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Published: Wednesday, December 06, 2017 @ 10:04 AM
Updated: Wednesday, December 06, 2017 @ 10:03 AM
MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday he would seek re-election next year in a race he is poised to win easily, putting him on track to become the nation's longest-serving ruler since Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.
Putin's approval ratings regularly top 80 percent, making him all but certain to win the March election by a broad margin. While few doubted the 65-year-old leader would run, the delay in his declaring so fueled some conspiracy theories and was seen as the Kremlin's political maneuvering.
The 65-year-old Russian leader's potential rivals include several luckless candidates from past contests and a notable newcomer — TV host Ksenia Sobchak, 36, the daughter of Putin's one-time boss.
The president chose to make his re-election announcement at the GAZ automobile factory in the city of Nizhny Novgorod. The factory is a symbol of Russian's industrial might, and Putin found an enthusiastic audience in the blue-collar workers who make up the core of his base.
"I couldn't find a better place and moment," he said to massive applause at the plant. "Thank you for your support. I will run for president."
For months, Putin fended off questions about his plans for 2018, fueling speculation about why he would not say if he would seek re-election. Some theorized he might step down and name a preferred successor.
The Kremlin has been worried about growing voter apathy, and the uncertainty over Putin's plans seemed intended to encourage public interest in the race.
"It was necessary to ensure electoral mobilization," Dmitry Orlov, a political consultant close to the Kremlin, said in televised remarks.
Putin has been in power in Russia since 2000. He served two presidential terms during 2000-2008, then shifted into the prime minister's seat because of term limits. As prime minister, he still called the shots while his ally, Dmitry Medvedev, served as the placeholder president.
Medvedev had the president's term extended to six years and then stepped down to let Putin reclaim the office in 2012. If Putin serves another six-year term, which would run through 2024, he would reach the milestone of having the longest tenure since Stalin, who ruled for nearly 30 years.
Earlier Wednesday, Putin was asked about his intentions at a meeting with young volunteers in Moscow. He said he would decide shortly, then showed up at the GAZ factory making his announcement.
The plant is one of the country's most emblematic industrial giants. It was built during the Soviet industrialization drive in 1932 and has churned out millions of vehicles, from vans and military trucks to Volga sedans and luxury cars for the Soviet elite.
"Thank you for your work, for your attitude to your jobs, your factory, your city and your country!" Putin told factory workers. "I'm sure that together we will succeed."
A stream of fawning comments from officials and lawmakers followed his declaration.
Chechnya's regional leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, hailed the president's announcement, saying on Instagram that only Putin can "resist a massive shameless and unprecedented" pressure by the West.
Valentina Matviyenko, the speaker of the upper house of the Russian parliament, said Putin's decision helped end "anxiety and tensions in the society."
The upper house is expected to authorize the start of formal election campaigning later this month.
Veterans of past campaigns — Communist chief Gennady Zyuganov, ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky and liberal leader Grigory Yavlinsky — all have declared their intention to run. They will likely be joined by Sobchak, a well-known television host who is the daughter of the late St. Petersburg Mayor Anatoly Sobchak, who was Putin's boss in the 1990s.
"I don't trust a system where Putin makes all decisions," said Sobchak, who also met with voters in Nizhny Novgorod Wednesday. "Let's believe in our ability to change the situation."
The most visible Putin foe, Alexei Navalny, also wants to join the race, even though a conviction he calls politically motivated bars him from running. He has organized a grassroots campaign and staged rallies across Russia to raise pressure on the government to allow him to run.
In a signal that the Kremlin isn't going to budge, Navalny's campaign chief, Leonid Volkov, last week was sentenced to a month in jail for staging an unauthorized rally in Nizhny Novgorod. Navalny himself spent 20 days in jail in October for organizing another rally.
Published: Thursday, June 21, 2018 @ 2:41 PM
MOSCOW — Several corporations have launched campaigns for the World Cup, but Burger King is being criticized for one many have called offensive and sexist.
On Tuesday, the Russian division of the fast-food chain announced a new promotion online that offered women $47,000 and a lifetime supply of Whoppers if they got impregnated by athletes competing in the series.
“It is a reward for the girls who would get pregnant from the international football superstars,” read the campaign, which was posted on the Russian social media platform Vkontakte.
The now deleted promotion pic.twitter.com/mg7xETHfQW— Jenna Fryer (@JennaFryer) June 20, 2018
Soon after it was uploaded, the company received backlash on Twitter.
All i want to know is who in that marketing team thought this was a good idea. pic.twitter.com/mlDt0ejw5U— magnolia darjeeling (@MagnoliaDarj) June 21, 2018
How can someone even think of this?!?— Soumya (@mesoumya) June 21, 2018
I'm sure a highly sexist upbringing might have helped. https://t.co/unBgOwAdpj
Apology NOT accepted, I expect this is another case of being purposefully offensive for the outrage publicity and advertising executives do it because they can. https://t.co/GKroo2JIJZ— GSDog Button 🐺🐾 (@ButtonBodkin) June 21, 2018
Burger King later removed the advertisement, but it was still being posted by Russian social network users.
“We are sorry about the clearly offensive promotion that the team in Russia launched online,” Burger King said in a statement to The Associated Press, adding that the offer “does not reflect our brand or our values and we are taking steps to ensure this type of activity does not happen again.”
This isn’t the first time the Russian division of the company has been condemned. Last year, it depicted a 17-year-old rape victim in a “buy one burger get one free” ad. It was also taken down.
Published: Monday, June 18, 2018 @ 11:35 AM
— Two young elephants had fun with a soccer ball at an elephant rescue center in Chiang Mai, Thailand, as video obtained from Reuters shows.
The two elephants, a male named Dok Geaw, and a female named Thong Ae, are both two years old. They were orphaned when they were young, according to Saengduean Lek Chailert, founder of the Save Elephant Foundation.
Both elephants live in the sanctuary about 60 kilometers from Chiang Mai, in northern Thailand, where it currently houses 35 elephants rescued from Thailand's tourism and logging industries since the 1990s, according to their website.
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Published: Friday, June 01, 2018 @ 8:46 AM
CAIRNS, Australia — A cockatoo is winning the animal internet contest Friday, if there really was such a thing.
Traffic on a road in Cairns, Australia was going smoothly so there was nothing to see, except for the curious cockatoo that was checking out a traffic camera, 9 News reported.
The Department of Transport and Main Roads posted the video to Facebook where it is closing in on a million views within nine hours of being uploaded.
It may not have been the camera itself that piqued the interest of the cockatoo.
A bird expert said that it could have actually been looking at itself.
“If it’s seeing its reflection it may be communicating in some way. They are very social creatures, and they recognize individuals. A lot of them have friendship groups like we do,” Dr. Adrian Gallagher told ABC.net.
And the bird knows where to look for his reflection. Officials told ABC that this specific bird has visited the camera before.
Published: Thursday, May 31, 2018 @ 7:47 AM
SYDNEY — No normal bad day of work will compare to a valet’s bad day in Sydney, Australia.
Imagine being in charge of parking a Porsche Carrera and ending up with this:
This hotel valet in Sydney managed to wedge a guest's Porsche Carrera under an SUV while trying to park it https://t.co/8kQ71V3M34— CNN International (@cnni) May 31, 2018
The Porsche is the crushed car, wedged under the orange SUV.
An eyewitness described what happened, CNN reported.
“I saw the valet hit the car in from of a parked position,” Jonathan Bouzaid said. “He must have panicked and hit the accelerator causing the Porsche to go further under the orange car and pushing the white car in to the bollards.”
Bouzaid surmised that the valet didn’t realize how powerful a Porsche can be.
CNN reported that the car can go from 0 to 62 in less than five seconds.
The valet had to be cut from the soft-top luxury sports car, Time reported.
He was physically OK, but the Hyatt hotel’s sales and marketing director said the driver was embarrassed and in shock.
The Porsche had damage to the hood and front bumper and was towed from the scene, Time reported.
Some witnesses said they thought the crash was part of a stunt, 9 News in Australia reported.