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British Visa Process May Have Been Compromised Due To Russian Infiltration

Bellingcat and The Insider quickly exposed the agents' real names.

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Police officers stand outside the City Stay Hotel used by two suspected Russian military intelligence agents — who have been accused of attempting to murder former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia — in London, Britain. VOA
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Investigative group Bellingcat and Russian website The Insider are suggesting that Russian intelligence has infiltrated the computer infrastructure of a company that processes British visa applications.

The investigation, published Friday, aims to show how two suspected Russian military intelligence agents, who have been charged with poisoning a former Russian spy in the English city of Salisbury, may have obtained British visas.

The Insider and Bellingcat said they interviewed the former chief technical officer of a company that processes visa applications for several consulates in Moscow, including that of Britain.

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The Internet Research Agency building, dubbed the Russian troll factory, is seen at Savushkina Street in St. Petersburg, Russia. VOA

The man, who fled Russia last year and applied for asylum in the United States, said he had been coerced to work with agents of the main Russian intelligence agency FSB, who revealed to him that they had access to the British visa center’s CCTV cameras and had a diagram of the center’s computer network. The two outlets say they have obtained the man’s deposition to the U.S. authorities but have decided against publishing the man’s name, for his own safety.

The Insider and Bellingcat, however, did not demonstrate a clear link between the alleged efforts of Russian intelligence to penetrate the visa processing system and Alexander Mishkin and Anatoly Chepiga, who have been charged with poisoning Sergei Skripal in Salisbury in March this year.

The man also said that FSB officers told him in spring 2016 that they were going to send two people to Britain and asked for his assistance with the visa applications. The timing points to the first reported trip to Britain of the two men, who traveled under the names of Alexander Petrov and Anatoly Boshirov. The man, however, said he told the FSB that there was no way he could influence the decision-making on visa applications.

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British Columbia is willing to hire numerous skilled personnel for their technical industry. Pexels

The man said he was coerced to sign an agreement to collaborate with the FSB after one of its officers threatened to jail his mother, and was asked to create a “backdoor” to the computer network. He said he sabotaged those efforts before he fled Russia in early 2017.

Also Read: Heavy Cyber Attacks From Russia, US, China In India

In September, British intelligence released surveillance images of the agents of Russian military intelligence GRU accused of the March nerve agent attack on double agent Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury. Bellingcat and The Insider quickly exposed the agents’ real names and the media, including The Associated Press, were able to corroborate their real identities.

The visa application processing company, TLSContact, and the British Home Office were not immediately available for comment. (VOA)

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Many Countries Refused To Endorse Landmark Study as Climate Conference Enters Second Week

The environmental ministers arrive at COP24 and many delegates hope that they will make every effort to include the IPCC report in the conference agenda.

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Climate activists attend the March for Climate in a protest against global warming in Katowice, Poland, Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018, as the COP24 UN Climate Change Conference takes place in the city. VOA

As the U.N. global climate conference in Katowice, Poland entered its second week Sunday, the non-governmental environmental organization Greenpeace demanded urgent action from world leaders to tackle climate change.

Greenpeace activists projected a message onto the roof of the “Spodek” arena where the COP24 is being held, saying “No Hope Without Climate Action: and “Politicians Talk, Leaders Act.”

 

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Disappointing many of the scientists and delegates at the conference, the United States, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait refused to endorse a landmark study on global warming which was to be the benchmark for future action in curbing the global warming.

The four nations wanted only to “note” but not “welcome” the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that was released in October, in keeping with the views of the Trump administration. With no consensus on including the report, the idea was dropped.

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In this photograph released by the Sri Lankan Air Force media division on May 29, 2017, flooding is seen in the country’s Matara district. VOA

U.S. President Donald Trump, who has announced he is pulling the United States out of the Paris climate agreement, tweeted Saturday that “people do not want to pay large sums of money … in order to maybe protect the environment.”

The IPCC’ report said that drastic actions would be needed to achieve the Paris accord’s most ambitious target of keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius. The report warned that the world was far from that target and heading more towards an increase of 3 degrees Celsius.

Also Read: To Help Poor Countries Adapt To Global Warming, World Bank Doubles Its Funding

On Monday, the environmental ministers arrive at COP24 and many delegates hope that they will make every effort to include the IPCC report in the conference agenda. (VOA)