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In brief: Russia easing rules on party registration

Thu., March 29, 2012, midnight

MOSCOW – Russia’s parliament on Wednesday approved legislation intended to simplify the registration of political parties, a move influenced by massive protests after a December election widely viewed as tainted by fraud.

The legislation, which outgoing President Dmitry Medvedev is expected to sign into law next week, was welcomed by those who believe it could help loosen the tight grip held by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, the president-elect, and the governing United Russia party.

The proposed reforms include reducing from 40,000 to 500 the number of members needed for a party to register for participation in elections. Other provisions aim to ease and speed up the registration process.

Phone-tap claim roils Mexican politics

MEXICO CITY – A scandal brought on by a leaked tape has stirred up Mexico’s presidential race, and the campaign hasn’t even officially started yet.

A voice thought to be that of Josefina Vazquez Mota, the conservative National Action Party standard-bearer and first female candidate from a major political party, is heard in a leaked phone call suggesting federal police chief Genaro Garcia Luna taps her phones but doesn’t monitor those of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the world’s most-wanted drug lord.

The accusation that the federal government protects Guzman has dogged the president from her party, Felipe Calderon, for years. His government denies the charge.

But if authenticated, the tape that surfaced Monday would have the suggestion coming from a Calderon insider. Vazquez Mota is a former member of his Cabinet; Garcia Luna still serves as the president’s security secretary.


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