The week at a glance...International


Praskoveyevka, Russia

A palace for Putin: A lavish Italianate palace being built on Russia’s Black Sea coast appears destined to be a residence for Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Whistle-blower Sergey Kolesnikov first exposed the existence of the project in an open letter to President Dmitri Medvedev last December. He alleged that the complex—which boasts frescoed ceilings, extensive formal gardens, an amphitheater, and three helipads—was being built “for the private use” of Putin and was “predominantly paid for with money donated by Russian businessmen.” Putin’s office initially denied involvement, but this week Novaya Gazeta published documents proving that the Office of Presidential Affairs is part owner of the property. Now officials refuse to comment.


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Put it out: Faced with an epidemic of lung cancer, China has ordered its entertainment industry to limit smoking scenes in movies and on television. Cigarettes are ubiquitous on Chinese screens: Fully 90 percent of films and TV shows depict people smoking. But the State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television said this week that from now on producers must restrict smoking to scenes essential for character development and that such scenes should be “as short as possible.” Minors may not be shown smoking at all. More than half of all adult men in China smoke, and the country is the world’s biggest producer and consumer of tobacco products. Each year, 1 million Chinese die of tobacco-related illnesses, and that figure is expected to double in the next 10 years.

Middle East

A deluge of protests: Inspired by events in Egypt, demonstrators took to the streets across the Middle East this week to demand an end to corrupt and repressive regimes. In Iran, tens of thousands of people thronged the streets of Tehran in an echo of the 2009 protests following the disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Two students were killed, sparking more protests. The two main opposition leaders, Mir Hussein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, had been detained ahead of the protest, but Iranian lawmakers called for their execution anyway, chanting, “Hang them, hang them!” on the floor of the parliament. In the kingdom of Bahrain, home to the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, thousands of protesters called for a new constitution and the ouster of the long-serving prime minister, the king’s uncle. Street battles broke out in Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, between small groups of pro- and anti-government protesters, and police beat dozens of people. In the Yemeni city of Taiz, thousands of students camped out in the streets calling for the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, while in the south, secessionists demanded independence. In Libya, where Muammar al-Qaddafi has presided over a police state for 41 years, several hundred demonstrators threw firebombs, demanding the release of a human-rights activist. “Egypt and Tunisia have given us new momentum,” said exiled Libyan democracy activist Fathi al-Warfali. “It brought down the barrier of fear.”


Reporter assaulted: CBS News correspondent Lara Logan was sexually assaulted and brutally beaten in Cairo’s Tahrir Square last week. Logan was covering the celebration in the immediate aftermath of President Hosni Mubarak’s resignation when she was separated from her crew by a “mob of more than 200 people whipped into frenzy,” CBS said. She was rescued by a group of women and soldiers and flown to the U.S., where she was treated in a hospital and released this week. Logan had already experienced violence while covering the protests. Two weeks ago, she was arrested by the regime. “Blindfolded, handcuffed, taken at gunpoint, our driver beaten,” she said. “They kept us in stress positions.” At least 140 journalists were attacked during the protests.

Jonglei, Sudan

Rebels kill hundreds: More than 200 civilians, including children, were killed last week when a renegade militia launched attacks in the oil-rich state of Jonglei in southern Sudan. Officials said the militia was loyal to George Athor, a former army officer who led a revolt after losing in last year’s elections, and they blamed northern Sudan. “Today armed groups are being financed, being armed, being sent into southern Sudan from the North,” said Pagan Amum of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, the South’s ruling party. Southern Sudan voted overwhelmingly last month for independence from Khartoum; details of the split are still being worked out.

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