first_imgMOSCOW – President Vladimir Putin had sharp words for his critics and stark reminders of Russia’s nuclear might at an annual news conference Tuesday in which he sought to burnish his image as a competent leader at the helm of a great and fast-growing country. Playing to a crowd of about 1,000 journalists for about 3 hours, Putin gave an upbeat assessment of his six years in office and a defiant warning against foreign meddling in Russia’s affairs. At least three times during the marathon news conference – most of it televised live nationwide – Putin voiced pride in the economic achievements during his two terms, reeling off indicators that improved last year and favorably comparing the situation to the state Russia was in when he came to power on the last day of 1999. High oil prices have helped Russia’s economy rebound significantly from the economic collapse of 1998, and Putin said gross domestic product grew by 6.3 percent in 2005, with real incomes also rising. “There’s only one response they deserve,” Putin said, making a dismissive spitting sound that drew titters from the crowd. Putin defended Moscow’s support of Uzbekistan’s bloody crackdown during unrest in the ex-Soviet Central Asian country in May and dismissed critics who say Russia is unfit to chair the Group of Eight leading industrial nations this year. He said Russia’s economic progress proves its policies are effective and that as a nation still developing and dealing with poverty, Russia “understands the problems of developing nations better than other G-8 members.” Besides, he added, “Can anyone in this room imagine solving nuclear security problems without the involvement of Russia, a key nuclear power?” Dismissing accusations he has replaced Cold War nuclear strength with energy supplies as a lever of political influence, Putin quipped: “We still have enough missiles.” He went on to boast that Russia has tested new nuclear-capable missiles that he said can easily penetrate any defense system. “How can I put this mildly?” he said. “It’s not that these missiles are a response to missile-defense systems. For them, it’s all the same whether there’s a missile-defense system in place or not.” But as he often does, Putin alternated his warnings with reassurances for the West, saying Russia will be constructive in providing energy security and has no plans to further nationalize the crucial oil sector. Along with his state-of-the-nation address and a question-and-answer session with ordinary Russians connected via video links, the news conference is one of a series of annual performances for Putin, who clearly enjoyed himself as he fielded 64 questions in the soaring Kremlin auditorium. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card He found cause for celebration in Chechnya, ravaged by two wars in the past 12 years, saying one of the greatest political achievements in 2005 was bringing the republic into the “constitutional fold” with November parliamentary elections that completed a campaign to restore local government structures. The news conference coincided with Russia’s decision to join the United States, Britain, France and China to recommend Thursday that the International Atomic Energy Agency should report Iran to the U.N. Security Council for its nuclear activities. But Putin also spoke amid growing concern in the West over his moves to curtail representative democracy and tighten control over the economy and politics. Defending a new law that restricts activities of nongovernmental organizations, Putin called the organizations an important check on the authorities but emphasized they must not be “governed by puppeteers from abroad.” Putin said Russia welcomes constructive criticism but has no use for the words of Cold War throwbacks “who do not know what is going on in our country.” last_img read more

first_imgJaskanwar Singh Gill told BBC Punjabi that he “refused” to remove his turban since it was made of cloth and would not hurt his opponent during a match.Any head gear that can harm an opponent is not allowed in the ring, according to international wrestling rules.Read it at BBC Related Itemslast_img