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Putin claims strong Russian election victory despite claims of rigging



Russia concluded regional and municipal elections on Sunday, drawing international criticism for holding the votes, particularly in regions annexed from Ukraine.

Despite allegations of vote rigging and Ukraine’s condemnation of Moscow’s attempts to tighten its grip on these territories, the elections delivered strong support for President Vladimir Putin and his United Russia party.

The Council of Europe, Europe’s foremost human rights group, labelled the week-long vote as a blatant violation of international law. Kyiv, along with its allies, deemed it an illegal effort to strengthen Russia’s control over regions in Ukraine’s south and east.

In Russia and the annexed regions, the election results underscored the Kremlin’s message that Putin is the foremost guarantor of stability.

However, competition was limited in these regions as strong candidates, including some from the main opposition Communist Party, were blocked from running by authorities.

Stanislav Andreychuk, co-chair of Golos, a voter rights’ group designated as a “foreign agent” by the Russian government, reported instances of vote rigging in various parts of the country, characterising these elections as lacking authenticity.

Opposition candidates faced detention, vandalism of their vehicles, and even military draft notices being served to election observers.

The Kremlin has consistently maintained that Putin enjoys widespread popularity in Russia, citing opinion polls and numerous election victories as evidence of free and fair elections.

Notably, all significant legal political forces in Russia, including opposition parties, maintain a level of loyalty to Putin and his policies, including the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

United Russia won every provincial governor’s race it participated in across the country.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, a close ally of Putin, was re-elected with more than 75% of the vote, despite virtually no opposition.

Critics argue that elections in Moscow are susceptible to manipulation due to the electronic voting system, which they claim is impossible to audit. Similar systems have been introduced in various other Russian regions.

These elections have further strained Russia’s relations with Ukraine and drawn international condemnation, raising concerns about the state of democracy and political competition within the country.

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Streaming wars: can Apple compete with Spotify?



Spotify’s 2023 Wrapped has dropped prompting listeners to review their top artists, genres, and songs of the year.

Many are taking to social media platforms to share their listening trends with family, friends, coworkers, and even other fans on the internet.

While Apple Music, a rival platform, has its own year-end campaign—it hasn’t quite ignited the same online response.

Seth Schachner, the Managing Director at StratAmericas and a former Sony Music Executive joins Veronica Dudo to discuss. #Spotify #music #Apple #AppleMusic #SpotifyWrapped #streaming #featured #IN AMERICA TODAY

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What Australia can learn from NZ’s supermarket inquiry



Coles and Woolworths, two of Australia’s largest supermarket chains, are about to face a Senate inquiry that aims to scrutinise their market dominance and business practices.

The inquiry’s parallels with a past New Zealand investigation highlight the growing concern over the duopoly’s impact on consumers and smaller businesses.

The Senate inquiry, set to begin next month, comes as a response to mounting public pressure and allegations of anti-competitive behavior in the grocery sector.

New Zealand example

Similar concerns led New Zealand to conduct its own inquiry into the supermarket industry back in 2019, resulting in recommendations for increased regulation and transparency.

The central question here is whether Coles and Woolworths wield too much power in the Australian market, potentially stifling competition and limiting choices for consumers.

With the New Zealand example as a cautionary tale, many are wondering if this inquiry will result in meaningful changes to the Australian grocery landscape.

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Elon Musk: Nikki Haley’s ‘campaign is dead’



Elon Musk has thrown a verbal jab at former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, declaring her political campaign as “dead” on X.

The unexpected comment from the Tesla and SpaceX CEO has ignited a new wave of discussion within the political sphere, leaving many wondering about the implications for Haley’s political future.

In a tweet that garnered significant attention, Musk criticized Haley’s recent policy stance, writing, “Nikki Haley’s campaign is dead on arrival if she continues to ignore the urgency of climate change.

We need leaders who prioritize the planet’s future.” The tech mogul’s remarks come as Haley, a prominent Republican figure, has been exploring the possibility of running for president in the upcoming election cycle.

Musk’s statement has reignited the debate over climate change within the Republican Party, with many conservatives emphasizing economic interests over environmental concerns.

This raises questions about whether Musk’s endorsement or critique could influence the GOP’s stance on climate issues and potentially impact the 2024 presidential race.

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