In Ukraine, Russian backed separatists have given the death sentence to three foreign men who were fighting with Ukraine against the Russian invasion. Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner from the United Kingdom and Saaudun Brahim from Morocco surrendered in Mariupol in April and yesterday were sentenced to death by a court in the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic, which is only recognized as a country by Russia. The Donetsk People’s Republic has controlled part of the Ukrainian Donetsk region since 2014, and one of the reasons that Russia gave for starting its invasion in February was to ‘liberate’ this Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic, which is also only recognized as a country by Russia. The three men have been called “mercenaries” by Russia, despite all three men officially being part of the Ukrainian army. Aiden Aslin has lived in Ukraine and been part of the Ukrainian army since 2018. United Kingdom Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said that the sentences were “a sham judgement with absolutely no legitimacy”. When asked about the death sentence given by the Donetsk People’s Republic, UK Chairman of the foreign affairs committee Tom Tugendhat said “It is not a state, It is not a court and the judges are merely people dressing up and pretending.” Robert Jenrick who is the member of parliament for Newark, where Aiden Aslin is from, said that the men should be treated as prisoners of war, according to international law...
“They’re not mercenaries. They’re British citizens who chose to join the Ukrainian arym for personal reasons before Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine. They were captured by Russian forces in Mariupol and they should be being treated in accordance with international law and the Geneva convention hich certainly precludes show trails, kangaroo courts of this kind, and the death penalty. I want the Russian authorities now to step up and to protect these individuals and ensure that they are returned either to the Ukraine or back here to the UK as soon as possible in accordance with international law.”
In Ukraine Russian forces have captured most of the city of Severodonetsk and there is continuing heavy fighting in many areas of Eastern Ukraine. Yesterday Russia bombed areas of Ukraine’s Luhansk Province, Donetsk province, Kharkiv province, Zaporizhzhia province, Zhytomyr province and Mykolaiv province.
Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday made a speech in which he said that Russia needs to take back territory and defend itself, and he compared himself to Peter the Great. 46 countries have imposed sanctions on Russia since it invaded Ukraine on the 24th February. Yesterday Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki criticised other European leaders for continuing to talk to Putin, saying that nobody spoke to Adolf Hitler during World War 2. Over 7 million refugees have left Ukraine since February, more than the population of Bulgaria.
In Spain thousands of people have been evacuated during a wildfire in the Southern region of Andalucia.
Thailand has relaxed its laws on marijuana. From yesterday it is now legal to grow marijuana for personal consumption and people may grow for marijuana for commercial reasons with a permit. Thailand legalised marijuana for medical reasons in 2018. Yesterday Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said that smoking marijuana in public places and smoking while driving is still illegal.
In Sri Lanka, Basil Rajapaksa, member of parliament and former finance minister, has resigned from parliament. Basil Rajapaksa is a brother of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Another brother, Mahinda Rajapaksa, resigned as Prime Minister last month, during large protests in Colombo, however President Rajapaksa has refused to resign.
In the United States, a series of public hearings has begun, investigating the attack on the Congress building on January 6th last year. A committee from the house of representatives is showing evidence that it has collected, which it says show that Former President Donald Trump was part of a “Coordinated effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election”. 5 people died as a direct result of the riot and 4 police officers who were there committed suicide afterwards.
Mexican church leader Naason Joaquin Garcia was sentenced to 17 years in prison in the United States yesterday for child sexual abuse. Garcia is the head of the Luz del Mundo church which is based in Mexico, but operates in 58 countries. Garcia and other church leaders have been accused of many other sex crimes.
Algeria has suspended all trade with Spain because of political differences over the Western Sahara. The Western Sahara is a large territory that is claimed by Morocco and the Sahrawi Republic, which has claimed the territory since it gained independence from Spain in 1975 Spain recently recognized a plan by Morocco to give the Western Sahara autonomy but without independence. Algeria does not accept the plan.
And across Africa people shared knowledge with each other 65,000 years ago. A study, by an international team of scientists, has found that a stone tool was made with exactly the same shape across large areas of Southern Africa, showing that there was long-distance social connection between people.
A big thank you to Magdalena in Poland for becoming our newest supporter. If you enjoy SEND7 then you can become a supporter at send7.org/support. Supporters can read the transcripts of every episode. I’m Stephen Devincenzi. Have a great weekend and I will see you on Monday.