Nemtsov’s death: ‘Putin is the last person to be interested’

Boris Nemtsov (RIA Novosti / Grigoriy Sisoev)

Dmitry Babich: It’s clearly a huge tragedy. It’s a very cruel murder. But certainly I would not say that Mr. Nemtsov was in any way a threat to President Putin. He had absolutely zero chances of winning any elections at least since the 1990s, when he had some electoral successes. So to say that Nemtsov was killed in order to influence Russian policy on Ukraine, I think it’s clearly an exaggeration.

RT: And of course, the last person in the world who was interested in this murder is President Putin, because it’s quite clear how this story is going to be spun by the Western media.

DB: In general I would say that, if you look at history, whenever there is a deterioration of relations between Russia and the West, opposition figures, sometimes liberal politicians, are murdered under mysterious circumstances. And all of them at a certain moment had connections with powerful oligarchs, like Mr. Berezovsky – who is now also dead – and others. And these are always shady stories. So it’s a tragedy of the Russian liberal movement that almost all of its leaders die violent deaths under mysterious circumstances.

RT: So, what about the reaction to Nemtsov’s death? What are people saying out there?

DB: Liberal opposition leaders, people like Alexei Kudrin (former finance minister) and Mikhail Kasyanov (former prime minister), they all say this is a tragedy for Russia, that he was a great politician. I wouldn’t quite agree that he was a successful politician, at least during the last 15 years of his political activity. But certainly, his figure is connected to the 90s. And various people have various feelings about this period. It was the period of, I would say, political youth of Russia, when we first got a taste of democracy, and Mr. Nemtsov is associated in our memory with that time – which was difficult, but also interesting. So I don’t think a lot of people consider Mr. Nemtsov a hero, but certainly everybody has been made very sad and angry by the cruelty of this murder.

Boris Nemtsov killed in Moscow LIVE UPDATES

RT: Another opposition figure, Mikhail Kasyanov, has said that he has no clue who could possibly want Nemtsov dead. What do you think the possible motives could be? We know that he was an opposition figure, a popular opposition figure. What could these motives be? We don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves, and we know this is speculation.

DB: Well I agree with former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov that it is very difficult to guess who would be interested in this murder. Certainly, I would repeat my thought that President Putin is the last person to be interested in this kind of development. Nemtsov was not only a critic of Putin; he insulted Putin many times – in public, in the mass media. He was an open political opponent of Putin, to put it mildly. So having that person killed right now, of course it’s a huge gift to Putin-haters in the West, who will immediately start spinning the story the same way they spun the story of the murder of Anna Politikovskaya, or the murder of Sergei Yushchenkov…These terrible murders were always blamed by the mainstream media on President Putin, although absolutely no facts would support those theories.

RT: Moving on down the road, what possible implications could we be seeing of Nemtsov’s murder for the Russian political arena?

DB: Well I think the main implications will be in the way the Western press will react to it, because I don’t foresee any significant changes in the Russian political landscape. Since the 1990s, Nemtsov was not a successful politician. He was not particularly popular among the general public. Just about six months ago, he won a small regional election in Yaroslavl, became a deputy in the local legislature. Before that, for about 10 years, he could not win a single election. So, most of the implications will be in the media sphere, how the Western media will play this terrible tragedy, especially in the context of the war in Ukraine, which the Western media also blames on Putin and on Russia, I think quite unjustly.

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Robert Mugabe: A man of contrasts

As Zimbabwe's president marks his 91st birthday, our correspondent looks at a man both hated and loved around the world.

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American Missionaries Are Detained in Venezuela

The four missionaries, affiliated with a church in North Dakota, were involved in a medical assistance program when they were detained by the Venezuelan authorities this week.

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Why, despite the headlines, the world is a safer place

The most destructive category of warfare – namely, war between two big rich countries – hasn’t had a new entrant since the Korean War came to an end in 1953.

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US Homeland Security shutdown averted for one week

Congressional representatives in the Republican-controlled House vote to extend short-term funding for one week.

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A superconductor advance using ‘superatoms’

Superconducting-type electron pair correlations (credit: Avik Halder et al./Nano Letters)

USC scientists may have discovered a family of superconductor materials called superatoms that could lead to room-temperature supercomputers.

A team led by Vitaly Kresin, professor of physics at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, found that aluminum “superatoms” — homogenous clusters of atoms — appear to form Cooper pairs of electrons (one of the key elements of superconductivity) at temperatures around 100 Kelvin.

Though 100 Kelvin is about -280 degrees Fahrenheit — not quite room temperature, it’s a significant increase compared to bulk aluminum metal, which turns superconductive only near 1 Kelvin (-457 degrees Fahrenheit).

“This may be the discovery of a new family of superconductors, and raises the possibility that other types of superatoms will be capable of superconductivity at even warmer temperatures,” said Kresin, corresponding author of a paper on the finding published by Nano Letters on Jan. 28.

Superconductivity is the ability to transmit electricity without any resistance, meaning that no energy is lost in the transmission. Superconductors operating at extremely low temperatures are already used for MRI machines, powerful electromagnets that levitate maglev trains, particle accelerators, and ultrasensitive magnetic field sensors, but a room-temperature superconductor would allow engineers to make all electronic devices ultra-efficient.

Superconductivity with superatoms

When electrons flow through a material, they bump into various imperfections that knock them off course. That’s the resistance that causes energy loss in the form of heat. If the electrons are mated up into Cooper pairs, however, that connection is just strong enough to keep them on course regardless of what they bump into. Cooper pairs are what make superconductivity work.

Kresin envisions a future in which electronic circuits could be built by placing superatoms in a chain along a substrate material, allowing electricity to flow unhindered along the chain.

The research was supported by the National Science Foundation.

Abstract of A Novel Feature in Aluminum Cluster Photoionization Spectra and Possibility of Electron Pairing at T ≳ 100 K

A unique property of size-resolved metal nanocluster particles is their “superatom”-like electronic shell structure. The shell levels are highly degenerate, and it has been predicted that this can enable exceptionally strong superconducting-type electron pair correlations in certain clusters composed of just tens to hundreds of atoms. Here we report on the observation of a possible spectroscopic signature of such an effect. A bulge-like feature appears in the photoionization yield curve of a free cold aluminum cluster and shows a rapid rise as the temperature approaches ≈100 K. This is an unusual effect, not previously reported for clusters. Its characteristics are consistent with an increase in the effective density of states accompanying a pairing transition, which suggests a high-temperature superconducting state with Tc ≳ 100 K. Our results highlight the promise of metal nanoclusters as high-Tc building blocks for materials and networks.

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Homeland Security shutdown averted as House backs one-week funding deal

Increasingly bitter divide among Republicans forces congressional leaders to settle for short extension of budget arrangement

The House of Representatives finally agreed to pay for the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Friday night, just two hours before a lapse in funding that would have forced thousands of key government workers to go without pay.

But an increasingly bitter divide among Republicans forced congressional leaders to settle for just a one-week extension of the existing budget arrangement, buying them only a few short days next week to reach a longer term deal.

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Bali Nine: Myuran Sukumaran given university degree while on death row

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Colombian court convicts Alvaro Uribe aides of spying on opponents

Former president’s chief of staff Bernardo Moreno and intelligence chief Maria del Pilar Hurtado each face more than 10 years in jail

Colombia’s supreme court has convicted two close aides of former president Alvaro Uribe for organising a spying ring that illegally intercepted the communications of some of the conservative leader’s top opponents.

Maria del Pilar Hurtado, the former head of Colombia’s intelligence agency, and Bernardo Moreno, Uribe’s chief of staff, were both found guilty of several crimes including conspiracy. They each face more than 10 years in jail.

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