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Kremlin denies reports Putin planning to quit amid health fears | Russia



Spokesman Dmitry Peskov refutes UK tabloid report claiming Putin is showing symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has denied a UK media report claiming President Vladimir Putin was planning to resign due to health conditions, assuring the Russian leader is in good health.

“No,” Peskov said in response to a question on whether the president was planning to quit. “He is in excellent health,” Russia’s TASS news agency reported on Friday.

The statement came after The Sun reported, citing sources, that Putin was planning to quit next year after showing possible symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

According to the UK tabloid, observers studied recent footage where Putin’s leg appeared to be in constant motion while he seemed to be in pain clutching the armrest of a chair. His fingers seemed to be twitching while he held a cup believed to contain painkillers, the newspaper said.

The report came after the lower house of Russia’s legislature proposed a law that could provide Russian ex-presidents immunity from criminal prosecution in their lifetimes, not merely while in office.

The bill, published on a government website, is one of several being introduced following constitutional reforms that, among other things, allow Putin to run again when his term ends in 2024.

The new bill would also make it harder to revoke ex-presidents’ expanded immunity.

It would require the upper house of Parliament to vote overwhelmingly to revoke it on the strength of accusations by the lower house that the president had committed treason or another serious crime.

The bill will become law if the lower house votes to approve it in three readings, the upper house backs it, and Putin then signs it.

Putin was first elected as Russia’s president in 2000. He has served longer than any Russian or Soviet politician since the early 1950s – and could be on course to be one of his nation’s longest-serving leaders.

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Voters go to the polls in El Salvador | Elections News



Opinion polls ahead of Sunday’s vote show strong support for President Nayib Bukele’s Nuevas Ideas party.

Voters are casting their ballots in El Salvador on Sunday, as President Nayib Bukele’s Nuevas Ideas party is expected to make major gains in the legislative and local elections.

Long queues of voters wearing face masks due to the COVID-19 pandemic stretched outside of voting centres ahead of polls opening at 7am local time (13:00 GMT).

Salvadorans are choosing 84 legislators to represent them in the national assembly for the next three years, as well as 262 municipal councils.

Opinion polls released ahead of the vote showed Bukele’s party with around 70 percent support – and a strong chance of securing more than half of the mayoral positions and enough seats to hold at least a simple majority in Congress.

Bukele, who took office in 2019, came to power on a promise to root out corruption and offer an alternative to El Salvador’s main political parties, left-wing FMLN and right-wing ARENA.

ARENA currently holds 37 of the 84 seats in Congress and controls 138 of the 262 municipal councils, while FMLN holds 23 congressional seats and 64 municipal councils.

Tens of thousands of police, soldiers and international observers have been deployed to oversee the vote.

“We hope to have a peaceful election day, a truly civic celebration crowned by massive participation of the electorate,” Dora Martinez, president of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) told national TV.

Earlier this month, the TSE called for international observers to be sent early after two FMLN activists were killed and five others were injured in a shooting in the capital, San Salvador.

Observers said it was one of the worst political attacks in decades.

Tensions have been rising ahead of the legislative polls, as civil society groups raised concerns that a strong showing for Bukele’s party could see him consolidate power.

Human rights advocates have said the president has shown authoritarian tendencies – an accusation that he and his supporters have rebuffed.

People vote during parliamentary and local elections in San Salvador on February 28 [Marvin Recinos/AFP]

With a majority in Congress, Bukele would be able to appoint judges to the Supreme Court and the public prosecutor’s office.

A two-thirds majority would let the Nuevas Ideas party appoint high-level government officials, such as the attorney general and five of the country’s 15 Supreme Court justices.

“I’m going to vote for [Nayib’s party] because he has helped us a lot,” Wendy Henriquez, a 46-year-old street vendor, told Al Jazeera ahead of the vote.

Officials expect preliminary results will be released a few hours after polls close at 5pm (23:00 GMT) on Sunday.

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