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Victory Day In Russia And Ukraine, Sri Lanka PM Resigns, Bitcoin Sinks

Twin sisters are pictured making a visit with their parents to view the damages at a vehicle graveyard, near the Ukrainian town of Irpin.

Lisa Berdet, Lila Paulou and Anne-Sophie Goninet.

👋 ສະບາຍດີ!*

Welcome to Monday, where Putin blames the West for the war but makes no major announcement, Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister resigns amid weeks of unrest, and Bitcoin keeps sinking. Persian-language media Kayhan-London also looks at how, despite the Ukraine conflict, Iran isn’t budging on its nuclear ambitions.

[*Sabaidee - Lao, Laos]

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🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• For May 9, Putin and Zelensky each cite new battle over “Nazi” And “Evil”: The presidents of Russia and Ukraine each spoke about need to defeat new enemies as the two countries mark the annual May 9 Victory Day. Despite widespread speculation, Russia made no major announcement about the war in Ukraine to coincide with the event.

• School bombing shelter in eastern Ukraine, toll at 60: The toll from the Russian bombing of a school shelter in Luhansk, in eastern Ukraine, is now estimated at 60 people dead, with 27 reported survivors. Western countries have condemned the bombing, with Amnesty International declaring that Russian forces “must face justice for a series of war crimes.”

— Read all the latest at War in Ukraine, Day 75

• Sri Lankan PM steps down: Mahinda Rajapaksan, brother of Sri Lanka president, resigned as the country’s prime minister amid an economic and political crisis. Widespread protests prompted the government to impose a state of emergency on Friday, followed by an indefinite curfew on the capital city Colombo after violent clashes in front of the PM’s office.

• Philippines elections: An estimated 67.5 million Fillippinos are casting their ballots to choose a successor to controversial President Rodrigo Duterte. The most serious contenders are Ferdinand Marcos Jr., 64, the son of Philippines’ former dictator, and Leni Robredo, a 57-year-old human rights lawyer and Duterte’s vice-president since 2016. Voters will also elect thousands of other government officials, from senators to city councilors.

• Sinn Féin’s historic win in Northern Ireland elections: Following historic local elections, Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis is urging the country’s five main parties to form an executive coalition. For the first time, nationalist party Sinn Féin has come out as the largest party in the elections and is entitled to appoint a first minister, but it first needs the approval of the second largest party, the Democratic Unionist Party.

• Two held in hunt for Elad attack perpetrators: Israeli security forces have arrested two men suspected of carrying out the gun and ax attack that left three people dead and three other injured in Elad last Thursday. This is the latest case of violence in a context of rising tensions since late March. The attack has been condemned by both Israeli and Palestinian authorities.

Doctor Who’s next? Rwandan-Scottish actor Ncuti Gatwa, 29, best known for his role in Sex Education, was confirmed as Doctor Who’s next titular character. This will be the first time that the iconic time-traveler is portrayed by a black actor since the beginning of the popular British sci-fi show in 1963.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

Chinese daily Global Times devotes its front page to John Lee, former Chief Secretary who has been named Hong Kong’s new leader. Lee, known for being pro-Beijing and for his hardline positions, was the sole candidate and is set to replace Carrie Lam at the end of June.

#️⃣  BY THE NUMBERS

-51%

According to the Coinbase cryptocurrency exchange, Bitcoin value hit its lowest level since its November peak, having dropped by 51% since. The world’s leading cryptocurrency fell below $34,000, over the weekend, following the traditional stock markets' rise of interest rates to keep up with inflation and investors' uncertainties amid a rise in riskier investments.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

Why Ukraine war won't slow Iran's quest to become a nuclear power

A new round of comments from inside Iran's leadership ranks reaffirms its intention to produce a nuclear bomb, a decades-long cat and mouse game between the regime and an ever cautious West that hasn't seemed to change even as the Russia-Ukraine war brings in a new world order, writes Ahmad Ra'fat in Persian-language media Kayhan-London.

🇮🇷☢️ Ali Mottahari, a former deputy-speaker of the Iranian Parliament, recently revealed that "right from the start of our nuclear activity, our aim was to build a bomb and strengthen our deterrent force. But we couldn't keep this a secret." It appeared he was admitting to what regional and Western states have long suspected and Iran's regime denies — that it wants to make nuclear bombs. The Islamic Republic officially insists its nuclear program is to generate power and that the sanctions it faces for this and other activities are unfair and illegal.

🌍 His comments match the view of Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. He recently told a gathering of students and clerics that the Ukraine war will change the world and a new order was taking shape. Evidently, the world has changed since February, when Russia invaded Ukraine. But Khamenei's vision is of a multipolar world rising from the ruins of American and Western supremacy, with the Islamic Republic as one of its new power poles.

💬❌ Assuming it will not have one superpower or bipolarity as in the Cold War, then his regime has little reason to keep talking to the West and accept the restrictions of the international community. In the new order taking shape in Khamenei's imagination, the Islamic Republic will be the equal of the West and the United States. Next time they talk at the table, it will speak from a much stronger position. Politicians like Mottahari and Khamenei are in no doubt that Iran can only attain this enhanced status if armed with nuclear bombs.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

📣 VERBATIM

Very soon there will be two Victory Days in Ukraine.
— “We won then. We will win now,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video address, adding Ukraine would not allow Russia to “appropriate” Victory Day, as today Moscow marks the 77th anniversary of the Soviet Union defeating Nazi Germany in WWII.

✍️ Newsletter by Lisa Berdet, Lila Paulou and Anne-Sophie Goninet


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Coronavirus

In Shanghai, A Brewing Expat Exodus As COVID Crackdown Shows "Real" China

Not only strict rules of freedom of movement as part of Zero-COVID policy but also an increase in censorship has raised many questions for the expat population in the megacity of 26 million that had long enjoyed a kind of special status in China as a place of freedom and openness. A recent survey of foreigners in the Chinese megacity found that 48% of respondents said they would leave Shanghai within the next year.

People walk in Tianzifang, located in Huangpu District, a well-known tourist attraction in Shanghai.

Lili Bai

SHANGHAI — On the seventh day of the lockdown, Félix, a French expat who has worked in Shanghai for four years, texted his boss: I want to "run,' mais je sais pas quand (but I don’t know when). A minute later, he received a reply: moi aussi (me too).

Félix had recently learned the new Mandarin word 润 (run) from social network postings of his local friends. Because its pinyin “rùn” is the same as the English word “run,” Chinese youth had begun to use it to express their wish to escape reality, either to “be freed from mundane life”, or to “run toward your future.”

For foreigners like Félix, by associating the expression “run” with the feeling of the current lockdown in Shanghai, “everything makes sense.” Félix recalled how at the end of March, the government denied rumors of an impending lockdown: “My Chinese colleagues all said, Shanghai is China’s top city, there would be no lockdown no matter what.”

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