Saturday, October 25, 2014


Russia

Putin Marks 60th Birthday

A pro-Kremlin activist cuts a birthday cake for Putin in Moscow.
A pro-Kremlin activist cuts a birthday cake for Putin in Moscow.
By RFE/RL
Russian President Vladimir Putin is marking his 60th birthday.

Supporters and opponents of the veteran ruler are expected to hold separate demonstrations to mark the date.

Putin has led Russia for the past 13 years, as president or prime minister.

In elections in March, he won an unprecedented third term as president.

The Kremlin said Putin plans to celebrate his birthday with his family, and no special official parties are planned.

The ITAR-TASS news agency ran a birthday editorial, which was run by several media outlets, saying "Russians are by now accustomed to, though they continue to be surprised at, the ability of the president to work, without break or detriment to his health or mood, in various time zones and seasons of the year."
 
The commentary continued that journalists covering the Russian president "cannot remember an instance when Putin was sick and when he takes a week's holiday in Sochi it is always a working holiday."
 
According to the editorial, presidential administration officials joke that the "best gift for the chief is hard work."

Khodorkovsky And Pussy Riot

Russia's NTV aired a documentary about Putin on October 7, where Putin said he would consider granting jailed Russian tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky a pardon but the former Yukos CEO "must ask for pardon."

Khodorkovsky was convicted in two separate trials of fraud, then embezzlement and money laundering, and is jailed until 2017. Charges against him surfaced after Khodorkovsky became active in Russian politics.
 
Putin also addressed the jailing for two years of three members of the female performance group Pussy Riot who were convicted of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred for their "punk prayer" against Putin in a Moscow cathedral.

Putin said, "the arrest was right and their sentence was right." He added he had nothing to do with the case or verdict against the Pussy Riot members but "they got what they asked for." 
 
Putin commented on the situation in Georgia after President Mikheil Saakashvili's ruling party lost in parliamentary elections on October 1. Putin said he was sure Saakashvili would try to hold onto power.

Heads of state have sent their best wishes to Putin.

The presidents of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, and Ukraine, as well as the leader of Georgia's breakaway territory of Abkhazia, have all congratulated Putin.

North Korean Kim Jong Un conveyed his hope that Putin would "enjoy success in all his responsibilities aimed at creating a strong and modern Russia."

Kim also wished Putin "health and happiness."

In a more elaborate tribute, a group of mountain climbers in the Russian republic of North Ossetia put up a portrait of Putin on the summit of a 4,150-meter mountain. 

Based on reporting by AP, Reuters, and Interfax 

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