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‘We are fulfilling the task of the motherland’: Russians killed in missile test blast were working on ‘new weapons’

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Russia’s nuclear agency chief on Monday confirmed that five scientists killed last week were developing “new weapons” and vowed to continue testing despite the explosion.

The accident took place at an Arctic military facility on the coast of the White Sea on Thursday, but Russian authorities only admitted its nuclear nature on Saturday.

The explosion caused a spike in radiation levels.

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US experts have said it could be linked to testing of the “Burevestnik” cruise missile, touted by President Vladimir Putin earlier this year.

As a memorial service was held for the scientists on Monday, the head of nuclear agency Rosatom said their efforts would continue.

“The best (thing) for their memory will be our further work on the new weapons,” Alexei Likhachev was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.

“We are fulfilling the task of the motherland, its security will be reliably ensured.”

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Rosatom said this weekend that its staff were providing engineering and technical support for the “isotope power source” of a missile.

The missile was being tested on a platform at sea when its fuel caught fire and caused an explosion, it said. Several staff were blown into the sea by the blast.

The Russian military announced the death of two “specialists” after the explosion but it is not known if they were among the five scientists whose deaths were announced by Rosatom.

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Three other people were injured in the accident, suffering burns, according to the nuclear agency.

The military did not initially say that the accident involved nuclear equipment, stressing that radiation levels were normal afterwards.

But the nearby city of Severodvinsk recorded elevated levels following the accident and panicked residents rushed to buy iodine to counteract radiation.

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– ‘Real heroes’ –

In a state of the nation address earlier this year Putin announced the development of what he called “invincible” missiles, threatening to deploy them against “decision-making centres” in Western countries if there were serious threats against Russia.

Experts have linked the blast to the 9M730 Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile, known by NATO as SSC-X-9 Skyfall.

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Putin said in February that tests on the Burevestnik were going successfully.

The accident took place at the Nyonoksa test site on the White Sea, used for testing missiles deployed in nuclear submarines and ships since the Soviet era.

A memorial service for the scientists was held Monday in the closed city of Sarov, 500 kilometres (300 miles) east of Moscow.

Sergei Kiriyenko, the deputy head of Putin’s administration and a former nuclear chief, called the victims “real heroes” at the ceremony.

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He said that while conducting the tests the scientists took on physical risks “which, unfortunately, however much you prepare, cannot be completely avoided.”

During the Cold War, Sarov was a top-secret city known as Arzamas-16. The centre produced the Soviet Union’s first nuclear weapons.

It is still a closed city accessible only with special passes.

Last month, 14 Russian navy officers were killed in a fire on a top-secret nuclear-powered submersible in circumstances that have not been fully revealed.

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The incident comes with fears of a new arms race after Moscow and Washington withdrew earlier this year from the Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty.


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Giuliani’s Ukraine henchman once held a gun to man’s head and threatened to kill him if he told police: report

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Lev Parnas, one of Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani's henchmen who tried to help him pressure the Ukrainian government, has a long history of making death threats and associating with fraudsters, according to a new report from Politico.

According to Politico, a restraining order filed by a man who was once Parnas's landlord back in 2008 claimed that Parnas threatened to kill him after he asked him to vacate the apartment that he was renting.

"If you call the cops, they are not going to find you ever," Parnas told the man, according to the complaint.

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‘Increasingly likely’ Bolton will be hauled before House investigators over Trump’s Ukraine fiasco: report

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According to The Daily Beast, President Donald Trump's former National Security Adviser John Bolton is "increasingly likely" to be subpoenaed by Democratic investigators in the House as part of the impeachment proceedings into Trump's dealings with Ukraine.

Bolton, a longtime neoconservative war hawk, served in the role after Trump fired Gen. H. R. McMaster, but often clashed with the president on matters of national security and left the administration on bitter terms.

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Separate and unequal train service returns on Trump’s Amtrak

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Separate and unequal passenger rail travel is back at the behest of the Trump administration. Unlike the infamous 1896 Supreme Court decision known as Plessy, which denied African Americans travel in cars occupied by whites and relegated them to inferior rail cars, this new segregation is based solely on money.

Team Trump forced Amtrak to limit dining car access on four long haul routes to passengers who paid for roomettes. More routes will be affected in the future.

Those in the cheap seats are now barred from the dining cars.

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