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Russia Space Blast Endangers Astronauts, Belarus Border Clashes, Leo’s Beach

Russia Space Blast Endangers Astronauts, Belarus Border Clashes, Leo’s Beach

Violence has erupted on the Poland-Belarus border

Jane Herbelin, Anne-Sophie Goninet and Bertrand Hauger

👋 ሰላም!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where Russia is under fire for blowing up a satellite in space, clashes erupt at the Poland-Belarus border and Leo's Beach opens again. Courtesy of German daily Die Welt, we also look at the reasons behind the major discrepancies in COVID-19 vaccination rates across Europe.

[*Selam, Amharic - Ethiopia]


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• Biden-Xi meeting: U.S. President Joe Biden and China's Xi Jinping's more than three-hour "frank" talk concluded early this morning with the leaders of the superpowers agreeing they need to lower the temperature in what for both sides is their most significant relationship on the global stage. Still there were reports of tensions in the discussion over the question of Taiwan, in particular, as well as exchanges on trade policy, North Korea, Afghanistan and Iran.

• Russian anti-satellite missile test endangers space station crew: The U.S. strongly condemned a Russian anti-satellite missile test on Monday that endangered the International Space Station, forcing crew members to scramble into their spacecraft for safety, and that will pose a hazard to space activities for years. U.S. officials emphasized the long-term dangers and potential economic fallout from the Russian test, calling it "a reckless and dangerous act."

• Two blasts rock Uganda capital: Two explosions in downtown Kampala, Uganda's capital's city killed at least six people, sparking chaos and confusion as people fled what is believed to be coordinated attacks, the latest in a string of bombings over the past month in the African nation. One blast was near a police station and another on a street near the parliamentary building.

• Turkey arrests a man over Haiti president murder: Turkish authorities have arrested a man considered a suspect of "great interest" in the July assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise, announced Haiti's Foreign Minister Claude Joseph. The 53-year-old former businessman Moise, who took office in 2017, was shot dead at his private residence and his wife was wounded in the attack. More than 40 suspects have been arrested so far in the presidential slaying, including 18 former Colombian soldiers and several Haitian police officers.

• Myanmar charges Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar's military authorities are adding new electoral fraud charges to its targeting of ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and 16 members of her administration for abuse of power, state media reported on Tuesday. The 76-year-old Nobel Peace Prize laureate Suu Kyi has been detained since the military seized power on February 1 and has been charged with a litany of offences.

• Outcry in China after dog killed in COVID lockdown patrol: A resident of Shangrao, China, posted allegations on social media Weibo that her pet dog was beaten to death by health workers inside her apartment, while she was quarantining in a hotel that didn't allow pets. The events sparked widespread anger and raised questions about extreme measures taken by the Chinese government to pursue Zero-COVID strategy. Authorities said the health worker has been dismissed from role.

• "The Beach" is back: A statement issued by Thailand's Department of National Parks announced a reopening date for one of the country's most famous attractions, Maya Bay, which had been made famous by the 2000 Danny Boyle's movie The Beach starring Leonardo DiCaprio. The beautiful bay has been closed to visitors since June 2018, as part of a rejuvenation program aimed at reviving the area's decimated corals.


"Shell opts for London," titles Dutch daily Trouw reporting on the oil giant's announcement to relocate its tax residence to the UK and move its top executives from The Hague to the British capital city. The move is part of a major overhaul for the Anglo-Dutch company, which will also drop "Royal Dutch" from its name, amid deteriorating relations with the Netherlands.



A reported 503 people were hospitalized in southern Egypt after being stung by scorpions. The venomous creatures have been driven out of their hiding places by heavy rains in the province of Aswan, where flooding killed three people.


Europe's deadly cocktail of bad policy and vaccine hesitancy

If you compare vaccination rates in European countries, you immediately notice huge differences. And this is despite the fact that the EU has provided all members with sufficient coverage. There are clear reasons of culture, history and attitudes for the gap, writes Melanie Loos in German daily Die Welt.

💉 The EU vaccination champion is Portugal, with 81%; the lowest vaccination rate is in Bulgaria, where only 22% of people are fully immunized — and Bulgaria has Europe's highest COVID-19 mortality rate. On the one hand, according to the ECDC, the large differences are due to the pandemic management of individual governments, including the different speeds of vaccine delivery and the type of vaccine supply. The EU had jointly taken the vaccine order for the member states. On the other hand, beliefs and lifestyles have a major influence on whether someone gets vaccinated or not.

🤨 Although doubts about vaccines are a worldwide phenomenon, experts consider people in Central and Eastern Europe to be particularly skeptical. Decades of Communist rule have weakened these citizens' trust in state institutions and left behind ailing, underfunded health systems, the WHO reports. Recent Eurobarometer surveys show that at least one in three people in eastern EU countries have no confidence in the public health system.

👍👎 It's also interesting to note that the better people rate their government's handling of the pandemic, the higher their willingness is to be vaccinated. Three-quarters of immunized Danes think their government handled the COVID-19 situation well. In Germany, only half of the vaccinated see it that way. Among unvaccinated Germans, only 14% are convinced of the German government's pandemic management.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com


Those who play with fire will get burned.

— During a virtual summit between the leaders of the world's superpowers, China's Xi Jinping reportedly issued a stern warning to his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden. Chinese state new agency Xinhua quotes Xi as saying that "some people in the U.S. intend to use Taiwan to control China. This trend is very dangerous and is like playing with fire."

✍️ Newsletter by Jane Herbelin, Anne-Sophie Goninet and Bertrand Hauger

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

That Man In Mariupol: Is Putin Using A Body Double To Avoid Public Appearances?

Putin really is meeting with Xi in Moscow — we know that. But there are credible experts saying that the person who showed up in Mariupol the day before was someone else — the latest report that the Russian president uses a doppelganger for meetings and appearances.

screen grab of Putin in a dark down jacket

During the visit to Mariupol, the Presidential office only released screen grabs of a video

Russian President Press Office/TASS via ZUMA
Anna Akage

Have no doubt, the Vladimir Putin we’re seeing alongside Xi Jinping this week is the real Vladimir Putin. But it’s a question that is being asked after a range of credible experts have accused the Russian president of sending a body double for a high-profile visit this past weekend in the occupied Ukrainian city of Mariupol.

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Reports and conspiracy theories have circulated in the past about the Russian leader using a stand-in because of health or security issues. But the reaction to the Kremlin leader's trip to Mariupol is the first time that multiple credible sources — including those who’ve spent time with him in the past — have cast doubt on the identity of the man who showed up in the southeastern Ukrainian city that Russia took over last spring after a months-long siege.

Russian opposition politician Gennady Gudkov is among those who confidently claim that a Putin look-alike, or rather one of his look-alikes, was in the Ukrainian city.

"Now that there is a war going on, I don't rule out the possibility that someone strongly resembling or disguised as Putin is playing his role," Gudkov said.

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