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Ukraine conflict: more cases of trafficking and torture than previously thought

Human rights groups have received thousands of reports of ill treatment from both the pro-Russian and Ukrainian sides in the ongoing conflict. Representatives are due to meet in Minsk for the first time in weeks. German broadcaster "Deutschlandfunk" reported on Wednesday that more than 4,000 cases of ill-treatment and trafficking have been documented by human rights organizations during the ongoing Ukrainian conflict. The figure is likely to be even higher, however, with civilians as well as members of military associations among the victims. "We can show that 4,000 people have been held hostage last summer," said Oleksandra Matwitschuk of the Centre for Civil Liberty. According to the report, the vast majority of disappearances and ill treatment took place at the hands of pro-Russian separatists. Russian citizens - 58 of whom were identified by name - were also arrested and suffered ill treatment, the Center said. Enforced disappearances and torture by the Ukrainian side were also reported, although there is no systematic recording process in place. Converted torture prisons Interviews with victims and witnesses, which were recorded by a composite of 17 Ukrainian human rights organizations, will be forwarded to the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague. At least 79 torture prisons have been identified by human rights organizations in the so-called people's republics of Lugansk and Donetsk, with the engineering institute of the University of Lugansk also being converted into an illegal prison. Social Democrat (SPD) and Russia representative for the German government, Gernot Erler, responded to the figures, saying he hoped for a legal line of action. "Exemption from punishment must be avoided," Erler told "Deutschlandfunk." Contact Group meets in Minsk The report on Wednesday came as Minsk prepared to hold another round of meetings on settling the Ukraine crisis. The Contact Group, which consists of representatives from Ukraine, Russia, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the self-proclaimed republics, last met in the Belarusian capital on April 29. More than a year has passed since Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists from Donetsk and Luhansk agreed to a settlement in Minsk which contained 13 provisions. The settlement is actually known as Minsk II, because the first ceasefire lasted only a few months. Although there are currently no large-scale battles being fought, there is also no total ceasefire. Two-year conflict The crisis first erupted following a deadly popular uprising that started in the winter of 2013. The revolt ultimately ousted former pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych, sparking a pro-Russian separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine. Russia followed up by annexing the Crimean Peninsula in March 2014. Western allies have repeatedly accused Moscow of supporting pro-Russian separatists in the region with troops and weapons - claims which Russia continues to deny. According to UN figures, almost one million people have been internally displaced by the conflict and more than 500,000 children directly affected.

Human rights groups have received thousands of reports of ill treatment from both the pro-Russian and Ukrainian sides in the ongoing conflict. Representatives are due to meet in Minsk for the first time in weeks. German broadcaster “Deutschlandfunk” reported on Wednesday that more than 4,000 cases of ill-treatment and trafficking have been documented by human rights organizations during the ongoing ... Read More »

Russia’s love for damn lies and statistics

Opinion polls can make or break a government but in Russia they are used very differently - as part of a strategy to manufacture consensus. Fiona Clark reports. The headline on Russia's Sputnik news website states that "One Third of Europeans and Americans Consider Crimea Part of Russia." The finding comes from a poll commissioned by the Kremlin-owned news agency asking residents in several European countries and the US on who they thought the peninsula belonged to. Around 1,000 were questioned in each country and the results showed that 26 percent of US and French residents thought Crimea was now Russian territory while 32 percent of Dutch, 33 percent of Brits, 37 percent of Germans and 39 percent of Italians agreed. Sputnik's story claims this is evidence of a gradual change of heart by the west, moving away from its refusal to recognize the referendum in which 97 percent of Crimeans who voted were in favor of breaking away from some 20 years of Ukrainian rule and reuniting with Russia. It sites UK academic Richard Sakwa, a Professor of Russian and European politics at the University of Kent, as saying Westerners are coming to "an acceptance that the overwhelming majority of the Crimean people did want to rejoin [sic] Russia." But since there is no previous poll to compare it to we can't assume there has been any change of heart. And, in line with the old adage 'damn lies and statistics,' you can look at it from the other side - 74 percent of Americans and French don't agree Crimea belongs to Russia along with around 66 percent of Europeans. And of course the result you get in any poll depends on what question you asked - which wasn't stated in the Sputnik story. But asking "who does Crimea belong to" and "do you agree that Crimea is legally part of Russia" or "should Crimea remain part of Russia" could yield very different results. Terrific timing The timing of the poll is interesting as various French and Italian politicians have recently voiced concerns over the West's ongoing sanctions against Russia, claiming it's time they were lifted. They say President Vladimir Putin's counter sanctions are doing more harm to Europe than the West's sanctions on Russia. Russia stopped buying a variety of fresh produce and other goods from Europe after sanctions were imposed on it which is costing farmers across the EU dearly. Russia's economic crisis has also meant that Russian's are now penny pinching and have cut back on foreign travel. They've reduced their holiday spending in Europe by about a third according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). It says Russians spent around $15 billion (13 billion euros) less in 2015 than they did the previous year, down from $50 billion to $35 billion. Fortunately for Europe Chinese travellers have been picking up the slack by spending a massive $292 billion but the loss from Russia is biting traditional summer holiday markets like Spain, Italy and Greece. Crisis? What crisis? The poll, no doubt, is part of an ongoing strategy aimed at showing opinion poll-driven European countries that their voters are not overwhelmingly against Russia and its policies. It's a not-so-subtle version of its domestic practices where the media control is used to manufacture consensus which is reflected and reinforced by opinion polls. An example of the strategy's effectiveness is another recent poll which showed that 56 percent of Russian's hadn't heard about the Panama Papers. Russian's are avid TV watchers so you'd think it would be impossible for that number to have no idea about the financial scandals the papers revealed that implicated 12 former and current world leaders and their own president's inner circle of friends. But the Kremlin's warning of an imminent character assassination attempt on the president and it's strict control over media coverage seems to have worked. Of those who had heard about the allegations against Putin's inner circle, 37 percent thought it would have no effect on the country or its leadership. When asked about why the papers were released 34 percent said they thought they were published with the specific intention of discrediting the Russian president - which is exactly what the Kremlin had said. And just like water off a duck's back the most recent popularity poll showed 84 percent of Russian voters were willing to re-elect Putin as the country's president and 82 percent were happy with his performance as the country's leader. After all, majority rules.

Opinion polls can make or break a government but in Russia they are used very differently – as part of a strategy to manufacture consensus. Fiona Clark reports. The headline on Russia’s Sputnik news website states that “One Third of Europeans and Americans Consider Crimea Part of Russia.” The finding comes from a poll commissioned by the Kremlin-owned news agency ... Read More »

Germany beat Slovakia for first win

It took a while for Germany to get out of the blocks at the Ice Hockey World Championships. But in their third game, the Germans booked an emphatic 5-1 victory over Slovakia. Germany coach Marco Sturm publicly criticized his underachieving team ahead of Tuesday's clash with the Slovaks in St. Petersburg. But he had to wait for his players to show a reaction. Peter Cehlaric put the Slovaks in front with a goal at 8:42 in the first period. But if anything the early deficit seemed to galvanize Germany. Four minutes into the second period, Patrick Hager equalized. That opened the floodgates. Four-and-a-half minutes later veteran Philipp Gogulla put the Germans in front for good, and German Ice Hockey League star Patrick Reimer added another goal five minutes from the end of the period on a power play. In the final period, the Slovaks seemed to resign themselves to their fate, and Germany were happy to inflate the score. Macek Brooks got his name on the scoresheet at 43:45. And five minutes before the end of the game, Dominik Kahun completed the 5-1 victory. The win gives Germany four points in Group B and keeps alive their hopes of qualifying for the knock-out stages. But Sturm and his men face a far sterner test in their next match against defending champions Canada on Thursday.

It took a while for Germany to get out of the blocks at the Ice Hockey World Championships. But in their third game, the Germans booked an emphatic 5-1 victory over Slovakia. Germany coach Marco Sturm publicly criticized his underachieving team ahead of Tuesday’s clash with the Slovaks in St. Petersburg. But he had to wait for his players to ... Read More »

Air raids on makeshift Syrian refugee camp kill dozens

Syrian monitors say at least 28 people have been killed in airstrikes on a makeshift refugee camp close to the border with Turkey. The attack on Sarmada, in Syrian rebel-held territory, follows more deaths in Homs. Wounded were rushed across the border for treatment in Turkey, said the Britain-based Observatory for Human Rights, adding that the death toll was likely to rise. Social media footage showed the charred frames of tents that had been pitched in a muddy field. The Observatory said those killed included women and children. It was not initially clear who had carried out the raids on Sarmada in rebel-held territory in Syria's northwestern Idlib province and about 40 kilometers (25 miles) west of divided Aleppo. Abu Ibrahim al-Sarmai, an activist, said "two aerial strikes" hit the makeshift camp for displaced people. They had been sheltering, he said, from fighting in Syria's northern hub of Aleppo and Palmyra, the heritage city recaptured by Syrian government forces with Russian air support. "The camp took two direct hits. I heard many tents were on fire," he said. Nidal Abdul Qader, an opposition civilian aid official who lives about one kilometer (half a mile) from the camp, said around 50 tents and a school had burned down. Twin bombing in Homs The Sarmada attack came after a twin bombing Thursday in Syria's central province of Homs, in the village of Mukharam al-Fawkani. At least 10 people were killed and scores wounded, according to Syria state media and the regional governor, Talal Barrazi. A car bomb first exploded, then as people gathered, a suicide bomber on a motorcycle detonated his explosives. Syrian state television said four children and three women were among those killed. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. Similar deadly attacks in the Homs area in the past have been claimed by the "Islamic State" group, which earlier this week overran an adjacent gas field. Relative calm in Aleppo Relative calm prevailed on Thursday in Aleppo following a truce announced by US officials in agreement with Russia as diplomats try to extend an increasingly fragile ceasefire agreed in February for much of Syria. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin, vowed that Syrian government forces would fully recapture Aleppo, with is partly held by rebels, and other Syrian cities.

Syrian monitors say at least 28 people have been killed in airstrikes on a makeshift refugee camp close to the border with Turkey. The attack on Sarmada, in Syrian rebel-held territory, follows more deaths in Homs. Wounded were rushed across the border for treatment in Turkey, said the Britain-based Observatory for Human Rights, adding that the death toll was likely ... Read More »

NATO, Russia to escalate troop deployment amid rising tensions

NATO plans to increase its troop deployment along its eastern flank in response to Russian military aggression in Ukraine. Moscow has said it will respond in kind, with deployments that could outnumber NATO 10-1. Tensions are increasing between NATO and Russia as both sides move to increase troop deployments in Eastern Europe. The tit-for-tat troop escalation comes as NATO's new supreme allied commander in Europe (SACEUR) begins his three-year-term. "In today's challenging security environment, trans-Atlantic cooperation is needed more than ever," US General Curtis Scaparrotti said after taking over command from US General Philip Breedlove at NATO headquarters in Belgium. "Even with the end of the Cold War, our NATO alliance [...] remains vital as we face a new set of challenges," he added, identifying one of them as "a resurgent Russia, striving to project itself as a world power." Russian military forces annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014, and Moscow has since supported a separatist movement in eastern Ukraine. The ongoing conflict has killed about 10,000 people, most of them civilians, according to the United Nations. Moscow's military aggression has alarmed some of its former satellite states, particularly the Baltic nations (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) and Poland. In response, NATO has agreed to deploy four "battalion-sized" multinational units on a rotational basis along its eastern flank, according to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. Each battalion could comprise up to 1,000 soldiers. Russian retaliation Andrei Kelin, a department head at Russia's Foreign Ministry, has slammed the proposed NATO deployment, saying the Kremlin would be forced to respond. "This [NATO deployment] would be a very dangerous buildup of armed forces pretty close to our borders," Kelin told the Interfax news agency. "I am afraid this would require certain retaliatory measures, which the Russian Defense Ministry is already talking about." Moscow is considering sending three battalions of its own - each Russian battalion is home to 10,000 soldiers. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said the new divisions would be formed by the end of the year. "The Ministry of Defense has adopted a series of measures to counter the growing capacity of NATO forces in close proximity to the Russian borders," Shoigu said in televised comments on Wednesday. The new divisions are expected to be deployed in military districts close to Russia's borders with Ukraine, Belarus, the Baltic states and Finland as well as Georgia and Azerbaijan. NATO's secretary general has maintained that deployment was in response to Russian aggression. "What we do is defensive, it's proportionate [...] And therefore we will continue to respond," said Stoltenberg on Wednesday. "There can be no doubt that what NATO does is a reaction to the Russian behavior in Ukraine. We didn't have any troops in Baltic countries [...] before the illegal annexation of Crimea and Russia's destabilizing activities in eastern Ukraine."

NATO plans to increase its troop deployment along its eastern flank in response to Russian military aggression in Ukraine. Moscow has said it will respond in kind, with deployments that could outnumber NATO 10-1. Tensions are increasing between NATO and Russia as both sides move to increase troop deployments in Eastern Europe. The tit-for-tat troop escalation comes as NATO’s new ... Read More »

‘Critical hours’ for Syria’s Aleppo, says Kerry

Russia says it is pressing for "silence" in Aleppo after being urged by the US to help end the carnage in Syria's northern hub. Top diplomats are in Geneva, trying to salvage a February ceasefire. A senior Russian official in Syria has urged "all sides" to support a fresh peace initiative as US Secretary of State John Kerry consults Arab ministers and UN peace envoy Staffan de Mistura in Geneva. The head of Russia's coordination center in Syria, Lieutenant General Sergei Kuralenko told Russian news agencies Sunday that talks were underway to establish a "regime of silence" in Aleppo. Rebel-held areas were hit by air strikes after rebels reportedly shelled government-held western areas of the city, according to monitors. Syrian Observatory monitors on Sunday claimed that the regime of President Bashar al-Assad had dropped barrel bombs from aircraft on Castello Road, the only escape route for civilians from Aleppo. At least 253 civilians, including 49 children, have been killed in divided Aleppo sine April 22, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Assad's military said a "regime of calm" or lull applied - with the exception of Aleppo - in Damascus and some of its outskirts, as well as parts of the northwestern coastal province of Latakia. 'War crimes,' says Saudi Arabia Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, while en route to meet Kerry in Geneva on Monday, accused the regime of Assad of committing "war crimes" in Aleppo. Also in Geneva, Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh said the situation in Aleppo - once Syria's thriving northern hub - was "quite alarming." "It's an entire package - the cessation of hostilities, the resumption of negotiations, and the humanitarian access," Judeh said. "All three" had to be acted on simultaneously, he said. Russia's cooperation required Arriving in Geneva, Kerry said the UN Security Council resolutions called for a "countrywide" cessation and access for humanitarian aid convoys. "Obviously that hasn't happened and isn't happening," Kerry said, adding that "these are critical hours" requiring Russian cooperation. "It's a test for the Russians and for the regime, as well as the Syrian opposition," Toner said, referring to talks Kerry had held in recent days. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who with Kerry forged the February ceasefire, was not expected this time in Geneva. Opposition groups want truce as 'bloc' Numerous rebel groups rejected the regime's rhetoric, saying any truce must include all areas of fighting stipulated under the February deal as "one bloc." Excluded from the February deal were jihadist groups such as "Islamic State" and the al-Nusra Front, which remain targeted. Social media tag On social media, a hashtag #AleppoIsBurning has emerged, with protests planned this week. In Lebanon, which hosts more than a million Syrian refugees, a weekend demonstration saw protestors wearing white helmets marked "Civil Defence" to remind the world of rescue workers in devastated Aleppo. Last week, even medical centers were struck.

Russia says it is pressing for “silence” in Aleppo after being urged by the US to help end the carnage in Syria’s northern hub. Top diplomats are in Geneva, trying to salvage a February ceasefire. A senior Russian official in Syria has urged “all sides” to support a fresh peace initiative as US Secretary of State John Kerry consults Arab ... Read More »

Reports: Germany mulls stronger support for NATO mission in Lithuania

Germany may send troops to Lithuania to reassure NATO's Eastern European allies, according to media reports. But Berlin is also wary of provoking Russia with a stronger military presence. The German Defense Ministry has signalled its readiness to step up its support of the military alliance as part a rotating deterrent force against Russia. The decision was confirmed by news agency DPA on Thursday evening following reports that by the news magazine Der Spiegel and the Munich-based daily Süddeutsche Zeitung. Russia's interference in Ukraine and annexation of Crimea has aroused concern among the tiny Baltic States and Poland over Moscow's intentions and aggressive behavior. In response to requests from those member states, NATO is expected at a July summit in Warsaw to finalize the details of the alliance's plan to strengthen combat capability and readiness in eastern Europe. The agreement could see Germany deploy a rotating company contingent of between 150 and 250 soldiers to Lithuania to lead a broader alliance force of some 1,000 rotating troops. US asks allies for greater commitments Germany's commitment was cemented earlier this week during US President Barack Obama's visit to Hanover, where the leaders of Britain, France and Italy also joined discussions on how to strengthen the alliance's eastern front, Der Spiegel reported. That meeting was preceded by a visit to Berlin by Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite. Obama reportedly requested from the larger alliance members a stronger contribution of soldiers and material to bolster NATO's eastern flank. NATO's reassurance to its eastern allies could see about 1,000 troops from the alliance rotating in and out of each of the Baltic States, Poland and Romania. Led by the United States, NATO has already taken steps to reassure its allies, upping the number of joint military exercises and training. In March, the US announced it would deploy a rotating armored brigade to Eastern Europe, bringing the total US army presence on the continent to three combat-ready brigades. The deployment is a part of the so-called European Reassurance Initiative, which is receiving a four-fold increase to $3.4 billion (3.7 billion euros) in the US defense budget next year. The US this week sent two of its advanced F-22 fighter jets based in the United Kingdom to Lithuania in a show of force. Germany wary of provoking Russia The strengthened NATO presence is likely to further enflame tensions with Russia, which views the alliance's encroachment on its border as a major strategic threat. The Süddeutsche Zeitung reported that despite Germany's commitment to put forward troops for a new mission in Lithuania, Berlin also wants to avoid unnecessarily provoking Russia. Germany has reportedly insisted that any new mission be in line with existing treaties between NATO and Russia, particularly a provision that prohibits the permanent stationing of alliance troops on Russia's border.

Germany may send troops to Lithuania to reassure NATO’s Eastern European allies, according to media reports. But Berlin is also wary of provoking Russia with a stronger military presence. The German Defense Ministry has signalled its readiness to step up its support of the military alliance as part a rotating deterrent force against Russia. The decision was confirmed by news ... Read More »

Serbia’s ruling party set to win majority in snap election

Serbian PM Aleksandar Vucic has claimed victory in Sunday's parliamentary election, with exit polls projecting his conservative party winning around half the votes. Pro-Russia far-right parties have also made gains. Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic declared a "historic triumph" in an early parliamentary election on Sunday, with his pro-Europe Progressive Party (SNS) set to win 56 percent of the vote, according to exit polls from CESiD. Ultra-nationalists, who want Serbia to develop closer ties to Russia, are also expected to win seats. "Serbia will continue on its European path and we'll try to accelerate it," Vucic told supporters gathered in the SNS headquarters. "There is no compromising with that." Despite a low turnout early in the day, some 53 percent of the 6.7 million voters cast their ballots in the election. Vucic called the general election halfway through his term, saying he needed four more years to implement reforms and carry forward the Balkan country's bid for a European Union membership. The comfortable majority for Vucic's conservative party in parliament will allow the 46-year-old Vucic to follow through with reforms despite the gains made by the far-right opposition. Vucic's socialist partners are expected to come in second. Pro-Russia coalition Pro-Russia groups are likely to win 10 to 15 percent of the vote after several years without a seat in the country's legislature. The gains of the two far-right parties are expected to weaken the main opposition groups even further. Ultra-nationalist Vojislav Seselj, who heads the Radical Party, said Sunday he could "form a coalition with parties that renounce the European Union and favor integration with Russia." The 61-year-old politician was recently acquitted by a UN court of war crimes charges related to the 1990s Balkan conflict. Frequent elections The vote on Sunday was the third in four years, leaving many Serbians frustrated with the political situation in their country. "We have elections too often," said Jelica Nikolic in Belgrade, speaking with the Agence France-Presse news agency. In the southwestern city of Novi Pazar, Edib Mahmutovic told AFP that he hopes the latest election would "create new jobs that enable us to stay here and not have to look for a better life elsewhere in Europe." Vucic has promised to revive the country's economy, but critics say the Serbian leader's call for a fresh election was an attempt to consolidate his authoritarian rule.

Serbian PM Aleksandar Vucic has claimed victory in Sunday’s parliamentary election, with exit polls projecting his conservative party winning around half the votes. Pro-Russia far-right parties have also made gains. Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic declared a “historic triumph” in an early parliamentary election on Sunday, with his pro-Europe Progressive Party (SNS) set to win 56 percent of the vote, according ... Read More »

Probe begins into deadly crash of FlyDubai flight in Russia

Aviation experts have begun examining the flight data recorders of the FlyDubai flight that crashed on Saturday in Russia. But there are conflicting reports as to whether any data can be recovered from the black boxes. Aviation experts began examining the flight data boxes amid conflicting reports of the quality of the recorded material from the FlyDubai plane that crashed early Saturday at an airport in Rostov-on-Don, killing all 62 people on board. Grainy video of what is supposed to be the plane shows a small ball of flame descending from the sky and then exploding into a giant fireball upon impact. The American made Boeing 737-800, with French-made engines, was attempting a second landing when the plane went out of control and nosedived into the tarmac. The Inter-State Aviation Committee issued a statement saying that the plane's data and voice recorders were heavily damaged in the crash. But Sergei Zaiko, the deputy chairman of the committee, was quoted by Russian news agencies late Sunday as saying that the quality of material on the data recorder was high. Experts from Russia, the United Arab Emirates and France were examining the black boxes in Moscow, according to the aviation commission. Airport remains closed Meanwhile, hundreds of people flocked to the airport on Sunday, the region's largest, to lay flowers and leave candles and toys in memory of the dead. Rostov-on-Don is 600 miles (about 950 kilometers) south of Moscow, and about 70 miles east of the Ukrainian border. The airport remained closed on Sunday as workers repaired the runway, which was left with a big crater as a result of the plane's impact. But officials say they expect to reopen on Monday. FlyDubai's chief executive, Ghaith al-Ghaith said Sunday that the airline would resume flights into city once the airport opens, expressing confidence in the Russian authorities. He also said the downed plane had enough fuel, even though it had been circling for a prolonged period. He defended the decision to try to land, noting that the airport had remained open. But according to news agency dpa, while the FlyDubai fight circled over Rostov-on-Don two other planes - one belonging to Russia's Aeroflot and another to Czech Airlines - were diverted to the airport in Krasnodar 155 miles away.

Aviation experts have begun examining the flight data recorders of the FlyDubai flight that crashed on Saturday in Russia. But there are conflicting reports as to whether any data can be recovered from the black boxes. Aviation experts began examining the flight data boxes amid conflicting reports of the quality of the recorded material from the FlyDubai plane that crashed ... Read More »

Report: Russia still breaking doping rules despite suspension

Russia’s participation in this summer’s Olympics appears increasingly unlikely, after a string of fresh doping allegations were aired in a 30-minute German TV documentary screened on Sunday. The Russian team were suspended from competition in November by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) for widespread and systematic drug violations. But a new documentary by German broadcaster ARD claims the suspension has failed to stop a number of illegal practices. The program shows a Russian coach offering banned testosterone to an undercover reporter via Skype and also includes footage of leading coach Vladimir Mokhnev continuing to train top Russian athletes, despite his suspension. ARD's investigative reporter Hajo Seppelt told DW on Monday morning he doubted whether the Russians had made any real changes. "I don’t think they (the Russian association) are trustworthy," he said. "I still see very big concerns about the credibility of the Russian athletics team." 'Untrustworthy' Currently no Russian athletes are able to compete and Seppelt said they needed to look to their own federation for answers. "I think the athletes in Russia, if some of them are really clean - and I can imagine that a few are really clean - [have] to complain towards their athletics federation, not to the IAAF because they (the IAAF) just follow the rules, which are very clear. If a federation cannot guarantee that the athletes are clean then the federation cannot compete at the Olympics." Clemens Prokop, the President of the German Athletics Federation, called for the international body to take further action, labeling the actions of the Russian "shameful" and the IAAF say they are taking the new allegations seriously. The IAAF issued this statement:. "The taskforce will look carefully into the matters raised by the latest documentaries, including discussing them with representatives of RUSAF (the Russian Track and Field Federation)." Russia's sports minister, Vitaly Mutko, was critical of the German broadcaster before Sunday's broadcast. "It's strange that these films continue," he told Russia's state Tass news agency. "That leads to the thought that it's an attempt to exert influence on organizations which must take important decisions." This summer’s Olympics in Rio start on August 5 and Russia will need to overturn their suspension in order to compete.

Russia’s participation in this summer’s Olympics appears increasingly unlikely, after a string of fresh doping allegations were aired in a 30-minute German TV documentary screened on Sunday. The Russian team were suspended from competition in November by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) for widespread and systematic drug violations. But a new documentary by German broadcaster ARD claims the ... Read More »

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