Navalny widow vows to take up the fight for Russia’s ‘freedom’

Leading Kremlin critic  Alexei Navalny's widow Yulia Navalnaya takes part in a meeting of European Union Foreign Ministers in Brussels, Belgium, on February 19, 2024. (AFP)
Leading Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny's widow Yulia Navalnaya takes part in a meeting of European Union Foreign Ministers in Brussels, Belgium, on February 19, 2024. (AFP)
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Updated 20 February 2024
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Navalny widow vows to take up the fight for Russia’s ‘freedom’

Navalny widow vows to take up the fight for Russia’s ‘freedom’
  • In Washington, US President Joe Biden said he was studying more sanctions against Moscow
  • Russia’s prison service said on Friday that Navalny had died “after a walk” in the IK-3 prison colony in the Arctic Yamal region

WARSAW: Yulia Navalnaya on Monday vowed to continue her husband Alexei Navalny’s fight after his death in a Russian prison last week, for which she blamed the Kremlin.
She spoke as the Kremlin said it had no details about his death, while his mother Lyudmila was denied access to his body for a third day.
Navalnaya’s address came shortly before she met EU foreign ministers in Brussels, where she had been invited after the death of her husband triggered Western outrage.
“I will continue the work of Alexei Navalny. I will continue to fight for the freedom of our country,” Navalnaya said. “And I call on you to stand by me.”
Navalnaya, an economist, stood by her husband as he galvanized mass protests in Russia, flying him out of the country when he was poisoned before defiantly returning to Moscow with him in 2021, knowing he would be jailed.
The announcement she will replace Navalny is a momentous and unpredictable turn for Russia’s exiled and beleaguered opposition, left leaderless after Navalny’s death.
Russia will hold a presidential election on March 15-17 in which Putin has no real challengers, with most the opposition exiled, behind bars or dead.
“Vladimir Putin killed my husband Alexei Navalny,” Navalnaya said on his Youtube channel, adding he died “after three years of torment and torture.”
“Putin took from me the most valuable thing that I had, the closest and most loved person. But Putin also took Navalny from you,” the 47-year-old said.

Russia’s prison service said on Friday that Navalny had died “after a walk” in the IK-3 prison colony in the Arctic Yamal region.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov refused to say how Putin — who has not commented on the death — reacted to his main opponent dying.
He also said the Kremlin had no results from an investigation into the death.
“At the moment, the results of the investigation have not been released, they are unknown,” Peskov said.
He decried Western statements blaming the Kremlin for Navalny’s end as “absolutely unacceptable.”
Navalny’s team however accused Russian authorities of trying to cover up “murder.”
“Investigators told Alexei’s mother and lawyers that they are not handing over the body and in the next 14 days they will conduct a chemical analysis, an investigation,” Navalny spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh said in a YouTube broadcast.
“I’ll say it again: Navalny’s body is being hidden to hide the traces of the murder. This 14-day ‘chemical analysis’ is an outright lie and mockery,” she said in a subsequent statement on social media site X, the former Twitter.
Navalny’s allies said his mother Lyudmila was on Monday again denied access to a morgue in the Russian Far North for a third day in a row.

Navalny had continued even from behind bars to call on Russians to fight the government, calling on them “not to be afraid.”
Across Russia, mourners have laid flowers in memory of Navalny at monuments to victims of Soviet-era repression and hundreds of people have been detained.
In Moscow, AFP reporters saw a steady stream of people bring flowers to two monuments on Monday.
At one known as the “Wall of Grief,” a woman stood and cried, with a heavy police presence nearby.
“One for all,” read a note left by mourners, quoting a slogan Navalny often used at protests.
Another monument close to the headquarters of Russia’s security service was visited by French ambassador to Moscow Pierre Levy.
Outside Russia, Russian emigres held vigils in European cities.
In Kazakhstan — another country where many Russians fled — Russian rock legend Yuri Shevchuk performed a song in honor of Navalny on Sunday.
“Alexei Navalny who spoke to us, Russians, about freedom and who reminded us all that we could be free in the best sense of the word,” Shevchuk told a crowd, according to Russian independent media.

In Washington, US President Joe Biden said he was studying more sanctions against Moscow.
“We already have sanctions, but we are considering additional sanctions, yes,” said Biden, who has already directly blamed Putin and his “thugs” for Navalny’s death.
Several European countries including Spain and Germany have summoned Russian diplomats, and the EU called for an independent “international investigation” into the Kremlin foe’s death.
Earlier, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell pledged to hold Putin to account for Navalny’s death after meeting his widow.
The EU has already imposed heavy sanctions on Moscow, including on Putin, over the invasion of Ukraine. Officials concede it will be difficult to take significant further action.
The EU in a statement called for an independent “international investigation” into the Kremlin foe’s death and threatened sanctions.
 

 


Italy PM Meloni visits Tunisia for migration talks

Italy PM Meloni visits Tunisia for migration talks
Updated 17 April 2024
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Italy PM Meloni visits Tunisia for migration talks

Italy PM Meloni visits Tunisia for migration talks
  • Tunisia is a major transit point for thousands of sub-Saharan migrants hoping to reach Europe every year

TUNIS: Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni met with officials in Tunis Wednesday to discuss what she called a “new approach” to irregular migration and economic cooperation with Tunisia.
The hard-right leader’s visit, the fourth in less than a year to the north African country, came as her government pledged to curb irregular migrant arrivals in Italy.
Meloni met with President Kais Saied, who said after the meeting Tunisia must not become “a country of transit or settlement” for migrants from other African countries, according to a statement from his office.
In a video address released after her discussions with Saied, Meloni also said “Tunisia cannot be a country of arrival for migrants” from the rest of Africa.
She vowed to “involve international organizations to work on repatriations” of migrants while insisting on more European investment in African nations.
Ahead of the visit, an Italian official had told AFP that “cooperation on migration remains a central aspect of the relationship between Italy and Tunisia.”
“It remains essential that Tunisian authorities continue their action to combat human trafficking and contain illegal departures,” the official added.
Meloni’s latest visit to Tunisia came as part of her so-called Mattei Plan, a program aiming to posit Italy as a key bridge between Africa and Europe.
She said the fight against irregular migration required development for African countries and investments.
“Italy will continue to try to advance this new approach which it is promoting at a European level,” she said.
But critics say the plan would funnel energy north while exchanging investment in the south for deals aimed at curbing migration.
Three agreements were signed Wednesday: a 50-million-euro ($53-million) aid for energy projects, credit for small- and medium-sized businesses, and a university cooperation agreement.
Meloni also said Italy would encourage regular migration by granting 12,000 residence permits to Tunisians trained in specific fields.
Tunisia is a major transit point for thousands of sub-Saharan migrants hoping to reach Europe every year, with Italy as a frontline for their arrivals.
Almost 70,000 migrants were intercepted trying to cross the Mediterranean from Tunisia to Italy last year, according to Tunisian authorities.
Meloni visited Tunisia three times over the summer of 2023, twice with the European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen.
The visits resulted in the European Union’s signing of an agreement in July to provide financial aid to debt-ridden Tunisia in return for its commitment to curb migrant departures.
The agreement provided 105 million euros to curb irregular migration — which the EU has started paying — added to 150 million euros in budgetary support.
European Parliament lawmakers criticized the agreement, citing a deterioration of human rights and freedoms in the north African country.
They also criticized Saied’s increasing authoritarian rule after his sweeping power grab in 2021.
Last month, the EU signed a similar deal with Egypt worth 7.4 billion euros on energy and migration.


Google employees arrested after protesting against $1bn contract with Israel

Google employees arrested after protesting against $1bn contract with Israel
Updated 17 April 2024
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Google employees arrested after protesting against $1bn contract with Israel

Google employees arrested after protesting against $1bn contract with Israel
  • 'Google workers do not want their labor to power Israel’s genocide of Palestinians in Gaza,' No Tech For Apartheid group said

LONDON: Several Google employees were arrested on Tuesday for taking part in a 10-hour sit-in at the company’s offices in New York and California.

The protest, organized by members of the No Tech For Apartheid movement, was meant as a challenge to the tech giant’s involvement with the Israeli government. It centered on a $1 billion cloud computing contract between Google, Amazon and the Israeli government and military, known as Project Nimbus.

The project involves creating a secure Google cloud setup in Israel to facilitate data analysis, AI training and other computing services, Time magazine reported.

According to leaked documents reported by American news organization Intercept in 2022, the project includes advanced features like AI-enabled facial detection and automated image categorization.

During the sit-in, a livestreamed video captured a security worker telling protesters at Google’s California office that they were on administrative leave and cautioned them about trespassing.

Social media videos showed police removing nine protesters from the premises. Similar actions were recorded at the company’s New York office.

A statement from the No Tech For Apartheid group said: “Google workers do not want their labor to power Israel’s genocide of Palestinians in Gaza. The time is now to rise up against Project Nimbus, in support of Palestinian liberation and join calls to end the Israeli occupation.”

Last month, a Google employee from the group interrupted a talk by the company’s Israel chief, accusing the company of “powering genocide.” He was later fired.

A Google spokesman told the Telegraph: “These protests were part of a longstanding campaign by a group of organizations and people who largely don’t work at Google. A small number of employee protesters entered and disrupted a couple of our locations.

“Physically impeding other employees’ work and preventing them from accessing our facilities is a clear violation of our policies and we will investigate and take action.

“These employees were put on administrative leave and their access to our systems was cut. After refusing multiple requests to leave the premises, law enforcement was engaged to remove them to ensure office safety.”


Man guilty of attacks near UK mosques given hospital order

Man guilty of attacks near UK mosques given hospital order
Updated 17 April 2024
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Man guilty of attacks near UK mosques given hospital order

Man guilty of attacks near UK mosques given hospital order
  • Abbkr has paranoid schizophrenia and believed he was controlled by people possessed by evil spirits

LONDON: A man convicted of attempted murder after deliberately setting fire to two elderly men shortly after they left mosques in the UK was on Wednesday handed an indefinite hospital order.
Mohammed Abbkr, from Edgbaston in Birmingham, central England, deliberately set fire to Hashi Odowa, 82, and Mohammed Rayaz, 70, in February and March last year.
Abbkr, originally from Sudan, was convicted of two counts of attempted murder last year at Birmingham Crown Court in central England.
Judge Melbourne Inman told Abbkr, who has paranoid schizophrenia and believed he was controlled by people possessed by evil spirits: “You threw petrol over your victims and then set them alight — the attacks were horrific.”
“The two victims in this case were, on any rational view, chosen at random,” the judge told Abbkr, who watched the proceedings by video-link from Ashworth high security hospital in northwest England.
“You, however, genuinely believed each of them was one of those trying to take control of you.
“I am wholly satisfied that you committed both of these offenses at a time when you were suffering a severe mental illness.”
Abbkr sprayed petrol on the two men outside or near mosques they had attended and then set them alight. The attacks took place in west London on February 27 and Birmingham on March 20.
Odowa, who was attacked in London, was treated for severe burns to his face and arms. The Birmingham attack left Rayaz hospitalized with severe injuries.


70 killed as Afghanistan hit by heavy rains

70 killed as Afghanistan hit by heavy rains
Updated 17 April 2024
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70 killed as Afghanistan hit by heavy rains

70 killed as Afghanistan hit by heavy rains
  • Rains between Saturday and Wednesday triggered flash floods in most Afghanistan provinces
  • Fifty-six people injured, over 2,600 houses have been damaged or destroyed, says Afghan official 

KABUL: Around 70 people have been killed by heavy rains lashing Afghanistan over the past five days, the government’s disaster management department said Wednesday.
Afghanistan was parched by an unusually dry winter which desiccated the earth, exacerbating flash-flooding caused by spring downpours in most provinces.
Disaster management spokesman Janan Sayeq said “approximately 70 people lost their lives” as a result of rains between Saturday and Wednesday.
Fifty-six others have been injured, he said, while more than 2,600 houses have been damaged or destroyed and 95,000 acres of farmland wiped away.
Giving a smaller death toll last week, Sayeq said most fatalities at that point had been caused by roof collapses resulting from the deluges. 
Neighbouring Pakistan has also been hammered by spring downpours, with 65 people killed in storm-related incidents as rain falls at nearly twice the historical average rate.
The United Nations last year warned that “Afghanistan is experiencing major swings in extreme weather conditions.”
After four decades of war the country ranks among the nations least prepared to face extreme weather events, which scientists say are becoming more frequent and severe due to climate change.
At least 25 people were killed in a landslide after massive snowfall in eastern Afghanistan in February, while around 60 were killed in a three-week spate of precipitation ending in March.


President Widodo urges Apple CEO to open manufacturing facility in Indonesia

President Widodo urges Apple CEO to open manufacturing facility in Indonesia
Updated 17 April 2024
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President Widodo urges Apple CEO to open manufacturing facility in Indonesia

President Widodo urges Apple CEO to open manufacturing facility in Indonesia
  • Country has ‘endless’ investment ability, Tim Cook says on visit to Jakarta
  • Tech giant announces opening of new Apple Developer Academy in Bali

JAKARTA: Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Wednesday met the head of tech giant Apple and urged him to open a manufacturing facility in the country.

CEO Tim Cook was in Jakarta following a trip to Hanoi, where the company announced plans to increase spending on suppliers in Vietnam, its most important manufacturing hub outside China.

Before the meeting between Widodo and Cook, Apple announced plans to boost its investment in Indonesia and said it would open a new Apple Developer Academy — facilities designed to nurture local talent in the tech sector — in Bali, its fourth in the country.

“The meeting with Tim Cook focused on exploring strategic plans, including the opportunity of Apple expanding to Indonesia and further integration into the global supply chain,” Widodo said in a statement.

“I invited Apple to establish an innovation hub with potential universities in Indonesia for human resources development. I also urged Apple to develop a manufacturing facility in the country.”

Apple currently does not have a manufacturing facility in Indonesia but opened its first developer academy there in 2018.

The new facility takes the company’s total investment in Indonesia to 1.6 trillion rupiah ($98.4 million), according to Industry Minister Agus Gumiwang Kartasasmita.

“After this, the Ministry of Industry will conduct a business-matching program. We already have a list of the components (that Apple needs) and mobile components that are already produced in Indonesia, so perhaps there can be a partnership,” he said.

Apple has based much of its key manufacturing of iPads, Airpods and Apple Watches in Vietnam, and more recently India, as it explores ways to diversify its supply chains away from China.

Home to more than 270 million people, Indonesia has a young, tech-savvy population with more than 100 million people aged under 30.

According to figures from Statista, as of January, Apple had an 11.5 percent share of Indonesia’s mobile phone market, behind Oppo (18 percent) and Samsung (17 percent).

“We talked about the president’s desire to see manufacturing in the country and it’s something that we will look at,” Cook told reporters after meeting Widodo.

“I thought we had a great conversation and I really appreciated the time with him. It was a dialogue about how much potential there is in the country and our commitment to the country.”

Cook later met president-elect, Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto, who will take over from Widodo in October.

“I think the investment ability in Indonesia is endless, I think that there’s a lot of great places to invest and we’re investing,” Cook said. “We believe in the country.”