Global Review – 4th April

Pope Francis confirms willingness to go to Ukraine

Pope Francis has confirmed his wilingness to visit Ukraine, even if he throws doubt whether it could be done. Speaking during his media conference on the flight back from Malta to Rome, His Holiness is quoted as saying, “I’m available. But I don’t know if it can be done, if it is convenient to do it, if it is for the best that I must do it. All of this is in the air.”

Earlier on Sunday, Pope Francis returned to pray for Ukraine: “We pray for peace,” he said before the Angelus at the end of the celebration of the Mass, “thinking of the humanitarian tragedy of the tormented women in Ukraine, still under the bombardments of this sacrilegious war”. Over 20,000 people flocked to Granaries in Floriana, to pray with the Holy Father.

The Pope reports that he is working on a meeting with the Russian patriarch Kirill. “There are plans to do it in the Middle East.” Even the Patriarchate of Moscow spoke of this hypothesis a few days ago, a meeting that could be held in Lebanon and which could be so important in the need to weave the threads of dialogue in this complicated moment in history. The Pope said he had not heard from Russian President Vladimir Putin in this month of war in Ukraine. “The first day I felt I had to go to the Russian embassy.” To those who ask him what message he would send to the Russian President, Pope Francis replied: “The messages I have given are to all the authorities, I do not speak twice. It is always the same: every war that arises is an injustice, always!”.

And once again, he condemned the proliferation of armaments all over the world. And thinking of the humanitarian tragedy that is unfolding in Eastern Europe, the Pope hopes that Europe “as it is doing with so much generosity to the Ukrainians by opening the door to them,” does the same also with “those who come from Mediterranean”.

Pope Francis also addressed his state of health: “My health is a bit capricious, I have this knee problem which gives me trouble walking. It is a bit annoying, but it is improving, at least I can walk. Up to a week ago I couldn’t.” He hopes his health improves further but “at this age we don’t know how the game will end. Let’s hope it goes well”.

Before leaving the island, Pope Francis met and embraced migrants and refugees at the Ħal Far Peace Lab after listening to their experiences of survival. In his address, he warned that the human rights of migrants were being violated, at times “with the complicity of the authorities”.

Zelensky accused Russian forces of ‘genocide’

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine has accused retreating Russian soldiers of committing genocide – a day after the discovery of more than 400 bodies in mass graves and apparently executed civilians near Kyiv. He said Russia was attempting to eliminate the “whole nation” of Ukraine. He described the war as “the torture of an entire nation”. The killings of civilians in Bucha and other cities have come in for severe condemnation by the EU, the US, Germany, France, Italy and NATO. Russia has questioned the veracity of the images and is requesting an urgent meeting of  the UN Security Council.

Hungary’s Orban declares victory

Prime Minister Viktor Orban declared victory in Hungary’s parliamentary election after partial results showed his ruling Fidesz party was comfortably ahead of their opposition rivals. With 75% of votes tallied, Orban’s Fidesz-led coalition had won 54.5% of the votes versus 34% for the six-party opposition alliance, United For Hungary. The preliminary results showed Fidesz taking 135 seats in Hungary’s 199-seat parliament, while the opposition was set to take 57 seats. The opposition alliance later conceded defeat.

“Widespread irregularities” in Serbia’s national elections

Opposition claims of widespread irregularities marked Serbia’s national election in which President Aleksandar Vucic and his ruling populists hoped to extend their 10-year grip on power. Some 6.5 million voters were eligible to choose the country’s president and a new parliament. Turnout was reported about 55 per cent. Vucic’s Progressive Party-led bloc won about 43 per cent of the vote, while a coalition of centre-left opposition parties running as ‘United for Serbia’s Victory’ took 13%, an early count showed. Vucic secured about 59% of the vote in the presidential contest, more than enough to secure a second term in office without a run-off ballot.

Grammy: Olivia Rodrigo wins Best New Artist, Best Pop Solo

The long-postponed 2022 Grammy Awards aired Sunday, and singer songwriter Jon Batiste, duo Silk Sonic and newcomer Olivia Rodrigo took home the night’s top prizes. 19-year-old Olivia Rodrigo won the Grammy for best new artist and best pop solo performance. The first major Grammy of the evening went to the superduo R&B Silk Sonic with ‘Leave the Door Open’ who won song of the year. The Foo Fighters made a clean sweep of the rock categories, after the death of drummer Taylor Hawkins. The band won Best Rock Performance, Best Rock Song and Best Rock Album for ‘Medicine at Midnight’. Other awards: Best Pop Duo/Group Performance: “Kiss Me More,” Doja Cat feat. SZA; Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album: Love For Sale, Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made a pre-taped special appearance to call for support of his country amid Russia’s invasion.

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