Tag Archives: putin

COVID-19: Russia president hold back on tough measures.


President Vladimir Putin postponed a vote on constitutional reforms and urged Russians to stay home to contain the coronavirus on Wednesday, but did not impose the kind of strong measures taken in other countries.

In a rare televised address to the nation, Putin said Russia could not isolate itself from the spreading pandemic but focused mainly on support for the struggling economy.


“The health, life and safety of people is our absolute priority,” Putin said.

The vote on constitutional reforms, which had been due to take place on April 22, “must be postponed to a later date”, he said, without specifying when.


The reforms, proposed by the president and approved by lawmakers over the last few months, would reset presidential term limits and potentially allow Putin, in power for 20 years, to stay in office until 2036.

Critics have denounced the project as a way for Putin to remain “president for life”.


He also took the unusual step of declaring March 28 to April 5 a non-working week in order to slow the spread of the virus, urging Russians to stay at home.

“It is extremely important now to prevent the threat of the disease spreading rapidly,” he said.


‘Can affect everyone’

“This can affect everyone. What is happening today in many Western countries — in Europe and across the ocean — can become our nearest future.”

He unveiled a series of measures to support Russians and boost the economy, including breaks on consumer loans and mortgage payments, support for small- and medium-sized businesses and early payouts of social benefits.


The coronavirus and a dizzying fall in oil prices have sparked a two-pronged crisis for the Russian economy, with the ruble falling to its lowest levels since early 2016.

This presents a huge challenge to Putin’s promises to boost growth and raise living standards.


The Kremlin announced Putin’s address as Russia on Wednesday recorded its biggest spike in confirmed coronavirus infections so far, with 163 new cases for a total of 658 across the country.

One person who was infected has died but officials are not linking the death to the virus.


Concern has risen as the number of cases steadily grows.

Putin met with top officials to discuss containment measures on Tuesday, putting on a yellow hazmat suit as he visited a major hospital treating coronavirus patients.


Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, who heads a coronavirus task force, told Putin that the actual number of cases was probably “significantly” higher than official figures.

Russia previously imposed 14-day quarantines on people arriving from abroad, closed schools and told elderly residents in Moscow, where most of the cases are concentrated, to self-isolate.


It halted cultural and sports events and closed fitness clubs, cinemas and night clubs, although restaurants and cafes were allowed to remain open.

Authorities have repeatedly denied plans to impose lockdowns like those seen in China, Italy, Spain, France or Britain, but the warnings from officials on Tuesday were stark.


“The problem is that the volume of testing is very low and no one has a clear picture” of the situation in Russia and the world, Sobyanin told Putin.

‘Italian’ scenario

Denis Protsenko, head doctor of Moscow’s new hospital treating coronavirus patients, told Putin that Russia needed to be ready for an “Italian” scenario, referring to what is now the hardest-hit country in the world in terms of deaths.


“If there is a big spike, and Moscow is headed there, our hospital is ready to transform,” he said.

Russian lawmakers have proposed imposing severe punishments — including up to seven years in prison — for people breaking coronavirus quarantine rules.


Apart from traditional New Year’s greetings, Putin rarely addresses the public on television. The last time was over unpopular pension reform in August 2018.

Putin did not say whether he will postpone plans for a massive military parade on May 9 to mark 75 years since the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany. Dozens of foreign leaders have been invited to take part.

Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday the postponement of the celebration had been discussed but no decision was yet made.


#Newsworthy…

Russia: Putin sign new law that could make him rule till 2036.


Russian President, Vladimir Putin has signed a law on constitutional changes that could keep him in power for another 16 years.

Last week, 67-year-old Putin made an appearance in parliament to back an amendment that would allow him to ignore a constitutional ban on him running again in 2024.


The Kremlin has revealed in a statement that Putin signed off the constitutional changes on Saturday just three days after it was passed through the Russian parliament with only one vote against it.

Russia’s constitutional will now approve the changes after a nationwide vote on the amendments to the constitution planned for April 22.

Under current law, Putin would not be able to run for president again in 2024 because of term limits, but the new measure would open the way for him to run for two more six-year terms.

If approved, the move would make Putin the ruler of Russia for 36 years, the longest tenure in the country’s modern history. He has been in power since 2000.


#Newsworthy…

Peace in war – Merkel, Putin, Erdogan in Berlin


World leaders gather in Berlin on Sunday to make a fresh push for peace in Libya, in a desperate bid to stop the conflict-wracked nation from turning into a “second Syria”.

Chancellor Angela Merkel will be joined by the presidents of Russia, Turkey and France and other world leaders for talks from around 2:00 pm (1300 GMT) held under the auspices of the United Nations.


The summit’s main goal is to get foreign powers wielding influence in the region to stop interfering in the war — be it through weapons, troops or financing.

Leaders of both warring factions — strongman Khalifa Haftar and the head of Tripoli’s UN-recognised government Fayez al-Sarraj — are also expected at what is the first such gathering since 2018.


Speaking to reporters before leaving Istanbul for Berlin, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the summit could be “an important step on the way to cementing the ceasefire and a political solution” in Libya.

But pro-Haftar forces upped the ante ahead of the talks by blocking oil exports at Libya’s key ports, crippling the country’s main income source in protest at Turkey’s decision to send troops to shore up Sarraj’s Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA).


The move underlined the devastating impact of foreign influence in the crisis.

“Libya needs all foreign interference to stop,” the United Nations’ special envoy Ghassan Salame told AFP.


The UN hopes all sides will sign up to a plan to refrain from interference, and commit to a truce that leads to a lasting end to hostilities, according to a draft of a final communique seen by media.

That document also urges all parties to re-commit to a much-violated UN arms embargo and raises the prospect of intra-Libyan political talks in Geneva at the end of the month.


If all goes to plan, the Berlin participants will hold an evening press conference.

But the summit has already ruffled feathers, with several countries in the region fuming at being left out, including Greece, Morocco and Tunisia.


Libya has been torn by fighting between rival armed factions since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising killed dictator Muammar Ghadafi

Most recently, Sarraj’s troops in Tripoli have been under attack since April from Haftar’s forces.


Clashes killed more than 280 civilians and 2,000 fighters and displaced tens of thousands, until a fragile ceasefire backed by both Ankara and Moscow was put in place on January 12.

At follow-up talks in Moscow, Sarraj agreed to a permanent truce but Hafter walked away without signing the deal.


Although Sarraj’s government is recognised by the UN, powerful players have broken away to stand behind Haftar — turning a domestic conflict into what is essentially a proxy war in which international powers jostle to secure their own interests.

Alarm grew internationally after Erdogan ordered troops to Libya early January to bolster Sarraj.

Underlining the stakes involved, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said “we have to make sure Libya doesn’t become a second Syria.”

Sarraj meanwhile issued a call for international “protection troops” if Haftar were to keep up his offensive.


#Newsworthy…

My decision to rule for life; Putin says Russia will support him


Russian President, Vladimir Putin in his annual state of the nation address delivered on Thursday in Moscow announced new shocking reforms and sweeping changes to the country’s constitution that will make him President for the rest of his life.

In a shock announcement, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said his government was stepping down after Putin used his annual state of the nation address to propose constitutional reforms that would strengthen parliament’s role


On Thursday during a live address on national TV, Putin said he was sure the Russian people will support his sweeping changes to the country’s constitution that could keep him in power beyond 2024 long after his presidential term ends.

In his address, Putin described how power would be shifted from the presidency to parliament and the state council and comes as the Russian parliament backed his surprise choice for a new prime minister, Mikhail Mishustin.


“Of course these are very serious changes to the political system,’ Putin said in his address as he promised a referendum on the plans.

“It would increase the role and significance of the country’s parliament … of parliamentary parties, and the independence and responsibility of the prime minister.”

Russian President, Vladimir Putin

“I’m sure that Russian people will support me,” he added.

In his speech, Putin also called for the power of the State Council, an advisory body, to be increased and enshrined in the constitution ensuring he rules for life just like China’s leader Xi Jinping.


#Newsworthy…

Russian’s entire government resigned over President Putin’s plan


Dmitry Medvedev, the prime minister of Russia and the entire Russian government have resigned after President Vladimir Putin proposed a constitutional reform that would allow him remain in power indefinitely.

Speaking in his annual address to parliament on Wednesday, Putin proposed a referendum on amending Russia’s constitution to increase the powers of parliament while maintaining a strong presidential system.


“I consider it necessary to conduct a vote by the country’s citizens on an entire package of proposed amendments to the country’s constitution,” Putin said.

He also suggested an amendment of the constitution to allow lawmakers to name prime ministers and cabinet members.


“It will increase the role of parliament and parliamentary parties, powers and independence of the prime minister and all cabinet members,” Putin said.

“We will be able to build a strong prosperous Russia only on the basis of respect for public opinion.


“Together we will certainly change life for the better. Russia must remain a strong presidential republic.”

After President Putin made his plans known, his entire government including the country’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev tendered their resignation to him.

Hours after the government resigned, Putin named federal tax chief Mikhail Mishustin, 53 years old and a relatively unknown technocrat, as the new prime minister.

According to RIA news agency, Mishustin will face a vote of approval in the lower house of parliament on Thursday.


#Newsworthy…

Russian president, Putin suggested to Bashar Assad to invite Trump to Damascus

…to become normal


A video has emerged where in a lighthearted exchange last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested to Syrian President Bashar Assad that he invite US President Donald Trump to visit Damascus ‘to become normal’.

Assad signalled he was prepared to go ahead with the idea. Putin said he would pass the message to Trump.


The video, according to multiple reports was shot during Putin’s visit last week to Syria.

It was aired Sunday by the Russian-1 channel and it showed a conversation between Putin and Assad as they visited the Orthodox Church of the Virgin Mary in Damascus.


Assad mentioned the New Testament story of Paul the Apostle, who became a Christian after experiencing a miracle as he traveled to Damascus where he planned to arrest disciples of Jesus.

According to Christian lore, the incident happened on the road where the church is located.


“If Trump arrives along this road, everything will become normal with him too,” Assad jokes to a smiling Putin, according to a translation by the Axios website.

Putin responds that Trump would be keen to visit and if he wasn’t, he’d convince the American leader to come.


According to the original Axios transalation, Putin agreed with Assad that Trump needs some healing in Damascus. He laughed and told Assad: “It will be repaired … invite him. He will come.” Assad answers that he is ready to invite Trump, to which Putin responds, smiling: “I will tell him.”

It was the second time that leaders would crack joke on American leader, that would be recorded on video. At NATO summit in London last month, Canadian leader, Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson were all captured on video mocking Trump.

Putin’s unannounced visit to Damascus was his second to the country during its ongoing civil war, where Russian troops have been fighting alongside Syrian government forces since 2015. It came amid a crushing Russian-backed offensive by Syrian forces on the northwestern province of Idlib, the last rebel stronghold in Syria.

In addition, tensions between the US and Iran, an ally of Syria and Russia, have skyrocketed after the US killed a top Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani, in a drone strike in Iraq, saying he was planning attacks on American interests. Iran responded with a missile attack on two US bases, also in Iraq, causing no injuries.


#Newsworthy…

Putin – Trump’s impeachment, all made up… Senate won’t uphold it.

Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin has dismissed the impeachment charges against US President Donald Trump which he claimed were all made up.

Speaking during an annual press conference, Putin said he expects the US president to survive the historic proceedings.

Describing the impeachment proceedings as political infighting, the Russian leader insisted that the Democrats were seeking to make up for their loss in the 2016 presidential elections “by other means”.

“The Democratic party, which lost the elections, is achieving results through other means, by accusing Trump at first of conspiracy with Russia, then it turns out, there was no conspiracy at all.

“It then turned out that there was no collusion and it could not form the basis for an impeachment, and now there is this made-up pressure on Ukraine.”

Recall that President Trump became the third president in US history to be impeached, after the House passed two articles of impeachment: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Newsworthy…