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Russia freezes bank accounts linked to opposition politician Navalny

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Russian authorities on Thursday froze a slew of bank accounts linked to a jailed opposition politician, Alexei Navalny, as part of a money-laundering investigation.

Navalny’s allies say it is a trumped-up attempt to cripple his political movement.

The move comes ahead of a series of planned nationwide demonstrations on Saturday being organised by Navalny’s allies to protest against the exclusion of opposition candidates from a Moscow election in September.

Similar protests in the Russian capital in recent weeks have led to mass arrests and prompted a wider crackdown on anti-Kremlin activists, who have had their homes searched.

The protesters were handed short jail terms or listed as suspects in a more serious investigation into what the authorities call mass unrest.

Russian investigators said in a statement on Thursday that they had frozen the bank accounts of Navalny’s anti-corruption foundation, those of another organisation, and those of more than 100 linked individuals and legal entities.

Kira Yarmysh, Navalny’s spokeswoman, said on Twitter that investigators had also frozen the bank accounts of Navalny’s campaign headquarters across the country.

Masked police officers searched the Moscow offices of Navalny’s anti-corruption foundation as well as the homes of several activists on Thursday, taking away computers and documents.

Investigators said they had also summoned some of the foundation’s employees for questioning.

The crackdown came after investigators opened a criminal investigation on Saturday into the alleged laundering of 1 billion rubles ($15.31 million) by Navalny’s foundation.

Navalny and his allies say the foundation, which has published a slew of embarrassing investigations into government officials, is transparently financed from public donations.

Navalny is currently in jail for violating Russia’s tough protest laws after calling for people to demonstrate in central Moscow over the exclusion of opposition candidates from a local election next month. (Reuters/NAN)

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Vietnam prosecutor imprisoned for child molestation

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Vietnam prosecutor imprisoned for child molestation

Nguyen Huu Linh, a lawyer and former Deputy Prosecutor of Da Nang, was found to have forcibly kissed and touched an eight-year-old girl in an elevator of an apartment complex in April, the People’s Court of Da Nang ruled.

He was sentenced for “lewd behaviour” toward someone under the age of 16.

The case caused a scandal in Vietnam after security footage of the incident went viral on social media, leading to calls for the former prosecutor’s indictment.

While Linh admitted to attempting to kiss the girl, he pleaded not guilty on the grounds that his behaviour did not rise to the level of criminality.

Under Vietnamese law, he could have been sentenced to up to three years imprisonment. (dpa/NAN)

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Pakistan mulling legal action over Twitter suspension of accounts

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Twitter

“A lawsuit would be an extreme step, but we have to protect our people,’’ Arslan Khalid, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s focal person for digital media, said.

Twitter suspended at least 240 Pakistani accounts that include journalists over posts related to Kashmir last week.

Only 10 accounts have been restored so far.

“We are expecting a response from Twitter today and hope our concerns are addressed,’’ Khalid said.

Pakistan formally complained on Monday and since then, instead of suspending accounts, Twitter has sent warning emails to people, including journalists.

Twitter cannot “moderate” on an issue at the behest of India, Khalid said.

“My Twitter account was suspended when I replied to a veiled nuclear threat by the Indian Defence Minister,’’ Kamran Yousaf, Defence Correspondent for English-language daily The Express Tribune, said.

India’s decision, earlier this month, to revoke the special constitutional status of its part of Kashmir and impose a security lockdown on the region has escalated tensions between the neighbours, who have previously fought two wars over Kashmir.

Tens of thousands of Pakistanis took to social media websites to express solidarity with the Kashmiri people and highlight human rights violations in the disputed region.

Pakistan and India both control parts of Kashmir, but each lays claim to the entire region since the countries gained independence from Britain in 1947. (dpa/NAN)

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Pakistan Supreme Court orders action against judge in ex-PM case

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Discipline

Islamabad, Aug. 23, 2019 Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Friday ordered disciplinary action against a judge, who convicted former premier, Nawaz Sharif, effectively giving a boost to Sharif’s appeal against a seven-year jail term for corruption.

Sharif was convicted and jailed last year after failing to prove the source of income that had led to his ownership of a steel mill in Saudi Arabia.

Under Pakistani law, that is taken as proof of corruption.

Sharif denied the charges that he said were politically motivated.

His party in July presented a video at a news conference, apparently showing the judge who presided over Sharif’s conviction, Arshad Malik, as saying he had been pressured into handing down a guilty verdict by individuals, he did not identify, and who had compromised footage of him.

Malik later issued a statement denying he had been blackmailed to convict Sharif and said the video had been manipulated.

Malik had already been removed from his position in an anti-corruption court and the Supreme Court on Friday ordered him to report back to the High Court in the city of Lahore.

“We expect that after his repatriation, appropriate departmental disciplinary proceedings shall be initiated against him,’’ the Supreme Court said in an order.

The court said Malik’s “stinking conduct” in connection with the video scandal was abhorrent, and an appeal court should decide whether to consider it as evidence for any relief for Sharif.

An appeal against Sharif’s conviction is pending before the Islamabad High Court.

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Edited by Abdulfatah Babatunde

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Russian protest leader Navalny released from jail after 30 days

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Release

Navalny’s team has organised a series of weekly protests in central Moscow over the past month after several opposition politicians were controversially rejected from the ballot for upcoming city council elections.

Police have been accused of taking a heavy-handed approach to the demonstrations, grabbing protesters forcefully and dragging them into vans.

Upon being released from jail, Navalny said the wave of protests would continue to grow.

“This regime will strongly regret what it has done,’’ he said.

He said those opposition politicians and protesters were taken into custody were “taken as hostages to scare everyone else’’.

Navalny is not currently running for office.

He ran for mayor of Moscow six years ago, garnering a quarter of the official vote count.

Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, endorsed by the ruling political party, won a slight majority at 51 per cent.

Navalny’s supporters accused the electoral authorities of vote-rigging. (dpa/NAN)

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Rescuers hunt for 30 missing after Indonesian ferry catches fire

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Rescuers hunt for 30 missing after Indonesian ferry catches fire

Missing

Jakarta, Aug. 23, 2019 Indonesian rescuers on Friday searched for 30 people missing from the blazing wreckage of a ferry off the Coast of Java Island.

A government official, Syahrul Nugroho, told TV One in Jakarta.

The KM Santika Nusantara was traveling between the country’s second-largest city of Surabaya and the town of Balikpapan on Borneo Island with 277 people on board, when it caught fire on Thursday evening, Nugroho said.

“About 245 people have been evacuated using small boats, while 30 passengers are still missing,” he said.

Officials have given no details on the cause of the fire. Rescue efforts were complicated by the boat’s manifest listing only 111 passengers, officials said.

Ferries are an important means of transport in Indonesia, which is made up of some 17,000 islands, and sea connections are cheaper and more extensive than air links.

But safety standards are not always strictly enforced and accidents occur fairly often. (Reuters/NAN)

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