A defiant dictator

Riga, Latvia - August 12 2020: Free Belarus protesters at a rally outside the embassy of Belarus in Riga.
Riga, Latvia - August 12 2020: Free Belarus protesters at a rally outside the embassy of Belarus in Riga.
Girts Ragelis via Shutterstock

BELARUS: Protests demanding the ouster of “Europe’s last dictator,” President Alexander Lukashenko, continue for a second week, with the embattled leader landing by helicopter at his residence and emerging before the crowd wearing body armor and carrying an assault rifle.

  • Opposition leaders want free and fair elections, something they’ve not had since Belarus emerged from the Soviet Union nearly 30 years ago—but this is not Ukraine 2.0, and the differences matter to avoid ratcheting up a clash between the West and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
  • Sounds like Putin may have pressed Lukashenko to include Belarusians in Phase 3 trials of Russia’s coronavirus vaccine in exchange for support.

RUSSIA: German doctors treating prominent Putin critic Alexei Navalny said he was poisoned in Russia by a substance found in nerve gas and pesticides. Navalny arrived at Berlin’s Charité hospital—and remains in a medically induced coma—after he was stricken Thursday during a flight from Moscow to Siberia. After a string of poison attacks against opposition figures, this time French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel intervened, pledging asylum and securing Navalny’s medical transfer and protection.

NORTH KOREA: Once again, rumors are circulating over leader Kim Jong Un’s ill health—this time, that he’s in a coma and has ceded some power to his younger sister.

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MALI: Junta leaders and an African mediation team led by former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan are negotiating over a transitional government, following last week’s coup that captured and forced the resignation of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta. The military officer who declared himself in charge of Mali after leading the coup received training and worked for years with U.S. special operations fighting extremism in West Africa.

NIGERIA: The Boko Haram splinter group Islamic State West Africa Province has taken hundreds hostage in the Lake Chad region—just as many resettled after two years in displaced camps due to jihadist threats. Instead, the threat has expanded across the region covering Nigeria, Niger, and Cameroon.

SPAIN is at the forefront of the resurging coronavirus in Europe. The new spike shows that lockdowns alone aren’t enough: “The key to containing the virus is how effectively a country builds up systems for testing, tracing, and isolating potential virus carriers.”

NORWAY: Magnus Carlsen won the grand finale of his signature chess tour, beating American chess champ Hikaru Nakamura to take home $1 million in the richest and most-watched chess tournament in history.

SUDAN: Cush is mentioned in the second chapter of Genesis, the land watered by the second river out of Eden—yet what happened to the 5,000-year-old kingdom of Kush is the quest of longstanding expeditions.

This story originally appeared in WORLD. © 2020, reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

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