Watchlist: Putin Reelected

Week of March 19th

Putin at a polling station in Moscow (Source: Reuters)


Jacob Zuma to be Charged with Corruption

Former South African President Jacob Zuma, who was forced to resign last month, will be sent to trail on sixteen counts of various crimes, including fraud, corruption, racketeering, and money laundering. Zuma and his representatives have categorically denied the accusations and have claimed that the prosecution acted with misconduct towards him and leaked information to the media. Charges against Zuma were first filed in 2005 but later dropped in a controversial decision by the National Prosecuting Authority. Chief Prosecutor Shaun Abrahams has now decided to charge the former president again, stating that there are “reasonable prospects of a successful prosecution.” Abrahams noted that the charges have a “long history.” Mmusi Maimane, leader of the opposition Democratic Alliance party, which has pushed for years to charge Zuma, said of the decision: “The witnesses are ready, the evidence is strong, and Jacob Zuma must finally have his day in court.” MAYA ZREIK


Australian Lawyers to Attempt to Prosecute Aung San Suu Kyi

Lawyers representing the Rohingya population in Australia have submitted an application to charge the governmental leader of Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi, with crimes against humanity for the massacre and forced deportation of over 650,000 members of the Muslim Rohingya population in Myanmar. The application must be approved by the attorney general before prosecution may begin. Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, was internationally condemned last year for failing to address the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya, after military forces under her control murdered, raped, and tortured members of the minority, forcing many of them to flee the nation. Suu Kyi has denied that the massacres ever took place. In regard to the impending charges, a spokesman for the Australian attorney general has stated that Suu Kyi, as an international state counselor, is immune to prosecution. MAYA ZREIK


Brazil Mourns Slain Councilwoman

Thousands have taken to the streets of Rio de Janeiro to mourn Marielle Franco, a 38 year old City Councilor who campaigned against police brutality. She was shot dead returning from a black women’s empowerment event Wednesday. A former resident of Favela de Mare, one of Rio’s most violent slums, Ms. Franco was known for heavily criticizing President Michel Temer’s decision to deploy military forces to Brazil’s favelas to decrease violent crimes. His policy was announced in February after it was revealed the country experienced 2,125 violent deaths in the past year. Yet favela residents strongly oppose the decision, citing excessive force, racial profiling, and harassment. Indeed, Brazil has also seen 154 police killings in the Rio State since January. It is now possible that the country’s struggling leftist parties, including Franco’s PSOL, will see increased support of their anti-brutality platform ahead of the October Presidential elections. Until this point, the left’s only viable contender was former President Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva, who is likely to be banned from running following corruption convictions in the Lava Jato scandal. Franco is the 40th local politician to be killed in Brazil since January, 2017. MEGHAN ROWLEY


Vladimir Putin Reelected

Unsurprisingly, Vladimir Putin took home the victory in today’s presidential election, eliciting both praise and criticism on Twitter tonight. The results were completely expected, especially given that Putin’s most influential contender, Alexei Navalny, could not run after widely disputed accusations of embezzlement. Commentating government officials regarded this as Putin’s greatest victory yet; with voter turnout reported at 60% and a 52% margin of victory, the election seems to signal a believable majority of Russians support their leader of 20 years. However, Twitter tells a different story, as reports of election fraud have circulated all evening. Golos, an independent election monitoring group made numerous claims of inconsistencies and illegal behaviors, including stuffing ballot boxes, forcing people to vote, and blocking security cameras with election day decorations. In the weeks to come, it seems reasonable to expect pushback from an enraged Navalny and disputes over Putin’s legitimacy yet again. ANNA HAYNES

Middle East

Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Will Meet President Trump on Tuesday

The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammad Bin Salman (MBS) is set to meet with US President Donald Trump this Tuesday. In his first interview with an American television network, CBS Sunday’s 60 Minutes programme, MBS talked about a range of topics from the new progressive reforms he has helped institute, including lifting the ban on women driving, as well as Saudi airstrikes in Yemen and the humanitarian crisis created. As he embarks on a two-and-a-half week long tour across the United States, the crown prince will be pitching his kingdom to business executives and politicians in a skeptical setting. While MBS has attempted to portray himself as a young reformer, distancing himself from the older and more conservative generation- which he has cemented through his work in lifting the ban on women driving, opening movie theaters, and curtailing the powers of the religious police- he is more known for his consolidation of power and role in the Saudi airstrikes in Yemen. Bin Salman’s past corruption crackdown entailed imprisoning dozens of members of the Saudi royal family and prominent businessmen in an attempt to crackdown on dissent and to cement his own future role as the King of Saudi Arabia. One should watch for the upcoming meeting and the future of the Saudi-American alliance. AYAH KUTMAH

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