Welcome to Monday, where Ukraine claims its second significant frontline gain in three days, tens of thousands march down Manhattan to demand an end to fossil fuels, and an Australian man is slapped with a big fine for an unusual surfing stunt. Meanwhile, Boris Gorozovsky in Russian independent news outlet Vazhnyye Istorii looks at the passport limbo for exiled Belarusians.
[*Selam - Amharic, Ethiopia]
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• Chinese foreign minister in Russia ahead of possible Xi-Putin summit: China's top diplomat Wang Yi is visiting Russia for security talks, as Moscow seeks continued support for its war on Ukraine. Russian media said Wang's trip would also lay the ground for Vladimir Putin to visit Beijing. Meanwhile North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was headed home after making a final stop in Russia's eastern city of Vladivostok to wrap up a four-day visit that secured an arms deal between the two countries. More on the Kim-Putin meeting here.
• Kyiv recaptures eastern village of Klishchiivka: Ukraine said it has taken back the eastern village of Klishchiivka, in what would be Ukraine’s second significant gain in three days in its months-long counteroffensive against the Russian army. The village is located on higher ground about 9 kilometers (6 miles) south of Bakhmut and has been the scene of intense fighting for weeks.
• UN revises Libya death toll: The UN has amended its previous death toll from the floods in Libya, according to a revised report updated by the United Nations Office. The UN is now stating that at least 3,958 people have died across Libya due to flooding. The revised report also states that more than 9,000 people are still missing. Saturday’s initial report said at least 11,300 people are dead in Derna, Libya, due to devastating flooding.
• Iran-U.S. prisoner swap deal: Five Americans jailed in Iran are expected to fly home as part of a deal mediated by the Gulf state of Qatar. The four men and one woman, who also hold Iranian passports, will board a plane once it is confirmed that $6 billion in Iranian funds once held in South Korea have reached banks in Doha. This is part of a deal reached last month after a year of indirect talks. Five Iranians imprisoned in U.S. jails will also be released.
• Fire engulfs Khartoum’s iconic building: Buildings have caught fire in Sudan's capital after heavy fighting between the army and rival forces. Videos posted online showed the iconic Greater Nile Petroleum Oil Company Tower engulfed in flames. Air strikes and ground battles have continued in Khartoum and other towns and cities since fighting broke out in April.
• Women’s tennis returns to China after Peng Shuai boycott: The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) kicked off its first tournament in China on Monday in more than three years, ending its boycott over the uncertain fate of tennis star Peng Shuai. Peng was feared to be held incommunicado by the Chinese government in 2021 after she accused retired Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of coercing her into sex during a years-long on-off relationship. Following the accusation, Peng disappeared from public view for more than two weeks, and United Nations demanded answers as to her whereabouts along with a full investigation into her allegations against Zhang.
• Snake surfing gone wrong: A man who filmed himself taking his pet snake for a surf has been fined AUS$2,322 ($1,495) by Australian wildlife authorities. Higor Fiuza and his python Shiva became local celebrities earlier this month after a video of them catching waves went viral but wildlife protection officers did not find it amusing. They say the man endangered Shiva and breached his permit to keep the snake by taking her out in public.
Seoul-based daily The JoongAng dedicates its front page to the inauguration of a Vatican statue of the first Asian saint. The 3.8 meter-high marble statue of St. Andrew Kim Tae-gon was unveiled during a special Mass on Saturday marking the anniversary of his martyrdom. Born in 1821 in Korea to a family of Christian converts, Kim is considered Korea's first Catholic priest; in 1846, at age 25, he was tortured and beheaded near Seoul. Kim was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1984. For more on the Church’s current efforts to be more social and inclusive, see this Clarín article, translated from Spanish by Worldcrunch.
As the Diamond League Final ended on Sunday, Mondo Duplantis — Sweden’s world and Olympic pole vault champion — cleared 6.23 meters on his first attempt, adding one centimeter to his own world record, set in February. This is the seventh time he has broken the world record, after having cleared 6.21m at last year's World Championships.
How Russia and Belarus are cracking down on exiles — and a passport fix to fight back
Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko is making it impossible for citizens who've fled the country to renew their passports, which may make some effectively stateless. What are some possible solutions? asks Boris Gorozovsky in Russian independent news outlet Vazhnyye Istorii/Important Stories.
🛂 Under strict new measures introduced by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, foreign embassies may no longer issue documents to Belarusians. This will make it impossible for Belarusians outside of the country to renew passports unless they return — which could lead to criminal prosecution for some who fled after the 2020 protests. Russia, on the other hand, has adopted a different approach to encourage the return of its citizens abroad. After considering a 30% tax on emigrants' income, they settled on a 13% personal income tax rate.
🇧🇾 Unlike Russia, Belarus has a government-in-exile known as the United Transitional Cabinet (UPK). In early August, the office of Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, the exiled president-elect of Belarus, announced plans to issue a "New Belarus" passport. However, the chances of this project succeeding are slim. Passports are typically issued by states with controlled territory, and exceptions to this norm are rare.
🇳🇴 Considering that foreigner's passports offer only temporary relief and obtaining refugee status has become increasingly complex, revisiting a century-old solution appears to be the most practical approach. This solution, proposed by Norwegian explorer and public figure Fridtjof Nansen, involved the issuance of "Nansen passports." These passports were introduced by the League of Nations, the precursor to the United Nations, between 1922 and 1938. They emerged in response to the Soviet government's decision in 1921 to strip citizenship from around 800,000 expats.
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“It is laughable that he would even imply that it's a mainstream media conspiracy.”
— One of Russell Brand's accusers has slammed the English comedian’s response to allegations of rape and sexual abuse. In an interview with the BBC, Alice (not her real name) criticized Brand’s denial of the accusation, calling it “insulting” and saying: “It is laughable that he would even imply that it's a mainstream media conspiracy.” As part of an investigation published over the weekend by the Times, Sunday Times and Channel Four, four women have accused Brand of sexual assaults between 2006 and 2013. Both the BBC and Channel Four, where the actor worked at the time of the alleged abuse, have launched investigations. Meanwhile, Brand's book publisher said it is “pausing” their projects, while his literary agency Tavistock Wood announced it had “terminated all professional ties” with him.
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