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Jailed Russian journalists take the field in pre-World Cup protest

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Free speech campaigners rolled out a soccer pitch in central Paris on Wednesday with posters of jailed journalists as the players, in a demonstration about press freedom in Russia on the eve of the World Cup.

Standing like giant stickers from a collector’s album, the posters bore the faces of several journalists jailed in Russia, peering out form behind bars, under a banner reading “During the World Cup, repression continues”.

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Reporters Without Borders (RSF), which organized the protest, says seven journalists are in prison in Russia due to their work and 34 have been killed since President Vladimir Putin came to power in 2000.

“The cameras are going to be focused on the pitch, on the corridors leading to the changing rooms, but what we want to do is focus them the other way, on Russia the country,” RSF’s Christophe Deloire told Reuters.

Among the “players” at the protest was investigative reporter Alexander Sokolov, convicted of organizing an extremist group and attempting to overthrow the authorities, a verdict RSF called “spurious” and politically motivated.

Before his arrest, Sokolov was researching alleged embezzlement of 93 billion roubles ($1.55 billion) of public funds.

Editing by Robin Pomeroy

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Republicans walk out of impeachment hearing to get ‘orders’ from the White House: Claire McCaskill

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As US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland took his seat to give his testimony for today's public hearings in the House impeachment inquiry, former Sen. Claire McCaskill pointed out on MSNBC that key Republicans on the House Intelligence committee walked out of the room after Sondland's opening statement was released.

"And they are talking to the White House, I guarantee you right now, trying to figure out a path forward," McCaskill said. "And so, we may not gavel in for a while because it will be very difficult for Schiff to gavel in until the Minority shows up."

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‘Devastating for Trump’: Former White House lawyer says president’s defense ‘has entirely collapsed’ with Sondland testimony

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Ambassador Gordon Sondland will present "devastating" testimony, as evidenced by leaked copies of his opening statement.

Sondland directly will implicate President Donald Trump for a "quid pro quo" in his opening testimony.

Neal Katyal, the former acting Solicitor General in the Obama administration, offered his analysis of the testimony on Wednesday.

Katyal's analysis offers the implications for Rudy Giuliani, Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who Katyal suggests will need to be subpoenaed by House Democrats.

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Ohio farmer who voted for Trump mulls independent run against Jim Jordan: ‘We hold kryptonite to this president in our shirt pockets’

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Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio has been a favorite of the far-right Tea Party and is one of President Donald Trump’s most strident defenders in the U.S. House of Representatives. But not everyone in the Buckeye State appreciates Jordan’s relentless support of Trumpism, and a farmer who supported Trump in 2016 is exploring the possibility of running against Jordan in the 2020 election.

The Toledo Blade’s Liz Skalka reports that Chris Gibbs, a cattle and grain farmer from Shelby County, Ohio, is “launching an exploratory committee” to possibly run against Jordan. A former Republican, Gibbs would challenge Jordan not as a Democrat, but as an independent — and his biggest motivation is Trump’s tariffs.

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