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Newsline: Putin orders extra measures to protect Russian diplomats abroad

President Vladimir Putin on Thursday asked the Federal Security Service (FSB) to take additional measures to protect Russian diplomats working abroad. “The horrible crime, the murder of our ambassador in Turkey, has raised the pressing issue of the protection of Russian citizens working at our foreign diplomat missions,” Putin said at a meeting of the FSB board. He said FSB should “take additional measures to ensure security” together with the Foreign Ministry and the Foreign Intelligence Service.


Newsline: US national security adviser resigns after phone calls with Russian ambassador

National security adviser Michael Flynn resigned, citing “incomplete information” that he provided top White House officials about his dealings with the Russian ambassador. “Unfortunately, because of the fast pace of events, I inadvertently briefed the vice-president elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian Ambassador,” Flynn wrote in a public statement. “I have sincerely apologized to the President and the Vice President, and they have accepted my apology.” Trump immediately named Lt. General Joseph Keith Kellogg, Jr., as acting national security adviser, the White House reported. Former acting attorney general Sally Yates warned the White House that Flynn was misleading about the interactions with the ambassador, an official told USA TODAY.


Newsline: Thousands of visa abuses alleged at Hungarian embassy in Moscow

Thousands of business visas were issued by Hungary’s embassy in Moscow in 2013 without proper checks, according to an internal report of the Hungarian foreign ministry. The foreign ministry, wanting to keep the report secret, only published the document on Wednesday after a small opposition green party, the LMP, won a legal battle against the ministry to obtain the report. It was eventually published one week after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Hungary, which highlighted the good relationship between Moscow and Budapest. The report states that between January 1 and November 26, 2013 the Hungarian embassy in Moscow issued 8,481 business visas. Around 40-45 percent of the visas were issued on the invitation of a Hungarian wine company called Monte Tokaj, inviting Russian citizens of unclear financial background and profession to Hungary. Visa applicants’ documents were not properly checked and omitted information such as applicants’ addresses. Processing the visas took only a few hours and did not include personal interviews. As the Hungarian visa is a Schengen visa, giving the owner the right to travel to 25 countries, most of the invited Russians didn’t even enter Hungary but rather travelled to other member states of the Schengen area. The visa allowed them an entry for 90 days over a one-year period. The foreign ministry claims that there had been no similar problems since 2014, as after an internal investigation the controls were tightened at the embassy and the business visa accreditation of Monte Tokaj was withdrawn.


Newsline: Russian diplomats in Syria remain in danger

The actual danger that Russia’s embassy in Damascus may come under attack is not decreasing even amid the ceasefire deal between the Syrian government and the opposition, Russian Ambassador to Syria Alexander Kinshchak said in an interview with TASS. “The establishment of ceasefire on December 30, 2016 had a positive impact on the military and political situation in Syria in general,” he said. “Unfortunately, this does not mean that the security situation of the embassy has automatically improved.” Russia’s embassy in Damascus again came under shelling on February 3, the ambassador said, adding that there was no serious damage to it. “We constantly register shellings in close vicinity to the embassy,” he added.


Newsline: Russia Says Embassy In Damascus Hit By Shelling

The Russian Embassy in the Syrian capital of Damascus was shelled on February 2-3 but no one was hurt, the Russian Foreign Ministry said. It said one of the shells hit the space between an office and residential housing, while another exploded 20 meters away from the entrance. “No one was hurt, but there has been some material damage,” the ministry said, contending that the attack was aimed at derailing the cease-fire and peace process Russia has been pursuing in Syria.


Newsline: Russia Thwarted Attack near French Embassy

Russia’s National Anti-Terrorism Committee (NAC) said there is a drop in terrorist activity in Russia. According to Igor Kulyagin, first deputy director for the NAC, terrorist attacks were thwarted in Moscow, particularly near the French embassy. NAC said that the country “liquidated” more than 140 alleged terrorists working in Russia in 2016. Kulyagin, said at a press briefing in Moscow that more than 140 militants, including 24 leaders, were killed, and more than 900 gunmen and their accomplices were detained last year. Regarding the 2018 FIFA World Cup, which is scheduled to take place in Russia from June 14 to July 15 next year, Kulyagin said Russia will be able to secure the games, citing the country’s experience in organizing past international events and the government’s counter-terrorism measures.


Newsline: Russian embassy uses alternate rhyme to criticise UK Prime Minister

Russia’s UK embassy criticised a speech by Theresa May about Vladimir Putin – through rhyming poetry. The embassy chided the Prime Minister after she called on US President Donald Trump to “beware of” the Russian leader. In a speech delivered on Thursday, Mrs May urged Mr Trump to engage with the Kremlin “from a position of strength.” Her comments appeared to have irked the London-based Russian embassy, who tweeted their response in the form of ABAB poetry. Russian Embassy, UK, wrote that they believed the Cold War to be “long dead.”