June 26, 2023
Russian President Vladimir Putin says aborted rebellion played into the hands of enemies
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday blasted organizers of a weekend revolt as “traitors” who played into the hands of Ukraine’s government and its allies. The rebellion by armed mercenaries, which lasted less than 24 hours, was the gravest threat yet to Putin’s authority. Putin said the nation had stood united, and he praised the rank and file mercenaries for not letting the situation descend into “bloodshed.” Advertisement Earlier in the day, the rebellion’s leader, mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, defended his short-lived insurrection. He taunted Russia’s military, but said he hadn’t been seeking to stage a coup against Putin. Putin did not name Prigozhin in his televised address but said organizers of the mutiny had tried to force the group’s soldiers “to shoot their own.” Putin blamed “Russia’s enemies” and said they “miscalculated.” Advertisement The Kremlin a lso showed Putin meeting with top security, law enforcement and MILITARY officials, and early in the day authorities released a video of Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, whose removal Prigozhin had demanded, reviewing troops in Ukraine. Prigozhin said he was acting to prevent the destruction of Wagner, his private military company. “We started our march because of an injustice,” he said in an 11-minute statement, giving no details about where he was or what his plans were. The feud between the Wagner Group leader and Russia’s military brass has festered throughout the war, erupting into a mutiny over the weekend when mercenaries left Ukraine to seize a military headquarters in the southern Russian city of Rostov. They rolled seemingly unopposed for hundreds of miles toward Moscow before turning around after less than 24 hours on Saturday. The Kremlin said it had made a deal for Prigozhin to move to Belarus and receive amnesty, along with his soldiers. There was no confirmation of his whereabouts Monday. Prigozhin boasted Monday that his march was a “master class” on how Russia’s military should have carried out the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine. He also mocked the military for failing to protect Russia, pointing out security breaches that allowed Wagner to march 780 kilometers (500 miles) toward Moscow without facing resistance. His bullish statement made no clearer what would ultimately happen to Prigozhin and his forces under the deal purportedly brokered by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. Prigozhin said Lukashenko “proposed finding solutions for the Wagner private military company to continue its work in a lawful jurisdiction.” That suggested Prigozhin might keep his military force, although it wasn’t immediately clear which jurisdiction he was referring to. The independent Russian news outlet Vyorstka claimed that construction of a field camp for up to 8,000 Wagner troops was underway in Belarus, but the report couldn’t be independently verified. The Belarusian military monitoring group Belaruski Hajun said Monday on Telegram that it had seen no activity in the area consistent with the report. Advertisement Though the mutiny was brief, it was not bloodless. Russian media reported that several military helicopters and a communications plane were shot down by Wagner forces, killing at least 15. Prigozhin expressed regret for attacking the aircraft but said they were bombing his convoys. Russian media reported that a criminal case against Prigozhin hasn’t been closed, despite earlier Kremlin statements, and some Russian lawmakers called for his head. Andrei Gurulev, a retired general and current lawmaker who has clashed with the mercenary leader, said Prigozhin and his right-hand man Dmitry Utkin deserve “a bullet in the head.” And Nikita Yurefev, a city council member in St. Petersburg, said he filed an official request with Russia’s Prosecutor General’s Office and the Federal Security Service, or FSB, asking who would be punished for the rebellion, given that Putin vowed in a Saturday morning address to punish those behind it. It was unclear what resources Prigozhin can draw on, and how much of his substantial wealth he can access. police searching his St. Petersburg office amid the rebellion found 4 billion rubles ($48 million) in trucks outside the building, according to Russian media reports confirmed by the Wagner boss. He said the money was intended to pay his soldiers’ families. Russian media reported that Wagner offices in several Russian cities had reopened on Monday and the company had resumed enlisting recruits. Advertisement In a return to at least superficial normality, Moscow’s mayor announced an end to the “counterterrorism regime” imposed on the capital Saturday, when troops and armored vehicles set up checkpoints on the outskirts and authorities tore up roads leading into the city. The Defense Ministry published video of Shoigu in a helicopter and then meeting with officers at a military headquarters in Ukraine. It was unclear when the video was shot. It came as Russian media speculated that Shoigu and other military leaders have lost Putin’s confidence and could be replaced. Before the uprising, Prigozhin had blasted Shoigu and General Staff chief Gen. Valery Gerasimov with expletive-ridden insults for months, accusing them of failing to provide his troops with enough ammunition during the fight for the Ukrainian town of Bakhmut, the war’s longest and bloodiest battle. Prigozhin’s statement appeared to confirm analysts’ view that the revolt was a desperate move to save Wagner from being dismantled after an order that all private military companies sign contracts with the Defense Ministry by July 1. Prigozhin said most of his fighters refused to come under the Defense Ministry’s command, and the force planned to hand over the military equipment it was using in Ukraine on June 30 after pulling out of Ukraine and gathering in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don. He accused the Defense Ministry of attacking Wagner’s camp, prompting them to move sooner. Russian political analyst Tatiana Stanovaya said on Twitter that Prigozhin’s mutiny “wasn’t a bid for power or an attempt to overtake the Kremlin,” but a desperate move amid his escalating rift with the military leadership. Advertisement While Prigozhin could get out of the crisis alive, he doesn’t have a political future in Russia under Putin, Stanovaya said. It was unclear what the fissures opened by the 24-hour rebellion would mean for the war in Ukraine, where Western officials say Russia’s troops suffer low morale. Wagner’s forces were key to Russia’s only land victory in months, in Bakhmut. The U.K. Ministry of Defense said Monday that Ukraine had “gained impetus” in its push around Bakhmut, making progress north and south of the town. Ukrainian forces claimed to have retaken Rivnopil, a village in southeast Ukraine that has seen heavy fighting. U.S. President Joe Biden and leaders of several of Ukraine’s European allies discussed the events in Russia over the weekend, but Western officials have been muted in their public comments. Biden said Monday that the U.S. and NATO were not involved in the short-lived insurrection. Speaking at the White House, Biden explained that he was cautious about speaking publicly because he wanted to give “Putin no excuse to blame this on the West and blame this on NATO.” “We made clear that we were not involved, we had nothing to do with it,” he said. Advertisement Biden said the U.S. was coordinating with allies to monitor the situation and maintain support for Ukraine. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg concurred Monday that “the events over the weekend are an internal Russian matter.” And Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said U.S. Ambassador Lynne Tracy had contacted Russian representatives Saturday to stress that the U.S. was not involved in the mutiny. The events show the war is “cracking Russia’s political system,” said EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell. “The monster that Putin created with Wagner, the monster is biting him now,” Borrell said. “The monster is acting against his creator.” Associated Press writers Lorne Cook in Brussels and Jill Lawless in London contributed.
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Star Wars Director Says It's About Time A Woman Makes A Star Wars Movie
Jan 02, 2024
Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Sharmeed Obaid-Chinoy is directing an upcoming Star Wars movie that brings back Daisy Ridley in the role of Rey. Obaid-Chinoy will become the first woman to direct a Star Wars film, dating back to the franchise's origins in the 1970s. Speaking about this, Obaid-Chinoy told CNN that she is "very thrilled" to make the movie and create something that is "very special.""We're in 2024 now, and I think it's about time we had a woman come forward to shape the story in a galaxy far, far away," she said.Obaid-Chinoy won Best Documentary, Short Subjects Academy Awards for Saving Face (2012) and A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015).In 2020, Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy told the BBC that a woman would eventually direct a Star Wars movie, saying that would "absolutely" happen, "without question." Victoria Mahoney was a second unit director on The Rise of Skywalker, but a woman has never claimed a top directing credit on a Star Wars movie.On the TV side of things, The Mandalorian has featured a number of female directors, including Deborah Chow and Bryce Dallas Howard. Chow went on to direct the Obi-Wan TV series, too.Another high-profile franchise that has never had a female director is James Bond. Producer Barbara Broccoli and Skyfall director Sam Mendes have both said they want to see a woman direct a future 007 film.As for Obaid-Chinoy's Star Wars movie, little is known about it apart from the fact that Ridley will come back to play Rey. It is expected that this film will be the first of the three new Star Wars films to come to theaters, possibly releasing in December 2025.According to a report, Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight is writing the Rey movie, taking over for Damon Lindelof and Justin Britt-Gibson.
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NBA Names Clare Akamanzi CEO Of NBA Africa
Jan 02, 2024 15:29
The NBA named Clare Akamanzi – an accomplished business executive and international trade and investment lawyer – as CEO of NBA Africa. Akamanzi will start her position on Jan. 23, 2024, and report to NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum. In this role, Akamanzi will oversee the NBA’s business and basketball development efforts in Africa and will be responsible for continuing to grow the popularity of basketball, the NBA and the Basketball Africa League (BAL) across the continent, including through grassroots basketball development, media distribution, corporate partnerships, and social responsibility initiatives that improve the livelihoods of African youth and families. For the last six and a half years, Akamanzi was CEO of Rwanda Development Board (RDB), where she spearheaded Rwanda’s economic development by enabling private sector growth. Under Akamanzi’s leadership, RDB implemented several business policy reforms and initiatives that led to significant investment and development for the country, including through partnerships with the BAL, Arsenal FC, Paris Saint-Germain FC, FC Bayern Munich and TIME Magazine, among others. “Clare’s business acumen, international experience and familiarity with basketball and the NBA make her the ideal executive to lead our business in Africa,” says Tatum. “NBA Africa and the Basketball Africa League are well-positioned for continued growth, and under Clare’s leadership we believe these initiatives will transform economies, communities and lives across the continent.” “I’ve seen firsthand how sports can positively impact businesses, families and communities in Africa, and the NBA and the BAL are a perfect example of that,” says Akamanzi. “The NBA has done an incredible job growing basketball and the economy around it across the continent, and I’m excited about the enormous opportunities ahead to build on that momentum.” Previously, Akamanzi was Chief Operating Officer of RDB and Head of Strategy and Policy Unit, Office of the President of the Republic of Rwanda. She has extensive international trade, business and diplomatic experience, having previously worked for the Rwandan Government at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland and at the Rwandan Embassy in London, England. Akamanzi has worked or studied in seven different countries and holds an honorary LLD from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, in recognition of her work in Rwanda. She earned a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she was the recipient of three prestigious awards for academic excellence and distinguished contribution to the community: the Lucius N. Littauer Fellows Award, the Raymond & Josephine Vernon Award and the Robert Kennedy Public Service Award. In addition, Akamanzi holds a Master of Laws degree in international trade and investments from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and a Bachelor of Laws degree from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. Akamanzi has served on several company boards, including the World Health Organization (WHO) Foundation, ECOBANK and Aviation, Travel and Logistics (ATL) company. She was recognized by Forbes as one of Africa’s Top 50 Powerful Women in 2020.
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