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What We're Watching: Khan charged, Petro the peacemaker, Finland's partying PM, Russia-Ukraine latest

What We're Watching: Khan charged, Petro the peacemaker, Finland's partying PM, Russia-Ukraine latest
Ousted Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan travels on a vehicle to lead a protest march in Islamabad, Pakistan.
REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro

Former Pakistani PM charged under terror act

A Pakistani judge charged Monday former ousted PM Imran Khan with violating the anti-terror act for threatening judicial officers in a speech. Khan has been granted bail, but he could face several years in prison if he's convicted of the terror charge. Since he was removed in a no-confidence vote in April, the former PM has been touring the country, leading huge rallies trying to pressure the government into calling a snap election. Khan is plotting his comeback boosted by his resurgent popularity, which helped his party win a recent election in Punjab, the country's most populous province. The turmoil comes at the worst possible time for Pakistan, embroiled in a severe economic crisis: poor Pakistanis are suffering the most from double-digit inflation, and the country is on the brink of default on its sovereign debt. Khan's supporters have warned they'll march on Islamabad if he's arrested, so keep an eye out for Thursday, when the former PM is scheduled to appear before the judge. Meanwhile, he's been banned from speaking in public and his speeches removed from YouTube.

Petro’s ELN olive branch

Delivering on his campaign promise to bring "total peace" to Colombia, newly minted President Gustavo Petro has suspended arrest warrants and extradition requests for National Liberation Army members in order to restart peace talks with the Marxist armed group, at war with the government since 1964. Petro says that the two sides will begin where they left off in 2019, when the previous government called off the talks in Cuba after the ELN killed 21 police cadets in a bombing in Bogotá. Previous efforts to end decades of violence have failed due to internal divisions within the group, yet the leftist Petro — himself a former member of the leftist M-19 guerrillas — believes he has an opening because the ELN responded well to his election. Still, most of the group’s political leaders have been in their Cuban exile for decades, and it’s unclear if they carry much sway with younger ELN fighters in the countryside.

Can a prime minister party like a rockstar?

Finnish PM Sanna Marin has come under a political firestorm over a leaked video of her partying with celebrities, sparking a debate in the famously egalitarian Nordic country. For her supporters, she has every right to have a good time with her friends when she's not on the job, and there would be no scandal if Marin were not a young woman. But her critics say that reveling is inappropriate for a PM — especially of a country that wants to join NATO because it feels threatened by Russia. Interestingly, the clip surfaced online Wednesday, the same day Finland announced it would limit to 500 the daily number of Russian tourist visas amid a recent surge in arrivals. Marin — who's gotten flak in the past for attending rock festivals or going late-night clubbing without her phone — defended herself from the backlash. The world's second-youngest national leader at 34 — only Chilean President Gabriel Boric is now her junior — has taken a drug test to prove she didn't do anything illegal.

Ukraine ups the ante, braces for Russian retribution

The war in Ukraine is escalating, and lately both sides are feeling the heat. Over the weekend, President Volodymyr Zelensky warned Ukrainians to brace for more Russian attacks ahead of the country’s independence day on Wednesday. Curfews are being imposed and parades have been called off, as mass gatherings provide an easy target. Meanwhile, the daughter of Alexander Dugin, a far-right Russian nationalist and Putin ally, was assassinated in a car bombing in Moscow. Russian state media is alleging Ukrainian involvement, but Kyiv has denied any connection to the hit. Ukraine continues to up the ante by striking at targets in Russian-controlled Crimea, which has become a new front in the war. These attacks, some as far as 100 kilometers behind Russian lines, have underscored Ukraine’s determination to resist the invasion as the war hits its six-month mark.


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