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BBCRussian’s YouTube Videos: Зачем взорвали Z-блогера Владлена Татарского? – News Review – 3:13 PM 4/3/2023

From: BBCRussian
Duration: 17:48

Пророссийский военный блогер, известный как Владлен Татарский, погиб в Петербурге в результате взрыва. В понедельник утром по подозрению в причастности к взрыву задержана Дарья Трепова, которую власти причастной к взрыву.

Что случилось в Питере? Почему Татарский стал целью покушения? И кто такая Дарья Трепова? На эти другие вопросы отвечает корреспондент Русской службы Би-би-си Илья Барабанов.

00:00 Приветствие. Ведущий – Виктор Нехезин.
00:48 Что произошло в воскресенье вечером в Санкт-Петербурге и кто такая Дарья Трепова?
02:23 Что известно о взрывном устройстве?
03:28 Кто такой Владлен Татарский?
07:32 Какие есть версии относительно заказчиков убийства?
08:26 Что говорят российские официальные лица?
11:10 Позиция украинской стороны
13:06 Это уже второе громкое убийство пророссийского пропагандиста с начала войны после гибели Дарьи Дугиной. Чем эти убийства похожи?
14:19 Как еще власти могут закрутить гайки, пользуясь своей версией о причастности оппозиции к теракту?

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1261492 BBCRussian’s YouTube Videos

Польша может быть причастна к диверсиям на газопроводах «Северный поток-1» и «Северный поток-2», поскольку, возможно, имеет мотив. О подобных подозрениях пишет газета Washington Post со ссылкой на политиков и дипломатов. Варшава была одним из самых ярых критиков проекта «Северный поток» с начала его строительства.

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1557006 Lenta.ru : Новости

6776987 1. Russian Press from Michael_Novakhov (80 sites)

690972 РИА Новости

6776987 1. Russian Press from Michael_Novakhov (80 sites)

Советник командования Воздушных сил (ВС) украинских войск Юрий Игнат рассказал, каким количеством истребителей МиГ-29 обладает страна на данный момент. Он назвал историческим шагом передачу Украине подобных вооружений и заявил о наличии трех бригад истребителей (порядка 72 самолетов) у Вооруженных сил Украины (ВСУ).

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1557006 Lenta.ru : Новости

6776987 1. Russian Press from Michael_Novakhov (80 sites)

В Сети публикуют подробное видео того, что предшествовало взрыву в кафе в Санкт-Петербурге в воскресенье, в результате которого погиб Владлен Татарский.Подозреваемая во взрыве Дарья Трепова представилась не своим именем. На видео Татарский предлагает ей сесть ближе к сцене.

«Настя, иди сюда садись», – сказал военкор. «Я стесняюсь», – ответила ему Трепова, а затем села на предложенное место.

После этого на кадрах видно, как Татарский открывает подаренную Треповой коробку и достает оттуда статуэтку. «Вот. Золотой. Шахтер в каске. Отлично», – сказал военкор. На этом запись обрывается.

 

Напомним, ранее в одном из кафе в центре Петербурга при взрыве погиб военный корреспондент Владлен Татарский. В результате взрыва пострадали 32 человека, восемь из них находятся в тяжелом состоянии.

На следующий день в Петербурге была задержана подозреваемая в убийстве журналиста Дарья Трепова. Девушка рассказала, что принесла на организованную в кафе встречу с Татарским статуэтку, в которой позже сработало взрывное устройство. Позже дело о взрыве в петербургском кафе было переквалифицировано на статью Уголовного кодекса «Террористический акт», сообщили в Следственном комитете России.

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342589 Взгляд

6776987 1. Russian Press from Michael_Novakhov (80 sites)

Подозреваемой в убийстве военного корреспондента Владлена Татарского Дарье Треповой, скорее всего, изберут меру пресечения в Москве, об этом сообщает РИА Новости со ссылкой на источник в правоохранительных органах. Следствие будет просить избрать Треповой меру пресечения в виде ареста.

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1557006 Lenta.ru : Новости

6776987 1. Russian Press from Michael_Novakhov (80 sites)

НАТО и государства Европы не стремятся к тому, чтобы добраться до истины в расследовании диверсии на “Северных потоках”. Об этом сообщает газета The Washington Post.

396889 Российская газета

6776987 1. Russian Press from Michael_Novakhov (80 sites)

Unlike in Trump case, Secret Service kept this one secret  The Associated Press

6434851 “Donald Trump” – Google News

6597555 1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (197 sites)

Could Trump Get a Gag Order? What One Means for Hush Money Case  NBC New York

6434851 “Donald Trump” – Google News

6698431 1. Trump Circles: Elections from Michael_Novakhov (16 sites)

6597555 1. Trump from Michael_Novakhov (197 sites)

FLASHPOINT UKRAINE: Investigators Fear Only Scratched Surface on Russian Atrocities In Ukraine  Voice of America – VOA News

6832286 “Russia investigations” – Google News

NEW YORK (AP) — Aaron Tveit has starred in some amazing Broadway shows, but some of the classics have eluded him. So he was delighted to speed his way through many of them in the second season of “Schmigadoon!”

The Apple+ series that gently mocks Broadway musicals cast Tveit in a role that has snatches of “Pippin,” “Godspell,” “Hair” and “Jesus Christ Superstar” and put him again alongside a who’s-who of Broadway veterans.

“It’s just a dream,” says the Tony Award winner. “It’s so much fun and we have a blast doing it. I’m very, very fortunate to have had this come my way when it did. And I just can’t believe we keep getting to do it.”

“Schmigadoon!” returns this month, tackling the musicals of 1965-1979 with the same two main stars — Cecily Strong and Keegan-Michael Key — and many of the same stage talent that enlivened the first season, like Tveit and Jane Krakowski.

If the first season skewered such splashy musicals as “Brigadoon,” “Hello, Dolly!” and “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,” the new one has fun with “Chicago,” “Pippin,” “Cabaret,” “Annie” and ”Hair” before moving into Stephen Sondheim territory with riffs on “Sweeney Todd.”

“I think season two lives on even a smarter and more intricate level,” says Krakowski. “I think it’s completely accessible to people who are nonmusical. But for people who know musical theater, I think you enjoy it in a whole other level.”

The season picks off where the first one ended, with Strong and Key playing a modern-day couple who long to return to the simple, apple-cheeked town of Schmigadoon and, so, go hiking again in the woods hoping to find it.

Instead, they find Schmicago and are met by sneering dancers in bowler hats, fishnets and garters, leather gloves and lederhosen, moving in a very Bob Fosse-like libidinous style while dragging wooden chairs.

“Women brimming with lust/Men that you shouldn’t trust/And orphans that don’t wanna die,” go the first song’s lyrics. “Mysteries and magic/Endings that are tragic.”

“This is not the kind of musical I want to be in!” Strong’s character warns her partner, hoping to turn back. “These musicals don’t have happy endings.”

Returning alongside Strong, Key, Tveit and Krakowski are Kristin Chenoweth, Dove Cameron, Alan Cumming, Ariana DeBose, Ann Harada and Martin Short. Newcomers include Titus Burgess and Patrick Page.

Cameron, in a bowl cut and dark eyelashes, plays a fun-loving sort of “Cabaret” Sally Bowles, while Burgess is a fabulously sarcastic narrator, like the Leading Player from “Pippin.” Cumming, the dandy mayor last season, is now the town’s disheveled, bloody-aproned butcher from “Sweeney Todd,” and Tveit plays the hunky leader of a bohemian-hippie commune.

“This is a much more ambitious season,” says Tveit. “The scale of the show is tremendously larger. And, of course, because we move into this next group of musicals in the ’60s and ’70, the subject matter of those is a bit darker, a bit more adult.”

There are blink-and-you’ll-miss-’em physical nods to musical theater giants, like a family portrait shop named after Stephen Schwartz and a Sondheim toy shop. There’s even an intersection of Lloyd and Webber streets.

“This is a loving satire. It has to come from a place of love, because if it doesn’t, then it just gets ugly,” says Cinco Paul, who co-created and co-wrote the series with Ken Daurio, as well as all the songs. “We tease some of these shows and some of the lyrics and some of the tendencies of these writers. But it is all coming from a place of genuine love.”

If Tveit got to play many classic theater characters, Krakowski got to play with “Chicago,” a show her parents took her to when she was only 8 or 9. In Schmicago, she’s a showboating lawyer like Billy Flynn from “Chicago” and gets to say things like, “The law is 10% precedent and 90% wow.”

“I think we all go in with such a love of musical theater that it’s more of a loving tribute than even parody,” says Krakowski. “We’ve now hit the musicals that were the musicals that inspired me as a young person, just going to see Broadway shows and dreaming of being up there.”

Paul said he was already playing with ideas and casting for the second season while they were filming the first. “I really liked the idea of this company of actors coming back in a new show. They’re all playing new characters, and I thought that would be really fun.”

He hopes the series will reinforce how thrilling Broadway musicals can be and spark a desire for the audience to dig out old cast albums and fire them up.

“I love whenever I hear about people saying, ‘It caused me to dive back into these old shows,’” he says. “It’s fun that it’s in some ways rekindled an interest in these old shows which are great and amazing and I’m in constant awe of what they did.”

___

Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits

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Brooklyn Bakes First Three Legal Cannabis Licenses  THE CITY

Applebee’s in Brooklyn Center closes abruptly  Bring Me The News

The breaking and making of Ukraine

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In a crowded Kyiv restaurant, phones begin to vibrate. It is a missile alert. Residents are urged to go to bomb shelters. But no one moves a muscle — apart from a waiter who ambles over to ask if anybody would like dessert.

That incident last week captured the strange mixture of normalcy and wartime emergency in the capital of Ukraine. It is a year since the Russian army was driven out of the suburbs of Kyiv. Although missiles and drones still sometimes hit the Ukrainian capital, as they did last week, Russia’s efforts to cripple Kyiv’s infrastructure have failed. The lights are on. The trams are running. Cafes that would not look out of place in Brooklyn or Berlin bustle with customers.

Things look refreshingly normal — except, of course, that they aren’t. Hundreds of miles to the east, a brutal war is raging. Kyiv station is thronged with soldiers in fatigues, heading to the front. The number of Ukrainian troops killed in battle remains a closely guarded secret — but unofficial estimates are that more than 100,000 troops have been killed or wounded. Many thousands of civilians also died in Russian attacks on towns such as Mariupol and Bakhmut. With airspace closed and the Black Sea ports largely blocked, Ukraine’s contacts with the outside world are severely restricted.

For many Ukrainians, the war now inspires a confusing mix of emotions: trauma and exhaustion on the one hand, but also pride and hope.

The physical, economic and social damage to Ukraine is huge and mounting. Few doubt that many thousands more will die before this war ends. But there is also a sense that Ukraine is finally breaking free from a tragic past — and that a future as a peaceful and prosperous European country is within reach.

Peace, if and when it arrives, will offer a chance to rebuild the country’s physical infrastructure. But some of the social damage inflicted by the war may be irreparable.

Ukraine’s prewar population is estimated at 37mn by Hlib Vyshlinsky of Kyiv’s Centre for Economic Strategy. Some 5mn-6mn Ukrainians, almost all women and children, are now refugees overseas. With men of military age forbidden from leaving the country, families have been ripped apart. The longer the war goes on, the more likely it is that many refugees will put down roots overseas, never to return.

With both Ukraine and Russia haunted by fears of demographic decline, Russia’s policy of kidnapping Ukrainian children has an added poignancy. That crime has led the International Criminal Court to bring charges against President Vladimir Putin. It epitomises the lawlessness and brutality of Russia — the main reason why so many Ukrainians are utterly determined to break free from Moscow’s grip.

The safe harbour that Ukraine is aiming for is the EU. While Russian imperialism is built on violence and cultural suppression, the EU represents a different sort of empire — one that you have to apply to join and is based on law and the voluntary association of nations.

Unlike Putin’s Russia, with its brutal determination to drag Ukraine back into its orbit, the EU has long hesitated about admitting the country, wary of taking on the economic and geopolitical risks involved.

But the war finally shocked Brussels into action. Olha Stefanishyna, the 37-year-old Ukrainian deputy prime minister in charge of European integration, says that the EU’s decision to grant Ukraine official candidate status just months after Russia launched its full-scale invasion was a transformative moment. “It gave the troops at the front — and the people in bomb shelters — inspiration and hope for the future.”

Ukraine hopes to begin the arduous process of negotiating EU entry later this year. But the event that all eyes are focused on is a much-trailed Ukrainian military offensive, aimed at driving Putin’s troops out of the 17 per cent of the country they occupy.

Some Ukrainian officials say openly that the coming months will be decisive in the war. Others reject that kind of talk. They worry that, if the counter-offensive stalls, Ukraine’s international supporters will apply pressure for a premature peace settlement that will leave the Russian threat undiminished.

Fear that the west’s support may be fickle hovers in the background of many conversations in Kyiv. But, whatever the current diplomatic situation, the bigger picture is that Ukraine has now achieved an international status that is unlikely ever to disappear.

Until this war broke out, Ukraine was often treated in the west with enormous condescension as a corrupt, “post-Soviet” backwater, whose claim to nationhood was recent and fragile. Those days are gone forever, swept away by admiration for Ukraine’s courage in fighting for its independence. A new generation of leaders, led by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, have proved brilliantly effective in making the case for their country.

From inside a ministry surrounded by sandbags and guard-posts, Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister, argues convincingly that his country has already achieved something historic. “Ukraine and Ukrainian identity was kept beneath the surface for hundreds of years. This war has helped to make us visible and we’ll never disappear again . . . It is regrettable that it has taken thousands of deaths. But that’s the way of the world.”

gideon.rachman@ft.com

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Moscow April 3, 4:36 p.m.

Washington April 3, 9:36 a.m.

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Russian police officers inspected the aftermath of the explosion at a cafe where the blogger popularly known as Vladlen Tatarsky had been giving a public talk.CreditCredit…Anton Vaganov/Reuters

The Russian authorities blamed Ukraine and Russian opposition activists on Monday for the bombing that killed a popular pro-war blogger a day earlier, signaling that the Kremlin could use the dramatic attack in St. Petersburg to escalate its already harsh crackdown against what remains of antiwar activism in Russia.

The Russian government’s Antiterrorism Committee issued a statement claiming, without providing evidence, that the deadly bombing at a pro-war gathering at a St. Petersburg cafe was planned by Ukrainian intelligence agencies, along with “agents” connected to the movement of the imprisoned opposition leader Aleksei A. Navalny.

The police detained a Russian woman on Monday and released a video that it said showed her confessing that she had delivered a statuette containing a bomb to the blogger, who was known as Vladlen Tatarsky. The Antiterrorism Committee claimed she was an “active supporter” of Mr. Navalny. An exiled leader of Mr. Navalny’s movement, Ivan Zhdanov, described the allegations against his team as outrageous and said they were a pretext to extend Mr. Navalny’s prison term even further.

Dmitri S. Peskov, the spokesman for President Vladimir V. Putin, sounded slightly less definitive in his daily briefing with journalists, cautioning that the investigation into the bombing was continuing. He said that “Ukrainian intelligence agencies may have had something to do with the planning of this terrorist attack.”

Still, the fast-moving developments on Monday indicated that the Kremlin was preparing to use the attack — in the heart of Russia’s second-largest city — to try to even further ostracize domestic opponents of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and of Mr. Putin. Russian news media reports described the woman arrested after the attack, Daria Trepova, as an opponent of the war, citing interviews with her friends.

Tatiana Stanovaya, an analyst for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said that the assertions would further divide Russian society.

“All participants in antiwar actions will now automatically become potential terrorists in the eyes of not just law enforcement, but also the ‘patriotic’ public,” she wrote.

The Russian blogger known as Vladlen Tatarsky was killed on Sunday when a bomb exploded at a talk he was giving at a cafe in St. Petersburg, Russia.Credit…Telegram, via ReutersThe explosion that killed Mr. Tatarsky, whose real name was Maksim Fomin, was the most brazen attack on a prominent war supporter inside Russia since the car bombing in August that killed Daria Dugina, the daughter of an ultranationalist ideologue, Aleksandr Dugin. It came amid escalating drone attacks deep inside Russian territory and shelling and deadly raids on the regions bordering Ukraine, violence that has begun to expose residents of major Russian cities to fallout from a war that the Kremlin has sought to portray as a distant “special military operation.”

Ms. Trepova, a 26-year old native of St. Petersburg, had appeared on the national police’s wanted list earlier on Monday, hours before Russia’s investigative police said in a brief statement that she had been arrested in connection with the St. Petersburg bombing. Court records show that a woman with the same name and birth date received a 10-day jail term last year for participating in a protest on the first day of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

She was not, however, widely known in Russian opposition circles and her social media profiles are largely free from explicit political content. The Russian antiterrorism agency did not offer evidence for its claim that Ms. Trepova was working with Ukrainian intelligence, and the Ukrainian government has not commented on the attack.

Mr. Tatarsky — who took his pen name from the hero of a cult novel about dissolute post-Soviet life — was giving a talk on his trips to the front line in Ukraine when a bomb exploded in the cafe where he was speaking.

The venue, called Street Food Bar #1 Cafe, is owned by the head of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, who said he had allowed it to be used by a nationalist activist group that organized the event with Mr. Tatarsky. Mr. Prigozhin said he did not believe the Ukrainian government was behind the attack, saying, “This is an act of a group of radicals that is unlikely to have connection to the government.”

Videos posted on social media showed Mr. Tatarsky receiving a small statue in his likeness onstage from a young woman shortly before the explosion.

“What a beautiful guy, is that me?” Mr. Tatarsky asked the audience after receiving the statue, according to one video. The authenticity of the video could not be immediately verified.

After the arrest was announced on Monday, Russia’s Interior Ministry posted a short video showing a woman it said was Ms. Trepova telling interrogators that she had given Mr. Tatarsky the statue, adding that she had received it from a person she declined to name.

A still image taken from a video posted by Russia’s Interior Ministry showed a woman that authorities identified as Daria Trepova.Credit…Russian Interior Ministry, via ReutersIvan Nechepurenko and Oleg Matsnev contributed reporting.

Bakhmut, Ukraine, last month.Credit…Libkos/Associated Press

The head of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group claimed that Russian forces had raised their country’s flag in the center of Bakhmut, but a senior Ukrainian official said on Monday that Kyiv’s forces were still fighting for the embattled eastern city.

Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, the leader of the Wagner private military company, said on Sunday that his fighters had hoisted a Russian flag and one representing the group’s forces over an administrative building in Bakhmut. In a post on the Telegram messaging app, he acknowledged that Ukrainian troops were still in the western part of the city but said that “legally, Bakhmut is taken.”

Andriy Yermak, top adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, on Monday rejected the assertion that Bakhmut had fallen. “Not even close to the reality,” he wrote on Twitter.

The Ukrainian authorities have declared Bakhmut off limits to journalists, and it was not possible to independently confirm either side’s account of the fighting.

The battle for Bakhmut, which began last summer, has become one of Russia’s longest-running assaults since its full-scale invasion of Ukraine more than a year ago. Wagner fighters initially spearheaded the battle. As the fighting has intensified in recent months, Moscow has thrown thousands of men from its armed forces and Wagner into a grinding and often block-by-block battle that has produced heavy casualties for both sides.

Bakhmut, an industrial city with a prewar population of around 70,000, is at the heart of a Russian campaign to seize all of the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine. Months of shelling and bitter fighting have shattered Bakhmut and forced much of its population to flee.

While Bakhmut’s strategic importance has been debated, the battle for the city has taken on great symbolism. While both sides have sustained heavy losses, military experts and Ukrainian authorities say that Russian casualties have been far higher and have sapped Moscow’s ability to pursue its broader offensive in the east.

Russian forces have advanced steadily into the city in recent weeks, and at one point it appeared that Ukraine might be preparing to retreat. But Mr. Zelensky vowed not to give up Bakhmut, and senior Ukrainian generals have since said that the situation in the city could be stabilized.

On Monday, Ukraine’s deputy defense minister, Hanna Maliar, said that the situation in Bakhmut “remains very tense” and that Russian forces appeared bent on capturing the city.

“Excessively high losses in personnel do not stop the enemy. Their decisions are emotional,” she said in a Telegram post. “Our defenders have to stop the advance of the enemy in difficult conditions.”

President Volodymyr Zelensky in Izium, Ukraine, last year. He has left the country only a handful of times since the full-scale invasion began.Credit…Nicole Tung for The New York Times

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine is expected to visit Warsaw this week, the office of Poland’s president announced on Monday, a trip that comes as a Polish official said the country had begun to make good on its promise to send fighter jets to Ukraine.

Mr. Zelensky is expected to travel to Poland on Wednesday for an official state visit, not the so-called working trips he has made to the United States, France, Britain and Belgium since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year, a Polish official told local media outlets. The official said Mr. Zelensky would also give a speech in Warsaw. Asked about the trip, Mr. Zelensky’s office said it does “not announce the president’s visits during the war.”

Mr. Zelensky will address both the Polish people and Ukrainians, hundreds of thousands of whom have fled to Poland since Russia’s invasion last year, according to the Polish official, Marcin Przydacz, an aide to President Andrzej Duda of Poland. It was not immediately clear how long Mr. Zelensky will stay across the border.

Poland was among the first countries to promise Ukraine fighter jets, and has sent a first batch of MIG jets to Ukraine, Mr. Przydacz told RMF FM. The country was also a leading proponent of sending tanks to Ukraine. Mr. Duda’s push helped pressure other Ukrainian allies, with Germany agreeing to send advanced battle tanks and allowing other countries to do the same.

Mr. Zelensky chose to stay in Ukraine after Russia invaded in February 2022, until he made a high-profile visit to Washington that December to deliver impassioned appeals for more weapons. On his way back from Washington, Mr. Zelensky stopped over in Poland where he met with Mr. Duda.

The Ukrainian leader also made a diplomatic blitz in February of this year, traveling to Britain, France and Belgium to press his case for heavier weapons. He stopped over in Poland and met with Mr. Duda on the way home from that trip, too.

Nataliia Novosolova contributed reporting.

Servicemen from the Adam Battalion Tank unit prepare to head toward the front line near Bakhmut, Ukraine, last month.Credit…Daniel Berehulak/The New York Times

The foreign ministers of NATO member states are set to meet in Brussels this week to discuss the war in Ukraine and other global issues. The meeting will include representatives of Finland, which cleared the final hurdle to join the alliance last week, and Sweden, which has applied to join.

Finland has only paperwork to complete to become the latest addition to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, bringing the mutual defense alliance’s membership to 31. Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s secretary general, said on Monday that Finland would formally join on Tuesday.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken will be in attendance and plans to discuss the United States’ continued support for Ukraine and its “commitment to trans-Atlantic security and the rules-based international order,” according to a statement from the State Department. Mr. Blinken will also meet separately with his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba; with the E.U. foreign-policy chief, Josep Borrell Fontelles; and with Mr. Stoltenberg.

Here are some other developments we’re watching this week.

  • United Nations: On Monday, Russia is scheduled to preside over a U.N. Security Council meeting for the first time since it began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine almost 14 months ago. Russia assumed the rotating presidency of the Security Council on Saturday, a prestigious if largely ceremonial post it will give up next month. Russia’s taking up the post elicited a furious response from President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, who called it “obviously absurd and destructive.”
  • Bakhmut: Ukraine and Russia are still fighting for control of the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut and the surrounding area. Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner mercenary group, said on Sunday that his forces had raised a Russian flag over an administrative building in Bakhmut, according to the Reuters news agency, but acknowledged that Ukraine was still holding the western part of the city. Mr. Prigozhin has declared such victories prematurely before. Although Bakhmut holds little strategic value, Moscow is looking for a victory there after setbacks elsewhere in Ukraine,.
  • Oil prices: OPEC Plus — Russia, Saudi Arabia and other oil producers — said on Sunday that it would cut production by nearly 1.2 million barrels of crude a day, or more than 1 percent of world supplies, in an apparent effort to increase prices. The surprise announcement may not have major effects, but it has symbolic importance when oil prices are a third below their level immediately after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last February.

Clifford Krauss contributed reporting.

Evan Gershkovich, a Wall Street Journal reporter, is accused by Russia of trying to gain illicit information about the country’s “military-industrial complex.”Credit…The Wall Street Journal, via Reuters

WASHINGTON — Freeing any American who has been imprisoned in Russia is a daunting challenge, but the espionage charge leveled against a Wall Street Journal reporter detained there last week will make efforts to secure his release particularly difficult.

The Russian authorities have accused the reporter, Evan Gershkovich, of trying to gain illicit information about the country’s “military-industrial complex.” In the Kremlin’s eyes, experts say, that puts him in a special category of prisoners — one quite different from that of two Americans whom Russia has released since the start of the war in Ukraine.

Both of those Americans, the W.N.B.A. star Brittney Griner and the former U.S. Marine Trevor Reed, were being held on standard criminal offenses — Ms. Griner on drug charges, Mr. Reed on charges of assaulting police officers — when the Biden administration negotiated their releases, trading them for Russians who were serving criminal sentences of their own in American prisons.

“Let him go,” President Biden told reporters on Friday when asked what his message about Mr. Gershkovich was for the Kremlin.

But the allegations against Mr. Gershkovich, which he denied in a court appearance on Thursday and which his employer adamantly rejects, could signal a higher Kremlin asking price than in those earlier cases.

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Huddled in basements just over a mile away from the front lines of Avdiivka, over 1,800 residents are refusing to be rescued from one of the most active battlegrounds in eastern Ukraine.

It’s been described by Ukrainian officials as “post-apocalyptic.”

As Russian forces encircle the city of Avdiivka, they are waging a battle that has destroyed entire neighborhoods and nearly cut off access to humanitarian aid for its remaining residents.

The streets are now littered with the ruins of blasted buildings, making them impassable by car. Schools, health clinics, shopping centers and apartment blocks have been left with gaping holes.

In the last few weeks, Russia has intensified its bombardment of Avdiivka, leaving it battered and largely abandoned after a year of war. The city was once home to 30,000 residents, but Ukrainian officials say around 1,800 are refusing to evacuate, including five children.

The New York Times embedded with Gennadiy Yudin, a Ukrainian police officer with a unit called the White Angels, as he went door to door trying to convince residents to leave. Many of them are old and vulnerable or cannot afford to live elsewhere. Some expressed nostalgia for the Soviet era and said they were waiting for Russian forces to liberate them.

Those who remain have moved their lives underground, surviving for months without regular supplies of heat and power. They are sleeping in basements, stockpiling food and water distributed by volunteers. Through the fighting, two small shops have stayed open for basic needs.

Avdiivka is now a military “red zone” that is off-limits to journalists. We spoke to residents about what’s keeping them there, despite daily shelling and rocket attacks, and the threat of Russian military occupation.

Anti-war demonstrators outside the United Nations headquarters in New York on Feb. 24, the anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.Credit…Thalia Juarez for The New York Times

The Russian delegation to the United Nations will inaugurate its monthlong presidency of the Security Council on Monday with a news conference in which it will outline the council’s coming work.

It is the first time that Russia has assumed the council’s rotating presidency since its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February of 2022, and the development has drawn harsh objections from Ukraine. President Volodymyr Zelensky, in his nightly address on Saturday, called it “obviously absurd and destructive” and said it demonstrated “the complete bankruptcy of such institutions.” He has repeatedly called for Russia to be removed from the Security Council, where it remains protected by its veto power.

Last week, the White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, said that “unfortunately” no legal pathway existed for removing Russia from its permanent seat at the Council and called for it to conduct itself professionally.

“We will continue to call out Russia’s lies and bring credible voices, and facts, to the Council,” said Nate Evans, a spokesman for the U.S. mission to the United Nations. “Holding the rotating presidency gives no credence to Russia’s conspiracy theories.”

The Security Council presidency is largely a ceremonial role that rotates monthly, elevating each of its 15 members in alphabetical order. The holder of the position plans and chairs meetings and manages administrative work, and the presiding country has no influence on decisions or votes.

But Russia will be in the presidency amid international outrage over the war in Ukraine, though not all Security Council members are publicly critical. China and the United Arab Emirates have not openly criticized Russia for the war and have called for both sides to cease hostilities.

The International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant this month for Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, accusing him of war crimes. Russia continues to target civilians and civilian infrastructure in Ukraine, and on Thursday it jailed the American journalist Evan Gershkovich, a correspondent based in Moscow for The Wall Street Journal, on murky charges of espionage that the United States and the newspaper have vehemently rejected.

Typically, each presidency uses the term to highlight global issues that it considers priorities. Often a high-level official, such as the foreign minister, chairs some of the marquee events. Russia plans to do that, convening at least two meetings in April — on the transfer of weapons to Ukraine, and multilateralism and the U.N. charter. — in addition to the regular schedule.

Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, plans to travel to New York to chair the multilateralism meeting and another on Israeli-Palestinian issues in late April, the ministry’s spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said at a news briefing in Moscow on Thursday.

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A stylized illustration of a cellphone with a surveillance camera, red cartoon eye and partial F.B.I. logo on and around it.

Credit…Andrei Cojocaru

The Biden administration has been trying to choke off use of hacking tools made by the Israeli firm NSO. It turns out that not every part of the government has gotten the message.

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WASHINGTON — The secret contract was finalized on Nov. 8, 2021, a deal between a company that has acted as a front for the United States government and the American affiliate of a notorious Israeli hacking firm.

Under the arrangement, the Israeli firm, NSO Group, gave the U.S. government access to one of its most powerful weapons — a geolocation tool that can covertly track mobile phones around the world without the phone user’s knowledge or consent.

If the veiled nature of the deal was unusual — it was signed for the front company by a businessman using a fake name — the timing was extraordinary.

Only five days earlier, the Biden administration had announced it was taking action against NSO, whose hacking tools for years had been abused by governments around the world to spy on political dissidents, human rights activists and journalists. The White House placed NSO on a Commerce Department blacklist, declaring the company a national security threat and sending the message that American companies should stop doing business with it.

The secret contract — which The New York Times is disclosing for the first time — violates the Biden administration’s public policy, and still appears to be active. The contract, reviewed by The Times, stated that the “United States government” would be the ultimate user of the tool, although it is unclear which government agency authorized the deal and might be using the spyware. It specifically allowed the government to test, evaluate, and even deploy the spyware against targets of its choice in Mexico.

Asked about the contract, White House officials said it was news to them.

“We are not aware of this contract, and any use of this product would be highly concerning,” said a senior administration official, responding on the basis of anonymity to address a national security issue.

Spokesmen for the White House and Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to make any further comment, leaving unresolved questions: What intelligence or law enforcement officials knew about the contract when it was signed? Did any government agency direct the deployment of the technology? Could the administration be dealing with a rogue government contractor evading Mr. Biden’s own policy? And why did the contract specify Mexico?

ImageA close-up photo of President Biden speaking at a lectern.

President Biden signed an executive order further cracking down on the use of commercial spyware on Monday.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

The secret contract further illuminates the ongoing battle for control of powerful cyberweapons, both among and within governments, including the United States.

The weapons have given governments the power to conduct targeted, invasive surveillance in ways that were unavailable before the advent of the tools. This power has led to abuses, from the Mexican government spying on journalists who were investigating military crimes to Saudi Arabia using NSO technology to hack the devices of political dissidents. The use of spyware against journalists and opposition figures sparked a political scandal in Greece.

Rampant abuse of commercial spyware has led to growing calls from Western political leaders to limit access to them. And yet their power makes the tools alluring to intelligence services, militaries and law enforcement agencies in democracies and autocracies alike. The story of NSO’s push to break into the United States market brings to life how these tensions have played out.

President Biden signed an executive order last week to clamp down on government use of commercial spyware. It prohibits federal departments and agencies from using hacking tools that might be abused by foreign governments, could target Americans overseas or could pose security risks if installed on U.S. government networks. The order covered only spyware from commercial entities, not tools built by American intelligence agencies, which have similar in-house capabilities.

After this article was published online, the senior administration official told The Times that if there was a contract in November 2021 giving the United States access to the NSO tool, it would violate the new executive order.

Even as the Biden administration has showcased its efforts to drive NSO out of business, it was clear even before the revelation of the latest contract that some agencies have been drawn to the power of these cyberweapons.

Elements of America’s expansive national security apparatus in recent years have bought the weapons, deployed them against drug traffickers, and have quietly pushed to consolidate control of them into the hands of the United States and its closest allies. As The Times reported last year, the F.B.I. purchased access in 2019 to NSO’s most powerful hacking tool, known as Pegasus, which invades mobile phones and mines their contents.

A subsequent Times investigation has found:

  • The secret November 2021 contract used the same American company — designated as “Cleopatra Holdings” but actually a small New Jersey-based government contractor called Riva Networks — that the F.B.I. used two years earlier to purchase Pegasus. Riva’s chief executive used a fake name in signing the 2021 contract and at least one contract Riva executed on behalf of the F.B.I.
  • The 2021 contract was for the same NSO geolocation tool once used by an adviser to Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as part of a brutal campaign against perceived threats to the kingdom.
  • The deal unfolded as the European private equity fund that owns NSO pursued a plan to get U.S. government business by establishing a holding company, Gideon Cyber Systems. The private equity fund’s ultimate goal was to find an American buyer for the company.
  • A potential deal last year with L3Harris, the American defense giant, to buy NSO’s hacking tools and take on the bulk of its work force was far more advanced than previously known. Despite NSO being on the Commerce Department blacklist, L3Harris executives had discussions with Commerce Department officials about the potential deal, according to internal department records, and there was a draft agreement in place to finalize it before the White House publicly objected and L3Harris dropped its plans.

This article is based on more than three dozen interviews with current and former American and Israeli government officials, corporate executives, technology experts and a review of hundreds of pages of government documents, some of them produced under Freedom of Information Act requests by The Times.

In February 2019, Novalpina Capital, a London-based private equity fund, purchased NSO for approximately $1 billion. At the time, NSO still had a near-monopoly on premier hacking tools for mobile phones, and the fund was confident it could expand the business by attracting new government clients around the world.

NSO had spent nearly a decade winning business with its army of elite hackers and the promise and power of its signature tool, Pegasus, which had the ability to extract all of the contents of a mobile phone, from emails to photos to videos.

An NSO office in Sapir, Israel. In February 2019, Novalpina Capital, a London-based private equity fund, purchased NSO for approximately $1 billion.Credit…Amit Elkayam for The New York Times

Novalpina Capital also had a bigger goal, according to three people with knowledge of the fund’s strategy. Seeing a big potential market, it wanted to sell spyware to the United States and its closest “Five Eyes” intelligence partners: Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

At the same time, NSO had been ensnared by years of scandal over revelations of the abuses of Pegasus by numerous governments. In Saudi Arabia, aides to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had used Pegasus against associates of Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post journalist killed by Saudi operatives in Istanbul in October 2018.

An NSO spokesperson said the company’s technologies “are only sold to allies of the U.S. and Israel, particularly in Western Europe, and are aligned with the interests of U.S. national security and governmental law enforcement agencies around the world.”

But although Novalpina had acquired NSO in the belief that it could weather the criticism of how Pegasus had been deployed, the fallout from suggestions that Pegasus was linked to Mr. Khashoggi’s murder never subsided. By the middle of 2020, NSO was seen as radioactive by some in the investment fund’s leadership. The fund began looking to unload the firm.

Novalpina set up Gideon Cyber Systems, a U.S.-based holding company, in 2020. Novalpina’s strategy for Gideon was to strip NSO’s powerful hacking tools, including Pegasus, and the company’s work force from NSO’s Israeli leadership and put the spyware under Gideon’s management — in essence making NSO an American company. Then, the thinking went, the private equity fund could sell Gideon to a large American military contractor or other U.S. investor, paving the way for the United States and its closest allies to have the tools in their arsenals.

During the Trump administration, NSO was already beginning to break into the U.S. government market, and in 2019 the F.B.I. purchased a license for Pegasus. The bureau had two aims: to study the spyware to see how adversaries might use it and to test Pegasus for possible deployment in the bureau’s own operations inside the United States.

In 2019, The F.B.I. purchased a license for Pegasus.Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

To make the purchase, the F.B.I. used Riva Networks, the small, New Jersey-based contractor, but used a cover name for the company, “Cleopatra Holdings.” According to public records, Riva has years of experience selling products and services to the Defense Department and other government agencies.

How Times reporters cover politics. We rely on our journalists to be independent observers. So while Times staff members may vote, they are not allowed to endorse or campaign for candidates or political causes. This includes participating in marches or rallies in support of a movement or giving money to, or raising money for, any political candidate or election cause.

In a 2018 letter to the government of Israel, the Justice Department authorized “Cleopatra Holdings” to purchase Pegasus on behalf of the F.B.I. The Times has reviewed a copy of the letter, and a redacted version was produced as part of The Times’ Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the F.B.I.

For Novalpina, the fact that the F.B.I. had purchased a license to use Pegasus was significant. Getting the bureau’s validation — and that of other U.S. government agencies — was an essential step toward convincing a U.S. investor to purchase the weapons.

The F.B.I. installed the first Pegasus system in a Riva facility in June 2019. An F.B.I. spokesperson declined to comment on why the bureau used a cover name to make the purchase, or say what safeguards were put in place to ensure that an operational spy tool located in a private facility was not being abused. The spokesperson said that license was no longer active and “the software is no longer functional.”

As it continued trying to generate U.S. government interest in NSO’s hacking tools, Novalpina had to address concern within American spy agencies that the tools posed a counterintelligence risk — that they might contain back doors that would allow Mossad or other Israeli intelligence services to gain access to American secrets if the tools were used on U.S. government networks.

To try to overcome this problem after President Biden took office, Gideon began working with another American firm, Boldend, with deep ties to the C.I.A. and other intelligence agencies, which helped arrange meetings with government officials.

During a virtual meeting on May 5, 2021, the team pitched Christopher Inglis, a former top National Security Agency official working for Paladin Capital who was about to become the White House national cyber director, on what they were doing to address concerns about deploying Israeli technology inside U.S. government systems.

“I told them, ‘You are inheriting more than this exquisite technology, you are inheriting the history of how it’s been used,” Christopher Inglis said in an interview.Credit…Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

At the meeting, Mr. Inglis was cautiously supportive of the approach, but he said they needed to consider the reputational baggage of NSO.

“I told them, ‘You are inheriting more than this exquisite technology, you are inheriting the history of how it’s been used,” Mr. Inglis said in an interview.

He also said the technology should not be used for offensive purposes — to hack American adversaries — but instead as defensive tools to help test the vulnerabilities of U.S. systems.

Around this time, the team also gave a briefing to C.I.A. officials about the technology, according to two people.

Once Mr. Inglis moved to the White House job two months later, the team did not hear from him again. In fact, Mr. Inglis entered a White House in the midst of an effort to put NSO out of business because of concerns about how its products were enabling human rights abuses and undercutting dissent and press freedoms around the world.

That effort accelerated when, in the middle of 2021, Biden administration officials learned that American diplomats based in Uganda had been hacked by Pegasus, the first known use of the spyware against the U.S. government.

On Nov. 3, 2021, the Biden administration publicly announced its decision to put NSO on the Commerce Department blacklist, in effect trying to put it out of business and putting the United States on record as seeking to rein in the proliferation of commercial spyware.

Days later came a well-disguised step in the other direction: Gideon, the U.S. affiliate of NSO, entered into the contract with “Cleopatra Holdings” — Riva Networks — specifying that the U.S. government would get access to NSO’s premier geolocation tool, what the company calls Landmark.

Landmark turns phones into a kind of homing beacon that allows government operatives to track their targets. In 2017, a senior adviser to Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, the same person accused of orchestrating the killing of Mr. Khashoggi, used Landmark to track Saudi dissidents.

Under the contract with Gideon, U.S. government officials had access to a special NSO portal that allowed them to type in mobile phone numbers, which enabled the geolocation tool to pinpoint the specific location of the phone at that moment without the phone user’s knowledge or consent. NSO’s business model requires clients to pay for a certain number of “queries” per month — one query being each individual attempt to locate a phone.

Under this contract, according to two people, there have been thousands of queries in at least one country, Mexico. The contract also allows for Landmark to be used against mobile numbers in the United States, although there is no evidence that has happened.

The November 2021 contract was signed under the name “Bill Malone,” identified as the chief executive of Cleopatra Holdings. In fact, the man who signed the contract is Robin Gamble, the chief executive of Riva Networks, according to two people familiar with the connection between Riva and Cleopatra.

A Times reporter recently visited the Washington, D.C., address for Cleopatra Holdings identified in the 2018 Justice Department letter to the Israeli government. The office had signs near the door saying it was monitored by 24-hour surveillance, and the lobby displayed an American flag on a stand and a framed certificate from a military special operations unit. There were no signs for Cleopatra Holdings, and the person who answered the door said she had never heard of the firm, but asked for the reporter’s business card.

A sign outside of a publicly listed address in New Jersey for Riva Systems.Credit…Mark Mazzetti/The New York Times

An address for Riva Networks listed in a public database appears to be a residential home in a suburban New Jersey neighborhood. Nobody answered when a reporter knocked on the door. Mr. Gamble and the company did not respond to numerous requests for comment.

The decision to put NSO on the Commerce Department blacklist scared off most potential acquirers. But one soon emerged: L3Harris, a defense industry giant that specializes in selling electronic warfare and surveillance technology to the Defense Department, F.B.I. and U.S. spy agencies. According to the company’s 2021 annual report, more than 70 percent of the company’s revenue came from U.S. government contracts.

Four people familiar with the situation said L3Harris received cautious indications of support for pursuing an acquisition from officials inside several American and law enforcement agencies. L3 Harris did not respond to messages seeking comment.

L3Harris executives also held meetings with senior Israeli officials led by Major. Gen. Amir Eshel, the defense ministry’s director general at the time, who would have needed to authorize such a deal, given the Israeli national security interest in NSO. The executives told the Israelis that American intelligence agencies supported the acquisition as long as certain conditions were met, according to five people familiar with the discussions.

L3Harris also lobbied the Commerce Department to get NSO removed from the blacklist, according to documents obtained by The Times from a Freedom of Information Act request.

The Commerce Department sent a list of questions to NSO, which included questions about whether Americans outside the United States were protected from having NSO’s products deployed against them. The department also asked if NSO would “shut down access to its products if the U.S. government informs them that there is an unacceptable risk of the tool being used for human rights abuses by a particular customer?”

On May 13, 2022, Tania Hanna, the head of L3Harris’s government relations department, requested a meeting with Matthew Borman, a top Commerce Department official overseeing the blacklist.

Days later, a lawyer from the firm representing L3Harris, Covington & Burling, requested a meeting with Commerce Department officials that “involves an issue that is important from a U.S. and Israel national security/foreign policy perspective.”

A meeting was scheduled for June 15 between Mr. Borman and David Kornick, the president of L3Harris’s Intelligence and Cyber division, according to an email exchange. Because of extensive redactions in the Commerce Department documents, it is unclear whether the meeting took place. A Commerce Department spokesman declined to comment.

The negotiations between L3Harris and NSO got so far that the two parties put together a draft agreement, with plans to finalize the deal in June of last year, according to a copy of the agreement and emails reviewed by The Times.

There was a parallel discussion going on about NSO’s fate in Israel.

Senior officials in Mossad and the Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic intelligence service, wanted to nationalize the company so that it could continue selling its products to Israeli intelligence.

Naftali Bennett, the Israeli prime minister at the time, supported selling NSO to L3Harris.Credit…Ahmad Gharabli/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The prime minister at the time, Naftali Bennett, instead decided to support NSO’s sale to L3Harris, but on the condition that NSO would be free to sell its products to Israeli intelligence agencies.

What the Israelis didn’t know was that there was already stiff opposition inside the White House to the L3Harris deal. When news of the potential acquisition leaked on the site Intelligence Online, White House officials went public with their opposition, and said they would push to block any sale of NSO to a defense contractor with national security clearances. The L3Harris deal was dead.

But the secret contract for access to the phone-tracking tool was not. Cleopatra Holdings still makes monthly payments to Gideon Cyber Solutions for continued access to Landmark.

Israel’s cabinet has approved the creation of a national guard proposed by the far-right security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who is being accused of trying to establish his own “private militia”.

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NATO chief Stoltenberg demands Russia release US journalist | AFP

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg demands the “immediate release” of US journalist Evan Gershkovich, who has been detained in Russia on suspicion of spying. “His arrest is of great concern. It is important to respect freedom of the press, the rights of journalists and their rights to ask questions and to do their job,” he says. SOUNDBITE

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