Finland jets monitor Russian fighters on border flights

Source: BBC

Finland’s Defence Ministry says it has scrambled jets twice in the past 24 hours to monitor suspected airspace violations by Russian fighters.

A Russian Su-27 fighter was detected in the Gulf of Finland south of Porvoo late on Thursday, the ministry said.

Another Russian Su-27 was detected on a suspicious flight there earlier. “Russian military aviation over the Baltic Sea has been intense,” it said.

Finland is not in Nato but co-operates closely with the 28-nation alliance.

Porvoo lies just east of Helsinki, and is 140km (87 miles) from the Russian border.

Nato has complained repeatedly of provocative Russian military flights in the Baltic region. But it is rare for Finland to report such suspected violations.

Russian bombers also regularly fly long patrol missions from the Arctic down to the North Atlantic or Bay of Biscay, testing Nato reactions on the way.

And Russia plans to step up similar patrols in the North Pacific, sending bombers from bases in eastern Siberia.

Russia was angered by the deployment of Nato forces in the three Baltic states – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – after those nations broke away from the Soviet Union in 1991 and joined Nato in 2004.

During the Cold War – which ended in 1991 – Finland remained neutral and developed strong trade ties with the Soviet Union.

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Snowden says It’s a ‘Dark Day for Russia’ after Putin Signs Anti-Terror Law


Whistleblower and ex-NSA employee Edward Snowden has criticized a new anti-terror law introduced on Thursday by Russian President Vladimir Putin, referring it as “repressive” and noting that it is a “dark day for Russia.”

The new legislation signed by Putin would compel the country’s telephone carriers and Internet providers to record and store the private communications of each and every one of their customers for six months – and turn them over to the government if requested.

The data collected on customers would include phone calls, text messages, photographs, and Internet activities that would be stored for six months, and “metadata” would be stored up to 3 years.

Moreover, Instant messaging services that make use of encryption, including WhatsApp, Telegram, and Viber, could face heavy fines of thousands of pounds if these services continue to operate in Russia without handing over their encryption keys to the government.

“Putin has signed a repressive new law that violates not only human rights but common sense. A dark day for Russia,” Snowden wrote on Twitter.

Snowden is responsible for revealing global mass surveillance programs by leaking NSA classified documents back in June 2013 before finding asylum in Russia.

The activist explained that the new Russian law, in addition to “political and constitutional consequences,” would cost telecommunications providers over $30 Billion to implement the new law, which is more than they can afford.

The CEO of Russia’s second-largest telecom company Megafon told a local newspaper Thursday that he would rather pay the government higher taxes than spend over $3 Billion yearly on infrastructure upgrades.

“Well be unable to fulfill the requirements of law in the way that it exists at present,” said Megafon CEO Sergey Soldatenkov, adding that his company only generates an annual profit of $780 Million.

“When we saw the provisions of the bill, we really hoped that it will not be accepted. I believe we have done everything possible to inform deputies, Federation Council [and] the government that the bill in this form is impossible,” Soldatenkov added.

A spokesperson for Tele2, another Russian telecom company, said it might have to raise prices threefold or more in order to accommodate the new law, The WSJ reported.

The Russian government will establish the precise requirements of the new legislation, according to the Kremlin website.

This frightening new legislation comes into force on July 20th.