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Russian TV axes show starring Ukraine’s leader after Putin joke | World news


A Russian television channel has abruptly cancelled a sitcom starring Ukraine’s president after an allusion to a crude joke about Vladimir Putin was aired in Russia’s far east.

The political satire Servant of the People served as a platform for the former comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy to gain popularity and eventually win the Ukrainian presidency, in a vote largely driven by anger at the country’s previous leaders.

But with sharp jokes directed against Putin, many wondered how long the political satire would last on Russia’s carefully-controlled airwaves.

The answer was less than one night.

After quickly editing out a joke made at Putin’s expense in the season’s premiere, the television channel TNT subsequently cancelled its broadcast of later airings of the 23-episode season, replacing them with sitcoms that were less likely to rile the Kremlin.

TNT did not immediately reply to requests from the Guardian for comment. It told Vedomosti, the Russian business newspaper, that it had never planned to air the whole season, and that the broadcast was a “marketing ploy” for its online streaming service. The episode is still available there.

Servant of the People follows the fictionalised Zelenskiy’s unlikely rise from high school teacher to Ukraine’s president after his rant against corruption goes viral.

In the season’s premiere Zelenskiy, playing the role of Ukraine’s new president, is selecting a new timepiece to match those worn by other leaders.

Putin, he is told, wears a Hublot.

“Putin’s a Hublot?” Zelenskiy responds.

The word Hublot resembles another that translates, less crudely, to the word “dick” in Russian’s swearing sub-language known as Mat. The phrase “Putin’s a dick”, using the swearword, became a popular slogan in Ukraine after the outbreak of the conflict in south-east Ukraine, and could be heard at anti-Putin rallies and seen in graffiti dabbed on walls across Ukraine.

It is not clear whether that joke was enough to cause the television show’s cancellation, as the series features a number of jokes about Russia and Putin. But in broadcasts of Servant of the People broadcast later on Wednesday night, including those shown in Moscow, the joke had been edited out. The edit was first reported by the BBC’s Russian service.

Lentach, a Russian website that combines news and humour, put together a simple map showing which parts of Russia had and had not heard “Putin is a Hublot”.

TNT, a Russian television station that focuses on sitcoms and comedy shows, announced it would debut the show just days after Zelenskiy and Putin met for high-stakes talks in Paris on the conflict in east Ukraine. It was the first meeting between the two leaders.

The show was advertised to Russian viewers as a counterpoint to Zelenskiy’s real presidency.

“For viewers, the television series became a utopia with no real relation to the Ukraine of Zelenskiy,” the television station wrote in a release.

Television is a carefully-controlled medium in Russia, and shows that have made fun of Putin have quickly been booted off air. The most famous was in 2002 when the show Puppets, which featured a fake version of Putin and was inspired by the show Spitting Image, was abruptly cancelled.





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Trump reportedly knew of whistleblower complaint when he released Ukraine aid – live


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3.33pm GMT

Democratic representative Stephen Lynch — a member of the House oversight committe, which helped conduct closed-door depositions in the impeachment inquiry — argued in a CNN interview this morning that the testimony from the public hearings has established clearly impeachable behavior on the president’s part.

“If this is not impeachable conduct, then nothing is,” Rep. Stephen Lynch says to @jimsciutto about the impeachment inquiry. “…There’s a greater danger leaving this President in office than taking him out through the legal impeachment process.” https://t.co/QR1x8IYryf pic.twitter.com/ufUbsIktSA

3.07pm GMT

Officials are still unclear about what caused the airspace violation that triggered yesterday’s brief lockdown at the White House and the Capitol, but one Capitol Police source said a “slow-moving blob” on the radar had sparked concern.

CNN has more:

Senior national security officials across the agencies convened to coordinate and monitor the situation after the mysterious ‘blob’ was seen on radar at the Capitol Police command center flying just south of the National Mall, according to a law enforcement source.

Military aircraft were scrambled in response.

Continue reading…



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Support for Impeachment Collapses Among Black, Hispanic Voters



Support for impeaching President Donald Trump has collapsed among Hispanic and black voters—a situation that could doom Democrats in 2020.

A recent national poll released by Emerson College indicates that black Americans, a key constituency of the Democrat Party, narrowly opposes Trump’s impeachment. The poll found that 38 percent of black voters are opposed, while 37 percent are in favor, with 25 percent unsure.

Hispanic voters, meanwhile, were only narrowly in favor of impeachment, 48 percent to 41 percent, with 11 percent unsure. The Emerson poll also found 48 percent of white voters nationally were opposed to impeaching Trump, while 44 percent were supportive.

The results are starkly different from those recorded nationally by Emerson in October. At the time, 58 percent of black voters were in favor of impeaching Trump compared to only 27 percent against and 15 percent unsure. Likewise, 73 percent of Hispanics favored the president’s impeachment in October, while 24 percent were opposed and only 3 percent.

Overall, between the two surveys, support for impeaching Trump dropped 20 percent among black voters and 25 percent with Hispanics. The drops have been accompanied by nearly double digit increases among voters from the two communities telling pollsters they were unsure if Trump’s impeachment was the best recourse.

The polling seems to indicate the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, which began televised public hearings this month, has backfired tremendously. When the inquiry first launched, Democrats were eager to prove Trump committed an impeachable offense by suggesting the government of Ukraine investigate Hunter Biden’s business dealings within the country.

Right out of the gate, though, the effort was hamstrung by the unwillingness of Democrat leadership, particularly Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), to grant Republicans equal questioning time and subpoena power. With Democrats unwilling to give Republicans appropriate say in the proceedings, the vote formalizing the inquiry was conducted on party lines, thereby dooming any hopes of bipartisan respectability.

Congressional Democrats were further hampered by their own star witnesses, nearly all of whom admitted under oath that Hunter Biden’s wheeling and dealing in Ukraine had the appearance of a conflict of interest for his father, former Vice President Joe Biden.

One of the witnesses, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent, even admitted on the opening day of the inquiry that he was so troubled by the younger Biden’s decision to join the board of Ukrainian oil and gas company Burisma —while his father was overseeing Obama-era policy in the region—that he felt compelled to reach out to the former vice president’s office about the matter in 2015.

The televised hearings seemed to have the exact opposite impact Democrats were hoping to achieve when they first launched the inquiry. Although the Emerson poll did not ask why black and Hispanic voters had changed their minds on impeachment, the rates at which they were following the inquiry hearings could pose an answer.

According to the poll, black Americans were more intently following the impeachment hearings unfolding on Capitol Hill than either whites or Hispanics. Of the black voters surveyed, 73 percent told pollsters they were “watching” the impeachment hearings, compared to only 27 percent who said they were not. Similarly, 70 percent of whites said they were following the hearings, while 29 percent were not. Among Hispanics, the figure was slightly lower, with 60 percent saying they were watching the hearings and 40 percent admitting they were not. The lower level of viewership could be the reason why Hispanics overall still tend to narrowly approve of Trump’s impeachment.

Regardless of the reasoning support for impeachment has dropped, the end result could prove dire for Democrats heading into next year’s presidential election.

In 2016, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton received 88 percent of the African American vote, as shown by exit polling data from the race. The numbers, although impressive, were significantly lower than the 93 percent Obama garnered in his successful 2012 reelection campaign. Political scientists have attempted to explain the discrepancy by pointing out that overall turnout among black voters was lower in 2016 than 2012. Few, however, have mentioned that Trump’s share of the African American vote was greater than Romney’s, as denoted by the Roper Center for Public Opinion at Cornell University. In fact, the 2016 GOP ticket headed by Trump garnered the highest percentage of black voters since 2004.

Trump’s improved margins among African American voters in heavily urban areas played no small part in his victory. Data from the Michigan secretary of state’s office indicate Trump received 15,000 more votes in Wayne County—where Detroit is located—than Romney in 2012. Even though Trump still lost the county by a substantial margin, the increase helped him eke out a win over Clinton statewide by more than 10,000 votes.

A similar situation played out with Hispanic voters in 2016, but to a lesser degree. Trump won 29 percent of the Hispanic vote on his way to the White House, rising higher than Romney’s 27 percent in 2012. The result shocked many in the media establishment, especially as Trump had run hard on cracking down on illegal immigration and building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

If Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) were to move forward with impeachment, Trump’s numbers with the minority voters could surpass his 2016 margins, provided the findings of the Emerson poll hold. In that instance, Democrats would forfeit any opportunity of pulling states like Michigan back into their column and could even jeopardize their chances in jurisdictions with heavy Hispanic populations, like New Mexico and Colorado.

Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-MI), the vice chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, likely had this notion in mind on Monday when suggesting the House abandon its push to impeach Trump and settle for “censure.”

“We are so close to an election,” Lawrence told a local Michigan radio station. “I will tell you, sitting here knowing how divided this country is, I don’t see the value of taking him out of office. I do see the value of putting down a marker saying his behavior is not acceptable.”



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