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Russian pop star Alla Pugacheva condemns Putin’s war on Ukraine | Russia-Ukraine war News

The superstar female musician denounces Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the ‘death of our boys for illusory goals.’

Alla Pugacheva, the queen of Soviet pop music, denounced President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine saying he is killing soldiers for “illusory” aims, burdening ordinary people, and turning Russia into a pariah state.

Since the February 24 invasion, Russia has cracked down on dissent with fines for artists who make anti-war comments. State TV casts critics as “traitors to the motherland”.

Pugacheva, aged 73, a Soviet and then post-Soviet icon who is arguably Russia’s most famous woman, requested Russia also class her as a “foreign agent” after her husband, TV comedian Maxim Galkin, was put on that list.

“I am asking you to include me on the foreign agent’s list of my beloved country,” Pugacheva told the Russian justice ministry and her 3.5 million followers on Instagram on Sunday.

“Because I stand in solidarity with my husband who is an honest and ethical person, a true and incorruptible Russian patriot, who only wishes for prosperity, peace and freedom of expression in his Motherland,” Pugacheva said.

She added Galkin wanted “the end of the deaths of our boys for illusory goals that make our country a pariah and weigh heavily on the lives of its citizens”.

Pugacheva said the lives of Russians were being drained by the conflict. She did not use the word “war” but made clear her disapproval of what the Kremlin calls a “special military operation”.

Such criticism from one of Russia’s most famous people – known across generations for hits such as the 1982 song Million Scarlet Roses and the 1978 film The Woman who Sings – is rare and potentially dangerous in modern Russia.

It also indicates the level of concern within the broader Russian elite about the war.

‘Foreign agent’

Labelling someone a “foreign agent” is often the first sign of serious trouble from authorities. The label has negative Soviet-era connotations, and its bearers have to place it prominently on all content they publish. They also face arduous financial and bureaucratic requirements.

Pugacheva has in the past been feted by both Putin and Russia’s first President Boris Yeltsin. When Mikhail Gorbachev died, she praised the last Soviet leader for allowing freedom and rejecting violence.

Putin now casts the war in Ukraine as a move to prevent Western attempts to destroy Russia – a plot he says will fail like the invasions by the Nazis in 1941 and Napoleon in 1812.

Ukraine says it is fighting an imperial-style occupation by Russia and will not stop until the last soldier is ejected.

The Russian invasion has killed tens of thousands of people, unleashed an inflationary wave through the global economy, and raised geopolitical tensions to levels not seen since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

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Rex Tillerson summoned to testify at Trump ally’s trial | Donald Trump News

Former US secretary of state to testify in the trial of Tom Barrack for allegedly acting as a foreign agent for the UAE.

US federal prosecutors plan to call former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson as a witness in the trial of Thomas Barrack, a one-time fundraiser for former President Donald Trump, on charges of unlawfully acting as a foreign agent for the United Arab Emirates, a court filing showed.

In a letter to the judge presiding over the trial, Barrack’s attorneys said Tillerson is being asked to take the stand on Monday.

Having Tillerson testify would ensure the defence has enough time to cross-examine him, Barrack’s lawyers said, adding that the US State Department, and Trump himself, knew of his contacts with Middle East officials, showing that Barrack did not intend to be a foreign agent.

Prosecutors say Barrack, 75, never told the US attorney general he was acting as a go-between with UAE officials, as required under federal law.

Tillerson would be the first cabinet official from the Trump administration to testify in the New York City trial, which is entering its third week.

UAE ‘wish list’

Barrack, a billionaire who was an adviser to the Trump campaign and administration, as well as chair of Trump’s inaugural committee, is charged with acting as an unregistered foreign agent for the UAE, obstruction of justice and making false statements to the FBI about his dealings.

The case centres on allegations that Barrack used his friendship with and access to Trump to benefit the UAE government. Prosecutors say from 2016 to 2018, Barrack sought to advance a UAE “wish list” of foreign policy positions.

The trial began with jury selection on September 19. During the first week, prosecutors presented emails and text messages from Barrack and an associate that showed UAE officials provided input on what then-candidate Trump should say in a 2016 energy policy speech.

Charged in July 2021, Barrack has pleaded not guilty. His lawyers say his interactions with Emirati officials were part of his role running private equity firm Colony Capital, now known as Digital Bridge Group, and there is no evidence he agreed to act at the UAE’s direction.

US law makes it illegal to lobby on behalf of a foreign government or entity without declaring such activities under the Justice Department’s Foreign Agents Registration Act database.

Tillerson, a former chief executive of ExxonMobil, served as Trump’s secretary of state for slightly more than a year from 2017 to 2018.

Trump fired him by tweet. “Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State,” Trump tweeted in March 2018. “He will do a fantastic job! Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service!”

Barrack’s trial, which is expected to last a few weeks, comes at a time when Trump is facing a slew of legal issues, including a civil lawsuit by New York prosecutors over allegedly fraudulent business practices, and a Justice Department investigation into his possible mishandling of classified documents.

 

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Israel praises US plan for Lebanon maritime border deal | Hezbollah News

Israel praised a US proposal to resolve the country’s maritime border dispute with Lebanon, building further momentum towards an agreement between two nations still technically at war.

The draft agreement floated by United States envoy Amos Hochstein aims to settle competing claims over offshore gas fields and was delivered to Lebanese and Israeli officials at the weekend.

Lebanese authorities, who confirmed receipt of the terms, have pledged to deliver a reply “as quickly as possible”, following a flurry of recent announcements from Beirut that a deal with Israel was close.

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid told his cabinet on Sunday that the US proposal “strengthens Israel’s security and Israel’s economy”.

His government was “discussing the final details, so it is not yet possible to praise a done deal”, Lapid said.

“However, as we have demanded from the start, the proposal safeguards Israel’s full security-diplomatic interests, as well as our economic interests.”

Lebanon and Israel have no diplomatic relations and their land border is patrolled by the United Nations.

They reopened negotiations on their maritime border in 2020, but the process was stalled by Lebanon’s demand that the map used by the UN in the talks be modified.

Progress resumed after Lebanon appeared to modify its position, specifically concerning the Karish natural gas field, which Israel claims as its territory and not open to negotiation.

The head of the powerful Lebanese Shia movement Hezbollah, Hasan Nasrallah, had threatened Israel with attacks if it began production from Karish.

But Nasrallah on Saturday called the US proposal “a very important step”.

‘Irresponsible announcements’

Lapid said Israel had been seeking an agreement with Lebanon “for over a decade”.

He added that his government does “not oppose the development of an additional Lebanese gas field, from which we will of course receive the share we deserve” – an apparent reference to the Qana field, which could be subject to a revenue-sharing mechanism under the US proposal.

“Such a field would weaken Lebanese dependency on Iran, restrain Hezbollah and bring regional stability,” said Lapid.

The Hochstein proposal will be submitted for final approval following a legal review, he said.

Progress towards the deal comes before Israel’s November 1 election, its fifth vote in less than four years.

Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a staunch foreign policy hawk seeking a return to power, warned that the right-wing government he intends to form after the vote could undo any pact. “If this illegal ploy passes, it won’t oblige us,” he said.

Netanyahu accused Lapid of “giving Hezbollah sovereign Israeli territory with a huge gas field that belongs” to the Jewish state, without specifying which Israeli waters he believes are being surrendered.

Israel and Hezbollah fought a 34-day war in 2006. Netanyahu said Lapid had “shamefully capitulated to Nasrallah’s threats”.

Lapid shot back, accusing Netanyahu of making “irresponsible announcements” that undermine Israel’s “security interests”.

‘Invest in our gas’

Defence Minister Benny Gantz, who also aspires to be elected prime minister in less than a month, said Netanyahu’s criticism was uninformed and dangerous.

“I’d suggest that Netanyahu … requests an orderly update on the topic before he adds fuel to Nasrallah’s propaganda, which has endangered and still endangers the agreement,” Gantz said in a statement.

Gantz also said the agreement, were it finalised, would be presented to parliament and relayed to the Israeli public.

It was not yet clear whether such an agreement would need the approval of parliament, where Lapid does not have a majority.

The justice ministry said late Sunday it was still examining the agreement and legal issues accompanying it.

With the Lebanese economy in deepening distress, Hezbollah has pledged to abide by whatever Beirut agrees to in the indirect talks.

“We support the Lebanese position so that we safeguard our right to demarcate our maritime borders and invest in our gas,” Lebanon’s National News Agency quoted senior Hezbollah official Mohammad Raad as saying.

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French march in Paris to rally support for women in Iran

PARIS — Thousands of people marched in Paris on Sunday to show their support for Iranian protesters standing up to their leadership over the death of a young woman in police custody. Several female demonstrators chopped off chunks of their hair and tossed them into the air as a gesture of liberation.

Women of Iranian heritage, French feminist groups and leading politicians were among those who joined the gathering at Republique Plaza before marching through eastern Paris.

“Woman, Life, Liberty!” the crowd chanted, undeterred by the rainy weather. Some banners read: “Freedom for Iranian women,” or “No to Obligatory Hijab” or just the young woman’s name: “#Mahsa Amini.”

It was the latest and appeared to be the largest of several protests in France in support of the Iranian demonstrators. Iranians and others have also marched in cities around the world.

Thousands of Iranians have taken to the streets over the last two weeks to protest the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who had been detained by Iran’s morality police in the capital of Tehran for allegedly not adhering to Iran’s strict Islamic dress code.

The protesters have vented their anger over the treatment of women and wider repression in the Islamic Republic, and the demonstrations escalated into calls for the overthrow of the clerical establishment that has ruled Iran since 1979.

At the Paris protest, some chanted in Persian and French, “Khomenei get out!” — referring to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khomenei. Some women’s cheeks bore drawings of a red poppy, the symbol of a martyr in Iran.

Iris Farkhondeh, a 40-year-old French scholar who came to France as a refugee when she was a toddler, said she worries about rising Islamist extremism and the risk of terrorist attacks in France by religious extremists.

“The battle we fight in Iran is the same as that in France,” she said.

Other protesters described anger at Iran’s dress codes and encroaching restrictions on women. Some were afraid to give their names out of concerns for repercussions for family members in Iran.

Romane Ranjbaran, 28, came to protest with her mother and other family members.

”Iran is part and parcel of my history. My mom knew free Iran, when women were free,” she said.

She said she was happy to see so many people at Sunday’s gathering.

“It is an international fight. If we want the situation in Iran to improve, we need international support,” she said.

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