Russia bans several messaging apps for ‘not complying with law’

Russia bans several messaging apps for ‘not complying with law’
Russian communications regulator has blocked four platforms, including BlackBerry, Line and Imo messengers as well as Vchat video service. The services have failed to comply with Russian law, according to the regulator.

The messengers are unavailable any more in Russia, the country’s main media watchdog, Roskomnadzor, confirmed Tuesday.

The addresses of these services on the register of restricted websites, the press secretary of body, Vadim Ampelonsky, told RIA Novosti.

Under Russia’s data privacy law passed last year, all companies processing the personal data of Russian citizens are obliged to store it on servers within the country’s borders for a half of the year and provide it to law enforcement if necessary. The regulator sends the companies a request to comply with the law and therefore approves or bans their services.

According to Roskomnadzor’s website, three of the blocked services – BlackBerry Messenger, Line and Vchat, were added to the restricted list on April 28. Imo was banned 10 days earlier, on April 18.

Earlier in April Roskomnadzor blocked Zello app, that works like a walkie talkie on smartphones. The app had more than 400,000 active users in Russia, according to the regulator.

Last year world’s largest business and employment oriented social network LinkedIn became the first foreign company blocked by the regulator after it failed to comply with the rules. The company, which had around 5 million people registered in Russia, has tried to settle the issue with the officials, but the sides failed to come to any agreement and the network remains blocked.

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Putin, Modi to join session hosted by NBC’s Megyn Kelly at St. Petersburg economic forum

Putin, Modi to join session hosted by NBC’s Megyn Kelly at St. Petersburg economic forum
Russian President Vladimir Putin, Indian PM Narenda Modi and other top officials will discuss ways of adapting to the challenges of the global economy in a plenary session of the international economic forum in St. Petersburg that kicks off on June 1.

The guests of the forum are expected to exchange opinions on key economic issues and discuss global trends at the 21st edition of the event, which is themed: “Achieving a New Balance on the Global Stage.” Former Fox News star and current NBC host Megyn Kelly was chosen as a moderator of an all-round discussion at the forum’s main session that is scheduled to be attended by both Putin and Modi, the forum’s organizer, Roscongress Foundation, said in a statement.

Earlier in March, India’s Ambassador to Russia Pankaj Saran revealed that Modi is hoping to have a bilateral meeting with Putin on the sidelines of the forum.

“Yes, we hope that Putin and Modi will hold a meeting. Prime Minister Modi will be the guest of honor at the forum,” Saran told RIA Novosti.

In an interview with RT in January, when the preparatory work for the forum was already in full swing, the director of Roscongress Foundation, Aleksandr Stuglev, said that over 200 experts had been recruited by the organizers to work on a permanent basis on its program. Overall, about 1,000 people have been engaged in arranging the event, Stuglev said, adding that many of the guests who were present at the Davos World Economic Forum in January would come to St. Petersburg.

The topics on the events’ agendas will also partially overlap.

“There is no doubt that the participants at the Davos forum are among them and the program parts which are being discussed at Davos will be reflected in St. Petersburg as well,” Stuglev told RT.

READ MORE: Russian economy to grow 2% this year – economic development minister

In 2016, a total of 12,000 business representatives, political and economic leaders, members of foreign delegations, journalists and other guests hailing from 133 countries flocked to the forum. Over 300 events took place under its aegis, featuring 600 speakers and moderators. Over 40 Russian and over 60 foreign high-ranking officials, including Italy’s Prime Minster Matteo Renzi, former UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, President of the European Commission Jean Claude Juncker and other dignitaries were among its participants.

Apart from being a platform for dialogue between representatives of global political and economic elites, the event also boasts a huge potential for deal-making. Last year, 356 deals were struck on its sidelines, with the sum of those that are not subject to commercial secrecy totaling over $17 billion.


German Defense Ministry probes possible far-right terrorist cell in Bundeswehr – media

German Defense Ministry probes possible far-right terrorist cell in Bundeswehr – media
Germany’s defense minister has canceled a visit to the US to focus on the arrest of an army officer suspected of planning a racially motivated attack. Authorities believe the man was part of a network of up to five people, according to German media.

Ursula von der Leyen was scheduled to travel to New York and Washington DC on Wednesday and Thursday for meetings with US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and UN officials.

However, she canceled the trip to focus on the arrest of a German army officer referred to as Franco A., who is suspected of planning a right-wing terrorist attack.

Germany’s chief federal prosecutor’s office said on Tuesday there were “preliminary indications of preparations for a serious attack against the state.”

The 28-year-old officer was arrested in the German city of Hammelburg last week, on suspicion of hiding a gun in a bathroom at Schwechat airport in Vienna.

Investigators later discovered he had used a fake identity to successfully register as a Syrian refugee, despite not speaking any Arabic, raising concerns that he was attempting to carry out an attack to frame refugees.

Defense Ministry officials have since found Nazi memorabilia, swastikas, and Nazi symbols at the barracks where Franco A. was stationed, according to various media reports.

Bild has reported that police also found a “death list” allegedly compiled by the suspect, which included left-wing anti-fascist activists.

A 24-year-old student and alleged co-conspirator in possession of explosives was also arrested last week, with prosecutors saying that both men harbored “xenophobic views.”

However, the 24-year-old may not have been Franco A.’s only co-conspirator. Germany’s Hannoveriche Allgemeine newspaper reported on Tuesday that the Defense Ministry now believes Franco A. was part of a network consisting of up to five people.

Meanwhile, Germany’s Armed Forces Association (Bundeswehrverband) and political opponents have lashed out at von der Leyen after she told ZDF on Sunday that the country’s army has an “attitude problem” and “clearly has a weakness of leadership on several levels.”

“No one can understand how a defense minister can walk away from the match and criticize her own team, so to speak,” Armed Forces Association spokesman André Wüstner told broadcaster MDR on Tuesday, describing the comments as “unbelievable.”

Those thoughts were echoed by Rainer Arnold, defense policy spokesman for the Social Democrats (SPD), who demanded an apology from the defense minister.

“That she accuses the whole army of having an attitude problem leaves me speechless. Every honest soldier feels insulted,” Arnold said, as quoted by the Local.

The investigation surrounding Franco A. has been handed over to the office of Germany’s chief federal prosecutor, with a spokesman on Tuesday citing “preliminary indications of preparations for a serious attack against the state.”


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