Russia Calls Sochi Ready For Winter Olympics

The benchmark Micex Index (INDEXCF) lost 1.3 percent to 1,511.73 by 2:32 p.m. in Moscow, the most since Aug. 15 on a closing basis. OAO Severstal, Russia s second-largest steelmaker, dropped 1.2 percent to 295 rubles. OAO Gazprom, the natural-gas export monopoly, declined 1.4 percent to 155.75 rubles. OAO Surgutneftegas, a Russian oil producer, tumbled 2.4 percent. The 14-day relative strength index on the Micex was at 70.3 yesterday, above the level of 70 that suggests to some analysts a security has been overbought and is poised for a decline. U.S. President Barack Obama signed into law a measure ending the 16-day U.S. government shutdown and extending the nations borrowing authority until early next year. The Micex advanced 3.4 percent this month amid optimism a deal would be struck. Crude fell 0.6 percent to $101.73 a barrel in New York .

CORRECTED – Edward Snowden’s father, after Russia visit, says son not a fugitive

The president of the Russian Federation is personally monitoring the project. He cheerfully fired off a long list of Sochis accomplishments , beginning with new power and water supplies for the whole region, 225 miles of roads, 25,000 additional hotel rooms. City Hall, on Soviet Street, was itself marooned within a construction zone, with a big fountain being dug in front and new walkways laid all around. We had nothing, the mayor said. We constructed everything from scratch. These Olympics, costing an estimated $51 billion, are the most expensive ever . The London 2012 Summer Games were estimated at near $19 billion and Beijings 2008 Winter Olympics at about $43 billion. Activists complain the environment has paid the price. Construction waste has been dumped on hillsides, said Vladimir Kimayev, a leader of Environmental Watch in Sochi, increasing the threat of landslides and sending pollutants into the Mzymta River. And a promenade along the Black Sea was built too close to the water, he said, asserting the beach was now vulnerable to erosion and the promenade might well be washed away. That, said Mayor Pakhomov, was impossible. The project was approved by state experts, he said. If there were violations it wouldnt have been approved. In 2008, after extensive disputes with Russian Olympic authorities, environmental groups had managed to persuade Putin, who was prime minister at the time, to move the bobsled track and mountain Olympic village to a less damaging location. A period of close cooperation followed. That ended in early 2010. We had been having monthly meetings and agreed to many ways in which things could be done better, said Igor Chestin, chief executive of WWF-Russia, part of the World Wide Fund for Nature global network. Then nothing happened so we withdrew from the whole process. The Olympic project moved ahead so quickly, Chestin said, that there was no time for a proper environmental impact study.

Russia risks US wrath on Snowden asylum

He’s happy. And he’s absolutely committed to what he has done.” The younger Snowden’s revelations about the reach and methods of the NSA, including the monitoring of vast volumes of internet traffic and phone records, have upset U.S. allies from Germany to Brazil. Admirers call him a human rights champion and critics denounce him as a traitor. Lon Snowden said his son had been misrepresented by some in the media and the U.S. government, telling reporters that “there’s much more to be shared” about Edward Snowden and his supporters. “He’s not a fugitive. He’s a legal asylee of the Russian Federation and the press needs to get that right and I think our government understands that at this point.” Staying in Russia, Snowden said, allows his son “to continue to push these issues forward, to make sure the true story is told – that it’s not spun within the media – about Edward Snowden.” Snowden criticized the U.S. intelligence community as being negligent and complicit in the spying scandal, singling out Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, NSA Director Keith Alexander, Senator Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and congressman Mike Rogers, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee. Russia has kept secret where the Snowdens met during the visit as well as where the son has been living. Moscow also has kept the media and public away from Edward Snowden, who has been shepherded by a lawyer believed to have ties with Russia’s secret services. Russian President Vladimir Putin, a former KGB spy, has repeatedly said that Russia would shelter Snowden only if he stopped harming the United States. But he has used the case to accuse Washington of preaching to the world about rights it does not uphold at home.

AFP Photo Picture released by Human Rights Watch shows US National Security Agency (NSA) fugitive leaker Edward Snowden (C) during a meeting with rights activists, with among them Sarah Harrison of WikiLeaks (L), at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, on July 12, 2013. Fugitive US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden on Friday told a group of activists that he wanted to claim asylum in Russia because he is unable to fly on anywhere else. AFP/ Human Rights Watch Photo A man looks in Moscow on July 12, 2013, at a computer screen displaying a photo US National Security Agency (NSA) fugitive leaker Edward Snowden (C) during his today’s meeting with leading Russian rights activists and lawyers at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport where he has been stuck in transit for the last three weeks. Snowden met today around a dozen Russian rights activists, lawyers and other figures in a closed-door meeting at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, an official said. Snowden on Friday dramatically summoned activists to the transit zone of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport where he has been marooned without a valid passport for the last three weeks after arriving on a flight from Hong Kong. The United States wants the former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor extradited back home to face justice over his leaking of sensational details about US surveillance activities, a demand Moscow has so far rejected. In an indication that already tense US-Russia ties could strain further over the affair, the White House warned Russia not to grant Snowden a propaganda platform as top allies of President Vladimir Putin argued he should be given sanctuary. Snowden, 30, making his first publicised appearance since arriving in Moscow, told the activists he wanted to claim asylum in Russia until he could safely travel to win permanent sanctuary in Latin America. I ask for your assistance in requesting guarantees of safe passage… in securing my travel to Latin America, as well as requesting asylum in Russia until such time as… my legal travel is permitted, Snowden said. He said that the asylum request was being made Friday evening. The head of Russia’s Federal Migration Service (FMS) Konstantin Romodanovsky said early Saturday that Moscow had yet to receive the application which, if it arrived, would be examined according to normal legal procedures. Prominent Russian lawyer Anatoly Kucherena, who attended the meeting and promised to help Snowden, told Russian television that the asylum request procedure could take up to three weeks. But hinting that Snowden’s new application may be viewed positively, the speaker of Russia’s lower house of parliament Sergei Naryshkin and the upper house speaker Valentina Matviyenko both swiftly said his request should be accepted.

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