Russia: polls close in Moscow after vote on constitutional changes | AFP

Polling stations close in the Russian capital and the count begins after a vote on constitutional changes. Russians look set to overwhelmingly approve constitutional changes that will allow President Vladimir Putin to extend his two-decade rule until 2036. IMAGES

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Russians in Vladivostok vote on changes to constitution | AFP

People in the far-eastern Russian city of Vladivostok cast ballots on the last day of a nationwide vote on constitutional reforms. The country is set to approve the reforms denounced by critics as a manoeuvre to allow President Vladimir Putin to stay in the Kremlin for life.

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Polls open for final day of Russian constitutional vote | AFP

Russians are set to approve constitutional reforms on Wednesday denounced by critics as a manoeuvre to allow President Vladimir Putin to stay in the Kremlin for life. IMAGES of polls in Moscow

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Russians set to back reforms allowing Putin to extend rule | AFP

Images of the Kremlin in Moscow on the last day of polling in a vote on Russian constitutional reforms that could prolong President Vladimir Putin’s hold on power. Putin became prime minister in 1999 under Boris Yeltsin before being elected president in 2000. He served the maximum two consecutive terms between 2000 and 2008 before a four-year stint as prime minister. He returned to the Kremlin in 2012 for a newly expanded six-year mandate and was re-elected in 2018. IMAGES

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Exit poll shows vast majority of Russians back constitution changes | AFP

Russian state pollster VCIOM published an exit poll showing a vast majority of Russians backing proposed reforms which will allow Putin to run for president again in 2024 and potentially stay in power until 2036, days before the end of voting.

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Trump denies he was briefed on Russia-Taliban bounty intelligence | AFP

US President Donald Trump denied Sunday he had been briefed on intelligence that reportedly showed Russia had offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing US soldiers in Afghanistan. “Nobody briefed or told me, @VP Pence, or Chief of Staff @MarkMeadows about the so-called attacks on our troops in Afghanistan by Russians, as reported through an ‘anonymous source’ by the Fake News @nytimes,” he wrote. ANIMATED TWEET IMAGES

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Russians react to constitutional vote to extend Putin’s time in office | AFP

Russians go to the polls in Moscow in a nationwide ballot on constitutional reforms that could see President Vladimir Putin remain in power until 2036. Election officials say they are opening polls ahead of the official July 1 vote to avoid overcrowding that could spread the coronavirus.

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Moscow: Russians cast early votes in ballot to extend Putin’s rule | AFP

Russians go to the polls in Moscow in a nationwide ballot on constitutional reforms that could see President Vladimir Putin remain in power until 2036. Election officials say they are opening polls ahead of the official July 1 vote to avoid overcrowding that could spread coronavirus infections. IMAGES

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AP Top Stories June 16 P

Here’s the latest for Tuesday June 16th: President Trump signed an executive order on police reform; British researchers say drug improves COVID-19 survival; Russians begin early voting to extend Putin’s rule; Sotheby’s London has reopened.

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Russians check virus status as Moscow rolls out mass testing | AFP

With more than 280,000 cases, Russia is currently the country with the second highest number of COVID-19 cases, with Moscow as the worst-affected city. Authorities say their strategy is mass screening of the population, in particular to root out asymptomatic patients, and boast of having carried out 6.6 million tests since the start of the pandemic.

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Fireworks over Moscow as Russia scales back Victory Day celebrations amid COVID-19 | AFP

Fireworks are seen over Moscow at night to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, amid the coronavirus outbreak. With cases surging and authorities urging Russians to stay in their homes, celebrations of this year’s Victory Day were muted after the Kremlin grudgingly postponed plans for a grand parade with world leaders. IMAGES

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Russians mark Victory Day with at-home celebrations | AFP

In Russia, this year’s festivities marking the 75th anniversary of World War II’s Victory Day are more subdued than usual, with the Kremlin reiterating its calls for people to stay at home. While some held flag-raising in their gardens, other put social distancing aside to visit war memorials.

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Lockdown bond: Russians rediscover love for dogs

Russia’s lockdown, which will extend at least through May 12, has been hard on dogs in some ways — their daily walks are supposed to go no farther than 100 meters from home, and owners 65 years and older are told to stay indoors except for buying groceries and medication. But it also has some bright spots: People in isolation, looking for animal companionship, are adopting dogs. And many dogs are making new friends, as volunteers walk the pets of elderly people.

In virus lockdown, Russians take to the bottle | AFP

Stuck in cramped flats and struggling with fears of coronavirus and its economic impact, Russians are turning to alcohol again after a trend for more moderate drinking in recent years. In the first week of self-isolation, alcohol sales rose by 65 percent compared to the previous month according to the GFK market research institute.

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Russian dachas provides refuge from coronavirus | AFP

With half the world on some form of lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic, millions of city-dwellers are stuck inside. But Russians have another option: escaping to their dachas, small countryside homes that were parcelled out to city workers in Soviet times. With the number of coronavirus cases on the rise — Russia has registered some 58,000 to date — dachas have become a welcome refuge.

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rump says Saudis, Russians ‘getting close’ to oil production deal | AFP

US President Donald Trump tells reporters at the White House that he just spoke with Russia and Saudi Arabia about oil production and OPEC, and says they are “getting close to a deal.” IMAGES

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Trump’s Dangerous Coronavirus Name Game is Part of a Long, Crazy History

For the second day in a row, President Trump opened a press conference today devoted to an outbreak that has now killed more than 200 Americans without saying the word “coronavirus.” Instead, he substituted his chosen name: “The Chinese Virus.”

Other Republicans are also racing to rebrand the virus that causes COVID-19. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has called it “Chinese Coronavirus,” while Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar is trying to make “Wuhan Virus” a thing. One White House official even allegedly referred to the global pandemic as “Kung-Flu.”

The World Health Organization intentionally avoids this, and advises against any possible nickname for a disease that calls up people, places, groups, or even professions, because those names can create a stigma. Even the Trump-appointed director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Robert Redfield, told the House in a hearing that using location-specific labels for the virus is “absolutely wrong and inappropriate.”

There is a long, inglorious history of naming diseases after disdained groups. In 1495, Russians called a syphilis outbreak the Polish Disease, the Polish called it the German Disease, and the French and Italians named it after each other. The 1918 flu pandemic that infected over a quarter of the world’s population is still referred to as “The Spanish Flu,” even though there is no consensus on where that outbreak originated. Spain just happened to have the most reliable reporting at the time, as other countries censored their press to boost morale during World War I. Because Spain reported the first illness-related death, it got stuck with the name.

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World Athletics fines Russia $10m, caps neutral Russian athletes at 10 | AFP

World Athletics fines Russia’s track and field federation $10 million for breaching anti-doping rules and caps at 10 the number of Russians allowed to compete as neutrals at the Tokyo Olympics. SOUNDBITE

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Russians ponder having Putin remain in power | AFP

Russians react as the prospect sunk in of Russian President Vladimir Putin staying in power until 2036. Lawmakers in the lower house State Duma voted Wednesday to give final approval to a package of constitutional amendments introduced by Putin — including a last-minute addition to “reset” his presidential terms. from MoscovitesN°1PS4HN

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Murder trial of four MH17 suspects opens in the Netherlands | AFP

Four men accused of murdering 298 people in the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in 2014 went on trial in the Netherlands, with a judge saying it was an “atrocious disaster”. The suspects — three Russians and a Ukrainian — were not present in the dock, but judges were expected to rule that the hearing could continue in their absence. IMAGES

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