Train derails en route from Moscow to St. Petersburg

At least 25 people are reported to have died and 63 more injured after a Russian express train traveling from Moscow to St. Petersburg derailed, according to emergency officials cited by RIA Novosti news agency.

The train left the Russian capital at 7 p.m. and went off the tracks in the Tver region, about halfway into the 4.5-hour journey.

Sources report a small crater below the rails where the carriages of the Nevsky Express came off.

The Emergency Ministry said a power outage may have been a possible cause for the crash. Also being looked at are problems with the track. Meanwhile, a terrorism investigation has been launched.

Alive people are reported being blocked under the derailed carriages.

Phone hotline

A phone hotline for relatives and friends of the passengers is now operating.

The numbers are:

  • in St. Peterburg +7 812 457 4905
  • +7 812 436 8813,
  • in Moscow +7 495 626 3707.

The cursed route

It is not the first time such an accident has occurred on the Moscow-St. Petersburg route. On August 13, 2007 a “Nevsky Express” train was derailed in Novgorod region, injuring 60 out of 251 passengers. An explosive device loaded with the equivalent of 2 kilograms of TNT was placed under the rails on a bridge, in an attempt to crash the train into a river below. But the air pressure from the approaching train activated the self-made bomb earlier than planned, derailing 13 carriages after the express passed out of control over the bridge. Two men from Ingushetia were charged with transporting material for the bomb to Novgorod region; one of them is on the federal wanted list for assembling and placing the explosive device under the rail.

In December 2003, an explosion tore through a morning commuter train in the southern Stavropol Region, killing nearly 50 people. Two years later, a passenger train heading from Chechnya to Moscow derailed about 150 km from the Russian capital. 42 people were injured.

Another serious rail accident, although not connected to terrorism, happened in June 2008. 12 people were hurt when a passenger train collided with a freight train in southwest Russia.

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Ten killed, 130 injured in Russia train accident: report

 

Ten people were killed and 130 injured Friday when a train travelling between the Russian capital Moscow and Saint Petersburg derailed, the Ria-Novosti news agency reported.

Ten people were killed and 130 injured Friday when a train travelling between the Russian capital Moscow and Saint Petersburg derailed, the Ria-Novosti news agency reported.

Ten people were killed and 130 injured Friday when a train travelling between the Russian capital Moscow and Saint Petersburg derailed, the Ria-Novosti news agency reported.

NOVEMBER 28 UPDATE

 

Russian court forbids use of death penalty

Members of the Russian Constitutional Court attend a hearing on the death penalty in St. Petersburg. The Court on Thursday ordered that the death penalty cannot be applied in Russia even after January 1 when a moratorium expires.

Members of the Russian Constitutional Court attend a hearing on the death penalty in St. Petersburg. The Court on Thursday ordered that the death penalty cannot be applied in Russia even after January 1 when a moratorium expires.

AFP – The Russian Constitutional Court on Thursday ordered that the death penalty cannot be applied in Russia even after January 1 when a moratorium expires.

The end of the moratorium “does not make it possible to apply the death penalty on Russian territory,” the court’s president Valery Zorkin said in his judgement.

He said the use of death penalty in Russia was now impossible because Russia has signed international protocols banning the application of capital punishment.

Russia has observed a moratorium on the death penalty after the Constitutional Court in 1999 ruled it could not be applied until people all over Russia had access to jury trials. Since then there have been no executions.

But the Caucasus region of Chechnya will be the last Russian region to introduce jury trials from January 1.

Russia is obliged to abolish the death penalty as a member of the Council of Europe. It has signed the corresponding protocol of the European Human Rights Convention but the document has yet to be ratified by parliament.

No way! Czech President digs in heels on EU treaty

euronews channel-The President of the Czech Republic says he will not drop his objections to the Lisbon treaty nor will he ratify it unless it is amended.

Vaclav Klaus re-affirmed his stance after meeting the Russian President outside Moscow.

The charter has been ratified by all other EU nations. Only his signature is missing.

“I fear a deepening of European Union integration,” Klaus said.

The Czech President believes the treaty, aimed at streamlining EU decision-making, will erode the authority of elected national governments.

He wants a partial opt out from it, as well as guarantees that Germans expelled after World War II won’t be able to reclaim their Czech property after the pact goes into effect.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has warned the country could lose its Commissioner if it doesn’t fall into line.

The President isn’t the only stumbling block. The country’s Constitutional Court hears a challenge to the treaty in late October.

But even if that is dismissed, Klaus is expected to stall until next year and the UK election.
Conservative leader David Cameron is in favour of holding a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty if he wins.

Anger in Moscow over local election whitewash

Euronews-Russian riot police quickly broke up a crowd in central Moscow last night as protesters cried foul over local election results.

The landslide victory won by the country’s ruling party “United Russia” which has a near monopoly on power, has angered many voters.

Independent poll watchdog Golos and opposition parties have reported wide spread ballot stuffing and voter intimidation.

Regional, mayoral and district polls were held in 76 of Russia’s 83 regions.

In just about all polls, the Kremlin backed United Russia lead by prime minister Vladimir Putin has emerged the strongest party.

It’s retained power in key locations including the most affluent and populous region Moscow City.

Russian regional poll fails democracy test

Euronews-Russia’s Kremlin-backed United Russia party is reported to be leading in regional elections being held across the country.

With a quarter of ballots counted, the ruling party is said to have around 64 percent of the vote.

But opposition candidates and election observers claim there have been significant irregularities.

Analyst Dmitry Oreshkin said:

“The opposition has been pushed away from the centre, they’re marginalized, they have no access to the media, they can’t even be registered as deputies. They are simply outside the political system of the Russian Federation.”

Two months ago President Dmitry Medvedev said “new democratic times were beginning” and promised to break the near-monopoly of United Russia.

But the independent poll-watchdog Golos has reported violations on the day and in the pre- election campaign.

16 hurt in Russian army beatings

euronews channel-New reports have surfaced about the brutal conditions endured by young soldiers in the Russian army. 16 recruits needed hospital treatment after what officers said was a road crash. But two of them have deserted their base near St Petersburg because they can no longer bear the violence inflicted by their drunken sergeants.

“They woke us at four in the morning and started to beat us,” said deserter Vladimir Romanov. “First me, then all the others. It went on til nine o’clock. Then they told me to bring them 3,000 roubles or they’d kill me.”

An inquiry’s been launched and the prosecutor’s office is yet to decide whether to start criminal action. Investigators say the sergeants could be dismissed from the army if found guilty.

Casual violence is rife in the Russian military. The paper Pravda estimates that 16 per cent of new recruits – 3,000 young men – die or commit suicide in their first year. In 2006, one soldier was so badly injured his legs and genitals were amputated.