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Iraq

Pakistan's Drone-Free Month, Protests In C Major, Putin And Leopards

A masked protester plays the piano in front of Kiev's occupied City Hall
A masked protester plays the piano in front of Kiev's occupied City Hall
Worldcrunch

U.S. CURBS DRONE STRIKES IN PAKISTAN AMID PEACE TALKS
The United States has sharply reduced its drone strikes following a request from the Pakistani government, which is currently pursuing peace talks with the Taliban, The Washington Postquotes U.S. officials as saying. This does not, however, mark an end to such attacks to prevent imminent threats and those against known al-Qaeda targets. According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, January was the first month without a drone strike in Pakistan in more than two years.

BAGHDAD BOMBINGS
At least 19 people were killed as three bombs exploded in the Iraqi capital, including two in front of the Foreign Ministry, Al Arabiya reports. More than 1,000 people were killed in Iraq in January alone, as sectarian violence continues to spread.

PROTESTS IN C MAJOR
Protests continue in Kiev as EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton returns to Kiev to search for a political solution to the months-long stand-off between President Viktor Yanukovych and the opposition.

TALKS OVER EXTENSION OF PANAMA CANAL BREAK DOWN
Negotiatons between the Panama Canal Authority and Spanish-led building consortium GUPC for a $5.2 billion project to extend the canal have collapsed, the Financial Times reports. According to the consortium, this puts up to 10,000 jobs “at immediate risk.” The 48-mile Canal, which celebrates this year its 100th anniversary, is one of the most important shipping routes in the world connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

NORTH AND SOUTH KOREA AGREE ON FAMILY REUNIONS
The authorities of North and South Korea have agreed to revive reunions of families separated by the Korean War for the first time since October 2010, The Korea Times reports. The next reunions will take place between February 20 and 25 at the Mount Kumgang resort in North Korea.

NOT JUST MERKEL: NSA ALSO SPIED ON SCHROEDER
The U.S.’s National Security Agency began its eavesdropping on the German Chancellor more than 10 years ago, when Social Democrat Gerhard Schroeder was still in office, newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung reveals. According to the report, the NSA decided to monitor his mobile phone following his opposition to the war in Iraq.

THE LEOPARD WHISPERER
Check out the latest proof of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s undying love for all things furry.

MY GRAND-PÈRE’S WORLD

SCOTLAND LEGALIZES GAY MARRIAGE
The Scottish Parliament voted yesterday to follow in the footsteps of England and Wales and legalize same-sex marriage, The Scotsman reports. The legislation includes an “opt-in” system, meaning that religious bodies will not be forced to conduct them. The first gay marriages in the country are expected to take place later this year

GOAT GTA
Ever thought about what it’s like to be a goat? This video game simulates a day in the life...

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Wagner's MIA Convicts: Where Do Deserting Russian Mercenaries Go?

Tens of thousands of Russian prisoners who've been recruited by the Wagner Group mercenary outfit have escaped from the frontlines after volunteering in exchange for freedom. Some appear to be seeking political asylum in Europe thanks to a "cleared" criminal record.

Picture of a soldier wearing the Wagner Group Logo on their uniform.

Soldier wearing the paramilitary Wagner Group Logo on their uniform.

Source: Sky over Ukraine via Facebook
Anna Akage

Of the about 50,000 Russian convicts who signed up to fight in Ukraine with the Wagner Group, just 10,000 are reportedly still at the front. An unknown number have been killed in action — but among those would-be casualties are also a certain number of coffins that are actually empty.

To hide the number of soldiers who have deserted or defected to Ukraine, Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin is reportedly adding them to the lists of the dead and missing.

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Some Wagner fighters have surrendered through the Ukrainian government's "I Want To Live" hotline, says Olga Romanova, director and founder of the Russia Behind Bars foundation.

"Relatives of the convicts enlisted in the Wagner Group are not allowed to open the coffins," explains Romanova.

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