Russia demands US release 'spy', calls charges false

Maria Butina. (AP)
Updated 22 July 2018
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Russia demands US release 'spy', calls charges false

  • US prosecutors say Maria Butina, 29, exploited her close links with the powerful NRA gun lobby while posing as a visiting graduate student
  • Butina has been accused of working with a high-powered Russian official and two unidentified US citizens

MOSCOW: Russia’s foreign minister told his US counterpart on Saturday that a woman arrested in the United States on accusations she was a Russian agent had been detained on “fabricated charges” and should be released.
Sergei Lavrov made the comments about Maria Butina in a phone call to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that was aimed at improving bilateral relations, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement in the wake of the recent summit in Helsinki.
On Wednesday, a US judge ordered Butina jailed until her trial after US prosecutors argued she has ties to Russian intelligence and could flee the United States.
Butina has been accused of working with a high-powered Russian official and two unidentified US citizens, trying to infiltrate a pro-gun rights organization in the United States and influence the United States’ foreign policy toward Russia.
Lavrov said the actions of the American authorities, who arrested Butina “on the basis of fabricated charges,” were unacceptable and called for her release as soon as possible.
Lavrov and Pompeo also discussed ways to improve bilateral relations on “equal and mutually beneficial grounds” after the leaders of the two countries, Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, met in Helsinki on Monday.
They also talked over possible joint efforts aimed at improving the humanitarian situation in Syria as well as the “challenges” of Korean peninsula de-nuclearization. 


Kanye West meets Uganda’s president, gifts pair of sneakers

Updated 15 October 2018
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Kanye West meets Uganda’s president, gifts pair of sneakers

  • Museveni said he and the American rapper held “fruitful discussions”
  • Uganda’s presidency released photos of a hoodie-wearing West meeting Museveni at the State House and exchanging gifts

KAMPALA, Uganda: Kanye West has met with Uganda’s president during a visit to the East African nation and given the 74-year-old leader a pair of white sneakers.
President Yoweri Museveni said he and the American rapper held “fruitful discussions” on Monday about promoting tourism and arts.
West and his wife, reality TV star Kim Kardashian West, have been vacationing in a national park in Uganda. He is said to be recording music in a tent.
Uganda’s presidency released photos of a hoodie-wearing West meeting Museveni at the State House and exchanging gifts.
While excited tourism officials see the visit as an endorsement of the country’s tourism potential, some Ugandans wryly pointed out that Museveni cracked down on hoodies earlier this year when he announced that motorcycle riders could no longer wear them in a bid to fight rising crime.
The president, one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders, has been at the center of unrest in recent weeks as Uganda’s large youth population increasingly expresses frustration over unemployment and accuses Museveni of being out of touch.
Uganda’s government has been criticized over its treatment of a local pop star-turned-opposition lawmaker, Bobi Wine, who alleges torture by security forces. The government denies it.