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  1. Russia offers its untested COVID-19 vaccine for free to UN officials The World Health Organization declined to comment on whether this was a good idea. Enlarge / Russian President Vladimir Putin address the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, via teleconference call, in Moscow on September 22, 2020. Getty | MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV 125 with 67 posters participating Some United Nations staff are likely brushing up on their Russian—specifically how to say “Thanks, but no thanks” in the nicest way possible. On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin offered UN staff free doses of the country’s COVID-19 vaccine, Sputnik V, which has not completed clinical trials for efficacy and has not been thoroughly vetted for safety. Still, Putin suggested that his offer was prompted by the desire to give the people what they want: “Some colleagues from the UN have asked about this, and we will not remain indifferent to them,” he said during a speech Tuesday at this year’s (virtual) General Assembly. Putin made headlines last month after announcing that Russia has granted regulatory approval for the (limited) use of Sputnik V, the first country in the world to do so. He even boasted that one of his daughters had received her first dose of the vaccine. But public health experts were quickly skeptical of the move, seeing it as merely a political stunt to give the appearance that Russia was “winning” the race to develop a vaccine against the pandemic coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. At the time, the vaccine had only been tested in two small clinical trials, involving just 76 people total—and the data from those small trials had not yet been released. No comment Russian researchers have since published that data in the journal The Lancet. The results indicate that Sputnik V spurred potentially protective immune responses and did not cause any severe side effects. However, outside researchers were quick to note oddities in the data, including that different samples generated suspiciously identical or near-identical results. Sputnik V has now moved into larger trials with tens of thousands of people. These will test whether the vaccine is safe in a larger number of people and actually protects against infection from SARS-CoV-2. But any clear results are months away. The lack of data does not seem to trouble Putin, who was happy to distribute the vaccine to UN staff. “Any one of us could face this dangerous virus. The virus has not spared the staff of the United Nations, its headquarters, and regional entities,” Putin said in a prerecorded speech from Moscow, according to the AP. “Russia is ready to offer UN workers the necessary, qualified help, and in particular we propose to supply our vaccine for free to employees of the organization and its subsidiaries who volunteer for vaccination.” UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told the AP that “We thank President Putin for his generous offer, which will be studied by our medical services.” Dr. Margaret Harris, spokesperson for the World Health Organization, which is an agency within the UN, declined to comment. Russia offers its untested COVID-19 vaccine for free to UN officials
  2. Russia lifts its ban on the Telegram messenger app The ban was mostly ineffective, as Russians found ways to access the app Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge Russia will lift its nearly two-year ban on messenger app Telegram, Reuters reported. The country’s telecom watchdog Roskomnadzor said the company had shown “willingness” to help with counterterrorism efforts. “Roskomnadzor is dropping its demands to restrict access to Telegram messenger in agreement with Russia’s general prosecutor’s office,” the agency said in a statement. A Russian court blocked the app in April 2018, after Telegram refused to share its encryption keys — a means of accessing users’ data — with Roskomnadzor. Telegram has a history of use by terrorist organizations. Its refusal to provide access to encryption keys ran afoul of Russia’s anti-terrorism laws, which require messaging services to give authorities access to decrypt messages. Telegram founder and CEO Pavel Durov said in 2018 that “privacy is not for sale, and human rights should not be compromised out of fear or greed.” But the ban was mostly ineffective and led to a messy back-and-forth, with ISPs blocking 15.8 million IPs on Amazon and Google cloud platforms, which affected Russian businesses that used those services. Russia also blocked internet anonymizers and VPN services that Telegram may have used to hide traffic, according to the Independent. Many Russian agencies and Russians continued to find ways to use Telegram. Earlier this month, Durov said authorities in Russia should lift the ban to let Russian users access the service “with more comfort.” He said the company has improved its tools for detecting and deleting extremist content on the platform. Telegram said in April it had reached 400 million monthly active users, a doubling of its user base in just the past two years. Russia lifts its ban on the Telegram messenger app
  3. from the what-are-you-so-afraid-of dept The Russian government continues to escalate its war on encrypted services and VPNs. For years now, Putin's government has slowly but surely taken steps to effectively outlaw secure communications, framing the restrictions as essential for national security, with the real goal of making it harder than ever for Russian citizens to dodge the Putin government's ever-expanding surveillance ambitions. The latest case in point: starting last Friday, the Russian government banned access to encrypted email service Tutanota, without bothering to provide the company with much of any meaningful explanation: In a blog post, the company notes that Tutanota has been blocked in Egypt since October of last year, and that impacted users should attempt to access the service via a VPN or the Tor browser: "Encrypted communication is a thorn in the side to authoritarian governments like Russia as encryption makes it impossible for security services to eavesdrop on their citizens. The current blocking of Tutanota is an act against encryption and confidential communication in Russia. ...We condemn the blocking of Tutanota. It is a form of censorship of Russian citizens who are now deprived of yet another secure communication channel online. At Tutanota we fight for our users’ right to privacy online, also, and particularly, in authoritarian countries such as Russia and Egypt. Except VPNs have been under fire in Russia for years as well. Back in 2016 Russia introduced a new surveillance bill promising to deliver greater security to the country. Of course, as with so many similar efforts around the world the bill actually did the exact opposite -- not only mandating new encryption backdoors, but also imposing harsh new data-retention requirements on ISPs and VPN providers forced to now register with the government. As a result, some VPN providers, like Private Internet Access, wound up leaving the country after finding their entire function eroded and having some of their servers seized. Last year Russia upped the ante, demanding that VPN providers like NordVPN, ExpressVPN, IPVanish, and HideMyAss help block forbidden websites that have been added to Russia's censorship watchlist. And last January, ProtonMail (and ProtonVPN) got caught up in the ban as well after it refused to play the Russian government's registration games. While Russian leaders want the public to believe these efforts are necessary to ensure national security, they're little more than a giant neon sign advertising Russian leaders' immense fear of the Russian public being able to communicate securely. Source
  4. MOSCOW (AP) — A court in Moscow fined Twitter and Facebook 4 million rubles each Thursday for refusing to store the personal data of Russian citizens on servers in Russia, the largest penalties imposed on Western technology companies under internet use laws. The fines of nearly $63,000 are the first five-figure fines levied on tech companies since Russia adopted a flurry of legislation starting in 2012 designed to tighten the government’s grip on online activity. One provision required tech companies to keep servers in Russia for storing personal information they gather from Russian citizens. Russia’s internet regulator, Roskomnadzor, has tried unsuccessfully for several years to force large companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google to move Russian user data to Russia. Commenting on Thursday’s court rulings, Roskomnadzor said Twitter and Facebook would be fined 18 million rubles ($283,000) each if they don’t comply this year. Last year, Twitter and Facebook were fined the equivalent of $47 each for violating the same personal data regulation. The punishment had no effect on the two companies, so in December Russian authorities increased the fines. The law allows online services that don’t follow the data storage requirement to be banned from Russia. Only the LinkedIn social network has been blocked so far. It is widely understood that blocking Facebook or Google would elicit too much public outrage for authorities to take the step. Source
  5. RuNet disconnection tests were successful, according to the Russian government. The Russian government announced on Monday that it concluded a series of tests during which it successfully disconnected the country from the worldwide internet. The tests were carried out over multiple days, starting last week, and involved Russian government agencies, local internet service providers, and local Russian internet companies. The goal was to test if the country's national internet infrastructure -- known inside Russia as RuNet -- could function without access to the global DNS system and the external internet. Internet traffic was re-routed internally, effectively making Russia's RuNet the world's largest intranet. The government did not reveal any technical details about the tests and what exactly they consisted of. It only said that the government tested several disconnection scenarios, including a scenario that simulated a hostile cyber-attack from a foreign country. The experiment was deemed a success, the government said in a press conference today. "It turned out that, in general, that both authorities and telecom operators are ready to effectively respond to possible risks and threats and ensure the functioning of the Internet and the unified telecommunication network in Russia," said Alexei Sokolov, deputy head of the Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media, as cited by multiple Russian news agencies [1, 2, 3, 4]. Sokolov said the results of the tests would be presented to President Putin next year. Long-planned tests The successful tests are a culmination of multiple years of planning, law-making from the Russian government, and physical modifications to Russia's local internet infrastructure. The tests were initially scheduled for April this year but were delayed until this fall, to give the Kremlin more time to pass an accompanying law. Called the "internet sovereignty" law, it grants the Russian government the power to disconnect the country from the rest of the internet at will and with little explanation, on the grounds of "national security." To do this, the law mandates that all local internet service providers re-route all internet traffic through strategic chokepoints under the management of Russia's Communications Ministry. These chokepoints can serve as a gigantic flip-switch for Russia's external internet connectivity, but they can also function as an internet surveillance apparatus, similar to China's Great Firewall technology, as many privacy advocates have pointed out. Source
  6. MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia no longer plans to block Amazon’s Twitch over piracy allegations after the streaming service took down illegal sports content, Russian news agencies cited communications watchdog Roskomnadzor as saying on Tuesday. A Russian court on Monday blocked Twitch’s access to English Premier League soccer broadcasts after Russia’s Rambler media group said it would sue the Amazon subsidiary for 180 billion roubles ($2.88 billion) over pirate broadcasts. Rambler said there were 36,000 cases in which Twitch had violated its rights to broadcast the soccer games in Russia, the Kommersant newspaper reported on Monday. Rambler acquired the broadcast rights for English Premier League soccer this season from Russian sports broadcaster Match-TV. Source
  7. MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Russian court has blocked access to English Premier League game broadcasts by Amazon’s Twitch after Russia’s Rambler media group said it would sue the video streaming service over pirate broadcasts, the TASS news agency reported. Rambler plans to sue Twitch for 180 billion roubles ($2.82 billion) in a Russian court for what it said were 36,000 cases in which Twitch had violated its rights to broadcast the soccer games, the Kommersant newspaper reported earlier on Monday. The Moscow District Court said it planned to hear the case on Dec. 20. It said it had taken “interim measures” ahead of the hearing, but gave no further details. Amazon did not immediately reply to a request for comment. Rambler confirmed its plans to sue Twitch for damages and said it was holding talks with the service over a possible settlement deal. “Our suit against Twitch is to defend our exclusive rights to broadcast English Premier League matches and we will continue to actively combat pirate broadcasts,” said Mikhail Gershkovich, head of Rambler Group’s sports projects. “We’re currently holding talks with Twitch to sign a settlement agreement. The service has given us tools to combat pirate broadcasts and we are now only talking about compensation for damages between August and November,” he said. The court said it was unable to comment on the size of the lawsuit. “As regards the sum of the (suit), it was proposed by external lawyers who are running this case. The sum is technical and the maximum possible. It will be altered,” Gershkovich said. Source
  8. Russia to pre-install its own apps on all phones, PCs, and TVs sold in the country Russia has officially passed a law banning the sale of electronic equipment that doesn’t have Russian software pre-installed on it. The law — which is set to go into effect starting July 1, 2020 — will force electronic equipment sold in Russia — such as smartphones, computers, and smart TVs — to ship pre-installed with apps from Russian tech firms. The bill was tabled in the parliament earlier this month. The government is expected to publish for each device type a list of Russian software that manufacturers will need to include on devices sold in the country. “The bill provides Russian companies with legal mechanisms to promote their programs and services in the field of information technology for Russian users,” the State Duma, the the lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia, said. “In addition, the bill will protect the interests of Russian internet companies, which will reduce the number of abuses by large foreign companies working in the field of information technology.” Now that the bill has passed all the three votes in the lower house, it will be sent to the Council of the Federation, the upper house, and then, President Vladimir Putin before it’s officially signed into law. Vendors who fail to comply to the law will be eligible for fines of up to 200,000 RUB (~$3,140) and eventually banned for repeated offences. It’s worth noting that two years ago, Google had to cede ground in the country after local rival Yandex filed an antitrust complaint, claiming the search giant had violated local competition rules by forcing handset makers to pre-install their devices with Google apps and services in order to gain access to the Google Play Store application. The $7.8 million settlement resulted in Google opening up Android to rival search engines in Russia, in addition to allowing users to choose a default search engine on their devices. While this new law can seen as a step to protect local tech firms’ interests, it also comes at a time when the government is steadily tightening its grip over the internet infrastructure in the country, raising censorship and surveillance concerns. It has forced messaging apps like Telegram to hand over users’ encryption keys to keep tabs on electronic communications in the wake of anti-terrorism laws passed in the country, which required messaging services to provide authorities with the ability to decrypt user correspondence. Just at the start of this month, Russia passed what’s called the “sovereign internet” law that aims to route Russian web traffic and data through points controlled by state authorities, potentially giving it the capability to switch off connections within Russia, or to the world wide web in an emergency. “[The law] proves that the Russian leadership is ready to bring the entire network infrastructure under political control in order to cut off the digital information flow whenever needed,” Reporters Without Borders’ Christian Mihr said. The growing internet crackdown — as recently witnessed in Iran, and now Russia — to silence whole nations is a worrying sign of how information pathways are increasingly being weaponized to fuel censorship and stifle free speech. Source
  9. Russia's slowly building its own Great Firewall model, centralizing internet traffic through government servers. Today, a new "internet sovereignty" law entered into effect in Russia, a law that grants the government the ability to disconnect the entire country from the global internet. The law was formally approved by President Putin back in May. The Kremlin government cited the need to have the ability to disconnect Russia's cyberspace from the rest of the world in the event of a national emergency or foreign threat, such as a cyberattack. In order to achieve these goals, the law mandates that all local ISPs route traffic through special servers managed by the Roskomnadzor, the country's telecoms regulator. These servers would act as kill-switches and disconnect Russia from external connections while re-routing internet traffic inside Russia's own internet space, akin to a country-wide intranet -- which the government is calling RuNet. The Kremlin's recent law didn't come out of the blue. Russian officials have been working on establishing RuNet for more than half a decade. Past efforts included passing laws that force foreign companies to keep the data of Russian citizens on servers located in Russia. However, internet infrastructure experts have called Russia's "disconnect plan" both impractical and idealistic, pointing to the global DNS system as the plan's Achille's heel. Even US officials doubt that Russia would be able to pull it off. Speaking on stage at the RSA 2019 security conference in March, NSA Director General Paul Nakasone said he didn't expect Russia to succeed and disconnect from the global internet. The technicalities of disconnecting an entire country are just to complex not to cripple Russia's entire economy, plunging modern services like healthcare or banking back into a dark age. IT'S A LAW ABOUT SURVEILLANCE, NOT SOVEREIGNTY The reality is that experts in Russian politics, human rights, and internet privacy have come up with a much more accurate explanation of what's really going on. Russia's new law is just a ruse, a feint, a gimmick. The law's true purpose is to create a legal basis to force ISPs to install deep-packet inspection equipment on their networks and force them to re-route all internet traffic through Roskomnadzor strategic chokepoints. These Roskomnadzor servers are where Russian authorities will be able to intercept and filter traffic at their discretion and with no judicial oversight, similar to China's Great Firewall. The law is believed to be an upgrade to Russia's SORM (System for Operative Investigative Activities). But while SORM provides passive reconnaissance capabilities, allowing Russian law enforcement to retrieve traffic metadata from ISPs, the new "internet sovereignty" law provides a more hands-on approach, including active traffic shaping capabilities. Experts say the law was never about internet sovereignty, but about legalizing and disguising mass surveillance without triggering protests from Russia's younger population, who has gotten accustomed to the freedom the modern internet provides. Experts at Human Rights Watch have seen through the law's true purpose ever since it was first proposed in the Russian Parliament. Earlier this year, they've called the law "very broad, overly vague, and [that it vests] in the government unlimited and opaque discretion to define threats." This vagueness in the law's text allows the government to use it whenever it wishes, for any circumstance. Many have pointed out that Russia is doing nothing more than copying the Beijing regime, which also approved a similarly vague law in 2016, granting its government the ability to take any actions it sees fit within the country's cyberspace. The two countries have formally cooperated, with China providing help to Russia in implementing a similar Great Firewall technology. PLANNED DISCONNECT TEST But while Russia's new law entered into effect today, officials sill have to carry out a ton of tests. Last week, the Russian government published a document detailing a scheduled test to take place this month. No exact date was provided. Sources at three Russian ISPs have told ZDNet this week that they haven't been notified of any such tests; however, if they take place, they don't expect the "disconnect" to last more than a few minutes. Tens of thousands protested this new law earlier this year across Russia; however, the government hasn't relented, choosing to arrest protesters and go forward with its plans. Source: Russia's new 'disconnect from the internet' law is actually about surveillance (via ZDNet)
  10. Companies are afraid that future GitLab support staff in China and Russia might steal their data, or be coerced by foreign intelligence services to pass on trade secrets. Code hosting platform GitLab is considering blocking new hires from countries such as China and Russia. Eric Johnson, VP of Engineering at GitLab, said discussions on banning new hires from the two countries began after enterprise customers expressed concerns about the geopolitical climate of the two countries. GitLab is a service akin to GitHub, where companies can host source code projects and have their employees work on the code, synchroonizing it to a cloud-hosted server. Companies can also host their own version of GitLab locally, using an eponymously named platform. Companies pay GitLab for access to various enterprise features, and if something goes wrong, GitLab staff provide support. If approved, the hiring ban will apply to two positions; namely Site Reliability Engineer and Support Engineer, the two positions that handle providing tech support to GitLab's enterprise customers. Johnson said these two support staff positions have full access to customers' data, something that companies had an issue with, especially if tech support staff was to be located in countries like China and Russia, where they could be compromised or coerced by local intelligence services. Johnson said GitLab does not have "a technical way" to support a data access permission systems for employees based on their country of origin. "Doing so would also force us to confront the possibility of creating a 'second class of citizens' on certain teams who cannot take part in 100% of their responsibilities," Johnson said. Fears of malicious insiders The new "hiring ban" is not yet final. Open conversations on the topic started last month, and are scheduled to end November 6. The discussions began a day after CrowdStrike published a report detailing how China's cyber-espionage agents recruited insiders at western companies to help hackers steal intellectual property (IP) to help state-owned companies build the Comac C919 airplane, a Boeing competitor. There is a general train of thought that both Russian and Chinese intelligence agencies might use the same blueprint and plant agents or coerce GitLab staff into handing over data belonging to western companies. GitLab was not immediately available for additional comments. In a HackerNews post, GitLab CEO Sid Sijbrandij said the company currently does not employ any support staff from China or Russia, so the future ban won't lead to anyone losing their jobs. Based on opinions shared by GitLab staff in the open discussions, the ban is most likely to be approved when the public consultation period ends on Wednesday. Once the new hiring ban is approved, GitLab support staff members would also not be allowed to move to China or Russia. GitLab said the ban wouldn't apply to other job roles or activities, such as accepting code contributions to its open-source code from Chinese or Russian developers. Both Johnson and Sijbrandij said that all contributions to the site's open-source products are vetted by employees, so any malicious code would be detected. Source
  11. Microsoft Corp said it has tracked "significant" cyberattacks coming from a group it calls "Strontium" or "Fancy Bear", targeting anti-doping authorities and global sporting organisations. The group, also called APT28, has been linked to the Russian government, Microsoft said in a blog post. At least 16 national and international sporting and anti-doping organisations across three continents were targeted in the attacks which began on Sept 16, according to the company. The company said some of these attacks had been successful, but the majority had not. Microsoft has notified all customers targeted in these attacks. Strontium, one of the world's oldest cyber espionage groups, has also been called Sofancy and Pawn Storm by a range of security firms and government officials. Security firm CrowdStrike has said the group may be associated with the Russian military intelligence agency GRU. Microsoft said Strontium reportedly released medical records and emails taken from sporting organisations and anti-doping officials in 2016 and 2018, resulting in an indictment in a federal court in the United States in 2018. The software giant added that the methods used in the most recent attacks were similar to those used by Strontium to target governments, militaries, think-tanks, law firms, human rights organisations, financial firms and universities around the world. Strontium's methods include spear-phishing, password spray, exploiting Internet-connected devices and the use of both open-source and custom malware, it added. Microsoft has in the past taken legal steps o prevent Strontium from using fake Microsoft internet domains to execute its attacks. By August last year, Microsoft had shut down 84 fake websites in 12 court-approved actions over the past two years. Microsoft said at the time that hackers linked to Russia's government sought to launch cyber attacks on US political groups. Source: Microsoft says Russia-linked hackers target sports organisations (via The Star Online)
  12. The head of Russia's security service said Thursday it is now reviving cooperation with US agencies over cybersecurity despite major tensions between the two countries. "We are restoring those relations," the head of the FSB security service, Alexander Bortnikov, told journalists in comments reported by Interfax news agency, despite trading accusations of cyber attacks in recent years. "We discuss a lot of questions with the Americans, including about providing information security and cyber security," Bortnikov said. He cited as an example that "just recently the American secret services provided Russia with information on specific people and plans to carry out attacks in our country." The Russians and Americans "have always had working relations irrespective of the situation in political relations between our countries," said Bortnikov. Allegations of Russia's interference in the 2016 US elections won by Donald Trump with the use of hackers and social media have plunged relations to a post-Cold War low. Last year Washington and London accused the Russian state of "malicious cyber activity" affecting governments, companies and vital infrastructure around the world. Moscow has come under suspicion over major cyber attacks in recent years that hit the US Democrats, the World Anti-Doping Agency and Odessa airport in Ukraine. Russia has strongly denied these attacks, arguing that it has itself fallen victim to US cyber attacks on state institutions, the national grid and financial establishments. In June, The New York Times revealed that the US was in fact carrying out attacks that hacked into Russia's national grid. In December 2017, Putin thanked Trump for the CIA's help in thwarting a planned attack in the northwestern city of Saint Petersburg. Source
  13. This Moscow to the very top LAST MONTH THE ENTIRE population of Ecuador had private data leaked on to the internet. Now it's Russia's turn: it's not the entire country this time, but due to their relative population sizes, the leak is pretty much identical in size. In other words, it's bloody huge. Comparitech and security researcher Bob Diachenko discovered a database with over 20 million Russian tax records left open on an unsecured web server. If you have a web browser - very much like the one you're looking at right now - you could have seen personal records of millions of Russians dated between 2009 and 2016, mostly based around Moscow. Most of the databases on the server contained random or publicly sourced data, but two of them were packed full of legitimate personal and tax records: one 14 million-strong database with data from 2010 to 2016 and a smaller file with ‘just' six million records from 2009 to 2015. The records contained names, addresses, residency statuses, passport numbers, phone numbers, Tax ID numbers, employer names and tax amounts. None of this was encrypted or required a password, of course. The records are now offline after the site made contact with a mysterious and largely unknown Ukranian owner, but they were first indexed by search engines last May, meaning they were wide open and accessible for 16 months. It's not clear if anybody did find the records before they were secured, but as ever with these things, Russian citizens should keep an eye on their accounts, and be on the lookout for phishing attempts or other targeted scams. With this kind of information, fraudsters could pass as a convincing tax official, or try their hand at identity theft. Be vigilant, Russians. Source
  14. Russia carried out a “stunning” hack of U.S. intelligence services’ most sensitive communications, Yahoo News reports. The hack is believed to have happened around 2010 and reportedly gave Russian spies in Washington, New York, and San Francisco access to the location of FBI surveillance teams as well as the actual content of FBI communications. The hack may have allowed the Russian agents to avoid FBI surveillance, communicate with U.S. sources, and gather intelligence on their FBI pursuers, according to the report. “When we found out about this, the light bulb went on—that this could be why we haven’t seen [certain types of] activity” from Russian spies, one source told Yahoo. The Russians reportedly compromised the encrypted radio systems used by the FBI’s mobile surveillance teams as well as the backup communications systems. “This was something we took extremely seriously,” one former senior counterintelligence official is reported to have said. The intercepts were said to be monitored by teams at the Russian diplomatic compounds that President Obama ordered seized shortly before he left office. More AT: [Yahoo News] Source
  15. A Russian security researcher has found that hardware equipment meant to be used by Russian authorities to intercept internet traffic had been leaving data exposed on the internet. The leaky equipment were SORM devices. These are hardware wiretaps that all Russian internet service providers and mobile telecoms must install in their data centers to comply with local legislation. When translated from Russian, SORM stands for System for Operative Investigative Activities. SORM devices are hardware equipment that support the SORM technical specification passed in the mid-90s in Russia, and which allows Russian law enforcement agencies to connect to devices, set up filtering and logging rules, and then retrieve logged data at later points. According to the specification's most recent version, SORM-3, SORM devices can log details such as IP addresses, IMEI and IMSI codes, MAC addresses, ICQ usernames, and email addresses spotted in POP3, SMTP or IMAP4 traffic, or in connections to various webmail providers. 30 SORM devices have leaked surveillance data But in a talk at the Chaos Constructions security conference last Sunday, on August 25, a Russian security researcher named Leonid Evdokimov revealed that some of these wiretapping devices have been leaking data. Evdokimov said he found 30 SORM devices installed on the network of 20 Russian ISPs that were running FTP servers that were not secured with a password. These FTP servers contained traffic logs from past law enforcement surveillance operations. Some of the data that had been left on the FTP servers of these SORM devices included: -GPS coordinates for residents of Sarov (formerly Arzamas-16), a closed town, and Russia's center for nuclear research; -ICQ instant messenger usernames, IMEI numbers, and telephone numbers for several hundred mobile phones across Moscow; - router MAC addresses and GPS coordinates for people living in the village of Novosilske; - and countless GPS coordinates from smartphones running outdated firmware, from various locations. Evdokimov said he discovered the leaky devices in April 2018 and started working with ISPs to secure the SORM wiretaps in June 2018. Despite his best efforts, six of the 30 SORM devices remained open until last Sunday, when Evdokimov delivered his presentation. However, the six devices were secured by Monday, a day after the researcher's presentation. Evdokimov said that some of the leaky SORM devices were manufactured by MFI Soft, a local hardware equipment maker. But, some SORM devices appeared to have been produced by other vendors, so there's no solid evidence to support a theory that the leak was caused by a default configuration mishap in certain equipment. The leak, and Evdokimov's presentation, were first reported earlier this week by Meduza, a Russian news site. Source
  16. MOSCOW (AP) — Dating app Tinder is now required to provide user data to Russian intelligence agencies, the country’s communications regulator said Monday. The app was included on a new list of online services operating in Russia that are required to provide user data on demand to Russian authorities, including the FSB security agency. Russia adopted a flurry of legislation in recent years tightening control over online activity. Among other things, Internet companies are required to store six months’ worth of user data and be ready to hand them over to authorities. The communications regulator said Monday that Tinder had shared with them information about the company and that it is now on the list of online apps and websites that are expected to cooperate with the FSB. Russian authorities last year issued an order to ban messaging app Telegram after it refused to provide the user data as required by the Russian law. Tinder was not immediately available for comment. Source
  17. MOSCOW (Reuters) - Apple (AAPL.O) is under investigation in Russia following a complaint from cybersecurity company Kaspersky Lab and may be abusing its dominant market position, Russia’s anti-monopoly watchdog said on Thursday. Watchdog FAS said it was investigating why a new version of Kaspersky Lab’s Safe Kids application had been declined by Apple’s operating system, resulting in a significant loss in functionality for the parental control app. It said Apple had released version 12 of its own parental control app, Screen Time, which had similar functions to the Kaspersky program. Parental control apps allow parents to control their children’s phone and tablet usage. Asked about the Russian investigation, Apple referred Reuters to an April 28 statement in which it said it had recently removed several parental control apps from its App Store because they “put users’ privacy and security at risk.” It said several of these apps were using a “highly invasive” technology called Mobile Device Management (MDM) and that its use in a consumer-focused app was a violation of App Store policies. Kaspersky said Apple’s App Store guidelines allowed for a limited use of MDM, but that it was not clear how to obtain Apple’s permission to do so. It also said the requirements reduced the competitiveness of third party developers. Source
  18. The source of a gigantic, mysterious leak of radioactive material that swept across Europe in 2017 has been traced to a Russian nuclear facility, which appears to have been preparing materials for experiments in Italy. Photo: A nuclear fuel processing facility in Russia looks to have been been the source of the leak The leak released up to 100 times the amount of radiation into the atmosphere that the Fukushima disaster did. Italian scientists were the first to raise the alarm on 2 October, when they noticed a burst of the radioactive ruthenium-106 in the atmosphere. This was quickly corroborated by other monitoring laboratories across Europe. Georg Steinhauser at Leibniz University Hannover in Germany says he was “stunned” when he first noticed the event. Routine surveillance detects several radiation leaks each year, mostly of extremely low levels of radionuclides used in medicine. But this event was different. “The ruthenium-106 was one of a kind. We had never measured anything like this before,” says Steinhauser. Even so, the radiation level wasn’t high enough to impact human health in Europe, although exposure closer to the site of release would have been far greater. The Institute for Radioprotection and Nuclear Security in Paris soon concluded that the most probable source of the leak was between the Volga river and Ural mountains in Russia. This is where Russia’s Mayak facility is located. The site, which includes a plant that processes spent nuclear fuel, suffered the world’s third most serious nuclear accident in 1957. At the time of the 2017 leak, Russian officials denied the possibility of the facility being the source, saying there were no radioactive ruthenium traces in the surrounding soil. Instead, they suggested the source may have been a radionuclide battery from a satellite burning up during re-entry into the atmosphere. Steinhauser and his colleagues decided to investigate more thoroughly by forensically analysing 1300 measurements from hundreds of monitoring stations across Europe. They found that radiation levels in the atmosphere were between 30 and 100 times higher than those measured after Fukushima. “This was indeed quite alarming,” says Steinhauser. Eliminate the impossible The team excluded Romania as the source of the accident, despite the country’s high radiation levels. Each station in the country detected the radioactive plume simultaneously, which indicated the source was far enough away for it to have grown to the width of Romania. They also excluded a satellite as the cause because space organisations didn’t report any missing at the time. The pattern of radiation through the atmosphere didn’t match the spread of radiation from a satellite’s reentry either. Combining these findings with information on air movements and concentration levels from monitoring data, the team found clear evidence that the release happened in the Southern Urals, which is where the Mayak nuclear facility is located. The leak was unusual because the release was limited to radioactive ruthenium. “If there is a reactor accident, one would expect the release of radioactive isotopes of many different elements,” says Steinhauser. Exactly why such a specific element was released remained a mystery until Steinhauser learned that an Italian nuclear research facility had ordered a consignment of cerium-144 from Mayak before the incident. “There are several indications that the release of ruthenium-106 was linked to this order,” he says. Source
  19. Cyber threats from the U.S. and Russia are now focusing on civilian infrastructure Targeting civilian infrastructure opens a dangerous new front in cyber hostilities between the U.S. Cyber-confrontation between the U.S. and Russia is increasingly turning to critical civilian infrastructure, particularly power grids, judging from recent press reports. The typically furtive conflict went public last month, when The New York Times reported U.S. Cyber Command’s shift to a more offensive and aggressive approach in targeting Russia’s electric power grid. The report drew skepticism from some experts and a denial from the administration, but the revelation led Moscow to warn that such activity presented a “direct challenge” that demanded a response. WIRED magazine the same day published an article detailing growing cyber-reconnaissance on U.S. grids by sophisticated malware emanating from a Russian research institution, the same malware that abruptly halted operations at a Saudi Arabian oil refinery in 2017 during what WIRED called “one of the most reckless cyberattacks in history.” Although both sides have been targeting each other’s infrastructure since at least 2012, according to the Times article, the aggression and scope of these operations now seems unprecedented. Washington and Moscow share several similarities related to cyber-deterrence. Both, for instance, view the other as a highly capable adversary. U.S. officials fret about Moscow’s ability to wield its authoritarian power to corral Russian academia, the private sector, and criminal networks to boost its cyber-capacity while insulating state-backed hackers from direct attribution. Moscow sees an unwavering cyber-omnipotence in the U.S., capable of crafting uniquely sophisticated malware like the ‘Stuxnet’ virus, all while using digital operations to orchestrate regional upheaval, such as the Arab Spring in 2011. At least some officials on both sides, apparently, view civilian infrastructure as an appropriate and perhaps necessary lever to deter the other. Image courtesy of TechCrunch/Bryce Durbin Whatever their similarities in cyber-targeting, Moscow and Washington faced different paths in developing capabilities and policies for cyberwarfare, due in large part to the two sides’ vastly different interpretations of global events and the amount of resources at their disposal. A gulf in both the will to use cyber-operations and the capacity to launch them separated the two for almost 20 years. While the U.S. military built up the latter, the issue of when and where the U.S. should use cyber-operations failed to keep pace with new capabilities. Inversely, Russia’s capacity, particularly within its military, was outpaced by its will to use cyber-operations against perceived adversaries. Nonetheless, events since 2016 reflect a convergence of the two factors. While the U.S. has displayed a growing willingness to launch operations against Russia, Moscow has somewhat bolstered its military cyber-capacity by expanding recruiting initiatives and malware development. The danger in both sides’ cyber-deterrence, however, lies not so much in their converging will and capacity as much as it is rooted in mutual misunderstanding. The Kremlin’s cyber-authorities, for instance, hold an almost immutable view that the U.S. seeks to undermine Russia’s global position at every turn along the digital front, pointing to U.S. cyber-operations behind global incidents that are unfavorable to Moscow’s foreign policy goals. A declared expansion in targeting Russian power grids could ensure that future disruptions, which can occur spontaneously, are seen by Moscow as an unmistakable act of U.S. cyber-aggression. In Washington, it seems too little effort is dedicated to understanding the complexity of Russia’s view of cyber-warfare and deterrence. The notion that Russia’s 2016 effort to affect the U.S. presidential election was a “Cyber” or “Political” Pearl Harbor is an appropriate comparison only in the sense that U.S. officials were blindsided by Moscow’s distinct approach to cyberwarfare: an almost seamless blend of psychological and technical operations that differs from most Western concepts. Russian military operators conducted what should be considered a more aggressive cyber-campaign a year before their presidential election-meddling, when they posed as ‘CyberCaliphate,’ an online branch of ISIS, and attacked U.S. media outlets and threatened the safety of U.S. military spouses. For their part, the Russians made a different historical comparison to their 2016 activity. Andrey Krutskikh, the Kremlin’s bombastic point-man on cyber-diplomacy issues, likened Russia’s development of cyber-capabilities that year to the Soviet Union’s first successful atomic bomb test in 1949. Image courtesy of Getty Images/BeeBright Western analysts, fixated on untangling the now-defunct concept of the ‘Gerasimov Doctrine,’ devoted far less attention to the Russian military’s actual cyber-experts, who starting in 2008 wrote a series of articles about the consequences of Washington’s perceived militarization of cyberspace, including a mid-2016 finale that discussed Russia’s need to pursue cyber-peace with the U.S. by demonstrating an equal ‘information potential’. Despite Cyber Command’s new authorities, Moscow’s hackers are comparatively unfettered by legal or normative boundaries and have a far wider menu of means and methods in competing with the U.S. short of all-out war. Russian military hackers, for example, have gone after everything from the Orthodox Church to U.S. think tanks, and they launched what the Trump administration called the most costly cyber-attack in history. In the awkward space between war and peace, Russian cyber-operations certainly benefit from the highly permissive, extralegal mandate granted by an authoritarian state, one that Washington would likely be loath (with good reason) to replicate out of frustration. By no means should the Kremlin’s activity go unanswered. But a leap from disabling internet access for Russia’s ‘Troll Farm’ to threatening to blackout swaths of Russia could jeopardize the few fragile norms existing in this bilateral cyber-competition, perhaps leading to expanded targeting of nuclear facilities. The U.S. is arriving late to a showdown that many officials in Russian defense circles saw coming a long time ago, when U.S. policymakers were understandably preoccupied with the exigencies of counterterrorism and counterinsurgency. Washington could follow Moscow’s lead in realizing that this is a long-term struggle that requires innovative and thoughtful solutions as opposed to reflexive ones. Increasing the diplomatic costs of Russian cyber-aggression, shoring-up cyber-defenses, or even fostering military-to-military or working-level diplomatic channels to discuss cyber redlines, however discretely and unofficially, could present better choices than apparently gambling with the safety of civilians that both sides’ forces are sworn to protect. Source: Cyber threats from the U.S. and Russia are now focusing on civilian infrastructure
  20. Kaspersky Lab has discovered a series of targeted attacks on large public health institutions in Russia. The number of hacker attacks on Russian medical institutions has doubled this year. According to Kaspersky Lab, ten major Russian state medical institutions were attacked in spring 2019. The identity of the hackers is still unknown, but the Kaspersky Lab believes that the attackers speak Russian fluently but are outside the country. The main purpose of the attackers is to collect financial documents, contracts for expensive treatment, invoices and other important documentation. Spy software CloudMid has infected computers. Kaspersky lab notes that this is "unique malware" that the company has not met before. CloudMid is sent by e-mail and disguised as a VPN client of one of the Russian companies. After installing CloudMid, the program proceeds to collect documents on the infected computer, for which, in particular, it takes screenshots several times a minute. It is known that the mailing did not become mass, only some organizations received messages. The anti-virus expert of Kaspersky Lab Dmitry Kuznetsov says: "Cyber attackers began to be interested in the health sector. In this case, the attacks were not well technically developed, but they were targeted, and the attackers still managed to get what they wanted.” Another expert at Kaspersky Lab, Alexey Shulmin, added that such attacks would be repeated. Evgeny Gnedin, the head of the Analytics Department of Positive Technologies, said that hacker attacks on medical institutions are becoming a dangerous trend. The expert believes that the low level of security is primarily due to the insufficient allocation of funds for information security in medical organizations. So the attacks on medical institutions will remain relevant in the second half of 2019. According to Andrey Arsentiev, the analyst of the group of companies InfoWatch, cybercriminals have formed groups specializing in attacks of medical institutions, which are aimed primarily at an extensive network of clinics with large volumes of structured personal data of patients. "Protected medical information is one of the most liquid information on the black market, the cost of one record in some cases can be hundreds or even thousands of dollars. In some other cases, hackers may be interested in research conducted in large medical centers, "said the expert. Source
  21. MOSCOW, July 18 (Reuters) Russia's communications watchdog fined Google700,000 rubles($11,100) on Thursday for failing to fulfill legal requirements to remove entries from its search results that Moscow believes contain illegal information. The watchdog said that more than a third of the links from the unified registry of illicit content remains in the search results. "Monitoring activities have revealed that Google makes selective filtering of search results. More than a third of links from the single registry of illegal content is stored in the search. A 700,000 rubles ($11,100) fine has been imposed on Google", the statement said. In June, the head of Roskomnadzor vowed to fine the tech juggernaut for violating Russian laws, adding that the formal procedures would be enacted by the end of July. In May, Roskomnadzor experts established that Google had violated the Russian law on information by selectively filtering the search results. Source
  22. WASHINGTON/LONDON/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Hackers working for Western intelligence agencies broke into Russian internet search company Yandex (YNDX.O) in late 2018 deploying a rare type of malware in an attempt to spy on user accounts, four people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The logo of Russian internet group Yandex is pictured at the company's headquarter in Moscow, Russia The malware, called Regin, is known to be used by the “Five Eyes” intelligence-sharing alliance of the United States, Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, the sources said. Intelligence agencies in those countries declined to comment. Western cyberattacks against Russia are seldom acknowledged or spoken about in public. It could not be determined which of the five countries was behind the attack on Yandex, said sources in Russia and elsewhere, three of whom had direct knowledge of the hack. The breach took place between October and November 2018. Yandex spokesman Ilya Grabovsky acknowledged the incident in a statement to Reuters, but declined to provide further details. “This particular attack was detected at a very early stage by the Yandex security team. It was fully neutralized before any damage was done,” he said. The company also said that “the Yandex security team’s response ensured that no user data was compromised by the attack.” The company, widely known as “Russia’s Google” for its array of online services from internet search to email and taxi reservations, says it has more than 108 million monthly users in Russia. It also operates in Belarus, Kazakhstan and Turkey. The sources who described the attack to Reuters said the hackers appeared to be searching for technical information that could explain how Yandex authenticates user accounts. Such information could help a spy agency impersonate a Yandex user and access their private messages. The hack of Yandex’s research and development unit was intended for espionage purposes rather than to disrupt or steal intellectual property, the sources said. The hackers covertly maintained access to Yandex for at least several weeks without being detected, they said. The Regin malware was identified as a Five Eyes tool in 2014 following revelations by former U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden. Reports by The Intercept, in partnership with a Dutch and Belgian newspaper, tied an earlier version of Regin to a hack at Belgian telecom firm Belgacom in 2013 and said British spy agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) and the NSA were responsible. At the time GCHQ declined to comment and the NSA denied involvement. ‘CROWN JEWEL’ Security experts say attributing cyberattacks can be difficult because of obfuscation methods used by hackers. But some of the Regin code found on Yandex’s systems had not been deployed in any known previous cyberattacks, the sources said, reducing the risk that attackers were deliberately using known Western hacking tools to cover their tracks. Yandex called in Russian cybersecurity company Kaspersky, which established the attackers were targeting a group of developers inside Yandex, three sources said. A private assessment by Kaspersky, described to Reuters, concluded hackers likely tied to Western intelligence breached Yandex using Regin. A Kaspersky spokeswoman declined to comment. The U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment. The White House National Security Council did not respond to a request for comment. The Kremlin did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment. Moscow-based Yandex, listed on the NASDAQ in the United States and the Moscow Exchange, has come under tighter regulatory control by the Russian government after the passage of new internet laws. Former Russian economics and trade minister Herman Gref became a Yandex board member in 2014. U.S. cybersecurity firm Symantec said it had also recently discovered a new version of Regin. Symantec declined to discuss where this sample was discovered, citing client confidentiality. “Regin is the crown jewel of attack frameworks used for espionage. Its architecture, complexity and capability sits in a ballpark of its own,” Vikram Thakur, technical director at Symantec Security Response, told Reuters. “We have seen different components of Regin in the past few months.” “Based on the victimology coupled with the investment required to create, maintain, and operate Regin, we believe there are at best a handful of countries that could be behind its existence,” said Thakur. “Regin came back on the radar in 2019.” Source
  23. The New York Times reported over the weekend that the United States planted potentially destructive malware in Russia’s electric power grid, but President Donald Trump has denied the claims. The newspaper has learned from current and former government officials that the U.S. has been probing control systems of the Russian power grid since at least 2012 as part of reconnaissance operations. However, the officials claimed the U.S. recently ramped up its efforts and started launching more offensive activities that involve placing “potentially crippling malware [...] at a depth and with an aggressiveness that had never been tried before.” According to The New York Times, these hacking operations area meant as a warning to Russian President Vladimir Putin and appear to show how the White House is using new authorities granted last year to the U.S. Cyber Command. There is no evidence that the planted malware was actually used to cause any disruption. U.S. government agencies contacted by the newspaper did not comment on the allegations, but President Trump said on Twitter that the story was not true. “Do you believe that the Failing New York Times just did a story stating that the United States is substantially increasing Cyber Attacks on Russia. This is a virtual act of Treason by a once great paper so desperate for a story, any story, even if bad for our Country,” Trump wrote. “ALSO, NOT TRUE! Anything goes with our Corrupt News Media today. They will do, or say, whatever it takes, with not even the slightest thought of consequence! These are true cowards and without doubt, THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!” he added. Two officials told The Times that they believed Trump had not been briefed in detail about the steps to plant malware inside Russian systems due to concerns over his reaction and the possibility that he could either cancel the operation or discuss it with foreign officials. However, national security adviser, John Bolton, did say last week that Russia or anyone else engaged in cyber operations against the United States “will pay a price.” There have been several confirmed and unconfirmed reports describing cyberattacks launched by the U.S. against its adversaries, including North Korea, Iran and the Islamic State. However, when it comes to Russia, the United States has mostly played the victim, often accusing Moscow — directly or indirectly — of launching cyberattacks and online misinformation campaigns. There have been reports of Russia-linked hackers targeting control systems in energy facilities in the U.S. and, most recently, a threat actor with apparent ties to a Russian government-backed research institute was spotted targeting electric utilities in the United States and the Asia-Pacific region. Recent disruptions to electrical grid operations in the United States have been blamed on a denial-of-service (DoS) incident, but no power outages were reported and the incident was apparently not part of a coordinated hacking operation. Source
  24. Are Russian space satellites failing? It’s now harder to find out Information about satellite health will now be "For Official Use Only." Enlarge / Roscosmos Head Dmitry Rogozin before Russian-Chinese talks at the Moscow Kremlin in June. Mikhail Metzel/TASS via Getty Images One of the key themes of HBO's new Chernobyl miniseries is the Soviet Union's control of information. As the television series shows, the state's warping of reality had very real consequences in terms of lives lost. The control of information has continued into the modern Russian era, as the nation's state television network is now planning its own series to recount the Chernobyl incident. Reportedly, a central theme of the series to be shown to Russian viewers is that American operatives infiltrated the nuclear facility and orchestrated the disaster. (There appears to be no credible evidence that this actually happened.) This predisposition to avoid or obfuscate information that could be embarrassing to the Russian state also evidently applies to the aerospace industry, with fresh reports from the country saying the leader of Russia's space corporation, Roscosmos, is limiting the flow of news about spaceflight activities. According to a report in RIA Novosti, Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin recently issued a directive classifying information about the condition of Russia’s orbital satellites as "For Official Use Only." One source told the publication, "The directive covers technical information including launches and functional condition of satellite constellations." (A translation of this article was provided to Ars by Robinson Mitchell). No more faxes The order requires that any of the press offices of the various companies that comprise the Roscosmos enterprise must receive approval from Roscosmos itself before sharing any information about satellite launches or failures. "Transmission and distribution of any such information using wireless technology, email, faxes, by mobile or landline telephone, or social networking is now banned," according to a second source. It's not entirely clear what may have prompted the missive from Rogozin, who has had a controversial tenure as head of the Russian space agency and has recently resorted to making wild promises, such as human landings on the Moon by 2030. The decision may have come down to some recent problems with Russian space satellites and GLONASS, Russia's version of the Global Positioning System. Two GLONASS-M satellites reportedly failed in 2018, bringing the network perilously close to not having enough coverage for the entire Russian territory. Roscosmos oversees civilian and dual-use spacecraft for Russia, including its Soyuz program that currently transports Russian and US astronauts to the International Space Station. Russia’s Air and Space forces control military satellites. In his annual report earlier this year, Rogozin said Russia currently has 156 civilian and military satellites in orbit, of which 91 are for civilian purposes. Source: Are Russian space satellites failing? It’s now harder to find out (Ars Technica)
  25. Russia Says it Will Soon Begin Blocking Major VPNs Back in March, ten major VPN providers including NordVPN, ExpressVPN, IPVanish and HideMyAss were ordered by Russian authorities to being blocking sites present in the country's national blacklist. Following almost total non-compliance, the country's telecoms watchdog says that blocking nine of the services is now imminent. When it comes to site-blocking, Russia is one of the most aggressive countries in the world. Thousands of pirate sites are blocked on copyright grounds while others are restricted for containing various types of “banned information”, such as extremist material. The domains of these platforms are contained in a national blacklist. Service providers of many types are required to interface with this database, in order to block sites from being accessible via their systems. This includes VPN providers, particular those that ordinarily provide censorship workarounds. Back in March, telecoms watchdog Roscomnadzor wrote to ten major VPN providers – NordVPN, ExpressVPN, TorGuard, IPVanish, VPN Unlimited, VyprVPN, Kaspersky Secure Connection, HideMyAss!, Hola VPN, and OpenVPN – ordering them to connect to the database. Many did not want to play ball. NordVPN, for example, flat-out refused to comply, stating that doing so would violate service agreements made with its customers. IPVanish also rejected any censorship, as did VPN Unlimited, VyprVPNand OpenVPN. The VPN services in question were given a limited time to respond (30 days) but according to Roscomnadzor, most are digging in their heels. In fact, of the companies contacted with the demands, only one has agreed to the watchdog’s terms. “We sent out ten notifications to VPNs. Only one of them – Kaspersky Secure Connection – connected to the registry,” Roscomnadzor chief Alexander Zharov informs Interfax. “All the others did not answer, moreover, they wrote on their websites that they would not comply with Russian law. And the law says unequivocally if the company refuses to comply with the law – it should be blocked.” And it appears that Roscomnadzor is prepared to carry through with its threat. When questioned on the timeline for blocking, Zharov said that the matter could be closed within a month. If that happens, the non-compliant providers will themselves be placed on the country’s blacklist (known locally as FGIS), meaning that local ISPs will have to prevent their users from accessing them. It is not yet clear whether that means their web presences, their VPN servers, or both. In the case of the latter, it’s currently unclear whether there will be a battle or not. TorGuard has already pulled its servers out of Russia and ExpressVPN currently lists no servers in the country. The same is true for OpenVPN although VyprVPN still listsservers in Moscow, as does HideMyAss. Even if Roscomnadzor is successful in blocking any or all of the non-compliant services, there are still dozens more to choose from, a fact acknowledged by Zharov. “These ten VPNs do not exhaust the entire list of proxy programs available to our citizens. I don’t think there will be a tragedy if they are blocked, although I feel very sorry about it,” Zharov concludes. Source
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