Putin backs a ban on Americans adopting Russian children
President Vladimir Putin backed a ban on Americans adopting Russian children on Thursday in a feud over a U.S. law that aims to punish Russians accused of violating human rights.
In his first annual news conference since he began a new six-year term in May, the former KGB spy often struck a hawkish tone, signaling support for tough retaliation against the “unfriendly” Magnitsky Act passed by Moscow’s former Cold War enemy, which he said was poisoning relations.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has admitted that some of his most famous media adventures with wildlife have been carefully staged but has said they were worthwhile because they drew the public’s attention to important conservation projects.
His macho appearances with everything from tigers to whales have been a staple of Russian state TV for years, cementing his image as a man of action but drawing mockery from critics who have likened them to Soviet-style propaganda.
Although Putin’s spokesman has previously revealed that at least one of the stunts was a set-up, Putin until now has appeared to play along with the exercises, allowing state media to present them as they seem rather than how they really are.
But in a rare meeting with a Kremlin critic after his latest wildlife stunt - taking to the skies in a light aircraft with a group of cranes last week - Putin admitted he had often taken part in media exercises which were carefully staged.
Sometimes, he said the stunts had been over the top.
The website of a Moscow court that convicted three members of punk band Pussy Riot to two years in jail each for belting out a profanity-laced anti-Kremlin song inside a cathedral was hacked on Tuesday.
A slogan denouncing President Vladimir Putin was posted on the site as was an appeal for the trio’s release along with a video clip of one of the band’s latest anti-Putin songs and a clip by Bulgarian singer Azis, local media reported.
The hack attack - claimed by AnonymousRussia, which says it is affiliated with hacking activist group Anonymous - comes amid a chorus of criticism of the sentences, which Western governments and singers said were disproportionate and opponents of Putin called part of a crackdown on dissent.
A screenshot posted by opposition activist Ilya Yashin on Twitter showed the court’s web page topped by an inscription reading: “Putin’s thieving gang is plundering our country! Wake up, comrades!”
Another caption called for the release of the band’s jailed members - Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, Marina Alyokhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30.
The site of Moscow’s Khamovniki district court hamovnichesky.msk.sudrf.ru/ was operating normally by noon (0800 GMT) but its hacked version was on display for several hours on Tuesday morning.
Darya Lyakh, a spokeswoman for the court, said a department of the Supreme Court had asked federal investigators to look into the hacking attack.
The microphone was hot, and this time, President Barack Obama was happily aware that he was being recorded.
During the opening of a speech he gave to news editors in Washington, Obama took a light jab at the media for reporting sideline discussions he had with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Seoul that were, unbeknownst to the pair, picked up by press microphones.
“It is a pleasure to speak to all of you — and to have a microphone that I can see,” Obama said to laughter from the audience of news executives.
“Feel free to transmit any of this to Vladimir if you see him.”
International monitors said Russia’s presidential election was clearly skewed to favour Vladimir Putin, a verdict that could spur protesters planning to take to the streets to challenge his right to rule.
Putin, who secured almost 64 percent of votes on Sunday, portrayed his emphatic victory for a third term as president as a strong mandate to deal with the biggest anti-Kremlin protests since he rose to power in 2000.
But hours before protests were planned to start in central Moscow, vote monitors from the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe echoed his opponents’ complaints that the election was slanted against them.
Read more: Russian election criticism may spur protests