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  • In Moscow, Riyadh and Washington, this is the age of the shameless lie
    As David Miliband argues in his Fulbright lecture, world leaders have found they can lie with impunity. We must not be complicit in their mendacity

    Truth or consequences, a parlour game in which players are penalised for dishonesty or wrongdoing, is mostly fun – but it also reflects a broad moral consensus about the unacceptability of lying. This long-held belief is deeply rooted in popular culture. Truth or Consequences was the title of a postwar American TV quiz show whose success was so great that a New Mexico town was named after it. Put simply, and as a general rule, most people expect that if you tell whoppers, you get punished.

    Why, then, do so many modern leaders seem to think they can lie and get away with it? A propensity to deny, dodge or disown the consequences of political actions is spreading globally like a toxic virus. There was a time, as David Miliband, the former foreign secretary, argues in this year’s Fulbright Lecture, when public accountability was on the rise. Not any more. In what hecalls the age of impunity, “those engaged in conflicts around the world believe they can get away with anything, including murder”.

    Kremlin denials flew thick and fast. By any reasonable standard, these protestations are demonstrably, ridiculously false

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  • Putin fails to mention MH17 in phone-in but finds time for whales

    Russian president avoids 2014 disaster in annual Q&A but is confronted by journalists on subject afterwards

    Vladimir Putin faced questioning on both domestic and international issues at his annual phone-in – but managed to avoid any mention of the MH17 plane disaster until journalists confronted him about it afterwards.

    “There is no evidence of Russia’s blame for the downing of MH17,” Putin said. “Russia has its own explanation of the crash of MH17 but no one is listening to us,” he added.

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  • The west thinks Putin is Russia's spymaster. But are the spies controlling him? | Mark Galeotti

    From Ukraine to the US, Russia’s risky policies may be a sign of the security services’ sway over the president

    Vladimir Putin will be hoping that the release of the Russian investigative journalist Ivan Golunov in response to an unprecedented campaign of public protest demonstrates his credentials as a a “good tsar” willing and able to shield his subjects from the excesses of the Russian security and police services. Golunov was arrested in a clumsy frame-up after his exposés of corruption among the Moscow elite made him too many enemies.

    Related:Vladimir Putin to hold national phone-in after Russians charged over MH17

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