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Moscow election: Was Russian with same name as jailed activist invented as spoiler candidate? | World News

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Looking through the list of newly-elected deputies to the Moscow city council, I was surprised to see the name Alexander Solovyov on the list.

I knew an Alexander Solovyov who was an associate of exiled former oligarch and Putin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and was, until recently, chairman of his Open Russia movement. As far as I knew, he was also in jail.

This was confirmed when I sent him a text: “Alexander is imprisoned until the evening of 24 September. Thanks.”

The Solovyov I knew was one of the liberal opposition activists barred from running in Moscow City elections. He had been vocal in the protests which followed and, like scores of others, was then jailed for participating in mass rallies. He had hoped to run in Moscow’s District Number 3.

Alexander Solovyov is currently in jail
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Alexander Solovyov is currently in jail

So who was the Alexander Solovyov who had won in District Number 3? Apart from a few hesitant campaign videos, he seemed to be a complete unknown. He also went to ground directly after his election win, prompting a media hunt to check whether he was even real.

Victor Yemelyaninkov, head of the electoral commission for his area, told us to stop calling: “Everyone here is calling me non-stop. I don’t know where he is or where to find him.”

Aleksey Obukhov, from the other Solovyov’s press team, is convinced he was a spoiler.

Alexander Solovyov
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The other Mr Solovyov has dismissed notions he was a spoiler candidate

“He was invented just to take away the votes from the real Solovyov. We ran his campaign on the streets and the real Solovyov was widely recognised,” he said.

“They were looking for someone with the same name and surname from that area, and the only person they found was this engineer.”

Solovyov, the newly-elected deputy, re-surfaced on Thursday. He said he had needed a rest after the election and had been spending time with his family.

He dismissed notions he was a spoiler candidate, saying: “The other Solovyov started running later and he could have run in a different electoral district.”

This Solovyov said he had decided to run in July, and had approached the ‘A Just Russia’ party because he liked their agenda and would not then need to gather the signatures to run as an independent.

Ironically, he may have snatched victory from the ruling party candidate because of the smart-vote system introduced by Alexey Navalny and his anti-corruption team, FBK. This involved voters registering to see who was most likely to beat the ruling party candidate in any given district and tick that name on the ballot.

In District number 3, both the jailed Solovyov and Alexey Navalny had called on voters to back Solovyov over the incumbent. It seemed to work. Solovyov won. And across Moscow, United Russia took a hit in the polls.

Alexei Navalny
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Alexei Navalny says Vladimir Putin ‘is stamping his feet’ over a crackdown on the opposition

On Thursday, the state hit back. Masked security men swinging sledgehammers conducted raids at Navalny’s campaign offices in more than 40 cities across Russia.

Navalny HQ put the unprecedented crackdown down to the success of the smart-vote scheme.

“Putin is very angry and is stamping his feet,” Navalny said in a videotaped response.

“Do you remember ever seeing in our country an operation on this scale against terrorism, corruption or drug dealers as you’re seeing now against us? That must mean we’re cooler than a drug cartel!”

Putin casts his vote in Moscow on Sunday
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Mr Putin’s United Russia party suffered a poor result in the local elections

As of last month, Navalny’s foundation is under investigation for alleged money laundering. Navalny is promising the investigation won’t stop him but it appears as though the state is looking for a way to deal with the problem he and his associates represent once and for all.

The raids also send a message to the regions, heard loud and clear already in Moscow after a summer of detentions and draconian jail terms for an unlucky few, that opposition will not be tolerated.

If the crackdown around these elections belongs more to Soviet times, spoiler candidates are a feature of the post-Soviet age.

The Solovyovs weren’t the only twins in the Moscow poll. There was also a pair of Alexandra Andreyevas. It is possible these are striking coincidences, but given the way the Russian state stage-manages the democratic process, it does not seem likely.

Whether or not he expected to win though, Solovyov the deputy says he’ll give it the best he’s got.

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Black woman killed by white officer in her own home while babysitting nephew | US News

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The family of a black woman killed in her own home by a white police officer have accused the officer of murder.

Atatiana Jefferson, 28, was killed in her home in Fort Worth, Texas, while looking after her eight-year-old nephew.

A neighbour had called police on a non-emergency line when they saw her front door was open. Police responded at about 2.25am.

Fort Worth Police said officers saw someone near a window and one of them drew his duty weapon after “perceiving a threat”.

The officer's bodycam footage doesn't indicate he identified as police
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The officer’s bodycam footage doesn’t indicate he identified as police

Lee Merritt, an attorney for the family, said the bodycam footage showed the officer would not have had time to perceive a threat from Ms Jefferson.

He said: “You didn’t hear the officer shout, ‘Gun, gun, gun.’

“He didn’t have time to perceive a threat. That’s murder.”

The video released by Fort Worth Police shows two officers searching the home from the outside with torches, before one shouts: “Put your hands up, show me your hands.”

Police released stills of a gun found in the home, but it's not clear if he was near Ms Jefferson
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Police released stills of a gun found in the home, but it’s not clear if he was near Ms Jefferson
Police released stills of a gun found in the home, but it's not clear if he was near Ms Jefferson
Image:
Police released stills of a gun found in the home, but it’s not clear if he was near Ms Jefferson

One shot is then fired. The officer does not identify himself as police.

Ms Jefferson died of her injuries in her home.

Amber Carr, Ms Jefferson’s sister, said: “It’s another one of those situations where the people that are supposed to protect us are actually not here to protect us.

“You know, you want to see justice, but justice don’t bring my sister back.”

One of her aunts, Venitta Body, said: “It’s like from the moment we got the call, it’s been more and more inconceivable and more confusing. And there has nothing been done in order to take away that confusion.”

Fort Worth Police said the officer, who has been with the force since April 2018, is on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

His name has not been released.

The neighbour who called police about the door, James Smith, said he feels “it’s partly my fault”.

He said: “If I had never dialled the police department, she’d still be alive.

“It makes you not want to call the police department.”

Ms Jefferson’s nephew usually lives with an older woman, who has been in hospital.



Botham Jean's younger brother Brandt Jean hugs former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger.  Tom Fox/Pool via REUTERS







Man hugs brother’s killer in court

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price released a statement on Saturday which said: “Writing a statement like this is tragic and something that should never be necessary. A young woman has lost her life, leaving her family in unbelievable grief. All of Fort Worth must surround Atatiana Jefferson’s family with prayers, love and support.

“Chief Kraus and his command staff are acting with immediacy and transparency to conduct a complete and thorough investigation. More details are forthcoming and the Tarrant County District Attorney Law Enforcement Incident Team office will ultimately receive this case.”

Mr Merritt said the family of the victim expects “a thorough and expedient investigation”.

Fort Worth Police Department said it released the bodycam footage from outside the home to show its transparency, but cannot release the video from inside the home because of state law.

The shooting comes two weeks after Amber Guyger, a former Dallas police officer, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for killing Botham Jean in his own apartment.

She shot him with her service weapon when she went into his home by mistake, thinking it was her own.

Mr Merritt is also the Jeans’ family lawyer.

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Marilyn Hartman: ‘Serial stowaway’ caught trying to sneak on flight again | US News

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A “serial stowaway” has been caught trying to get through airport security again – despite getting an 18-month sentence ordering her to stay away from terminals.

Marilyn Hartman was spotted as she tried to sneak through security in Chicago’s O’Hare airport on Friday night and officers realised she did not have a ticket or identification.

According to an NBC report, police said she was “moving dividers in an attempt to circumvent security”.

It comes after she was arrested last year for sneaking on to a flight from O’Hare to London.

The 67-year-old has been sneaking onto flights for about 10 years.

She ultimately pleaded guilty to criminal trespassing and was sentenced in March to 18 months’ probation after agreeing to stay away from Chicago’s two commercial airports.

According to NBC Chicago, Hartman has long struggled with homelessness and mental health, and has had multiple encounters with officials at airports throughout the US.

In 2016, Hartman was ordered to be held in jail without bond after she walked away multiple times from a Chicago mental health facility where she was receiving treatment.

She was set to appear at bond court at 9am local time on Sunday.

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Simone Biles vaults into record books after 25th medal at world championships | US News

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Simone Biles has become the most decorated gymnast in the world championship history after clinching her 25th medal.

The 22-year-old overtook the 23 medals won by Belarusian men’s gymnast Vitaly Scherbo by winning the balance beam in Stuttgart, Germany, on Sunday.

The US gymnast added her 25th medal by winning the floor exercise less than two hours later.

Biles delivered a polished routine on the beam before executing a full-twisting double-tuck dismount for a score of 15.066.

When her score was announced, guaranteeing the medal record, Biles jumped up from her seat with a broad smile and punched the air.

Simone Biles won the balance beam final to clinch her 24th medal in the competition
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Simone Biles won the balance beam final to clinch her 24th medal in the competition

Liu Tingting of China, last year’s winner, took silver with 14.433, and her teammate Li Shijia won the bronze.

Biles won the floor exercise by a full point, scoring 15.133 despite a step out of bounds on one pass, and blew kisses to the audience after finishing her routine.

Her US teammate Sunisa Lee took silver, her third medal of the championships, while Angelina Melnikova took bronze for Russia.

Biles’ winning routine came after a long wait when Brazilian gymnast Flavia Saraiva requested an inquiry into her score.

The US gymnast has won five events at these world championships after winning team gold on Tuesday, individual all-around gold on Thursday, and vault gold on Saturday.

Biles with her gold medal after the winning the balance beam final
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Biles with her gold medal after the winning the balance beam final

A fifth place on uneven bars on Saturday ended Biles’ chances of winning a medal in all six events, which she did last year in her comeback world championships after a sabbatical in 2017.

Four-time Olympic champion Biles now holds 18 gold medals across four championships against 12 for Scherbo, who competed in five world events between 1991 and 1996.

Biles hasn’t confirmed whether she will continue to compete after next year’s Olympics, so this could be her last world championships.

Max Whitlock won Britain’s first gold medal of the championships on the pommel horse on Saturday.

Britain won its second gold of the championships when Joe Fraser scored 15 points to win on parallel bars.

Biles’ record came before Kenyan runner Brigid Kosgei set the women’s marathon record with a time of two hours and 14 minutes.

She beat British runner Paula Radcliffe’s record of two hours and 15 minutes.

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