“Anti-corruption demonstrations sweep across Russia”
Vladimir Putin won his first presidential election on March 26th, 2000. Exactly 17 years later, tens of thousands of Russians across the country came out to protest the corruption that has come to define his tenure. The demonstrations, the most significant challenge to Mr. Putin’s regime since 2012, began on Russia’s Pacific coast, where hundreds marched through Vladivostok. Throughout the day reports of rallies, most of them unsanctioned, flowed in from dozens of cities, including metropolises like Novosibirsk and Yekaterinburg, industrial centres like Chelyabinsk and Nizhny Tagil, and even Makhachkala, capital of Dagestan, a North Caucasian region where Mr. Putin regularly receives more than 90% of the vote. The largest crowds emerged in Moscow and in St Petersburg, where they spilled onto Palace Square—an echo of the 1917 Russian revolution that is unlikely to be lost on the Kremlin.
The Sunday marches came in response to a call from Aleksei Navalny, an opposition leader and anti-corruption campaigner. Mr. Navalny recently released a film alleging that Dmitry Medvedev, the prime minister, has used charities and shell companies to amass a collection of mansions, yachts and other luxuries. The video has been watched nearly 12m times on the internet, and Mr Navalny implored his followers to take to the streets demanding answers.
As the marches rippled across the country, Russian officialdom was largely silent. State-run television acted as if nothing of note was happening. As thousands marched down Tverskaya Street, just steps from the Kremlin, the Rossiya 24 news network focused on Ukraine’s decision to ban Russia’s entry to the Eurovision song contest, a volcanic eruption in Kamchatka, and a shooting at a nightclub in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Kremlin issued no statements. Moscow city authorities said little except to commend the police for their “impeccable” work.
“Failed ObamaCare repeal spurs fresh round of GOP finger-pointing”
The week began with fierce finger-pointing in Washington in the wake of Friday’s flameout of the GOP alternative to ObamaCare, with conservatives and moderates blaming each other, President Trump sending mixed signals as to he faulted and Democrats gloating over the law’s preservation.
Opposition from the House Freedom Caucus, the powerful bloc of conservative Republicans, prompted Speaker Paul Ryan to pull the bill prior to a scheduled vote, but members said it should spur a fresh approach instead of recriminations. “Instead of doing the blame game, let’s get to work,” Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said on “Fox News Sunday.” “Let’s do the responsible thing. Let’s get back to work and do what we told the voters we were going to do.” Trump, who has had an on-again, off-again relationship with Ryan, initially seemed let down by the speaker’s inability to deliver the votes for a bill Trump had supported. The president sparked speculation he was gunning for Ryan when he tweeted Saturday morning for people to watch Fox News’ “Justice with Judge Jeanine,” which then featured a blistering monologue from host Jeanine Pirro calling for Ryan’s ouster.
“Trump Son-In-Law Kushner To Testify On Russia Ties”
President Trump is reportedly creating a new position for his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner. The newly formed White House Office of American Innovation will leverage business ideas and potentially privatize some government functions, according to Reuters, as Kushner says: «The government should be run like a great American company. Our hope is that we can achieve successes and efficiencies for our customers, who are the citizens”.
Some of the areas he will focus on are veterans’ care, opioid addiction, technology and data infrastructure, workforce training and infrastructure, according to the report. Kushner has been a regular presence at his father-in-law’s side and was earlier cleared by the Justice Department to serve as a White House senior adviser even as Democrats raised concerns about his potential conflicts of interest.
While we are sure Mr. Kushner is eminently qualified for this role, we can’t help but feel a tinge of ‘keep it in the family’ angst as nepotism continues to rear its ugly head. Mr. Kushner is the latest in a string of former aides and associates of Mr. Trump whose testimony has been sought in connection with the two congressional investigations being conducted.
“School children killed in Japanese avalanche”
Seven Japanese high school students and their teacher have been killed in an avalanche at a ski resort. The avalanche occurred early on Monday near Nasu in Tochigi prefecture, 120km (75 miles) north of Tokyo. Another 40 people, mostly students, were hurt including two who were in a critical condition, reports said. The victims were part of a 70-strong group from several schools who were on a three-day mountain climbing training trip. Dozens of troops were involved in rescue efforts, amid bad weather and heavy snowfall.