Because of the emergency on board, the plane landed in Omsk.

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Because of the emergency on board, the plane landed in Omsk.

Because of the emergency on board, the plane landed in Omsk.

She had been noticed by her unnatural walk.

A woman in Russia has gone through a difficult walk, smuggled almost two kilograms of gold in her shoes and was arrested for it. As a spokeswoman for the local customs authority said on Tuesday, the Russian was noticed at a border post in Sabaikalsk, not far from China, because she was conspicuously nervous and “behaved suspiciously”.

“The young woman put one foot in front of the other in an unnatural way,” said agency spokeswoman Marina Boiko. During a search, eight gold pieces with a total weight of 1.9 kilograms were found in the suspects’ shoes. “The bars were taped to the insoles of their shoes,” Boiko said. The value of the gold was estimated at more than five million rubles (71,000 euros).

Since the Russian could not show the necessary papers for the precious metal, she was arrested. The law enforcement authorities accuse her of trying to smuggle the gold across the border on behalf of a Chinese. 

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 According to Boiko, Russians have been arrested for gold smuggling since the beginning of the year. In August, for example, a Russian woman hid ten gold bars in her sneakers. Gold is mined in many places in Siberia.

Sources used: AFP news agency

Moscow (dpa) – The devastating fires in Siberia continue to spread. In the past few days, more forest fires have increased over an area of ​​680 square kilometers, the agency Interfax reported, citing the forest authorities.

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Particularly very remote areas are threatened, in which the emergency services can only extinguish with difficulty due to the distances.

For weeks, huge forest fires have been raging in the taiga, the forest belt in Siberia that is important for the global climate. The areas of Irkutsk, Krasnoyarsk and Yakutia are particularly affected. An area the size of North Rhine-Westphalia has already burned down – more than 30,000 square kilometers. In addition, the dangerous billows of smoke travel hundreds of kilometers through towns and villages.

Thousands of emergency services and the military are fighting the conflagration. With fire-fighting planes and special equipment, the specialists are on duty around the clock and have already achieved minor successes. Environmentalists believe it could be months before the situation normalizes.

Moscow (dpa) – Environmentalists in Russia are warning of serious forest fires in the largest country on earth in the next few months. They fear that a disaster like last summer could repeat itself.

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“This year the situation is much worse because of the weather conditions,” said fire protection expert Grigori Kuksin from the Greenpeace organization in Russia. “In winter there was no snow and spring came early.”

The first fires have already occurred in some regions of Russia. In many cases, according to the Ministry of the Environment, they were caused by humans. In spring, villagers traditionally burn leaves and dry grass. In many regions, however, it is currently very dry – and such fires quickly spread to the surrounding area. The forest fire season will probably last longer this year because of the early start, said Kuksin of the German press agency.

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In the summer of 2019, severe fires raged, especially in the forests of Siberia. The taiga was also affected. This is an important forest belt for the world climate. According to estimates by Greenpeace based on state satellite data, a total of 15 million hectares fell victim to the flames. That is more than a third of the area of ​​Germany.

Poisonous smoke lay over many villages and towns. People complained of difficulty breathing. Because of the thick smoke it was hardly light. Residential houses were usually not directly threatened by the fires because large areas of Siberia are not inhabited.

The then Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev provided the affected regions with six billion rubles (around 74 million euros) in emergency aid at the end of 2019. The money should be put into better surveillance and protection of forests. In addition, the capacities for fire fighting missions from the air should be increased.

Russia is not better prepared this time, but environmentalist Kuksin is convinced. The government is not making more money available on a permanent basis to prevent future fires. “There were many promises, but they were not fulfilled,” said the head of the fire protection program at Greenpeace. Important legislative initiatives have not yet been implemented.

According to Greenpeace, it takes more than ten years for a forest to recover, depending on the type of tree. Environmentalists estimate that the fires last year alone killed around a billion animals such as insects and larger forest dwellers.

In Siberia, fires in forests and on steppes occur again and again in summer. Last year, due to the drought, they were more severe than in previous years. According to the Ministry of the Environment, further developments will also depend on whether people comply with fire regulations and how quickly local authorities can detect and put out fires.

Russians traditionally light countless campfires in summer. Some get out of hand. Perhaps people are now more careful and would also help the fire brigades more with extinguishing, says Kuksin. “We now hope that our work will change the way people think a little bit.”

The Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is in a coma. A poison attack does not seem to be ruled out. Because there are many similar cases. The most important things at a glance.

It is still unclear whether the Russian opposition member Alexej Navalny will survive the emergency, because of which he has been in a Siberian hospital since Thursday. His team suspects a poison attack, doctors have denied it so far, but have allegedly not yet made a diagnosis. The family and employees want to fly him to Germany for treatment as soon as possible. Read the answers to the most important questions here.

What exactly happened on Thursday?

Navalny was in Siberia for his political campaign in the past few days. On Thursday he wanted to fly back to Moscow from Tomsk. At the airport there everything seemed to have been okay. According to his spokeswoman, Navalny had a cup of tea there. Photos of eyewitnesses show the activist sitting in a cafe in the airport, on the bus shuttle to the plane he was persuaded by young people to take a selfie.

The dramatic events then took their course on the flight to Moscow. According to the spokeswoman, Navalny suddenly complained of nausea. There are video recordings from the cabin of a man screaming in agony. Doctors with medical kits hurry down the aisle. Because of the emergency on board, the plane landed in Omsk. An ambulance took Navalny to the hospital. His condition at the time of admission was critical and, according to the attending physicians, he was fighting for his life.

Oppositionist Alexej Navalny with his family in 2019: The Kremlin critic is in a coma, a poison attack is suspected. (Source: Sergei Bobylev / TASS / imago images)

Was it a poison attack?

So far it has been difficult to judge. Undoubtedly, there are numerous cases in which Russian opposition and dissidents are most likely attacked or murdered by government agencies, including many poison attacks. Navalny had already been rushed from prison to hospital last year – he and his doctors had suspected poisoning at that time too.

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Little is known about the current incident. Navalny’s team suspects a poison attack. According to their statements, the police have found a “deadly agent” in the immediate vicinity that is also dangerous for bystanders. That’s why protective suits for doctors and visitors were ordered.

The doctors deny this information: “So far, no poison has been found in the blood and urine,” said the deputy chief doctor of the hospital in Omsk. Navalny has a “metabolic disorder” due to low blood sugar levels. Traces of “industrial chemical substances” were found on the patient’s clothes and fingers, but they were not related. Wife and brother describe the alleged diagnosis as a series of symptoms. The cause is completely unclear.

Excludes poisoning: Anatoly Kalinichenko, deputy chief physician of the No. 1 outpatient hospital in Omsk. (Source: Evgeniy Sofiychuk / AP / dpa)

To what extent the information provided by doctors is reliable is unclear. When Navalny came to the hospital last year, the treating Sklifosofski Institute also only spoke of a “severe allergic reaction”. A similar diagnosis was made in the case of a member of the band “Pussy Riot”. In the Berlin Charité, however, poisoning was found to be a very likely cause of the disease in that case.

Is the Russian State Murdering Dissidents?

That is very likely. At least numerous members of the opposition, dissidents, journalists and ex-spies die in attacks or under unexplained circumstances. Poison attacks in particular have a long tradition since the Soviet Union. Very often there are traces leading to the secret services up to the very top of the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin. It is considered unlikely that such attacks would be carried out without the consent of the former KGB officer. 

The list of victims of suspected poisoning attacks alone is almost too long to be listed here:

Georgi Markow (1978): The opposition Bulgarian writer died in London from a fatal dose of ricin. A passer-by had given it to him on the street with a kind of umbrella. The suspicion fell on the Bulgarian secret service with the support of the KGB.

Viktor Yushchenko (2004): The then opposition candidate and later President of Ukraine fell seriously ill. Doctors discovered dioxin poisoning three months later. Yushchenko’s face still bears traces of poisoning to this day. He ran against the pro-Russia candidate Viktor Yanukovych.

Alexander Litvinenko (2006): The former Russian agent and Kremlin critic died in exile in London from poisoning with highly radioactive polonium. Previously, he had had tea with Russian businessmen and ex-KGB agents Dmitri Kovtun and Andrei Lugovoi. Investigators blame Moscow, which denies any responsibility.

Doubts about the official version: Navalny’s wife Julia and the head of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, Ivan Zhdanov. (Source: Evgeniy Sofiychuk / AP / dpa)

Alexander Perepilitschni (2012): The Russian businessman died in 2012 while jogging near London. An examination commissioned by his life insurance company two years later revealed traces of poison in his stomach. Perepilichni was a possible key witness in the affair of the death of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in 2009, for which Russian officials are also believed to be responsible.

Emilian Gebrew (2015): The Bulgarian arms manufacturer fell seriously ill and barely survived. Years later, following an assassination attempt, journalists from the research portal “Bellingcat” uncovered with the “Spiegel” that a killer squad from the Russian secret service GRU was behind it.

Sergei Skripal (2018): The former double agent and his daughter Julia were exposed to the neurotoxin Novichok developed in the Soviet Union in Salisbury, England. Both narrowly escaped death, as did the first police officer on the scene. A 44 year old British woman died. Investigators blame the Russian government