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Putin rejects charges of Russian meddling in UK politics, praises Johnson – The Journal Pioneer

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By Andrew Osborn and Vladimir Soldatkin

MOSCOW (Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin on Thursday rejected allegations of Russian interference in British politics and praised Prime Minister Boris Johnson for better understanding the mood of British society on Brexit than his political rivals.

Relations between London and Moscow remain strained over everything from the 2018 poisoning in England of a former Russian spy and his daughter to Syria and Ukraine.

Putin, fielding questions from reporters at his annual news conference, was asked about an unpublished British parliamentary report into allegations Russia had attempted to interfere in British politics, something the Kremlin has repeatedly denied.

“As regards (Russian) interference or non-interference, we’ve heard many times from official governing bodies in various countries, including Britain, assessments of what is happening inside Russia. Is that interference?” said Putin.

“We reserve the right to behave in the same way toward you. If you think that is interference, then keep thinking that. But it has nothing at all to do with interference.”

Reminded by a BBC reporter that Johnson had once compared him to Dobby the House Elf from the Harry Potter films, Putin said he didn’t care.

“I know what my country’s interests are. And whatever anyone has said about me has no importance when compared to the fundamental tasks that Russia is interested in solving,” he said.

Citing unnamed British business people and investors whom he said Russia regarded as friends, Putin said he believed London was interested in forging stronger economic ties with Moscow.

“We value this and are doing everything to support them so that they feel like they are at home here,” he said.

And despite being reminded of Johnson’s elf joke about him, Putin had warm words for the British politician.

“As regards what’s happening now, it’s possible to congratulate Johnson. He turned out to be the victor after all (in this month’s British election) and better grasped the mood in British society than his opponents,” said Putin.

“And as I understand it, he intends to go through with all of his Brexit plans.”

(Reporting by Reuters reporters; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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Ukrainian Politics Again Get the Better of a Would-Be Reformer – Bloomberg

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A reformer is stepping aside in Ukraine for the second time in less than five years — and with a similar feeling of unease.

Aivaras Abromavicius, who quit the previous administration complaining about corruption, is awaiting President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s approval to resign as head of state-controlled arms producer Ukroboronprom. While this time his exit is planned, there are parallels — namely what he deems waning appetite to tackle graft and overhaul the economy.

Zelenskiy, 42, was elected in 2019 as an untainted newcomer who could clean up Ukraine’s murky politics, which have been dogged by corruption and influence from big business since the Soviet Union collapsed three decades ago. But after selecting a reformist government, the president dismantled it on the grounds it wasn’t delivering results, turning instead to old hands. Some were even part of the administration of disgraced former leader Viktor Yanukovych.

The reshuffle disappointed investors and voters alike, with changes at the top of the central bank and complaints by foreign directors serving on the boards of state-run enterprises adding to the gloom. Zelenskiy’s popularity is the lowest since he took office.

Read more: Ukrainian Leader Backs Calamitous Reshuffle to Deliver Results

“Progressive people are replaced with conservative ones — this is the biggest risk,” Abromavicius said in a phone interview. “This staff policy may lead to corruption, for sure.”

Lithuanian-born Abromavicius, 44, took Ukrainian citizenship to become economy minister after protesters ousted Kremlin-backed Yanukovych in 2014. But he resigned in 2016, saying he faced pressure over appointments at government-run companies and accusing a lawmaker close to then-President Petro Poroshenko of graft.

He arrived at Ukroboronprom in 2019 to oversee an audit, and boost transparency, corporate governance and efficiency. While he waived a salary, the issue of pay for foreigners working at Ukraine’s state-owned companies is concerning creditors abroad.

Foreign nationals appointed to supervisory boards to lift governance standards have seen theirmonthly wages capped at $1,660 — part of measures to mitigate the financial hit from the Covid-19 pandemic. While the limit applied to all public officials, many others have now had their full pay restored.

The International Monetary Fund urges an end to the ceiling, which risks halting further disbursements from a $5 billion aid program. Some directors have quit in protest — including Anders Aslund, a Swedish economist who’d worked at Ukraine’s state railway.

“The president and his loud MPs don’t believe in good corporate governance,” Aslund wrote last week in a column. Foreign board members “have been working hard to try to improve Ukraine’s state companies. From the president (the only Ukrainian president that I’ve never met), we only receive insults and obstacles.”

At Ukroboronprom, a comprehensive revamp is under way but politics are acting as a brake, according to Abromavicius. “Everything slows down bit by bit with every political change.”

But with Ukraine’s lowly ranking in Transparency International’s annual corruption perceptions index barely improving since 2015, the reformers are struggling to make headway.

“A fight is underway for which vector development of Ukraine will take, western or eastern,” Abromavicius said.

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    Twitter’s Jack Dorsey Slams Coinbase for Its No-Politics Stance

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    (Bloomberg) — Twitter Inc. Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey joined a chorus of criticism for Coinbase Inc.’s newly announced policy of not debating politics at work, saying it runs counter to the core principles of cryptocurrency.

    In reaction to Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong’s blog post arguing that the company should be mission-focused and not “advocate for any particular causes or candidates internally that are unrelated to our mission, because it is a distraction,” Dorsey argued that the whole purpose of currencies like Bitcoin, which is traded on Coinbase, is social activism.

    “#Bitcoin (aka “crypto”) is direct activism against an unverifiable and exclusionary financial system which negatively affects so much of our society,” Dorsey tweeted. To not acknowledge and connect the related social and political issues “leaves behind people,” according to the Twitter chief. The bio section of Dorsey’s Twitter profile lists only “#bitcoin,” signaling it’s a key issue for him.

    Coinbase, a digital-currency exchange that has more than 35 million users according to its website, suggested that its push for an apolitical stance was a reaction to a growing movement within tech companies for employees’ beliefs to be better represented by their companies.

    “We’ve seen what internal strife at companies like Google and Facebook can do to productivity,” Armstrong said in the post. “We are an intense culture and we are an apolitical culture.”

     

    Source: – BNN

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    Spotlight Politics: A Chaotic Presidential Debate

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    The first Trump-Biden debate. A fiery hearing on corruption in Springfield. Chicago’s loosening COVID-19 restrictions. Our politics team tackles those stories and more in this week’s roundtable.


    Tuesday’s presidential debate was loud, but there often wasn’t much you could actually hear.

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    Perhaps the most notable moment came when moderator Chris Wallace asked President Donald Trump to condemn white supremacists and militia groups, and ask them not to behave violently.

    “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by,” Trump said.

    State politics

    A House investigative panel met in Springfield on Tuesday to look into whether House Speaker Michael Madigan engaged in conduct unbefitting of his elected position.

    Madigan declined to testify, and it remains unclear whether he’ll face the pressure of a subpoena.

    The six legislators on the Special Investigative Committee met for about five hours, with much of that time spent peppering the Commonwealth Edison vice president who executed the deferred prosecution agreement, David Glockner, with questions about utility’s bribery scheme as described in the DPA.

    City politics

    Mayor Lori Lightfoot said this week the city is easing restriction on bars and restaurants after a drop in the number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus.

    However, Lightfoot said she was not prepared to announce whether Chicago Public Schools students would return to in-person classes in November.

    “We’re not there yet,” Lightfoot said, while detailing what she said were significant problems with remote learning. “We’d have to see more progress.”

    At a virtual town hall Tuesday evening, Lightfoot said that negotiations with community groups on police oversight are at an impasse.

    “We’re moving on from GAPA (the Grassroots Association for Police Accountability),” Lightfoot said. “We’ve got to get it done, we’ve waited too long, we need to move forward and it’s unfortunate that the GAPA folks have not come forward to us with a concrete proposal that solves some of these outstanding issues, but the time is now for us to act. We can’t wait any longer.”

    Lightfoot said at the town hall she would propose an alternative proposal before the end of the year.

    Our politics team of Amanda Vinicky, Heather Cherone, Paris Schutz and Carol Marin discuss these stories and more in this week’s edition of “Spotlight Politics.”


    Source:- WTTW News

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