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O’Hare Worker Wanted to Kill Infidels 

A Bosnian Muslim refugee and her five associates charged with attempting to provide support to ISIS invoked an unusual defense, according to ABC7 Chicago.

Mediha Medy Salkicevic has claimed that her support of ISIS constituted “legitimate warfare” and that she was waging war against the regime of Bashar al-Assad, just as the U.S. government is doing by supporting Syrian rebels.

Salkicevic was working for a cargo company at Chicago’s International O’Hare Airport when she was arrested in 2015. Investigators allege she said she wanted to “bury unbelievers alive” and kill infidels.

“Under United States law, acts of legitimate warfare during a civil war are not murder and are entitled to combatant immunity,” her attorneys said. They argue that Americans are “protected from prosecution as acts of legitimate warfare under the doctrine of combatant immunity.”

On Friday, her attorneys filed a motion to dismiss two charges: conspiracy and providing material support to terrorists.

Salkicevic and her alleged co-conspirators stand accused of sending money and military equipment to Bosnian national Abdullah Ramo Pazara, an ISIS leader in Syria. Read the rest of this entry »

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[VIDEO] Ben Sasse: No Moral Equivalency Between the U.S. and Putin’s Regime 

Senator Ben Sasse (R., Neb.) is having none of President Trump’s false moral equivalence. On ABC’s This Week Sunday, Sasse expressed his distaste at the comparison of the United States and Vladimir Putin’s regime.

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“Let’s be clear: Has the U.S. ever made any mistakes? Of course. Is the U.S. at all like Putin’s regime? Not at all. The U.S. affirms freedom of speech; Putin is no friend of freedom of speech. Putin is an enemy of freedom of religion, the U.S. celebrates freedom of religion. Putin is an enemy of free press; the U.S. celebrates free press. Putin is an enemy of political dissent; the U.S. celebrates political dissent and the right for people to argue free from violence about places where ideas are in conflict. There is no moral equivalency between the United States of America, the greatest freedom-loving nation in the history of the world, and the murderous thugs that are in Putin’s defense of his cronyism. There’s no moral equivalency there.”

David French writes:

…Trump said, “There are a lot of killers. We have a lot of killers. Well, you think our country is so innocent?” I’d like to focus on the follow-up, when O’Reilly gave him an opportunity to amend his statement:

O’REILLY: I don’t know of any government leaders that are killers.

TRUMP: Well — take a look at what we’ve done, too. We made a lot of mistakes. I’ve been against the war in Iraq from the beginning.

O’REILLY: Yes, mistakes are different than –

TRUMP: We made a lot of mistakes, OK, but a lot of people were killed. So, a lot of killers around, believe me.

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In response, I’m reminded of a quote from our founder, William F. Buckley, Jr.:

[T]o say that the CIA and the KGB engage in similar practices is the equivalent of saying that the man who pushes an old lady into the path of a hurtling bus is not to be distinguished from the man who pushes an old lady out of the path of a hurtling bus: on the grounds that, after all, in both cases someone is pushing old ladies around. Read the rest of this entry »


Kremlin Demands Apology from Fox News Over Putin ‘Killer’ Comment

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The Russian government is demanding an apology from Fox News, after anchor Bill O’Reilly called Russian President Vladimir Putin a “killer” in an interview that aired before the Super Bowl.

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“We consider such words from the Fox TV company to be unacceptable and insulting, and honestly speaking, we would prefer to get an apology from such a respected TV company,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, according to Reuters. Read the rest of this entry »


Nervous in Japan: Book Buyers Snatching up Variety of Books About Trump

Books related to U.S. President Donald Trump have increased in popularity as the new leader takes office.

Signs at Yaesu Book Center’s flagship branch in Chuo Ward, Tokyo, read, “Trump inaugurated as president” and “How will the world change?” with portraits of the former businessman displayed near the entrance of the shop.

The special section features about 20 Trump-related books, including collections of his speeches and forecasts on the impact of his presidency on the Japanese economy. Read the rest of this entry »


Ghost in the Machine: Julian Assange Promises More Damaging Revelations to Come

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Wikileaks founder Julian Assange said Tuesday his whistleblowing website might release “a lot more material” relevant to the US electoral campaign.

“Perhaps one day the source or sources will step forward and that might be an interesting moment some people may have egg on their faces. But to exclude certain actors is to make it easier to find out who our sources are.”

Assange was speaking in a CNN interview following the release of nearly 20,000 emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee by suspected Russian hackers.

However, Assange refused to confirm or deny a Russian origin for the mass email leak, saying Wikileaks tries to create ambiguity to protect all its sources.

“It raises questions about the natural instincts of Clinton that when confronted with a serious domestic political scandal, she tries to blame the Russians, blame the Chinese, et cetera.”

“Perhaps one day the source or sources will step forward and that might be an interesting moment some people may have egg on their faces. But to exclude certain actors is to make it easier to find out who our sources are,” Assange told CNN. Read the rest of this entry »


OH YES HE DID: Putin Raises Possibility of Using Nuclear Weapons Against Terrorists 

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But hopes they ‘will never need’ them

Serina Sandhu reports: Vladimir Putin has said he hopes nuclear warheads will not be needed to deal with terrorists, after Russia launched cruise missiles from its submarine at Syria.

“With regard to strikes from a submarine. We certainly need to analyse everything that is happening on the battlefield, how the weapons work. Both the [Kalibr] missiles and the Kh-101 rockets are generally showing very good results. We now see that these are new, modern and highly effective high-precision weapons that can be equipped either with conventional or special nuclear warheads.”

— Vladimir Putin

During a meeting in the Kremlin, Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu told the President that Kalibr cruise missiles had been fired by the submerged Rostov-on-Don submarine from the Mediterranean Sea for the first time.

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He said TU-22 bombers also took part in the latest raids and that “significant damage” had been done to a munitions depot, a factory manufacturing mortar rounds and oil facilities. Two major targets in Raqqa, the defacto capital of Isis, had been hit, said Mr Shoigu.

President Putin said the new cruise missiles could also be equipped with nuclear warheads – but that he hoped they would never need them.

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He said: “With regard to strikes from a submarine. We certainly need to analyse everything that is happening on the battlefield, how the weapons work. Both the [Kalibr] missiles and the Kh-101 rockets are generally showing very good results. We now see that these are new, modern and highly effective high-precision weapons that can be equipped either with conventional or special nuclear warheads.”

President Putin said the new cruise missiles could also be equipped with nuclear warheads – but that he hoped they would never need them. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] No Arrests in Siege of Belgian Extremist Hub as Suspected ‘Mastermind’ of Paris Attacks Identified 

TOPSHOTS Police officers stand guard as an operation takes place in the Molenbeek district of Brussels on November 16, 2015. Belgian police launched a major new operation in the Brussels district of Molenbeek, where several suspects in the Paris attacks had previously lived, AFP journalists said. Armed police stood in front of a police van blocking a street in the run-down area of the capital while Belgian media said officers had surrounded a house. Belgian prosecutors had no immediate comment. AFP PHOTO / JOHN THYSJOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images

Belgian believed to be behind Paris attacks

DEVELOPING — Explosions rang out Monday during a massive police operation in the Brussels suburb of Molenbeek as investigators searched for a suspect in the Paris massacre, but they said they failed to make any arrests.

Police were seeking the suspected attacker Salah Abdeslam, 26, and any possible associates. Dozens of masked and heavily armed security officials had sealed off the area and neighbors were told to stay out of harm’s way. Molenbeek mayor Francoise Schepmans said the operation ended after more than three hours.

One of the suspect’s brothers, Brahim Abdeslam, killed himself in Friday’s string of attacks. Another brother, Mohammad, was released after being detained over the weekend, according to his attorney. She told the RTL network her client “hadn’t made the same life choices.”

In all, five of the seven people who were detained over the weekend because of possible links to the massacre have been released, according to the Belgian federal prosecutor’s office. Two others have been charged with being part of a terror group and links to a terror attack, the office said in a statement.

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The U.S. and Russia were among the nations rushing to France’s aid. French president Francois Hollande announced Monday that he would soon speak with Presidents Barack Obama and mastermind-sqVladimir Putin to discuss pooling their efforts to destroy ISIS. He also urged his parliament to extend France’s state of emergency for three months.

Investigators identified a Belgian jihadist believed to be fighting alongside ISIS in Syria as the suspected mastermind behind Friday’s attacks that killed at least 129 people.

A French official told The Associated Press that Abdelhamid Abaaoud, a 27-year-old from Molenbeek, was also believed to have ties to the thwarted attack on a Paris-bound high-speed train this past August, as well as a failed plot to attack a Paris-area church. He is reportedly the child of Moroccan immigrants.

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The Daily Telegraph reported that Abaaoud was the head of a terror cell based in Verviers, Belgium that was broken up by police this past January. However, he appears to have escaped the clutches of the authorities and made his way to Syria.

Salah Abdeslam had been stopped at the French border with Belgium early Saturday, hours after the attacks, The Associated Press reported. Read the rest of this entry »


Palace Intrigue: Putin’s Aide Mikhail Lesin Found Dead in Hotel ‘Murdered for Being an FBI informant’ – or ‘Could Even Still Be Alive’

Will Stewart reports: The death from a ‘heart attack’ of a longtime close ally of Vladimir Putin in a Washington hotel has led to a swirl of speculation that he was murdered on Moscow’s orders after offering to help the FBI.

“Nicknamed the ‘Bulldozer’, Lesin was one of the key props of the Putin presidency, personally masterminding a wide-ranging media crackdown which has left the vast majority of Russian TV stations and newspapers obedient to the Kremlin.”

Mikhail Lesin, 57, was announced last weekend to have been found dead in the US capital. He was a Svengali figure for Putin, who was alleged to have menaced the Russian media into idolizing the strongman president.

“He also set up Russia Today, now RT, seen by critics as a ‘propaganda’ channel aimed at the West.”

The shock death has created an eave of speculation in Moscow that it is related to previous reports that he was helping the FBI – and could be murder.

There are even separate allegations that Lesin may still be alive, with his demise faked by the US authorities.

[Read more here at Daily Mail Online]

According to this version, he is being kept safe as part of a witness protection scheme, while spilling to the FBI all he knows on Putin’s Russia.

Daily Mail Online can reveal that only weeks before his death was announced, he fathered a child with glamorous model and flight attendant Victoria Rakhimbayeva.

Murdered? Mikhail Lesin and his new love Victoria Rakhimbayeva, who were photographed when she was pregnant. He was found dead last Friday in a Washington DC hotel - and now speculation is mounting about him

Murdered? Mikhail Lesin and his new love Victoria Rakhimbayeva, who were photographed when she was pregnant. He was found dead last Friday in a Washington DC hotel – and now speculation is mounting about him

Claim: Lesin was reported by the TV station he set up - RT, known to be pro-Kremlin - to have died from a longstanding illness while staying at the Dupont Circle Hotel (pictured)

Claim: Lesin was reported by the TV station he set up – RT, known to be pro-Kremlin – to have died from a longstanding illness while staying at the Dupont Circle Hotel (pictured)

World traveler: Victoria Rakhimbayeva, believed to be 29, posted photographs from around the world and said that she and Lesin were planning to live in New York, although she preferred Los Angeles

World traveler: Victoria Rakhimbayeva, believed to be 29, posted photographs from around the world and said that she and Lesin were planning to live in New York, although she preferred Los Angeles

“There are unsubstantiated claims in Moscow that when he died he was in debt to billionaire Yury Kovalchuk, one of Putin’s closest big business friends.”

She is believed to be aged 29, with whom he had enjoyed a close relationship since at least mid-2014.

She has not commented on his death other than to thank friends on social media for their commiserations, but before the tragedy she made clear that they intended to set up home permanently in New York.

[Read the full story here at Daily Mail Online]

Despite Russian reports of a heart attack, police in DC have said no cause of death has been determined while also indicating there was no obvious sign of foul play.

‘A ruling on the cause and manner of death is pending further investigation,’ said a Saturday statement.

Nicknamed the ‘Bulldozer’, Lesin was one of the key props of the Putin presidency, personally masterminding a wide-ranging media crackdown which has left the vast majority of Russian TV stations and newspapers obedient to the Kremlin.

He also set up Russia Today, now RT, seen by critics as a ‘propaganda’ channel aimed at the West.

But earlier this year, after the break-up of his marriage, and in a new relationship with his Siberian lover who he may have wed – she referred to him as her ‘husband’ – he suddenly quit the latest of several high profile positions, as head of Gazprom Media, a major state owned media conglomerate. Read the rest of this entry »


The Price of Free Speech in Japan

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Koji Murata was dismissed Friday as president of a prestigious Japanese university for supporting Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s policies. Photo: Kyodo

Michael Auslin writes: It’s not just American university campuses that are being roiled by clashes over the limits of free speech. At one of Japan’s most prestigious institutions of higher learning, no less than the president himself has just been dismissed by his academic colleagues for publicly supporting Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The dispute taps into a deeper national debate over Japan’s future.

“Japan’s academics are known to be a largely liberal lot, but the concerns over free speech in the Murata case reflect Japan’s larger problems. At root, it’s about how the country will face both its past and its future.”

A favorite claim of liberal academics and activists is that Japan remains one of the most conservative societies. In recent years, their invective has been directed toward Mr. Abe, who is charged with repressing and intimidating liberal views. Media outlets argue that they have been pressured, and academics warn that government forces are trying to stifle debate about the country’s wartime past.

Yet punishing free speech in Japan is no prerogative of the right. Last week, the president of the prestigious liberal-arts college Doshisha failed to be re-elected due to his support earlier this year of Mr. Abe’s controversial security legislation to relax post-World War II restrictions on the use of the military.

Koji Murata is a well-known and respected academic and public intellectual in Japan. A fixture on news shows, the nattily dressed Mr. Murata is also an expert on foreign policy and security. In July, he was one of several experts testifying in front of Japan’s Parliament in favor of Mr. Abe’s security bills, which would modestly expand Japan’s ability to conduct military operations abroad. Read the rest of this entry »


‘Russia Today’ Co-Founder Mikhail Lesin Reportedly Found Dead In D.C. Hotel

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Russian President Vladimir Putin with former Mass Media Minister Mikhail Lesin in Vladivostok, Russia on August 24, 2002. ITAR-TASS / Reuters

WASHINGTON —  reports: A Russian media mogul who helped found the Kremlin-run news channel RT was found dead in his hotel in Washington, D.C., according to reports.

“The Embassy does not have any further comment on the demise of Mr. Lesin out of respect to his privacy. Please refer to the family members or the law enforcement officials.”

— Russian Embassy spokesperson Yury Melnik told BuzzFeed News.

Mikhail Lesin, who was formerly the top media affairs minister for the Russian government, died of a “heart stroke,” a family member reportedly told RIA Novosti.

“Our consular officials had an opportunity to confirm that the Russian national who passed away in DC is indeed Mikhail Lesin. Out of respect to the privacy and sensitivity of the matter we are not at liberty to disclose any other information, and would ask you to refer all further requests to his family and the law enforcement officials.”

— Russian embassy spokesperson, to Sputnik, a Russian state media outlet.

Metropolitan Police Department spokesperson Officer Sean Hickman told BuzzFeed News that there had been a death Thursday on the 1500 block of New Hampshire Avenue, where the Dupont Circle Hotel is located. An ABC News article on Lesin’s death reported that the location had been the “Hotel Dupont,” though a hotel by that exact name doesn’t exist in Washington. Read the rest of this entry »


Power Games: Vladimir the Ball-Breaker vs Barack the Passive Metrosexual

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Matt K Lewis writes: As was the case when Russians invaded Ukraine, the Russians cloaked their activity in lies.

In the former example, Russian soldiers didn’t wear uniforms, a thinly-veiled move meant to create the impression the fighters were merely Ukrainian “separatists.”

“In the vast majority of the world, power (or the perception of power) is what matters. In America, President Obama’s brand of metrosexual coolness works well.”

Likewise, Wednesday’s bombings ostensibly targeted Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil); in fact, the strikes were aimed at moderate rebels and civilians – part of a plan to take out any opposition to their client, Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.

President Bashar al-Assad claimed the British Government is "determined to militarise the problem" in Syria

Syrian President Bashir al-Assad Photo: REUTERS

This all comes on the heels of President Barack Obama’s drawing of a “red line” regarding the use of chemical weapons, only to back down when the Assad regime – by most accounts – used them.

This past week, White House press secretary Josh Earnest strained credulity when he said Mr Obama doesn’t regret drawing that red line.

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“For those paying attention, Mr Obama’s foreign policy world-view has failed.”

Weakness invites provocation, and – never one to miss an opportunity to outmanoeuvre Mr Obama – Mr Putin provided a self-serving opportunity that would also allow the president to save face: Moscow would push Syria to put their chemical weapons under international control.

It’s also important to note that in the wake of the red line being trampled, Russia invaded Crimea. President Obama’s legacy may be mixed, but one thing is for sure: Vladimir Putin is much more powerful and provocative than he was before Mr Obama took office, and Russia has only expanded its sphere of influence.

[Read the full text here, at Telegraph]

The Syria bombings also come almost immediately after Mr Putin met with Mr Obama at the UN where they agreed to “deconflict” military operations – a very Obama-esque line that Mr Putin immediately crossed.

Smoke rises after airstrikes in Kafr Nabel of the Idlib province, western Syria. Russian jets carried out a second day of airstrikes in Syria Thursday, but there were conflicting claims about whether they were targeting Islamic State and al-Qaeda militants or trying to shore up the defenses of President Bashar Assad.

Russian bombs exploding outside Idlib Photo: Hadi Al-Abdallah via AP

And prior to bombing our friends in Syria, the Russians also had the audacity to issue a “démarche” for the US to clear air space over northern Syria. As if that weren’t enough, this came just as reports that the Russians attempted to hack Hillary Clinton’s email server.

For those paying attention, Mr Obama’s foreign policy world-view has failed.

The suggestion that America could leave a vacuum that wouldn’t be filled by our adversaries – the idea that the “international community” (whatever that means) would respect us more if we were to retreat from the world – was always a farce.
Read the rest of this entry »


What U.S. Retreat Looks Like

Syria Reveals the Chaos of a World Without American Leadership.

A friend of ours quipped amid the Iraq debate of 2003 that the only thing Europeans dislike more than U.S. leadership is a world without it. Well, we are now living in such a world, and the result is the disorder and rising tide of war in the Middle East that even the Obama Administration can no longer dismiss. How do you like it?

“The world is watching, aghast, yet we are now told by the same people who told us to stay out of Syria that Mr. Putin has fallen into his own quagmire. We doubt that’s how they see it in Moscow, Tehran or Damascus.”

The epicenter of the chaos is the Syrian civil war now into its fifth year. President Obama justified his decision to steer clear of the conflict by pointing to a parade of horribles if the U.S. assisted the opposition to Bashar Assad. Every one of those horribles—and more—has come to pass in the wake of his retreat.

Syria has become a “geopolitical Chernobyl,” as former General David Petraeus recently put it. It was the breeding ground for Islamic State and is a new sanctuary for terrorism. It has nurtured a growing regional conflict between Shiite and Sunni Muslims, while unleashing the worst refugee crisis on Europe since World War II. And now it has become an arena for potential major power conflict as Vladimir Putin forms an alliance with Iran to make Russia the new Middle East power broker.

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“The U.S. has been caught unaware and nonplussed. The White House has been left to stammer in protest and send Secretary of State John Kerry to negotiate the terms of U.S. irrelevance.”

Mr. Putin unveiled his strategy this week with a disdain for a U.S. President unseen in a Russian leader since Nikita Khrushchev “beat the hell out of” John Kennedy, as JFK put it, at the Vienna summit in 1961. Mr. Putin coaxed Mr. Obama to grant him a private meeting, then told the world to rally behind his alternative coalition to fight Islamic State and prop up the Assad regime. It’s as if he set up Mr. Obama for humiliation.

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

Now Russian planes are bombing in Syria—but not Islamic State targets. They are bombing the anti-Assad forces that the U.S. has haltingly supported. The U.S. has been caught unaware and nonplussed. The White House has been left to stammer in protest and send Secretary of State John Kerry to negotiate the terms of U.S. irrelevance.

The world is watching, aghast, yet we are now told by the same people who told us to stay out of Syria that Mr. Putin has fallen into his own quagmire. We doubt that’s how they see it in Moscow, Tehran or Damascus. Read the rest of this entry »


Did Vladimir Putin Pull a Don Draper?

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Despite Peskov’s best efforts, the theories about what could be behind Putin’s mysterious absence have continued to swirl

Russian President Vladimir Putin hasn’t been seen in public since March 5, and depending on whom you ask, he’s either dead, has had a stroke, has cancer, is being overthrown in a palace coup, or, contrary to his spokesperson’s denials Friday, has been out of the public eye because he has fathered a lovechild.

“Information that a child has been born to Vladimir Putin is not true,” Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Forbes Russia. “I am planning to appeal to people who have money to organize a competition for the best journalistic hoax,” he added.

MadMenOcean2

Speculation on Putin’s whereabouts began when he canceled a high-level trip to Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, and then several other meetings this week, including the signing of a treaty with South Ossetia and an appearance at a meeting of top brass at the FSB, Russia’s domestic intelligence service. Putin’s absence has sent the Russian Twitterverse and media into overdrive, sparking the trending hashtag  #ПутинУмер (Putin Died), as well as a cottage industry of theories — some absurd and others more believable believable — to explain what is keeping the usually omnipresent Russian president from the public eye.

Peskov, meanwhile, has been on the offensive, steadfastly denying the Russian rumormill — often with colorful details. After shooting down rumors about Putin’s ill-health earlier this week on the radio station Ekho Moskvy, Peskov added that “his handshake is so strong he breaks hands with it.”

draper-underwater

Yet despite Peskov’s best efforts, the theories about what could be behind Putin’s mysterious absence have continued to swirl. The Kremlin’s website has been posting photos of the Russian president attending meetings during his physical absence, but the Russian news outlet RBC investigated Putin’s schedule and found discrepancies. According to RBC, the meeting with the governor of the northwestern region of Karelia, reported on the official site as having taken place on March 11, had actually occurred a week earlier, and a Karelian website had actually already written about it on March 4. On Thursday, the Kremlin claimed that Putin spoke on the phone with  Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan. Sargsyan’s website issued the call with an identical transcript.

On Friday, the Kremlin issued three images showing Putin in a meeting with the head of the Supreme Court in Moscow on Friday. The state television channel, Rossiya 24, also aired video footage of the meeting. However, the dates of those photos have not been confirmed, and the footage have not been authenticated. Read the rest of this entry »


‘Where is Putin?’ Rumors and Questions as Russian Leader Drops Off Radar

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Whispers in Moscow about a leader’s health are nothing new

Moscow (AFP) – Where is President Vladimir Putin? The Kremlin was forced Thursday to insist the Russian leader was in good health as rumours swirled online over his week-long absence from the public eye.

“There’s no need to worry, he’s absolutely healthy.”

— Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov

Putin was last seen in public on March 5 when he met with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and, ever since he postponed a trip to Kazakhstan this week, Russians have grown increasingly curious about what their usually omnipresent leader is up to.

The 62-year-old nurtures a fit, tough-guy image and rarely takes time off.

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“There’s no need to worry, he’s absolutely healthy,” Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Echo of Moscow radio station on Thursday.

“As soon as the sun comes out… and it starts smelling of spring, people start getting delusions.”

— Dmitry Peskov, to Echo of Moscow radio station

Putin also postponed a meeting to sign an alliance agreement with the leader of the Georgian breakaway region of South Ossetia, and did not show up at a meeting of the FSB security agency.

Peskov said the agreement with the rebel region may be signed next week and that Putin’s attendance at the FSB meeting was not planned.

He said Putin was busy with Russia’s economic crisis and has “meetings constantly, but not all meetings are public.”

Asked if Putin’s handshake remains firm, Peskov laughed and said: “It breaks your hand.” However he evaded a question on when Putin would next be seen on television. Read the rest of this entry »