02/16/2023, 00.00
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Burmese pastor Samson indicted for 'terrorism', faces 13 years

Today's headlines: Khamenei reportedly orders transfer of €4 billion to a counter of his son in Venezuela; Sri Lanka and India to connect power grids and strengthen trade partnership; Tokyo authorises the army to shoot down balloons and unidentified flying objects; Philippines and US study massive military exercises to counter China; Seoul welcomes two Russian citizens who fled Putin's mobilisation.

A well-known Protestant pastor was indicted under the 'anti-terrorism' rule of the military coup junta and faces up to 13 years. Hkalam Samson is accused in open proceedings in Myitkyina Prison (Kachin State) under Article 52 (a) of the Criminal Code. He is 'guilty' of meeting and praying with members of the democratic government-in-exile. 

Iran's supreme leader has ordered the transfer of more than 4 billion euro to an account of his son in a bank in Venezuela. The denunciation comes from the founder of the Ahvazi Liberal Party, a group opposed to the Ayatollahs. The request in a document is signed by Ali Khamenei's chief of staff and is addressed to Central Bank Governor Ali Saleh-Abadi.

Sri Lanka and India intend to connect power grids and begin negotiations to strengthen trade partnership within two months. This is according to a diplomatic source in Colombo, with the country seeking solutions to its worst crisis in decades. The idea is to develop renewables in the north, to transport energy to southern India with a cross-border link. 

Tokyo authorises the army to shoot down unidentified, unmanned balloons and flying objects that invade its airspace. In recent days, the admission of 'strong suspicions' of incursions by Chinese means, including three spy balloons from 2019. A turning point that marks the end of the 'pacifist' approach that banned the use of weapons except for reasons of defence against imminent danger. 

The Philippines and the United States plan to carry out the largest joint military exercises since 2015 this year, amid rising tensions with Beijing in the South China Sea. The decision confirms the improving relations between Washington and Manila under Marcos and the two countries' common interest in countering the dragon's 'aggressive' policy in the area. 

South Korea has admitted two of the five Russian citizens who escaped from mobilisation by travelling through Mongolia and the Philippines and were stranded for more than four months at Seoul-Incheon International Airport. Seoul granted them refugee status denied to a third member of the group, while the last two are awaiting a decision.

In January, the Russian oil company Urals increased its crude oil exports to China to one million tonnes from 0.3 million tonnes in December 2022. Competition with India, which imports large quantities at discounted prices, is intensifying. Asian companies are less and less afraid of falling foul of secondary sanctions, getting the discounts desired by Moscow.

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