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Putin fears collapse, defends his campaign
MOSCOW — Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Monday sought to defend his controversial plan to seek a third term as president, saying Russia needs stability and is only a few steps from a return to the collapse of the 1990s.
Mr. Putin’s political opponents claim that “everything is so bad, that it could not get worse,” the Russian leader said in televised remarks in a rare acknowledgment of public discontent.
“Saying that things cannot get worse, I would be careful. It’s enough to take two or three wrong steps, and everything that was before could overwhelm us so quickly that we would not even have time to look around.”
He referred to the troubled North Caucasus, saying that “we still have many problems there,” while acknowledging that Russia as a whole has problems “with crime and terrorism.”
Mr. Putin assumed the presidency in 1999 when Boris Yeltsin resigned and won a full first term the following year. He was re-elected in 2004, but term limits prohibited him from running for a third consecutive time. He became prime minister in 2008.
Iran secretly killing prisoners, U.N. report says
UNITED NATIONS — Iran has been secretly executing hundreds of prisoners, according to a new U.N. report detailing growing rights abuses by the brutal theocratic regime.
The mysterious executions at Vakilabad prison in Mashhad in eastern Iran were highlighted in a report compiled by Ahmed Shaheed, the new U.N. special rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran.
The report details a raft of abuses from freedom of expression to the denial of women’s rights to the torture of detainees, but perhaps the most shocking data was on the skyrocketing rate of executions.
The report said 200 officially announced executions took place in 2011.
“Furthermore, authorities reportedly conducted more than 300 secret executions at Vakilabad prison in 2010,” the report said.
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