Putin To Address Russians As Country Sets New Daily COVID-19 Record

Russian President Vladimir Putin looks at military aircrafts flying over the Kremlin and Red Square to mark the 75th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two, Moscow, May 9, 2020. Alexey DRUZHININ / SPUTNIK / AFP.

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin will address the nation about the coronavirus on Monday, as a new record of daily confirmed infections was set and number of deaths surpassed 2,000.

Putin will speak about the deadly pandemic and measures to support the Russian economy, the Kremlin said in a statement.

He is expected to announce a decision on the current national lockdown, which is due to start easing on Tuesday.

According to the official coronavirus data website set up by the Russian government, 11,656 people tested positive in the last 24 hours, with the total now at 221,344.

Russian officials say the number of cases is down to rigorous testing, with 5.6 million tests completed to date and almost half of people with coronavirus showing no symptoms.

However, the low death toll and Russia’s methods of logging fatalities have been questioned by the opposition, while doctors have said initial test kits often returned false negative results.

READ ALSO: Putin Lifts Russia’s COVID-19 ‘Non-working’ Period From Tuesday

With the majority of cases in and around Moscow, some regions have begun to relax restrictions which have seriously affected the economy.

Sparcely-populated Yakutia, Magadan and Yamal lifted restrictions on being outside and allowed the reopening of some businesses, requiring people to self-distance.

In Moscow, the mayor has announced some industries and construction sites can begin work, but masks and gloves will be mandatory starting Tuesday.

Russia’s neighbours Ukraine and Georgia began to relax restrictions Monday, while Kazakhstan lifted its state of emergency.

AFP

Putin Warns Against ‘Reckless’ Moves After Ukraine Declares Martial Law

Russian President

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Ukraine against any “reckless acts” on Tuesday after Kiev declared martial law in response to Moscow’s seizure of three of its navy vessels.

The Ukrainian parliament late on Monday voted in favor of President Petro Poroshenko’s request for the introduction of martial law in parts of the country for 30 days.

The decision came as Ukraine and Russia face their most dangerous crisis in years after Russian forces fired on, boarded and captured Kiev’s ships on Sunday off the coast of Crimea.

The incident was the first major confrontation at sea in the long-running conflict pitting Ukraine against Moscow and Russian-backed separatists in the country’s east.

It has raised fears of a wider escalation — in a conflict that has killed more than 10,000 people since 2014 — and prompted international calls for restraint and offers of mediation.

Martial law gives Ukrainian authorities the power to mobilize citizens with military experience, regulate the media and restrict public rallies in affected areas.

Moscow has accused Kiev of planning Sunday’s confrontation as a provocation aimed at drumming up support for Poroshenko ahead of elections next year and convincing Western governments to impose further sanctions on Russia.

In a phone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Putin expressed “serious concern” over the introduction of martial law, the Kremlin said in a statement.

Putin said Kiev’s actions were “clearly taken in view of the election campaign in Ukraine”.

He said he hoped Berlin could intervene with Ukrainian authorities “to dissuade them from further reckless acts”.

 Dramatic television footage 

Sunday’s incident has been playing out on Russian and Ukrainian television screens, with dramatic footage of Russian ships chasing down a Ukrainian tugboat that was trying to pass through the Kerch Strait from the Black Sea into the Sea of Azov.

Ukraine has accused Russian border patrol vessels of ramming the tugboat, which was accompanied by two small warships, and of firing on the Ukrainian vessels.

Russia’s FSB security service, which oversees border forces, confirmed weapons had been fired and the vessels seized but accused Ukrainian ships of crossing illegally into Russian waters and of ignoring warnings.

Tensions have been building for months over the Kerch Strait, especially after Russia built a new bridge across the waterway that gives it a land connection to Crimea, annexed by Moscow in 2014.

Moscow has so far resisted calls to release the three ships or the 24 sailors it has detained, suggesting they could face criminal action.

In a move sure to further anger Kiev, Russian state television late on Monday aired footage of some of the captured sailors being questioned by Moscow’s security services.

One of the sailors is heard saying “the actions of the Ukrainian armed vessels in the Kerch Strait had a provocatory character” — parroting the version of events put forward by Russian authorities.

Western governments have rallied behind Kiev in the dispute, accusing Russia of illegally blocking access to the Sea of Azov and of taking military action without justification.

Kiev urged the United States and European Union to impose more sanctions on Russia over the latest incident.

Britain, Canada, France, Germany and others expressed support for Kiev on Monday, with EU President Donald Tusk calling for Russia to return the Ukrainian sailors and ships and “refrain from further provocations”.

The United Nations Security Council met in an emergency session on the crisis on Monday, where US envoy Nikki Haley called the seizure of the ships an “outrageous violation of sovereign Ukrainian territory” and slammed “yet another reckless Russian escalation”.

She did not, however, threaten further sanctions on Russia and President Donald Trump suggested it was up to European governments to handle the crisis.

“We don’t like what’s happening and hopefully it will get straightened out. I know Europe is not — they are not thrilled. They’re working on it too. We’re all working on it together,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

AFP

Putin Shows Off Sniper Skills Firing Kalashnikov Rifle

Russian President Vladimir Putin looks through the scope as he shoots a Chukavin sniper rifle (SVC-380) during a visit to the military Patriot Park in Kubinka, outside Moscow, on September 19, 2018. PHOTO: Alexey NIKOLSKY / SPUTNIK / AFP

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday showed off his marksmanship by testing out a new Kalashnikov sniper rifle and hitting the target more than half the time.

Russian state television showed Putin in goggles and earphones crouching as he fired the silver rifle at the Kalashnikov company’s shooting range outside Moscow.

“The target is set up practically at the maximum distance,” Rossiya 24 television reported, saying that Putin appeared to be pressing the trigger while holding his breath and between heartbeats as professional snipers are supposed to do.

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin shoots a Chukavin sniper rifle (SVC-380) during a visit to the military Patriot Park in Kubinka, outside Moscow, on September 19, 2018. PHOTO: Alexey NIKOLSKY / SPUTNIK / AFP

Putin “shot five times and hit the target more than half the time” the television channel reported.

Russian defence ministry channel TV Zvezda reported the semi-automatic weapon Putin fired is “an ultra-modern rifle for Russian snipers”.

Putin was visiting a military-themed park called Patriot in the Moscow region where he laid the foundation stone for a Russian Orthodox Church.

Kalashnikov, known for the iconic AK-47 assault rifle, last month surprised observers by unveiling the prototype for a retro-styled electric car.

AFP

Putin Officially Opens World Cup In Russia

Bolivian President Evo Morales (3L), FIFA president Gianni Infantino (C-L) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (C-R) attend a gala-concert dedicated to the Russia 2018 World Cup football tournament at Red Square in Moscow on June 13, 2018. PHOTO: SERGEI CHIRIKOV / POOL / AFP

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin officially opened the World Cup on Thursday at a ceremony in Moscow’s 80,000-seat Luzhniki Stadium.

Minutes before Saudi Arabia kicked off the tournament against host nation Russia, Putin said: “I congratulate all of you at the start of the most important championship in the world.”

“Love for football unites the entire world in one team, regardless of people’s language or ideology,” Putin said to thunderous cheers from the capacity crowd.

He said Russia had approached preparations for the most-watched event in the world “responsibly, doing everything to make sure fans can enjoy this celebration.”

“This grand sporting event is taking place in Russia for the first time, and we are truly happy,” he said.

“In our country, football is not just a popular sport, not just the most beautiful sport — people here truly love it,” the Russian leader said.

The opening ceremony included a mini-concert by British pop star Robbie Williams, who performed “Let Me Entertain You”.

Russia has left no stone unturned preparing for its most important event since the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympics, spending more than $13 billion (11 billion euros) on infrastructure in the 11 host cities.

AFP

Putin Admits He Does Not Have A Smartphone

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting with scientists from the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Siberian Branch in Novosibirsk on February 8, 2018.
PHOTO: Alexey NIKOLSKY / Sputnik / AFP

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that he still does not have a smartphone, after revealing last year that he has no interest in joining any social media networks.

At a meeting with scientists and academics, Putin made the admission in response to a speech by Mikhail Kovalchuk, head of the Kurchatov nuclear research institute, while travelling in Siberia ahead of March 18 polls in which he is seeking a fourth term in the Kremlin.

“You said that everyone has smartphones. But I don’t have a smartphone,” Putin said, to laughter in the audience. He responded to a comment from Kovalchuk that “everyone has a smartphone in their pocket.”

The 65-year-old grandfather has previously admitted to technological cluelessness — saying in 2005 that he did not have a mobile phone at all — and voiced fears over content available online.

Last year while meeting schoolchildren, Putin told them he barely uses the internet, after being asked if he looked at Instagram or other social networks in his spare moments.

“I personally practically don’t use this,” Putin said of the internet, adding that members of his staff do get online.

“My hard working day finishes so late, I’m not up to Instagram,” he said.

Putin contrasts with 52-year-old Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who is often seen with an iPhone and other gadgets and puts up his own snapshots on his official Instagram page.

In past years, Putin has claimed that the internet is a “special project of the CIA” and “half pornography”.

Since his return to the Kremlin in 2012, Putin has overseen a harsh crackdown on internet freedoms, bringing in laws to allow sites with allegedly extremist content to be blocked without a court order and prosecuting a growing number of people for posting online.

Russia sentenced 43 people to jail over online posts last year, a rights group said Monday.

The internet remains one of the country’s few forums for political debate and Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny has won a youth following with live video blogs and YouTube videos.

AFP

Dangote’s Worth Drops By 32%

Dangote's Worth Drops By 32%Nigerian born Africa’s richest man, Mr Aliko Dangote, has lost 32% of his wealth.

Bloomberg reports that the president of the Dangote Group, lost 4.9 billion dollars in June, representing one-third of his wealth.

The decline resulted from the effect of falling oil prices and the devaluation of the naira, dragging the magnate’s ranking to 112 on world’s billionaires’ list.

With a total value of 10.4 billion dollars, Mr Dangote was the world’s 46th-richest person as at June 2016.

Aliko Dangote was also recently named as the second most powerful person on the African continent.

In the latest edition of its 74 world most powerful people, Forbes Magazine named billionaire Dangote along with 70 others including Russian President, Vladimir Putin; US President-Elect, Donald Trump; and German Chancellor, Angela Merkel.

Mr Dangote is listed as number 71 ahead of Trump, and the 68th most powerful in the world for this year.

The business mogul has constantly featured on the list since 2013 when he was listed as the only black African among 100 most powerful persons on the planet.

As of 2013, Dangote was the only African listed among the most powerful people in the world before the Egyptian president, Abdel El-Sisi recently featured on the list.

Aliko Dangote Among Forbes World’s Most Powerful

Dangote Among Forbes World’s Most PowerfulAfrica’s richest man and Nigerian-born head of the Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, has been named as the second most powerful person on the continent.

In the latest edition of its 74 world most powerful people, Forbes Magazine named billionaire Dangote along with 70 others including Russian President, Vladimir Putin; US President-Elect, Donald Trump; and German Chancellor, Angela Merkel.

Mr Dangote is listed as number 71 ahead of Trump, and the 68th most powerful in the world for this year.

The business mogul has constantly featured on the list since 2013 when he was listed as the only black African among 100 most powerful persons on the planet.

As of 2013, Dangote was the only African listed among the most powerful people in the world before the Egyptian president, Abdel El-Sisi recently featured on the list.

 

Lavrov, Steinmeier To Meet On Ukraine, Syria Crisis

Sergei-Lavrov-Frank-Walter-Steinmeier-Germany-RussiaThe foreign ministers of Russia and Germany, Sergei Lavrov and Frank-Walter Steinmeier, are set to meet on Monday.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said that the duo would discuss the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria in the course of their meeting expected to take place in Yekaterinburg.

President Vladimir Putin had accused Ukraine of sabotage plans in Crimea, the peninsula Russia captured from Ukraine in 2014.

Turkish President, Tayyip Erdogan, had also discussed the Syrian conflict with Mr Putin during his visit to Russia earlier this week.

President Putin Discredits Link To Panama Papers

Vladimir Putin on Panama PapersRussian President, Vladimir Putin, has denied “any element of corruption” over the Panama Papers leaks.

His disclaimer followed the leak of millions of documents from a Panama based law firm – Mossack Fonseca, showing how it helped some clients evade tax and avoid sanctions.

Reacting to the allegation, the Russian President said that his opponents were trying to destabilise Russia.

The papers purportedly revealed a number of offshore companies owned by close associates of the Russian President, alleging that the companies may have been used for money laundering.

Meanwhile, President of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela, said that he would create an international panel to help improve transparency in its offshore financial industry.

BBC says several countries are investigating possible financial crimes by the rich and powerful in the outcome of the leak.

President Varela also promised to work with other countries over the revelations.

Inquiry Report On Litvinenko’s Killing Due For Release

LitvinenkoThe outcome of a public inquiry into the killing of former Russian spy, Alexander Litvinenko, are due to be released by a judge.

Mr Litvinenko died at the age of 43 in 2006, days after being poisoned with a radioactive substance, which was believed to have been put in his cup of tea.

BBC said that two Russian men, Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun, have denied killing him.

The judge, Sir Robert Owen, would decide whether to name any culprits and whether any elements in the Russian state were responsible.

The result may also focus on whether it was specific investigations into links between organised crime and the Kremlin which led to Mr Litvinenko’s killing.

Report also disclosed that there was personal animosity between Mr Litvinenko and the Russian President, Vladimir Putin.

Indian And Russian Leaders Praise Partnership

Indian And Russian Leaders Russian President, Vladimir Putin and the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, have strengthened relations between their countries by signing defence, energy and other deals.

President Putin announced that Russia would build a series of nuclear plants in India over the next two decades.

He said work on the first two reactors are now in preparation.

About $7 billion worth of deals have been signed during Mr Modi’s Russia trip, many of them defence related.

However, there has been no progress on an expected purchase by India of Russian s-400 missiles, Moscow’s most sophisticated aircraft defence system.

“I see in Russia a prominent partner in India’s economic transformation,” Mr Modi said after he and Mr Putin agreed to reduce visa requirements between the two countries.

Mr Modi was eager for Russia to participate in various infrastructure projects as his government strives to revamp India’s railway network and build nuclear energy plants to meet growing electricity needs.

They agreed on the location of a new Russian nuclear energy plant in the southern Indian State of Andhra Pradesh.

Russia is already constructing a nuclear plant in the nearby state of Tamil Nadu. Mr Modi said Russia had agreed to build a total of 12 over an unspecified timeframe.

Putin Pours Fresh Scorn On Turkey For Downing Russian Jet

Russia-putinRussian President, Vladimir Putin, has launched a fresh verbal attack on Turkey over the downing of a Russian combat jet in November.

Speaking at his annual news conference, Mr Putin said the incident on the Syria-Turkey border was a “hostile act” but Russia is “not the country” to run away from confrontation.

He also said he saw “no prospect” of ties improving with Turkey.

Russia has already placed some economic sanctions on Ankara.

Russia deployed its Air Force to Syria in September, to support President Bashar al-Assad and has been carrying out airstrikes on his opponents.

Its intervention has been heavily criticised by Turkey, the US and Gulf Arab States.