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Russia

Signs Of A New US-Russia Spy War?

VOICE OF RUSSIA, KOMMERSANT (Russia) HOUSTON PRESS, (US)

MOSCOW - Russian authorities are staying mostly mum since the United States accused 11 people this week, all from countries in the former Soviet Union, of illegal export of high-tech military equipment and money laundering.

Moscow-based daily Kommersant reports that seven of the 11 accused were arrested near Houston, and an additional member of the group of accused was arrested later at the airport. The US is searching for the last three accused, and the US authorities think they are hiding in Russia, Kommersant reports.

The US has said that the leader of the group was a 46-year-old man originally from Kazakhstan named Aleksander Fishenko. Fishenko obtained American citizenship in 2003, but is accused of having lied on his original application for refugee status in the US. More importantly, US authorities say that his electronics company, which brought in more than $50 million since 2002, was used to illegally export to Russia, Kommersant reports.

Following the arrests, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Alexander Lukashevich downplayed the role of espionage in the alleged criminal ring, according to Voice of Russia radio.

"We keep an eagle eye on the situation around a group of individuals, among them Russian citizens," Lukashevich was quoted as saying. "They are charged with illegally exporting microelectronics from the US to Russia. The American side especially mentioned a criminal nature of the accusations that is said are not related to any intelligence activity."

The Houston Press website reported that Fishenko's front company "had a rather elaborate faux operation humming at a nondescript strip mall in southwest Houston."

Igor Khokhlov of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow was quoted as blaming the arrests on presidential campaign politics in the US.

"The Republicans blame Obama for showing a low-key approach toward Russia," Khokhlov was quoted as saying by Voice of Russia.

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Geopolitics

Utter Pessimism, What Israelis And Palestinians Share In Common

Right now, according to a joint survey of Israelis and Palestinians, hopes for a peaceful solution of coexistence simply don't exist. The recent spate of violence is confirmation of the deepest kind of pessimism on both sides for any solution other than domination of the other.

An old Palestinian protester waves Palestinian flag while he confronts the Israeli soldiers during the demonstration against Israeli settlements in the village of Beit Dajan near the West Bank city of Nablus.

A Palestinian protester confronts Israeli soldiers during the demonstration against Israeli settlements in the West Bank village of Beit Dajan on Jan. 6.

Pierre Haski

-Analysis-

PARIS — Just before the latest outbreak of violence between Israelis and Palestinians, a survey of public opinion among the two peoples provided a key to understanding the current situation unfolding before our eyes.

It was a joint study, entitled "Palestinian-Israeli Pulse", carried out by two research centers, one Israeli, the other Palestinian, which for years have been regularly asking the same questions to both sides.

The result is disastrous: not only is the support for the two-state solution — Israel and Palestine side by side — at its lowest point in two decades, but there is now a significant share of opinion on both sides that favors a "non-democratic" solution, i.e., a single state controlled by either the Israelis or Palestinians.

This captures the absolute sense of pessimism commonly felt regarding the chances of the two-state option ever being realized, which currently appears to be our grim reality today. But the results are also an expression of the growing acceptance on both sides that it is inconceivable for either state to live without dominating the other — and therefore impossible to live in peace.

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