Anti-Putin activist charged with plotting protest

You can see the video for this article on the euronews website here

Russian opposition leader, Sergei Udaltsov has been formally charged with plotting mass disorder.

The anti-Putin activist remained defiant as he entered the headquarters of the Russian Federal Investigative Committee – which is modelled on the FBI in the USA – but if convicted he faces up to 10 years in prison.

He is accused of seeking funds from Georgia to stoke Unrest in Russia. The allegations were first brought by a pro-Kremlin documentary, but critics say it is just part of a government clampdown on anti-Putin protest.

Torture

It was earlier reported that one of his associates, Leonid Razvozzhayev, was snatched off the street in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev last Friday and brought back to Moscow.

He made a confession implicating Udatsov but later repealed it claiming it had been made under torture.

Protest

Speaking to reporters Sergei Udaltsov said: “This case is based on torture, it’s shameful, it hurts the Russian image. If somebody expected me to run across the border like a scared dog – they will not see this. I have not committed a crime.”

The shaven-headed opposition leader who leads the Left Front Coalition has been at the front of a series of sanctioned protests in the Russian capital, prompted by allegations of fraud in December’s parliamentary election which was won by Putin’s United Russia Party.

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I saw Noel Gallagher

A little while ago I went to see Bob Dylan play live and despite him being one of my heroes I left feeling quite disappointed. I got the impression he was just going through the motions and didn’t really care about being there. The only thing I could take away from that gig was at least I had seen him with my own two eyes.

The contrast when I saw Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds play earlier last week was amazing. He too is the sort of figure who could sell out a venue with very little effort but it turned out to be one of the best gigs I’ve ever been to. To start with the people at the Transbordeur in Lyon, France had got the sound and lighting perfect.

And things started out very well when this chap came on stage:

Supporting act Jake Bugg is still very young but full of stage presence and he can play the guitar like a demon.

He takes his influences from folk artists of Dylan’s era and he has produced some really nice songs of that ilk with a modern twist. At the time of writing his single “Taste It” is being given away for free on iTunes (Log in on your own UK itunes account to find it) So I strongly recommend that you check him out.

After that performance by a young hopeful I was half expecting a lackluster performance from an established artist just turning up for a payday, but from the moment he walked on stage I realised how wrong I was. With the enthusiastic but tame French crowd all chanting No-el! No-el! No-el! he came on stage and immediately showed his true star quality.

The man who has been awarded the 2012 Godlike Genius award by NME then wowed the audience with a collection of new songs such as the hard hitting Freaky Teeth:

And unlike Dylan, Gallagher really took the time to interact with the audience throughout the gig, although he kept the same confrontational style that Oasis were known for – he threw out a few insults with a twinkle in his eye – and the audience loved it.

He also struck the right balance between old and new, playing some of his contemporary songs but knowing the audience will also be filled with diehard Oasis fans it lead to some really magical moments:

At the end of the gig a humble Noel Gallagher came forward and thanked the audience who had all been treated to a fantastic evening.

I hope you’ll take two things away from this article, check out Jake Bugg and go and see this Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds live. You won’t regret it.

John Terry helps Felix Baumgartner to diving success

Unseen by the long distance cameras Felix Baumgartner was not alone when he made the world’s highest ever skydive.

Helping him throughout the whole process was former England and Chelsea captain John Terry.

31-year-old Terry recently ended his international career but that hasn’t stopped him from going to new heights in his quest for success.

In a show of devotion for his club, he made the 39 km skydive at the same time as Baumgartner but without a protective suit or oxygen supply. Instead he sported the full Chelsea kit (including shin pads).

Fun at the airport

I have recently been traveling around doing a few bits and pieces. On my way back to France I found myself at London’s Gatwick Airport with some time to spare, so I stopped for some lunch at Café Rouge.

As I was waiting and looking at all of the planes go by, I thought I may as well take out the cameras I had in my hand luggage (Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ7 and DMC-FZ28) and took a few shots. Here’s the result, hope you like it.

Edited with Final Cut Pro
Music: Magna Carta – Airport Song As Universal Music Group got upset with me using their song and restricted my video I had to change the music to some free dance music offered by YouTube. It is the first time I saw this option, and I think it’s really quite good!

What if they were a nation?

When American swimming legend Michael Phelps won his astonishing number of Olympic medals I heard and read a lot of people asking: ‘if he were a nation on his own, where would he come in the medals table?”

This question quite easy to answer, the nation of Michael Phelps would have come 16th in 2004 with six golds and two silvers just behind the hosts, Greece and just ahead of next years hosts Brazil. In Beijing where he won eight gold medals he would have been 10th and this year with four golds and two silver medals he would have finished 20th.

In 2008 and 2012 his personal results didn’t change Team USA’s place in the medals table, but in 2004 the USA led China by 35 gold medals to 32, meaning that his personal medals were crucial to claim the top spot.

But with a medal haul like this, there were dozens of Athletes, competing individually or as part of teams who were also essential for this result. But how would it feel to single handedly raise your country’s position in the ranking in the Olympic games?

Well at London 2012 there were a small group of Athletes who did just that. By winning gold medals for their country these athletes single handedly took their country from dead last to 50th in the standings.

These were; Taoufik Makhloufi of Algeria who won the 1500m and Stephen Kiprotich, Uganda, Men’s marathon champion. Kirani James won Grenada’s only medal with gold in the 400 metres and Ruben Limardo Gascon, who won a fencing gold for Venezuela.

I think special considerations have to be given to Rohullah Nikpah Afghanistan’s only medallist, who won Bronze in Taekwondo. When he achieved this feat at the 2008 games, he returned home to a heroes welcome. Also Afghan President, Hamid Karzai rewarded him with a car, a house and other luxuries at the government’s expense, as he stood as a symbol of peace in the country. I imagine he was similarly rewarded for achieving this feat a second time.

In the next few days I’m going to try to contact these athletes to see how their lives changed as a result of winning medals. Stay tuned.

A clean win for Wiggins?

There have been doping allegations at Tour de France since the race began in 1903, and even Tour legend, seven times winner Lance Armstrong is under investigation and risks being stripped of all his titles.

While huge efforts have been made to clean up the sport, there is always a question mark over any rider’s head when he dominates a race. I sincerely believe that Wiggins is a clean rider but a friend recently told me of the theory that a sign of a rider taking drugs can be shown up by a sudden improvement in form, so I looked at Wiggins’ record at the tour, over the last few years.

2007: Wiggins racing for Cofidis won the combativity award on stage six for a long solo breakaway. On the 16th stage he was ranked 131st when his team was forced to withdraw after team mate Cristian Moreni tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone and the the whole team were led away by police. Wiggins spoke out against dopers on the tour and vowed to never ride for Cofidis again.

2008: Wiggins had turned his attention to track racing. He won three gold medals at the UCI Track Cycling World Championships. At the Beijing Olympics he won the pursuit, the first rider to successfully defend a pursuit title at the Olympics. He was also part of the Olympic pursuit team which won gold and broke the world record.

2009: Now riding for US team, Garmin – Slipstream, Wiggins went into the tour de France six kilos lighter after a grueling Giro d’Italia where he finished 71st. He went on to surprise everyone by finishing fourth at the Tour de France. Equalling the highest finish for a British rider set by Robert Millar in 1984.

2010: Wiggins became a team leader for the first time at Team Sky, he improved on his Giro d’Italia performance finishing 40th and went into the Tour de France full of confidence. He had a disappointing tour however, struggling a lot throughout the middle phase and in the end could only manage 24th, 4 seconds behind 23rd placed Lance Armstrong and 38 minutes 45 seconds behind the winner Andy Schleck. Originally Spanish rider Alberto Contador had finished first by 39 seconds but was later stripped of the title after testing positive for the drug clenbuterol.

2011: Again at the helm of Team Sky, he decided against competing in the Giro d’Italia putting all his focus on the Tour de France. In his last competition before starting the tour he won the British National Road Race Championships. Wiggins started strong at the 2011 Tour de France and was placed Sixth at the end of stage Six, 10 seconds off the lead. But in stage Seven he crashed and broke his collarbone ending his chances for that year.

Do you think cycling has cleaned up its act? Or do you believe it’s a sport in which you have to cheat to win? Vote in the poll and leave your comments below: