Russian teen handed 6 years for attempted arson of army office

Russian teen handed 6 years for attempted arson of army office
A Russian court sentenced a 17-year-old to six years in a juvenile penal colony for throwing Molotov cocktails at army recruitment offices in protest at Moscow's assault on Ukraine. (Reuters/File)
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Updated 29 November 2023
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Russian teen handed 6 years for attempted arson of army office

Russian teen handed 6 years for attempted arson of army office
  • A court in Saint Petersburg on Wednesday sentenced Yegor Balazeikin, 17, on “terrorism” charges
  • The propellant in the home-made Molotov cocktails failed to ignite and did not result in any casualties or significant damage

SAINT PETERSBURG, Russia: A Russian court sentenced a 17-year-old to six years in a juvenile penal colony for throwing Molotov cocktails at army recruitment offices in protest at Moscow’s assault on Ukraine.
Dozens of military enlistment centers across Russia have been targeted in attempted arson attacks by anti-conflict protesters since Russia launched its full-scale military campaign against Ukraine last February.
A court in Saint Petersburg on Wednesday sentenced Yegor Balazeikin, 17, to six years in a youth education colony — a Russian prison colony for minors — on “terrorism” charges, reported an AFP journalist from the court.
The propellant in the home-made Molotov cocktails failed to ignite and did not result in any casualties or significant damage.
Balazeikin said he had targeted the enlistment buildings in Saint Petersburg and in his hometown of Kirovsk, 30 kilometers (20 miles) east of Saint Petersburg, in protest at Russia’s offensive on Ukraine.
His uncle was killed a few months after volunteering to fight at the start of the conflict.
Moscow has taken a harsh line against public shows of dissent and opposition to its actions in Ukraine.
Russian courts have sentenced several individuals to multiple years in prison — also on “terrorism” charges — for attempted attacks on military and government buildings.
At the time of his arrest, Balazeikin was a student at a prestigious high school in Saint Petersburg specializing in social sciences.
Balazeikin’s supporters have expressed concern about his worsening health conditions, including autoimmune hepatitis and liver fibrosis, while in custody.
“Keeping Yegor in prison while he suffers from such a dangerous and progressive disease will kill him,” said a petition launched on Change.org in October and now signed by more than 3,000 people.
According to his mother, Balazeikin “has no regrets” over his actions.
“He believes he did the right thing, because you have to be able to defend your point of view,” Tatyana Balazeikina said in an interview with the independent Doxa news outlet.
During the trial, Balazeikin admitted to throwing the Molotov cocktails, but said he did not agree with the classification of his actions as a “terrorist act.”
“I believe that if people en masse expressed their dissatisfaction — not necessarily in the way I did — it will lead to the end of this war and the saving of lives,” the independent Sota outlet quoted him as saying in court.


Russians lay flowers at Navalny’s grave, hail him as symbol of hope

Russians lay flowers at Navalny’s grave, hail him as symbol of hope
Updated 3 sec ago
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Russians lay flowers at Navalny’s grave, hail him as symbol of hope

Russians lay flowers at Navalny’s grave, hail him as symbol of hope
MOSCOW: Russians queued on Saturday to place flowers on the grave of late opposition politician Alexei Navalny, with mourners hailing him as a symbol of hope and perseverance the day after he was laid to rest in Moscow.
Navalny’s mother Lyudmila was among the mourners, visiting her son’s grave for the second day, accompanied by the mother of Alexei’s widow Yulia. Both women, dressed in black, stood quietly at the grave, before leaving.
Navalny, who was President Vladimir Putin’s fiercest critic inside Russia, died at the age of 47 in an Arctic penal colony on Feb. 16. Supporters said he had been murdered. The Kremlin has denied any state involvement in his death.
Thousands of people attended a farewell ceremony for Navalny on Friday, with some chanting his name and saying they would not forgive the Russian authorities for his death.
By Saturday, the grave in a Moscow cemetery not far from where he once lived was covered with flowers left by thousands of mourners.
“He was the one who had opened my eyes to the existing political situation in Russia,” one mourner, who did not give her name, said of Navalny, who rose to prominence with blogs exposing what he said was vast corruption in the Russian elite.
“I followed all of his investigations closely. I showed them to my friends who were not very interested (in politics). I tried to show them to my parents, but that was more difficult. I love truth, I love honesty, and I’m very happy when truth wins.”
The Kremlin dismissed Navalny’s accusations of corruption and his accusations that Putin had vast personal wealth. Navalny’s movement is outlawed and most of his senior allies have fled Russia and now live in Europe.

POLICE LOOK ON
Another mourner visited the grave “to honor the memory of the man who has become a symbol of perseverance for me. And after what’s happened, there’s a feeling of a very deep sorrow.”
“But as horrible as it may sound, it is still pleasant to see how many people came here, and this makes me feel some kind of communion,” the mourner said.
“He was a symbol. He was a huge symbol. Despite everything, you can think of him whatever you want, but he has really become a symbol of something free and bright, of some kind of hope.”
Police looked on but did not interfere as mourners lay flowers at Navalny’s grave on Saturday.
A rights group, OVD-Info, reported that 91 people had been detained on Friday in 12 towns and cities, including Moscow. It did not immediately report any new detentions on Saturday.
Navalny had been jailed on a host of charges including fraud, contempt of court and extremism. He denied all those charges, saying they had been trumped up by the authorities to silence his criticism of Putin.

Drone crashes into building in Russia's St Petersburg, no casualties - national guard

Drone crashes into building in Russia's St Petersburg, no casualties - national guard
Updated 36 min 59 sec ago
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Drone crashes into building in Russia's St Petersburg, no casualties - national guard

Drone crashes into building in Russia's St Petersburg, no casualties - national guard
  • St Petersburg Governor Alexander Beglov said earlier that two buildings were damaged and residents had been evacuated
  • A video taken at the scene showed a damaged facade of a building with blown-out windows

ST PETERSBURG, Russia: A drone crashed into a five-storey residential building in St Petersburg on Saturday and 100 people were evacuated with no casualties, Russia's Rosgvardiya national guard said.
St Petersburg Governor Alexander Beglov said earlier that two buildings were damaged and residents had been evacuated after what he called an "incident" with no casualties.
Beglov did not explain the cause or nature of the incident, but local residents told Reuters that they had heard a strange sound followed by a blast and a fire on Saturday morning.
"I first heard a whistle, because I had just opened the window, then a pop, a blaze and a full apartment of smoke, the window flew out," local resident Elena told Reuters. She said this happened after 0700 local time (0400 GMT).
Reuters video taken at the scene showed a damaged facade of a building with blown-out windows, damaged balconies and shattered glass and debris on the ground.
Russian media outlets reported that the incident could have been caused by a downed Ukrainian drone, which was heading towards a nearby fuel depot.
Ukraine's defence ministry said it "did not possess information about the indicated situation".


Malaysian anti-Israel boycott rocks incomes of Western brands

Malaysian anti-Israel boycott rocks incomes of Western brands
Updated 02 March 2024
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Malaysian anti-Israel boycott rocks incomes of Western brands

Malaysian anti-Israel boycott rocks incomes of Western brands
  • After five months of boycott, Starbucks Malaysia says that it does not support Israel’s army
  • McDonald’s sues the Malaysian chapter of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement

Kuala Lumpur: Leading brands in Malaysia accused of Israeli links have been reeling from falling revenues amid a local boycott of their goods, with the movement behind it vowing to continue over Israel’s war on Gaza.

Israeli airstrikes have since October killed more than 30,000 in the densely populated Palestinian enclave — a large majority women and children. More than 70,000 have been injured, while thousands of others remain missing under the rubble.

Since the outbreak of the attacks, many Malaysian citizens have backed a growing refusal to buy products from Western companies that they say are aiding Israel or facilitating its invasion of Gaza.

The latest of the brands to publicly admit the pinch in the Muslim-majority Southeast Asian country was the US-origin coffee chain Starbucks, with its Malaysian parent company Berjaya Foods blaming a near 40 percent drop in revenue on the boycott.

In a mid-February filing on the Malaysian stock exchange, it reported a revenue of 182.55 million ringgit ($38.47 million) for its second quarter ending Dec. 31, down from 295.32 million ringgit ($62.23 million) for the same period the year before.

In an Instagram post a week later, Starbucks Malaysia said that the boycott had led to “acts of violence and vandalism” in some of its 400 stores with some of its staff assaulted. It did not, however, give any examples or evidence.

This week, the chain issued a statement saying it has no stores in Israel and it does not provide financial support to the Israeli government or army.

“Despite false statements spreading through social media, we have no political agenda. We do not use our profits to fund any government or military operations anywhere — and never have,” the company said.

But the denial of links with Israel did not seem to satisfy Malaysian anger on social media, with users demanding that the company show a more unequivocal stand.

The coffee chain was not listed as one of the official targets by the Malaysian chapter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which calls for economic and trade pressure in opposition to Israel.

But a few of BDS Malaysia’s Facebook posts have shared content related to the boycott of the company.

Starbucks’ developments in Malaysia followed a claimed loss of profits and job cuts by the McDonald’s franchise, with the fast-food chain seeking $1.26 million in damages from BDS Malaysia.

Some of the other popular brands BDS Malaysia has listed are Burger King, Puma, Airbnb, and McDonald’s.

While the movement’s representatives will meet McDonald’s in a Malaysian court on March 18, BDS chairman Mohd Nazari Ismail told Arab News they were not going to back down from the challenge by the business.

He said that the group was only going to end its campaign in line with the worldwide movement’s demands, which are to stop Israel’s colonization of Palestinian land, end discrimination against Palestinian citizens, and give Palestinian refugees the right to return to their homes.

“We don’t plan to stop our boycott campaign of McDonald’s because it has provided food to Israeli soldiers,” Nazari said.

“We will continue to call for the boycott of Israel and companies that are complicit with the atrocities and injustice committed by Israel.”

Malaysia has no formal relations with Israel, has long been supportive of the rights of Palestinians and their struggle for a sovereign statehood, and bars Israelis from entering its territory.

In December, the Southeast Asian nation barred Israeli and Israel-bound ships from docking at its ports.


Japan Moon lander put to sleep after surviving lunar night

Japan Moon lander put to sleep after surviving lunar night
Updated 02 March 2024
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Japan Moon lander put to sleep after surviving lunar night

Japan Moon lander put to sleep after surviving lunar night
  • The unmanned lander touched down in January at a wonky angle that left its solar panels facing the wrong way
  • As the sun’s angle shifted, it came back to life and carried out observations of a crater with a high-spec camera

TOKYO: Japan’s Moon lander has been put back to sleep after it surprisingly survived the freezing, two-week lunar night, the country’s space agency said, with another operation attempt scheduled for later this month.

The unmanned Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) touched down in January at a wonky angle that left its solar panels facing the wrong way.

As the sun’s angle shifted, it came back to life for two days and carried out scientific observations of a crater with a high-spec camera.

This week, the SLIM probe, which was “not designed for the harsh lunar nights,” when the temperature plunges to minus 133 degrees, produced another surprise by waking up after two weeks.

“SLIM has gone to sleep again as the sun set after 3 am (Japan Time) on March 1,” the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said on X, formerly Twitter, on Friday, alongside an image of the rocky lunar surface captured by the probe.

“Although the likelihood of failure will increase due to the severe temperature cycles, we will attempt SLIM operation again when the sunlight comes back in late March,” JAXA said.

The announcement comes after the uncrewed American lander Odysseus became the first private spaceship on the Moon.

The lander sent its final image on Thursday before its power banks depleted.

SLIM, dubbed the “Moon Sniper” for its precision landing technology, touched down within its target landing zone on January 20.

The feat was a win for Japan’s space program after a string of recent failures, making the nation only the fifth to achieve a “soft landing” on the Moon, after the United States, the Soviet Union, China and India.

The aim of the mission is to examine a part of the Moon’s mantle — the usually deep inner layer beneath its crust — that is believed to be accessible.

NASA is planning to return astronauts to the Moon later this decade.

The US, along with international partners, wants to eventually develop long-term habitats in the region, harvesting polar ice for drinking water — and for rocket fuel for eventual onward voyages to Mars.


Grieving families await bodies after restaurant blaze

Grieving families await bodies after restaurant blaze
Updated 02 March 2024
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Grieving families await bodies after restaurant blaze

Grieving families await bodies after restaurant blaze
  • Among the dead was young university student MinHajj Khan, whose failure to escape the fire was witnessed by a friend with him at the restaurant and confirmed to AFP by his older cousin at the hospital

DHAKA: Anguished families kept vigil outside the morgue of Bangladesh’s largest hospital on Friday, waiting for the bodies of loved ones to be identified after a fire they say should never have happened.
At least 46 people were killed in Thursday night’s blaze in an upscale neighborhood of Dhaka, which broke out in a popular biryani restaurant and quickly engulfed a seven-floor commercial building.
Most of those who perished suffocated in the smoke, while the bodies of others were burned beyond recognition in the resulting inferno.
Among the dead was young university student MinHajj Khan, whose failure to escape the fire was witnessed by a friend with him at the restaurant and confirmed to AFP by his older cousin at the hospital.

BACKGROUND

Firefighters said the blaze was accidentally sparked from an improperly stored cooking gas cylinder and made much worse by the quick chain-reaction explosions of other canisters stored haphazardly around the building.

Khan’s mother had traveled to the hospital insisting his companion was mistaken, angrily sending away doctors requesting a DNA swab to check against bodies brought to the morgue.
“I won’t listen to anyone. I don’t believe any of you. I only want my son. Nothing else,” she said, declining to give her name.
“He promised to take me to Makkah for the pilgrimage. How can I go to Mak without him?“
It took fire crews two hours to control the blaze, with members of the public stepping in to carry hoses and help guide those escaping from the building to safety.
Before they arrived, many inside had rushed upstairs to the rooftop to escape the quickly spreading inferno.
Kazi Taslim Uddin said his 20-year-old son was among the dozens being treated in hospital for injuries after being forced to clamber down the side of the building.
“He tried to go to the ground floor but failed as people were rushing up the opposite way,” he told AFP.
“He grabbed some cables and tried to climb down, but they weren’t long enough,” he added.
“He jumped and got injured. The smoke also scorched his lungs.”
Firefighters said the blaze was accidentally sparked from an improperly stored cooking gas cylinder and made much worse by the quick chain-reaction explosions of other canisters stored haphazardly around the building.
Bereaved family members at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital were furious that nothing had been done to alert the public to the fire risk at the restaurant beforehand.
“It could have saved many lives,” said one man waiting to retrieve the body of a cousin who perished in the blaze who declined to identify himself.
“All these buildings are ticking time bombs. The regulators wake up only after the disaster occurs.”