President Vladimir Putin tightened his iron grip on Russia Friday as his party secured enough seats in parliament to change the constitution and his most colorful opponent bowed out of next year's presidential race apparently under Kremlin pressure. \nUnited Russia -- running in the December 7 parliamentary elections under the lone banner of loyalty to Putin -- announced that enough independents had jumped on board in recent days to secure the faction a two-thirds parliamentary majority. \n"This morning we had 308" seats in the 450-member State Duma lower house of parliament, top United Russia deputy Vladimir Pekhin told reporters. \n"Requests to join are still coming in," he said. \nUnited Russia now has enough sway to approve constitutional changes without having to lobby for support from any other parties, although many of the remaining lawmakers are already on good terms with Putin's dominant administration. \nWestern analysts had long suspected that Putin was gunning for a two-thirds Duma majority in order to make sure that he can alter Russia's basic law should he wish. \nOne change could see Putin, 51, run for a third term after his all-but-guaranteed re-election in March. An opinion poll published Friday by the VTsIOM-A polling agency found that 75 of respondents said they would vote for Putin on March 14. \nOthers suggest Putin may want to centralize control over the regions by appointing regional governors. \nPutin used a televised national question-and-answer session this month to dismiss speculation that he planned to alter Russia's basic law. \nBut he later also hinted that he was unhappy with relations between Moscow and the regions, suggesting that they enjoyed too much independence. \nThe Duma is also expected to play an important role in deciding Russia's future prime minister. The current cabinet is headed by Mikhail Kasyanov -- one of the few holdovers from the Boris Yeltsin administration in Putin's court who is widely expected to be dismissed in the coming months. \nThe prime minister is inherently seen here as the top potential successor to the president. Securing a dominant Duma majority could in effect allow Putin -- who presents the prime minister's candidacy for the chamber's approval -- to appoint his own successor. \nIn a symbolic gesture, Putin was expected to secure his stamp over parliament by appearing at the new Duma's inaugural session tomorrow -- for the first time since his term officially began in May 2000. \nMeanwhile the road for Putin's re-election became even smoother Friday when Vladimir Zhirinovsky -- one of the few other politicians with broad name recognition and appeal in Russia -- pulled out of the race. \nZhirinovsky is widely recognized as the Russian clown prince who preaches ultra-nationalist ideology while privately bowing to every Kremlin whim. \nHe has participated and lost in every presidential election since 1991. Most analysts view him as a secret Kremlin stooge who was created as something of a scarecrow in a bid to prompt Western governments to support the more liberal forces of post-Soviet Russia. \nBut his party made strong gains in the Duma vote and emerged third in the popular poll. And he came in second in the VTsIOM-A poll, with support from seven percent of Russians who plan to vote in the March presidential election, way behind Putin's 75 percent. \nOne Russian newspaper predicted in its Friday edition that the Kremlin was frightened that Zhirinovsky might steal some of Putin's nationalist electorate and his symbolic first-round victory iffy and ask the firebrand to pull out of the race. \nZhirinovsky used his usual flair and antics to confirm he would not stand. \n"I will not be a candidate ... to avoid creating a personality cult" around himself, Zhirinovsky told his party congress.
The images of a besuited Ferdinand Marcos Jr, clad in a top hat and leaning nonchalantly on a Rolls-Royce, dating from his time in Britain in the 1970s, are as you might expect from the playboy scion of a kleptocratic dictator. Yet as the Marcos family returns to power in the Philippines after a landslide presidential victory by Marcos Jr, he is facing calls to stop misrepresenting the circumstances of his studies at the University of Oxford. The university has confirmed that he did not complete his degree in philosophy, politics and economics after enrolling in 1975. “According to our records, he did
A glimpse of a possible Picasso in the home of Imelda Marcos filmed during a visit by her son after his presidential election win has set off a flurry of speculation in the Philippines, where the family that once plundered billions is set to return to power. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr, the son and namesake of the late dictator, won a landslide victory in Monday’s presidential election, an outcome that has appalled those who survived his father’s regime. Images released by the family showed Marcos Jr visiting the home of his mother, who had displayed Picasso’s Femme Couche VI (Reclining Woman VI),
HATE CRIME: Officials were investigating a detailed ‘manifesto’ posted online before the livestreamed shooting, in which the suspect outlined his reasoning and plans A heavily armed 18-year-old white man on Saturday shot 10 people dead at a Buffalo, New York, grocery store in a “racially motivated” attack that he livestreamed on camera, authorities said. The gunman, who was wearing body armor and a helmet, was arrested after the massacre, Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia told a news conference. Gramaglia put the toll at 10 dead and three wounded. Eleven of the victims were African Americans. The gunman shot four people in the parking lot of the Tops supermarket, three of them fatally, then went inside and continued firing, Gramaglia said. Among those killed inside the store was
CALIBRATED RESPONSE: The city-state has learned from its past experiences of dealing with COVID-19 variants to assess the situation and the risks, the transport minister said Singapore will strive to keep its borders open and stay connected to the rest of world even if a new variant of COVID-19 emerges, Singaporean Minister for Transport S. Iswaran said on Wednesday. The city-state has learned from its past experiences of dealing with COVID-19 variants, Iswaran said in an interview with Bloomberg News. When the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 hit, Singapore did not backtrack on its reopening plans, but rather decided to wait and see how things panned out, he said, adding that the response was different versus the Delta outbreak. “We’ve all learned to adapt,” Iswaran said on the sidelines