Entries in Kremlin (3)


Russia Denies Link to Alleged Agent Busted in the US

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(MOSCOW) -- The Kremlin has denied any links to companies recently blacklisted by the U.S. for their alleged involvement in a complex scheme to smuggle sensitive technology from America to the Russian military and intelligence agencies.

"None of them supplied anything to us," Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Rogozin told reporters Friday, according to Russia's RIA Novosti.

"This latest row -- thank the Americans -- is a slap in the face for those in Russia who think that foreigners will help us," he added, going on to say that Russia is committed to making its own advanced technology.

Federal officials announced Wednesday they had arrested Soviet-born Alexander Fishenko, who was accused of working in the U.S. as an agent of the Russian government and being at the center of a Russian "military procurement ring." The ring allegedly worked for years to trick U.S. customs agents into believing his company was shipping harmless goods -- like traffic light parts -- to Russia, rather than advanced microelectronics that could be used in military applications including radar and surveillance systems, weapons guidance systems or detonation triggers. The ring also allegedly provided microchips to a specialized electronics laboratory run by the FSB, Russia's powerful intelligence agency and successor to the KGB.

In addition to Fishenko, 10 other suspects working in the U.S. and in Russia were indicted for their alleged role in the scheme and 165 companies and people were added to the Department of Commerce's "Entity List," where they will face licensing restrictions for allegedly "facilitating" Fishenko's operation.

"As alleged in the indictment, the defendants spun an elaborate web of lies to evade the laws that protect our national security," U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said in a Department of Justice release Wednesday. "But U.S. law enforcement detected, disrupted and dismantled the defendants' work."

Documents provided by the DOJ allege that Fishenko was the link between the Houston-based Arc Electronics, Inc., which he founded in 1998, and Apex Systems, L.L.C., of which he is a part owner, based in Moscow. To get the microelectronics from the U.S. and into the hands of Russian spies or military officers, Arc allegedly used other corporations as intermediaries and provided false information about what the parts were and where they were going.

At one point the firm went as far as claiming it was a "traffic light manufacturer," even though the company doesn't manufacture anything, the DOJ said in a release. In another instance, a suspect in the ring ordered a Russia-based company to make sure documents showed that maritime parts were for a fishing boat rather than for "anti-submarine ones." "Then we'll be able to start working," the suspect said, according to court documents.

In late 2011, the DOJ said several of the defendants tried to cover their tracks by destroying documents and deleting any references to the Russian military in emails.

"In this day and time, the ability of foreign countries to illegally acquire sensitive and sophisticated U.S. technology poses a significant threat to both the economic and national security of our nation," Houston FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen Morris said. "While some countries may leverage our technology for financial gain, many countries hostile to the United States will seek to improve their defense capabilities and to modernize their weapons systems at the expense of U.S. taxpayers."

The charges come as U.S.-Russian relations dipped to a recent low after the Russian government expelled the U.S. Agency for International Development, accusing it of meddling in Russia's internal affairs. Russia has also voiced its displeasure with a set of human rights sanctions being pushed by Congress that would slap visa bans and asset freezes on several Russian officials allegedly tied to the death of whistle-blowing lawyer Sergey Magnitsky, who died in police custody in 2009.

Earlier this week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov suggested that the "re-set" in relations between Moscow and Washington, which the Obama administration proposed shortly after taking office in 2009, could not last forever.

"If we talk about the 'reset,' it is clear that, using computer terminology, it cannot last forever. Otherwise it would not be a 'reset' but a program failure," Lavrov told Kommersant newspaper in an interview.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Rock Stars Take on the Kremlin to Defend Jailed Punk Group

ANDREY SMIRNOV/AFP/Getty Images(MOSCOW) -- Rock artists including Sting, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Franz Ferdinand, and Faith No More have decided to challenge the Kremlin over its detention of an all-female Russian punk rock band.

Five members of the band called Pussy Riot were detained in February after they performed an anti-Putin song, jumping up and down at the altar of Moscow’s Christ the Savior Church. The group, clad in their trademark colored baklavas and spandex outfits, sang about a divine intervention that would remove President Vladimir Putin from power.

Three members of the group have been held in jail without a trial ever since. Officials recently announced their pre-trial detention has been extended until 2013. They face charges of “hooliganism on the grounds of religious hatred,” which could result in up to seven years in prison.

In a statement on his website today, the singer Sting waded into the controversy, joining with Amnesty International in calling for release of the punk rockers.

“Dissent is a legitimate and essential right in any democracy and modern politicians must accept this fact with tolerance. A sense of proportion – and a sense of humor – is a sign of strength, not a sign of weakness. Surely the Russian authorities will completely drop these spurious charges and allow the women, these artists, to get back to their lives and to their children,” Sting said in a statement ahead of his concert later in the day in Moscow.

Amnesty International has called the detained rockers “prisoners of conscience.”

During a concert in Moscow last weekend, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Franz Ferdinand took up the group’s cause from the stage. Anthony Kiedis, the lead singer for Red Hot Chili Peppers, wore one of the band’s shirts on stage and Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand dedicated a song to the group and to “all of those musicians that end up in jail for just saying what they think.”

Kapranos doubled down on Twitter, responding to a Russian who said the group mocked Russian traditions. “Russia’s traditions are strong and you should be proud of them. When you’re strong it means nothing if someone mocks you,” he tweeted.

Earlier this month, members of the American rock group Faith No More sported colored baklavas in solidarity with the group during a concert in Moscow.

Supporters of the Russian rockers have also appealed to pop diva Madonna, who will play a concert in Moscow next week, to take up their cause. Madonna has already caused some controversy over her plans to denounce St. Petersburg’s harsh new anti-gay law when she performs there on Aug. 9.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Anonymous Attacks Kremlin Website After Putin's Inauguration

JEAN-PHILIPPE KSIAZEK/AFP/Getty Images(MOSCOW) -- The hacker group Anonymous has struck again, this time targeting the Kremlin's website just days after Vladimir Putin's inauguration.

The site was down for about an hour on Wednesday.  Anonymous claimed responsibility, saying it targeted Russian government websites in solidarity with the country's opposition movement.  The group had vowed to take down the sites last Friday.

The Russian news agency Interfax reported that a spokesman for the Kremlin’s Internet service confirmed that the site was under attack and that other government sites had been affected as well.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio