President Vladimir Putin will send a “doomsday” warning to the West when he leads celebrations on Monday marking the 77th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany, brandishing Russia’s vast firepower while its forces fight on in Ukraine.
Defiant in the face of deep Western isolation since he ordered the invasion of Russia’s neighbour, Putin will speak on Red Square before a parade of troops, tanks, rockets and intercontinental ballistic missiles.
A fly-past over St Basil’s Cathedral will include supersonic fighters, Tu-160 strategic bombers and, for the first time since 2010, the Il-80 “doomsday” command plane, which would carry Russia’s top brass in the event of a nuclear war, the Defence Ministry said.
In that scenario, the Il-80 is designed to become the roaming command centre for the Russian president. It is packed with technology but specific details are Russian state secrets.
The 69-year-old Kremlin leader has repeatedly likened the war in Ukraine to the challenge the Soviet Union faced when Adolf Hitler’s Nazis invaded in 1941.
“The attempt to appease the aggressor on the eve of the Great Patriotic War turned out to be a mistake that cost our people dearly,” Putin said on Feb. 24 when he announced what he called a special military operation in Ukraine.
“We will not make such a mistake a second time, we have no right.”
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Putin casts the war in Ukraine as a battle to protect Russian speakers there from persecution by Nazis and to guard against what he terms the U.S. threat to Russia posed by NATO enlargement. Ukraine and the West dismiss the fascism claim as nonsense and say Putin is waging an unprovoked war of aggression.
The Soviet Union lost 27 million people in World War Two, more than any other country, and Putin has railed in recent years at what Moscow sees as attempts in the West to revise the history of the war to belittle the Soviet victory.
Beside the 1812 defeat of French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, the defeat of Nazi Germany is the Russians’ most revered military triumph, though both catastrophic invasions from the west left Russia deeply sensitive about its borders.
SHADOW OF UKRAINE
The war in Ukraine will cast a long shadow over this Victory Day.
Russia’s invasion has killed thousands of people and displaced nearly 10 million. It has also left Russia in the grip of tough Western sanctions, and has raised fears of a wider confrontation between Russia and the United States – by far the world’s biggest nuclear powers.
Although 11,000 troops marching across Red Square along with what the Defence Ministry has said will be 131 pieces of military hardware will present a grand spectacle, the Ukraine conflict has exposed weaknesses in Russia’s armed forces despite Putin’s attempt in his two decades in power to halt the post-Soviet decline.
The Kremlin has been denied a quick victory and the Russian economy – squeezed hard by sanctions – is facing the worst contraction since the years following the fall of the Soviet Union.
Less than two decades ago, U.S. President George W. Bush joined Putin for the May 9 celebrations in Moscow. This year no Western leader was invited, the Kremlin said.
The United States and its allies have ramped up supplies of weapons to Ukraine and Putin has faced calls from some in the Russian military to unleash greater firepower on Ukraine, two sources close to the armed forces told Reuters. Moscow has told the West that its arms supplies are legitimate targets.
Ahead of May 9, speculation swirled across Moscow and Western capitals that Putin was preparing some sort of special announcement on Ukraine, perhaps an outright declaration of war or even a national mobilisation.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed those suggestions on Wednesday, describing them as “nonsense”.
The Kremlin did not respond to requests for comment on what Putin might say in his speech, to be delivered from the Red Square tribune in front of Vladimir Lenin’s Mausoleum.
Last year, Putin jabbed at Western exceptionalism and what he said was the rise of neo-Nazism and Russophobia – trends he has returned to again and again when addressing the issue of Ukraine.
23 years old Nigerian accused of raping Australian tourist in Indonesia
A 23-year-old Nigerian tourist risks 12 years in prison after an alleged sexual crime against a 31-year-old tourist in Kuta, Indonesia.
A report by Daily Mail revealed that the woman, who is an Australian, was raped after she met up with the Nigerian man on Friday, December 2.
The report also noted that the duo met on a dating app on December 1 and agreed to meet at a bar in Kuta the following day.
Although the Indonesian police are still searching for the Nigerian man, they alleged that he hurriedly took the woman to his hotel after drinking at the bar.
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The woman was sexually abused at the hotel and had cuts and bruises to her arms, hands and waist.
Witnesses said they saw the Australian staggering after drinking at the bar in Kuta.
FIJ gathered online that the Indonesian law provides a maximum of 12-year sentence for anyone convicted of physical sexual abuse.
Comoros ex-president Sambi jailed for life for ‘high treason’
A court in the Comoros on Monday handed down a life sentence for high treason to ex-president Ahmed Abdallah Sambi, who was convicted of selling passports to stateless people living in the Gulf.
Sambi, 64, an arch-rival of President Azali Assoumani, was sentenced by the State Security Court, a special judicial body whose rulings cannot be appealed.
“He betrayed the mission entrusted to him by the Comorians,” public prosecutor Ali Mohamed Djounaid told the court last week as he requested a life sentence.
Sambi, who led the small Indian Ocean archipelago between 2006 and 2011, pushed through a law in 2008 allowing the sale of passports for high fees.
The scheme aimed at the so-called bidoon — an Arab minority numbering in the tens of thousands who cannot obtain citizenship.
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The former president was accused of embezzling millions of dollars under the scheme.
The prosecution said the cost was more than $1.8 billion — more than the impoverished nation’s GDP.
“They gave thugs the right to sell Comorian nationality as if they were selling peanuts,” said Eric Emmanuel Sossa, a lawyer for civilian plaintiffs.
But Sambi’s French lawyer Jean-Gilles Halimi said “no evidence” of missing money or bank accounts had been put forward to suggest a crime.
Sambi refused to attend the trial after a brief appearance at the first hearing, as his lawyers said there were no guarantees he would be judged fairly.
He was originally prosecuted for corruption, but the charges were reclassified as high treason, a crime that “does not exist in Comorian law,” Halimi said.
Sambi had already spent four years behind bars before he faced trial, far exceeding the maximum eight months. He was originally placed under house arrest for disturbing public order.
UK university workers begin strike over ‘falling pay, brutal workloads’
Thousands of university and college staff in the United Kingdom, including lecturers, librarians and researchers, have declared a strike to demand pay increase and improved working conditions.
The University and College Union (UCU), the UK trade union for university staff, said the strike, referred to as the biggest in decades, is to improve quality in the education sector.
The UCU “represents over 120,000 academics, lecturers, trainers, instructors, researchers, managers, administrators, computer staff, librarians, technicians, professional staff and postgraduates in universities, colleges, prisons, adult education and training organisations across the UK”.
“This is the biggest week in our history. Every single university takes strike action on Thursday and Friday. We need every member, student and supporter on our picket lines on Thursday to show the employers that this time is different,” the union said in a statement.
Announcing the strike on Wednesday, Jo Grady, UCU’s general secretary, warned of a “bigger action” unless employers improved their offers.
“Staff are burnt out but they are fighting back and they will bring the whole sector to a standstill,” she said.
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“Vice-chancellors only have themselves to blame. Their woeful leadership has led to the biggest vote for strike action ever in our sector. Students are standing with staff because they know this can’t go on.”
The strike, which began on Thursday, will also hold on November 25 and November 30.
Commenting on the development on Thursday, Grady expressed satisfaction with the turnout of university staff.
“Today’s picket lines are huge. 70,000 university staff have turned out like never before, defying bullying tactics from management to show they will no longer accept falling pay, pension cuts, brutal workloads and gig-economy working conditions,” she was quoted as saying, according to UCL.
“If vice-chancellors doubted the determination of university staff to save our sector, then today has been a rude awakening for them.”
The strike has affected over 2.5 million students, some of who are standing in solidarity with their lecturers.
Lawyers, nurses, postal workers and many others have also protested to seek pay rises that match the soaring inflation in the country.
The latest protests come after the UK’s National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers announced on Tuesday that more than 40,000 rail workers will stage strikes in December and January, disrupting travel for scores of people during the festive season.
The union said members will have demonstrations for four days from December 13 and in the first week of January.
The UK has been battling difficult economic situations due to surging energy costs arising from the Russia-Ukraine war.
Earlier in August, the Bank of England warned that inflation would climb to just over 13 percent in 2022.
It also projected that the country would enter a recession from the fourth quarter of 2022 until late 2023.
In November, the country’s inflation rate jumped in the last 12 months to 11.1 percent in October — up by one percent from August’s inflation rate.
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