China’s Panchen Lama Calls for Patriotism, Says Greed Taints Tibetan Buddhism
Christian Shepherd, REUTERS
Patriotism is the “mission” of religion in China, but greed is tainting Tibetan Buddhism, says the government-appointed second-highest spiritual leader of the faith, who was chosen by Beijing to win the hearts and minds of Tibetans. Although officially atheist, China in 1995 selected Gyaltsen Norbu as Tibet’s 11th Panchen Lama, the number-two spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism. Tibet’s current spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, whom Beijing brands a dangerous separatist, had announced his own choice of a six-year-old boy to replace the previous Panchen Lama, but he was taken away by authorities and has since vanished from public view.
Moscow Moves to Absorb Rebel Georgian Region’s Military
Kaya Golubkova, Margarita Antidze, REUTERS
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday ordered his officials to seal an agreement which will, in effect, incorporate the armed forces of Georgia’s breakaway South Ossetia region into the Russian military’s command structure. Georgia condemned the move, which is likely to spark accusations from its Western allies that the Kremlin is absorbing the breakaway region into Russia by stealth, even though under international law it is part of Georgia’s sovereign territory. According to the text of the draft agreement, the separatists will adopt new operating procedures for their armed forces which will be subject to approval by Moscow. Additionally, the forces’ structure and objectives will be determined in agreement with Russia.
UN Official Demands Inquiry Into Kim Jong-nam’s Death
Rick Gladstone, THE NEW YORK TIMES
The United Nations investigator of human rights violations in North Korea inserted himself on Monday into the mystery over the assassination of the North Korean leader’s half-brother, calling for an independent inquiry and possible protection of “other persons from targeted killings.” The remarks by the investigator, Tomas Ojea Quintana, at a meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, essentially expanded the assassination of Kim Jong-nam, the estranged older sibling of Kim Jong-un, into a human rights issue.
One Month On, Malaysia Embalms Kim Jong-nam’s Body, Awaiting Next of Kin
Joseph Sipalan, REUTERS
The body of the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was embalmed this week in Kuala Lumpur, with no family member coming forward to claim the remains and as a diplomatic spat with Pyongyang drags on. It’s been over a month since Kim Jong-nam was murdered on Feb. 13, when Malaysian police say two women smeared super toxic VX nerve agent on his face at the budget terminal of Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Kim died within 20 minutes of the attack, before reaching the hospital. Since then, his body has been at a Kuala Lumpur morgue, and police say they will only hand it over to his next of kin. No one so far has come forward to claim the body, Malaysian authorities have said.
Poland to Lay Off Diplomats Who Worked Under Communism
Poland’s prime minister says a government-proposed bill calling for the dismissal of Foreign Ministry staff and diplomats who worked under communism is “necessary.” The ruling conservative party has made it a priority to remove from top state jobs people whose careers developed under communism. On Tuesday, the government of Prime Minister Beata Szydło approved a draft law that would lay off all Foreign Ministry employees hired before communism ended in 1989. Szydło said the proposal, which still faces a vote by legislators, would improve Poland’s diplomatic work. It would not cover Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski, who joined the ministry in 1992.
Ukrainian Lawmakers Criticize Arrests of Activists Blockading Trade with East
RADIO FREE EUROPE
Ukrainian opposition lawmakers have demanded an explanation from authorities after the arrests of several dozen activists who were blocking trade with eastern areas held by Russia-backed separatists. The blockade began in January and has mainly disrupted rail shipments of coal that is mined in separatist-held territory and fuels power plants elsewhere in Ukraine. Activists and lawmakers who support the blockade say coal sales have funded the separatists’ war against government forces, which has killed more than 9,750 people in eastern Ukraine since April 2014. Ukraine’s main security agency, the SBU, said that it arrested 43 “blockader” activists at three sites on March 13 after they refused to surrender weapons.