew himself up accidentally during a morning jog with a grenade he carried with him.

Translated by the Russian Reader

It’s Official

It’s official: the British political establishment, Benjamin Netanyahu, Jay-Z, “Moscow” Mitch McConnell, and Greyhound totally suck.

But you knew that, right?

thevoima

The Brexit process has already claimed victims: communities such as Scunthorpe, which are suffering job losses and hardship due to Brexit-related industrial closures; migrant workers from EU countries who find their lives thrown into uncertainty and themselves and their families vilified. Their anger is more than justified. But, in addition to this, the Brexit process has produced a gloom, a feeling of powerlessness, of fear, of uncertainty, that is obviously affecting millions of people. I think this feeling is the product of an illusion that our enemies are powerful enough to decide our fate above our heads. It’s another version of the illusions of power that have engendered fear, obedience and subservience to elites for centuries. It’s an illusion, because they, too, are tormented by crisis. It makes them more ruthless, it throws up the zealots – but it doesn’t necessarily make them stronger. We – social movements, communities, workplace organisations, movements about climate change – can find, and are finding, ways to challenge these enemies. (The FcK Boris demonstration when the new government took office was a reminder of this.) This is not a plea for false hope. It’s a suggestion that we evaluate our enemies’ strengths and weaknesses carefully. And be prepared for surprises.
—Gabriel Levy, “Zealots and Ditherers,” People and Nature, 15 August 2019

Tlaib and Omar aren’t the first critics of Israel penalized by the 2017 law, but they are the most prominent. The law targets those who “actively, consistently and continuously” promote boycotts of Israel. It applies to those who hold senior-level positions in pro-boycott organizations, are key activists in the boycott movements, or are prominent public figures (members of Congress, for instance) who support a boycott. More than 20 groups have been blacklisted, including the Nobel Peace Prize–winning American Friends Services Committee. One notable case was the banning of Lara Alqasem, an American college student of Palestinian descent who received a visa to study human rights at Hebrew University but was ordered deported and detained for two weeks on suspicion of being a boycott supporter. Her deportation was later overturned.
—Joshua Keating, “Israel Banned Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar Because They’re Anti-Trump, Not Anti-Israel,” Slate, 15 August 2019

In Mazur’s photo, Jay-Z’s right arm is pointed like an arrow. Goodell looks in the same direction, as does everyone else in the frame. It’s irresistible that way. What is Jay talking about, and why is everyone so rapt? Here’s a Brooklyn-born kid who made good, raised himself up from the projects, became one of the most recognizable names in pop music, and can now claim status as a self-made billionaire. It’s the kind of story you want to believe in. But then you stare a beat longer, holding your gaze, and the mirage begins to wither.

Illusion works both ways: It’s as much about who is in the photo as who isn’t. You ask yourself, Where is Kaepernick or Reid, the two players who sparked the protest? Why are other players who’ve since scrutinized the league, especially those who comprise the Players Coalition, absent from the meeting? That’s the danger in illusion, especially one cast by the NFL. Even though one might see through its hollow spectacle, there’s little to be done to break its spell. Jay-Z commands attention and everyone looks on, ghostly captivated. His arm stretches into an unknowable future. There are those who will follow, and others, who will rightly wonder: Is this the right direction?
—Jason Parham, “Depth of Field: Where Is Jay-Z Taking the NFL?” Wired, 15 August 2019

In January, as the Senate debated whether to permit the Trump administration to lift sanctions on Russia’s largest aluminum producer, two men with millions of dollars riding on the outcome met for dinner at a restaurant in Zurich.

On one side of the table sat the head of sales for Rusal, the Russian aluminum producer that would benefit most immediately from a favorable Senate vote. The U.S. government had imposed sanctions on Rusal as part of a campaign to punish Russia for “malign activity around the globe,” including attempts to sway the 2016 presidential election.

On the other side sat Craig Bouchard, an American entrepreneur who had gained favor with officials in Kentucky, the home state of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Bouchard was trying to build the first new aluminum-rolling mill in the United States in nearly four decades, in a corner of northeastern Kentucky ravaged by job losses and the opioid epidemic — a project that stood to benefit enormously if Rusal were able to get involved.

The men did not discuss the Senate debate that night at dinner, Bouchard said in an interview, describing it as an amicable introductory chat.

But the timing of their meeting shows how much a major venture in McConnell’s home state had riding on the Democratic-backed effort in January to keep sanctions in place.

By the next day, McConnell had successfully blocked the bill, despite the defection of 11 Republicans.

Within weeks, the U.S. government had formally lifted sanctions on Rusal, citing a deal with the company that reduced the ownership interest of its Kremlin-linked founder, Oleg Deripaska. And three months later, Rusal announced plans for an extraordinary partnership with Bouchard’s company, providing $200 million in capital to buy a 40 percent stake in the new aluminum plant in Ashland, Ky. — a project Gov. Matt Bevin (R) boasted was “as significant as any economic deal ever made in the history of Kentucky.”

A spokesman for McConnell said the majority leader did not know that Bouchard had hopes of a deal with Rusal at the time McConnell led the Senate effort to end the sanctions, citing the recommendation of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

McConnell “was not aware of any potential Russian investor before the vote,” spokesman David Popp said.

Bouchard said no one from his company, Braidy Industries, told anyone in the U.S. government that lifting sanctions could help advance the project. Rusal’s parent company, EN+, said in a statement that the Kentucky project played no role in the company’s vigorous lobbying campaign to persuade U.S. officials to do away with sanctions.

But critics said the timing is disturbing.

“It is shocking how blatantly transactional this arrangement looks,” said Michael McFaul, who served as the U.S. ambassador to Russia during the Obama administration and now teaches at Stanford University.

Democratic senators have called for a government review of the deal, prompting a Rusal executive in Moscow last week to threaten to pull out of the investment.
—Tom Hamburger and Rosalind S. Helderman, “How a McConnell-Backed Effort to Lift Russian Sanctions Boosted a Kentucky Project,” Washington Post, 14 August 2019

Throughout the country, people rely on Greyhound to get to work, visit family, or to simply travel freely. But Greyhound has been letting Border Patrol board its buses to question and arrest passengers without a warrant or any suspicion of wrongdoing. The company is throwing its loyal customers under the bus.

For more than a year, we’ve been urging Greyhound to stop letting Border Patrol board its buses, but the company is refusing to issue a policy protecting its customers. So now we’re taking our fight to the next level.

Greyhound is owned by FirstGroup plc, a multi-national transport group based in the UK, whose own Code of Ethics and Corporate Responsibility contradicts what its subsidiary has been doing to passengers.

“We are committed to recognising human rights on a global basis. We have a zero-tolerance approach to any violations within our company or by business partners.”

Greyhound’s complicity in the Trump deportation machine is a clear violation of the human rights values that FirstGroup professes to uphold. We must raise our voices: Sign the petition to demand that FirstGroup direct Greyhound to comply with its code of ethics. Greyhound must stop throwing customers under the bus.
—ACLU: Buses Are No Place for Border Patrol

Image courtesy of The Voima

A Holiday in Chernobyl

Watch Kate Brown’s stunning lecture about the real, terrifying aftermath of the disaster at the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant.

Then buy her fabulous, groundbreaking new book Manual for Survival: A Chernobyl Guide to the Future and read it from cover to cover.

Once you have done this, ask yourself what kind of cynical lunatics would take people on holidays to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.

Chernobyl Cooling Tower

Day 5: Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant
Friday, July 31, 2020

Leaving early from our hotel, we’ll travel by private bus to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. We’ll meet our Chernobyl guide, while a documentary film playing on the bus will bring us up to speed on the accident, its causes, and its many repercussions. On our first day in Chernobyl we’ll visit the reactors themselves to witness ground zero of the accident, admire the new containment structure installed in 2016, as well as check out some of the other facilities around the nuclear power plant. Between excursions, we’ll take lunch in the Chernobyl workers’ canteen, surrounded by scientists and engineers currently stationed at the plant. Later, after a long day of exploring, dinner will be served at a restaurant in Chernobyl town. Our accommodation for the night is at a hotel nearby, located inside the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.

Day 6: The Streets of Pripyat
Saturday, August 1, 2020

At the time of the Chernobyl accident, the workers’ city Pripyat had a population of 49,000 people. It was evacuated soon after the event, and now survives as one of the world’s most famous ghost towns. Today, we’ll get to know this empty city intimately, walking its desolate streets, and visitings its abandoned schools, hospitals, and theaters. We’ll see all of Pripyat’s main landmarks, including the fairground, swimming pools, and also some fabulous street murals. After lunch back at the Chernobyl canteen, we’ll then get to visit one of the Exclusion Zone’s best-kept secrets: the DUGA radar installation, or “Russian Woodpecker,” that rises to a height of 150 meters at the heart of an abandoned Soviet military base. Late in the day we’ll return to the capital for one last night at our Kyiv hotel.

Source: Atlas Obscura. Photo of Chernobyl Cooling Tower by Darmon Richter. Courtesy of Atlas Obscura. Thanks to Louis Proyect for the heads-up on the lecture.