On January 25, Russian President Vladimir Putin responded positively to the “Putin Palace” rumors, saying that the so-called mansion exposed on the 19th by the Russian opposition activist Navalny did not belong to him or his relatives.
According to news from the Russian Business Consulting (RBC) website on the 25th, January 25th is the All-Russian University Students’ Day every year. Putin made a video connection with student representatives on January 25 this year, during which time he was asked whether the “Putin Palace” exposed by Navalny in the “investigation” was true. Putin denied the news and said: “Nothing shown there (in the video) is the property of me or my relatives. It has never belonged to us and will never become ours.”
Putin also jokingly stated that he is only interested in the wine industry mentioned in the video, “not as a business, but as an activity… This industry has been developing in Russia. When I finish my presidency, it may become Legal counsel in this related field.”
On January 19, Navalny, who had just returned to Russia from Germany and was arrested, posted an investigation video on the video website titled “Putin Palace, the biggest bribery in history.” According to the video content, in the past 15 years, Putin and his cronies built a luxuriously decorated “secret palace” in Gelendzhik, a resort city on the coast of the Black Sea in Russia, with a grape plantation and winery inside. As of the 25th, this video has received 90.37 million views.
Navalny also called on the Russian people to take to the streets to protest on January 23. Large-scale protest marches broke out in more than 80 cities across Russia on the 23rd, demanding that the government release Navalny. This is the first nationwide wave of organized protests in Russia since March 2017. Russian Presidential Press Secretary Peskov said on the 24th that more people voted for Putin than those who participated in the protest.
In August last year, Navalny left the Siberian city of Tomsk by plane and went into a coma on the way to Moscow, and was sent to Germany for treatment. Germany and other countries claimed that Navariny had been infected with the nerve agent “Novichok” and that the matter was related to the Russian government, which Russia has always denied. On January 17 this year, Navalny returned to Moscow from Germany, who was basically in good health. He was arrested at the airport passport control office and subsequently sentenced to 30 days in custody for multiple violations of the bail period.
The outside world is not sure what punishment Navalny will face. In 2014, Navalny was sentenced to three and a half years in prison, suspended for five years, for embezzling 30 million rubles from two companies. However, at the end of last year, the Russian Federal Bureau of Prisons proposed to cancel Navalny’s probation and actually execute it. The Russian court plans to hold a hearing on January 29, 2021 to make a ruling on whether to change the suspended sentence to the actual sentence.
A large-scale fire broke out in the training ground of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces, and the US military was training nearby at the time of the incident
According to Japanese TV Asahi, a large-scale fire broke out in the North Fuji training ground of the Ground Self-Defense Force in Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan on the evening of the 4th. The US military was holding shooting training nearby at the time of the incident.
The fire broke out at about 4:30 in the evening on the 4th. The incident occurred at the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force training ground across Fujiyoshida City and Yamanakako Village in Yamanashi County. At that time, thick smoke erupted, and then the fire spread widely in the shape of “one”, causing a large-scale fire.
The Japanese Self-Defense Forces continued to put out the fire, and the fire basically subsided late at night. At the time of the incident, nearby US troops were conducting howitzer shooting training. No one was injured in the fire, and the cause of the fire is still under investigation.
The UN Secretary-General’s special envoy is trying to contact Myanmar leaders
On February 1, Myanmar changed. Following the UN Secretary-General Guterres’s “strong condemnation” of the Myanmar military’s detention of Myanmar’s Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and other officials, the UN Secretary-General’s spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said at a regular press conference, The United Nations special envoy for Myanmar and Swiss diplomat Christine Burgener is trying to contact government officials in Naypyidaw, the capital of Myanmar, but communication has not been restored.
“Birgner is actively interacting with this issue,” Dujarik said at a press conference. “She has consulted with dialogue parties outside Myanmar and is trying to get in touch with the Myanmar government. However, currently, Communication in the capital is very difficult.”
Bilgna has served as the UN Special Envoy for Myanmar since 2018. In addition to her, the UN Myanmar team in Yangon was also unable to obtain information about the situation, and other UN agencies in New York also failed to obtain the opportunity to communicate with the Myanmar government in Naypyidaw.
Dujarik added that the personnel sent by the United Nations to Myanmar are paying close attention to the development of the situation to ensure that vulnerable groups in Myanmar will not suffer too much from the incident as the epidemic spreads. He said that the most important thing for Myanmar at present is that the international community can “speak with one voice.”
“What we know is that the will of the people of Myanmar has been overthrown in an undemocratic way,” Dujarik said. “This situation must be changed and the will of the people must be respected.”
Faced with the uncertain status of Myanmar, the United Kingdom, the rotating presidency of the United Nations Security Council, will hold a meeting to discuss the current situation in Myanmar on the morning of February 2nd Eastern Time. Barbara Woodward, the British ambassador to the United Nations, expressed the hope that the members of the Security Council can conduct “constructive discussions” on the form of Myanmar at the meeting.
According to news from Agence France-Presse on the 1st, the meeting will be conducted via video and will not be made public. The Special Envoy for Myanmar, Birgner, will brief the Security Council on the latest development of the incident.
On February 1, Burmese State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and Burmese President Win Myint were detained by the military. A Burmese woman accidentally recorded a military vehicle driving towards the parliament. At around 8 am on the same day, the Myanmar military declared a state of emergency in Myanmar. According to the United Nations News Network, many newly-elected parliamentarians are currently under house arrest, the streets of the city are heavily guarded, and wireless network devices such as mobile phones are almost completely interrupted.
In response to this matter, in an interview on February 1, the United Nations Special Envoy for Myanmar and Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Myanmar, Tom Andrews, called on the international community to take “decisive action”, including “strong and targeted sanctions and Arms embargo”. In addition, he stated that he should “unconditionally release all detained persons and resume communications” and end this “horrifying illegal act”.
The U.S. finally identified the ‘Myanmar coup’ and mentioned China
In the face of the sudden change in the political situation in Myanmar on the 1st, the US’s statement changed from “shock” to “call for release” to “threat of sanctions.” Although the wording has become stronger and stronger, the United States has never used the term “coup”.
On the afternoon of the 2nd, the wording of the Biden administration finally changed. U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said at his first press conference after taking office that the United States, after examining all the facts, determined that the military action of the Myanmar military on February 1 constituted a military coup. He specifically mentioned that this military coup is not in the interests of the United States and “nor is it in the interests of China.”
According to the US “Foreign Aid Act”, if a country has a “military coup” or any act that “deposes a democratically elected head of government” through a government order, the United States must limit its aid to that country.
However, a reporter mentioned at the press conference that when the Egyptian political turmoil occurred in 2013, the Obama administration took three weeks to decide whether to define the Egyptian incident as a coup. In this Myanmar incident, the Biden administration basically made a decision in less than a day. The reporter asked about this, why is this government able to make a decision so quickly that the Myanmar incident meets the criteria for a coup?
In this regard, Price said that this case is “very clear”, “We are based on the judgment that (Myanmar) deposed State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Min in the military coup on February 1.”
“The’State Council, Foreign Operations and Related Projects’ appropriation bill contain a recurring clause that restricts certain aid to the military. Let’s take a look at three criteria… the officially elected head of government (first), Was deposed by a military coup or decree (second), in which the army played a decisive role (third),” Price added. These are the three standards that the State Council has been paying attention to. What happened in Myanmar on February 1 A coup, so we acted quickly.
He said: “This military coup is obviously not in our (U.S.) interests, and certainly not in the interests of our like-minded partners (countries). I think you will also find that this is not in China’s interests.”
But when asked if the US side had any communication with China, Price did not answer directly. He said: “I don’t have a specific dialogue to talk about. Once again, our focus is on our allies who share our interests.”
In addition, Price also mentioned the specific amount of bilateral aid provided by the United States to Myanmar in the fiscal year 2020-$135 million. “I must say that only a small part of this aid is for the Myanmar government.”
CNN quoted a U.S. State Department official as saying that the U.S. direct foreign aid to the Myanmar government was “very little.” “The Myanmar government, including the Myanmar military, has been subject to some foreign aid restrictions, including due to its Legal restrictions on military assistance caused by human rights records”.
The official said that the U.S. government will start the review “immediately”, “The review includes projects that indirectly benefit the military or low-level officers.” “At the same time, we will continue to implement projects that directly benefit the people of Myanmar, including humanitarian assistance. And democratic support projects that benefit civil society.”