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Back to gravity: Russians talk about world’s 1st space movie

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MOSCOW (AP) — A Russian actor and a film director who spent 12 days in orbit making the world’s first movie in space said Tuesday they were so thrilled with their experience on the International Space Station that they felt sorry to leave.

Actor Yulia Peresild and director Klim Shipenko flew to the International Space Station in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft together with cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov. After a stint on the station, they returned to Earth on Sunday with another veteran Russian cosmonaut, Oleg Novitskiy.

Peresild and Klimenko filmed segments of a movie titled “Challenge,” in which a surgeon played by Peresild rushes to the space station to save a crew member who needs an urgent operation in orbit. Novitskiy, who flew the film crew home, stars as the ailing cosmonaut in the movie.

Speaking to reporters via video link Tuesday, 37-year-old Peresild lamented that a busy filming schedule left little chance to enjoy the views.

“We realized only a day before the departure that we didn’t spend enough time looking in the windows,” she said. “I had a mixed feeling. On the one hand, it felt like an eternity but on the other hand it felt like we just arrived and immediately need to return.”

Peresild and Shipenko said they were feeling fine but still were having some trouble adapting to the pull of gravity.

“We have to learn again how to walk,” Peresild said, adding that she still instinctively tries to attach various items with Velcro to prevent them from floating away.

She said she slept very well in orbit and four hours of sleep were enough to have a good rest.

Shipenko, 38, who has made several commercially successful movies, said he filmed over 30 hours of movie material on board the space station.

“Of course, it posed both artistic and technical challenges,” he said.

Shipenko, who will continue the shooting on Earth after filming the movie’s space episodes, said the film’s release date would be announced next year.

Dmitry Rogozin, head of the Russian state space corporation Roscosmos, was a key force behind the movie project, describing it as a chance to burnish the nation’s space glory and rejecting criticism from some Russian media over the efforts spent on it.

Before Russia took the lead in feature filmmaking in space, NASA had talked to actor Tom Cruise about making a movie in orbit.

NASA confirmed last year that it was in talks with Cruise about filming on the International Space Station with SpaceX providing the lift. In May 2020, it was reported that Cruise was developing the project alongside director Doug Liman, Elon Musk and NASA.

Vladimir Isachenkov, The Associated Press

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CP NewsAlert: Quebec legislature adopts Bill 96 language reform

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QUEBEC — The Quebec legislature has voted to adopt Bill 96, the Coalition Avenir Québec government’s language reform.

The controversial bill passed by a vote of 78-29, with the opposition Liberals and Parti Québécois opposing it.

More coming.

The Canadian Press

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International

Kremlin critic Browder urges forced oligarch whistleblowers

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By Jamey Keaten in Davos

DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) — Kremlin critic Bill Browder wants governments to step up efforts to get to the riches squirreled away by Russian oligarchs and linked to President Vladimir Putin by forcing the accountants, lawyers and others who set up murky legal and financial structures to become whistleblowers.

Browder, author of the nonfiction best-seller “Freezing Order: “A True Story of Money Laundering, Murder and Surviving Vladimir Putin’s Wrath,” says Russia’s war in Ukraine has increased attention on how oligarchs are custodians of the Russian leader’s wealth.

“But the oligarchs are not naïve,” Browder told The Associated Press on Tuesday at the annual World Economic Forum meetingin Davos. “They’ve hired the best lawyers, best asset protection specialists, and there are shell companies and trust companies and offshore companies and nominees and proxies — and the whole thing is extremely well thought-through.”

The founder of Heritage Capital, an early investor in post-Soviet Russia, Browder raised the alarm after his Russian tax adviser, Sergei Magnitsky, died in a Russian prison in 2009. He has become arguably one of the world’s biggest critics of Putin ever since.

Browder credited Biden administration efforts to put a squeeze on Putin and his government since the war began by putting a freeze on assets of Russia’s central bank, chasing the oligarchs, halting exports of technology to Russia and supplying weapons to Ukraine.

But when it comes to getting Russian oligarchs’ money, “we’re only scratching the surface,” Browder said.

“There’s only 35 oligarchs out of 118 who are on the Forbes (richest people) list who have been sanctioned by the either the U.S., EU, U.K., Canada or Australia. We need to get 118,” he said.

Browder says their money is held in top banks in places like London, New York and Zurich as well as in real estate, hedge funds and private equity funds:.

“It’s right in front of our eyes and the amounts are unbelievably big,” he said. “I estimate that since Vladimir Putin took power, he and the 1,000 people around him have stolen $1 trillion from the Russian state. And that money is stored in our financial capitals.”

He acknowledged that what he sees as the solution is “quite radical” — forcing “the people who set up these structures, the enablers, the lawyers, the accountants, the trustees under law to become whistleblowers for the government.”

“In other words, put an amendment into all money laundering and all sanctions law to say that people who are involved in setting up structures for sanctioned individuals have to come forward with the information to the government — or face a punishment of fines and imprisonment,” Browder said.

Jacques Attali, a former top French government official and past president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, expressed hesitation about Browder’s idea.

To begin with, “it must be said that a lawyer shouldn’t do anything illegal — and that would be enough,” said Attali, an eminence grise at Davos. “A lawyer is necessarily at the service of his or her client.”

“You can strengthen legislation. You can’t ask a lawyer to turn in his or her client,” he said.

Vitaly Klitschko, mayor of the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, supported the idea of further cracking down on Russian oligarchs’ money, saying, “I think we have to use every leverage to stop the aggression, and it’s not a secret that the Russians use the money for his (Putin’s) army.”

“Right now, sanctions work pretty well. Why? Because sanctions stop the financing of the Russian army,” Klitschko said.

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