Finland state

What we’re watching: Khan indicted, Petro the peacemaker, party-loving Finnish PM, Russia-Ukraine latest

Former Pakistani prime minister charged with terrorism

A Pakistani judge accused On Monday, ousted former prime minister Imran Khan broke the anti-terrorism law for threatening judicial officers in a speech. Khan was released on bail, but he faces several years in prison if convicted of terrorism. Since being removed from office in a no-confidence vote in April, the former prime minister has traveled the country, leading huge rallies in an attempt to pressure the government to call an election anticipated. Khan is plotting his comeback boosted by his resurgent popularity, which helped his party win a recent election in Punjab, the country’s most populous province. The turmoil comes at the worst possible time for Pakistan, in the grip of a severe economic crisis: poor Pakistanis are suffering the most from double-digit inflation and the country is on the verge of default on its sovereign debt. Khan’s supporters have warned they will march on Islamabad if he is arrested, so keep an eye out for Thursday when the former prime minister is due to appear in court. In the meantime, speaking in public has been banned and his speeches deleted from YouTube.


Petro’s ELN Olive Branch

Keeping his campaign promise to bring “total peace” to Colombia, new President Gustavo Petro has suspended arrest warrants and extradition requests for members of the National Liberation Army to restart peace talks with the Marxist armed group, which has been at war with the government since 1964. Petro says both sides will start where they left off stopped in 2019, when the previous government called off talks in Cuba after the ELN kill 21 police cadets in an attack in Bogotá. Previous efforts to end decades of violence have failed due to internal divisions within the group, but leftist Petro – himself a former member of the leftist guerrilla M-19 – believes he has an opening because the ELN responded well to its election. Yet most of the group’s political leaders have been in Cuban exile for decades, and it is unclear whether they wield much influence over young ELN fighters in the countryside.

Can a prime minister party like a rock star?

Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin was the subject of a political storm during leaked video of his party with celebrities, sparking a debate in the famously egalitarian Nordic country. For her supporters, she has every right to have a good time with her friends when she is not at work, and there would be no scandal if Marin were not a young woman. But his critics say rejoicing is inappropriate for a prime minister – especially of a country that wants to join NATO because it feels threatened by Russia. Interestingly, the clip surfaced online on Wednesday, the same day Finland announcement it would limit the daily number of Russian tourist visas to 500 amid a recent surge in arrivals. Marin – who has been criticized in the past for attending rock festivals or going to clubs late at night without her phone – defended herself against the backlash. The world’s second youngest national leader at 34 – only Chilean President Gabriel Boric is now his junior – has taken a Drug test to prove that she did nothing illegal.

Ukraine raises the bar and prepares for Russian retaliation

The war in Ukraine is escalation, and lately, both sides feel the heat. Over the weekend, President Volodymyr Zelensky warned Ukrainians to prepare for further Russian attacks ahead of the country’s Independence Day on Wednesday. Curfews are imposed and parades have been canceled as mass gatherings are an easy target. Meanwhile, the daughter of Alexander Dugin, a far-right Russian nationalist and Putin ally, was murdered in a car bomb attack in Moscow. Russian state media allege Ukrainian involvement, but Kyiv has denied any connection to the coup. Ukraine continues to raise the bar by striking targets in Russian-controlled Crimea, which has become a new front in the war. These attacks, some up to 100 kilometers behind Russian lines, underscored Ukraine’s determination to resist invasion as the war reaches its six-month mark.