06/06/2023, 10.21
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North Korea: Suicides Kim Jong-un's new enemy

Today's Headlines: Record rise in university fees in China;  Australia's most decorated soldier in the storm for abuse and murder in Afghanistan; Venezuelan President Maduro in Saudi Arabia; Rublev's Trinity icon in the Church of the Holy Saviour in Moscow.


According to Radio Free Asia sources, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un issued a secret order to local authorities to prevent suicides after data showed an increase of people taking their own lives this year. At the end of May, the South Korean National Intelligence Service had reported that suicides had increased by about 40% compared to last year.


Chinese universities are drastically increasing tuition fees this year, due to a shrinking national budget for third level education and tight finances of local governments. The Shanghai-based East China University of Science and Technology, for example, raised tuition fees by 54% to 7,700 yuan (,082) a year for some freshmen majoring in science, engineering and physical education, and by 30% for liberal arts.


In Australia, a verdict in a major libel trial ruled that the most decorated living soldier - Ben Roberts-Smith, 44 - lied to cover up his misconduct and threatened witnesses. The court also declared him "complicit and responsible" for the murder of four Afghans between 2009 and 2013.


Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro arrived in Saudi Arabia yesterday for his first visit to the country since 2015. He has meetings with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on his agenda. The visit is aimed at further cementing ties with Riyad by the South American country - South America's largest oil producer - despite opposition from Washington.


Russia is suspected of buying back tank and missile parts previously shipped to Myanmar and India, according to a Nikkei analysis of official customs documents. Due to trade sanctions, Moscow has difficulty obtaining the necessary components and may be re-importing the parts to improve weapons for the war in Ukraine.


Rublev's icon of the Trinity has been brought to the Cathedral of the Holy Saviour in Moscow and placed in the central capsule of the church, under the supervision of the Ministry of Culture, which assured that "there was no damage". The icon will remain on display for devotion until 18 June, following the agreement signed by the Patriarchate with the restorers of the Tretyakov Gallery, although Patriarch Kirill intends to leave it there for a year.


Prime Minister Pašinyan of Armenia travelled to Ankara to attend the inauguration of the new term of the Erdogan presidency. A historic decision that drew criticism, but also enthusiastic support at home, as a sign of reconciliation between peoples who have always been hostile. No Armenian leader had ever been to Turkey for these reasons.

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