Russian leader Vladimir Putin is a single man again after his divorce from his wife of 30 years was finalised. The President and his wife Lyudmila announced their plans to separate last summer (Jun13), and now a spokesperson at the Kremlin has confirmed the marriage is over for good.
Putin previously revealed the decision to separate and divorce was a "joint decision" based on the fact the couple "practically never saw each other".
His wife added, "We will eternally be very close people."
The couple has two grown-up daughters, Maria and Yekaterina.
Pussy Riot stars Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina have stepped up their protests over the ongoing Ukraine crisis by calling for economic sanctions against Russia. The punk stars made an appearance at Tallinn Music Week in Estonia on Friday (28Mar14) amid heightened tensions in Eastern Europe following the arrival of Russian troops in Ukraine's Crimea region.
Alekhina, who has previously voiced her support for Ukraine, was joined by her Pussy Riot co-star Tolokonnikova, and she revealed plans to urge the European Parliament to impose economic sanctions on their native country.
She is quoted by NME.com as saying, "Tomorrow we plan to be in (Ukrainian capital) Kiev in order to support Ukraine. Then we go to the European Parliament to call for sanctions against Russia. It must be understood that economic sanctions will hurt ordinary Russians, but maybe it has got to the point where Russians are too comfortable sat on the couch, and this will shake them and force them out onto the streets to express their opinions...
"We do not invite anyone to use weapons against weapons. Our idea is that Europe and other countries have to use economic sanctions against (Russian president Vladimir) Putin."
Putin sparked international concern when he moved troops into the Crimean region of Ukraine earlier this month (Mar14) following weeks of unrest in the country.
Crimean residents voted in favour of breaking away from Ukraine and joining Russia in March (14), and Putin approved the decision to reclaim Crimea as a Russian territory. United Nations officials declared the referendum illegitimate on Thursday (27Mar14).
Movie tough guy Steven Seagal has spoken out to defend Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Crimea, insisting the controversial leader's military actions were "very reasonable". Tensions in the Eastern European region were heightened earlier this month (Mar14) when Putin sent soldiers into the Ukrainian territory following a period of civil unrest amid calls for political change.
Crimean residents recently went to the polls to decide upon their own future, with local officials declaring the majority of votes were in favour of breaking away from the Ukraine and annexing with Russia.
Putin subsequently approved the move to reclaim Crimea as Russian territory, but his efforts have been denounced by United Nations officials, and the leaders of member states adopted a resolution on Thursday (27Mar14) declaring the referendum illegitimate and refusing to recognise the annexation.
However, Seagal, who has become an unlikely pal of the Russian leader, insists he has nothing but support for Putin.
In a new interview with state-run newspaper Rossiskaya Gazeta, the action man praises his friend as "one of the greatest living world leaders" and claims he considers the politician "a brother".
He adds, "(Putin's) desire to protect the Russian-speaking people of Crimea, his assets, and the Russian Black Sea military base in Sevastopol... is very reasonable".
Seagal, who was born in Michigan, insists he is very patriotic, but cannot stand by U.S. President Barack Obama and his "idiotic" foreign policy towards the Ukraine and Russia, and he wants to see the two superpowers working towards the same goal.
He adds, "It's no secret that I have Republican views and policies of President Obama does not appeal to me (sic). In many ways it is not even his fault, but the people who are in his inner circle who have views on world politics are diametrically opposed to Russia.
"In my opinion, a situation where the U.S. and Russia are on opposite sides of the fence is abnormal. And I see my task is to do everything to facilitate the normalisation of relations. All will benefit from this."
It's almost become a game — how many things can be blamed on Miley Cyrus? When she went out on her Bangerz tour, mothers — none of whom had apparently been paying attention to what the singer's been up to since Hannah Montana — took to the web to complain about her antics, comparing the stage show to porn and lamenting the fact that their children had been exposed to it. Joe Jonas wrote a tell-all essay for New York Magazine, where he revealed that it was peer-pressure from Cyrus and Demi Lovato that got him to smoke pot for the first time. When she subsequently lit up a joint on stage in Amsterdam, she was labeled out of control. Months after, she caught a ton of flak for her "twerking" at the MTV Video Music Awards, the Internet exploded with rumors that Cyrus was the real reason behind the break-up of Robin Thicke and his wife, Paula Patton.
Now, Katy Perry is taking shots at the singer after Cyrus tried to kiss her at a concert, telling an Australian television show that she backed away from the smooch because, "God knows where that tongue has been." Even something as simple as being photographed using a teleprompter during a concert in Denver — a practice that did not originate with Cyrus — becomes national tabloid fodder. All that's missing at this point is Vladimir Putin issuing a statement saying that Cyrus is the real cause behind the unrest in the Ukraine.
Do a search for Cyrus' name and you'll return a lot of self-righteous posturing about her habit of not wearing clothes and her professed love of marijuana. The problem with all of this is that when you boil it all down, there's absolutely nothing wrong with what Cyrus is doing. In fact, if anything, it's a savvy career move.
Cyrus' image make-over isn't the first of its kind. When Drew Barrymore wanted to be seen as something more than the girl from E.T., she posed for Playboy and flashed David Letterman on national television. Within the music industry, Cyrus still has a ways to go before she tops the dual masters of self-promotion, Madonna and Lady Gaga. Heck, Madonna was kissing Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera years before Cyrus thought of it, and Gaga has been naked (or nearly) so often that it doesn't even register anymore.
So, why does what Cyrus is doing bother so many people? Is it because there's a segment of the audience that feels like they've watched her grow up on her Disney Channel show? Is it because she comes from a country music background with its more "traditional" values and with none other than Dolly Parton as her godmother? Or is it just that even now, people have difficulty with a young woman flaunting her sexuality?
The truth is that as a culture there are continuous mixed messages about female sexuality. Being sexy is valued, but being overtly sexual can go either way. When Jennifer Lawrence goes on Conan and tells a story about sex aides, it gets treated as something cute. If Kim Kardashian does the same thing, the nicest label that gets attached to her is "vapid." Madonna and Gaga are hailed as smart business women for parlaying an image based largely on sex into millions of dollars, but Spears is continuously portrayed disparagingly for doing the same thing. Cyrus was bashed for the tone of her concerts, but mothers routinely take their daughters to Perry's shows that feature skimpy costumes, stripper poles and a variety of accoutrements tied to her breasts. How does any young female performer that's coming up know what's over the line, when the line isn't the same for any two women?
To her credit, Cyrus does not take the criticism without hitting back. When Jonas made his comments, she responded to the New York Times that, "If you want to smoke weed, you're going to smoke weed. There's nothing that two little girls are going to get you to do that you don't want to do." When Perry called her out, she took to Twitter to shoot back about Perry's ex-boyfriend John Mayer, "Girl if ur worried abt where tongues have been good thing ur ex boo is ur EX BOO cause we all know where THAT (tongue) been."
She also has a sense of humor about it, appearing on Saturday Night Live two different times in the fall to make fun of the furor over her behavior. Parton, who was never shy about using her own sexuality to gain notice, has defended her goddaughter as well, telling a London newspaper, "It's not easy being young. You almost have to sacrifice your damn soul to get anything done."
Unlike Justin Bieber and Lindsay Lohan, Cyrus appears to know exactly what she's doing. If she's to blame for anything, it's for showcasing again the double-standards that get applied to strong, young women.
Liam Neeson channelled his Taken character as a former CIA agent during a surprise appearance on U.S. sketch show Saturday Night Live this weekend (08Mar14) to jokingly threaten Russian President Vladimir Putin over the military invasion of the Ukraine. The Northern Irish star opened Saturday's programme by appearing alongside funnyman Jay Pharoah, as President Barack Obama, and condemning Putin for sending in troops to the Crimea in a parody of his action character Bryan Mills.
In his gruff movie voice, Neeson said, "Recently, I got a very disturbing call. Crimea had been taken. I hate it when things are taken.
"Mr. Putin. Vladimir. I've never met you. I don't have experience in international diplomacy. But what I do have is a very particular set of skills. Skills that would make me a nightmare for someone like you... By which I mean I'm an actor. In Hollywood. With a lot of connections."
Neeson's cameo kicked off an episode of hilarious spoofs as Girls star Lena Dunham served as the guest host and poked fun at her penchant for getting naked onscreen.
In her opening monologue, she quipped, "I am so honoured to be here hosting SNL and it's also really intimidating to be up here on this stage. But there is an old saying, if you're nervous about giving a speech, just imagine the audience naked. Or at least imagine they haven't seen you naked."
She later stripped off to portray Biblical figure Eve as she eats the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, asking God, "Can you please not apple shame me right now? Seriously, I know I committed original sin, but at least it's original. I think I deserve some credit for that. Or at least a publishing deal."
Dunham also fulfilled her dream of appearing on TV drama Scandal by playing 'Gladiator' newcomer Kelsey in an amusing parody, opposite comedienne Sasheer Zamata as Kerry Washington's Olivia Pope character.
Ukrainian pop star Ruslana has been honoured by U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama for her bravery after performing for political protestors in the troubled capital city of Kiev. The singer, a former member of the Ukrainian parliament, was invited to attend the International Women of Courage Awards in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday (04Mar14), when she was presented with the accolade, which celebrates the work of females around the globe who have exemplified exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for peace and equal rights issues.
Ruslana, who won the Eurovision Song Contest for the Ukraine in 2004, was chosen as one of 2014's 10 honourees after spending months alongside Kiev demonstrators calling for change through the power of song.
Tensions in the country escalated in recent weeks and violent clashes between activists and police in Kiev prompted former leader Viktor Yanukovych to go into hiding. He was replaced by parliamentary speaker Alexander Turchinov as acting president.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin has sparked fears he is attempting to quash Ukrainian citizens' calls for political reform and alignment with the European Union after sending armed troops to the Crimea region of the country last week (ends28Feb14). The move has been condemned by officials in the U.S. and Europe.
The musician, born Ruslana Lyzychko, has since called on her fellow countrymen and women to stand strong against the Russian invasion and continue to fight for their political beliefs.
She tells the BBC, "Everybody understands now that Ukraine is in danger. All Ukrainians (who are) strong enough, unite... Let's stop this war."
Pussy Riot star Maria Alyokhina has condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin for sending armed troops to the troubled Crimea region of the Ukraine, comparing his actions to the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. The outspoken punk rocker, who was freed from prison in December (13) after serving time for performing a protest song against Putin, has penned an opinion piece in The New Republic, urging Russian citizens to take a stand against the government in a bid to encourage politicians to do the right thing.
Alyokhina is convinced that if nothing is done to put a stop to the military intervention in Crimea, which has been denounced by political leaders in Europe and the U.S., Putin will be allowed to take control of the former Soviet Union country and quash Ukrainians' calls for political change and alignment with the European Union.
She writes, "Those who have accepted the verdict to live their lives in passive oblivion will repeat history and its mistakes. In this way, standing at the brink of war under banners of a struggle for peace, Russia is repeating 1968."
Slamming Putin and his government's apparent tactics to divide and conquer, Alyokhina adds, "The difference between Russia and a penal colony is that in a penal colony your sentence is decided upon by the state, but in Russia we should decide how long we will live like this. Otherwise, the world will watch as the Kremlin will increasingly resemble a prison watch tower, which, on behalf of the Russian Federation, will issue commands, commands to send in the troops."
The invasion of the former Czechoslovakia occurred months after the Prague Spring, a brief period of political reform during which the nation was led by the liberal Alexander Dubcek, who wanted to democratise the nation.
One Direction star Harry Styles was named the Villain of the Year at London's NME Awards on Wednesday (26Feb14). The boyband singer beat Miley Cyrus and Russian President Vladimir Putin to claim the rock ceremony's shameful title for a second consecutive year.
Singer Ana Matronic fears there will be "bloodshed" and death on the streets of Russia following the shocking militia attack on members of Pussy Riot. The Scissor Sisters star was horrified by the incident at the site of the Winter Olympics in Sochi on Wednesday (19Feb14), when several members of the protest group and a photographer were beaten, whipped, and subdued with pepper spray.
Members of Russian's Cossack militia had moved in as the mainly-female collective began to perform a protest song about the country's President Vladimir Putin, and within minutes, film footage of the sickening attack went viral online.
Russian authorities are under increasing pressure to respond to the incident, and Matronic has now spoken out about the attack, telling the U.K.'s Channel 4 News, "I'm not exactly sure what should be done except for people to voice their outrage at this point. It's hard to say what the appropriate tack is. My only hope is that Pussy Riot continues to do what they do and continues to fight, because I believe in what they are fighting for.
"I think they are trying to provoke but I don't think they are asking to be beaten with whips... Nor do I think they should be beaten for voicing their beliefs, no matter what their beliefs are."
Matronic also predicted the "militant" response to the band's performance about oppression in the country could provoke a violent reaction from other protest groups and lead to severe unrest.
She adds, "And we are going to see bloodshed and we are going to see innocent lives lost in the crossfire and that is reprehensible to me."
Representatives from the International Olympic Committee issued a statement describing the images of Pussy Riot members being whipped as "extremely disturbing", but insisted any action should be left to Russian authorities.
Following the incident, the Pussy Riot stars vowed to continue with their human rights fight, saying, "We will shout the truth about Russia as loud as we can."
Members of punk protest group Pussy Riot were violently whipped and beaten as they were tackled by members of Russia's security forces during a performance stunt in Sochi on Wednesday (19Feb14). The female rockers attempted to stage a pop-up show in the Olympic host city under a sign advertising the Winter Games, but their stunt was cut short when they were approached by a group of Cossack militia.
The men grabbed the women and ripped their coloured masks from their heads. Maria Alekhina was attacked with a whip, along with a male photographer who was taking pictures of the performance.
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, who was previously jailed along with Alekhina for performing a protest song against Russian President Vladimir Putin, was violently knocked to the ground and whipped.
Sickening footage of the incident, posted on YouTube.com, shows Tolokonnikova screaming and crying out in pain as the officers grapple with her. She attempts to continue singing the words to the group's song after clambering to her feet.
Other members of the group were violently unmasked and the footage shows one bandmember being hit in the face as she tries to stand her ground.
A guitar which was wielded by one of the group was removed and thrown in a trash bin, but later recovered as the bandmembers left the scene.
The incident comes just a day after Tolokonnikova and Alekhina were arrested by police in Sochi on Tuesday (18Feb14) hours before a planned protest performance. They were reportedly questioned over an allegation of theft from a hotel, but were released without charge.
The two women were previously sentenced to two years in jail for performing a protest song against Putin in a Moscow church. They were freed in December (13) as part of an amnesty.