2021-02-02 20:17:12 | Your Wednesday Briefing – The New York Times

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Story by: Melina Delkic The New York Times World News

A Moscow court found that President Vladimir Putin’s loudest critic had violated his parole. Aleksei Navalny, Russia’s most prominent opposition leader, was sentenced to more than two years in prison on Tuesday, a decision likely to send him to a far-flung penal colony for the first time.

The authorities have put several of his top allies under house arrest, and on Sunday they deployed a huge police presence in cities across Russia to quell protests calling for his release — some of the biggest street demonstrations of the Putin era.

“You cannot lock up the whole country,” Mr. Navalny told the court. He said the Russian president was angry at him for surviving after being poisoned with the military-grade nerve agent Novichok in August.

Accusations: Prosecutors claimed that Mr. Navalny had violated parole on a suspended prison sentence that he received in 2014. He and his brother were convicted of stealing from two companies, a conviction that the European Court of Human Rights called “arbitrary and manifestly unreasonable.”

What’s next: The decision to send him to prison removes his direct voice from Russia’s political landscape, but it could energize his supporters and further rally Russian opposition to Mr. Putin around the figure of Mr. Navalny.


President Biden on Monday pledged to “stand up for democracy” and threatened to reimpose sanctions on Myanmar after a military coup. The return to military rule in Myanmar after five years of quasi-democracy is shaping up as a test of the new administration’s foreign policy.

State Department officials said on Tuesday they had determined that a military coup had taken place — an assessment that automatically puts restrictions on U.S. assistance to Myanmar. The U.N. Security Council was to meet to discuss a global response.

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Russia had faced skepticism about approving its vaccine without the release of clinical trial data. The vaccine’s developer, the Gamaleya Research Institute, which is part of the Russian Health Ministry, announced in December that the vaccine showed 91.4 percent efficacy. Here’s how the Sputnik V shots work.

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Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other developments:

  • Japan has extended the state of emergency in Tokyo and nine other prefectures by one month, to March 7. Though infections had declined, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said hospitals were still under strain.

  • A coronavirus variant first observed in Britain has gained a worrisome mutation that could make it harder to control with vaccines.

Let us help you start a new project. At Home has ideas on what to read, cook, watch, and do while staying safe at home.

The QAnon conspiracy theory, promotions of bogus health treatments and calls for violence based on false claims of election fraud have a common thread: Facebook groups. Our On Tech newsletter compiled recommendations from experts on how to make these forums less toxic.

Stop automated recommendations. Facebook has said it would extend a temporary pause on computerized recommendations for people to join groups related to politics or health. Some experts said that Facebook should go further and stop computer-aided group suggestions entirely.

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Provide more oversight of private groups. Two social media researchers, Nina Jankowicz and Cindy Otis, have proposed not allowing groups above a certain number of members to be private — meaning newcomers must be invited and outsiders can’t see what’s being discussed — without regular human review of their content.

Target the habitual group offenders. Renée DiResta, a disinformation researcher at Stanford, said that Facebook needed to “take more decisive action” against the groups that repeatedly engage in harassment. Jade Magnus Ogunnaike from the civil rights organization Color of Change said that Facebook should make the staff members responsible for reviewing material on the site — typically contractors — full-fledged employees.


That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.

— Melina


Thank you
Carole Landry helped write this briefing. Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh provided the break from the news. You can reach the team at [email protected]

P.S.
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is on President Biden’s climate plan.
• Here’s our Mini Crossword, and a clue: Counterparts of zeroes, in binary code (four letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• Our Moscow correspondent Anton Troianovski joined Radio New Zealand and Channel 4 News to discuss the arrest of Aleksei Navalny.

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Source References: The New York Times World News

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