Tag Archives: India

Putin to hold Q&A marathon on 2014 geopolitical paradigm shift

The much anticipated Q&A marathon by the Russian President is expected to be heavy on economics and politics following major geopolitical shifts this year. Some 1,200 journalists will attend the event with RT broadcasting it live for intl audiences.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is holding a press conference on pressing issues of the day, including the economic turbulence and volatility of the national currency, at noon on December 18. This is the 10th annual press conference to be held by the Russian President. Similar formats in the past lasted normally up to several hours.

It concerns over the state of the Russian economy in direct confrontation with the West and the governments’ response to the crisis that some 1,200 international journalists will likely seek to tackle first.

“It is clear that the economy will be the first thing that will be asked,” Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Rossiya 24 TV news ahead of the big event. He said that the Kremlin expects questions “on the situation in the economy, the situation with the ruble, prices, measures that the leadership of Russia have in mind to tackle these.”

Since the beginning of 2014 the ruble has fallen almost 50% against the US dollar. In an effort to halt the devaluation of the national currency the Central Bank has raised its key interest rate to 17 percent, a measure that was not enough to effectively stop the volatility. At the same time, the price of food products in retail chains in the past year in Russia rose by up to 25 percent and it is feared that in the first months of 2015 prices could rise even further.

Putin will also likely discuss the tense geopolitical situation in the world that has been shaped following the Ukrainian turmoil and civil war and Crimea’s referendum to join Russia. Peskov called 2014 an “unusual” year in terms of “a paradigm shift in the international system,” something that the Russian President plans to elaborate even further.

The hostilities in Ukraine are expected to remain one of the main topics of discussions as a ceasefire in Donbas announced by Kiev last week is barely holding up. Meanwhile accusing Moscow of “aggression” in Ukraine, NATO countries has not only slapped Russia with economic sanctions but also stepped up military presence on the Russian borders.

And the biggest question of all is how Russia will react if further sanctions are introduced by the US and the EU.

In preparation for the Q&A session, Putin has been actively seeking expert opinion from a number of government ministers, analysts and advisers. Peskov says, that the Russian leader is prepared for any possible question.

“The press conference is always a place where the president can be asked any questions,” he said, highlighting that the President will answer uncensored questions, summing up the events of the outgoing year.

The live Q&A press conference was first held in 2001 and hosted over 500 journalists. Since then it continued annually until 2008, when Putin became Russia’s Prime Minister. It was then reintroduced in 2012 after Putin was re-elected President.

In his previous key public address Putin made a strong stance against US-led attempts by the West to weaken Russia during his state of the union address to the Federal Assembly earlier in December.

Make sure to tune in to RT live coverage – on RT.com and YouTube channels, including RT French – to stay on top of the Russian leader’s remarks as they will be brought to you live at 9:00 am GMT.

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Flight MH370 families start fund to uncover truth about vanished jet

A Chinese relative of passengers on Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 prays in front of candles.

Not satisfied with the lack of progress being made on locating Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, relatives of passengers are planning to launch a $5 million fundraising campaign aimed at triggering another investigation.

According to a report by USA Today, the campaign will seek $3 million to reward a whistleblower for coming forward with new information and $2 million for private investigators to look into any other leads that emerge.

The campaign has been dubbed “Reward MH370: The Search for the Truth,” and will officially launch on Monday through the crowd-funding website Indiegogo. Composed of families from the United States, Australia, France, India, and New Zealand, the campaign does not include the participation of Chinese or Malaysian families, whose relatives were the primary travelers on the plane.

As for why these families decided they needed to start such an effort, American Sarah Bajc – whose partner, Philip Wood, was on the plane when it disappeared – said it’s necessary considering the failure to locate the plan up to this point.

“We are taking matters into our own hands,” Bajc told USA Today. “There is no credible evidence” the plane is somewhere in the southern Indian Ocean. “I’m convinced that somebody is concealing something.”

Although Bajc is certainly not alone in feeling that way, these accusations have been denied by officials conducting the search.

“Nothing important is being concealed in any way,” said Angus Houston, the head of Australia’s joint agency managing the search. “My approach has always been to be as open as I could possibly be.”

Houston acknowledged that not all the information is out in public just yet, but that a complete review is underway and should be finished sometime in June.

Meanwhile, Malaysian officials have also denied that transparency is an issue, though the country’s acting transport minister, Hishammuddin Hussein has stated that “requests made by next-of-kin and international media cannot be accommodated 100%.”

While Bajc is hopeful and believes outside action must be taken, she is also cautioning those who donate. Even if the campaign is fully funded, results are not guaranteed.

“Granted, $2 million in investigation services won’t go very far,” Bajc told USA Today. “Clearly, they’ve already spent $100 million, and they’ve gotten nothing. But we’re not going to approach it with boats in the ocean. We’re going to approach it with human intelligence.”

As far as the official search goes, the US Navy’s deputy director of ocean engineering Micheal Dean said at the end of May that the four pings believed to have been coming from MH370’s black box were actually coming from an unrelated source. As RT reported then, Dean said there was no evidence suggesting the pings came from the black boxes, and the international group charged with finding the plane halted its search for debris in the suspected area of the Indian Ocean.

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Missing Malaysia Plane Forces Countries to Weigh Security Secrets

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The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 launched an international hunt for any sign of the plane, causing dozens of countries to wrestle with putting aside national security and military secrets to try and find the plane.

After Malaysia admitted that its civilian air radar lost contact with the plane early Saturday morning, attention quickly turned to more advanced methods of detection, including military radar and satellites.

Now, all of the countries involved in the search – numbering at least 25 – are wrestling with how to share helpful information without giving away data that could threaten their safety later.

  • Malaysia was accused of being coy with satellite and radar data in the early days of the investigation, not releasing key radar data showing the plane’s turn-around until four days after the disappearance. The Minister of Foreign Defense said that the country was willing to put its own national security aside to try and find the plane.
  • Thailand waited 10 days after the plane disappeared to mention publicly that its military radar detected a plane that may have been Flight 370. Thai authorities said they didn’t share the information earlier because they weren’t specifically asked for it.  
  • China’s proposal to send four warships to help search for the plane was in jeopardy by India, which said it didn’t want to allow Chinese military access to its strategic Andaman and Nicobar islands, where India has a military base, according to the Times of India.
  • As the search moved from the South China Sea and Strait of Malacca to the Indian Ocean off Australia, Australian authorities would not describe what satellite imagery they used to determine where to search for plane wreckage. Australian and U.S. military have satellites controlled from Australia, but the investigators would not answer questions about the satellites due to proprietary state secrets.
  • The search has also forced countries with tense relationships to work together, including the United States, Pakistan and Iran. As U.S. investigators focused on hijacking as a possible cause for the disappearance, they quickly vetted two Iranian nationals who used fake passports to get on the plane, casting suspicion that Iranian terrorists had hijacked 370.
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Rights group urges India, Qatar action on over 450 migrant deaths

64644India came under pressure on Friday over the deaths of over 450 nationals in almost two years in Qatar, the host of the 2022 World Cup.

Amnesty International called on the Indian government to release more information about the deaths amid criticism over safety and working conditions of migrants in Qatar’s construction community,

AFP reported. On average about 20 migrants died per month, peaking at 27 in August last year. There were 237 fatalities in 2012 and another 218 in 2013 up to December 5.

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