On October 18, 2018, while speaking at a meeting of the pro-Kremlin Valdai Club in the city of Sochi, Russian President Putin made a statement about the use of nuclear weapons against Russia:
The aggressor should know that retribution is inevitable, anyway it will be destroyed. We, as a victim of aggression, we will go to Heaven as martyrs, and they will simply die, because they will not even have time to repent.
According to Putin, Russia will use nuclear weapons only when it is convinced that someone is striking a blow at its territory: “There is no preventive strike in our concept of the use of nuclear weapons. […] Our concept is a retaliatory strike.”
Putin added: “We are not afraid of anything at all, — a country with such a big territory, with such a defense system, with such a population, ready to defend its independence, its sovereignty. Not in every country there is such a predisposition of citizens to give their lives for the Motherland as we have.”
Regarding the annexation of the Crimea, Putin remarked: “The Crimea is ours. Ours why? Not because we came and grabbed something. People came to the “referendum” in the Crimea and voted.”
On the eve of the event, CNN reported that Russia has upgraded a number of military facilities in the Kaliningrad region in the Baltic area. In particular, from July 19 to October 1, the reconstruction of a bunker for the storage of nuclear weapons was carried out.
Meanwhile, in Moscow Putin’s followers are threatening journalists. On October 17, 2018, a funeral wreath with a photo of the journalist Denis Korotkov with an inscription “traitor of the Motherland” was placed at the door of Moscow newspaper Novaya Gazeta’s editorial office. The next day, a basket with a decapitated ram’s head and a note was placed at the same door. The note said: “To the Chief Editor of Novaya Gazeta [Sergei Kozheurov]. Greetings to you and Korotkov.”
Denis Korotkov is the author of high-profile investigations into the business empire of “Putin’s cook” Yevgeny Prigozhin. Prigozhin’s empire includes the Petersburg factory of trolls and the Wagner Group of Russian mercenaries. Korotkov has received many threats in the past. On October 19, 2018 an internet delivery arrived in his apartment — a bouquet with an odd number of flowers (which means a mourning bouquet in Russia) with a note “We will never forget you!”
Taking into consideration the recent tragic death in the Central African Republic of three Russian journalists who went there to investigate the Wagner Group’s activity, these threats mean real danger. In Russia, at least 58 journalists have died violent deaths since 1992.
On October 20, 2018 Harlem Désir, Representative on Freedom of the Media of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, deplored the intimidation and death threats directed at journalists of the well-known Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta. He urged the Russian authorities to swiftly and fully investigate these incidents and ensure journalists’ safety.
On October 22, 2018 Novaya Gazeta published an article by Denis Korotkov about Valery Amelchenko, who since the end of 2012, on the instructions of Prigozhin’s people participated in attacks on oppositionists and bloggers, and in special operations in Russia and abroad, including poisonings.