CBS News Logo Russian embassy in Syria shelled

DAMASCUS, Syria - Insurgents fired two shells at the Russian embassy in the Syrian capital on Tuesday as hundreds of pro-government supporters gathered outside the compound to thank Moscow for its intervention in the Syria civil war. An Associated Press reporter was outside the embassy when the first shell slammed into the compound in central Damascus and smoke billowed from inside. As people started running away, another shell hit the area. No one was harmed in the shelling. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov condemned the attack, saying "this is obviously a terrorist act intended to, probably, frighten supporters of the war against terror and to not allow them to prevail in the fight with extremism." An official with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent said no one was hurt in the shelling. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said the second shell hit about 200 yards from the embassy compound. Rebels in the capital's suburbs have targeted the embassy in the past, and it was not clear if Tuesday's attack targeted the rally. Insurgents have vowed to fight Russian forces after Moscow began launching airstrikes in Syria late last month. Russia has been one of Assad's strongest supporters since the start of the uprising in 2011. The civil war has killed more than 250,000 people and displaced half of Syria's population. Before the shelling, the demonstrators had gathered outside the embassy carrying posters showing Assad and Russian President Vladimir Putin, and waved the two countries' flags. Some held placards that read: "Thanks Russia" and "Syria and Russia are together to fight terrorism." "President Putin's stances were absolutely positive for Syria," said 39-year-old civil servant Nizar Maqsoud. "All the West stood against us. Only Russia backed us. We are all here to thank Russia and President Putin," said Osama Salal, an 18-year-old student. Russia began launching airstrikes in Syria on Sept. 30, Continue Reading

Russian Embassy mocks probe with tweets about mysterious helicopter, Tom Clancy

Democracy Dies in Darkness Sections Home Subscribe Username Sign In Account Profile Newsletters & Alerts Gift Subscriptions Contact Us Help Desk Subscribe Account Profile Newsletters & Alerts Gift Subscriptions Contact Us Help Desk Accessibility for screenreader Share on Google Plus Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google Plus Share via Email Share on LinkedIn Share on Pinterest Share on Tumblr Resize Text Print Article Comments The inside track on Washington politics. Be the first to know about new stories from PowerPost. Sign up to follow, and we’ll e-mail you free updates as they’re published. You’ll receive free e-mail news updates each time a new story is published. You’re all set! Sign up *Invalid email address Got it Got it Morning Mix by Derek Hawkins by Derek Hawkins Email the author March 13 at 3:28 AM Email the author This August 9, 2013 file photo shows a portion of the Russian Embassy complex in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) Whoever was manning the Russian Embassy’s Twitter account Monday night must have been feeling snarky — and perhaps a little paranoid. A Republican congressional panel had just announced that it had found no evidence of collusion between President Trump’s campaign and the Kremlin during the 2016 election. When the news came in, the embassy tweeted its satisfaction. “All ‘Russia investigations’ (not only in the U.S.) are destined to end,” the embassy wrote from its official account. It went on to quote Rep. K. Michael Conaway (R-Tex.), who oversees the House Intelligence Committee Republicans’ probe into Russian election interference, comparing the probe to a Tom Clancy spy novel. Then the embassy put on its tin foil hat. Shortly before 9 p.m., the embassy’s Continue Reading

Jailed Russian ‘sex coaches’ offer to trade election info for US asylum

Bangkok, Thailand (CNN)From behind bars in a sweltering immigration detention center in Bangkok, a self-styled "sex coach" who claims to have detailed insider knowledge of Russian meddling in the US election says she wants to cooperate with US investigators. The catch? She says the US government needs to grant her political asylum. Belarus-born Anastasia Vashukevich claims she has proof of Russian interference in the 2016 US election in the form of more than an hour of audio recordings and photos of meetings. "I am ready to help with an investigation if they help us get out of here," says the petite 21-year old. None of the alleged recordings or photos of those meetings have been made public. A little bit of positivity : a tale about how Olezhka and Papa and Volodya caught the Goldfish in the cage in Thailand and dragged to Russia ... How do you think will the Goldfish fulfill their wishes or not? ______________________________________________ Немного позитива: сказ о том как Олежка и Папа с Володей поймали в клетку Золотую Рыбку в Тайланде и вытягивают в Россию... как вы думаете, исполнит Золотая Рыбка их желания или Continue Reading

Oligarch’s ‘mistress’ offers info on Trump-Russia ties for US asylum

A model embroiled in a Russian oligarch scandal has asked the US embassy in Thailand for political asylum, promising information on Donald Trump's ties to Moscow if she can avoid extradition to Russia. Anastasia Vashukevich and nine other Russians were arrested for working illigally in Thaliand on Monday after police burst into a sex training she was holding at a hotel in the resort city of Pattaya. The Kremlin's top security official arrived in Thailand the next day. A representative of Ms Vashukevich told The Telegraph on Wednesday that she would be extradited to Russia in 48 hours. Ms Vashukevich caused a scandal by posting Instagram videos in which it is claimed Oleg Deripaska, the metals tycoon, is seen discussing US relations with deputy prime minister Sergei Prikhodko, on a yacht. The clips were published online by opposition leader Alexei Navalny. The meeting reportedly happened in August 2016, a month after Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort offered Mr Deripaska private briefings in an email seen by US media. Mr Deripaska has said he previously employed Mr Manafort but did not receive briefings. He has sued Ms Vashukevich and Mr Kirillov for violating his privacy. In a letter to the US consul seen by The Telegraph, Ms Vashukevich's partner, Alexander Kirillov, claims Ms Vashukevich had been Mr Deripaska's “mistress” for a year and alleges she has “important information” about the “crimes” of the Russian government. A spokesperson for Mr Deripaska denied she had been his mistress and said her claims were an attempt to “politicise the accusations of the Thai police”. Her “endless fictitious stories” distracted from her “real violations,” the spokesperson said. Ms Vashukevich, a self-proclaimed seduction expert from Belarus more widely known as Rybka, or “little fish,” suggested she had evidence of Moscow's activities during the US election in a Continue Reading

On a Moscow bridge, volunteers brave weather and provocateurs to maintain memorial to Boris Nemtsov

On at least 80 different occasions, Moscow city workers or police have forcibly cleared the spot on the pedestrian sidewalk of the bridge, Kazadayev said. Volunteers who guard the site are regularly harassed by police and nationalists. In August, one volunteer, Ivan Skripnichenko, died a week after being attacked while on a night shift watching the memorial. But the volunteers' goal is to maintain the memorial no matter how many times it is removed. Continue Reading

Putin’s Former KGB Boss Heads Security For US Embassies In Russia

A company headed by the former chief of KGB counterintelligence will provide security for U.S. embassies in Russia. The firm, Elite Security Holdings, received a $2.83 million contract from the state department to provide “local guard services for US mission Russia,” according to the Telegraph Friday. The main U.S. embassy is in Moscow, and there are consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok. Viktor Budanov and his son started the security company in 1997. Viktor Budanov was a longtime KGB agent; he headed KGB counterintelligence the KGB branch in East Germany in the late 1980s. While in East Germany Budanov supervised Vladimir Putin, who was then a KGB agent. Budanov joined the KGB in 1966 and retired one year after the Soviet Union fell. After his retirement, Budanov began working with Americans and other foreigners as a security and business intelligence consultant. Budanov worked with British double agent Kim Philby, who fed British secrets to the Soviet Union before he defected there in 1963. Oleg Gordievsky, a KGB agent who became a double agent for the British in the 1970s and 80s said that Budanov had drugged and interrogated him under suspicion he was a double agent in a British court hearing in 1993. Gordievsky also testified that  Budanov taught Bulgarian agents how to kill targets with poisonous umbrellas. Georgi Markov, a Bulgarian dissident, was killed by a poisonous umbrella in London in 1978. The mission was the work of the Bulgarian secret police working with the KGB. In the past, Budanov has praised Putin’s leadership and warned that Russia can not bow down to the wished of the U.S. Russia demanded that the U.S. diplomatic mission in Russia be reduced to 455 employees from more than 1,200 this past summer, and may ask for further reductions in the future.  Continue Reading

Assembly breaks ice with US consulate general from Russia

It's a trying time for diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Russia. U.S. intelligence agencies believe Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential campaign. Special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference will continue longer than expected, it was reported on Wednesday, and more indictments may be added to the current tally of four people associated with the U.S. president. But the "trust issue" between the U.S. and Russia hasn't affected the fellow-feeling Russians have for Americans, especially Alaskans, according to Consul General Michael Keays. A visiting diplomat from Juneau's sister city Vladivostok, Keays spoke on Thursday to Juneau Mayor Ken Koelsch and Assembly members Norton Gregory, Rob Edwardson and Deputy Mayor Jerry Nankervis at City Hall. Those in Russia's largest far east city still fondly recall the days when the "ice curtain" between Alaska and Russia thawed, leading to a post-Cold War cultural exchange between Alaska and remote eastern Russia in the 1990s, Keays said. Alaskans pushed for cultural and social exchanges in the 1980s and 1990s, building a relationship with Russians in the far east through special Alaska Airlines flights to Vladivostok. Part of the goal of his trip to Alaska will be to rekindle that relationship. "I think Alaskans always felt that there are those people over there we can literally see, and we want to get to know them. I think on the Russian side that curiosity left its mark. The people that I work with remember those initial flights and things like that that came over from Alaska Airlines," Keays said. Keays arrived in his post in 2016 on a three-year stint. He's the head of the Vladivostok consulate, one of three in Russia, that report to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. There're only about 40 Americans living in Vladivostok year-round, Keays said, and a couple hundred more working at an Exxon oil project nearby. He wants to see that number grow. Vladivostok is a vibrant city with a strong middle Continue Reading

Smoke Billowed From The Russian Consulate In San Francisco Ahead Of Its Closure

Smoke was seen coming out of the chimney of the Russian consulate in San Francisco on Friday, one day after the US ordered the building shut down in the latest round of a spiraling diplomatic crisis.Firefighters who were sent to the building were turned away by consular officials, the Associated Press reported."It was not unintentional. They were burning something in their fireplace," Mindy Talmadge, a spokesperson for the San Francisco Fire Department, told the AP.The State Department on Thursday ordered Russia to shutter the consulate in San Francisco, as well as annex buildings in New York and Washington, DC, by Saturday, after Russia ordered the US Embassy in Moscow to cut hundreds of staff. That move came in response to a US expulsion of dozens of diplomats by the Obama administration as punishment for Russian meddling in the US election.Russia has promised further retaliation.The Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Maria Zakharova, told BuzzFeed News that "measures are being taken in it to preserve the building." Zakharova had said in a statement earlier Friday condemning the US order that the US planned to carry out a search of the building on Saturday."We were given two days," Zakharova told BuzzFeed News. "There's a whole complex of procedures being carried out to preserve the premises."Zakharova put a statement on Facebook later Friday saying "another circus has started in San Francisco." She repeated the measures were being taken and chastised US journalists for their interest. "It's unbearably embarrassing to watch the actions of the US government and this whole information campaign," she wrote.A State Department official declined to comment about the billowing plumes of smoke, saying, "I'd just refer you to the Russians." Oftentimes the State Department uses paper shredders to destroy documents, but it also uses burn bags. John Hudson contributed reporting. CORRECTION Continue Reading

A Group of California Secessionists Have Opened an ‘Embassy’ in Moscow

Reports: Ivanka Trump and Kids Berated by Man on JetBlue Flight LOOK: No President Trump on DC's Commemorative Inauguration Metro Cards Member of Congregation Arrested for 'Vote Trump' Arson at Black MS Church Following the election of Donald Trump, a group of political activists in California have voiced their desire to secede from the nation.And last week, this group took its first steps toward least in its own view.The Yes California Independence Campaign, which has promoted the hashtag #Calexit, held an opening of its embassy in Moscow on Dec. 18, according to the Los Angeles Times.The group, led by San Diego resident Louis Marinelli, wants a 2018 state ballot measure that, if passed, would bring California one step closer to becoming its own independent nation."We want to start laying the groundwork for a dialogue about an independent California joining the United Nations now," Marinelli said in an email to the Times Monday.If the 2018 measure passes, the secession movement would then be subject to a subsequent election in 2019 as well as other legal obstacles.An important note here: A state has not seceded from the union since the early 1860s.You might remember from history class what happened next...the Civil War!Currently, the U.S. Department of State does not recognize the Yes California's Moscow embassy.Should California secede? Tell us what do you think in the comments section. WATCH: Kellyanne Conway Reacts to New Senior Role in Trump White House Gingrich: Obama 'Paying Off Every Liberal Ally' Through Final Actions 9/11 Mastermind's Interrogator: KSM's Predictions 'Are Coming to Pass'   Continue Reading

Kyrgyzstan issues eviction notice to key US base in war in Afghanistan

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan - Kyrgyzstan ordered U.S. forces on Friday to depart within six months from an air base key to military operations in Afghanistan, complicating plans to send more troops to battle rising Taliban and al-Qaida violence. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said, however, that he believed the base was not a "closed issue." The U.S. has said it would consider paying more rent to keep the base open. Pakistani militants have stepped up attacks on convoys traveling the primary supply route to Afghanistan in recent months pushing U.S. officials to secure alternative, northern routes through Central Asia. The U.S. announced a small victory in that hunt Friday — saying neighboring Uzbekistan had granted permission for the transit of non-lethal cargo to Afghanistan. "I continue to believe this is not a closed issue, and that there remains the potential to reopen this issue," Gates said when asked about the closure of the Manas base. "But we are developing alternative methods of getting resupply and people into Afghanistan." Washington has received Russian permission for non-lethal cargo to be shipped across Russia. Central Asia's largest country, Kazakhstan, has also agreed. But there's been uncertainty about how cargo would get across former Soviet Central Asia, particularly given uneasy relations between Washington and the country straddling the easiest route into Afghanistan — Uzbekistan, one of the most politically repressive of the former Soviet states. Most of President Islam Karimov's opponents have been sent to jail or into exile. U.S.-based Human Rights Watch has said that Uzbek prison authorities routinely abuse and torture prisoners. Anger over Western criticism of a crackdown on an uprising in eastern Uzbekistan prompted the government to evict U.S. troops from an air base near the Afghan border in 2005, leaving the Manas air base in Kyrgyzstan as the only U.S. base in Central Asia. The Kyrgyz move to close Manas Continue Reading