Today's headlines: Thai court sentences a man to 28 years in prison for lese majesty; at least 162 victims in Afghanistan of the exceptional cold wave; Tokyo announces Spring downgrade of Covid-19 to a common respiratory infection; India launches its first vaccine in the form of a nasal spray; Seoul and Pyongyang violate armistice by encroaching on hostile territory; warning Russia faces a medicine shortage by 2023.
IRAN - AZERBAIJAN
A man with automatic weapons opened fire in the Azerbaijani embassy in Iran this morning, killing the head of the diplomatic representation's security service and wounding two other people. The police chief in Tehran reports that the assailant, whose identity is not known, attacked - together with two sons - for "personal reasons" related to "family matters".
A court in Chang Rai, northern Thailand, sentenced a man to 28 years in prison for insulting the monarchy in online posts. Mongkol Tirakote, 29, a clothing salesman and activist, was found guilty in two separate cases of defaming royalty. His prison sentence was originally 42 years, but the court reduced it at sentencing.
The updated toll speaks of at least 162 casualties since the 10th of January in Afghanistan, due to the exceptional cold wave that has hit the region. Experts say it is the worst winter in 15 years with temperatures as low as -34, and many say they are unable to get fuel to heat their homes and fight the freezing temperatures. Some 84 people died last week.
JAPAN - INDIA
Tokyo intends to change the Covid-19 classification level for dangerousness. As of 8 May Sars-Cov-2 should be downgraded to a common respiratory infection and restrictions still in place, such as masks indoors in public places, will be relaxed. Meanwhile, India (after China) is launching the first vaccine in the form of a nasal spray, in a double dose at 28-day intervals.
Seoul and Pyongyang have both violated the armistice regulating the joint border demilitarised zone (DMZ) by sending drones into each other's airspace last December. This was reported by the US-led United Nations Command (UNC) at the end of an investigation into the incursions violating the pact between two nations technically still at war with each other.
In Russia, a list of more than 100 medical preparations feared to be in short supply in 2023 has been published by the Ministry of Health, including aspirin, paracetamol, valerian and iodine. The majority of the reported medicines are of foreign manufacture, and the supply of possible equivalents will be monitored by a special commission, which may also authorise unregistered preparations.
The government of Uzbekistan has approved the organisation of the group of 'Followers of Tumaris', a legendary heroine from ancient times, which is to monitor the behaviour of women in Uzbek society, setting up representation points in every city and town, also to report abuse and violence against women.