Why Trump won’t call Putin’s election win a ‘sham’

Washington (CNN) Donald Trump doesn’t care what anyone thinks about his puzzling relationship with Vladimir Putin — that includes his own foreign policy team, Republican senators and US allies.

That much is clear from the President’s latest encounter with his Russian counterpart Tuesday that highlighted his refusal to ever publicly criticize Putin and his increasing tendency to follow his own counsel.
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Putin’s secret bankrollers – How the president’s re-election campaign relies on contributions from sponsors tied to Gennady Timchenko and Moscow’s governor

A billboard in Kazan promoting Vladimir Putin’s re-election campaign, January 23, 2018 Egor Aleev / TASS / Scanpix / LETA

Russia’s next presidential election will take place on Sunday, March 18, and Vladimir Putin will win. As always, the incumbent president has refused to participate in any debates, but his campaign has been busy blanketing the country in billboards and other outdoor advertisements. This year, Putin’s sponsors aren’t individual people or companies, but the political party “United Russia” and a group of 22 affiliated nonprofits. Meduza presents an investigation by Roman Shleynov, a regional editor at the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), about the organizations sponsoring Putin’s re-election campaign and what they have in common with Moscow Governor Andrey Vorobyev, entrepreneur Gennady Timchenko, and the relatives of several high-ranking state officials and politicians.

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Vladimir Putin is set to extend his power in Russia for another six years – how did he do it? / Владимир Путин намерен продлить свою власть в России еще на шесть лет – как он это сделал?

“Now is the season of Lent. I took it upon myself never to get angry and not to raise my voice. Oh well, I’ll try again next year,” – Alexey Navalny tweeted.

“Did he also announce the results? Would save everyone a lot of time and effort.”

“Every free world leader who congratulates Putin on his “election” is complicit in his global war on democracy. They undermine their own status as freely elected leaders.”

– Gary Kasparov tweeted.

Putin wins 76.6% of vote with 67% turnout amid accusations of vote rigging and monitor abuse

  • The main opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, was barred from the race.
  • Monitors organised by opposition leader Alexei Navalny and others complained of ballot stuffing and other methods of increasing turnout in Sunday’s votes, but an official from Russia’s elections committee said no serious violations had taken place.
  • In some areas, free food and discounts in local shops were on offer near polling stations.
  • Video recordings from polling stations showed irregularities in a number of towns and cities across Russia. Several showed election officials stuffing boxes with ballot papers.
  • During polling day, independent election monitoring group Golos reported hundreds of irregularities, including:
    • Voting papers found in some ballot boxes before polls opened
    • Observers were barred from entering some polling stations
    • Some people were bussed in amid suspicion of forced voting
    • Webcams at polling stations were obstructed by balloons and other obstacle
  • In Dagestan, one election official said he was prevented from doing his job by a crowd of men who blocked the ballot box.
  •  Several Russians told CNN of a culture of pressure to support the President. A public service employee who asked to remain anonymous said that all the workers in his office were verbally told to go to a celebration rally commemorating the election on Sunday evening.

    Ella Pamfilova, head of the Central Electoral Commission, said there were no serious violations [Ed.: surprise, surprise]. “We have analysed and monitored everything we could, everything that has arrived. Thank goodness, it’s all rather modest so far,” she told a commission meeting while speaking about violations.





Putin is not strong – it is we who have grown weak

Britain and its politicians prostitute themselves to the Russian oligarchs and their immense wealth. In fact, they should be doing the very opposite. Denying them entry into the UK and confiscating their illegal assets that are a simple money laundering front.

IAN BIRRELL: ‘Putin’s not strong – it’s we who’ve grown weak’ http://dailym.ai/2DC8Dsd via http://dailym.ai/android

Russian police put the squeeze on election observers before vote / Российская полиция подала в суд на наблюдателей за выборами до голосования

Beyond the lacklustre battle for votes, there is a fiercer one over the electoral monitors

Vladimir Putin
 Vladimir Putin devoted less than two minutes to a final campaign speech in Crimea, the peninsula he annexed in 2014. Photograph: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Days before Russia’s presidential elections, police are trying to seize documents that give activist observers access to polling stations and a leading elections watchdog has unexpectedly seen its office lease revoked.

“You shouldn’t hold this event here or you’ll have trouble,” Roman Udot, a representative for the independent Golos Association elections watchdog, said his landlord was told by police before they ripped up the contract. The “event” was a call centre to field reports of election violations. The government denies interfering.

Russia’s short, frustrating and listless presidential campaign is grinding to its inevitable conclusion. Even Vladimir Putin hardly seems enthused, devoting less than two minutes to a final campaign speech in Crimea, the peninsula he annexed from Ukraine in 2014 to domestic acclaim and international condemnation.


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How Russia’s rich elite spend their billions in London / Как богатая элита России тратит миллиарды долларов в Лондоне

Wealthy oligarchs have become a fixture of the British landscape during the past 20 years. But what do they offer to the country’s culture?
Russian Debutante Ball
 The annual Russian Debutante Ball at the Grosvenor House hotel in London. Photograph: Alamy

Early in this millennium an exotic new species appeared in London. They were men of the genus nouveau riche, but they were different in important ways from other variations. They flew in private jets. They were accompanied by fashion models. They were surrounded by bodyguards, in a country where the police do not bear arms. Their brashness as much as their accent revealed their origin – they came in from the cold. They were the oligarchs from Russia.

Initially, they were not particularly welcome in the place they insisted on calling tumanny (foggy) Albion. “Shadowy tycoon from Siberia”, who made his fortune in “murky oil deals”, was the most flattering epithet the British press awarded Roman Abramovich when he offered to purchase Chelsea FC.

Things changed when the oligarchs started buying the most expensive propertiesin London and Surrey, opening bank accounts for their companies (many of which were based in overseas British island territories) and buying British football clubs.

Boris Johnson, then mayor of London, welcomed them in their language: Dobro pozhalovat!

And they stayed, establishing property price records year after year, being chauffeured in customised Mercedes-Maybachs, shopping in Harrods and dining in restaurants where only they could afford to eat. They have been around for almost 20 years, a super-rich colony in the heart of the capital. Many maintain ties with Russia and most remain “non-doms” – a dazzling loophole in the British tax system.

Meanwhile Londoners eagerly cater to their needs as butlers and architects, accountants and lawyers, interior designers and private tutors, personal shoppers and family officers. But their most important facilitator has been the UK government itself, which has rolled out the red carpet to a group whose enormous wealth became part of a narrative about a new golden age for the capital.

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