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Oligarch ‘made threat’ after Trump inauguration | Trump News

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Pavel Fuchs, a Ukrainian oligarch who negotiated with Donald Trump and reportedly works with his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, stands accused of making a threat of violence against a US-based businessman involved in selling him seats to the 45th US president’s inauguration.

The gas and real estate tycoon was furious that two tickets he purchased for $200,000 left him and a Ukrainian member of parliament with bad seats, according to two well-placed sources speaking to Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit, a Ukrainian newspaper editor and other journalists.

Fuchs allegedly warned the businessman who facilitated the purchase he wanted his money back and if he did not get it he would “tear him apart”.

It’s alleged he then issued a series of threats to others involved in the deal.

The tycoon featured in the Al Jazeera investigation The Oligarchs, which aired in January 2018 and revealed the tycoon has at least a 10-year relationship with Trump and his son, Don Jr.

Then a leading Russian real-estate figure, he held talks with the Trumps between 2008 and 2010 about constructing a Trump Tower in Moscow, which was never developed.

The presence of at least a dozen Ukrainian politicians and business figures, some of whom have close links to Russia, at the January 20, 2017 inauguration attracted interest from US Special Counsel Robert Mueller, according to the New York Times.

The report said some of the Ukrainian guests were “promoting grand bargains or peace plans” aligned with the Kremlin’s interests.

Mueller is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and the newspaper said US federal prosecutors have begun a number of other inquiries related to the Ukrainians at the inauguration.

Fuchs, who was among them, tried to re-enter the US in December 2017, but was detained and deported by US border officials who revoked his visa, according to several sources.

The oligarch, who owns property in New York and Miami, later claimed he had been the victim of an administrative error.

It is not clear why agents refused to admit the Ukrainian, who emigrated from Russia in 2015.

US officials were not immediately available for comment on whether their decision was related to the alleged threats or to his wider business activities, which have drawn the attention of Ukrainian authorities.

Al Jazeera investigation

The year-long Al Jazeera investigation into Eastern European oligarchs described Fuchs’s role in purchasing $160m of frozen assets deemed to have been stolen from the Ukrainian state.

As Al Jazeera reported at the time, the evidence suggested the seller was a fugitive Ukrainian businessman close to the pro-Russian former President Viktor Yanukovych.

The businessman and the president were among those who fled at the height of Ukraine’s Euro Maidan revolution in 2014, with Yanukovych now widely reported to be under Russian government protection.

More recently, Fuchs has been photographed with Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, in both New York and Ukraine’s second city of Kharkiv.

The former New York mayor’s security consulting business, Giuliani Security and Safety, is said to be providing advice on improving Kharkiv’s emergency services.

Kharkiv’s residents are divided between those who are pro-Western and those who support the Russian government. Four years ago, the city nearly turned into a Russian-backed separatist enclave.

Fuchs is reported to be working directly with Giuliani to set up a Kharkiv investment office in the United States.

In mid-November last year, Fuchs was also allegedly refused entry to Israel.

In recent days, a Ukrainian politician reported the business figure had been detained and deported from Mexico, where he arrived by private jet with another legislator.

The oligarch has refuted the story, posting a video of himself in what appears to be Mexico and giving the finger to the “fat pig” who first reported he had not entered the country.

“This is a fake,” he said. “I’m in Mexico. Here are the Mexicans so there are no questions.”

He later issued a statement in which he accused the person who first published the story, former lawmaker and businessman Mikhail Brodsky, of publishing “fake news”.

“Perhaps this was done for the purpose of further extortion of money,” he wrote.

‘Mercenary’

Born in Kharkiv in 1971, Fuchs earned the nickname “Mercenary” from his associates, according to restricted Russian interior ministry records.

He built a network of businessmen close to ex-Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, who was later accused by Russian authorities of presiding over the loss of $5bn from city coffers.

The former mayor denied any wrongdoing and called the allegations “political bullying”.

During Luzhkov’s tenure, Fuchs made hundreds of millions of dollars from real estate and led the development of a new financial district which today dominates the skyline.

The Moscow City complex has been beset with financial difficulties since its main financier, Kazakh billionaire Mukhtar Ablyazov, was charged over an unrelated $6bn fraud case, which continues.

During a tour of one of his developments, Fuchs told Russian television that when he was young he beat people up. “I don’t like it when someone lies to me.”

He recounts a story about his Turkish builders. “While refurbishing, I told them not to smoke, but when I arrived they were smoking. I asked them again not to smoke.”

“And they continued smoking?” asks the presenter.

“Yes, and they had to eat their cigarette butts,” Fuchs replies.

“How beautiful,” remarks the presenter, sarcastically.

Amid rumours of commercial disputes, the real estate tycoon fled Moscow in 2015 and resettled in Ukraine. He has now been placed under sanctions by the Russian government and cannot enter the country.

Despite a formal dispute with Russia, many in Ukraine suspect Fuchs of secretly operating with the consent of the Kremlin.

After the overthrow of Yanukovych, Ukraine’s pro-Western government has been involved in a low-level, ongoing military conflict with Russia.

There are several enclaves in the east of the country that are controlled by Russian troops and Ukrainians who support the Kremlin.

Since Fuchs’s arrival in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, he has forged strong links with powerful politicians and accumulated assets previously owned by politicians and businessman close to Yanukovych.

He has become a leading figure in the gas industry, owning the second highest number of extraction permits, according to ANTAC, an anti-corruption campaign group.

In August, following the release of Al Jazeera’s documentary, Fuchs was questioned by Ukrainian prosecutors.

Their case focused on whether he or others had been involved in “assisting the unidentified persons of a criminal organisation” in compromising the seizure of the $1.5bn deemed stolen by former president Yanukovych.

No charges have been brought so far.

Neither Fuchs nor a spokesperson for Giuliani responded to requests for comment.

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Canadian report reveals spike in food-related litter during pandemic

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TORONTO — Restaurants’ inability to offer their usual dine-in service during much of 2020 may explain why an unusually high amount of food-related litter was found across the country, a new report says.

The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup (GCSC) is an annual program in which volunteers are encouraged to clean up green spaces and other natural areas.

Last year, single-use food and beverage containers made up 26.6 per cent of waste collected through the program – nearly twice as high a percentage as in 2019, before the pandemic.

“We suspect the change may be one of the many implications of COVID-19, including more people ordering restaurant takeaway and consuming more individually packaged foods,” GCSC spokesperson Julia Wakeling said in a press release.

While food- and beverage-related litter accounted for a greater percentage of waste uncovered by GCSC than in the past, it wasn’t the single largest category of items picked up through the program last year.

That dubious honour goes to cigarette butts and other smoking-related paraphernalia, which comprised nearly 29 per cent of all items collected. There were more than 83,000 cigarette butts among the 42,000 kilograms of waste found and clean up last year.

So-called “tiny trash” – little pieces of plastic and foam – also accounted for a sizeable share of the waste, making up 26.8 per cent of the total haul.

In addition to smoking-related items and tiny trash, the main pieces of litter removed by GCSC volunteers last year included nearly 22,000 food wrappers, more than 17,500 pieces of paper, more than 13,000 bottle caps and more than 10,000 beverage cans.

Discarded face masks and other forms of personal protective equipment were also detected and cleaned up, although not tallied in their own category.  PPE waste has been repeatedly cited as a concern by environmental advocates during the pandemic; a robin in Chilliwack, B.C. is the earliest known example of an animal that died due to coronavirus-related litter.

The GCSC is an annual program organized by Ocean Wise and the World Wildlife Fund Canada. Its operations were disrupted by the pandemic as well; only 15,000 volunteers took part in the program last year, versus 85,000 in 2019, due to delays and public health restrictions making large group clean-ups impossible.

Still, there was GCSC participation from every province and the Northwest Territories in 2020. Nearly half of the volunteers who took part were based in B.C., where the program began in 1994.

Data from past GCSC reports was used as part of the research backing Canada’s ban on certain single-use plastic items, which is scheduled to take effect by the end of 2021.

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Canada: Significant Changes To Canada’s Federal Environmental Protection Regime Proposed

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On April 13, 2021, the government of Canada proposed significant changes to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (“CEPA”)1 through the introduction of Bill C-28, Strengthening Environmental Protection for a Healthier Canada Act (the “Amendments“).2

With these Amendments, the government hopes to modernize Canada’s environmental regime which has not undergone significant change in over 20 years. CEPA is the primary statute through which the federal government regulates and protects the environment. CEPA and its accompanying regulations regulate among other things the treatment and disposal of chemicals and hazardous waste, vehicle and engine emissions, equipment and other sources of pollution, and the prevention and impact of environmental emergencies such as oil and chemical spills.

This bulletin provides an overview of the major changes to CEPA that have been proposed.

The Right to a Healthy Environment and Certain Soft Rights

Significantly, the Preamble under the Amendments will officially recognize Canadians’ right to a healthy environment. Section 2 of CEPA will require the government to protect that right when making decisions relating to the environment.3

The Amendments set out specific obligations the government must undertake to safeguard this right, including developing an implementation framework to set out how this right will be considered in the administration of CEPA as well as conducting research, studies and monitoring activities to support this goal.

In addition, the Preamble will recognize some additional considerations, including confirming the government’s commitment to implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) as well as recognizing the importance of considering vulnerable persons, reducing or replacing the use of animal testing, and the right of Canadians to have access to information on product labels.

Project Impact Assessment

With respect to risk assessments under CEPA, under the new provisions the federal government must consider impacts on vulnerable populations and possible cumulative effects of the proposed conduct. Vulnerable populations will include groups of people with elevated biological susceptibility, such as children, and groups with elevated exposure risks, such an indigenous communities. Consideration of cumulative effects of proposed conduct takes a holistic approach to substance management by considering the compounding risks of exposure to various chemicals during daily life rather than looking at substances on their own.

Chemicals Management

The federal government has identified the management of chemicals as a key target area under the new CEPA.

The Amendments thus propose to overhaul this regime in order to better protect Canadians from the evolving risks of harmful chemicals and pollution. To accomplish this, the government has proposed wide ranging changes relating to risk assessment, public accountability, management of toxic substances and new substances, which are discussed in turn below.

Risk Assessment

The government must consult, develop and publish a Plan of Chemicals Management Priorities which will set out an integrated plan for the risk assessment of various chemical substances currently being used in Canada. The Plan will establish priorities for the management of substances, taking into account a number of factors including among others the views of stakeholders and partners, public comments, the effects on vulnerable populations, the toxicity of the substance, the ability to disrupt biological reproduction or endocrine systems, and whether there are safer and more sustainable alternatives.4 The government will also be empowered to make geographically targeted regulations to address pollution “hot spots”.

Additionally, the Amendments will establish a mechanism through which any person can submit a request to the Minister to assess a substance to determine its toxicity and risk to the environment. The Minister must provide a response within 90 days, indicating whether they intend to assess the substances and their reasons for their decision.

Public Accountability Framework

The Amendments intend to increase transparency and public participation in risk assessments by the government for the categorization and management of potentially toxic chemicals. Currently, CEPA contains a public accountability framework under section 77 and provides time limits for the government to assess substances under sections 91 and 92. However, these provisions only apply to certain risk assessments being conducted by the government such as substances placed on the Domestic Substances List that in the opinion of the Minister present the greatest potential for exposure to Canadians or are persistent or bio-accumulative. The proposed Amendments plan to amend section 77 to expand these transparency and accountability measures to all substance risk assessments for toxic or capable of being toxic substances, with the exception of assessments for new substances.5

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Scientists, Homalco First Nation team up to probe massive B.C. landslide — and its impact on salmon

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When the side of a B.C. mountain gave way on Nov. 28, 2020, crashing into a glacier fed lake and creating a 100-metre high tsunami, no one was around to see the destruction or hear the sound of rocks and trees tearing through the valley below. 

But scientists say the force, which was picked up by seismographs across North America, was the equivalent of a 4.9-magnitude earthquake. 

Fortunately, no one was in the slide’s path, but experts believe that a melting glacier likely contributed by making the slope less stable — and climate change means it is a growing risk. 

As more of Canada’s glaciers recede, scientists say there is great interest in finding out what exactly triggered this slide, and how the rocks and sediment have impacted the salmon population of nearby Elliot Creek and Southgate River. 

The mountain, which is located about 220 km north west of Vancouver, is on the traditional territory of the Homalco First Nation. 

It’s an area of remote wilderness, only accessible by air or by boating 80 km up Bute Inlet.

When the slide hit last year, more than 18 million cubic meters of rock barrelled down the slope hitting the lake within 30 seconds. 

“That is the equivalent of all of the cars in Canada coming down the hill at once,” said Marten Geertsema, a geomorphologist who works with the B.C. government studying landslides. 

He is one of several scientists, along with members from the Homalco First Nation, who have been studying the landslide and its cascading environmental impact on the watershed and salmon habitat. 

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