Russian President

Rap music a 'path to the degradation of the nation' - Putin

But Mr Putin said at a St Petersburg meeting with cultural advisers Saturday that attempts to ban artists from performing will have an adverse effect and bolster their popularity.

"If it is impossible to stop, then we must lead it and direct it properly. But how to do it, it depends on us."

Mr Putin noted that "rap is based on three pillars: sex, drugs and protest". But he is particularly concerned with drug themes prevalent in rap, saying it was an "obvious… path to the degradation of the nation".

Putin warns against 'intimidating' North Korea after latest missile launch

Speaking in China, Putin called for a peaceful solution to the ongoing tensions on the Korean peninsula, Russia's Sputnik news agency reported.

"I would like to confirm that we are categorically against the expansion of the club of nuclear states, including through the Korean Peninsula," Putin told reporters. "We are against it and consider it counterproductive, damaging, dangerous," he said.

But in comments that appeared aimed at the US, he said that "intimidating (North Korea) is unacceptable."

Chechnya gay rights: Putin backs inquiry into hate crimes

He said he would personally ask the prosecutor general and the interior minister to check the reports.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel this week urged the Russian authorities to help protect gay rights.

Chechen officials have denied gay people even exist in the republic, amid reports of arrests and torture.

On Friday, Mr Putin said he would personally ask the prosecutor general and interior minister to help Kremlin rights ombudswoman Tatyana Moskalkova check the reported abuse.

Chechnya gay rights: Merkel urges Putin to intervene

Activists say police in the republic have arrested and tortured dozens of people in an anti-gay crackdown.

Mrs Merkel raised the issue during her first visit to Russia since 2015, which saw her hold talks with Mr Putin at his summer residence in Sochi.

Relations between the two nations have been strained over Syria and Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.


Putin deepens Middle East influence with Kremlin summits

Putin's interests hardly coincide with those of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan or Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu -- especially in Syria. But as the Trump Administration is yet to work out its Middle East policy, Russia has unprecedented leverage in the region.

Here's a very basic outline of each leader's priorities:

Trump pick Tillerson: 'Fair assumption' Putin behind hacks

The former CEO of Exxon Mobil told his Senate confirmation hearing the intelligence report on Russian tampering "clearly is troubling".

His comments came after Senator Marco Rubio pressed Mr Tillerson to admit Mr Putin's role in the cyber-breach.

Mr Tillerson's reported good ties with Mr Putin have alarmed some in the US.

The 64-year-old former corporate titan, who has never worked in government, faced tough questions from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday.

Putin turns down Japanese dog gift, MP says

Koichi Hagiuda did not give a reason as to why the gift had been rejected.

Japan gave Mr Putin a female Akita called Yume in 2012. This dog was intended as a companion for her.

Mr Hagiuda wrote in a blog post: "Unfortunately, we heard from our counterparts, and our hope to present a bridegroom was dashed."

If accepted, the gift would have been presented to the Russian president at a summit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Japan next week.

Akitas originate from northern Japan.