Alexei Navalny, the prominent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin known for his staunch stance against corruption and his leadership in organizing significant anti-Kremlin demonstrations, has reportedly passed away at the age of 47 while in prison, according to Russia's prison agency.
The Federal Prison Service released a statement indicating that Navalny fell ill following a walk on Friday and subsequently lost consciousness. Despite efforts by medical personnel who arrived on the scene, Navalny could not be revived.
On X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, Navalny's spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh expressed uncertainty regarding his death, stating that Navalny's team had yet to receive official confirmation. She mentioned that his lawyer was en route to the location where Navalny was being held.
Navalny had been serving a lengthy 19-year sentence on charges of extremism. In December, he was transferred from his previous prison in the Vladimir region to a high-security "special regime" penal colony located above the Arctic Circle. The decision to move Navalny to the town of Kharp, situated in the Yamalo-Nenets region approximately 1,900 kilometers northeast of Moscow, was met with criticism from his supporters, who viewed it as another attempt to silence him.
Kharp, known for its harsh and prolonged winters, is located near Vorkuta, a region historically associated with the Soviet gulag prison-camp system.
Navalny's imprisonment began in January 2021 upon his return to Moscow from Germany, where he had been receiving treatment after surviving a nerve agent poisoning that he attributed to the Kremlin. Prior to his arrest, Navalny was actively involved in anti-corruption efforts, organizing protests against the Russian government, and participating in electoral campaigns.
Throughout his time in custody, Navalny consistently rejected the legitimacy of the charges against him, asserting that they were politically motivated. His passing marks the culmination of a tumultuous period defined by his unwavering defiance against the Russian establishment.
The Congress party disclosed that the Income Tax department has frozen its bank accounts, including those of the Youth Congress, just weeks before the anticipated announcement of general election dates. Ajay Maken, a spokesperson for the party, characterized this action as a "disturbing blow to the democratic process." According to reports, the freeze is linked to a tax demand of ?210 crore imposed by the Income Tax department. The Congress alleges that this move is politically motivated and strategically timed to impede the party's election preparations. The party perceives the freezing of bank accounts as an attempt to disrupt its financial resources crucial for election campaigns. This development has sparked widespread criticism and raised concerns about the fairness and integrity of the electoral process.
Congress party has condemned the actions of the Income Tax department, asserting that it undermines the democratic principles of transparency and fairness. The party vows to challenge the tax demand and the freezing of bank accounts through legal means. Additionally, Congress has called for an impartial investigation into the matter to ensure that political motives do not influence administrative decisions related to taxation and financial regulations.
Maharashtra Speaker Rahul Narwekar, citing a recent Election Commission ruling recognizing Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar as the leader of the 'real Nationalist Congress Party' (NCP), rejected petitions seeking the disqualification of 41 MLAs who rebelled against Sharad Pawar in June last year. These rebels, who aligned with Ajit Pawar and the BJP, triggering a split within the NCP, were spared disqualification as they were deemed to represent the "will of the party."
Narwekar asserted that the Ajit Pawar-led faction holds the true mandate of the NCP, backed by a legislative majority of 41 MLAs, which is undisputed. He emphasized that the rebel MLAs' alignment with Ajit Pawar, and their subsequent participation in forming a new state government, could not warrant disqualification as they aligned with the prevailing sentiment within the party.
Thus, Narwekar's decision reflects the acknowledgment of Ajit Pawar's leadership within the NCP and the recognition of the rebel MLAs' alignment with the faction holding the majority, thereby dismissing calls for their disqualification.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has been issued a sixth summons by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with the liquor excise policy case in the national capital. He has been asked to appear for questioning on Monday. Mr. Kejriwal has previously skipped five summons, prompting a court battle with the probe agency and raising the possibility of him becoming the first sitting chief minister to be arrested.
The latest summons from the ED, investigating money laundering charges, follows a court directive for Mr. Kejriwal to appear on Saturday and explain his earlier absences. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) asserts that Mr. Kejriwal is being targeted by the BJP ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha election and plans to challenge the legality of the summons in court.
Mr. Kejriwal has cited various reasons for his previous absences, including campaigning for the Madhya Pradesh election. While he has been questioned by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in April, he is not currently an accused. Despite his assertions that the allegations against him are baseless, two senior AAP members, including ex-Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, have been arrested in separate incidents.
In the aftermath of the 2024 Pakistani elections, a significant political development unfolded as the two major political entities, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) led by Nawaz Sharif, and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) led by Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, announced a coalition to collectively govern the nation. This move came in response to Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), despite securing the most seats as independent candidates, falling short of a majority, thereby prompting the PML-N and PPP to collaborate in forming the government. However, this coalition raised questions regarding leadership, the allocation of key roles, and the feasibility of their partnership.
A joint press conference held on Tuesday showcased prominent leaders including Shehbaz Sharif from PML-N, Asif Ali Zardari from PPP, and representatives from smaller parties. Shehbaz Sharif, the PML-N president, emerged as the potential candidate for prime minister and expressed a willingness to include Imran Khan's PTI in the government for the betterment of the country.
The PPP's decision to withdraw its chairman, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, from the prime ministerial race signaled a strategic move to support the PML-N. Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari acknowledged his party's insufficient mandate to lead the government and clarified that the PPP rejected a coalition with the PTI, opting instead to accept the PML-N's invitation, citing the PTI's refusal to collaborate.
Marriyum Aurangzeb, a leader of PML-N, announced that Nawaz Sharif, 74, nominated his younger brother Shehbaz Sharif, 72, as the next Pakistan PM pick. In a statement, she mentioned, "Nawaz Sharif has thanked the political parties which provided support to the PML-N (in forming the upcoming government) and expressed hope that through such decisions Pakistan will come out of crises."
However, Imran Khan, currently in jail on corruption charges, ruled out cooperation, setting the stage for potential political tensions. The distribution of key positions within the coalition remained unclear, leaving room for negotiations and speculation.
In terms of numbers, the coalition faced the challenge of forming a government with a minimum required number of 169 seats and potentially reaching a two-thirds majority of 224 seats in the 336-member Pakistan National Assembly. The Election Commission of Pakistan confirmed that the coalition led by Shehbaz Sharif, comprising PML-N, PPP, MQM-P, PML-Q, IPP, and BAP, secured a total of 152 general seats in the recent elections. With the addition of 60 women and 10 minority seats, the coalition surpassed the minimum requirement of 169 seats needed to form a government. However, the crucial hurdle remained reaching the 224-seat mark for a two-thirds majority in the 336-member Assembly. The fate of reserved seats depended on the decisions of 101 independents, including 92 PTI-backed independents who emerged victorious.
Internally, the PML-N's announcement of Shehbaz Sharif as the prime ministerial candidate initially suggested a preference for Nawaz Sharif to return to office. Later, it was clarified that Nawaz Sharif endorsed Shehbaz as the leader. Additionally, Maryam Nawaz, Nawaz Sharif's daughter, was designated as the coalition's candidate for the position of Punjab province chief minister. Asif Ali Zardari, co-chairman of PPP, advocated for inclusivity by suggesting talks with Imran Khan's PTI.
Challenges and unanswered questions emerged as the joint press conference left several key issues unresolved, creating uncertainty about the coalition's stability and ability to form a functional government. The absence of details on the distribution of key roles and the process of government formation underscored the need for further negotiations among the coalition partners. Allegations of vote-rigging during the elections, with the nation's mobile network being switched off on election day, added an element of controversy. Imran Khan announced plans to challenge the election results in the Supreme Court.
In conclusion, the success of this coalition in forming the next government hinges on effective negotiations, internal cohesion, and addressing the challenges posed by allegations of election irregularities.
Finland has elected a new president, with former Prime Minister Alexander Stubb narrowly winning the runoff vote against independent candidate Pekka Haavisto. Stubb, of the centre-right National Coalition Party, secured 51.6 per cent of the votes, while Haavisto received 48.4 per cent. Stubb will succeed President Sauli Niinistö, whose term expires next month and who was ineligible for reelection.
Traditionally, Finnish politics are consensus-driven, and Stubb's visit to Haavisto's election party event after the result was clear exemplifies this approach. The presidency in Finland holds significant political power, particularly in formulating foreign and security policies alongside the government, as well as commanding the military. Stubb's presidency comes at a critical time, with Finland's NATO membership following Russia's attack on Ukraine in 2023, raising concerns about European security.
Stubb, aged 55, brings a wealth of political experience, having served as prime minister, finance minister, foreign minister, and minister for European affairs and foreign trade. He holds a doctorate in international politics and has worked as a professor. During his campaign, Stubb emphasized maintaining a firm stance towards Russia, strengthening security ties with the United States, and supporting Ukraine both militarily and civically.
His victory has garnered international attention, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy extending sincere congratulations and highlighting the shared commitment to European security. Finland's proximity to Russia, with a 1,340-kilometre border, underscores the significance of its foreign and security policies.
Concerns over the United States' commitment to NATO, particularly heightened by former President Donald Trump's remarks, add complexity to Stubb's presidency. Finnish media outlets have highlighted the unprecedented security challenges facing Europe since World War II, necessitating strong and decisive leadership.
Stubb's presidency begins amidst these uncertain times, with a focus on navigating Finland's role in European security, maintaining diplomatic relationships, and addressing domestic concerns while upholding the nation's moral leadership. With a voter turnout of 70.7 per cent in the runoff, the Finnish electorate has demonstrated its engagement in shaping the country's future.
Former Maharashtra Chief Minister and ex-MP Ashok Chavan's resignation from the Congress ahead of crucial elections marks a significant setback for the party. Amid speculation of talks with the BJP and a potential Rajya Sabha ticket, Chavan emphasized he's yet to decide on joining another party but expressed frustration over seat-sharing delays within the Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance.
His resignation, symbolized by a meeting with Speaker Rahul Narvekar, mirrors a recent trend in Maharashtra politics, following Milind Deora's departure to Shiv Sena last month.
In a significant development, the Government of India announced the release of eight Indian Navy veterans who were detained in Qatar over alleged spying charges. The veterans, employed by Dahra Global company, endured an arduous 18-month incarceration in the Middle-Eastern nation. However, in a sudden turn of events, seven out of the eight individuals have already returned to India.
Expressing gratitude, the Indian foreign ministry welcomed their release and commended the decision made by the Amir of the State of Qatar, which facilitated the return of these nationals. The veterans, unaware of their imminent release, were swiftly escorted by embassy officials upon their liberation. Sources revealed that they were promptly taken to board an IndiGo flight, which arrived back in India after 2 am.
This development marks the culmination of a challenging ordeal for the Indian Navy veterans and underscores the importance of diplomatic efforts in resolving such delicate situations. The swift action taken by both Indian and Qatari authorities highlights the significance of bilateral cooperation in ensuring the safety and well-being of citizens detained abroad.
In the lead-up to Indonesia's presidential election, the three candidates made their final campaign pushes before more than 200 million citizens cast their votes in the world's third-largest democracy. Former special forces general Prabowo Subianto, the frontrunner, and his running mate, Surakarta mayor Gibran Rakabuming Raka, held their last rally in a Jakarta stadium, emphasizing their commitment to the nation's future and building upon previous administrations' efforts. Despite controversy surrounding Raka's familial ties to the current president, their campaign targeted youth support, utilizing social media and animated depictions to soften Subianto's image amidst past allegations of human rights abuses.
Former Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan, alongside his running mate Muhaimin Iskandar, addressed a large crowd at another stadium in the capital, advocating for unity to combat injustice and inequality. Meanwhile, supporters of the governing party's candidate, Ganjar Pranowo, gathered in Central Java province, where Pranowo emphasized responsiveness to citizens' concerns, particularly regarding the high price of rice.
With nearly 205 million eligible voters, predominantly young individuals, Indonesia's elections reflect the nation's diverse demographics and increasing internet accessibility, as evidenced by the candidates' heavy reliance on social media campaigning. The outcome of the presidential election will determine the successor to President Joko Widodo, who is serving his second and final term.
Subianto has seen a surge in support since mid-October 2023, according to the Indikator Politik Indonesia agency, potentially positioning him and Raka to win outright in the first round. However, the possibility of a runoff election remains, highlighting the uncertainty surrounding the final results. As Indonesia prepares for this pivotal moment in its democratic process, the candidates' efforts to connect with voters and address pressing issues underscore the significance of this election for the nation's future.
Arvind Kejriwal, the AAP National Convener, announced the party's intention to contest 13 Lok Sabha seats in Punjab and one in Chandigarh, seeking the public's blessings for their candidates' success. Speaking at an event for the doorstep delivery of ration under Punjab's National Food Security Act, Kejriwal reminisced about the overwhelming support AAP received in Punjab two years ago, winning 92 out of 117 seats.
Expressing gratitude, Kejriwal urged for similar support in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, emphasizing the importance of winning all 14 seats in Punjab and Chandigarh. He promised that AAP would reveal its candidates for these constituencies within the next 10-15 days.
Kejriwal lauded the Bhagwant Mann government's achievements over the past two years, highlighting their substantial work. He then criticized the Congress and Akali Dal, challenging the audience to recall a single significant accomplishment by either party during their respective decades-long rule, suggesting they had failed to leave a positive impact on the state.
Kejriwal's speech underscored AAP's determination to expand its presence in Punjab and Chandigarh while presenting a contrast between his party's agenda and the track records of its opponents.
Former US President Donald Trump mocked his Republican rival Nikki Haley over her husband's absence due to his deployment overseas, drawing a strong rebuke from the Indian-American politician. Haley's husband, Major Michael Haley, is serving with the South Carolina National Guard in the Horn of Africa, deployed since June.
The exchange of words began at a Trump rally in South Carolina, where Trump questioned Haley's husband's whereabouts, seemingly unaware of his deployment. Haley responded sharply, challenging Trump to confront her directly rather than speaking behind her back. She emphasized the sacrifice military families make and criticized Trump's lack of respect for veterans' service.
Haley called for mental competency tests for politicians over 75, a veiled dig at Trump, who claimed he would pass. She condemned mocking the service of a combat veteran, asserting that such behavior disqualifies someone from holding high office.
This public spat underscores tensions within the Republican Party, with Haley positioning herself as a formidable challenger to Trump's dominance within the party.