Kharkiv Mayor’s death at Charité raises questions among political experts

Photo credit: APA

On December 17 Kharkiv City Mayor Hennadiy Kernes died at the Charité clinic in Berlin where he was receiving treatment for Covid-19.  Despite the official clinic’s report, some political experts say his death was quite mysterious while at the same time questioning Kernes legitimacy as a mayor.  

Earlier in September, Kernes was transferred to Germany over a deteriorating health condition. He was placed in the intensive care unit of Berlin’s Charité clinical center. While he was under treatment, Kharkiv City Council had to repeatedly deny rumors of his death. On November 4, Kernes was officially declared Mayor of Kharkiv with getting 195,044 votes (60,3 %). German economist Andres Aslund questioned in his tweet if Kernes was still alive when he was reelected.

Besides, the place of Kernes’s death also leaves questions with no answer.

“Charité” (French) means “charity” or “mercy”. The clinic is known far beyond Germany. The hospital, founded in 1710 as a plague infirmary, is currently a multidisciplinary medical center, where patients with a wide variety of diseases are treated. The hospital complex has about 3000 beds in total. It employs 13,000 employees and treats over 800,000 outpatients and inpatients annually.

Apart from ordinary citizens, the Charité Hospital is a primary choice for many celebrities from all over the world. It’s no secret that many rich and famous patients, for example, from Russia or Saudi Arabia, privately receive medical care here. Among the Charité’s patients were Merkel, Steinmeier, Tymoshenko and other. It is especially popular among former USSR leaders who chose the pro-Western course. Recently, the Hospital’s name has been in headlines because of the Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny who received treatment there over supposedly poisoning (according to the Charité’s clinic report). But while Kernes, according to Kharkiv City Council reports, was getting better and even won elections, Charité, despte its claims on best medicine technologies, was helpless to Kernes. On the contrary, Navalny who reportedly spent quite a long time in coma was healed amazingly quickly.

Some experts believe that’s no coincidence. Known for its affiliations with politicians, the Charité doctors could have been careless for Kernes as the West might have written his off, while Navalny still poses the interest for pro-Western powers. But that’s already conspiracy theories.

Terrorist attack on Russian diplomats in Afghanistan may lead to further tensions between Moscow and Kabul

Afganistan, Kabul. Photo: Daily Sabah

On December 1, the car of the Russian Embassy with several employees inside was hit by an improvised explosive device in Kabul. Russian diplomats received a slight concussion.

According to preliminary estimates, the terrorist attack most likely targeted a pickup truck of the Afghan national security forces with servicemen on board moving ahead of the diplomatic vehicle, however, the attack against Russian citizens cannot be excluded, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.

“On December 1, while a Russian diplomatic mission’s car was driving along the road near the Russian embassy in Kabul, an improvised explosive device was detonated. The employees of the Russian diplomatic mission in the vehicle received a slight concussion”, Zakharova said.

The recent attack that affected the employees of the Russian diplomatic mission in Afghanistan might be aimed at setting contradictions in Russia’s cooperation with the inter-Afghan peace settlement countries, as well as excluding Moscow and it partners from it including the Moscow negotiation platform.

“We demand that the Afghan side conduct a thorough investigation of the incident and take comprehensive measures to ensure the security of personnel of Russian foreign missions in Afghanistan. The Russian Embassy in Kabul is implementing additional measures aimed at increasing the security of personnel and facilities of the diplomatic mission”,-Zakharova  added.

As the rate of violence in Afghanistan continues to increase the authority of the Islamic republic in the international diplomatic community is undermining which may also affect the further position of the contributing countries. Only in recent weeks Kabul was hit by a number of terrorist attacks, with more than 50 people killed in two assaults on educational centres and a rocket attack.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization develops efficient collaboration despite COVID-19 tough conditions

On November 30, 2020, the Council of Heads of Government (Prime Ministers) of the SCO member states held a videoconference meeting.  

SCO Secretary General Vladimir Norov in his speech stressed that despite tough conditions of the coronavirus pandemic, organization members could continue the course to strengthen trade, economic and humanitarian relations by the SCO countries, improve the mechanisms of cross cooperation and increase the international authority of the Organization.

Following the SCO summit held on November 10, the member states confirmed their commitment to joint work to overcome the socio-economic consequences of the pandemic, including a number of important initiatives aimed at establishing direct ties between medical institutions, cooperation in combating poverty, food security, industrial and energy cooperation, the development of digital literacy, as well as support for small businesses.

In this regard, V. Norov, suggested holding preliminary expert meetings for a substantive study of the goals and objectives of the initiatives put forward. He stressed the importance of continuing the practice of holding meetings of the Consortium of Economic Analytical Centers in conjunction with meetings of heads of government, and also noted the initiative to launch a new platform – the SCO Economic Forum.

Andrew Sheng, the expert of the University of Hong Kong’s Asia Global Institute believes, that a focus on developing domestic consumption will be important for China as its economy recovers. “China,” he says, “has come to the so-called Ford moment where if you pay your employees and treat them better, they will buy your national product. Domestic consumption will be a key growth driver for China, but it must be environmentally friendly “.

The foreign expert community summarized that the SCO is an active member of international relations. It makes significant investments in ensuring peace and security, settlement of international and regional conflicts exclusively through diplomacy. The SCO member states advocate the formation of a multipolar world order based on generally accepted principles of international law and equal international relations.

At present, the SCO acts as one of the pillars of the emerging world order. The participating countries will continue the vector and will deepen the political dialogue. Further contacts and cooperation on a wide range of issues with other countries and international organizations that are not members of the SCO are being promoted. At the same time, the number of countries wishing to participate in the SCO is growing every year.

Could a Third Way save Afghanistan?

As Afghanistan marks its 101st Anniversary as an independent state, both the international community and the Afghan people themselves are concerned about the country’s future pathway.

Since the fall of the monarchy the political system in Afghanistan has suffered a few major crises. The establishment of the Jihadi regimes and anti-patriotic coup along with global colonialism have resulted into the country’s destruction and led to the rise of Taliban. Moreover, President Ghani’s predecessor Hamid Karzai has led the country to a corrupt state unable to deal with the terrorist groups and Taliban.

Invaded by various foreign-backed powers and different political ideas (left and right) Afghanistan has lost its national identity and failed to build its own economic and political system. Torn with corruption, bloodshed and terrorism over the decades, the country today, as some analysts believe, could be saved by a Third Way. The Third Way is a philosophy used to describe the voice of masses, the silent majority of people all the world, including Afghanistan.

The Afghan society needs a reform. The Third Way and adoption of it by a society can lead Afghanistan to a modern state, different from which the country has experienced over the pat 40 years. The Third Way is based on the idea of establishing a secure and sustainable state where the rights of the citizens are respected regardless the influence of any political parties or social groups and ethnic, racial and religious beliefs. Ensuring security and social justice in Afghanistan can be reached through following the several principles.

A balance of Power. Afghanistan has enough of security and defense to maintain and consolidate the national power. Supported by a strong and professional political leadership with pro-national interests Afghanistan will be able to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity.  

A balance of domestic politics. The political and economic strategy of Afghanistan should be focused on creating sustainable living environment for its citizen and development of the economic and labor system that will allow Afghan citizens to use the country’s national resources and increase their living standards. In this scenario the Afghan people will stop looking for any possible ways to leave the country.

Balancing of economic growth and regional development will allow Afghan people to supply with jobs and comfortable life not only in major cities but also in the country’s provinces.

Finally, to achieve a Third Way the political system of the country should be based on national and democratic principles. The national principle means the country should use its own capacities and resources, while the democratic principle means that there is no other political regime acceptable in the country, but democracy.

By listening to the needs of the society and recovering its national values Afghanistan in the long-term perspective could become a safe and sovereign state with a sustainable economic growth.

Kiev’s silence on Hagia Sophia transformation may symbolize another Ukraine Orthodox crisis

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

On July 26, the St. Michael Square in Kiev hosted a mass prayer. The service that gathered over 1000 Christians in the St. Michael’s Golden Domed Monastery, was marked with a severe criticism of Metropolitan Epiphanius of Kiev and All Ukraine. The Metropolitan was blamed for having no reaction over Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s decision to transform the Hagia Sophia into a mosque.

Indeed, while the Russian Orthodox Church has openly criticized the decision of the Turkish President, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine along with the Greek Autocephalous Church (based in Istanbul) have been surprisingly silent over the important Erdogan’s move. For instance, Metropolitan Hilarion, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s department for external church relations, said Erdogan’s decision was a «slap in the face» to all Christian world. «We believe that in the current conditions this act is an unacceptable violation of religious freedom», Hilarion added.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, based in Istanbul and the spiritual leader of around 300 million Orthodox Christians around the world, only said that converting Hagia Sophia into a mosque would disappoint Christians and would «fracture» East and West.

No reaction from the Orthodox Church of Ukraine on the historical event may lead to certain changes and Metropolitan Epiphanius may soon be removed. Alternatively, the new head of the Kiev and All Ukraine may become Metropolitan Symeon (Shostacky) who has a huge support of former Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko. Known for being in high favor with Poroshenko, Symeon hosted multiple ceremonies with the former Ukrainian President. Earlier in 2018 Symeon was a Poroshenko’s nominee for the Metropolitan of the Ukrainan Church.

The transformation of Hagia Sophia into a mosque has sparked a huge debate across religious and cultural organizations worldwide. Despite high criticism of the Turkish President’s decision by UNESCO, EU leaders and the Christian Church, the Court in Turkey approved the Erdogan’s decree. On July 24, Hagia Sophia hosted first Islamic prayers in 86 years. The ceremony was opened by Recep Tayyip Erdogan and gathered over 350 000 Muslims.