The week at a glance...International
Guilty after death: For the first time in modern history, Russia has convicted a dead man. Authorities found whistle-blowing lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who was beaten to death in prison in 2009, guilty of tax fraud in a trial that international observers called rigged and ridiculous. Magnitsky was jailed after he uncovered evidence that Russian officials were massively defrauding the state, and Russia’s own human rights agency found that he was tortured in prison and denied medical care. Last year, the U.S. passed the Magnitsky Act, which imposes sanctions on dozens of Russians involved in his detention. “This show trial confirms that Vladimir Putin is ready to sacrifice his international credibility to protect corrupt officials who murdered an innocent lawyer and stole $230 million from the Russian state,” said Hermitage Capital, the company that originally hired Magnitsky to look into corruption.
Glaxo accused: China has arrested four top executives of the pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline for allegedly running a huge scheme to bribe Chinese doctors to prescribe their drugs and products. One of the detained, Liang Hong, GSK’s vice president for China, was shown on TV saying that staffers would organize fake conferences and use the money ostensibly allocated for them to bribe government officials, hospitals, and doctors. It’s the first big bust involving a multinational firm since China enacted new anti-corruption laws two years ago. GSK said in a statement that it was “concerned and disappointed by these serious allegations of fraudulent behavior and ethical misconduct.”
Racists arrested: The leader of a far-right anti-immigrant group was arrested this week after a fight broke out at one of his anti-Korean rallies. Makoto Takada, head of the Citizens Group That Will Not Forgive Privileges for Koreans in Japan, has been leading demonstrators—who wave Japanese wartime flags and chant “Kill the Koreans”—through ethnic Korean neighborhoods in Japanese cities. The rallies have been all but ignored in the Japanese media, though they get wide coverage in South Korea and China. But this week Takada’s group was met by counter-protesters shouting, “Racists go home,” and after the two sides began scuffling, police arrested Takada and seven others.
Refugee crisis: The Syrian civil war has spawned the worst refugee crisis since the 1994 Rwandan genocide, the U.N. refugee agency said this week. Every month some 5,000 people are killed, it said, and more than 150,000 flee the country. Almost 2 million Syrians are now refugees in nearby countries. Lebanon’s U.N. ambassador, Nawaf Salam, said Lebanon alone, which has a population of just 4 million, is hosting perhaps 1 million Syrians, comparable to having 75 million desperate people suddenly flood into the U.S. “Could you imagine the impacts of an influx of such magnitude on your country?” he said.
New leaders: Egypt’s military-appointed interim president, Adly Mansour, swore in a cabinet this week that included women and Christians—but no Islamists. The cabinet will run the country for the next six months, while a new constitution is being drafted in preparation for elections early next year. The Muslim Brotherhood continued to protest the coup that removed President Mohammed Mursi, and clashes between Mursi supporters and army troops killed seven people this week. For most Egyptians, though, life is already better, as the gas shortages and power outages that plagued Egypt under Mursi have evaporated and police have returned to their posts. The rapid improvement suggests that state agencies, staffed largely by holdovers from the Mubarak era, had been purposefully refusing to cooperate with the Mursi government.
Sudan’s al-Bashir flees: Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir bolted from the African Union summit meeting in Nigeria this week amid demands that he be arrested for war crimes. Al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged genocide in Darfur, and human rights groups filed a suit in Nigeria’s High Court to try to force the government to arrest him. The African Union, though, has told its members not to cooperate with the Europe-based court, saying that it has shown itself to be biased against Africans. A spokesman for al-Bashir said he left Nigeria after just one day of the weeklong summit not because of the ICC but because he had other obligations.