Russian President Putin Says West Sponsors Terrorism in Syria
Russian President Vladimir Putin used his first television interview since taking power to comment on a variety of topics ranging from Russia’s relationship with a possible Romney presidency to the fairness of punk band’s Pussy Riot’s two-year prison sentence. Speaking to a reporter at the Kremlin-funded Russia Today channel, Putin suggested that Western and Arab nations were sponsoring terrorism while trying to topple the Assad regime in Syria. “Today some people want to use militants from al-Qaeda or some other organisations with equally radical views to accomplish their goals in Syria. This policy is dangerous and very short-sighted”. The Russian president, on the other hand, did seem to suggest that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad might have to step down in the future. “We realise that this country needs a change, but this doesn’t mean that change should come with bloodshed”. On Republican candidate Mitt Romney, Putin said that if he is elected the U.S. missile defense system “will definitely be directed against Russia“. Finally, on the Pussy Riot verdict, Putin challenged his English-speaking interviewer to translate the word for “pussy”. “I think you wouldn’t do it because it sounds too obscene, even in English”, before adding that “I know what is going on with Pussy Riot, but I am staying out of it completely”.
ECB President Draghi Outlines Euro Rescue Plan
European Central Bank (ECB) president Mario Draghi has unveiled a bond-buying plan aimed at easing the Eurozone’s debt crisis. “We will have a fully effective backstop to avoid destructive scenarios”, said the Italian economist. The ECB will cut the borrowing costs of the more debt-burdened members of the Eurozone by buying their national bonds through Outright Monetary Transactions (OMTs). Draghi explained that any country that asks the ECB to engage in OMTs must agree to an economic programme in return. Once it is agreed, the ECB governing board will decided how much debt it will buy back. The bonds will have between 1 and 3 years of maturity and the ECB will be treated equally alongside other bond-holders, such as private buyers, in the event of a default. The ECB president also revealed that the decision to engage in OMTs was not unanimous. “There was one dissenting view. We won’t disclose who. It’s up to you to guess”. It is widely thought that Draghi was referring to Jens Weidmann of the Bundesbank.
Syrian Troops Take Town on Refugee Route, U.S. Protests Iranian Flights
The British-based opposition group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said hundreds of Syrian troops had recaptured a town on the border that had been used as a transit point by refugees fleeing the country’s internal conflict. Rebels had controlled Tel Chehab for months and the city had been used for safe passage towards aid camps on the other side of the border. There were approximately 2,000 refugees in Tel Chebab when hundreds of Syrian soldiers, flanked by 20 armoured tanks, captured it. Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that the United States is pressuring Iraq to require Iranian aircraft en-route to Syria to land and be inspected. It is thought that Iran has resumed flying weapons to the Assad regime, but the Iranian government assured Iraq that the flights carry only humanitarian aid. “Until now, there was no evidence from the Americans regarding weapons. We need that evidence, if available, so that we can take strict measures”, said Ali al-Moussawi, a media adviser to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.
Three people shot in the head in French Alps, girl found alive after eight hours
A four-year-old girl was found alive hiding beneath the legs of her dead mother after four people were shot in the French Alps. Three of the victims found in the British-registered car by a passing cyclist were shot in the head. Eric Maillaud, a prosecutor at the town of Annecy, near the scene, said that “it was clearly an act of extreme savagery and it was obvious that who did this wanted to kill”. The fourth victim is thought to be a cyclist who was passing by the crime scene during the time of the shootings. Another girl, approximately eight years old, was found by another cyclist near the car. “She appeared to have been violently beaten to the head and she had many brain injuries”, said Maillaud. Other press reports suggested the girl had also been shot. French officials said the car, a BMW registered to a U.K. national, had been at a nearby campsite and that Iraqi and Swedish passports were recovered. It is thought that members of the family had immigrated from Iraq in the past decade. Some criticism was directed at French police, who took eight hours to realise that the hiding four-year-old girl was alive. “As soon as the first forensics began, we were able to open the vehicle, and it was at that moment that we discovered the little girl”, said prosecutor Maillaud, adding that the girl smiled and reached out her arms when she was found.