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Putin warns artists against ‘dangerous behaviour’

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Vladimir Putin on Friday told artists not to confuse freedom of expression with “outrageously dangerous behaviour” and suggested the Charlie Hebdo massacre could have been avoided if the magazine had not insulted Islam.

The Russian President told members of the artistic community not to “divide society” during a televised debate with theatre and screen star Yevgeny Mironov who voiced concerns about growing restrictions on artistic freedom in Russia.

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The Russian strongman said there was a “very subtle line between what I would call dangerously outrageous behaviour and creative freedom”.

“It’s a very subtle thing, a very subtle line. It depends on a feeling of tact, from all of us: officialdom on the one hand and people in creative professions on the other,” he said.

“Those activists — I’m speaking approximately — at Charlie Hebdo’s offices, they came and shot people. The question is, did those cartoonists have to insult Muslim believers?” Putin said of the 2015 attack by Islamic militants on the French satirical magazine that left 12 dead.

“Officials often act not because they want to block something… many don’t want tragedies like in Paris to be repeated here,” he said. “We must keep this in mind and not let it come to that.”

Mironov, who heads the Theatre of Nations in Moscow, told Putin in the televised exchange that fears are growing in creative circles over restrictions on artistic expression.

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“Creative freedom is guaranteed by the law of our country” and bans “can be enforced only through a legal process,” Mironov said.

In recent months, religious and politically conservative activists have interrupted theatre productions and stormed galleries and defaced exhibits.

Orthodox activists this year campaigned to close a provincial staging of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical “Jesus Christ Superstar”.

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Theatre director Konstantin Raikin in October warned of a risk of “return to Stalin’s times”.

Last year the director of a Siberian staging of Richard Wagner’s opera Tannhaeuser went on trial for offending believers, although the charges were eventually dropped.

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The Russian arts scene, particularly its lively theatre productions, depend on state funding, making them particularly vulnerable to official decisions and self-censorship.


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Mike Pence’s office blocks top health officials from CNN as punishment

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Vice President Mike Pence has kept the nation's top health officials from appearing on CNN since the network stopped carrying the daily coronavirus briefings in their entirety.

The vice president's office, which is responsible for booking those officials to deliver pandemic information, told CNN that Dr. Deborah Birx or Dr. Anthony Fauci would not be permitted to appear on the network until it carries the briefings, including Pence's remarks, in full.

"When you guys cover the briefings with the health officials then you can expect them back on your air," a Pence spokesperson told CNN.

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‘Well-spoken cultist’: Bill Barr trashed for praising ‘statesmanlike’ Trump and urging an end to COVID-19 lockdowns

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During an interview with Fox News host Laura Ingraham Wednesday night, Attorney General Bill Barr praised President Trump's "statesman-like" effort at the "beginning" of the coronavirus epidemic where he "tried to bring people together" while "working with all the governors" -- a characterization that did not go over well with many of the President's critics on Twitter.

https://twitter.com/matthewamiller/status/1248241999297339394

https://twitter.com/andeparks/status/1248255118291742722

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The Supreme Court is poised to extend gun rights at the worst possible time

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“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” —Second Amendment to the United States Constitution

As the deadly COVID-19 contagion sweeps across the country, gun sales are surging, spurred in many regions by panic buying and purchases by first-time firearm owners. Fearful and insecure Americans are taking advantage of weak and ineffective gun-control laws and stocking up, as President Trump might say, “like never before.”

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