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Russian Authorities Accused Of Planting Drugs On Opposition Activist



SMOLENSK - A young mother and political activist, Taisiya Osipova was lucky enough that her case caught the attention of then Russian President Dimitry Medvedev, who came to her defense in January. But so far, at least, that has counted for little.

Earlier this week, just days after her 28th birthday, Osipova was sentenced to eight years in prison for drug possession, Moscow daily Kommersant reports.

Prosecutors say that five packages containing heroin were found in her apartment in a raid in November 2010, Gazeta.ru reported. Osipova was arrested on the spot. She maintains that the packages were planted by the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency because of her links to Russia's rising opposition.

This is not the first time Osipova was arrested. She was a member of the National Bolshevik party, and a correspondent for the party’s newspaper. In 2003, she was arrested and sentenced to one year in jail after she hit a local official in the face with a bunch of carnations, NEWSRU reported. But in 2008, she more or less retreated from political activism to focus on raising her daughter, who was born in 2006. Her husband, however, continued to play an active role the party Another Russia.

In December 2011, Osipova was sentenced to 10 years in prison, all the while fiercely denying what she said was a bogus case. In January, then-President Medvedev told students at the Journalism School at Moscow State University that he considered 10 years in prison to be an excessive punishment in response to student questions about the case, Kremlin News reported. The case was retried, and prosecutors asked for only 4 years behind bars.

During the second trial, the prosecution’s key witness, who had described how the packets of heroin were discovered at Osipova’s residence, changed his story. He said that his previous testimony had been false, and that in fact the Federal Drug Agency had planted the drugs.

This second version of events was confirmed when the witness took a lie detector test, Kommersant reported. But the court decided to exclude everything related to the search, leaving only two alleged incidents where Osipova was accused of trying to buy heroin in sting operations.

According to Osipova’s husband, political activist Sergei Fomchenkov, both cases were completely fabricated, Kommersant reported. In the first case, none of the witnesses were able to confirm that Osipova had been present, and in the second case, the prosecution presented a secret witness. Fomchenkov says that a friend of Osipova admitted that she was forced to slander her in court. The friend, he said, has now disappeared.

Although the court is not bound by prosecutorial sentencing suggestions, a sentence twice as long as the sentence sought by prosecutors is very rare, Kommersant notes.

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Is There Anything Eating Pickles Can't Cure?

Fermented foods — from sauerkraut to kimchi to yogurt — are known to protect intestinal health, improve mental health and even help prevent cancer. But scientists say we need to be careful about overstating the benefits.

SuckerPunch Pickles​

SuckerPunch Pickles

Margit Kossobudzka

WARSAW — They include sauerkraut, dill pickles, pickled beets, and kimchi … but also kefir and sourdough bread. These foods — traditional to Polish, Korean, and West African cuisines — are trending across the world thanks to their diverse health benefits.

Pickles, or fermented foods, are technically defined as "food or beverages produced by the controlled growth of microorganisms and the transformation of food ingredients by enzymatic action." Aside from the traditional pickled vegetables found in jars, the benefits of fermented foods can also be found in any foods which are made using lactic acid fermentation — even bread made on a fermented base, such as sourdough.

Research shows that fermented foods can not only strengthen gut health but also boost mental health and well-being, improve mood, and help foster a healthy immune response.

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