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US, UK, most EU nations to boycott Putin inauguration

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Russian President Vladimir Putin

US, UK, most EU nations to boycott Putin inauguration

The United States and most European Union nations have said they will not send envoys to Tuesday’s inauguration of Vladimir Putin as Russian president.

Putin, 71, secured a fifth term in office in a March election that critics said lacked democratic legitimacy.

He gained 87.28 percent of the vote, weeks after the sudden death of his most vocal critic, Alexey Navalny, in an Arctic prison.

“We will not have a representative at his inauguration,” US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters. “We certainly did not consider that election free and fair but he is the president of Russia and he is going to continue in that capacity.”

The United Kingdom and Canada said they would not send anyone to the ceremony, while a spokesperson for the European Union told the Reuters news agency the bloc’s ambassador to Russia would not attend the inauguration, in keeping with the position of most of the EU’s member states.

The three Baltic states – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – which have withdrawn their ambassadors from Moscow – ruled out attending the inauguration.

“We believe that the isolation of Russia, and especially of its criminal leader, must be continued,” Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said.

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“Participation in Putin’s inauguration is not acceptable for Lithuania. Our priority remains support for Ukraine and its people fighting against Russian aggression.”

The Czech Republic is also expected to snub the ceremony, while Germany’s Foreign Office said its representative would not attend – it earlier recalled its ambassador over alleged Russian cyberattacks.

An aide to Putin said the heads of all foreign diplomatic missions in Moscow including those from “unfriendly states” had been invited to attend the inauguration, which starts at noon (09:00 GMT) and will be broadcast live on Russian television.

Putin is due to arrive in a luxury motorcade – state-run RT reported modifications to his armoured Aurus limousine including improved sound insulation and all-round cameras – at the Grand Kremlin Palace. The one-time KGB spy will then walk through the palace corridors to the ornate Saint Andrew Hall, where he will take the presidential oath and make a brief address. He will also received a blessing from the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The ceremony is taking place a day after Russia announced plans for a tactical nuclear weapons drill, blaming what it said were “provocative” moves by Western countries over Ukraine. Putin launched his full-scale invasion of Ukraine more than two years ago.

“Ukraine sees no legal grounds for recognising him as the democratically elected and legitimate president of the Russian Federation,” Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

Tuesday’s swearing-in ceremony, it said, sought to create “the illusion of legality for the nearly lifelong stay in power of a person who has turned the Russian Federation into an aggressor state and the ruling regime into a dictatorship”.

Despite the apparent boycotts, France, Hungary and Slovakia are all expected to send representatives to the ceremony, Reuters reported, citing unnamed diplomatic sources.

Speaking alongside China’s president on Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron said: “We are not at war with Russia or the Russian people, and we have no desire for regime change in Moscow.”

The source said France had previously condemned the context of repression in which the election was held, depriving voters of a real choice, as well as the organisation of elections in Ukrainian territories occupied by Russia, which France considers a violation of international law and the United Nations Charter.

Franco-Russian relations have deteriorated in recent months as Paris has increased its support for Ukraine.

Last week, Macron said it would be legitimate for France to send troops to Ukraine if Russia broke through the Ukrainian front lines and Kyiv requested assistance.

US, UK, most EU nations to boycott Putin inauguration

International

Stage collapse in Mexico political campaign rally kills nine

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Stage collapse in Mexico political campaign rally kills nine

A stage has collapsed in heavy winds at a political campaign rally in northern Mexico.

The unforseen incident killed at least nine people, including a child, and injured 121, the governor of Nuevo Leon State said on Thursday.

The collapse occurred during an event Wednesday evening attended by presidential long-shot candidate Jorge Álvarez Máynez, who ran to escape. Videos of the collapse on social media showed people screaming, running away, and climbing out from under metal polls.

The victims “will not be alone in this tragedy,” Máynez told reporters Wednesday night, adding that he had suspended upcoming campaign events.

Afterward, soldiers, police, and other officials roamed the grounds of the park where the event took place, while many nearby sat stunned and haunted by the tragedy.

In a video message, Nuevo Leon Gov. Samuel Garcia, a leading member of Máynez’s Citizens Movement party, said 94 of the injured were treated and released, but 27 remained hospitalized. State health authorities said a lot of the injuries involved skull fractures. Garcia said three victims were undergoing surgery and appeared to be in critical condition.

Garcia said the accident occurred “in a matter of seconds.”

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Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said most of the injured were women. He absolved Máynez’s Citizens Movement party — widely viewed as an implicit ally of López Obrador’s Morena party — of blame even before investigations were carried out.

“We know that they are not to blame,” the president said Thursday.

Condolences poured in from across Mexico, including from the other two presidential candidates.

Máynez wrote in his social media accounts that he went to a hospital after the accident in the wealthy suburb of San Pedro Garza Garcia, near the city of Monterrey. He said he was in good condition.

“The only important thing at this point is to care for the victims of the accident,” he wrote.

Videos of the accident showed Máynez waving his arm as the crowd chanted his name. But then he looked up to see a giant screen and metal structure toppling towards him. He ran rapidly towards the back of the stage to avoid the falling structure, which appeared to consist of relatively light framework pieces as well as what appeared to be a screen with the party’s logo and theatre-style lights.

Máynez has been running third in the polls in the presidential race, trailing both front-runner Claudia Sheinbaum of the ruling Morena Party and opposition coalition candidate Xóchitl Gálvez. Both sent their condolences, and Sheinbaum cancelled a campaign event in nearby Monterrey the next day “in solidarity” with the victims and their loved ones.

“My condolences and prayers are with the families of the dead, and my wishes for a speedy recovery to all those injured,” wrote Gálvez in a social media post.

The accident happened at the height of campaign season, with many events held this week and next in anticipation of the June 2 presidential, state, and municipal elections.

The campaign had so far been plagued by the killings of about two dozen candidates for local offices.

Stage collapse in Mexico political campaign rally kills nine

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Norway, Ireland, Spain to recognise Palestinian State May 28

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Norway, Ireland, Spain to recognise Palestinian State May 28

Norway, Ireland and Spain said Wednesday they would recognize a Palestinian state, a historic but largely symbolic move that further deepens Israel’s isolation more than seven months into its grinding war against Hamas in Gaza. Israel immediately denounced the decisions and recalled its ambassadors to the three countries.

Palestinians welcomed the announcements as an affirmation of their decades-long quest for statehood in east Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip — territories Israel seized in the 1967 Mideast war and still controls.

While some 140 countries — more than two-thirds of the United Nations — recognize a Palestinian state, Wednesday’s cascade of announcements could build momentum at a time when even close allies of Israel have piled on criticism for its conduct in Gaza.

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It was the second blow to Israel’s international reputation this week after the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said he would seek arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his defense minister. The International Court of Justice is also considering allegations of genocide that Israel has strenuously denied.

Israel recalled its ambassadors to the three countries and summoned their envoys, accusing the Europeans of rewarding the militant Hamas group for its Oct. 7 attack that triggered the war. Foreign Minister Israel Katz said the European ambassadors would watch grisly video footage of the attack.

Norway, Ireland, Spain to recognise Palestinian State May 28

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Israel denounces ICC actions, seeks global allies support

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Israel denounces ICC actions, seeks global allies support

Israel has called on “nations of the civilised world” to refuse to comply with any International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrants issued against its leaders.

Karim Khan, the chief prosecutor of the ICC, announced on Monday that his office had applied to a pre-trial panel for arrest warrants for three senior Hamas officials. Khan also stated that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant would be sought for arrest for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity related to the Hamas attack on October 7 and the ensuing seven-month war in Gaza.

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The announcement sparked outrage among Israeli officials, the public, and the country’s allies. In an official response on Tuesday, Israeli government spokesperson Tal Heinrich said, “We call on the nations of the civilised, free world – nations who despise terrorists and anyone who supports them – to stand by Israel. You should outright condemn this step.”

Heinrich continued, “Make sure the ICC understands where you stand. Oppose the prosecutor’s decision and declare that, even if warrants are issued, you do not intend to enforce them. Because this is not about our leaders. It’s about our survival.”

The ICC prosecutor emphasized that while Israel has the right to defend itself against Hamas, this does not “absolve Israel or any state of its obligation to comply with international humanitarian law.”

Israel denounces ICC actions, seeks global allies support

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