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Russia closes airspace above Syrian coast

MOSCOW:Russian warships kicked off naval exercises near the coast of Syria, a message in the international notification for aviation personnel (NOTAM) and navigational warning for seafarers said.

The message contains coordinates of the closed area and states the fact of firing exercises. The area of the exercises located in international waters of the Mediterranean is adjacent to the sea border of Syria. It will be closed on April 11-12, April 17-19 and on April 25-26 from 10 to 18 Moscow time.

Russia currently has about 15 warships and logistics vessels of the Black Fleet in the Mediterranean Sea, including Admiral Grigorovich and Admiral Essen frigates(they carry Caliber cruise missiles), as well as submarines.

According to The National Interest, the US Army is likely to use AGM-86B and Tomahawk cruise missiles, as well as F-22 Raptor fighters and B-2 Spirit bombers in the event the US administration decides to attack Syria. The publication also said that Russian S-300 and S-400 missile systems would not be able to intercept these weapons of the US Armed Forces.

Russia

US strikes in Syria without UNSC mandate a violation of international law:Putin

MOSCOW:The US and its allies struck civil and military facilities in Syria, violating the UN Charter and international law, Russian President Vladimir Putin said, responding to the American-French-British intervention in Syria.

Washington launched “an aggression against a sovereign state which is at the forefront of the fight against terrorism,” the statement from the president said. Putin stressed that the multi-national strikes were not sanctioned by the UN Security Council, and were carried out “in violation of the UN Charter and principles of international law.”

What’s more, the current escalation of the Syrian crisis has “a devastating impact on the whole system of international relations.” Yet, history will set things straight as “it has already found Washington responsible for massacres in Yugoslavia. In fact, by using force, Washington is only prompting a new wave of asylum-seekers from Syria and the whole region, according to the Russian leader.

Meanwhile, Russia is calling an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss the aggressive actions of the US and its allies, the statement concluded.

Washington and its allies unleashed the bombardment in the early hours of Saturday in retaliation for the alleged chemical attack by the Assad government in the town of Douma, 10 kilometers from Damascus, last week. The strikes were conducted before a team of investigators from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was due to reach Douma to determine whether the attack had indeed taken place.

Syrian air defense systems have intercepted the majority of cruise missiles and air-surface missiles from the allies, the Russian Defense Ministry said earlier, adding that none of its own air defense units were involved in repelling the attack. According to the latest data from the Russian MoD, Syria intercepted at least 71 cruise missiles out of the 103 launched by the allies on Saturday.

Supreme Leader of Iran Ali Khamenei harshly criticized the airstrikes on Syrian soil, branding the leaders of the UK, US, and France “criminals.” He added that the attack will not result in any “benefits,” recalling the US-led operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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Veteran liberal Yavlinsky opposes presidential election boycott

ST.PETERSBURG(RUSSIA):Presidential candidate Grigory Yavlinsky of the liberal party Yabloko has urged voters not to dismiss their right to participate in elections, adding that boycotts inevitably fail to produce any results.

We should not go on strike, we should vote, because this is our right. If we all stay at home simply nothing would ever happen. I think it is wrong to participate in the boycott – we must go and cast our votes,” Yavlinsky said during a campaign meeting with voters in St. Petersburg.

The idea of an elections boycott, dubbed “the voters’ strike,” is being promoted by Russian anti-corruption blogger turned opposition politician Alexey Navalny. He turned to this tactic in December last year, after his own application for the March 2018 presidential race was rejected by the authorities as Russian law forbids people with unserved criminal convictions to run for official state posts.

Back then, Navalny released a video address in which he stated that he and his allies would not dissolve their election headquarters but would use them for the promotion of ideas seeking to undermine voter turnout as well as general trust in the country’s political system. He also called upon other would-be participants of the race to quit as a sign of protest, but none has so far done so.

The Russian presidential election is scheduled for March 18 this year. Apart from Yavlinsky, there are seven other registered candidates in the race: incumbent President Vladimir Putin, founder and leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia Vladimir Zhirinovsky, farm magnate Pavel Grudinin, who is backed by the Communist Party, Sergey Baburin of the All-Russian People’s Union, Maksim Suraikin of the minor leftist party Communists of Russia, business ombudsman Boris Titov, proposed by his own Party of Growth, and TV host and magazine editor Ksenia Sobchak, backed by the Civil Initiative party.

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“Western meddling in Russian presidential elections”

MOSCOW:Russia has evidence of interference of the Western countries in Russia’s domestic affairs, namely, in presidential elections, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova stated. According to her, this is a difference between statements of Moscow and other groundless accusations of Russian hackers and mysterious Russian influence on elections in other countries, RIA Novosti reports.

“There is tangible information on destructive influence of some European countries,” Zakharova said. She has also called those who are trying to influence the elections’ outcome for stopping this activity. The Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman has noted that otherwise “we will have to take tough counter-measures, including public reaction.»
Note that Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation Sergei Lavrov has claimed that there are constant attempts of interference into Russian elections, the American Embassy having a finger in the pie too. Foreign diplomats are constant participants of meetings organized by the opposition, the Foreign Minister has explained. He has added that the head of state has many times gave examples of such meddling.
As the Russkiy Mir Foundation website reported earlier, the US State Department has blamed Russia for the fact that some candidates failed registration at the elections on political grounds. Russian Embassy in US has underlined that such statements are groundless and politicized. Besides, the Russian Embassy has claimed that the US State Department’s doubts on democratic character of the Russian elections are unsound.

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