Tag Archives: Russia

Donald Trump Thanks Russia’s President, Putin For Slashing US Diplomatic Staff

President Donald Trump on Thursday thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin for slashing the number of U.S. diplomatic staff in Russia, “because now we have a smaller payroll.”

“I want to thank him because we’re trying to cut down our payroll and as far as I’m concerned I’m very thankful that he let go of a large number of people,” Trump told reporters at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. “There’s no real reason for them to go back.”

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Putin, reacting to new sanctions imposed by the U.S. Congress, on July 30 ordered Washington to cut 755 of its 1,200 embassy and consulate staff by September. Many of those affected are likely to be local Russian staffers.

It was unclear if Trump was joking in his comments, his first substantive reaction to Putin’s move.

Nicholas Burns, formerly the State Department’s third-ranking official, called Trump’s comments “grotesque.”

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“If he was joking, he should know better,” said Burns, now a professor at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. 
“If he wasn’t, it’s unprecedented. A president has never defended the expulsion of our diplomats.”

Trump’s remarks are at odds with the State Department’s reaction to Putin’s order. A State Department official on July 30 called the Russian move “a regrettable and uncalled-for act.”

Trump also said he has not given any thought to the possibility of firing special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating possible collusion between his presidential campaign and Russia.

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He said he was surprised by the FBI raid last month on his former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, adding that it sent a “strong signal.” 

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Russian President, Vladimir Putin Goes Fishing

V​ladimir Putin went fishing at Russia’s Lake Baikal in Siberia and warned that the world’s deepest freshwater lake, has extremely high pollution levels.

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Lake Baikal is a UNESCO World Heritage site, the world’s deepest lake at 1,700 metres (5,580 feet) and also the oldest at 25 million years. Tourists flock there to enjoy the unique wildlife and clear waters.

Mr Putin, while meeting officials in a room looking onto the shimmering waters of the lake, complained that “significant areas around Baikal have suffered extremely high pollution.”

Saying that Baikal “belongs to the entire planet,” Mr Putin insisted that preserving it for future generations is “undoubtedly a government priority.”

The Russian president has declared that environmental issues are a personal passion and has spent time tracking whales and tigers and even flown with migrating cranes. In 2009 he went down to the bottom of Lake Baikal in a mini-submarine.

But he was also instrumental in keeping a polluting factory open beside the lake and has presided over a crackdown on environmental activists and non-governmental organisations, including those specifically trying to protect Baikal.

Russian President Vladimir Putin hunts fish underwater in the remote Tuva region in southern Siberia

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On Friday, Mr Putin called for officials to pay “special attention” to clean up the aftermath of “irrational and often irresponsible economic activity” around the lake, and to prevent such damage happening again.

A giant Soviet-built paper mill right beside the lake sullied its waters for decades but it was finally closed in 2013. Mr Putin had reopened the plant in 2010 after it initially shut in 2008, citing concerns over employment for local residents.

Mr Putin said the lake’s waters were now being polluted by household sewage and chemicals from farming, citing the need to “drastically cut down the volume of untreated water being discharged into the lake.”

He called for the Prosecutor-General’s Office to carry out a check into illegal and environmentally damaging activity around the lake and “take the necessary measures.”

In 2013, a group campaigning to protect the lake called Baikal Wave, was dubbed a “foreign agent” under tough new legislation targeting NGOs with foreign funding.

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The group, founded in 1990, closed down in 2016, saying it had become impossible for it to function.

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Russians Bragged They Could Influence Trump Using Flynn Relationship

Russian officials bragged during the 2016 presidential campaign that they could use a cultivated relationship with Michael Flynn, then one of Donald Trump’s top advisers, to influence Trump, CNN reported on Saturday.

Russian officials claimed they had cultivated a strong relationship with Flynn and thought they could use it to influence the GOP candidate and his team, according to CNN’s report, which cited unnamed current and former government officials.One unnamed former official in President Barack Obama’s administration told CNN that “the way the Russians were talking about” Flynn was a “five-alarm fire from early on.”

Another former administration official told CNN that Flynn was regarded as a “potential national security problem,” though officials noted that Russian officials may have overstated their influence over Trump’s team.Flynn’s lawyer declined to comment to CNN.
The New York Times reported on Tuesday that Trumpaskedformer FBI Director James Comey to shut down his bureau’s investigation into Flynn, a request that Comey documented in a memo.

“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” Trump told Comey, according to the report. 
“He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”

On Thursday, tofurthercomplicate matters, Yahoo Newsreportedthat Flynn announced ata dinner in late April — months after he left the White House — that he “just got a message from the President to stay strong.”

Trump’s lawyershave repeatedly warned himnot to contact Flynn, and have reportedlyexpressed fearsthat any contact with the former national security adviser could look like witness tampering or coordination.Trump on Thursday categoricallydeniedpressuring former FBI director James Comey to end the FBI’s investigation into Flynn.“No. No. Next question,” he told a reporter.

The White House also issued a statement Thursday pushing back on the New York Times’ report,nearly a dayafter it was published.

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DENSDOME Has Created Another Masterpiece Yet: Who Is Who In Uniben

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[Their Lives, Impacts & Achievements]

 Speaking with DENSDOME the initiator of this program, DENNIS DENSLAND OKOEMU stated:

The platform will be used in reaching various University of Benin top staffs and students that have done remarkable things.

Alumni also included.

Write a brief history on them, their childhood to educational stats, how they struggled to make it to the top of their game.

Ps: Their achievements so far
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This is to enable, not just UNIBEN students and staffs recognize these personalities, but, to also show them off to the world as the DENSDOME MAGAZINE will be distributed nationwide and DENSDOME BLOG on the other hand which reaches out to thirty eight (38) countries of the world including United States of America, which within the last few weeks has been on bragging rights with Nigeria as regards page views on DENSDOME.

Half screen view showing some of the countries on DENSDOME BLOG stats as at the early hours of Monday, 24 April 2017

Other countries include, South Africa, Ghana, Russia, Italy, France and a host of others. Not leaving behind the United Kingdom.
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BREAKING: Russian Ambassador to UN Dies in New York

​The Russian ambassador to the United Nations died after suffering cardiac arrest in Manhattan Monday morning, a day before his 65th birthday, sources told The Post.

Vitaly Churkin fell ill at his office at the Russian Mission to the U.N. on East 67th Street around 9:30 a.m. and was unconscious when emergency personnel arrived, sources said.

Churkin was given CPR and taken to New York Presbyterian Hospital in serious condition.

He was pronounced dead at 10:55 a.m., sources added.

Churkin had served as Russia’s permanent representative to the U.N. since 2006.

His death was announced Monday, followed by a moment of silence, at a routine meeting on General Assembly matters.

Many of Churkin’s colleagues took to social media to express their condolences.

“Shocked and saddened to learn that Ambassador Vitaly Churkin passed away. A top diplomat and a good friend,” Russian Ambassador to the UK Alexander Yakovenko tweeted.

Netherlands’ UN Ambassador Karel van Oosterom wrote: “Emotional announcement at UN of passing away this morning of PermRep Russia Churkin and moment of commemoration and condolences.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed Churkin “unexpectedly died” but provided no details as to how he died.
It called him an “outstanding” envoy.
Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a Facebook post that Churkin was “an extraordinary person. A bright man. We have lost a dear one.”

President Vladimir Putin was notified of his death, state news agency TASS reported.

“The president was grieved to learn about the death of Vitaly Churkin. The head of state highly estimated Churkin’s professionalism and diplomatic talents,” spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, according to the agency.

Churkin was currently the longest-serving member of the Security Council, the UN’s most powerful body.

“He has been such a regular presence here that I am actually quite stunned. Our thoughts go to his family, to his friends and to his government,” said Farhan Haq, a spokesman for the UN secretary-general’s office.

Churkin was a staunch supporter of Russian policy, including its bombing of Aleppo in Syria last year.

He slammed US Ambassador Samantha Power for acting like “Mother Teresa” – while noting America’s track record in the Middle East — after she lambasted Russia, Syria and Iran over the Aleppo crisis.

Power also reacted to Churkin’s sudden death.

“Devastated by passing of Russian UN Amb Vitaly Churkin.Diplomatic maestro &deeply caring man who did all he cld to bridge US-RUS differences,” she tweeted.

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, who earlier this month blamed Russia for the spike in violence in eastern Ukraine and said sanctions wouldn’t be lifted until Moscow returned Crimea to Kiev, issued a statement calling Churkin “a gracious colleague.”

“We did not always see things the same way, but he unquestionably advocated his country’s positions with great skill,” she said. “We send our prayers and heartfelt condolences to lift up his family and to the Russian people.”

Churkin previously worked in the foreign ministry in Moscow.

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The Sea King’s Daughter (A Russian Legend)

Told by:  Dennis Densland Okoemu


​Long ago in the river port city called Novgorod the Great, there lived a young musician named Sadko.

Every day, a rich merchant or noble would send a messenger to Sadko’s door, calling him to play at a feast. Sadko would grab his twelve-string gusli and rush to the banquet hall. There he would pluck the strings of his instrument till all the guests were dancing.

“Eat your fill!” the host would tell him later, pointing him to the table, and passing him a few small coins besides. And on such as he was given did Sadko live.

Often his friends would ask him, “How can you survive on so little?”

“It’s not so bad,” Sadko would reply. “And anyway, how many men can go to a different feast each day, play the music they love, and watch it set a whole room dancing?”

Sadko was proud of his city, the richest and most free in all Russia. He would walk through busy Market Square, lined with merchants in their stalls and teeming with traders from many lands. He never crossed the square without hearing tongues of far-off places, from Italy to Norway to Persia.

Down at the piers, he would see the sailing ships with their cargos of lumber, grain, hides, pottery, spices, and precious metals. And crossing the Great Bridge over the River Volkhov, Sadko would catch the glint from the gilded roofs of a dozen white stone churches.

“Is there another such city as Novgorod in all the world?” he would say. “Is there any better place to be?”

Yet sometimes Sadko was lonely. The maidens who danced gaily to his music at the feasts would often smile at him, and more than one had set his heart on fire. But they were rich and he was poor, and not one of them would think of being his.

One lonely evening, Sadko walked sadly beyond the city walls and down along the broad River Volkhov. He came to his favorite spot on the bank and set his gusli on his lap. Gentle waves brushed the shore, and moonlight shimmered on the water.

“My lovely River Volkhov,” he said with a sigh. “Rich man, poor man—it’s all the same to you. If only you were a woman! I’d marry you and live with you here in the city I love.”

Sadko plucked a sad tune, then a peaceful one, then a merry one. The tinkling notes of his gusli floated over the Volkhov.

All at once the river grew rough, and strong waves began to slap the bank. “Heaven help me!” cried Sadko as a large shape rose from the water. Before him stood a huge man, with a pearl-encrusted crown atop a flowing mane of seaweed.

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“Musician,” said the man, “behold the King of the Sea. To this river I have come to visit one of my daughters, the Princess Volkhova. Your sweet music reached us on the river bottom, where it pleased us greatly.”

“Thank you, Your Majesty,” stammered Sadko.

“Soon I will return to my own palace,” said the King. “I wish you to play there at a feast.”

“Gladly,” said Sadko. “But where is it? And how do I get there?”

“Why, under the sea, of course! I’m sure you’ll find your way. But meanwhile, you need not wait for your reward.”

Something large jumped from the river and flopped at Sadko’s feet. A fish with golden scales! As Sadko watched in amazement, it stiffened and turned to solid gold.

“Your Majesty, you are too generous!”

“Say no more about it!” said the King. “Music is worth far more than gold. If the world were fair, you’d have your fill of riches!” And with a splash, he sank in the river and was gone.

The next morning, Sadko arrived at the market square just as the stalls were opening. He quickly sold the golden fish to an astonished merchant. Then hurrying to the piers, he booked his passage on a ship leaving Novgorod that very day.

Down the Volkhov the ship sailed, across Lake Ladoga and the Gulf of Finland, and into the Baltic Sea. As it sped above the deep water, Sadko peered over the rail.

“In all the wide sea,” he murmured, “how can I ever find the palace?”

Just then, the ship shuddered to a halt. The wind filled the sails, yet the ship stood still, as if a giant hand had grasped it.

Some of the sailors cursed in fear, while others prayed for their lives. “It must be the King of the Sea!” the captain cried. “Perhaps he seeks tribute—or someone among us.”

“Do not be troubled,” called Sadko. “I know the one he seeks.” And clutching his gusli, he climbed the railing.

“Stop him!” shouted the captain.

But before any could lay hold of him, Sadko jumped from the ship and plunged below the waves.

Down sank Sadko, down all the way to the sea floor. The red sun shone dimly through the water above, while before him stood a white stone palace.

Sadko passed through a coral gate. As he reached the huge palace doors, they swung open to reveal a giant hall. The elegant room was filled with guests and royal attendants—herring and sprats, cod and flounder, gobies and sticklebacks, sand eels and sea scorpions, crabs and lobsters, starfish and squid, sea turtles and giant sturgeon.

Standing among the guests were dozens of maidens—river nymphs, the Sea King’s daughters. On a shell throne at the end of the hall sat the Sea King and his Queen.

“You’re just in time!” called the King. “Musician, come sit by me—and let the dance begin!”

Sadko set his gusli on his lap and plucked a merry tune. Soon all the fish swam in graceful figures. The seafloor crawlers cavorted. The river maidens leaped and spun.

“I like that tune!” declared the King. He jumped to the center of the hall and joined the dance. His arms waved, his robe swirled, his hair streamed, his feet stamped.

“Faster!” cried the King. “Play faster!”

Sadko played faster and the King’s dance grew wilder. All the others stopped and watched in awe. Ever more madly did he move, whirling faster, leaping higher, stamping harder.

The Sea Queen whispered urgently, “Musician, end your tune! It seems to you the King merely dances in his hall. But above us, the sea is tossing ships like toys, and giant waves are breaking on the shore!”

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Alarmed, Sadko pulled a string until it snapped. “Your Majesty, my gusli is broken.”

“A shame,” said the Sea King, winding to a stop. “I could have danced for days. But a fine fellow you are, Sadko. I think I’ll marry you to one of my daughters and keep you here forever.”

“Your Majesty,” said Sadko carefully, “beneath the sea, your word is law. But this is not my home. I love my city of Novgorod.”

“Say no more about it!” roared the King. “Prepare to choose your bride. Daughters, come forth!”

The river maidens passed in parade before Sadko. Each was more lovely than the one before. But Sadko’s heart was heavy, and he barely looked at them.

“What’s wrong, musician?” the King said merrily. “Too hard to choose? Then I’ll wed you to the one who fancies you. Behold the Princess Volkhova!”

The princess stepped forward. Her green eyes were sparkling, and a soft smile graced her lips. “Dearest Sadko, at last we can be together. For years I have thrilled to the music you’ve played on the shore.”

“Volkhova!” said Sadko in wonder. “You’re as lovely as your river!”

But the Sea Queen leaned over and said softly, “You are a good man, Sadko, so I will tell you the truth. If you but once kiss or embrace her, you can never return to your city again.”

That night, Sadko lay beside his bride on a bed of seaweed. She’s so lovely, thought Sadko, so charming—all I ever hoped for. How can I not hold her?

But time after time, the Queen’s words came back to him—never return to your city again— and his arms lay frozen at his sides.

“Dearest,” said the princess, “why do you not embrace me?”

“It is the custom of my city,” Sadko stammered. “We never kiss or embrace on the first night.”

“Then I fear you never will,” she said sadly, and turned away.

When Sadko awoke the next morning, he felt sunlight on his face. He opened his eyes and saw beside him not the Princess Volkhova but the River Volkhov. And behind him rose the walls of Novgorod!

“My home,” said Sadko, and he wept—perhaps for joy at his return, perhaps for sadness at his loss, perhaps for both.
                              * * *
The years were good to Sadko. With the money that remained to him, he bought a ship and goods enough to fill it. And so Sadko became a merchant, and in time, the richest man in Novgorod. What’s more, he married a fine young woman and raised a family. Many a feast he would hold so he could play his gusli and watch his children dance.

Yet sometimes still on a quiet evening he would walk out of the city alone, sit on the bank, and send his tinkling music over the water. And sometimes too a lovely head would rise from the river to listen—or perhaps it was only moonlight on the Volkhov.