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… a TASS news item read as follows: “Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plan to meet in May 2018.”… Now, what exactly is wrong with these reports? … Russia will have a presidential election in March 2018 and by late May 2018 — theoretically, at least — there should be a new president in office. It might be Putin. But — theoretically, at least — it might be somebody else, right?” (Brian Whitmore, Nov. 29, 2017, RFERL)

From: https://www.rferl.org/a/daily-vertical-russia-worst-kept-secret-transcript/28885879.html
The Daily Vertical: Russia’s Worst-Kept Secret (Transcript)
November 29, 2017 09:56 GMT, Brian Whitmore

The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect the views of RFE/RL.

Well, it looks like TASS just spilled the beans.

Russia’s state news agency has apparently just revealed one of the Kremlin’s most closely held secrets.

In a report on November 24, the lede of a TASS news item read as follows: “Russian President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plan to meet in May 2018.”

A separate TASS report said Abe would be visiting Russia to attend the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, which is scheduled for late May.

Now, what exactly is wrong with these reports?

Well, for starters, Russia will have a presidential election in March 2018 and by late May 2018 — theoretically, at least — there should be a new president in office.

It might be Putin. But — theoretically, at least — it might be somebody else, right?
In fact, Putin hasn’t even announced whether or not he is running yet.

We’re supposed to all be in suspense about this.

But yet, Russia’s official news agency is reporting Putin’s schedule as if he will run and win in March and be safely in office in late May to meet with the Japanese prime minister.

TASS is acting as if the election in March is nothing more than a formality.
It is acting as if Putin’s hesitancy in announcing his candidacy is nothing more than just posturing.

It’s almost as if TASS knows something that we don’t. Copyright (c) 2017. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036
https://www.rferl.org/a/daily-vertical-russia-worst-kept-secret-transcript/28885879.html
(Emphasis our own.) Brian Whitmore is one of the only journalists really willing to take on Putin-the Russian gov, but notice that RFERL issues a disclaimer!