Global Review – 24th May

Russian diplomat resigns over Putin’s war

A Russian diplomat has resigned, declaring “never have I been so ashamed of my country”. Boris Bondarev, Counsellor at the United Nations in Geneva, described President Putin’s war against Ukraine as “the most serious crime against the people of Russia”. Bondarev, who also served in the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, added: “I regret to admit that over all these 20 years, the level of lies and unprofessionalism in the work of the Foreign Ministry has been increasing all the time.” He continued: “I simply cannot any longer share in this bloody, witless and absolutely needless ignominy”.

Putin ‘survived secret assassination attempt’

President Putin survived a secret assassination attempt at the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Kyiv has claimed. He was targeted in the Caucasus – a mountainous region occupied by Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and south-east Russia – according to the head of the Chief Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defence in Ukraine, Kyrylo Budanov. He told the ‘Ukrainska Pravda’ website: “There was an attempt to assassinate Putin. He was even attacked, it is said, by representatives of the Caucasus, not so long ago. This is non-public information. It was an absolutely unsuccessful attempt, but it really happened… it was about two months ago”. Pravda said the full interview will be published on its website soon.

‘Putin could be forced into a medical facility by next year

Reports of the assassination attempt emerged as a former M16 chief warned Putin could be removed from power and forced into a medical facility by next year. Sir Richard Dearlove believes Moscow will ship its leader to a sanitorium as speculation continues to mount over his deteriorating health. The former head of the UK’s Secret Intelligence Service predicts Putin’s right-hand henchman and former KGB agent, Nikolai Patrushev, is poised to seize control.

Zelensky would meet with Putin to end the war

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said that Vladimir Putin is the only Russian official he would meet with, and only to discuss ending the war. Addressing by video link an audience at the World Economic Forum in Davos Zelensky said: “The president of the Russian Federation decides it all. If we are talking about ending this war without him personally, that decision cannot be taken. I cannot accept any kind of meeting with anyone coming from the Russian Federation but the president.And only in the case when there is one issue on the (table): stopping the war. There are no other grounds for any other kind of meeting.”

War in Ukraine could cause recession in weaker economies’ – IMF

The head of the International Monetary Fund has said the war in Ukraine has darkened the outlook for the global economy and could result in recession for more vulnerable countries. Kristalina Georgieva predicted that 2022 would be a tough year and declined to rule out a global recession if conditions worsened markedly. Asked in a session on the world economy at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, whether the IMF was forecasting a global recession, Georgieva replied: “Not at this point. It doesn’t mean one is out of the question.” The IMF managing director said her organisation had recently downgraded the growth prospects for 143 of its member states, which represent 80% of global output. “Since then the horizon has darkened,” she said, pointing out that the impact of the war in Ukraine was being amplified by a tightening of financial conditions, a rising US dollar and a slowdown in China. “2022 is going to be a tough year,” she said.

Lithuania commits to helping Ukrainian grain exports

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda has committed to keeping the flow of exports of Ukrainian grain going. In a tweet, he said: “Lithuania is ready to provide its railway infrastructure and seaport to keep Ukrainian grain exports going.” Ukraine is known as the “breadbasket” of Europe, but with Russian troops blockading Ukrainian ports, there are fears this will lead to starvation.

Russia blames food crisis on the West

Meanwhile, the Kremlin has blamed the global food crisis on the west after it imposed sanctions on Russia. Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “Russia has always been a rather reliable grain exporter. We are not the source of the problem”. Peskov also said Russian soldiers would have to be alert to “terrorist attacks” after the Russian-appointed mayor of the occupied city of Enerhodar, in southern Ukraine, was injured in an explosion.

Most influential leaders – according to Time

Volodymyr Zelensky, Vladimir Putin, Joe Biden, Xi Jinping, Olaf Scholz and Ursula Von der Leyen are in the Time’s annual list of the 100 most influential world leaders.

Convicted Russian soldier will appeal

Vadim Shishimarin, the 21-year-old Russian soldier found guilty of war crimes and sentenced to life imprisonment in Kiev, will appeal against the sentence. Shishimarin was found guilty in the first trial in Kiev for war crimes and was sentenced to life in prison for killing an unarmed civilian just days after the Russian invasion began.

Microsoft will help document Russia crimes

Microsoft will help Ukraine document Russia’s war crimes, said Ukrainian Minister for Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov. The  announcement came after Fedorov met the IT firm president Brad Smith in Davos. According to reports from the ‘Kyiv Independent’, Microsoft will also help rebuild the Ukrainian digital industry.

Over 100 Monkeypox cases

Nearly 20 countries where monkeypox is not endemic have reported outbreaks of the viral disease, with more than 100 confirmed or suspected infections mostly in Europe, according to Reuters. The outbreaks are raising alarm because monkeypox, which spreads through close contact and was first found in monkeys, mostly occurs in west and central Africa, and only very occasionally spreads elsewhere. Monkeypox cases in Britain have almost tripled to 57 with Scotland confirming its first case on the same day. Meanwhile in the US there have been reports of monkeypox cases in Utah, New York, Massachusetts and Florida.

Fresh Johnson’s Partygate photos emerge

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing fresh claims of lying to MPs after photos emerged of him toasting a senior aide at a Downing Street leaving drinks event during a national Covid lockdown.The Metropolitan police later fined staffers for attending the event on November 13, 2020 – but did not sanction Johnson. Sources said that Johnson was the instigator of the event for Lee Cain, his director of communications, and was alleged to have poured the drinks for staff.

Hungary’s rule of law situation has deteriorated

The European Commission says Hungary’s performance related to the rule of law deteriorated last year, especially on LGBTIQ rights and with the phone tapping of opposition journalists and businessmen.The so-called Article 7 process was launched four years ago against Hungary’s populist government, led by Viktor Orbán, in order to force Hungary back to the core values of the EU, so far with very limited results. But Budapest is standing firm and does not intend to take any steps to please Brussels, according to the country’s justice minister, Judit Varga.

Executions surge 20% in 2021

The number of executions globally rose 20% in 2021, while the number of death sentences handed down increased by 40%, rights group Amnesty International revealed Tuesday in its annual report on the death penalty. It said at least 579 people were killed by states that retain capital punishment. On a positive note, it said that just 18  countries were known to have carried out executions last year – the lowest since it began keeping records.

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