Archive December 2019

20 years of Putin: How Russia’s leader could hold on to power

The constitution of the Russian Federation is clear: no president may remain in office for more than two consecutive terms. 

So come 2024 Vladimir Putin should – in theory – retire. 

But few believe that the man who has ruled Russia for 20 years will find it easy to let go of the reins of power, even if he wants to. 

So how might he hold on?

There are three basic scenarios that are chewed over in the salons, bars, and think tanks of Moscow. Which one could be in favour in the black box that is the Kremlin is anyone’s guess – but that’s half the fun of Kremlinology.  

The first is known in as “Castling”, and it has the benefit of precedent. 

In 2008, when Mr Putin was coming to the end of his…

Carlos Ghosn flees Japan’s ‘rigged’ justice system in shock escape to Lebanon

Carlos Ghosn has fled "injustice and persecution" in Japan and escaped to his home country of Lebanon, despite being under strict bail conditions and close surveillance by Japanese authorities. 

The former Nissan-Renault boss confirmed in a statement that he was in Beirut and said that he "will no longer be held hostage by a rigged Japanese justice system where guilt is presumed, discrimination is rampant, and basic human rights are denied". 

"I have not fled justice – I have escaped injustice and political persecution. I can now finally communicate freely with the media, and look forward to starting next week," he added. 

Mr Ghosn’s legal team appear to have been caught off-guard by their client’s…

20 years of Putin: How Russia’s younger generation have lost the capacity to imagine another future

For 28-year old pro-Kremlin activist Yegor Litvinenko Russian President Vladimir Putin is “perfect” to the point where a future without Russia’s strongman is almost unthinkable –  after all, he has known no other leader in his living memory. 

Mr Putin has been in charge at the Kremlin, one way or another, for the last 20 years and constitutionally he is not allowed to seek re-election when his current term expires in four years’ time.

“It’s a shame he can’t run again,” the smartly dressed deputy chairman of the Kremlin party’s youth wing told The Telegraph in an interview at their trendy loft office. “His behaviour and attitude to people are impeccable.”

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20 years of Putin: Inside the brutal…

British teenager defiant in court as she joins supporters wearing protest masks after judge dismisses her as a fantasist

As the teenage defendant filed into the courtroom she glanced back to acknowledge the women lined up in the last row of the public gallery.

Each had a gag over their mouths with an image of stitched-up lips, in a show of support.

“We believe you, we are with you,” they shouted before the judge ordered silence.

The teenager threw them a quick thumbs up before turning round to hear her fate.

Six months earlier she had filed a complaint to police that she had been gang raped in her hotel room during a summer break in Cyprus.

Now she was on trial for fabricating the incident, charged with “causing public mischief”, defined by the Cypriot criminal code as knowingly providing police with “a false statement…

20 years of Putin: Inside the brutal Chechen war that dealt a death blow to Russian democracy

About an hour before midnight on December 31, 1999, Akhmat looked up into the night sky and tried to pin-point the sound of a helicopter flying low and fast over the shattered city of Grozny.

But it was an overcast night, and he knew that engaging a helicopter with anything less than a rocket launcher was a waste of ammunition.

He shrugged, adjusted the heavy machine-gun on his shoulder, and trudged to the frontline trenches surrounding the Chechen capital.

Days later, he could have kicked himself. The helicopter, he realised, had been carrying Vladimir Putin, the newly installed acting president of Russia, en route to his first visit to troops at the front.

A lucky shot could have changed Chechen,…

Belgium and the Netherlands take step towards euthanasia for dementia patients

Belgium and the Netherlands are considering extending their already liberal laws on euthanasia to patients with dementia. 

Both countries have taken steps to liberalising rules which allow people to choose when to die and with medical support, with Belgium mulling whether to allow euthanasia for people without terminal illness who consider their “lives fulfilled”. 

Euthanasia is only permitted in Belgium for people with all their faculties or those who have made a written declaration before falling into an irreversible coma. 

The Flemish socialists and liberal parties are pushing for the law to be changed to allow dementia patients to state their wish to die while they are still lucid. 

Euthanasia…

How a summer holiday in Cyprus turned into nightmare for British teenager in gang rape case

It was intended to be a sun-soaked working holiday, a rite of passage between finishing school and starting university. Instead, it turned into a nightmare.

When a British teenager arrived in the hedonistic party town of Ayia Napa in Cyprus in early July, her plan was to get a job, have fun and – in her own words – do some “growing up”.

Hoping to find work in a bar or handing out flyers for the resort’s raucous nightclubs, the 18-year-old found accommodation at the two-star Pambos Napa Rocks Hotel in the heart of Ayia Napa.

It was arranged through a company called Summer Takeover, which promises “heavy nights” and “madness” for youngsters who sign up.

The low-rise hotel, which packs in hundreds…

Inside the hidden clinics making up Hong Kong’s underground resistance army

The howls of a young man who had dislocated his knee during one of the many street clashes of the six-month-long Hong Kong protest movement still haunt Alvin, a Chinese medicine practitioner who treated his discomfort. 

“I remember him because he screamed so painfully. He sounded like those chickens in a slaughterhouse, ready to be killed,” he said. 

Despite the excruciating agony, the patient had not dared to head to a hospital emergency room, for fear of being arrested and charged with rioting, a crime which carries a jail sentence of up to ten years. 

Instead he turned to one of several so-called “hidden clinics” that the city’s medical professionals have quietly formed to secretly treat the…

German car lovers fight back with Fridays for Horsepower

Car lovers who say they are sick of being blamed for climate change have started one of the fastest growing movements in Germany.

Calling themselves Fridays for Horsepower, they have signed up more than 566,000 members — more than the total membership of the country’s biggest political party.

Their critics have dismissed them as climate change deniers, but Josh Büchner, a part-British Ford enthusiast who is one of the group’s co-founders, insists that’s not the case.

“We chose the name in response to Fridays for Future,” he says, referring to Greta Thunberg’s school strikes movement. “But our demands are not far from those of Fridays for Future.”

He says Fridays for Horsepower is committed to…

Iraq war veteran says ‘I would rather go to The Hague than face another two years under UK investigation’

A decorated Army major said he would prefer to be dragged before a Hague war crimes tribunal than face the “never-ending farce” of a “witch hunt” by the British authorities.

Robert Campbell has been under investigation almost continuously for the past 16 years following the death of a young Iraqi man who drowned a canal in Basra in 2003.

Major Campbell, 46, was first cleared of manslaughter 12 years ago and told again in 2017 he would not face charges.

But another inquiry called the Iraq Fatality Investigations (IFI) was opened almost two years ago and has become so bogged down in delays and misfortune it could run for another two years.

The experience has left Major Campbell so disillusioned…