Welcome to Wednesday, where Western leaders toughen sanctions against Russia, Twitter limits Russian officials visibility, and the ICC holds the first trial on Darfur war crimes. We also turn to Colombia, where some see the shadow of Russian meddling looming over next month’s presidential elections.
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• West toughens sanctions: Western leaders are set to announce more sanctions against Russia, targeting Russian financial and state-owned bodies, officials, oligarchs and two daughters of Vladimir Putin. Yesterday, the EU proposed a ban on Russian coal, ships and road operators.
• Twitter limits content from Russia: Content from more than 300 official Russian government Twitter accounts, including that of Russian President Vladimir Putin, will no longer be recommended to Twitter users in an attempt to limit the amplification of Russian misinformation. Russia has responded by restricting access to Twitter and blocking Facebook and Instagram within the country.
• Ivanka Trump testifies on Capitol riots: Ivanka Trump, the eldest daughter of former U.S. President Donald Trump, testified in front of the committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riots. Then senior adviser to her father, she is said to have tried to convince him to call off the protesters.
• Former Burkinabe president gets life sentence: Former President of Burkina Faso Blaise Compaoré is sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Thomas Sankara, a revered pan-Africanist leader who was assassinated on Oct. 15, 1987.
• First ICC trial on Darfur war crimes: The first International Criminal Court trial addressing Sudan's Darfur conflict gets underway today. Alleged Janjaweed militia leader Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman pleaded not guilty to dozens of charges relating to the conflict, which occurred nearly two decades ago.
• Sri Lanka president defies calls to resign: A top government official declared that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa will not resign “under any circumstances” amid protests and calls for him to step down as the worst economic crisis in memory roils the Asian island nation.
• Tiger Woods intends to compete in Masters: Tiger Woods announces plans to play at the 86th Masters Tournament, only 14 months after suffering serious injuries in a car crash that doctors thought would end his career.
China’s Shanghai Daily devotes its front page to the strict lockdown which authorities extended this week to cover all the financial center’s 26 million residents, as Shanghai struggles to contain the fast-spreading Omicron variant.
Australia has approved the $2.6 billion investment in upgrading its missiles to respond to growing threats from China in the Asia-Pacific region. Because of China’s assertiveness, the Australian government fears the rise of a conflict similar to the one currently happening in Europe.
Is Russia trying to meddle in Colombia's presidential campaign?
Colombian officials and conservative opponents of the socialist presidential candidate fear he may win in late May's polls with help from Russia and Venezuela. The Left and the Russian embassy have called the charges “fake news” and nonsense.
🗳️ Conservative leaders in Colombia have been raising the specter of Russian meddling in the presidential elections, scheduled for May 29. The allegation reveals fears in this polarized country that the leading leftist and former Marxist guerrilla, Gustavo Petro, could become Colombia's next president. Petro was mayor of Bogotá in 2012-14, until he was sacked for alleged irregularities. However, the results of preliminary polls held in mid-March showed him as the leading contender for next president.
⚠️ In January 2022, the weekly Semana also warned about potential Russian meddling in the general elections. They outlined the reasons: Firstly, Russia has a history of suspected meddling — in the 2016 U.S. elections, for example — and it has big interests and a presence next door, in socialist Venezuela. Colombia's former ambassador in Washington, Francisco Santos, told the same paper in early March that Colombia, as a key Western partner, cannot expect to be spared hostile shots from Russia, Iran or Venezuela.
💥 The accusations against Russia, and implicitly Petro, show that many Colombians fear a left-wing president. The country is emerging from a century of civil conflict between the Liberals and Conservatives and then the Left and the Right. Many see the hostilities as essentially unresolved, as evidenced in endemic rural violence, in spite of the peace pact signed with the communist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.
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Are you ready to close the UN? And the time of international law is gone? If your answer is no, then you need to act immediately.
— In a video call with the UN Security Council, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky renewed his plea for immediate action from the UN. Zelensky used the speech to ask for a special international war crimes tribunal to be put in place, and for Russia to be removed from the UN's Security Council.
✍️ Newsletter by Lorraine Olaya, Lisa Berdet, Anne-Sophie Goninet and Bertrand Hauger
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