👋 Ia Orana!*
Welcome to Friday, where Ukrainian drones keep hitting targets in Russia, the leader of the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riots is sentenced to 17 years, and New Delhi is not monkeying around ahead of the G20 summit. Meanwhile, for French economic daily Les Echos, Pierre de Gasquet looks at how a Kremlin takeover of the Wagner Group, post-Prigozhin, could help Russia strengthen its presence in Africa.
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🌎 7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW
• Ukraine drone strikes near Russian nuclear plant: A Ukrainian drone struck the western Russian town of Kurchatov, just a few kilometers from the Kursk nuclear power station. No damage was reported to the plant, one of the country's biggest nuclear power facilities. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says that his country has deployed a new long-range weapon, hinting that it was used in an attack that destroyed several military aircraft in a western Russian airport this week. Meanwhile, Russia began holding elections in its “new territories” in Ukraine yesterday, a move that Ukrainian officials denounce as illegal.
• Leader of U.S. Capitol riots gets 17 years: Joe Biggs, leader of the far-right organization the Proud Boys who marched on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 has been sentenced to 17 years in prison. The U.S. army veteran was convicted of seditious conspiracy, intimidation to prevent officials from discharging their duties and interference with law enforcement during civil disorder. Fellow Proud Boy member and former Marine Zachary Rehl was later sentenced to 15 years.
• Singapore holds first contested presidential poll in 12 years: Voting is underway in Singapore as the country selects its new president. The vote for the largely symbolic position will reveal attitudes toward the ruling party, which has been in power for more than six decades, and has been shaken by a series of political scandals.
• African coups updates: The military leaders of the coup in Niger have ordered the expulsion of the French ambassador to the country and his family, distancing themselves from their former colonizer amid rising anti-French sentiment. Meanwhile, in Gabon, coup leaders will swear in General Brice Oligui Nguema as transitional president on Monday, days after he lead the push to overthrow reelected president Ali Bongo
• Algerian coast guards shoot two tourists dead: Two French-Moroccan tourists have been shot dead by the Algerian Coast Guard after they reportedly strayed into Algerian waters on their jet skis. Another jet skier was arrested. The Algeria-Morocco border has been closed since 1994, as the two nations have a long history of tensions.
• Asia braces for Saola, U.S. tallies Idalia toll: Ahead of Typhoon Saola, flights, businesses, schools and financial markets have been closed in China’s Guangdong province and neighboring Hong Kong. Saola could make landfall as early as this evening, bringing with it heavy rain and winds of more than 200 kph (125 mph). Meanwhile the southeast U.S. deals with the fallout of Hurricane Idalia that killed three people, destroying houses and leaving thousands without electricity.
• Monkey-scaring tactics in New Delhi ahead of G20: Life size cutouts of the aggressive langur monkey have been set up around New Delhi to fend off the marauding rhesus monkeys, which regularly wreak havoc across the city. The city council has also hired 30 “monkey-men” to make langur sounds – to scare the hungry monkeys away from floral displays laid out for the G20 summit next week.
🗞️ FRONT PAGE
Ecuadorian newspaper La Hora covers two car bomb attacks in the capital of Quito, and another two set off in the province of El Oro the last two days. The police have arrested 10 suspects amid the surge in violence ahead of a highly contested presidential runoff next month.
#️⃣ BY THE NUMBERS
Pope Francis is expected today in Mongolia, a predominantly Buddhist country that counts only an estimated 1,450 Catholics. The Vatican hopes the papal visit can help improve complicated relations with neighboring China. For more, we offer this recent piece from Argentine daily Clarín, translated from Spanish by Worldcrunch: Synod Forecast: How Far The Pope Will Go Toward A More Inclusive Catholic Church.
📰 STORY OF THE DAY
Wagner is dead, long live Wagner! How Putin plans to push deeper in Africa, post-Prigozhin
Wagner PMC has built up a powerful network on the African continent. It's one of the mercenary group's greatest assets — and now, as Pierre de Gasquet writes for French economic daily Les Echos, a Kremlin takeover of Wagner could even strengthen its influence in Africa, including through the recent coups d'état in Niger and Gabon.
💪 After the recent death of its boss Yevegeny Prigozhin, the future of the Wagner group remains unclear. Renamed, or reshaped and brought back into line, it's a safe bet that, in one form or another, it will survive the elimination of its founders. Andreï Trochev, a Putin loyalist who alerted the regime of the planned mutiny at the end of June, has already been put forward to head Wagner as Prigozhin's successor. General Andreï Averyanov is also being considered.
🌍 Worse still, the paramilitary group may even emerge with its influence in Africa strengthened. The challenge facing the Kremlin now is to "punish Wagner [for its mutiny and Prigozhin’s actions, which has been done] without demoralizing the soldiers in the trenches, or wiping out a decade of influence in Africa," as French journalist Pierre Haski sums up.
🕸 One of the Wagner group's strengths today is its powerful network of influence and propaganda on the African continent, which the Kremlin is not about to give up. Russia has become Africa's leading arms supplier by multiplying bilateral agreements, like in Cameroon in April 2022. Tested in Syria, Libya, Central African Republic, Mozambique and Mali, the "modus operandi" worked: the Kremlin dangled a promise of protection and liberation from Western influence in exchange for access to natural wealth. Apart from Mali, Wagner is very active in Burkina Faso, Chad and Sudan. Always the same tactic: take advantage of local instability to extend its hold on political and economic circles.
➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com
📹 THIS HAPPENED VIDEO — TODAY IN HISTORY, IN ONE ICONIC PHOTO
➡️ Watch the video: THIS HAPPENED
“It's a wake-up call.”
— South African leader Cyril Ramaphosa told a press conference that the deadly fire in Johannesburg's inner city, which killed 74 people including 12 children, was "a wake-up call" for the city to address its housing issue. South Africa faces a chronic housing shortage, with an estimated 15,000 homeless people in Johannesburg.
👉 MORE FROM WORLDCRUNCH
• Video Feeds Speculation About Prigozhin's Death — IMPORTANT STORIES
✍️ Newsletter by Yannick Champion-Osselin, Marine Béguin, Valeria Berghinz.
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