Khant Thaw Htoo is a young engineer who works in Eni's Sakura Tower office in the heart of Yangon. As an HSE engineer, he monitors the safety and environmental impact of onshore and offshore operations. He also looks out for his parents' well-being, in keeping with Myanmar's traditions.
Learn more about Khant in the final episode of the Faces of Eni series, which focuses on Eni's employees around the world.
Over the weekend, some 40,000 people in Moscow and thousands more across Russia braved subzero temperatures to turn out in the streets in support of imprisoned Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. More than 3,000 protesters were arrested, and Navalny called on his followers to prepare for more action in the coming weeks.
But just who is Alexei Navalny, and how significant is the threat that he may pose to Vladimir Putin's stranglehold on power in Russia?
<p><strong>A longtime thorn in Putin's side.</strong> Navalny, 44, is a prominent and charismatic anti-corruption crusader with a penchant for social media. He made his mark on Russian politics ten years ago, when he led <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/11/world/europe/thousands-protest-in-moscow-russia-in-defiance-of-putin.html" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">tens of thousands</a> of people in protests that began over election fraud and corruption but morphed into a broader outcry against Putin. </p><p>Since then he has remained a key player in the opposition to the current regime, often publishing <a href="https://www.occrp.org/en/investigations/how-alexei-navalny-exposed-russian-corruption" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">exposés</a> detailing corruption among elites close to Putin or the president himself. In 2013, he came in <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/kremlin-critic-alexei-navalny-has-strong-showing-in-moscow-mayoral-race-despite-loss/2013/09/09/dc9504e4-1924-11e3-a628-7e6dde8f889d_story.html" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">second</a> in the race for mayor of Moscow, getting 27 percent of the vote. A year later he was convicted of graft in a trial viewed as politically motivated, and in 2017 he was briefly <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-39398305" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">detained</a> for protesting against the astonishing wealth of then-PM Dmitri Medvedev. </p><p>Last year Navalny was <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/what-were-watching-navalny-poisoning-confirmed-israel-hamas-truce-japan-pm-hopefuls" target="_self">poisoned</a> with a rare Soviet-era nerve agent in an assassination attempt that he and independent observers say was carried out by state security agents. After recovering in Germany, he <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/what-were-watching-navalnys-return-to-russia-italian-pm-in-the-hot-seat-covid-probe-begins" target="_self">returned</a> to Russia this week — knowing he'd be arrested upon arrival. </p><p><strong>Popular… for some.</strong> Navalny has struggled in all his attempts to run for elected office because his support is strongest among urban and younger Russians. Overall, only about 20 percent of the wider population agree with him, and 50 percent <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/alexei-navalny-most-russians-dont-care-about-his-work-poll-shows/a-51114579" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">oppose his actions</a>. What's more, half of Russians believe his poisoning was either a hoax or that it was carried out by the West. </p><p><strong>So, why does he worry Putin?</strong> For one thing, Navalny is laser-focused on an issue that affects all Russians — corruption — and has a knack for getting his message out. That can help him broaden his base beyond the the laptop-toting "creative" urban class, and potentially unify Russians from all walks of life across 11 time zones. </p><p>As for his other politics, Navalny often takes positions that many in the West would characterize as <a href="https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/why-navalny-may-not-be-a-friend-of-the-west" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">nationalistic</a>, yet are quite popular in Russia. He defended Russia's invasion of Georgia in 2008, the illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014, and in the past made disparaging comments about Central Asian migrants. </p><p><strong>Is this time different?</strong> The 2011 protests petered out largely because Navalny then lacked strong support outside of Moscow and St. Petersburg. However, in recent years anti-Putin rallies have increasingly taken place in a host of mid-sized cities, including in <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/what-were-watching-sudan-softens-laws-duda-wins-by-a-whisker-in-poland-protests-erupt-in-russias-far-east" target="_self">remote parts</a> of Siberia.</p><p>With Putin — now in his 21st year in power — showing <a href="https://www.statista.com/statistics/896181/putin-approval-rating-russia/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">approval ratings</a> near all-time lows (by his own standards) ahead of Duma elections this fall, Navalny has a window of opportunity to raise the stakes. After all, Putin has <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-putin-vote/russians-grant-putin-right-to-extend-his-rule-until-2036-in-landslide-vote-idUSKBN24254A" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">cleared the way</a> to stay in power until 2036 if he wants. </p><p><strong>But let's keep things in perspective.</strong> While Navalny's level of support is <a href="https://www.levada.ru/en/2020/11/02/alexey-navalny/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">rising</a>, it's not (yet) enough to pose an existential threat for Putin. Russia's president is not as popular as he once was, but still <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/putin-is-still-winning" target="_self">enjoys</a> an approval rating of more than 60 percent, controls a massive and loyal security apparatus, and has brought the entire business elite to heel. </p><p>Navalny's challenge is to put enough people on the streets to scare Putin's cronies and security men into thinking twice about continuing to support him — no easy feat in a country where <a href="https://www.politico.eu/article/vladimir-putin-rides-to-victory-on-russia-election-apathy-and-indifference/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">political apathy</a> is widespread, and fear of 1990s-style instability is real.</p>The next big test for Navalny will come at <a href="https://apnews.com/article/alexei-navalny-supporters-protest-russia-438dfdc718f877f7c15bb646d41343a8" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Sunday's protest</a>. The turnout will determine his immediate fate as Putin's nemesis.<p><br/></p><p><em>Note: Story corrected to reflect attendance of protests outside Moscow.</em></p>
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January 26, 2021
Angry farmers take Indian fort: In a major and violent escalation of ongoing protests over new agriculture laws, thousands of Indian farmers broke through police barricades and stormed the historic Red Fort in New Delhi on Tuesday. At least one protester died in the chaos, while the government shut down internet service in parts of the capital. Farmers and the government are still deadlocked over the new laws, which liberalize agriculture markets in ways that farmers fear will undercut their livelihoods. The government has offered to suspend implementation for 18 months, but the farmers unions are pushing for a complete repeal. Given that some 60 percent of India's population works in agriculture, the standoff has become a major political test for the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ruling BJP party.
<p><strong>EU threatens vaccine export controls:</strong> Fed up with delays in vaccine supply, the EU is threatening to impose <a href="https://www.politico.eu/article/enraged-at-astrazeneca-over-shortfall-eu-calls-for-vaccine-export-controls/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">export controls</a> on the jabs unless pharma companies hand over more doses. The threat comes after Italy threatened to <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/hard-numbers-suicide-bombing-in-baghdad-indias-farm-bill-pause-italy-to-sue-pfizer-portugals-covid-surge" target="_self">sue Pfizer</a> for cutting the amount of vaccine doses it would supply, and AstraZeneca — whose jab has yet to be approved for use by EU health regulators — <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jan/22/covid-oxfordastrazeneca-vaccine-delivery-to-eu-to-be-cut-by-60" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">announced</a> it'll cut supplies to the bloc by 60 percent. That nuclear option will likely be met with strong pushback from the pharmaceuticals, and may delay delivery of EU-made jabs bound for non-EU countries. Brussels is running out of options to ensure the 27 EU member states get enough vaccines to ramp up immunization as the continent suffers a third wave of the pandemic, and before new COVID strains potentially render the jabs less effective. We're watching to see how the drug makers react to the threat of export controls, and whether the problem drags on and thus sets back the EU's plans of achieving <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/the-graphic-truth-the-unequal-road-to-herd-immunity" target="_self">herd immunity</a> in a few months' time.</p><p><strong>Coup in Myanmar?</strong> More than ten weeks after Myanmar held only its second national election since democracy was "restored" less than a decade ago, the outcome is still in limbo over objections from the party backed by the military. The now-dominant National League for Democracy (NLD) has claimed a <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/what-were-watching-myanmars-election-bolivias-new-president-bidens-covid-crew" target="_self">landslide win</a> in the December vote. But the generals — whose party ran the show until 2015 — have alleged voter fraud, and ominously <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-myanmar-military/myanmar-army-warns-may-take-action-over-its-election-dispute-idUSKBN29V1HI" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">warned</a> they may "take action" if the election commission doesn't <a href="https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/Myanmar-s-ruling-party-escalates-constitutional-feud-with-military" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">fully investigate</a>. Under the 2008 constitution, the military-backed party is entitled to a quarter of all seats in parliament and the national security portfolios in the cabinet, but the generals have long aimed to become a viable alternative to the NLD, which is headed by Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. Until now, she has kept them at bay by sharing some power, but in Myanmar — where the military has ruled for most of the country's post-independence history — Suu Kyi needs to watch her back.</p><h3>What We're Ignoring</h3><strong>Maduro's "miracle" drug</strong>: Finally, a cure for COVID! Easy to take! No side effects! Tastes great! Gives your hair a luscious sheen, acts as a mosquito repellent, and might just help you find the perfect parking spot! Forgive us for ignoring <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-venezuela/doctors-skeptical-as-venezuelas-maduro-touts-coronavirus-miracle-drug-idUSKBN29V1JQ" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro's claims </a>that he has hit upon a miracle treatment for coronavirus. He claims that the new drug, Carvativir, was tested for nine months in a Caracas hospital but he has offered no scientific evidence for his claims. We are skeptical, but — but! — if Maduro is willing to throw in a free bottle of Original Orinoco Snake Oil as part of the package, we'll take the plunge and order up a case of Carvativir anyway.
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Hard Numbers: Cost of vaccine hoarding, Taliban back jabs, UK helps EU citizens leave, Brazil's COVID probe
January 26, 2021
9.2 trillion: COVID vaccine hoarding by rich countries and uneven global access to the jabs will draw out the global recovery from the pandemic. In fact, it'll cost the world economy as much as $9.2 trillion, according to a new study by the International Chamber of Commerce.
<p><strong>112 million:</strong> The Taliban have given their <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-afghanistan-vaccin/taliban-backs-afghan-vaccine-drive-after-covax-pledges-112-million-idUSKBN29V115" target="_blank">blessing</a> for Afghans to roll up their sleeves to get COVID vaccines through the global <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/the-covax-state-of-play" target="_self">COVAX</a> facility, which has allocated $112 million to inoculate 20 percent of the population by the end of the year. In the past, Taliban fighters have killed polio vaccine workers in Pakistan, <a href="https://english.alarabiya.net/News/middle-east/2013/11/02/Pakistani-Taliban-fear-polio-vaccines-are-U-S-plot-to-sterilize-them" target="_blank">arguing</a> that immunization campaigns were a US plot to sterilize Muslims.</p><p><span></span><strong>2,000: </strong>Ahead of the June 30 deadline to apply for post-Brexit settled status, EU citizens living in Great Britain are being <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/jan/26/eu-citizens-offered-financial-incentives-to-leave-uk" target="_blank">offered</a> by the UK government up to 2,000 pounds ($2,745) and airfare as incentives to voluntarily leave Great Britain and return to their country of origin. This scheme contradicts London's official policy of encouraging all EU residents to stay in the UK.</p><p><span></span><strong>60: </strong>Brazil's Supreme Court has <a href="https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/1/26/brazils-top-court-oks-probe-into-handling-of-covid-19-in-manaus" target="_blank">granted</a> the attorney general 60 days to probe the government response to the coronavirus pandemic in the Amazonian city of Manaus. On top of overwhelmed hospitals, the city is now also dealing with a potentially more infectious strain of the COVID virus that was first discovered in this state.</p>
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The United States has never been more divided, and it's safe to say that social media's role in our national discourse is a big part of the problem. But renowned tech journalist Kara Swisher doesn't see any easy fix. "I don't know how you fix the architecture of a building that is just purposely dangerous for everybody." Swisher joins Ian Bremmer to talk about how some of the richest companies on Earth, whose business models benefit from discord and division, can be compelled to see their better angels. Their conversation was part of the latest episode of GZERO World.