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'Secret polls' sealed decision to annex Crimea

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that his decision to take the Crimean peninsula under Russian control was made final after "secret polls" showed that its people wanted to be ruled by Moscow. "My decisions were finalised after people's attitudes became clear," Putin said. "We weren't prepared for such a turn of events. To tell you the truth, we could imagine how people felt but did not know for sure."

Putin warns Ukraine on gas supplies, urges talks

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered Ukraine to come to the negotiating table over its unpaid energy bills, warning that it would otherwise require payment in advance for gas. Ukraine "would receive only what they have paid for" if they failed to negotiate, Putin was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies. as/am/hmn

US urges Putin to stop destabilizing Ukraine

The United States called Monday on Russia's President Vladimir Putin to stop destabilizing Ukraine, saying it was concerned about "several escalatory" moves over the weekend. "We see them as the result of increasing Russian pressure on Ukraine," White House spokesman Jay Carney said. "We call on President Putin and his government to cease efforts to destabilize Ukraine." col-jm/dc

Communist on track to beat ruling party candidate in Siberian city

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Communist was on track to win a mayoral election in Russia's third city on Sunday, partial returns indicated, in a setback for the party at the center of President Vladimir Putin's tightly controlled political system. With more than two-thirds of the ballots counted in Novosibirsk, Anatoly Lokot led a field of 11 candidates with 43.4 percent while the ruling United Russia party candidate, Vladimir Znatkov, had 39.9 percent, state-run news agency Itar-Tass reported.

Pussy Riot protesters cleared of religious hatred charge

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Two women from Russia's Pussy Riot protest group who were jailed for a song deriding President Vladimir Putin were cleared in a Moscow court on Friday of inciting religious hatred. But the court knocked only one month off their two-year sentences, upholding a charge of hooliganism. Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova spent nearly two years in prison after performing a protest song against Putin in Moscow's main cathedral in 2012.

Pussy Riot protesters cleared of religious hatred charge

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Two women from Russia's Pussy Riot protest group who were jailed for a song deriding President Vladimir Putin were cleared in a Moscow court on Friday of inciting religious hatred. But the court knocked only one month off their two-year sentences, upholding a charge of hooliganism. Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova spent nearly two years in prison after performing a protest song against Putin in Moscow's main cathedral in 2012.

Hopes dashed? Crimea annexation and Japan

Having witnessed the sudden annexation of the Crimean peninsula, Japan is in a difficult position regarding how strongly it should respond to this violation of international norms. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe joined Western democracies in the recent Group of Seven Hague Declaration in condemning Russian President Vladimir Putin, and indicated the imposition of additional sanctions on Russia.

Putin has 'no intention' of further military moves into Ukraine

The UN secretary general said Friday that Russian President Vladimir Putin assured him he had no intention of orchestrating further incursions into Ukrainian territory. Ban Ki-moon told reporters that Putin told him "he had no intention to make any military move" after briefing the UN Security Council on his recent talks in Moscow and Kiev. Ban was responding to a question from a reporter on whether Putin gave him any assurances that Russia was not planning to go into southern and eastern Ukraine after the annexation of Crimea.

Putin seeks diplomatic end to Ukraine crisis

Russian President Vladimir Putin called his American counterpart Barack Obama on Friday to discuss a US proposal on resolving the crisis in Ukraine, the White House said. "President Obama suggested that Russia put a concrete response in writing" to the proposal presented by US Secretary of State John Kerry to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in The Hague this week, White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

Putin has 'no intention' of further military moves into Ukraine

The UN secretary general said Friday that Russian President Vladimir Putin assured him he had no intention of orchestrating further incursions into Ukrainian territory. Ban Ki-moon told reporters after briefing the UN Security Council on his recent talks in Moscow and Kiev that Putin told him "he had no intention to make any military move." jm/vlk
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