September 8, 2023
CANVAS is delighted to bring you another issue of our weekly report!
On Sunday, Ukrainian president Zelenskyy announced he would remove his minister of defense, Oleksii Reznikov, in a continuation of overhauls designed to counter issues of graft and other forms of corruption in the military. Ukrainian parliament approved the move on Tuesday, paving the way for Rustem Umerov, a Crimean Tatar, to replace Reznikov. Umerov formerly served as head of the State Property Fund and was seen as a bulwark fighting corruption there.
North Korean dictator, Kim Jong Un, will supposedly visit Vladmir Putin in Russia in the next coming days to discuss potential arms deals to supply the Russian war in Ukraine. US intelligence first reported on the potential meeting. Possible locations for the meeting include Vladivostok in Russia’s far east, not far from the North Korean border. The meeting would highlight growing relations between the two international pariahs, largely excluded from doing business on the world stage.
As Russia removed itself from the Black Sea Grain Deal in July of 2022, designed to protect grain carrying cargo ships leaving Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea, attacks have ramped up on transport infrastructure. One alternative for Ukrainian grain export has been the Danube river. Attacks this week on the Ukrainian city of Izmail, directly across the Danube from NATO member Romania have resulted in a Russian drone falling on NATO territory. Tensions remain high and the war comes closer and closer to NATO’s doorstep.
Potential European Union integration remains at the forefront of Georgian politicians. President Salome Zourabichvili’s visit to different European leaders in Berlin and Brussels last week is raising issues as members of the ruling Georgian Dream party allege the visits are a breach of the national constitution. Georgian Dream party members are looking to impeach Zourabichvili for the visits. 100 members of the 150 member parliament need to vote in favor of impeachment for Zourabichvili to be impeached. Georgian Dream currently has 84 seats.
Georgia’s EU candidate status has lead to disputes within the government and society. While politicians seem to want credit for the possible admission of Georgia to the EU, attention is turning to who is actually deserving of credit for the possible admission of Georgia to the block. Georgia’s progress on the necessary EU-demanded reforms remains to be seen. EU foreign policy minister chief Josep Borrell claimed that the EU is open to Georgia, but they need to implement serious reforms to receive the candidate status. In October, the EU makes further decisions on the progression.
Last Friday, the LGBTQ+ club in Valencia, which had been raided by the police in July, opened its doors again. There is a growing concern about the government who is strengthening alliances with strong religious groups that use anti-LGBTQ+ rights language. Even though homosexuality is not a crime in Venezuela, there is a fear among the LGBTQ+ community that the government could move towards criminalization again.
UNICEF warns about record numbers of children crossing the Darién Gap, a dangerous jungle cross between Colombia and Panama. The largest group of migrants comes from Venezuela, as economic issues continue to plague the nation.
A drone strike perpetrated by a resistance group has killed five Burmese officials in a major border town in eastern Myanmar. The attack, which targeted police headquarters, is another counter resistance effort by the People’s Defense Force, a large organization that allied themselves with Burmese guerilla groups to take power back from the Myanmar government.
ASEAN has condemned the Myanmar Armed Forces for their continuous attacks against civilians. Although Myanmar is a member of this bloc, they were not in attendance for the 43rd ASEAN Summit, which took place this week. These statements come after the Southeast Asian block has failed to implement their “five-point consensus” peace building plan in Myanmar that was mutually agreed upon in 2021.
Former democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been denied much needed medical care. The 78-year old, who has been experiencing severe toothaches and gum disease, is left unable to eat. Kyi, who is currently detained via house arrest, faces an extreme health risk, which is being ignored by the junta. Local actors are urging the international community to put pressure on the junta to allow for Kyi to receive the much needed medical care.
One of Mahsa Amini’s uncles, Safa Aeli was arrested on September 5th in their hometown of Saghez in the northwest Kurdish Province. The arrest comes upon the upcoming anniversary of the arrest and death of Amini who was detained on September 13th 2022, in Tehran and died three days later in custody. Her death sparked protests in her hometown of Saghez that then spread across the country, posing one of the greatest threats to the government’s rule since their inception in 1979.
Two female journalists were sentenced over the past weekend to a month’s prison time and ‘professional ethics training’ and are prohibited from leaving the country in the latest crackdown on free media. The two journalists, Negin Bagheri and Elnaz Mohammadi, were arrested for ‘conspiracy and collusion’. Mohammadi’s sister has been in prison since September 2022 after she reported on the funeral of Mahsa Amini.
Indonesia hosted the 43rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Jakarta from September 4th to 7th. The Thai Prime Minister Shretta Thavisin missed the summit for unexplained reasons. Foreign leaders were present including U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergei Lavrov.