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Russia to get its own WikiLeaks

Wikileaks Screenshot from RFE/RLAs WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange hands himself over to British police over rape charges a whistleblower closer to home is raising his head above the parapet and sparing none, not even Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Alexei Navalny, the lawyer and popular blogger who last month raised a storm by releasing documents accusing Transeft of embezzling $4 billion, is setting up his own corruption-exposing website in Russia to deal with what he regards as a rampant problem.
[Apparent WikiLeaks screenshot, from www.rferl.org; materials at rferl.org copyright (c) 2010. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036, www.rferl.org]

The site is modeled on the WikiLeaks website, which hit the headlines last week after it began releasing more than 250,000 confidential US diplomatic cables. It has faced flak from governments and hackers since.

Experts said the Russian whistleblowing website may prove to be a good resource for tackling corruption, especially since Navalny is already a popular public figure, RIA Novosti reported.

Putin implicated

"These people are stealing from our children. Our country has no future because of this system based on theft," he told Afisha magazine after making headlines with his Transneft allegations. "Top political leaders let governors and mayors steal as much as they wanted, that is to say they received political authority to do so," he railed.

"What we in effect end up with is fake elections," he claimed. "He went on to say that money keeps on getting siphoned off while the gap between rich and poor remains huge. "These people are eating our country alive," he said.

And responsibility goes all the way up. "I'm not ready to say that Putin personally takes away suitcases of money...but [I will say] that he personally offers a political cover [for this], of that there is no doubt," he told Afisha.

Hope for the future

Navalny is convinced that his website will serve the public interest. "All this talk about the deep cultural roots of corruption is complete nonsense," he said. "I do not believe Russia is a hopeless country, if I believed that I would not be doing this."

Problems at source

While Navalny girds his loins for the fight with corruption Assange is facing a rape case in Sweden.

He handed himself in to British police on Tuesday as details emerged that he is no longer wanted on such serious charges, and that sex with two women in Sweden, at least at first, was consensual, the Washington Post reported.

NATO worries

Further Wikileaks revelations revealed on Tuesday that NATO is expanding defence plans to include former Soviet satellites Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, to defend them against fears of Russian aggression.

The Russia-Georgia conflict in 2008 terrified the Baltic states, who asked NATO to protect them, culminating in the expanded defence plans which were approved in January, the New York Times reported.

Sergei Lavrov, Russian foreign minister, said that further revelations by WikiLeaks or other whistleblowers do not concern him. "I am not interested, we do not have any [incriminating] documents," he told Interfax.


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