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Putin’s 4th term.

7 May 2018

Vladimir V. Putin took the oath of office for a fourth term as Russia’s president, in a ceremony staged in a gilded Kremlin hall once used to crown czars.

Mr Putin has ruled Russia as prime minister or president for more than 18 years. Mr Putin won re-election in March with nearly 77 percent of the vote, the largest margin for any post-Soviet leader.
European election observers with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe wrote that his recent re-election, “took place in an overly controlled legal and political environment marked by continued pressure on critical voices.” RussianPresidentialFlag1

“We have revived pride in our fatherland,” Mr Putin said. “As head of state I will do all I can to multiply the strength and prosperity of Russia.”

“We need breakthroughs in all areas of life. I’m deeply convinced that such a leap forward can only be secured with a free society that accepts all that is new and advanced.”

He said that in the past Russia had risen again from setbacks, “like a phoenix

 Mr. Putin signed decrees outlining his goals, such as reducing poverty and, by the end of his six-year term, raising Russian life expectancy to 78 years, from 72 now.

 First elected president in 2000, Mr Putin renewed his four-year term in 2004 before stepping aside in 2008 to serve as prime minister under his protege, Dmitry Medvedev, because by law he could serve only two consecutive terms.

Few doubted who was really in charge and in 2012 Mr Putin returned as president, this time for a term of six years.

When he reaches the end of his fourth term in 2024, he will have been in power for nearly a quarter of a century.

That would still fall short of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin‘s 31 years in power or, indeed, the reigns of some Russian tsars such as Alexander II (26 years) and Nicholas I (30 years).

President Vladimir Putin used his annual state of the nation speech to threaten Western nations with a battery of new weapons including an intercontinental nuclear cruise missile and to assure Russians that their lives would improve through enormous new social spending.
Gleb Pavlovsky, a political analyst and former Kremlin consultant, wrote on Facebook that, “From tales about progress, the speech flowed into an open-ended declaration of world war.”
“We would consider any use of nuclear weapons against Russia or its allies to be a nuclear attack on our country,” Mr. Putin said. “The response would be immediate.” Raketa
Mr. Putin said that Russia had tested various new nuclear weapons, including a nuclear-powered missile that could reach virtually anywhere in the world and that could not be intercepted by existing antiballistic missile systems. A video illustrating the weapon, which he said was tested at the end of 2017, showed it leaving Russia, slaloming around obstacles in the South Atlantic, before rounding Cape Horn at the tip of South America and heading toward the west coast of the United States.

“We’re not threatening anyone,” Putin said. “Russia’s growing military might is a reliable guarantee of peace on our planet because it ensures the strategic balance in the world.”

“Giving half the time in the annual address to the Russian parliament to a graphic description of new weapons’ capabilities is a measure of how close the U.S. and Russia have moved toward military collision,” Dmitri Trenin, head of the Carnegie Moscow Center, wrote on Twitter. “For the foreseeable future, it looks that the U.S.-Russia agenda will be limited to just one item: war prevention. Good luck to us all.”
See also The Moscow Times, YouTube, DW.

The bill that has angered Israel by imposing a jail term for anyone who accuses Poland of being complicit in the Holocaust.

The US State Department has urged Poland “to reevaluate the legislation in light of its potential impact on the principle of free speech.”DudaNetanyahu

Reacting to President Duda’s move, Israel‘s foreign ministry said it hoped that “changes and corrections” would be made to the Polish anti-defamation law.

In Poland, the new rules are seen as a way of fighting the use of the phrase “Polish death camps”, which many say implies the country’s involvement in the Holocaust.

Poland has long fought the use of such phrases, which have often appeared in foreign media in relation to Nazi German-run extermination camps located in occupied Polish territory during World War II. Poland’s ruling conservatives have said such phrases distort history.

 Radio Poland

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Imbroglio Slavo

La crisi russo-ucraina

Torino, 2017

Università Popolare Torino

 

 

 One of central Europe’s richest men will begin the tricky task of building a ruling coalition after convincing Czech voters in weekend elections that he can stem immigration, fight corruption and banish the establishment from power.

Andrej Babiš, a tycoon turned populist politician who has been compared to Donald Trump and Silvio Berlusconi, confirmed that the Czech president would ask him next week to begin forming the next government. BabisCZ

 Babiš led his new party ANO – “ano” is Czech for “yes” – to a resounding poll victory, winning almost 30% of the vote.

 The election ended a quarter of a century of political dominance by the traditional parties of the Czech mainstream, with the Social and Christian Democrats scoring just 7% and 6% respectively.

 Voters largely turned their backs on liberal pro-European parties, with the centre-right Civic Democrats winning 11% of the vote, the direct democracy advocates of the Pirate party 10.6% and the far-right, anti–EU SPD 10.8%.

ANO will control 78 seats in the 200-member lower house.

Mr Babis’s current partners, the leftist Social Democrats of Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and the centrist Christian Democrats, have rejected a government with ANO unless it pledges Mr Babis will not be part of it.

 Babiš  said he did not want a government that would include Communists and the anti-EU, anti-immigration SPD party, which made surprisingly a strong showing in the election.

 Some 3,000 actors have brought to life the 1410 Battle of Grunwald on its 607th anniversary to a crowd of 60,000, making it one of Europe’s largest medieval re-enactments.

 King of Poland Wladyslaw Jagiello commanded an allied Polish-Lithuanian army to defeat the Teutonic Order, previously considered invincible.

It is considered to be one of the most glorious and significant military victories in Polish history.

Today, President Obama authorized a number of actions in response to the Russian government’s aggressive harassment of U.S. officials and cyber operations aimed at the U.S. election in 2016.  Russia’s cyber activities were intended to influence the election, erode faith in U.S. democratic institutions, sow doubt about the integrity of our electoral process, and undermine confidence in the institutions of the U.S. government.  These actions are unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

 
Sanctioning Malicious Russian Cyber Activity; Responding to Russian Harassment of U.S. Personnel; Raising Awareness About Russian Malicious Cyber Activity.

 


 Complete DocumentThe White House.

 “The Warsaw summit is of breakthrough significance. Our message to NATO from the very beginning was clear: in the face of the changing situation in the security environment in our part of the world, in Central and Eastern Europe it is necessary to strengthen the presence and potential of NATO,” President Andrzej Duda has said an interview ahead of a Warsaw summit of the military alliance. “We have said from the outset that there is a need to strengthen the Baltic states and strengthen Poland in these terms through the presence of NATO forces in nations in Central and Eastern Europe.” WarsawStadium1
Asked if four battalions of a thousand soldiers each in Poland and the Baltic countries would be enough to deter Russia, Duda said: “This is above all a clear signal what the intentions of the Alliance are. “It is above all a clear signal that the Alliance is tightly-knit, that the Alliance is effective, that the Alliance is able to make decisions and, above all, that it is cohesive, it is together, that it shows solidarity, that we are reacting to what is happening…
“One thing is the most important: that anyone who carries out an act of aggression on a country in which there are NATO troops will at the same time be carrying out an act of aggression on all countries.”
“The security situation in Europe has significantly deteriorated,” Mrs Angela Merkel told the German parliament. “Russia’s actions have deeply disturbed our eastern allies. They therefore require clear reassurance from the alliance.” NATO is expected to approve plans to send four combat battalions of around 1,000 troops to each of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia at the Warsaw summit. “If international law and the basic principle of the inviolability of borders are put in question by word and deed, then of course trust is lost,” Mrs Merkel said.
Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Allied leaders will take key decisions to strengthen the Alliance’s defence and deterrence and project stability beyond NATO’s borders.
Since the Alliance’s last summit in September 2014 in Wales, NATO has implemented the biggest reinforcement of its collective defence since the Cold War.  “We delivered a faster, a stronger, and a more ready Alliance”, Mr Stoltenberg told a press conference at NATO headquarters.  “We now need to take the next steps. So at our Summit in Warsaw, we will agree to further enhance our military presence in the eastern part of the Alliance.
The Secretary General said that Allied leaders will agree to deploy four robust, multinational battalions to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. Further efforts to strengthen the Alliance’s deterrence and defence include a tailored presence in the south-east, based on a multinational brigade in Romania and steps to improve cyber-defence, civil preparedness and the ability to defend against ballistic missile attacks.
The US wants other members in the alliance to share the burden of military spending. NATO wants its members to try to spend 2 percent of their GDP on defense. Many members will want to revise this system in Warsaw as it does not reflect the contribution of each country
Mr Stoltenberg said preparations for holding another meeting of the NATO-Russia Council shortly after the Warsaw Summit are ongoing.  “We remain open to dialogue with Russia. The NATO-Russia Council has an important role to play as a forum for dialogue and information exchange, to reduce tensions and increase predictability,” Stoltenberg said.

Pope Francis spoke on the Armenian genocide and Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, as well as a host of other topics in a wide-ranging press conference on his flight back to Rome following his Apostolic Voyage to Armenia.

Sunday’s in-flight press conference began with questions about the Apostolic Voyage to Armenia that Pope Francis had just concluded.
Asked about his message for Armenia for the future, the Holy Father spoke about his hopes and prayers for justice and peace, and his encouragement that leaders are working to that end. In particular, he talked of the work of reconciliation with Turkey and with Azerbaijan. The Pope will be travelling to Azerbaijani later this year. TsitsernakaberdARM

  Pope Francis also spoke about his use of the word ‘genocide,’ acknowledging the legal import of the expression, but explaining that this was the term commonly in use in Argentina for the massacre of Armenians during the first World War.

 About the Pan-Orthodox Council, which concluded Sunday in Crete, the Pope said, “A step was made forward . . . I think the result was positive.” In response to a question about upcoming commemorations of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant “Reformation,” Pope Francis said, “I think perhaps this is also the right moment for us not only to remember the wounds on both sides, but also to recognize the gifts of the Reformation.” He also had words of praise for Martin Luther. The Pope praying and working together are important for fostering unity.

 Reporters also questioned the Pope about recent events, including the recent “Brexit” vote in Britain. He said he had not had time to study the reasons for the British vote to leave the European Union, but noted that the vote showed “divisions,” which could also be seen in other countries. “Fraternity is better, and bridges are better than walls,” he said, but he acknowledged that there are “different ways of unity.” Creativity and fruitfulness are two key words for the European Union as it faces new challenges.

 Finally, answering a question from Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Pope Francis reflected on his visit to the Memorial at Tzitzernakaberd, and his upcoming journey to Poland, which will include a visit to Auschwitz. The Pope said that in such places, he likes to reflect silently, “alone,” praying that the Lord might grant him “the grace of crying.”

Extract from the Vatican Radio.

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