Luke Harding is an award-winning foreign correspondent with the Guardian. He has reported from Delhi, Berlin and Moscow and has also covered wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He is the author ofMafia State and co-author of WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy (2011) and The Liar: The Fall of Jonathan Aitken (1997), nominated for the Orwell Prize. The film rights toWikiLeaks were sold to Dreamworks and the film, “The Fifth Estate,” came out in 2013. His books have been translated into 13 languages. Luke lives in England with his wife and their two children.


“[Collusion] should be read by every conservative in this country.” —Glenn Beck

“Essential…I wish everyone who is skeptical that Russia has leverage over Trump would read it…. Harding, the former Moscow bureau chief of The Guardian, has been reporting on shady characters like Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman who was indicted last month, long before Trump announced his candidacy…. There’s no longer any serious question that there was cooperation between Trump’s campaign and Russia, but the extent of the cooperation, and the precise nature of it, remains opaque…. [Collusion] is invaluable in collating the overwhelming evidence of a web of relationships between the Kremlin, Trump and members of Trump’s circle.” —Michelle Goldberg, The New York Times

“Harding…presents a powerful case for Russian interference, and Trump campaign collusion, by collecting years of reporting on Trump’s connections to Russia and putting it all together in a coherent narrative. It’s the sheer breadth of connections, many of them dating back 20 years or more, between Trump and his associates and Russians with close ties to the Kremlin that put the lie to Trump’s repeated claims that he has no ties to Russia.” —The Nation


Russia’s “It Girl” is a Presidential “Anti-Establishment” Candidate

MOSCOW, January 22. /TASS/. Activists from TV host Ksenia Sobchak’s election headquarters have collected more than 101,000 signatures in her support, edging past the needed 100,000, according to a counter at Sobchak’s election website.

Sobchak is running for the Russian presidency as a nominee from the Civil Initiative party. Candidates from non-parliamentary parties have to collect at least 100,000 signatures for the election and file no more than 105,000 with the Central Election Commission (CEC).

According to the site’s counter, 101,008 signatures have been collected to date. The CEC will be receiving signatures and documents for the registration until 18:00 Moscow time January 31. Sixty thousand signatures in support of each candidate will be subject to review by the CEC.

TV personality and socialite Ksenia Sobchak announced plans to run for president of Russia in 2018. Sobchak, 35, is the daughter of late Anatoly Sobchak, the first democratically elected mayor of St. Petersburg who was once a political mentor to Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

The presidential election in Russia will take place on March 18, 2018.

FILE – In this Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012 file photo Russian socialite and TV host Kseniya Sobchak, daughter of the late St. Petersburg mayor, Anatoly Sobchak, takes a photo of journalists during her interview in the Echo Moskvy (Echo of Moscow) radio station in Moscow, Russia. “I’m Ksenia Sobchak, and I’ve got something to lose. But I’m here.” This is what the blond socialite and TV personality said when she began her unlikely foray into political activism by taking the stage at a huge anti-Putin rally in December. Once considered untouchable because of her family’s close personal ties to President Vladimir Putin, Sobchak has since found that she does indeed have something to lose, as her apartment has been raided by police and she has been called in for interrogation. It has been a quick change of fortune for Russia’s It Girl, who like many Russians of her generation experienced a civic awakening after many years of political passivity. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, file)
Russian socialite and TV host Kseniya Sobchak, center, daughter of the late St. Petersburg mayor, Anatoly Sobchak, and State Duma deputy Ilya Ponomarev, second left, walk with protesters in downtown Moscow, late Tuesday, May 8, 2012 a day after Putin’s inauguration. Vladimir Putin took the oath of office in a brief but regal Kremlin ceremony on Monday, while on the streets outside thousands of helmeted riot police prevented hundreds of demonstrators from protesting his return to the presidency. (AP Photo/Sergey Ponomarev)
Russian reality television star and socialite Kseniya Sobchak, left, and Russian film director and actor Ivan Okhlobystin arrive at the f MuzTV Awards ceremony, in Moscow, Friday, June 3, 2011. (AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel)
ITAR-TASS 63: MOSCOW, RUSSIA. MARCH 14. TV personality Ksenia Sobchak in pink outfit with poodles on the set of Circus With Celebs Show (Tsirk So Zvyozdami) broadcast on Russia’s Channel One. (Photo ITAR-TASS / Ruslan Roshchupkin)

ITAR-TASS 10: MOSCOW, RUSSIA. FEBRUARY 8. TV host and socialite Ksenia Sobchak poses for the press in the shopping centre European at the Russian premiere of William Heins comedy Pledge This! starring Paris Hilton. Ksenia Sobchak is the voice of Paris Hilton in the comedy released in Russia under the title Blonde in Chocolate. (Photo ITAR-TASS / Vitaly Belousov)

MOSCOW, RUSSIA. NOVEMBER 29, 2014. TV presenter Ksenia Sobchak at the opening of the GUM Skating Rink in Moscow’s Red Square. Ilya Pitalev/TASS

MOSCOW, RUSSIA. MARCH 3, 2015. Actress Anna Ukolova (L) as bride Agafya and TV presenter Ksenia Sobchak as matchmaker Fyokla Ivanovna perform in a scene from Nikolai Gogol’s play The Marriage staged by Filipp Grigoryan at the Theatre of Nations in Moscow. Mikhail Japaridze/TASS

ITAR-TASS 04: MOSCOW, RUSSIA. NOVEMBER 20, 2009. TV presenter Kseniya Sobchak attends the Glamour Women of the Year awards ceremony. (Photo ITAR-TASS / Maxim Shemetov)

ITAR-TASS 36: MOSCOW, RUSSIA. JANUARY 22, 2010. Socialite Kseniya Sobchak and dancer Yevgeny Papunaishvili dancing during the shooting of the show ‘Dances With Stars: 2010 Season’ for the Rossiya TV Channel. This is a Russian version of the BBC’s ‘Strictly Come Dancing’. (Photo ITAR-TASS / Alexei Ladygin)

Photo courtesy Valery Sharfulin for TASS


Putin takes icy plunge into waters of Lake Seliger

All photos courtesy Alexei Druzhinin, Russian Presidential Press and Information Office, TASS.

Putin often attends church services during major Orthodox Christian holidays, but this is the first time the Kremlin has reported that the president has participated in the ice swimming event

MOSCOW, January 19. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin visited a monastery to the northwest of Moscow on Thursday and took a dunk in the icy waters of Lake Seliger to celebrate the Epiphany, which commemorates the baptism of Jesus Christ, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

“On the occasion of Epiphany, Putin attended a liturgy and also took part in the Epiphany bathing in Lake Seliger,” Peskov said.
Putin visited the Nilo-Stolobensky monastery in the Tver Region after wrapping up his working visit to St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region.

TVER REGION, RUSSIA – JANUARY 19, 2018: Russia’s President Vladimir Putin dips in the icy waters of Lake Seliger during the celebration of Epiphany. In Eastern Christianity, the feast of Epiphany commemorates the Baptism of Jesus. The Russian Orthodox Church celebrates the holiday according to the Julian calendar. Alexei Druzhinin/Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/TASS
Ðîññèÿ. Òâåðñêàÿ îáëàñòü. 19 ÿíâàðÿ 2018. Ïðåçèäåíò Ðîññèè Âëàëèìèð Ïóòèí âî âðåìÿ êðåùåíñêèõ êóïàíèé íà îçåðå Ñåëèãåð. Àëåêñåé Äðóæèíèí/ïðåññ-ñëóæáà ïðåçèäåíòà ÐÔ/ÒÀÑÑ
TVER REGION, RUSSIA – JANUARY 19, 2018: Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is about to dip in the icy waters of Lake Seliger during the celebration of Epiphany. In Eastern Christianity, the feast of Epiphany commemorates the Baptism of Jesus. The Russian Orthodox Church celebrates the holiday according to the Julian calendar. Alexei Druzhinin/Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/TASS
Ðîññèÿ. Òâåðñêàÿ îáëàñòü. 19 ÿíâàðÿ 2018. Ïðåçèäåíò Ðîññèè Âëàëèìèð Ïóòèí âî âðåìÿ êðåùåíñêèõ êóïàíèé íà îçåðå Ñåëèãåð. Àëåêñåé Äðóæèíèí/ïðåññ-ñëóæáà ïðåçèäåíòà ÐÔ/ÒÀÑÑ

This winter season, central Russia has not encountered traditionally cold weather and this night the temperature failed to go below minus 6-7 degrees Celsius, Peskov said. This is not the first time Putin has gone for such icy ritual immersions. The president has taken part in the ice-hole bathing event “for several years already,” he added.

Putin often attends church services during major Orthodox Christian holidays, but this is the first time the Kremlin has reported that the president has participated in the ice swimming event.

The ritual dunks in frigid waters take place overnight to January 19 on one of Orthodox Christianity’s major holidays, Epiphany. However, ice swimming is a folk custom rather than a religious ritual.

The love for the Motherland is extremely important: Vladimir Putin

© Alexey Nikolsky/Presidential press service/TASS

MOSCOW, June 21. /TASS/. The loss of patriotism is the first step to a global catastrophe and needs to be prevented, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a meeting with teachers.

“It is a very dangerous thing, the first step to a global catastrophe,” he said. “We should by no means let this happen,” the Russian leader added.

At the same time, he emphasized the importance of preserving national identity. “This is what allows us to pick up our spirits and close ranks,” he pointed out. The president also said that this referred to various nationalities living in Russia, as well as to the nation in general. “This is what unites us, this is what we’ve got,” Putin stressed.

He then quoted a poem by 19th century poet Mikhail Lermontov, entitled Motherland, in which the poet said that he had “a strange love” for his country. Putin quoted the lines where Lermontov says he loves Russia’s forests and rivers, as well as the song and dance of drunken countrymen.

“The love for the Motherland is extremely important,” the head of state said.

He added that if people felt this love, they would not leave the country to reside abroad.

It’s Christmas Day in Russia & almost 70 other countries on January 7

Photo: Russian President Vladimir Putin attends Christmas service at Church of Saints Simeon and Anna in St. Petersburg. Photo by Alexey Nikolsky, TASS.

MOSCOW, January 7. /TASS/. Orthodox Christians in Russia and other countries around the world are celebrating Christmas on January 7.

Christians conclude a four-week fast during which they confess their sins and receive communion. And on Christmas Eve they have special fasting, “until the first star,” in memory of how the Magi came first to the birthplace of Christ following the movement of the star in the sky. At present, a candle in front of the altar, which is lit at the end of the Christmas Eve service at about noon, symbolizes the star.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was among the worshippers attending the Christmas service at the Christ the Savior Cathedral. President Vladimir Putin attended the Christmas service at the Church of Saints Simeon and Anna in Saint Petersburg.

Photo by Dmitry Feoktistov, TASS.

Russia’s main Orthodox cathedral is the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, built to commemorate the victory in the Patriotic War of 1812.

The Russian Orthodox Church today has more than 36,000 churches and 900 monasteries in almost 70 countries. Religious services are conducted during the night and in the morning in all Orthodox churches on all continents.

January 7 is also Christmas day for Orthodox Christians in Serbia, Jerusalem, Georgia, and the monastic community of Mount Athos in Greece, one of Orthodox Christianity’s holiest sites. January 7 is a national holiday in Russia along with Belarus, Egypt, Ethiopia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro and Serbia.

Dramatic Video from Russian Security Forces Shows IS Terrorist Bust in St. Petersburg

Photo of Kazan Cathedral Courtesy St. Petersburg Guide, Facebook

The detained suspects planned a series of terrorist attacks in St. Petersburg on December 16, 2017. Today President Putin thanked President Trump and the CIA for helping to foil the plot.

Video may be found here (not in English):

MOSCOW, December 15. /TASS/. A group of seven people affiliated with the Islamic State terror organization (outlawed in Russia) was detained this week in Saint Petersburg, where they planned to carry out a series of terrorist attacks.

An FSB video carried by RBC shows one of the suspects confessing to preparing the terrorist attack in St. Petersburg.

“I was supposed to make the explosives and… pack them into bottles with projectiles attached,” he said.

The video also shows FSB operatives detaining a suspect at a shipping container that was supposedly used as an explosives lab and raiding an apartment, where explosives, assault weapons, ammunition and Islamist literature was found.

“The group was administered by ringleaders of the international terrorist organization from abroad by means of the instant messaging service Telegram,” the press service stated.

“Seven members of the group were detained in the course of a special operation in Saint Petersburg on December 13 and 14,” the FSB press service said. “A significant amount of explosive devices, elements for improvised explosive devices, automatic guns, ammunition and extremist literature have been confiscated from them.”

“A laboratory for manufacturing explosive devices has been eliminated as well,” the FSB added.

One of the detained suspects has admitted his guilt of preparing to carry out terrorist attacks in Russia’s second largest city of Saint Petersburg, according to a video footage circulated by the FSB.

“I was plotting a terrorist attack in Saint Petersburg. I had to manufacture explosives, pack them in bottles… and to attach shrapnel elements,” the detained suspect said.

One of the targets was the beautiful Kazan Cathedral in St. Petersburg:

Courtesy Russia Friends, Facebook
Courtesy St. Petersburg Guide, Facebook. Photo credit: Tajmer.




Inside the Luxurious Vietnamese Resort Hosting Trump, Putin, Xi and More

President Trump will travel to Danang, Vietnam, on November 10. There, he will participate in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting and deliver a speech at the APEC CEO Summit. In the speech, the President will present the United States’ vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific region and underscore the important role the region plays in advancing America’s economic prosperity. On November 11, the President will travel to Hanoi, Vietnam for an official visit and bilateral engagements with President Tran Dai Quang and other senior Vietnamese leaders.

The InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort will host the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation) Economic Leaders’ Meeting of the 25th APEC Summit, on 11 November 2017. The 2017 APEC Summit comes to Vietnam’s third largest city for an event that marks a milestone in the city’s socio-economic development.

Opened since 2012, the resort has undergone some infrastructural investments, including widening internal roads and upgrading technical facilities, including a major face-lift for its ‘Summit’ conference centre. A new 500sqm reception hall has been built alongside new meeting rooms and a VIP lounge with a unique design by architect Bill Bensley.

The Summit Conference Centre will welcome heads of government from all 21 member economies, along with thousands of delegates, entrepreneurs and international media.

Monkey Mountain and the resort overlooking a private bay.

Private villa.
Club Peninsula Suite.
Club Peninsula Suite double bath.
Private suite’s ocean view.
Newly opened Great Hall
Breakfast on the beach.
Afternoon tea.
La Maison 1888 Restaurant with various dining rooms
Meeting room.
Theater style meeting area.
Architect Bill Bensley’s unique design.
Waiting area inspired by cave paintings.

Scheduled attendees at the 2017 APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting

Australia Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull

Brunei  Sultan Hassanal  Bolkiah

Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Chile President Michelle Bachelet

China President Xi Jinping

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam

Indonesia President Joko Widodo

Japan Prime Minister Shinzō Abe

South Korea President Moon Jae-in

Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak

Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill

Peru President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte

Russia President Vladimir Putin

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

Taiwan Special Representative of President James Soong

Thailand Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha

United States President Donald Trump

Vietnam President Trần Đại Quang (host)