Russia, Belarus Hold Joint War Games

Russia NHL star Ovechkin psyched for Olympic torch moment

Photographer take pictures as the Soyuz TMA-10M spacecraft carrying the International Space Station (ISS) crew of U.S. astronaut U.S. astronaut Michael Hopkins, Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy blasts off from the launch pad at the Baikonur cosmodrome September 26, 2013. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov  (KAZAKHSTAN - Tags: SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY)

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova was admitted to the hospital at the prison where she is serving a two-year term for a protest against President Vladimir Putin in Russia’s main Orthodox Christian cathedral, Pyotr Verzilov said. Verzilov said the acting head of the prison had described Tolokonnikova’s condition as “horrible” but had given no further details. He also said prison officials would not show him documents about her transfer to hospital or allow her lawyers to visit. The administration of the prison could not immediately be reached for comment, and prison service employees in the remote Mordovia region declined to comment. Tolokonnikova, 23, announced on Monday that she was starting a hunger strike to protest against “slave labor” at Corrective Colony No. 14, where she is serving her sentence, and that she had received a death threat from a senior prison official. She said inmates were forced to work up to 17 hours a day, deprived of sleep and subjected to collective punishment and violence from senior inmates enforcing order in a system reminiscent of the Soviet-era Gulag forced labor camps. Prison authorities dismissed her accusations that the jail is run in violation of Russian law and human rights standards. ABUSE CLAIM Earlier on Friday, Verzilov gave out a statement from Tolokonnikova in which she said prison guards had taken drinking water away from her isolation cell and one had roughly grabbed her and held her in place by her shoulders. The Mordovia branch of the prison service said the drinking water had been replaced by warm boiled water in accordance with doctor’s orders and that Tolokonnikova had refused to let medics check her body for bruises. Tolokonnikova and two other band members were convicted of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred for a February 2012 protest in which they burst into Christ the Saviour Cathedral and prayed to the Virgin Mary to rid Russia of Putin. Kremlin critics say their trial was part of a crackdown on dissent since Putin started a third term at the Kremlin in May 2012.

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Sent! A link has been sent to your friend’s email address. Join the Nation’s Conversation To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the Conversation Guidelines and FAQs Russia, Belarus hold joint war games AP 1:21 p.m. EDT September 26, 2013 Story Highlights Massive joint military exercise involved more than 22,000 troops Russia and Belarus are allies and have close ties Thursday’s joint exercise was their biggest so far SHARE 1 CONNECT 17 TWEET COMMENTEMAILMORE MINSK, Belarus (AP) Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and his Belarusian counterpart have watched a massive joint military exercise of the two ex-Soviet neighbors that involved more than 22,000 troops. The West 2013 exercise conducted Thursday near the city of Grodno in western Belarus and in Russia’s westernmost Kaliningrad region also involved more than 500 armored vehicles and about 90 aircraft along with ships of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. Russia and Belarus are allies and have close economic, political and military ties. Russia has several military facilities in Belarus, and the two nations operate a joint air defense system. The two armies have regularly conducted joint maneuvers, Thursday’s exercise being the biggest so far. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko attended the exercise along with his nine-year old son, who donned full combat fatigues. Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

The flame will be transported by torch relay to the Russian resort of Sochi, which will host the Feb. 7-23, 2014 Winter Olympics. CAPTION By Associated Press, ANCIENT OLYMPIA, Greece Alex Ovechkin said he is thrilled to kick off Russias Olympic torch relay for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi a mammoth effort covering the countrys nine time zones that will include a trip to outer space. Im going to be probably smiling all the time and Im going to remember this stuff for all of my life, the NHL star said late Saturday after arriving in Ancient Olympia for Sundays flame lighting ceremony. PHOTOS: Last week’s best news photos The 28-year-old Washington Capitals winger will be the first Russian to run with the torch on Sunday after 18-year-old Greek alpine skier Ioannis Antoniou will take it out of the ancient stadium in southern Greece, the birthplace of the ancient Olympics. I going to tell my kids, my grandkids, and its probably one of the biggest moments in my life, Ovechkin said. The 6-foot-3 hockey player said he was not worried about a potential match against his U.S.-based teammates. Im playing in the NHL right now, he said. Im playing against lots of my friends, with players from different countries there so, you know, its kind of going to be normal. Ovechkin sidestepped controversy over Russias record on gay rights, saying only that he was looking forward to the competition. To be honest with you, Im a hockey player and Im not (into) politics. In this kind of situation youd have to ask those (in) politics. Games organizers described Ovechkin as a natural choice to represent Russias campaign to increase its visibility around the world. In remarks to The Associated Press and at a news conference, Dmitry Chernyshenko, chief organizer of Sochi 2014, described the hockey player as the obvious choice. From the beginning of this effort, he was our proud ambassador for the games …