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Pussy Riot protester questioned about biting police officer during sentencing

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Former chess king turned Kremlin critic Garry Kasparov faced the threat of prison Monday after being questioned over claims that he bit a policeman at the sentencing of the Pussy Riot punk rockers.

The bizarre but serious charge could put the 49-year-old behind bars for five years and deliver even graver harm to Moscow’s deteriorating relations with the West in President Vladimir Putin’s third term.

Kasparov has been a seminal figure of the opposition who has used his global fame to publish articles in the Western press detailing the difficulties human rights encountered during Putin’s previous 12 years in power.

His impact on home politics has been limited almost entirely to failed efforts to merge the various forces of Russia’s protest movement into a cohesive unit that could meaningfully take on Putin at the polls.

But he remains a constant presence at Moscow protests and was one of dozens detained in confrontations that broke out during Friday’s sentencing to two years in prison for the three feminist protest band members.

Kasparov had defended their “punk prayer” stunt performance as “political speech that should be unconditionally protected” — a view unanimously shared by Western powers but not the Kremlin or Russia’s powerful Orthodox Church.

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No charges against Kasparov have yet been filed and he only appeared Monday at a Moscow district police station to give initial testimony.

The Moscow police department said it had handed over the evidence to the federal Investigative Committee that leads almost all high-profile cases against Russian opposition members.

But the charges — if pursued — could deal one of the biggest blows yet to Russia’s ties with the West that are already strained from opposing views of the Syria conflict and what is believed to be Putin’s firm decision to allow no more dissent.

Kasparov dismissed the biting allegations with characteristically bitter irony on his Twitter account.

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“I am sorry if the policeman who was beating me on the head had hurt his hand,” the man widely regarded as history’s greatest chess player tweeted.

He also promised to file slander charges on Tuesday against the officer who was allegedly bitten as well as a second suit claiming illegal detention.

The world’s highest-rated chess player for nearly two decades was pulled into a waiting police van while talking to a group of reporters.

The biting claims appear to revolve around evidence volunteered by a man who heads Officers of Russia — a fringe nationalist group that on its own website sets out its mission as “providing support to the law enforcement authorities”.

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Officers of Russia leader Anton Tsvetkov said he had been asked by bailiffs to keep an eye on who was breaking order at Friday’s explosive Pussy Riot verdict reading and report any incidents to the police.

“I did not personally see the bite,” Tsvetkov admitted to AFP in a telephone interview.

“But one of my assistants was told by a reporter that Kasparov had bit a policeman. She went out to investigate and eventually found the bitten policeman,” he added.

“The bite was on the hand.”

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The story has gained broad attention in part because it has been played up by Kasparov himself.

He gave a host of interviews to both US and Russian media over the weekend citing the allegations as evidence that human rights under Putin were approaching a terminal state.

Yet there would appear to be little to gain for the Kremlin from jailing a figure of international stature with national approval ratings that have rarely been higher than a few percent.

An assault on a police officer conviction can result in fine of 200,000 rubles ($6,200) or up to five years in jail.

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Orange County Republican under fire after 3 women come forward with #MeToo allegations of sexual misconduct

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Republicans in Orange County are in chaos after allegations of sexual harassment surfaced at a GOP endorsement meeting.

"As Orange County Republicans considered a 2020 endorsement last week for Assemblyman Bill Brough, R-Dana Point, one local official made a surprising public declaration," the Sacramento Bee reported Monday. "County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett accused Brough of making unwanted sexual advances during their time together on the Dana Point City Council."

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US foes are goading Trump because they know he’s a ‘blow-hard and full of bluster’: CNN analyst

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President Donald Trump walked back from the brink of atrocities last week, from calling off a military strike against Iran to pushing back planned Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids in major American cities.

On Monday's edition of CNN's "The Situation Room," chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin told anchor Wolf Blitzer how foreign adversaries have been emboldened to challenge Trump — because for all his bombast, they know they are calling a bluff.

"I think Donald Trump is pretty well a known quantity at this point," said Toobin. "I mean, I think people around the world know he's a blowhard, knows he's full of bluster. But that's no reason to get into a war."

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New York Times admits they ‘downplayed’ the rape allegation against Trump

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On Monday, The New York Times issued a mea culpa for the nature of their coverage of the allegation by advice columnist E. Jean Carroll that President Donald Trump raped her in a department store in the 1990s.

"After an article last week reported the advice columnist E. Jean Carroll's rape allegations against President Trump, some readers accused The Times of downplaying the story," wrote staff editor Laura Takenaga. "Many have written to ask us why we didn't give the allegations more attention on our website and in print ... Some questioned whether the lack of prominence showed too much deference to the president's denials, or whether it even suggested misogyny or an unwillingness to believe a victim's account."

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