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10 Oct

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

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Russia to return to Cuba and Vietnam

Russia to return to Cuba and Vietnam. 58988.jpeg

Putin’s official spokesman Dmitry Peskov commented on the recent statement from Deputy Defense Minister Nikolai Pankov, who admitted a possibility for Russian army bases to return to Cuba.

In connection with recent changes in the international situation, states have to take measures based on their own interests, Peskov said, RIA Novosti reports.

“The international situation is not static, it is quite mobile. You can see what the last two years have changed in international affairs and in the regime of international security. Of course, all countries, in accordance with their national interests, evaluate these changes and take certain measures as they see fit,” Peskov told reporters.

As for the presence of Russian military men in Cuba, Peskov said that this question should be addressed to the Defense Ministry.

Earlier on Friday, deputy head of the Russian Defense Ministry Nikolai Pankov admitted the possibility for Russian army bases to return to Cuba and Vietnam. Pankov spoke about it when answering questions from reporters in the State Duma. “We work on this, we see the problem,” the official said.

Earlier, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that Russia had plans to develop its army  bases abroad, particularly in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Armenia. At the same time, President Vladimir Putin said in the summer of 2014 said that Moscow had no plans to retrieve its military presence in Cuba.

In the spring of this year, Communist Party members Valery Rashkin and Sergei Obukhov sent an appeal to President Putin, as well as Ministers for Defense and Foreign Affairs with a proposal to renew the work of the Lourdes SIGINT Station (Signal Intelligence) in Cuba and deploy Russian missile complexes on the island. In their appeal, the MPs referred to the plans of the United States  to deploy missile systems in south-east Turkey.

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Also read: Russian Armed Forces return to Latin America

Also read: Russia to revive army bases in three oceans

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Coalition announces inquiry into strike that killed 140 people in Sana’a as US says its backing is not ‘a blank cheque’

Hundreds of Yemeni men, women and children gathered outside the United Nations building in Sanaa on Sunday to protest against an air strike in which 140 people were killed. The strikes hit mourners gathered at a community hall for a funeral. This was one of the deadliest attacks on civilian targets since the start of the civil war last year. The protesters blame Saudi Arabia for the attack

The US said its security cooperation with Saudi Arabia was not a “blank cheque” as Riyadh agreed to mount an investigation into a widely condemned air raid on funeral in Yemen that killed 140 people.

In one of the deadliest attacks of the country’s civil war, which Saudi Arabia entered in March 2015, airstrikes on Saturday hit a funeral hall packed with thousands of mourners in Yemen’s rebel-held capital, Sana’a. More than 525 people were wounded.

The Saudi-led coalition has not acknowledged responsibility for the attack, even as it announced an investigation, but is the only force with such air power in the conflict.

The White House issued a statement saying it had begun an “immediate review” of its support for Saudi Arabia in Yemen. The attack has been condemned by the UN, the European Union and the United States.

The issue is embarrassing for the US since it has decried the Russian failure to be more open about its role in the air attack on a UN aid convoy in Syria, and it will face allegations of double standards if it allows the Saudis to delay an inquiry.

The US, like the UK, supplies arms to Saudi Arabia and practical military advice, even though the precise extent of that advice is disputed.

White House national security council spokesman Ned Simon said: “We are deeply disturbed by reports of [the] airstrike on a funeral hall in Yemen, which, if confirmed, would continue the troubling series of attacks striking Yemeni civilians. US security cooperation with Saudi Arabia is not a blank cheque.

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Activists fear routine violence against homeless youths in Eldoret is turning into deliberate policy of killing them

Two girls at the the rubbish dump in Eldoret known as California Barracks, where the police raid occurred.

Two girls at the the rubbish dump in Eldoret known as California Barracks, where the police raid occurred. Photograph: Louis Quail

It was a Sunday, so there was little to do but mark time and sniff glue. The shops were shut, the market half empty. With few people out and about, begging was unlikely to be a profitable enterprise.

Instead, many of Eldoret’s street children had retreated to its central rubbish dump. Foetid and pestilential, this wasteland has long been a haven for the waifs of Kenya’s fifth city, the country’s highland capital and long-distance running heartland.

“California Barracks”, as it is known to the 700 homeless children and young adults who sleep there, usually provides something to eat: unwanted food dumped by local hotels or overripe fruit discarded by traders from the nearby market. It also offers a refuge, from society and from Eldoret’s police, who can rarely stomach the stench.

But not on that day, the penultimate Sunday of May. It was getting on for 4pm, the shadows lengthening on a chilly afternoon. Some of the children were asleep. Others sought solace in the cheap, hunger-suppressing fix of solvent abuse: boys inhaled glue from plastic containers clutched to their nostrils, girls in their early teens shared theirs with infants strapped to their backs.

In the warren of alleys above, the police advanced silently from three directions. Municipal officers, known as county askaris, carried cudgels and led the way; men from the Administrative Police, a feared state paramilitary unit, followed with rifles and teargas.

The inhabitants of California Barracks have grown accustomed to police brutality. Many there that Sunday had experienced it, like Samuel Asacha. A decade ago, when he was 15, he had one of his eyes gouged out by a particularly notorious officer. Or Shereen, then 10, and Shelagh, 14, both badly disfigured in 2014 when the same man, they say, threw acid in their face.

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About 2,000 people demonstrate outside parliament as Népszabadság journalists liken suspension of publication to a coup

A demonstrator holds a placard reading ‘Népszabadság, People’s Republic’

A demonstrator holds a placard reading ‘Népszabadság, People’s Republic’ during a protest against the newspaper’s closure. Photograph: Zoltan Balogh/EPA

The state of press freedom in Hungary has come under renewed scrutiny after the country’s main leftwing opposition newspaper was temporarily closed, ostensibly on commercial grounds.

The decision to suspend publication of Népszabadság by its owners, Mediaworks – who cited the need to seek a viable business model – sparked accusations of a “coup” from the paper’s journalists, many of whom learned of the closure only when they were denied entry to its newsroom in Budapest on Saturday.

About 2,000 demonstrators later gathered outside the national parliament to protest against the move.

Hungary’s rightwing prime minister, Viktor Orbán, who has voiced a desire to establish an “illiberal democracy”, has been repeatedly accused of interfering in the media.

Mediaworks, which gained total control of Népszabadság last year after buying out the Socialist party’s 27.7% stake, said the decision had been driven by plummeting sales and losses amounting to 5bn Hungarian florints (£14.8m) over the past decade.

“Népszabadság has lost 74% of its sold circulation in the past 10 years, corresponding to more than 100,000 copies,” the company said in a press release. The suspension would enable it to “focus on finding the best business model for the paper, in line with the current trends in the industry, and will start consultations in order to best secure future development,” the statement added.

But journalists dismissed the explanation as a smokescreen – pointing out that it came days after the paper disclosed corruption allegations against a minister in Orbán’s Fidesz party and a scandal embroiling the governor of the national bank.

Népszabadság had also criticised last Sunday’s referendum aimed at demonstrating public opposition to proposals to disperse refugees around EU member states, which overwhelmingly came out in favour of Orbán’s position but on too low a turnout to be valid.

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