Syrian and Turkish militiamen heading for Ukraine in revenge move on Russians

Today's headlines: dozens of priests and deacons from the Moscow Patriarchate sign an appeal for an end to the "fratricidal war"; Chinese companies operating in Russia have started asking for advance payments; Pyongyang hid the invasion of Ukraine for days and blamed the imperialist West; Hong Kong activist convicted under anti-sedition law; in India four Christians arrested on false conversion charges. 


Fighters and militiamen from northern Syria and Turkey are attempting to get to Ukraine to fight against the Russians, in revenge on Moscow, whose support for President Assad has proved crucial in the conflict. For many it is also a way to continue their fight, because of the ceasefire in place in Syria and which seems to be holding. 


The Russian siege of Kharkiv was carried out using tactics used in Chechnya in the 1990s, from multiple "Grad" rocket launchers and more powerful "Uragan" and "Smerč" rocket launchers, to "fougas" areobombs dropped from aircraft. Meanwhile, 26 priests and deacons of the Moscow Patriarchate have issued a public appeal for an end to the "fratricidal war" in Ukraine.


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj has summoned the ambassadors from Kyrgyzstan and Georgia for consultations. The talks focused on the positions taken by the governments of the two countries, which have refused to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine.


Chinese companies operating in Russia are demanding advance payments for products to be imported, especially in the Sverdlovsk region in the Urals. This was reported by the president of the Sverdlovsk industrialists Ilja Tyščenko. China is one of the main trade players in the area. 


Pyongyang, an ally of Moscow, waited days before informing the nation, starting with party leaders in a confidential form down to local officials, of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The operation began on the 24th, but only two days later did the North Korean leadership release the first details. And they blamed the West for starting the war, for imperialist policies. 


Pro-democracy activist Tam Tak-chi, former vice-president of People Power, has been charged under the colonial-era Anti-Sedition Law. This morning, Judge Stanley Chan found him guilty on 11 counts and acquitted on three others. The hearing was adjourned until 31 May, when the court will hand down the sentence. 


Four Christians, including two pastors, were arrested on false conversion charges. The arrest took place on 19th February in the state of Madhya Pradesh. Police raided during a prayer ceremony and picked up seven people, releasing three of them in the following days. A believer who went to the police station to demand the release of all members was threatened with death. 


None of the 10 Asean nations are classified as "free" in Freedom House's 2022 report on political rights and individual freedoms. Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia are classified as "partly free". Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam received black jerseys, while Cambodia - the country's president - did little better, with its government protesting against the erroneous rating.