U.S. sanctions delay Russian passenger jet by a year: Rostec CEO

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Serial production of Russia’s first post-Soviet mainline commercial aircraft will be delayed by a year due to U.S. sanctions, the head of state-owned industrial conglomerate Rostec said on Monday, Russian news agencies reported.

Russia hopes the MS-21, a twin-engine, medium-range passenger plane, will give Boeing and Airbus a run for their money. Three prototypes have been built and Rostec said on Monday the plane had been set to enter serial production at the end of this year.

But Sergei Chemezov, Rostec’s chief executive, said production would not now start until the end of 2020 due to U.S. sanctions.

The sanctions have cut off imports of components from the United States and Japan needed to make the plane’s wings and part of its tail fin, Russian officials have said previously.

Chemezov said Russia would now have to make the necessary components itself and that would take time.

“Due to the Americans stopping deliveries of composite materials (for the wings) we are moving to make our own composites,” the Interfax news agency cited Chemezov as telling reporters at the IDEX military exhibition in Abu Dhabi.

“The timeline of when we can start serial production is shifting a bit. We were meant to start producing several planes as part of serial production towards the end of this year, but now it will be towards the end of 2020.”

Russia’s Aeroflot has agreed to lease 50 of the new planes and Moscow has said Syria is in talks about buying the new aircraft.

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Russia unveils Kalashnikov’s new kamikaze DRONE

Kalashnikov’s kamikaze drone: Russia unveils unmanned weapon capable of carrying a 6.6lb bomb at up to 80mph and ‘bypassing air defence systems’

  • The KYB (Cube) drone showcased for first time at IBEX arms exhibition in Dubai
  • Drone from Kalashnikov can ‘bypass air defence and deliver 6.6lbs of explosives’
  • Clip shows unmanned military flying machine exploding as it reaches its target

Russia has unveiled its new and deadly kamikaze drone after it ‘successfully completed’ trials.

The latest precision weapon from arms giant Kalashnikov ‘delivers explosives to any terrain, bypassing systems of air defence’, officials claim.

The KYB (Cube) drone – with a maximum flying time of just 30 minutes – was showcased for the first time at the international IBEX arms exhibition in Dubai.

A video shows the unmanned military flying machine exploding as it reaches its target.

Russia has unveiled its new and deadly kamikaze drone after it ‘successfully completed’ trials

The latest precision weapon from arms giant Kalashnikov it ‘delivers explosives to any terrain, bypassing systems of air defence’

A video shows the unmanned military flying machine exploding as it reaches its target

The Russian drone flies at speeds of between 50 and 80 mph and can carry a payload of explosives up to 6.6lbs, say its manufacturers

The Russian drone flies at speeds of between 50 and 80 mph and can carry a payload of explosives up to 6.6lbs, say its manufacturers.


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‘This is an extremely precise and very effective weapon, incredibly hard to fight by traditional air defence systems,’ said Sergey Chemezov, head of Rostec, a Russian state giant in charge of development strategic arms companies.

‘The explosive can be delivered to target regardless of how well hidden it is.’

It operates ‘regardless of hidden terrains, at both high and low altitude’, he said.

It operates ‘regardless of hidden terrains, at both high and low altitude’, officials have claimed

The drone was developed by ZALA Aero, a daughter company of Kalashnikov Concern, the main arms company

The drone was developed by ZALA Aero, a daughter company of Kalashnikov Concern, the main arms company.

Russia also boasted that it has begun supplying Kalashnikov AK103 third generation assault rifles to Saudi Arabia under a contract signed between the two countries in 2017.

The two countries are also poised to agree the joint production of the AK103 in Saudi Arabia. 

 

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Google ‘satisfies’ Russia after demands the web giant censor searches

Google ‘satisfies’ Russia following demands the web giant censor people’s internet searches

  • Google was fined $7,500 by Russia in 2018 for not complying with regulation law
  • Communications regulator Roskomnadzor has previously called on Google to route citizens’ web search through the government’s filtering system
  • Regulator’s boss says he is now ‘satisfied with results of dialogue’ with Google

Google has ‘satisfied’ Russia following demands that the web giant censor people’s internet searches, it has emerged.

The Russian communications regulator, Roskomnadzor, has made frequent calls for Google to route citizens’ web searches through the government’s filtering system. 

But the regulator’s boss Alexander Zharov said today that he is now ‘satisfied with the results of the dialogue’ with the California-based tech company. 

Google is said to have ‘satisfied’ Russia following demands that the web giant censor people’s internet searches 

Earlier this month, it was claimed that Google had reportedly agreed to start censoring searches in Russia after years of refusing to cooperate with the country.

This suggested that Google would now comply with Russian law passed in 2017, that requires any websites banned by the government to be omitted from search engine results.


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It was reported that Google would be working alongside Roskomnadzor, who currently work to block sites including child pornography, drugs and suicide.

However, according to the Moscow Times, Roskomnadzor is widely criticised for being a mouthpiece for the government for its perceived favouring of state censorship.

The supposed independent body has previously been found to have blocked access to corruption investigations against government ministers.

Google was fined $7,500 by Russia in 2018 for not complying with regulation laws.

Alexander Zharov, the head of the Russian Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor) said today that he is now ‘satisfied with the results of the dialogue’ with the California-based tech company

Last week, local paper Vedomosti reported that Google had already began deleting 70 percent of the sites blacklisted by the Russian government.

It was claimed that said 175 requests had been made by Russian officials to delete specific sites, in a Google Transparency report from last-year.

Russia also accounted for 75% of all global requests to delete content, according to the report.

According to Sky, Google has declined to make an official comment over its relationship with Roskomnadzor. 

The the company has said: ‘We’re committed to enabling access to information for the benefit of our users in Russia and around the world.’ 

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Russia steps up Idlib strikes after Sukhoi jet downing

Observatory group says at least 68 attacks hit area near where fighter jet was shot down in early hours of Sunday.

    Russia has launched a series of air attacks in the area where one of its fighter jets was shot down by Syrian rebels on Saturday, leaving dozens of fighters and civilians dead, according to Syrian activists and Russian officials.

    The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a UK-based monitor of Syria’s civil war, said at least 68 attacks hit Idlib province in the early hours of Sunday morning, following about 35 attacks on Saturday.

    It said at least five people had been killed and thousands of civilians had fled the area to avoid getting caught up in the bombardment. 

    The White Helmets, an opposition rescue group, reported 21 civilian deaths in villages surrounding the site of the downed Sukhoi 25 jet, but it was unclear whether its toll included those on the SOHR tally.

    Earlier, the Russian defence ministry claimed to have killed at least 30 fighters in air attacks, who it said were responsible for shooting down the fighter jet.

    The pilot of the Sukhoi was killed after being ejected from the aircraft by rebel fighters, including members of the Hay’et Tahrir al-Sham group, commonly known as Tahrir al-Sham.

    The group is spearheaded by the former al-Nusra Front, which used to be al-Qaeda‘s branch in Syria.

    Analyst Richard Weitz of the Hudson Institute told Al Jazeera it was too early to say how exactly the plane was brought down.

    “Some reports say it was brought down by machine-gun fire. There’s a couple of reports out there saying it was shot down by a missile but rebels are not known to have surface-to-air missiles with this kind of range,” he said.

    The Russian plane was shot down above Idlib province, which is one of the so-called de-escalation zones set up in Syria last September in an effort to scale back the conflict.

    However, bombardments from Syrian government forces and their Russian allies have continued.

    Hospitals, markets and bakeries across Idlib province, believed to be the largest remaining rebel-held area in Syria, have been hit by government air raids.

    Tens of thousands of civilians have fled the area, which is home to more than two million people, most of them internally displaced.

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    Washington names Boris Nemstov Plaza as a message to Kremlin

    The Kremlin critic died three years ago; now his name graces the plaza right in front of the Russian embassy in Washington, DC.

      As investigations continue into what role Russia has played in US domestic politics, it’s safe to say that many politicians are not fans.

      Some members of congress have sent a barbed message to Moscow by installing a new street sign in Washington, DC, right in front of the Russian embassy.

      It commemorates Boris Nemstov, a Kremlin critic who was murdered three years ago.

      Many see this move as a message to Russia that the world is watching.

       

      Al Jazeera’s Patty Culhane from Washington, DC.

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      Dachshund, schipperke among breeds to advance to final at Westminster Dog Show

      NEW YORK (Reuters) – A longhaired dachshund, a Havanese, a schipperke and a bouvier des Flandres triumphed at Monday’s group competitions at the 143nd annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in the lead-up to the big day – competition for Best in Show.

      Almost 3,000 high-pedigree dogs were groomed for victory this year in the most prestigious title in the rarefied world of dog breeding.

      The two-day event at Madison Square Garden drew challengers from all 50 U.S. states and 14 other countries, including Russia, Mexico, Brazil, Canada and Japan.

      Dogs are divided into seven groups: hounds, toys, non-sporting, herding, working, sporting and terrier. The dogs that emerge victorious from each of the groups then vie for the Best in Show trophy on Tuesday.

      Burns, a longhaired dachshund, won the hound group on Monday.

      His handler, Carlos Puig, showed the dog’s great-grandfather 21 years ago, who was the first and only long-haired dachshund to win the group in 1998.

      Judge Patricia Craige Trotter, asked what she liked about the hounds group winner, said: “What’s not to like?”

      Puig said Burns will retire after tomorrow’s challenge and that winning the group was “the icing on the cake.”

      Burns, one of this and last year’s biggest crowd-pleasers, will spend his days in retirement doing therapy work with his owner in Louisiana.

      A schipperke named Colton scored another surprise win in the non-sporting group, beating long-time favorites such as the common poodle and the bichon frise.

      Six-year-old Colton dazzled the crowd with his thick coat of black hair and cheeky grin.

      “It’s his favorite thing in the world, showing,” said Christa Cook, who showed him in the Madison Square Garden ring. “He just turns it on and all I have to do is walk him around.”

      Asked how they would celebrate, Cook said emphatically: “We’ll sleep!”

      Bono, a Havanese, and Baby Lars, a bouvier des Flandres, won the toy and herding contests, respectively.

      Dogs from the sporting, working and terrier groups will compete on Tuesday night, with the three winners joining Monday’s finalists in the competition for top prize.

      Flynn, a fluffy bichon frise from Michigan, took home the Best in Show trophy at last year’s competition.

      The Westminster Kennel Club’s contest is the second-oldest U.S. sporting event, behind only the Kentucky Derby horse race.

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      Russia vows not to shoot dozens of polar bears terrorising Arctic town

      Russia vows not to shoot dozens of polar bears after they invaded an Arctic town and ‘chased terrified residents’ amid fears plan to relocate predators will end in disaster

      • More than 50 polar bears invaded town on Novaya Zemlya archipelago in Russia
      • Russian officials are preparing an urgent operation to remove the predators
      • They have vowed not to shoot animals and will transport them to new location
      • But a WWF expert in Russia warned plan to relocate them will not end in disaster 

      Russia has vowed not to shoot dozens of polar bears terrorising an Arctic town amid fears a plan to relocate the predators will end in disaster.

      Officials are preparing an urgent operation to sedate and remove the 52 bears after they invaded Belushya Guba on Russia’s Novaya Zemlya archipelago and started ‘chasing’ frightened locals.

      The beasts will be transported a long distance away from the town – but critics of the scheme warn they could rapidly come back.

      Extraordinary pictures and video show how people are living in fear in the settlement with polar bears stalking apartment blocks and scavenging at dumps.

      Russia has vowed not to shoot dozens of polar bears terrorising an Arctic town amid fears a plan to relocate the predators will end in disaster. More than a dozen polar bears are pictured searching through a pile of rubbish amid a state of emergency and fears that the animals no longer feel scared of patrols

      Invasion: A polar bear prowls inside a building, one of more than 50 of the endangered animals who have been terrorising residents in a remote Arctic archipelago in Russia 

      The head of the local settlement said that Russia’s nature conservancy agency Rosprirodnadzor – which bans slaughtering the endangered wild animals – is sending a team to the remote islands to sedate and move the animals.

      ‘We have introduced a state of emergency in the settlements for an unlimited time,’ said Zhigansha Musin.


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      ‘We asked Rosprirodnadzor to provide us with people. They will catch the bears.

      ‘The predators will be put to sleep and taken out of the settlement. We will not shoot them. We already have a group of four people.’

      The operation to clear the town of polar bears should begin within days after the specialists fly in on Tuesday, he said.

      Aggressive: A polar bear at a playground on the Novaya Zemlya archipelago in northern Russia, with parents left worried about sending their children to schools and kindergartens

      Lurking: One of the polar bears, who cannot legally be shot because they are endangered 

      On Sunday his deputy Aleksandr Minayev warned that residents are ‘afraid to go outside’ and ‘daily life is in turmoil’.

      ‘Parents are wary of letting children to go to schools and kindergartens,’ he said.

      Footage shows the bears entering apartment blocks.

      But a WWF expert in Russia blamed the country’s defence ministry – which controls the territory around the settlement – for failing to act sooner.

      And he forecast the plan to move the bears would end in disaster.

      ‘Everyone knew this might happen,’ said Mikhail Stishov, WWF coordinator for Arctic biodiversity projects.

      ‘There are many more polar bears on shores because of lengthy absence of ice.

      ‘They come to the shore, attracted by human settlements which they specially like when the rubbish disposal system is not set up properly.’

      Archipelago authorities had known a problem was coming, he said.

      But the Defence Ministry earlier banned WWF experts from visiting the restricted military area, he said.

      Presence: Two of the dozens of polar bears regularly spotted in the area. People are ‘afraid to go outside’ and ‘daily life is in turmoil’, a local official said 

      He warned: ‘It’s not at all cheap and easy, to sedate and move them away.

      ‘We have to transport them really far, because if we just take them some 20, 30 kilometres they will be be back very soon to an area which they know has food.

      ‘So we are talking about a minimum of a two or three hour flight to the other side of the island.

      ‘And of course it will be next to impossible to move all 50 bears. But if the scientists identity a pack of leaders, or the most daring bears, then taking just them away might be worth trying.

      ‘The experts who will travel there have all necessary equipment and means to solve the problem.’

      Alexey Kokorin, head of the WWF climate programme, said: ‘These are males, because females and cubs are hibernating.

      ‘But in fact both males and females see humans for just one thing – food.

      Playground: One of the animals roams around a Russian yard on the Arctic archipelago 

      ‘I think there is no other animal like polar bears that so deliberately chases humans.

      ‘Once they see these strange-looking two-legged seals, they know ‘Ok, this is food’.’

      Musin said: ‘I have been in Novaya Zemlya since 1983, yet I’ve never seen such a massive polar bear invasion.’

      The animals are ‘literally chasing people and even entering the entrances of residential buildings’.

      Shooting in the air, sounding car horns and erecting fences have all failed so far to quell the bar invasion.

      Russian laws forbid the slaughter of polar bears except in specific cases where they attack humans.

      The besieged town is five miles from a Russian military base.

      Some experts say climate change is to blame for the bears behaviour – because the ocean is no longer frozen. 

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      Venezuela's funds transfer blocked, opposition lawmaker says

      CARACAS (Reuters) – A bank in Portugal has blocked Venezuela’s attempt to transfer $1.2 billion to Uruguay, a lawmaker said on Tuesday as the opposition to President Nicolas Maduro warned of the theft of public funds, while the United States sent food and medical aid to the Venezuelan-Colombian border.

      Pressure is building on Maduro, a socialist, to resign amid an economic crisis marked by widespread shortages and hyperinflation, with the United States and a growing number of other nations recognizing opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate president.

      Pope Francis on Tuesday expressed willingness for the Vatican to mediate Venezuela’s mounting crisis if both sides seek it. Russia, which along with China has backed Maduro in the crisis, underscored its view that the crisis can be resolved only with negotiations between the government and opposition.

      Guaido, who declared himself interim president last month, is scheduled to meet later on Tuesday with business leaders at Venezuela’s main business group, Fedecamaras, to discuss an economic recovery plan under a future transition government in the OPEC-member South American country.

      Maduro’s adversaries have warned that Venezuelan officials are seeking to drain state coffers ahead of a potential change of government.

      Portugal-based Novo Banco halted the $1.2 billion transfer of Venezuelan government financial assets to Uruguayan banks, legislator Carlos Paparoni said during a congressional session, a day after Guaido said authorities were trying to move funds.

      “I’m pleased to inform the Venezuelan people that this transaction has until now been halted, protecting the resources of all Venezuelans,” Paparoni said.

      Venezuela’s Information Ministry, which handles all media inquiries, did not immediately respond to a request to comment.

      Lisbon-based Novo Banco, which is 75 percent-owned by U.S. private equity firm Lone Star Funds, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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      Major European nations including Britain, Germany, France and Spain joined the United States on Monday in recognizing Guaido, while members of a separate regional bloc, the so-called Lima Group, kept the political heat on Maduro.

      In power since former President Hugo Chavez’s death in 2013, Maduro has been accused by critics of running the OPEC nation of 30 million people like a dictatorship. Critics have called last year’s disputed presidential vote in which Maduro won re-election a sham, and the mainstream opposition boycotted it.

      Trucks carrying food and medical supplies sent by the United States to be stockpiled until it can be brought into Venezuela will arrive later this week at Guaido’s request and will be prepositioned at the main Colombian-Venezuelan border crossing at Cucuta, U.S. officials with knowledge of the plan said.

      It is unclear how the supplies will get into Venezuela without Maduro’s blessing and cooperation of the Venezuelan military, which has remained loyal to his government and is stationed on the Venezuelan side of the border.

      VATICAN INTERVENTION

      The pope, speaking to reporters aboard his plane while returning from a trip to Abu Dhabi, confirmed that Maduro had written a letter to him but said he had not yet read it. Maduro told Italian broadcaster Sky TG24 on Monday that he had sent the letter to the pope “for help in the process of facilitating and reinforcing dialogue.”

      Asked about a possible direct mediation effort by the Vatican, the pope said, “I will read the letter and see what can be done, but the initial condition is that both sides ask for it. We are willing.”

      Given the failure of previous rounds of dialogue, including one led by the Vatican, opponents are suspicious, believing Maduro uses them to quell protests and buy time.

      U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to address the Venezuela situation in his annual State of the Union address in Washington later on Tuesday.

      Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the Venezuela crisis could be solved only by getting the authorities and opposition to talk to each other, Russia’s RIA news agency reported.

      “We continue to believe that the only way to exit this crisis is by sitting the government and opposition down at the negotiating table,” Lavrov was quoted as saying by RIA. “Otherwise it will simply be the same regime change that the West had done many times.”

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      U.S. suspends weapons treaty compliance with Russia, may withdraw in six months

      WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States will suspend compliance with the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia on Saturday and formally withdraw in six months if Moscow does not end its alleged treaty violations, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday.

      The United States would reconsider its withdrawal if Russia, which denies violating the landmark 1987 arms control pact, came into compliance with the treaty, which bans both nations from stationing short- and intermediate-range, land-based missiles in Europe.

      “Russia has refused to take any steps to return (to) real and verifiable compliance,” Pompeo told reporters at the State Department. “We will provide Russia and the other treaty parties with formal notice that the United States is withdrawing from the INF treaty, effective in six months.

      “If Russia does not return to full and verifiable compliance with the treaty within this six-month period by verifiably destroying its INF-violating missiles, their launchers, and associated equipment, the treaty will terminate.”

      Some experts believe the collapse of the INF treaty could undermine other arms control agreements and speed an erosion of the global system designed to block the spread of nuclear arms.

      The United States alleges a new Russian cruise missile violates the pact. The missile, the Novator 9M729, is known as the SSC-8 by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

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      The treaty required the parties to destroy ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of between 500 and 5,500 km (310 to 3,420 miles). Last week, the head of Russia’s military’s missile and artillery forces said the new missile’s maximum range fell short of the treaty’s lower limit.

      Russia says the missile’s range puts it outside the treaty and has accused the United States of inventing a false pretext to exit a treaty that it wants to leave anyway so it can develop new missiles. Russia also has rejected a U.S. demand to destroy the new missile.

      “America really wants to develop new weapons systems which are in breach of this treaty,” Konstantin Kosachyov, senior Russian lawmaker, wrote on social media, saying the alleged Russian violation of the treaty had been a convenient pretext.

      European officials are especially worried that collapse of the treaty would again make Europe an arena for nuclear-armed, intermediate-range missile buildups by the United States and Russia.

      NATO SUPPORT

      A few hours before Pompeo’s announcement, the NATO Western security alliance issued a statement saying it would “fully support” the U.S. withdrawal notice.

      Speaking before Pompeo’s announcement, German Chancellor Angela Merkel emphasized the importance of using the six months window to keep talking.

      Formal U.S. withdrawal could give the Pentagon new options to counter Chinese missile advances but experts warn the ensuing arms race could greatly escalate tensions in the Asia-Pacific.

      The United States will notify Russia on Saturday of its plan to pull out in six months, a senior U.S. official told reporters, describing this as “one final chance” to comply with the agreement but saying Washington doubted Moscow would do so.

      The official said the administration had begun to deliberate whether extend the “New Start” arms control treaty, which went into effect in 2011 and required both nations to cut their deployed strategic nuclear warheads to no more than 1,550, the lowest level in decades.

      That treaty, which also limits deployed land- and submarine-based missiles and nuclear-capable bombers, expires in February 2021, can be extended by five years if both sides agree.

      U.S. President Donald Trump’s presidency has been dogged from its inception by allegations – which Moscow denies – that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. election to help his candidacy. U.S.-Russia frictions are at their worst since the Cold War ended in 1991 despite Trump’s desire for better ties.

      In a statement issued on Friday, Trump suggested ties could improve markedly if Russia were willing to compromise on arms control, saying all sides must live up to such agreements.

      “We stand ready to engage with Russia on arms control negotiations … and, importantly, once that is done, develop, perhaps for the first time ever, an outstanding relationship on economic, trade, political, and military levels,” he said.

      Senator Bob Menendez, the senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, accused Trump failing to grasp the importance of arms control treaties or of having a wider strategy to control the spread of nuclear weapons.

      “Today’s withdrawal is yet another geo-strategic gift to (Russian President) Vladimir Putin,” he said in a statement.

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      Daylight robbery: Russian police detain suspect after bold gallery heist

      MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian police said they had detained a suspect after a painting was stolen from a Moscow gallery on Sunday, when the thief strolled unchallenged past visitors who mistook him for an employee.

      Red-faced officials said security would be stepped up at the State Tretyakov Gallery following the theft of “Ai Petri.Crimea”, which was removed from a temporary exhibition that had not been fitted with alarms.

      Police said on Monday they had arrested a 31-year-old suspect. The TASS news agency cited a police interview in which he denied committing any crime.

      The picture, by landscape artist Arkhip Kuindzhi and depicting a mountain in Crimea, was recovered on a building site after a tip-off. Completed in 1908 shortly before Kuindzhi’s death, it is valued at around $1 million, state TV said.

      The theft refocused attention on security at the gallery, which made headlines in May after a man damaged one of the most famous paintings there – “Ivan the Terrible and His Son Ivan on November 16, 1581”, by Ilya Repin – with a metal pole.

      “For us Muscovites this is shameful,” Ludmila Gavrina, a visitor said on Monday. “Something needs to change.”

      Vladislav Kononov, an official at the Ministry of Culture, told reporters the painting had not been damaged and that all pictures at the gallery would henceforth be fitted with sensors and alarms.

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