After rare misfire, Kremlin set to win regional vote

MOSCOW (Reuters) – A Kremlin-backed candidate is on track to be governor of a region on Russia’s Pacific coast, voting results showed on Sunday, after an election process in which the opposition had threatened the Kremlin’s usually tight grip on power.

Sunday’s vote in Primorsky region, which includes the port city of Vladivostok, was a re-run of a Sept. 16 election in which a Communist Party challenger claimed he was the rightful winner over the Kremlin’s nominee.

But that election was annulled by election officials, citing voting irregularities. Hundreds of people took to the streets at the time, saying the decision robbed the opposition of a rare election win.

Some political commentators said the September election showed fading public support for the Kremlin, the result of a weak economy and an unpopular proposal – since put on hold – to make people work for longer before they receive their state pension.

After the election re-run was announced, the Kremlin ditched its candidate from the September vote. Russian President Vladimir Putin installed as acting governor Oleg Kozhemyako, the governor of a nearby region with chiseled good looks and none of the political baggage of his predecessor.

Kozhemyako entered the election race, while the Communist challenger from the first round was disqualified from running on the grounds he failed to reach the threshold for winning endorsements from regional lawmakers.

With four fifths of the ballots counted on Sunday, Kozhemyako had a 60 percent share of the vote, according to the central election commission. His nearest rival, from the populist LDPR party, had 26 percent.

Election officials said there had been no reports of major violations, state television reported.

Kozhemyako’s win will restore the Kremlin’s familiar tight control over the region, but the circumstances in which the first election was annulled still rankle with some people.

“You’ve been insulted and humiliated,” Alexei Navalny, one of Putin’s most vocal opponents, said in a video message to voters in Primorsky region before Sunday’s vote.

“You voted and elected a person, after which the election was stolen, they spat in your face, and the person whom you elected was not even allowed to enter the election,” Navalny said.

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UN humanitarian chief calls for immediate truce in Yemen

Ceasefire reached in Sweden needs to be quickly ‘translated into a real change on the ground’ as fighting rages on.

    The UN-brokered truce between Yemen’s pro-government forces and Houthi rebels in the Red Sea city of Hodeidah “really needs to come into operation straight away”,  the United Nations humanitarian chief told Al Jazeera.

    Mark Lowcock, UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, on Sunday told the network’s flagship interview show, Talk to Al Jazeera, the ceasefire reached in Sweden on Thursday should quickly be “translated into a real change on the ground”.

    “We’ve got the good news from Sweden – parties have agreed initial steps to de-escalate the conflict or to try to move things forward,” he said.

    “People I’ve listened to – parents of starving children, people who have fled from their homes, sometimes multiple times – they’re not seeing yet any tangible benefit.”

    Clashes shook Yemen’s flashpoint city of Hodeidah on Sunday after air attacks and deadly fighting on the outskirts overnight, residents said, despite the UN-brokered ceasefire.

    At least 29 fighters, including 22 Houthi rebels, were killed in Hodeidah province, a pro-government military source told AFP news agency. He said seven rebels were captured during an attack on al-Durayhimi, about 20km south of Hodeidah city.

    ‘Catastrophe level’

    Calling for the end of the bloody seven-year war, Lowcock said the results of the biggest ever survey of food security conducted by his organisation in Yemen showed 250,000 people were living in “the highest level of food insecurity, the catastrophe level”.

    “Last year, the UN were feeding three million people a month, this year it’s eight million, next year it needs to be 12 million, that’s a mark of the deterioration of the situation,” he said.

    “No one has won in the war in Yemen, it’s absolutely clear who the losers are and they are the starving millions of children and innocent civilians whose pictures we increasingly see in our newspapers and on our TV screens.”

    Truce date announced

    According to sources from both warring sides and the UN, Houthi rebels and government forces will cease fire and withdraw from Hodeidah on December 18.

    Yahya Sarea, a senior official of the Houthi armed forces, told reporters in Sanaa the ceasefire was set to start on Tuesday.

    “We hope they will be true to their words, otherwise we are ready to respond,” he said.

    A source in the Saudi and Emirati-backed government confirmed the date and said it was officially communicated to both parties in a letter from UN Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths.

    “While the Hodeidah agreement states an immediate start of the ceasefire, it is normal that it takes 48-72 hours to be communicated at the operational level,” a UN source said.

    “We expect the ceasefire to be implemented starting Tuesday.”

    The UN is trying to avert a full-scale assault on the port, the entry point for most of Yemen’s commercial goods and crucial aid supplies. It is a lifeline for millions of Yemenis facing starvation.

    The agreement, the first significant breakthrough in peace efforts in five years, was part of confidence-building measures discussed at peace talks that aim to pave the way for a wider truce and a framework for political negotiations.

    Under the deal, international monitors would be deployed in Hodeidah and all armed forces would pull back completely within 21 days of the start of the ceasefire.

    The mayhem in Yemen and the crisis of meaning in the Arab World

    A UN-chaired Redeployment Coordination Committee including both sides would oversee implementation. The committee is expected to start its work this week, the UN source said.

    Griffiths has asked the Security Council to pass a resolution backing the deployment of a robust monitoring regime to oversee compliance with the truce, headed by retired Dutch Major General Patrick Cammaert.

    The combatants are due to hold another round of talks in January to agree on the political framework for negotiations to end the war that has killed tens of thousands of people and spawned an urgent humanitarian crisis.

    The conflict in Yemen began with the 2014 takeover of Sanaa by Houthi rebels, who toppled the government of Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

    Saudi Arabia formed a coalition allied with Yemen’s internationally recognised government which has been fighting the Houthis since 2015.

    Since then, more than 60,000 people have died, according to rights groups, and now the country is on the brink of a famine.

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    Voters Believe Trump Isn’t Being Honest About The Russia Investigation According To New Poll

    According to a new Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll, nearly two-thirds of American voters believe that President Trump isn’t being honest about the investigation into collusion between his campaign and Russian officials.

    President Trump has strong support among Republicans, but overall Americans are showing growing uncertainty about President Trump’s criminal liability in the collusion case. This month’s poll showed a six percent increase in respondents who don’t believe the president has been honest about his involvement over last August’s poll.

    The answers were heavily split among partisan lines, with 94 percent of Democratic saying they disagree that President Trump has been honest about his activities, while only 24 percent of Republicans believe the President has been untruthful. Independent voters were within two percentage points of the overall results, as nearly two-thirds believe the President has been dishonest about his involvement, according to the Hill.

    On the flip side, about one-third of overall respondents believe that the President has been truthful, including more than two-thirds of Republicans. Only five percent of Democrats believe President Trump has been honest, while 29 percent of independent voters think he has been honest.

    Nearly half of those polled answered that guilty pleas by Trump associates have suggested wrongdoing by the president as well, an increase of six percent over the August poll and over ten percent since last year’s poll, according to NBC News.

    Half of those polled answered that the Russia investigation has created at least some doubt about the Trump presidency, while 44 percent remain unaffected by the findings. Conducted less than a month prior to a Democratic majority taking over the House of Representatives and the specter of Congressional scrutiny into the President’s activities, the poll shows that 55 percent of respondents support potential House investigations of President Trump, compared to 43 percent who do not.

    Among those polled, 52 percent said they would probably or definitely vote for the Democratic candidate in 2020, while only 38 percent said they would vote for President Trump should he seek a second term of office.

    “The dam has not burst on Donald Trump,” says Peter Hart, the Democratic pollster who conducted the survey along with Republican counterpart Bill McInturff. “But this survey underscores all the structural cracks in the dam.”

    “This is not a vote of no confidence,” Hart said. “it’s worse – a vote of no trust.”

    The survey also suggests growing discontent with major American political parties, with the Democratic Party barely being supported by the public, with 39 percent with favorable views and 37 percent with unfavorable views. The Republican Party has fared worse, with 32 percent expressing favorable views while 42 percent have unfavorable views toward the GOP, according to CNBC.

    The respondents included 900 adults. The poll was conducted December 9-12 and has a margin of error of 3.3 percent.

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    Thousands of Hungarians protest against Orban's rule

    BUDAPEST (Reuters) – Around 10,000 Hungarians protested in Budapest on Sunday against a new labor law and what they see as the increasingly authoritarian rule of right-wing nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

    Sunday’s protest, called “Merry Xmas Mr. Prime Minister” by organizers, was the fourth, and biggest demonstration in a week by leftist opposition parties, student groups and civilians against Orban’s government. Trade unions also joined the rally.

    Protesters waved Hungarian and European Union flags as they walked from the historic Heroes’ Square towards parliament in crispy winter cold, holding up banners with slogans including “Don’t steal” and “Independent courts!”. The crowd swelled to around 10,000 by the time they reached parliament.

    “Discontent is growing,” said Andi, 26, a sociology student who did not want to give her full name. “They have passed two laws this week which … won’t serve Hungarian people’s interest.”

    The new labor law allows employers to ask for up to 400 hours of overtime work per year, leading critics to label it the “slave law”.

    The government also passed a law to set up new administrative courts that will answer to the government and oversee sensitive issues such as electoral law, protests and corruption issues.

    “This government ignores us, workers,” Tamas Szekely, deputy head of the Hungarian Trade Unions’ Association said in a speech. “We must raise our voice and give an answer.”

    Orban has often clashed with Brussels as he has built a system that his critics see as autocratic, boosting his control over the courts and the media.

    Civil rights watchdogs said the new courts law was the latest erosion of democratic institutions under Orban, who rose to power in 2010.

    He has since tweaked the election system to favor his ruling Fidesz party and has put loyalists at the head of public institutions, while his allies have enriched themselves.

    He has rarely angered large voter groups at home. Earlier this week police used tear gas on protesters at parliament.

    Orban was reelected in April on the back of a fiercely anti-immigration campaign, facing a weak and fragmented opposition.

    Earlier this month, his government forced a private graduate school, the Central European University, to leave Hungary, as part of Orban’s years-long fight with liberal Hungarian-born U.S. billionaire George Soros.

    Fidesz said on Saturday, in reaction to the protests, that it was “increasingly obvious that criminals have been part of the street riots organized by the Soros-network.”

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    Theresa May attacks Blair for ‘undermining’ Brexit on Brussels visits

    Theresa May denounces Tony Blair for ‘insulting’ the office of Prime Minister by ‘undermining’ Brexit during secret visits to Brussels 

    • May launched a ferocious attack on Blair for undermining Britain in Brussels 
    • She accused the ex-PM of ‘insulting’ the No 10 office that he held for 10 years 
    • Blair insists there must be a re-run referendum to end the crisis over May’s deal 
    • Embarrassingly for the PM members of her own staff and Cabinet may back it  

    Theresa May angrily denounced Tony Blair today for ‘insulting’ the office of Prime Minister by ‘undermining’ Britain by backing a second referendum on secret visits to Brussels. 

    The PM suggested her predecessor had ‘lost sight’ of his duty to the nation in his role as one of the leading campaigners for a new vote on Brexit.

    Mr Blair travels regularly to Brussels for meetings. His decade in No 10 leaves many doors open among friends and former colleagues he worked with in office.

    He renewed his public campaign for a second referendum on Friday with a new speech warning Mrs May’s deal was in ‘crisis’ and a vote was the only answer.

    Embarrassingly for Mrs May as she attacked Mr Blair it was claimed members of her own staff and Cabinet are now considering a second referendum. 

    Theresa May (left in Maidenhead today) angrily denounced Tony Blair right in London on Friday) today for ‘insulting’ the office of Prime Minister by ‘undermining’ Britain by backing a second referendum on secret visits to Brussels

    Mrs May said: ‘For Tony Blair to go to Brussels and seek to undermine our negotiations by advocating for a second referendum is an insult to the office he once held.

    ‘I have never lost sight of my duty, and that is to deliver on the referendum result.’ 

    She added: ‘We cannot, as he would, abdicate responsibility for this decision.

    ‘Parliament has a democratic duty to deliver what the British people voted for.’

    The attack came as Mrs May’s chief of staff has triggered a civil war in Downing Street by telling Cabinet Ministers that a second EU referendum is the only way to break the Brexitdeadlock.

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    Gavin Barwell, the Prime Minister’s most powerful and influential adviser, is understood to have decided that plans should be drawn up for another public poll. 

    The incendiary suggestion has been greeted with fury from Brexiteers in the Cabinet.

    Meanwhile, The Mail on Sunday can reveal that Mrs May’s deputy, David Lidington has held a series of secret meetings with Labour MPs to build a ‘coalition of the willing’ to force a new EU vote. 

    Sources say that Mr Barwell has told the pro-Remain ‘gang of five’ Cabinet Ministers – Mr Lidington, Chancellor Philip Hammond, Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd, Justice Secretary David Gauke and Business Secretary Greg Clarke –that a second vote is ‘the only way out of this’.

    Gavin Barwell (left with Philip May on Wednesday), the Prime Minister’s most powerful and influential adviser, is understood to have decided that plans should be drawn up for another public poll

    But the idea is being fiercely opposed by pro-Brexit Cabinet ministers led by Home Secretary Sajid Javid, Commons leader Andrea Leadsom and International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt. 

    They argue that it would be greeted with fury – and possibly civil disorder – by people who had voted for Brexit two years ago.

    Mr Blair insisted on Friday there must be a second referendum on Brexit because of the ‘crisis’ over the deal.

    And the former PM claimed the EU would now reform free movement if Britain decided to stay – insisting ‘European politics has been transformed’ since the 2016 vote. 

    Mr Blair said: ‘We have had 30 months of negotiation. Universally it is accepted that this negotiation has been massively more fraught than anyone ever imagined. 

    ‘Survey the political wreckage of the past weeks… Chaos, the character of the process; and no viable solution in sight.

    ‘The clock which should never have been set ticking now ticking ever louder as we approach the midnight hour.

    ‘How can it be said that in these circumstances, given the riot of confusion… it is wrong to go back to the people and ask that they clarify whether they wish now, in the light of all this, to remain or leave?’ 

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    Children facing Christmas without their mother after blunder

    ‘Heartbroken’ British children are facing Christmas without their mother, 35, after a Home Office blunder left her without a visa

    • Patcharee Peacock, 35, from Hampshire, was caring for sick father in Thailand
    • Mother told by Home Office officials that her visa application had been denied
    • Daughter Jeanna, 11, has written a letter revealing how much she misses mother

    A Home Office blunder has left three ‘heartbroken’ children facing Christmas without their mother after she was blocked from returning to the country.

    Patcharee Peacock, 35, from Hampshire, was stunned when she was refused a visa to return to Britain having been in her native Thailand caring for her sick father, who had suffered a stroke.     

    The mother-of-three has been told by Home Office officials her application, which she submitted in April this year, was denied because she has been living in Thailand for the last 11 years.

    Mrs Peacock, who has been living in the village of Pennington, New Forest, with her British husband James and their children Jeanna, 11, Jensen, 7, and Junior, 6, must now wait in Thailand until the matter is resolved.

    A Home Office blunder left mother-of-three Patcharee Peacock (pictured with husband James), 35, from New Forest, Hampshire, being refused entry into the UK

    The mother to daughter Jeanna, 11,  and sons Jensen, 7, and Junior, 6, must now wait in until the matter is resolved. She has been in her native Thailand caring for her sick father

    Now her devastated daughter Jeanna has written a heart-wrenching letter revealing how much she and her two brothers miss their mother as her family fights to bring her home for Christmas.

    In the letter, Jeanna said: ‘I really miss my mom. I miss everything about her, her hugs, kisses, kindness. She does everything for me.

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    ‘Me and my brothers miss her too much. The only thing I need to make me happy is my mom.’ 

    Mrs Peacock’s youngest son Junior has also drawn a picture, on which he wrote: ‘Our home is empty without our mum.’

    The 35-year-old met her husband James in Thailand in 2003 and the couple’s two youngest children were born in Britain after they returned to the country 11 years ago.

    In a letter, daughter Jeanna wrote: ‘I really miss my mom, I miss everything about her’

    Mrs Peacock’s youngest son Junior drew a picture, on which he wrote: ‘Our home is empty without our mum’

    Mr Peacock, who runs his own computer repairs company, said: ‘It’s absolutely awful to think she won’t be here for Christmas as both she and the children were so looking forward to being together at last.

    ‘It’s not fair on them. They really need their mother and she is desperate to come home. She is heartbroken that she won’t be with her children on Christmas Day.

    ‘There have never been any problems with Pat being here, she’s never been in the UK illegally.

    ‘In January she had to fly back to Thailand as her father had had a stroke. We applied for a spousal visa to allow her to return to the UK around April.

    ‘We thought it would all be quite straightforward.

    ‘The children are missing their mum terribly, there have been a few tears. It’s not fair on them to be apart from her for so long.

    ‘She Facetimes us nearly every day, but it’s not the same as having her here. The worst thing is not knowing when this nightmare is going to finally end.’

    Mrs Peacock has been living in the picturesque village of Pennington in the New Forest, Hampshire, with her British husband James and their children Jeanna, 11, Jensen, 7, and Junior

    When Mr Peacock received a letter last week telling him his wife’s visa application had been rejected because the family had ‘lived together in Thailand for 11 years’ he was stunned.

    The father-of-three said his two youngest children had never even been to the Asian country.

    He said: ‘It is obviously a big mistake on their part as our children have spent their whole lives here.

    ‘Two of them have never even been out of the UK for holidays, let alone spent 11 years in Thailand.

    ‘Both I and my solicitor told the Home Office that, but now they are insisting we apply again or appeal, all of which could take months.

    ‘They are not listening to the fact that they have got it wrong.’

    Mr Peacock’s mother Jane, a social work lecturer at the University of Winchester, Hampshire, has supported her son and his family throughout their ordeal.

    She said: ‘My son has gone to the ends of the earth to provide everything the Home Office wanted and it has come to nothing.

    ‘They have obviously made a mistake but don’t want to admit it. My daughter-in-law is the most wonderful person, she’s never claimed a penny in benefits and she should be here with her children.’

    In a letter to the Home Office, solicitors representing the Peacocks have pointed out the errors made and accused officials of ‘failing’ Mrs Peacock’s children.

    The letter reads: ‘The Home Office is well aware that our client has three young children, all British, under the age of 11 who have not seen their mother since January 2018.

    ‘Could you confirm whether the Home Office deems it appropriate to separate our client from her young children for such a protracted period?

    ‘Furthermore, the decision is based on information which is factually incorrect.

    ‘It is submitted that the Home Office has totally failed in its duty to have regard to the best interest of the children.’

    A Home Office spokesman said: ‘All applications are considered on their individual merits and in line with the immigration rules.

    ‘We have been in touch with Mrs Peacock and are progressing her visa application based on further evidence provided this week.’ 


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    Chelsea fans pictured with flag bearing ‘SS death’s head’ Nazi symbol

    Chelsea fans are pictured with hooligan flag bearing ‘SS death’s head’ Nazi symbol before controversial Budapest match where supporters chanted antisemitic songs

    • The Chelsea fans posed with the shocking banner outside of a bar in Budapest 
    • Hooligan firm Chelsea Headhunters’ flag had the insignia of the ‘SS death’s head’
    • Fans have already been criticised for chanting antisemitic songs during match

    Chelsea Football Club faced further criticism for fan racism after a group of supporters were pictured holding a hooligan flag bearing a Nazi symbol before the team’s controversial match in Hungary.

    Thugs flaunted the vile banner, which included the SS ‘death’s head’ insignia, outside a Budapest pub before the encounter with Vidi FC, where some British supporters appeared to chant antisemitic songs.

    The flag, a modified version of the Northern Irish ‘Red Hand of Ulster’ standard, also bore the name of the club’s notorious hooligan ‘firm’ and contained the message: ‘You have been nominated and dealt with by the Chelsea Headhunters’.

    The Chelsea fans held a banner with the SS Totenkopf insignia on it – a infamous SS group referred to as the ‘Death’s Head Division’

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    And it featured Glasgow Rangers’ insignia and the sectarian ‘No Surrender’ slogan in reference to the fight against the IRA.

    The Chelsea Headhunters, whose compain of violence peaked in the 1970s and 1980s and was thought to have been largely finished, were linked to neo-Nazi groups such as Combat 18 as well as Ulster loyalist paramilitaries.

    The SS-Totenkopf – or ‘death’head’ skull is commonly used by neo-Nazis as a reference to Hitler’s forces who ran the death camps and extermination programme that murdered six million Jews during World War II Holocaust.

    The shocking photos come after the football club already criticised its fans for antisemitic chants during the game

    European football chiefs will now face further pressure to sanction Chelsea.

    Uefa are considering whether to close parts of the Stamford Bridge stadium in London at a future European tie if the fans are found guilty are found guilty of antisemitism during the match with Vidi.

     Chelsea had already publicly condemned their supporters and urged them to ‘summon brainpower’ after they sang an anti-Semitic chant that disparagingly referred to Tottenham fans as ‘Yids’. 

    Chelsea condemned their own fans after antisemitic chants were heard during the 2-2 draw with Vidi

    The chants were heard from the press box from the away end on Thursday, during the match in budapest

    Last week, England and Manchester City star Raheem Sterling was also viciously abused by Chelsea supporters during Manchester City’s defeat at Stamford Bridge.

    Four Chelsea fans were later suspended by the club.       

    The Guardian reported that Chelsea were aware of a travelling band who went to Budapest without tickets.

    Last Saturday, Raheem Sterling was the victim of shocking abuse during his team’s loss to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge

    However, the club hope that the banner did not enter the stadium. 

    As the club have an away fans ticket scheme, any supporter in possession of such a flag would risk punishment from the club. 

    UEFA, meanwhile, await official reports from the game in Budapest before deciding whether to charge Chelsea. 

    In the worst case scenario, the club could face a partial stadium closure. 

    The incidents come despite a determine antisemitism campaign run by the football club. 

    Owner Roman Abramovich, who is Jewish, supports the campaign which last season saw Holocaust survivor Harry Spiro address players at the training ground.

    Delegations from the club also visited the Auschwitz concentration camp.

    Abramovich is believed to be concerned by the past week’s events and is reported to have asked to have been made aware of Chelsea’s approach to dealing with discriminatory incidents.  

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    Putin hits out at rap music and says it must be ‘controlled’

    Vladimir Putin has declared that the Kremlin will discuss how they can control the country’s rap music scene.

    Putin spoke out after nationwide concert cancellations by venue owners and local authorities and the brief arrest of a popular rap artist, Husky.

    The Russian president said such heavy-handed measures were often counterproductive, and suggested his government’s culture and the arts sector find a way to "take charge of" rap music instead.

    Speaking at the advisory council on culture and the arts, he said: "If it’s impossible to stop something, you’ve got to take charge of it.

    "How to do this, how to take charge and guide in the necessary direction. That’s the most important issue."

    Putin’s comments came in response to a statement about rap concert cancellations made by music producer and member of the advisory council Igor Matvienko.

    Among the rappers that young people fear are being censored is Husky’s concerts whose songs have at times been critical of the government.

    He said his concerts were under pressure because authorities objected to lyrics they found offensive.

    After his concert was cancelled in the southern city of Krasnodar he tried to perform from the roof of a car instead, leading to his arrest for hooliganism.

    He was arrested and sentenced to 12 days in prison, but he was released early after a public outcry, which led to the intervention of members of the presidential administration, according to state broadcaster Russia Today.

    Ahead of today’s meeting Matvienko had proposed creating a parental advisory guidance system for concerts.

    Addressing Matvienko, Putin said: "You said that rap (rests on) three pillars: Sex, drugs and protests.

    "Of all of these, drugs are the most worrying – They are the route to a nation’s degradation."

    Putin also addressed the question of how to regulate the musical genre’s use of censorious language.

    He said that he had talked about swearing with a linguist, adding: "She told me personally that it’s a part of our language.

    "It’s just a question of how you use it."

    Matvienko also suggested guidelines on the use of swear words online and in the media, but Putin said this was a
    sensitive matter as such words are part of Russians’ common culture.

    Likening swear words to body parts, Putin joked: "We have all sorts of body parts, and it’s not like we put them on
    display all the time, whether it’s hot or cold."

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    UK weather forecast – Floods to hit Britain this week as massive Atlantic deluge sweeps in from Iceland days after Storm Deirdre battered Britain with wind, snow and gales

    The UK is just escaping from the clutches of Deirdre after 15 inches of snow, 80mph winds and freezing rain hammered most parts of the country.

    After a spate of weather warnings, the remnants of Deirdre are finally departing towards Scandinavia today, but the brief reprieve today and tomorrow won't last long.

    The rest of Sunday and Monday should bring mostly rain-free, bright but chilly conditions, but Brits shouldn't pack their raincoats away quite yet.

    From Tuesday, a brutal weather front will sweep in from Iceland hammering the UK with up to 40mm (1.5in) rain and could cause localised flooding in areas where rivers are already close to spilling their banks.

    Met Office meteorologist Martin Bowles said the area of low pressure would be coming from Iceland in the North Atlantic in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

    "It will start in Northern Ireland and move across the west of the UK," he told the Sun Online.

    "Over the 24-hour period 40mm rain is set to fall in Dumfries and Galloway as well as the moors of South West England and the hills of West Wales.

    "We could see flooding in Dumfries & Galloway in Scotland, as well as the Moors of south west England and hills of West Wales."

    He added: "In areas where there's already been lots of rain in the last 48 hours some of the rivers are very full."

    No flood alerts have yet been issued but this could change by Tuesday morning.

    Last week's horrific conditions have caused nightmare driving conditions and "multiple crashes" after 15 inches of snow, 80mph winds and freezing rain hammered the isles.

    This morning, Police Scotland said there have already been several accidents on the M74, and warned motorists to avoid the "treacherous" A9.

    By Sunday morning the Met Office had lifted multiple Amber weather warnings across most of Scotland, Northern and Central England for freezing rain – a rare phenomenon where ice sheets known as black ice instantly form on road surfaces.

    A fourth Amber warning for heavy snow and blizzards was also released yesterday for Scotland as areas barely reach temperatures past freezing but has also now been lifted.

    Ten yellow warnings were in place this weekend forecasting snow, strong winds and heavy rain to hit most regions of Scotland, Wales and the Yorkshire and Humber area.

    Chaotic travel conditions over the Christmas period will hit at a time when likely rain and ice could create havoc on the roads.

    There are 330 rail projects taking place over the festive period, while schools breaking up relatively late on Friday, December 21, will trigger the most congested getaway rush for years.

    Superintendent Louise Blakelock, Deputy Head of Road Policing for Police Scotland, earlier issued a warning for drivers in Scotland – ones that apply to all drivers travelling in testing conditions.

    "Drivers of goods vehicles and buses should drive with extreme caution and be aware that you may be requested to park at a suitable position by the police," she said.

    "If you are travelling on the roads you should ensure you and your vehicle are adequately prepared for the conditions, making sure you have sufficient fuel and supplies such as warm clothing, food and water in the event you are delayed for several hours.

    "Charge your mobile phone and plan your route as well as alternative routes."

    Parts of England have been in the grips of freezing temperatures, with max temperatures of 0.2C recorded in areas including Bingley in West Yorkshire and Pateley Bridge in Harrogate, North Yorkshire.

    Temperatures in Cairngorm, about 1,245 metres above sea level in the eastern Highlands of Scotland, have also remained bitterly cold.

    Records taken on Saturday shows temperatures of -6.4C, with gusts of 119mph – making it feel like -23C.

    The bitterly cold weekend comes as sub-zero winds from Russia collide with a severe weather front heading east from the Atlantic.

    Freezing rain has hit the central belt of the country, causing treacherous conditions on roads like the M62, the M6 and the M74.

    The heaviest snow fell in Scotland this weekend, with 1,500 gritters being deployed.

    Met Office meteorologist Alex Burkill said yesterday: "The band of rain, sleet and snow is crossing the UK and it is bringing significant amounts of snow in parts of Scotland and northern England."

    He added that patches of frost and fog would also continue to plague the UK.


    Freezing rain is a type of liquid precipitation that falls as a supercooled water droplet until it strikes a cold surface, at which point it freezes almost instantly.

    It tends to start its life as snow, ice, sleet or hail, but passes through a layer of air that’s above 0 °C on the way down to the ground, melting into a liquid water droplet.

    If these droplets then fall through a zone of sub-zero air just above the ground, they become supercooled.

    When these supercooled droplets strike surfaces that are close to or below freezing, they freeze on impact forming a glaze of ice.

    It’s common across parts of the USA, for example, for weather systems to produce a lot of freezing rain.

    These are called ice storms, and if enough glaze collects on trees or power lines, the weight of the ice can cause them to break and collapse resulting in disruption on a large scale.

    The glaze is also slippery, which makes driving and walking almost impossible.

    The conditions needed for freezing rain to occur are quite specific and we don’t see them very often, making this phenomenon quite rare in the UK.

    Source: Met Office

    The RAC is expecting breakdowns to soar above 7,000 per day while Network Rail has confirmed plans to use 34 de-icing trains in order to minimise disruption.

    The cold snap will ease off by Monday although bookies have slashed the odds of a White Christmas to 2/7.

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    Putin wants Kremlin to control rap music in Russia

    Moulding rap in the Kremlin’s image – Putin’s new message of co-opting rather than cracking down on music culture.

      Russia’s rap artists have grown increasingly vocal about the country’s social problems, and the Kremlin is not happy about it.

      President Vladimir Putin has called for tighter control of rap and other musical genres. But for fear of making them even more popular, he stopped short of calling for an outright ban.


      Al Jazeera’s Joao da Silva reports.

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