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The H-Bomb: The Most Destructive Weapon On Earth

dpa (TNS)

BANGKOK — The thermonuclear, or hydrogen bomb — of the kind that North Korea said it had tested Wednesday — was developed after the nuclear weapons used on Japan in World War II and is far more destructive.

The first hydrogen bomb, tested in November 1952 by the United States, yielded energy equivalent to 10 megatons of TNT — roughly 1,000 times larger than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima seven years earlier.

In this new type of bomb, two types of hydrogen — deuterium and tritium — are fused into helium, thereby releasing energy.

A conventional nuclear weapon uses fission — splitting rather than fusing the nuclei of atoms — to create a less powerful explosion.

A hydrogen bomb uses an initial fission reaction to produce the high temperatures required for the more powerful fusion reaction.

Less than a year after the U.S. thermonuclear bomb test, the Soviet Union exploded their own H-bomb, starting a race to produce more “superbombs.”

The most powerful H-bomb ever detonated — and therefore the biggest ever man-made explosion — was used by the Soviets in 1961. Known as the Tsar Bomba, it produced a yield equivalent to 50 megatons of TNT.

©2016 Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH (Hamburg, Germany). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Photo: Pyongyang citizens gather in front of a big screen at Pyongyang Railway Station in Pyongyang, capital of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, to watch a news report on the hydrogen bomb test on Jan. 6, 2016. North Korea announced Wednesday that it has successfully carried out its first hydrogen bomb test. (Lu Rui/Xinhau/Zuma Press/TNS)

 

Bill Clinton Urges Israelis To Finish What Yitzhak Rabin Started

By Ofira Koopmans, dpa (TNS)

TEL AVIV, Israel — Former U.S. President Bill Clinton urged Israelis to continue supporting the moribund peace process with the Palestinians, despite the setbacks of the past two decades.

“Every day you have to choose hope over fear, empowerment over acceptance, confidence over cynicism,” he said at a mass rally in central Tel Aviv, marking 20 years since the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

Thousands of left-wing and centrist Israelis attended the rally.

President Barack Obama, in a recorded video message, also called on Israelis to continue their support for the two-state solution and talks with the Palestinians, despite a new wave of violence.

“I still believe what I said two years ago, that peace is necessary, just and possible,” Obama said. “Peace is necessary because it is the only way to bring true and lasting security for Israelis and Palestinians.”

Clinton, who sealed the 1993 interim Oslo accords two years before Rabin died, said it was up to the younger generation to finish his legacy.

“Ten years ago when I was honored to stand in this space, I said if I could miraculously bring Rabin back to life and he were standing here with me, he’d say: ‘Enough with this bragging about me. Let’s get back to work and finish what I gave my life to do.’ And so all of you here must decide … how to finish his legacy, for the last chapter must be written by the people he gave his life for.”

On November 5, 1995, Rabin was shot dead on the same square where people gathered Saturday night. His assassin was Yigal Amir, a radical Jew opposed to his peace moves with the Palestinians.

Two decades after the assassination, many Israelis have become deeply disillusioned with the persistently deadlocked peace process, which has since lost widespread support.

There have even been statements by some on the far-right endorsing Amir’s actions, to the outrage of Israelis elsewhere on the political spectrum.

Security was tight at Saturday’s rally, as it came during the worst spell of street violence in years. Police used buses two block off all accesses to the central square, which since the assassination was renamed Rabin Square.

Clinton and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin spoke behind bulletproof glass.

Dozens of knife attacks against Israelis have been committed by Palestinians since early October. Israeli security forces have used tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition against Palestinian protesters throwing rocks and gasoline bombs at flash points in the West Bank and along the Gaza border.

In the latest incident of violence earlier Saturday, Israeli border policemen shot dead an 18-year-old Palestinian at a crossing points from the northern West Bank into Israel, police said.

They thought the Palestinian was raising a knife against them and when he did not obey calls to freeze, opened fire, spokeswoman Luba Samri said.

(c)2015 Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH (Hamburg, Germany). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton speaks during the Clinton Global Initiative’s annual meeting in New York, September 29, 2015. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

EU, Balkan Leaders Struggle To Overcome Migration Crisis

By Alexandra Mayer-Hohdahl, dpa (TNS)

BRUSSELS — Eleven leaders from the European Union and the Balkans conferred Sunday to find common ground on how to handle the migrant tide crossing their countries, with overwhelmed Slovenia warning that the EU will fall apart without a joint approach.

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic spoke of “small steps forward” after a first round of talks in Brussels, expressing confidence that “we will be able to overcome all the disputes and all the problems regarding blame games.”

“I’m not sure that we are going to conclude something that would be very helpful immediately, but … I think that all of us will be at least a bit better than we used to,” Vucic said.

Europe is contending with its largest population movement since World War II, with almost 700,000 migrants and asylum seekers arriving by sea this year — many of them from war-torn Syria.

Tens of thousands of refugees have crossed the western Balkans to make their way from Turkey to wealthy northern European countries. The surge has shown no signs of abating despite the onset of colder weather. Bottlenecks in countries with strained resources have left migrants out in the mud, rain and cold.

The nations along the western Balkan route have so far largely been passing on refugees, leading to recriminations and political tensions between neighboring countries.

“Until today, it was difficult to find a solution because a series of countries adopt a stance of ‘not in my own backyard’,” Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said.

At stake is the future of Europe, Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar said before the talks.

“If we don’t do all we can together to find a common solution and to deliver it … then this is the beginning of the end of the EU and Europe as such,” he said.

The number of migrants and asylum seekers arriving in his small country — more than 60,000 in the last 10 days, as many as 13,000 in one day — is “absolutely unbearable,” Cerar said.

Slovenia is the smallest nation to have inadvertently joined the western Balkan route, after Hungary sealed its border to migrants in mid-October.

“We will not be able to endure this for weeks to follow if we don’t get any help, if there is no cooperation,” Cerar said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the goal at the crisis talks was above all to provide help for refugees living in “unbearable conditions.” She underlined the need for Europeans to see this as “a common duty.”

“Every day counts,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who convened the meeting, told the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag. “Otherwise, we will soon see families perishing wretchedly in cold Balkan rivers.”

The commission drafted a 16-point plan for the talks that proposed increased coordination, more shelter and services for needy migrants, and better border controls, including the deployment of support teams to Slovenia and a new mission at the Greek frontier with Albania and Macedonia.

Leaders were also considering whether to agree that “a policy of waving through refugees to a neighboring country is not acceptable,” according to the draft. But some leaders had appeared reluctant before the talks.

Photo: The EU is meeting to discuss what to do with migrants like this one, a boy who is waiting to enter a makeshift camp at the Austrian Slovenian border near the village of Sentilj, Slovenia, October 26, 2015. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

Catalonia’s Separatists Win Parliamentary Elections

By Hubert Kahl and Monica Raymunt, dpa (TNS)

MADRID — A coalition of separatists who promised independence for the Spanish region of Catalonia emerged as victors in parliamentary elections Sunday, preliminary results showed.

With 99 per cent of the votes counted, the separatist alliance led by Catalan leader Artur Mas captured 72 of the 135 seats in Catalonia’s parliament.

Of those seats, Mas’ Together for Yes coalition took 62, while its alliance partners Popular Unity Candidacy won 10.

But while the alliance won an absolute majority in parliament, it did not win the majority of votes cast, taking 47.8 percent.

“The separatists have lost the plebiscite,” Socialist opposition leader Pedro Sanchez said in reaction to the separatists’ failure to win the majority of votes.

Voters in Spain’s wealthy northeastern region cast their ballots in what was billed by Mas as a referendum on whether the region should secede from Spain.

Mas formed the separatist alliance before the elections, saying that his coalition’s victory would mean independence for Catalonia’s 7.6 million people within 18 months.

Mas’ liberal ruling party, the Democratic Convergence of Catalonia, joined longtime rivals in the Republican Left of Catalonia and other citizen groups to form the Together for Yes coaltion.

About 63 percent of the region’s 5.5 million eligible voters turned out for the election, beating the turnout for the last regional election in 2012 by nearly 7 percentage points.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has said his government would under no circumstances allow Catalonia’s secession.

“No one will destroy the unity of Spain,” he said.

European Union politicians have suggested that an independent Catalonia would have to be automatically cut out from the European Union and the eurozone currency bloc.

Mas wanted to hold a referendum for independence last November, but the Spanish Constitutional Court declared such a vote illegal after the national government filed a complaint.

(c)2015 Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH (Hamburg, Germany). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Photo: hugefluffy

Pope: Priests To Pardon Abortion During Upcoming Jubilee Of Mercy

dpa, (TNS)

VATICAN CITY — Women who have had an abortion will be able to seek pardon during the upcoming Jubilee of Mercy for what the Catholic Church considers a grave sin, Pope Francis said Tuesday.

A jubilee — also known as a holy year — offers Catholics a special occasion to make a pilgrimage and seek forgiveness for their sins. It is regularly observed every quarter of a century, but Francis has called a special one running from Dec. 8 to Nov. 20, 2016.

“I am thinking especially of all the women who have resorted to abortion. I am well aware of the pressures that have led them to this decision. I know that it is an existential and moral tragedy,” the pontiff said in a public letter.

“I have decided … that during the Jubilee Year all priests will have the faculty to absolve from the sin of abortion all who have committed it and who ask forgiveness with heartfelt penance,” he added.

Francis also opened the door to the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX), a rebel ultra-traditionalist group accused of anti-Semitism that refuses to recognize 1960s church reforms such as the abolition of Latin mass and steps to improve Catholic-Jewish relations.

Expressing hope that the SSPX could “in the near future” be reintegrated in the mainstream Catholic Church, the pope said SSPX priests will be entitled to hand out absolutions during the jubilee, just like ordinary Catholic prelates.

Photo: A photo released by the Osservatore Romano and taken on July 24, 2014 shows Pope Francis blessing Sudanese Christian Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag and her daughter Maya during a private audience at the Vatican.

Taliban Appoints New Leader After Mullah Omar’s Death

dpa (TNS)

KABUL, Afghanistan — The Taliban has officially appointed a new leader following the death of its founder, Mullah Omar, officials say.

“Senior deputy leader Akhtar Mansoor has now been appointed the leader of the movement,” a Taliban official from Kandahar tells dpa on condition of anonymity.

“The leadership council met in Quetta on Wednesday and Thursday to deliberate on the ongoing issues,” another Taliban leader from Kunar Province tells dpa.

Mansoor was the aviation minister when the Taliban ruled the country, and he had been acting as the deputy leader for the past four years.

Photo: Mullah Omar of Afghanistan’s Taliban regime is shown in this undated U.S. National Counterterrorism Center image.  REUTERS/National Counterterrorism Center/Handout via Reuters   

About 1,250 Perished In Pakistani Heatwave, Officials Say

dpa, (TNS)

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan government said on Wednesday that about 1,250 people died in a severe heatwave that last month gripped the country’s southern province of Sindh.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited the worst-hit city of Karachi and was briefed by officials over the heatwave deaths.
According to an official statement, Sharif was informed that in addition to the lives lost, another 65,000 people were treated for heat-related illnesses.

“Most of those who lost their lives were shelterless people, including beggars, whose dehydration was aggravated due to fasting (in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan) in extreme weather,” said the statement.

“The whole country sympathizes with the affected people in this hour of grief,” Sharif said.

Temperatures had soared to over 45 degree Celsius (113 Fahrenheit) in Karachi and the rest of Sindh, of which Karachi is the capital, at the start of Ramadan on June 19.

Officials said the situation has been controlled due to improvement in the medical services and cooler weather.

Photo: An image of Balochistan, Pakistan. Over 1200 people died in a heatwave in the country. umer malik via Flickr

Pakistan Heatwave Toll Crosses 1,000

By Deutsche Presse-Agentur (TNS)

ISLAMABAD — More than 1,000 people have died from a recent heatwave in southern Pakistan with thousands still being treated as temperatures started to ease, officials said on Thursday.

Karachi, capital of Sindh province, and several other districts are in the grip of soaring temperatures since the start of Ramadan on Friday.

“More than 950 people have died in Karachi and over 50 in [the] rest of the province,” an official at Jinnah Hospital said.

More than 40,000 people have suffered heatstroke and over 8,000 were treated at the facility, he said on condition of anonymity.

The temperature in Karachi, which had reached 45 degrees Celsius (113 Fahrenheit) over the weekend, dipped to 37 (98 Fahrenheit) on Thursday, according to the Pakistan Meteorological Department.

The government has set up 100 heatstroke centers in Karachi, while an influential religious scholar on Wednesday issued an edict that sick and frail people can skip fasting in the holy month of Ramadan.

Photo: Jacksoncam via Flickr

British Horror Star Christopher Lee Dies At 93

By dpa, (TNS)

LONDON — Christopher Lee, one of the world’s best-known horror actors, has died aged 93 after a career that spanned seven decades and nearly 300 films.

In his early career in the 1950s and 1960s, Lee was best-known for playing Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster and similar roles in Britain’s televised Hammer House of Horror series.

His success brought Hollywood roles as James Bond villain Scaramanga, Saruman in Lord of the Rings and Count Dooku in two Star Wars films.

Bond actor Roger Moore was among those who paid tribute to Lee on Thursday.

“It’s terribly (sad) when you lose an old friend, and Christopher Lee was one of my oldest. We first met in 1948,” Moore said on Twitter.

“Our thoughts are for Lady Lee, Christina and Juan,” Moore said.

Born to a British army officer father and a mother who was an Italian aristocrat, Lee is one of the world’s most prolific film actors.

Credited with appearances in 281 productions, he was awarded a knighthood by Queen Elizabeth in 2009, for service to charity.

(c)2015 Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH (Hamburg, Germany). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Heat Wave In India Kills More Than 2,200

By dpa (TNS)

NEW DELHI –– A searing heat wave in India has killed more than 2,200 people.

Most died in the southern states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana after temperatures in the past week soared to their highest sustained levels in 12 years.

The total death toll in both states stood at 2,177, after about 200 more deaths were reported between Friday and Saturday, disaster management officials said. Andhra Pradesh recorded 1,636 deaths while Telangana accounted for 541.

More than 60 deaths were reported from Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat states, and the national capital, New Delhi, local reports said.

The heat wave in India is the fifth deadliest in the world and second deadliest in India, according to Emergency Events Database.

The database, maintained by the Brussels-based Center for Research on Epidemiology of Disasters, the deadliest heatwave on record in India was in 1998, killing 2,541 people. The most lethal heatwave in the world was the one that hit Europe in 2003, killing more than 71,000 people.

Temperatures at many places in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana hovered between 104 and 113 degrees. Isolated showers provided no relief.
Most of the victims were poor or elderly.

In a radio address Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Indians not only to drink plenty of water and keep their bodies covered to avoid sunstroke, but also to care for birds, animal and cattle, by providing them water.

Forecasters said the heat wave could continue for the next few days.

(c)2015 Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH (Hamburg, Germany). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Photo: AFP/File / Sanjay Kanojia

Spy Trial In Iran Of Washington Post Reporter Adjourns

By Dpa Correspondents, dpa (TNS)

TEHRAN — The trial in Iran of Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, who has been detained for the past 10 months on charges including espionage, began in a Tehran court on Tuesday, the state-run IRNA news agency reported.

The proceedings were then adjourned, with no concrete date set for the next hearing, according to the ISNA news agency.
Observers said it was still not clear what exactly Rezaian is accused of spying on.

Rezaian, who holds dual U.S. and Iranian citizenship and is the newspaper’s bureau chief in Tehran, was arrested in July along with his wife, the journalist Yeganeh Salehi, who was later released from detention. The two are being tried separately.

Rezaian was held in the notorious Evin prison, in the north of Tehran.

Rezaian’s trial is closed to the public, including family members, Iranian news agencies and the Washington Post reported.

Washington Post executive editor Martin Baron on Monday called the treatment of Rezaian and Salehi “disgraceful,” and said “no evidence” had been produced to support the charges.

Iranian prosecutors have said little about their case against Rezaian. In addition to the spy charge, he is also accused of “collaborating with hostile governments” and spreading propaganda, according to his lawyer Leila Ahsan.

The White House and U.S. State Department, which is facing a June deadline to strike a comprehensive deal with Iran to prevent the country from obtaining nuclear weapons, have condemned Rezaian’s imprisonment.

(c)2015 Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH (Hamburg, Germany). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Screenshot: Jason Rezaian and his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, being interviewed by Anthony Bourdain. Via CNN/YouTube

EU Declares War On People Smugglers, Commissioner Says

dpa, (TNS)

WARSAW — Europe has “declared a war” on smugglers transporting immigrants across the Mediterranean, EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said Thursday, adding that the boats of human traffickers should be seized and destroyed.

The European Commission, the executive body of the European Union, will draw up an action plan by the end of May, which will include fighting people smuggling, Avramopoulous said.

Avramopoulos met with the director of the EU border-protection service, Frontex, in the Polish capital and referred to Frontex’s Mediterranean border-control missions Triton and Poseidon, which can also carry out rescues when they encounter people in distress at sea.

“No human should be left to drown at sea, and no country should be left alone to bear responsibility for the whole of Europe,” the commissioner said on the European Day for Border Guards.

“Some member states have received heavy pressure of migratory flows; others have not,” he said. “We have to share that pressure.”

Avramopoulos’ visit to Warsaw came after EU foreign and defense ministers agreed Monday to establish a naval mission to crack down on migrant-smuggling networks in the Mediterranean. The mission will need a UN Security Council mandate to meet its target launch date in June.

The European Union is trying to curb the loss of life at sea as an unprecedented number of immigrants are trying this year to reach the bloc’s southern shores by paying smugglers to place them on rickety, overcrowded vessels.

This week’s decision followed what the UN refugee agency described as “the deadliest incident in the Mediterranean…ever recorded” when an April 18 shipwreck claimed the lives of an estimated 800 people.

Photo: Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet via Flickr

Controversial Friar Who Evangelized California To Be Made A Saint

dpa, (TNS)

VATICAN CITY — Friar Junipero Serra, an 18th century Franciscan who brought Christianity to California and is accused by Native American groups of colonial crimes, will be made a saint, the Vatican said Wednesday.

The decision was taken by Pope Francis in a Tuesday meeting with the head of the Vatican’s saint-making department, Cardinal Angelo Amato, a statement said.

The move had long been expected. Francis announced sainthood plans for Serra in January, and said he would personally preside over his canonization mass during a September 23 visit to Washington, part of a trip taking him to Cuba and the United States.

On Saturday, speaking at a U.S. seminary in Rome, the pontiff hailed Serra as “a tireless missionary,” and as “one of the founding fathers of the United States,” as well as a “special patron of the Hispanic people of the country.”

He added that the friar had “defended the indigenous peoples against abuses by the colonizers.”

Serra was born in Spain in 1713 and died in Mexico in 1784. He founded the first nine Catholic missions in modern-day California, which was at the time ruled by the Spanish.

Native American activists consider him an accomplice in the brutalities committed by Spanish invaders. The Catholic Church strongly rejects such accusations.

The group Mexica Movement held protests against the planned canonization on Saturday, outside the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Citlalli Anahuac, a member of the organization, told local TV network KABC channel 7 that “to canonize Junipero Serra is to canonize the genocide against us, as indigenous people.”

She added: “His job was to kill the indigenous people, who we were as a people, and instead revive us as Christians.”

Photo: Wally Gobetz via Flickr

Two Journalists In Turkey Face Jail Over Charlie Hebdo Cartoon

dpa (TNS)

ISTANBUL — Two Turkish journalists could face up to 4.5 years in prison for publishing a cartoon from the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo featuring the Islamic prophet Mohammed, the reporters said Thursday.

Ceyda Karan and Hikmet Cetinkaya were both accused of spreading hatred and insulting religious values.

“The media in Turkey is facing pressure,” Cetinkaya told dpa.

He said his newspaper, the leftist-nationalist Cumhuriyet, had published the image as an act of solidarity after the attack on Charlie Hebdo’s offices in Paris in January, which left 12 people dead.

Cetinkaya said he hoped for a fair trial and had not lost faith that the rule of law governs Turkey.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has denounced the paper, saying publishing the cartoon was a “provocation.”

There are growing concerns about press freedom and freedom of expression in Turkey, as part of fears of a wider spread of authoritarianism.

This week, Frederike Geerdink, a Dutch journalist, went on trial for allegedly spreading terrorist propaganda. She denies all the charges. It is the first criminal case against a foreign reporter since the 1990s.

Photo: Başak Ekinci via Flickr

Ukraine Welcomes US Resolution On Arms Shipments

By dpa (TNS)

KIEV, Ukraine — A U.S. resolution in favor of arms shipments to Ukraine was welcomed Tuesday by the government in Kiev and condemned as a call for war by Russian lawmakers in Moscow.

“I thank U.S. House of Representatives for a resolution calling to provide Ukraine with military assistance. Important that it is bipartisan,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin said on Twitter.

A resolution passed Monday in Washington urges President Barack Obama’s administration to provide “lethal defensive weapons to Ukraine before it is too late” and criticizes the “tepid” U.S. response to Ukraine’s request for military aid.

The resolution, which is not legally binding, argues that “Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forcible takeover of Crimea last year emboldened him to expand his aggression in eastern Ukraine.”

Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, refused to comment on the resolution. But Alexei Pushkov, the hawkish chairman of the lower house of the Russian parliament, the State Duma, warned that Moscow would react if the United States decides to send arms.

“This would be a massive rise in the level of confrontation,” he was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.

Duma deputy Frants Klintsevich warned that arms shipments would kill off the Minsk peace agreements and that the resolution amounts to “a direct call for war.”

Ukrainian politicians, in contrast, reiterated their call for military aid.

“We do need this precision weaponry and our armed forces in the south in particular need to be modernized,” Refat Chubarov, the leader of the Crimean Tatars, told a committee of the European Parliament.

Chubarov urged lawmakers not to forget Crimea and demanded that the Western sanctions be linked to Russia’s annexation of the Black Sea peninsula.

“The war against Ukraine started with the occupation of Crimea and the war against Ukraine may only be ceased with the liberation of Crimea,” he said.

Since April, more than 6,000 people have been killed in the conflict in eastern Ukraine between government forces and pro-Russian separatists.

(c)2015 Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH (Hamburg, Germany), Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

Photo: AFP Photo/ Philippe Desmazes

Kremlin Spokesman Rejects Rumors About Putin’s Health

by dpa (TNS)

BERLIN — The Kremlin on Thursday tried to dispel rumors that President Vladimir Putin is ill, after the Russian leader cancelled a trip to Kazakhstan.

“No need to worry, everything is all right,” Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Ekho Moskvy radio.

The rumors began Wednesday after Russian news agencies reported that Putin postponed a trip to the Kazakh capital Astana planned for Thursday, without giving a reason.

Russian media reports suggested that Putin has not appeared in public since a March 6 joint press conference with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. Photos and videos published on Putin’s website afterwards are based on archive material, the Vedomosti and RBC daily newspapers reported on Thursday.

A transcript with a photo released Wednesday, and video footage broadcast on Russian state TV that evening, said Putin held talks with the governor of Russia’s Karelia region in the Kremlin on the same day. However, the local Vesti Karelia news site reported that the meeting had actually taken place on March 4.

Peskov denied this, telling RBC that the meeting took place on the day indicated on the Kremlin website, which is March 11. The spokesman did, however, admit that a video released for International Women’s Day on March 8 had been pre-recorded.

The Kremlin said Putin on Thursday had a telephone conversation with his Armenian colleague Serzh Sargsyan.

Asked in the radio interview when Putin will next appear in public, Peskov merely said the president constantly has meetings, not all of which are public.

“(His) schedule is very busy — also because of the developing crisis and so forth,” he said.

When the reporter asked if Putin still has a firm handshake, Peskov retorted: “It breaks your hand.”

Photo: theglobalpanorama via Flickr