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Russia ‘Conflicted’ on How to Mark 100 Years Since Revolutions

Moscow (AFP) – It was the year that ended centuries of royal rule, brought two revolutions, ushered in Soviet domination and changed the course of Russian history irrevocably.

A century later, the country seems unsure how to treat the tumultuous events of 1917 that saw it hurtle from the abdication of the last tsar Nicholas II to a Communist dictatorship in a matter of months.

During seven decades of Soviet rule the seizure of power by the Bolsheviks was celebrated with pomp by the Kremlin and the tsarist regime was demonised.

But after the collapse of the USSR in 1991 there was a u-turn that saw the royal family canonised and public opinion increasingly view the upheavals not as a triumph but as a tragedy that sparked generations of bloodshed and suffering in Russia.

Now, over a quarter of a century after the Communist empire founded by Vladimir Lenin vanished, current leader Vladimir Putin appears to be performing a balancing act.

Some 500 conferences, round tables, exhibitions and art festivals are planned to mark the centenary — but so far, at least, there are no signs that there will be any major fanfare.

“Russian society needs an objective, honest and profound analysis of these events,” Putin said in a speech last year.

“The lessons of history are needed primarily for reconciliation, to strengthen society,” he said, adding that it is “impermissible to let the splits, malice, resentment and bitterness of the past into our life today.”

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A former Soviet-era intelligence officer, Putin has turned himself into what many see as a kind of modern tsar and surrounded himself with a new super-wealthy elite.

A Soviet soldier buys a ticket for the performance of the Seventh Symphony in Leningrad in August 1942

A Soviet soldier buys a ticket for the performance of the Seventh Symphony in Leningrad in August 1942

His mantra has been restoring stability, strength and unity to the country after the upheaval that followed the end of the Soviet Union, and returning Russia to the conservative values of the past.

Following mass anti-Kremlin rallies in 2011-12 and the ouster of the Russian-backed leader of Ukraine by protesters in 2014, authorities have been increasingly wary of any popular revolt that could impact their grip on power. Read the rest of this entry »

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[VIDEO] IT’S HUGE! Giant Black Slug! 

Behold the super-slimy awesomeness that is the Black Sea Hare (Aplysia vaccaria), the world’s largest species of sea slug, weighing up to 30 lbs and measuring over 3 feet long. Black Sea Hares come to shore to lay their eggs and are apparently even slimier to the touch than they look.

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Watch as Coyote Peterson of the Brave Wilderness Channel and tide pool expert Aron Sanchez encounter a spectacular specimen of this colossal gastropod mollusk in a tide pools off the coast of the Pacific Ocean in San Pedro, CA Read the rest of this entry »


NORAD: Russia Increasing Arctic Long Range Air Patrols, Bomber Flights ‘Messaging Tool’

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Russian Bombers More Aggressive Near U.S. Territory

 reports: While Russian military aircraft have stepped up their activity everywhere from the North Sea to the Baltic to the Black Sea in the last year they have also been spotted more frequently closer to the U.S. territory in the Arctic, the head of U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) told USNI News on Tuesday.

In particular – flights of Tupolev Tu-95 Bear ‘H’ Bombers have increased recently NORTHCOM’s Adm. Bill Gortney said.

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NORTHCOM’s Adm. Bill Gortney

“They’ve been very aggressive – under my NORAD hat – for us in the Arctic. Aggressive in the amount of flights, not aggressive in how they fly.”

Since the March seizure of the Ukrainian region of Crimea by Russian forces Moscow has significantly stepped up air patrols in Europe, Asia and near the Americas.

A Russian Tupolev Tu-95 Bear ‘H’ off the coast of Scotland in 2014. UK Royal Air Force Photo

A Russian Tupolev Tu-95 Bear ‘H’ off the coast of Scotland in 2014. UK Royal Air Force Photo

The flights extend as far North as the edge of American air space near Alaska and as far South as U.S. holdings in Guam.

In December, two Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 Hornets intercepted a two Bears near the Beaufort Sea entering a U.S. and Canadian Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ). Read the rest of this entry »


Count Dracula’s Prison to Become Tea Garden

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VLAD THE INFUSER: Vlad III lived between 1431 and 1476. Most historians say he was kept in captivity in Romania. The exact length of his period of captivity is open to debate, though indications are that it was from 1462 to 1474tepes

TOKAT – Anadolu Agency reports: Tokat Castle, where Wallachian Prince Vlad III the Impaler, also known as Count Dracula, is said to have been held captive in the early 15th century, will be turned into a tea garden.

“Tokat Castle is built on sheer slopes for defense and overlooks the city. Later in the Ottoman period, it was used as a prison. Notable prisoners were kept here. It is also rumored that Count Dracula stayed in the dungeon there for seven years.”

Provincial Culture and Tourism Director Abdurrahman Akyüz said the Roman-era castle was believed to have been built in the fifth or sixth century, adding that the castle served as a prison during Ottoman times.

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“Tokat Castle is built on sheer slopes for defense and overlooks the city. Later in the Ottoman period, it was used as a prison. Notable prisoners were kept here. It is also rumored that Count Dracula stayed in the dungeon there for seven years,” he said.

Akyüz said restoration works had been initiated on the castle some time ago with the support of Tokat Gov. Cevdet Can and were still continuing. When the works are done, the castle, located in the Black Sea province of Tokat, will serve as a tourist attraction, he added. Read the rest of this entry »


Russian Spy Ship Docked in Havana

A Soviet-made Lada limousine passes by Russian Vishnya (also known as Meridian) class warship CCB-175 Viktor Leonov, docked, on February 26, 2014, at Havana harbor (AFP Photo/Adalberto Roque)

A Soviet-made Lada limousine passes by Russian Vishnya (also known as Meridian) class warship CCB-175 Viktor Leonov, docked, on February 26, 2014, at Havana harbor (AFP Photo/Adalberto Roque)

Havana (AFP) – A Russian warship was docked in Havana Wednesday, without explanation from Communist Cuba or its state media.

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Obama’s weakness invites aggression

The Viktor Leonov CCB-175 boat, measuring 91.5 meters (300 feet) long and 14.5 meters wide, was docked at the port of Havana’s cruise ship area, near the Russian Orthodox Cathedral.

The Vishnya, or Meridian-class intelligence ship, which has a crew of around 200, went into service in the Black Sea in 1988 before it was transferred seven years later to the northern fleet, Russian media sources said.

Neither Cuban authorities nor state media have mentioned the ship’s visit, unlike on previous tours by Russian warships.

Read the rest of this entry »