March 2nd, 2013
06:17 AM ET

Russia concerned over adopted boy's cause of death

Russia's foreign minister said Saturday it was concerned by a Texas coroner's report declaring the death of an adopted boy from the nation as accidental.
The 3-year-old lived in Texas with his adoptive parents.
The announcement of the accidental death came after an autopsy was completed on the boy, Max Shatto.
The foreign ministry said it did not receive the information on cause of death from U.S. officials, but from the media.

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Filed under: Adoption • Russia • World
March 1st, 2013
03:24 PM ET

Death of adopted Russian boy ruled accidental

The death of a Russian boy, Max Shatto, who was adopted by American parents has been ruled accidental, the district attorney of Ector County, Texas, told CNN Friday.

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Filed under: Justice • Russia • Texas
February 28th, 2013
10:03 AM ET

Strong quake reported in Pacific

A 6.9 magnitude earthquake has been reported in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of far eastern Russia, the U.S. Geological Survey said Thursday.

The location is near the Kuril Islands, more than 50 miles southeast of Ozernovskiy, Russia.

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Filed under: Earthquake • Russia
February 18th, 2013
09:46 PM ET

Russia decries death of adopted boy in Texas

Officials in West Texas said Monday they are investigating the "suspicious" death of a 3-year-old boy, adopted from Russia, the same day a Russian official blamed the death on "inhuman abuse."

The boy was born on January 9, 2010, and died on January 21, 2013, according to Konstantin Dolgov, the Russian Foreign Ministry's special representative for human rights.

"I would like to draw your attention to another case of inhuman abuse of a Russian child by U.S. adoptive parents," he said in a statement.

Dolgov claimed the child suffered injuries to his head and legs, as well as to his abdomen and internal organs. The wounds, he said, "could only be caused by strong blows."

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February 16th, 2013
04:12 AM ET

Russia starts clean-up after meteor strike

A day after a spectacular meteor blast shook Russia's Urals region, the clean-up operation got under way Saturday in the hard-hit Russian city of Chelyabinsk.
Although some buildings escaped unscathed when the sonic waves from the Friday morning explosion reverberated through the city, others lost some or most of their windows.
About 1,000 people were hurt, many by the flying glass, according to the state-run RIA Novosti news agency.
The injured included more than 200 children. Most of those hurt are in the Chelyabinsk region, though the vast majority of injuries are not thought to be serious.

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February 7th, 2013
06:33 AM ET

Japanese jets scramble after Russian fighters

Two Russian fighter jets entered Japanese territorial airspace on Thursday afternoon, prompting the Japanese to scramble their own aircraft, the Japanese Ministry of Defense said.

The fighter jets crossed into Japanese territory near the disputed Rishiri Islands, near the northern main island of Hokkaido, for a little over one minute.

The Foreign Ministry says Japan has lodged a protest with Russia, according to the Kyodo news agency.

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France's Brigitte Bardot might want Russian citizenship, too
This February 2001 file photo shows animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot in Romania.
January 4th, 2013
10:38 AM ET

France's Brigitte Bardot might want Russian citizenship, too

First it was Gerard Depardieu. Now another famed French movie star, Brigitte Bardot, might be interested in Russian citizenship.

The 78-year-old Bardot, an animal rights campaigner, will request Russian nationality Friday if plans to euthanize two elephants at a zoo in the French city of Lyon go ahead, her foundation said.

She has asked French President Francois Hollande to intervene on behalf of the elephants, who are believed to have tuberculosis. She told French newspaper Le Parisien that the former circus elephants could be helped with the right veterinary care and that her foundation could help find them a more suitable place to live.

This comes a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin gave Russian citizenship to Depardieu, who was angry about French plans to raise taxes.

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Russian protest leader charged with plotting mass disorder
Russian activist Sergei Udaltsov talks to reporters Friday after being questioned in Moscow.
October 26th, 2012
08:30 AM ET

Russian protest leader charged with plotting mass disorder

A high-profile Russian protester has been charged with plotting mass disorder, a Russian state media outlet reported Friday.

He is Sergei Udaltsov, who has helped organize mass protests against President Vladimir Putin's rule, RIA Novosti said.

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September 6th, 2012
10:38 AM ET

'Fly away dohm': Russia's Putin shows endangered cranes the way

He's helped tranquilize tigers and has taken skin samples from whales. On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin took off on his latest project in species protection, teaching endangered Siberian cranes how to migrate.

Putin piloted an ultralight aircraft over the Arctic Yamal Peninsula, trying to train the cranes to follow the ultralight from the Kushevat ornithological station and sanctuary where they have been raised to a wintering ground set up for them in southern Uzbekistan, more than 2,000 miles away, RIA-Novosti reported.

The ultralight guidance is necessary because no cranes have made the trip before, so they can't lead the way.

The new wintering ground was set up because a trip to the birds' traditional wintering grounds in India has become hazardous because of poaching in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Kremlin said in a statement, according to the Moscow Times.

Photos: How Putin cultivated his populist image

Putin made three flights Wednesday, the first to familiarize himself with the ultralight and the second and third with the birds. One bird followed Putin in the first test, and five followed in the second, according to RIA-Novosti. But only two of the five were able to keep up with Putin during the 15-minute flight.

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Filed under: Animals • Aviation • Birds • Russia
August 9th, 2012
12:27 PM ET

Police free Russian cult kids who reportedly never saw sun

At least 57 members of an Islamist sect, including children, have been discovered living underground in the Republic of Tatarstan, according to Russian police.

Many of them have never even seen the sun, authorities said.

The sect members, which includes at least 19 children ages 1 to 17, were freed. They were found August 1 during a police raid performed as part of an ongoing investigation into militant groups in Tatarstan. The bunker, which appeared to be made of decrepit concrete blocks, has multiple levels below ground with tight-quartered cells that have no light, ventilation or heat.

The leader of the sect is reportedly Fayzrahman Satarov, an 83-year-old who pronounced himself a prophet destined to direct a caliphate, according to a report by Russia state TV channel Vesti.

Amid chants of defiance, police detained Satarov and some other members, and they are facing charges.

Russian media reports say his followers lived in isolation, refusing to recognize Russian laws or the authority of mainstream Muslim leaders in Tatastan.

The bunker is located near the city of Kazan in Tatarstan, about 500 miles from Moscow.

Tatarstan is majority Muslim and oil rich.

Shireen T. Hunter is a noted scholar on Islam and Russia, and is the director of the Carnegie Project on Reformist Islam at Georgetown University. She has visited Tatarstan and Kazan several times to do research.

It's important, she said, to keep in mind that little is known about the group and simply because the leader identifies himself as Islamist, there should not be immediate connections drawn between the group and Islam in the area as a whole.

"This could just be some 83-year-old who wants to control people," she said. "This may have nothing at all to do with radical or extreme Islam as we understand it. This man - creating a caliphate? How is he going to do that? This just doesn't seem like the modis operandi of a serious radical cell bent on challenging the government."

Kazan is a pleasant city with coffee and clothing shops, Hunter said.  Some women wear hijabs, others don't. Some women work and other choose not to, she said. In recent years, many people have bought villas and other housing in Kazan.

It's conceivable to her that a group could live underground and go unnoticed for years.

"If I decided to live underground in Washington, D.C., I could do that, and so could other people," she said.

Health worker Tatiana Moroz told CNN that the children are in "satisfactory condition" and that they have been fed. Some were sent to the hospital for care.

"Upon receipt from the building, the children were in satisfactory condition," she said. "The children were all fed, although they were dirty. Upon receiving them, we washed them. They have undergone a full examination - all the Russian specialists have examined them, and taken all the analyses. [Friday] the full analyses will be finished and we will give our final conclusion about the condition of their health."

CNN's Matthew Chance contributed to this report.

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Filed under: Russia
July 19th, 2012
10:37 AM ET

Russia, China veto sanctions on Syria

Russia and China vetoed a new U.N. Security Council resolution Thursday that would have imposed new sanctions on the Syrian regime.

Western countries have been pushing for a resolution that threatens sanctions against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad if government forces don't stop attacks.

However, Russia has opposed any international effort that would blame, punish or change the leadership of the Syrian government. Russia and China have vetoed two previous draft resolutions in the U.N. Security Council, leading to accusations that Russia is protecting the Syrian regime.

The resolution also calls for renewing the 300-member U.N. observer mission for 45 days after it was suspended because of violence.

Russia has put forward its own draft, which "strongly urges all parties in Syria to cease immediately all armed violence in all its forms."

U.S. President Barack Obama called his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, to discuss the Syrian situation, the White House said in a statement Wednesday.

"They noted the differences our governments have had on Syria, but agreed to have their teams continue to work toward a solution," it said.

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Filed under: China • Russia • Syria • United Nations
June 21st, 2012
10:45 AM ET

Ship with Syrian attack choppers returning to Russia

A ship carrying military helicopters to Syria is returning to Russia, but will ultimately deliver the shipment to Syria, Russia announced Thursday.

Jordan, meanwhile, announced that a pilot in the Syrian military who fled with his jet will be granted asylum.

The Russian ship - part of an international row over Russia arming Syria - was forced to turn back after a British company withdrew its insurance coverage due to the nature of the cargo.

In recent days, reports surfaced about the ship. On Thursday, Russia announced it was carrying "Syrian attack helicopters," state-run news agency Ria Novosti reported.

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June 19th, 2012
10:17 AM ET

Syria-bound Russian ship turning back, British diplomat says

[Updated at 11:26 a.m. ET] A Russian cargo ship reported to be carrying arms to Syria is turning back, Britain's top diplomat said Tuesday.

"I am pleased that the ship that was reported to be carrying arms to Syria has turned back apparently towards Russia," British Foreign Secretary William Hague told the House of Commons.

U.S. officials have said that the Russian operator Femco's cargo ship, MV Alaed, was headed for Syria with attack helicopters and munitions for the al-Assad regime from the port of Kaliningrad. The vessel had been off the north coast of Scotland, according to ship tracking data.

Hague commented on a ship during questions about the fighting in Syria during a wide-ranging House of Commons question-and-answer session about foreign policy. He didn't name the vessel.

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June 18th, 2012
03:26 PM ET

Obama says he, Putin agree political steps needed in Syria crisis

[Updated at 5:26 p.m. ET] U.S. President Barack Obama said Monday that he and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the conflict in Syria and "agreed that we need to see a cessation of the violence, that a political process has to be created to prevent civil war."

In comments to reporters after almost two hours of talks, Obama said he and Putin had "candid, thoughtful and through conversation" about various issues including Syria and Iran.

On Syria, Obama said he and Putin "pledged to work with other international actors including the United Nations" and its special envoy, former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Obama and Putin are in Los Cabos, Mexico, for the two-day Group of 20 summit involving leaders of 20 of the world's leading economies.

The United Nations announced Saturday it was pulling back its unarmed monitors from Syria because escalating violence was  hampering the monitors' ability to observe and verify reports.

Syrian opposition groups say more than 13,000 people have been killed since President Bashar al-Assad's government started cracking down on anti-government protesters last year. The United Nations' latest estimate puts the death toll at more than 10,000. CNN cannot independently verify government and opposition claims of casualties because the Syrian government has restricted access by international journalists.

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June 12th, 2012
09:07 AM ET

Russia protesters demand Putin's resignation

Tens of thousands of anti-government protesters marched in Moscow on Tuesday, rejecting the legitimacy of President Vladimir Putin and demanding new elections, a prominent opposition leader said.

"We believe that his presidency right now is not legitimate at all," former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov told CNN from the rally.

The elections in March that returned Putin to the presidency after four years as prime minister "were not free, they were not fair and the results were not credible," Kasyanov said.

The only thing that Putin should do now is "sit with us on a round table and discuss the terms and conditions of his departure," Kasyanov said.

International observers said in March that the elections did not meet international standards. The presidential election came just months after allegations of fraud in parliamentary elections prompted the largest anti-government demonstrations Russia had seen in two decades.

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May 16th, 2012
03:11 AM ET

Part of Russian plane's flight recorder found in Indonesia

Indonesian authorities said Wednesday that they had found part of the flight recorder of the Russian passenger jet that crashed into the side of a volcano during a demonstration flight last week, killing 45 people.

Searchers retrieved the cockpit voice recorder, which records communication between pilots and air traffic controllers, but have so far been unable to locate the flight data recorder, said Vice Marshal Daryatmo, head of the National Search and Rescue Agency.

He said the voice recorder would be brought to Jakarta for analysis.

Rescue workers found no survivors from the Sukhoi Superjet 100, Russia's newest passenger plane, which slammed into Mount Salak after disappearing from radar screens on May 9.

Most of the wreckage of the plane is on a steep slope at an altitude of 6,000 feet, making it difficult to reach.

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May 9th, 2012
12:36 PM ET

Russian jet missing in Indonesia

A Russian passenger airliner went missing Wednesday after it disappeared from radar screens over a mountainous region of Indonesia.

The Sukhoi Superjet 100, Russia's newest civilian airliner, was carrying 42 passengers and eight Russian crew members, said Sunaryo, an official with Sukhoi's Indonesian agent, Trimarga Rekatama.

However, the number was in dispute. The Indonesian National Search and Rescue Agency said only 37 of the 42 invited passengers were on board. Russian state-run news agencies reported 44 people were on the plane.

Ground teams were continuing to search. The air search will resume at daylight, depending on the weather.

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All-white killer whale spotted off Russia
Iceberg, an all white adult male killer whale, swims with his pod off the coast of Russia.
April 23rd, 2012
01:53 PM ET

All-white killer whale spotted off Russia

The world's only known all-white male killer whale has been spotted in the Pacific Ocean off Russia, scientists announced Monday.

The orca, dubbed "Iceberg" by the scientists, was spotted swimming with a pod of 12 others. Iceberg has a 6.5-foot-high dorsal fin and is at least 16 years old, according to a blog post by Erich Hoyt, co-director of the Far East Russia Orca Project.

Check out a photo gallery of albino creatures

The pod was spotted by scientists from universities in Moscow and St. Petersburg in the waters around the Commander Islands off the Kamchatka Peninsula. The area is part of a marine reserve.

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Filed under: Animals • Russia • Whales
WWF: Russia setting up park to save leopards
An Amur leopard is pictured in the wild in 2007.
April 10th, 2012
01:29 PM ET

WWF: Russia setting up park to save leopards

Russia took a big step Tuesday to try to save the Amur leopard, the world's most endangered cat, with just 40 believed left in the wild.

The country is establishing a new national park in Russia's Far East that encompasses about 60% of the endangered cat's habitat and all of its breeding areas, according to a statement from the World Wildlife Fund announcing the park. The organization has been pushing for establishment of the Land of the Leopard National Park since 2001.

“Amur leopards are literally teetering on the brink of extinction,” Sybille Klenzendorf, head of the WWF’s species program, said in a statement. “With the establishment of Land of the Leopard National Park, in conjunction with other conservation efforts, we can now start to focus on how to begin bringing them back.”

The cats are also known as the Far East leopard, the Manchurian leopard or the Korean leopard. They live in the temperate forests in Russia's Far East between Vladivostok and the border with China and endure extreme winters with the help of pelts that triple in length during the cold months, according to the WWF's website on the leopards.

The leopards have a life span of 10 to 15 years in the wild. Large males can weigh up to 165 pounds, with the average male topping out at about 100 pounds. Females are about 95 pounds at their largest, according to the WWF.

The 650,000-acre park will include sites for ecotourism as well as protected areas, according to the WWF statement. The Russian government is spending about $16.6 million for its development.

Ten Amur, or Siberian, tigers, also an endangered species, are also believed to live in the park, according to the WWF. The tiger species also once numbered about 40 individuals in the wild, but the population has recovered to 450 individuals today with preservation efforts, giving hope to the leopard plans, according to the WWF.

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Filed under: Animals • Leopards • Russia
April 5th, 2012
12:33 AM ET

Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout faces long prison sentence

The convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout faces the possibility of life in prison at his sentencing in a federal court in New York on Thursday.

Last year, Bout, who's been dubbed "the merchant of death" by his accusers, was convicted on four counts of conspiracy to kill Americans, acquire and export anti-aircraft missiles and provide material support to a terrorist organization.

At the trial, the prosecution said that during a 2008 sting operation by U.S. drug enforcement agents in Thailand, Bout believed he was selling weapons to Colombian guerrillas.

Bout, whose life is considered to have inspired the 2005 Nicolas Cage movie "Lord of War," faces 25 years to life in prison.

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Filed under: New York • Russia • Thailand • U.S.
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