What We're Watching: Putin's next move, jabs for Palestinians, Wine goes to court in Uganda

VOLGOGRAD, RUSSIA - JANUARY 31, 2021: Riot police officers cordon off a street during an unauthorized rally in support of Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny.

What next for Navalny? Thousands of protesters supporting jailed Russian dissident Alexei Navalny braved an overwhelming police response on Sunday, turning out in more than 80 cities across the country to demand his release from prison. It was the second protest to occur in the two weeks since Navalny was jailed after his return from Germany, and more than 5,000 people were arrested nationwide. The intensity of the police response shows the Kremlin is taking no chances with the protesters, even though their numbers are still relatively small — nowhere near, say, the hundreds of thousands who poured into the streets of Belarus' capital last fall. And it's hard to imagine Vladimir Putin agreeing to release Navalny under pressure from the streets. In fact, it looks like his kangaroo courts are gearing up to lock up the nettlesome anti-corruption crusader and throw away the key. Europe and the US have threatened action if that happens, but sanctions against Russia have proved ineffective in the past. Lacking a political party in a system that is rigged for the party in power anyway, Navalny only has the streets: can they really shake things up enough from below that power starts to crack at the top?


Israel delivers some COVID vaccines to Palestinians: Israel has agreed to send 5,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Palestinian front-line workers in the occupied West Bank. After rolling out the world's most successful vaccination drive, having already inoculated more than 57 percent of its entire population, Israel came under fire in recent weeks for failing to include Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank in its ambitious inoculation scheme, though Israeli Arabs and Palestinians living in East Jerusalem were given the jab. Israel, for its part, says that under the terms of the Oslo Accords, the de-facto law of the land, the Palestinian Authority (PA) should oversee healthcare for its people. But critics say that the Fourth Geneva Convention states that an occupying power (Israel) has a clear responsibility to assist those living under its occupation (the Palestinians). While Israel's approval of the transfer is a positive development, the PA, which governs the West Bank, is still waiting on millions of doses to vaccinate its 2.5 million people. This deal also doesn't include the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, which already has one of the worst healthcare systems in the world. Palestinians (in the West Bank and Gaza) have inked deals for Russia's Sputnik V vaccine, the AstraZeneca drug, and are also waiting on batches through the international COVAX system which aren't expected to arrive until March.

Mr Wine goes to court: Ugandan opposition leader Bobi Wine has called on his country's Supreme Court to nullify the results of last month's election in which president Yoweri Museveni — a former rebel leader in power since the 1980s — was declared the winner. Wine and his supporters allege ballot-stuffing and other fraud, and argue that violence directed at Wine by Museveni's forces during the campaign made it impossible for the election to be free and fair. By taking his arguments to a court packed with Museveni appointees, Wine — a former pop star who is popular with younger, urban Ugandans — runs the risk of having his objections formally stricken down altogether. But he and his supporters are making the gamble that the opportunity to present their arguments is, by itself, worth the effort in order to expose the president.

Emily Ademola lives in an area of Nigeria that has been attacked by Boko Haram militants in the past. Looking for water was very risky, and without access to water, the community – especially children – were at risk of waterborne diseases. Eni, in partnership with FAO, built a water well in Emily's community in 2019.

Watch Emily's first-hand account about how access to water "close to our doorsteps" has improved the quality of life for her community and her family.

There's never a great time to impose higher taxes on funeral services — but doing it in the middle of a raging pandemic is an especially bad move. Yet that was one of a number of measures that the Colombian government proposed last week in a controversial new tax bill that has provoked the country's largest and most violent protests in decades.

In the days since, the finance minister has resigned, the tax reform has been pulled, and President Iván Duque has called for fresh dialogue with activists, union leaders, and opposition politicians.

But demonstrations, vandalism, and deadly clashes with police have only intensified. Two dozen people are dead, 40 are missing, and the UN has criticized Colombian police for their heavy-handed response.

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While residents of wealthy countries are getting ready for hot vaxxed summer — COVID is still ravaging many low- and middle-income countries. The horrifying scenes coming out of India in recent weeks have gripped the world, causing governments and civil society to quickly mobilize and pledge support.

But on the other side of the globe, Brazil is also being pummeled by the pandemic — and has been for a year now. Yet thus far, the outpouring of aid and (solidarity) hasn't been as large.

What explains the global alarm at India's situation, and seeming passivity towards Brazil's plight? What are the politics of compassion?

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Paris-London face-off at sea: France and the UK are at loggerheads in the high seas this week over post-Brexit fishing access in Jersey, an island off the English Channel. Furious at regulations that they say makes it harder to fish in these lucrative waters, dozens of French fishing boats amassed near the Channel Island, threatening to block access to the port. In response, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson deployed two naval vessels — a move critics say was an unnecessary escalation, and an attempt by the PM to flex his muscles and bolster the Tory vote ahead of Thursday's regional election. France, for its part, sent its own naval ship and threatened to cut off Jersey's electricity supply, 90 percent of which comes from French underwater cables. Fishing rights was one of the final sticking points of Brexit trade negotiations, an emotive political issue for many Britons who say that they got a subpar deal when the UK joined the European Economic Community in the 1970s. Though an UK-EU Brexit agreement was finally reached in December 2020, it's clear that there are still thorny issues that need to be resolved.

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10: Joshua Wong was sentenced along with other Hong Kong democracy activists to 10 months in prison for participating in a vigil last year marking the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing. Wong is currently behind bars for participating in separate pro-democracy protests, and will only start this new sentence after that term concludes in November.

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What's the biggest foreign policy misconception that Americans have about the US's role in the world? According to international relations expert Tom Nichols, too few Americans believe that the US, in fact, has a critical role in the world, and that the things Americans enjoy, from cheap goods to safe streets, are made possible because of American global leadership. "Americans have become so spoiled and inured to the idea that the world is a dangerous place that they don't understand that the seas are navigable because someone makes them that way. They don't understand that peace between the great powers is not simply like the weather, that just happens," Nichols tells Ian Bremmer. Their conversation is featured on an episode of GZERO World, airing on US public television – check local listings.

Watch the episode: Make politics "boring" again: Joe Biden's first 100 Days

The cover story of The Economist declares that Taiwan is "The most dangerous place on Earth," because China might finally be ready to plan an invasion of the island. But are the consequences of such a move worth the many risks to China and its President Xi Jinping? Ian Bremmer breaks out the Red Pen to to explain why a US-China war over Taiwan is unlikely.

We are taking our red pen to a recent article from The Economist. The Economist, you ask, how could I? I love The Economist, I know, I know. But you'd lose respect if I give this piece a pass. In fact, it was the magazine's cover story this week, so I had no choice. The image and headline say it all. Here it is, Taiwan is now "the most dangerous place on earth" as US/China relations continue to sour in the opening months of President Biden's administration.

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Delhi-based reporter Barkha Dutt's decades of journalism couldn't prepare her for the horrific experience of covering the death of one specific COVID-19 victim: her own father. In a conversation with Ian Bremmer, Dutt recounts her desperate struggle to find an ambulance to take her father through Delhi traffic to reach the hospital, only for him to die in the ICU. Their in-depth discussion looks at India's struggle with the world's worst COVID crisis in the upcoming episode of GZERO World begins airing on US public television Friday, May 7. Check local listings.

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Would China really invade Taiwan?

The Red Pen

India’s COVID crisis hits home

GZERO World Clips
The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal