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This is the Global News podcast from the BBC World Service.
Hello, I'm Oliver Conway and this edition is published in the early hours of Monday, the 31st of August. Our main stories for the third weekend in a row, tens of thousands of people take to the streets in Belarus demanding the resignation of President Lukashenko. But there's a tougher police response. And Israel says it had unpublicized talks with many more Arab countries about improving ties following the recent deal with the UAE.
Also in the podcast, you could sell them because it's a heritage and it represents the Lebanese heritage and culture. But now, because it's at risk of falling, I think that the owner is able to resell them to.
Developers are hoping to snap up historic homes damaged by Beirut's massive explosion.
For the third Sunday in a row, large numbers of protesters in Belarus have taken to the streets to demand that President Lukashenko resign. They are angered over his controversial re-election and the subsequent police crackdown.
Thousands marched through the capital, Minsk, but they faced a tougher response than the previous two weekends. Steve Rosenberg reports from Belarus.
Well, here in Minsk, Sunday's have become the key day for protesting against Alexander Lukashenko. People have taken to the streets again today with the white and red flags that have become the symbol of the protest movement. But it feels very different this Sunday. There are far more police, much tighter security. Riot police here with their shields. We've seen some scuffles and police detaining some of the protesters. And police have also cornered off Independence Square.
Suddenly, protesters start banging on the side of a police van after officers had made an arrest. Then by by the lines along Independence Avenue, they banged their shields on the ground as a warning to the crowd, I spot a woman looking confused. She's wandering alone down the road. Her name is Sasha and her husband has just been driven away by the police.
You know, it's it's terrible, really terrible. I feel a big fear inside of me. And it's just me. In another part of the city, thousands of protesters were not stopped by police. They accused Alexander Lukashenko of rigging the recent presidential election and of ordering the brutal police crackdown on his opponents that followed the vote. What happens next in Belarus depends on many things, on the determination of the protesters to keep taking to the streets, on whether Mr.
Lukashenko security forces remain loyal to him. And it may depend, too, on decisions made to the east. Russia's President Vladimir Putin made it clear this week that the Kremlin has a close eye on events in neighboring Belarus. Steve Rosenberg reporting from Minsk. Well, let's look at some of those questions raised by Steve with Uri Vendig from the BBC's Russian service. First of all, does it look like the protests will continue despite the pressure from the authorities?
At the moment, the opposition definitely is planning to continue the protests at least every Sunday. They're going to protest. And it's not only protest they are trying to establish to create new structures like Russian Popular Front, the college. They are calling for an economic boycott of the state, banks and enterprises. Then, of course, they are planning a new information campaign and they are even trying to start something that we can call the shadow structure. So several institutions of the state.
But will they succeed? This remains to be seen because obviously what we can see that Lukashenko will still in power. A vast majority of his siloviki, which is the law enforcement army of the majority of officials, seem to remain loyal to him.
As we heard, Russia is taking a close interest in this. Is Vladimir Putin 100 percent behind President Lukashenko despite their their previous differences?
Well, this is, of course, something that everybody's discussing in that part of the world at the moment. And there are several overlapping arguments that say, well, first is that Putin is perceived not to like and not to want any color revolutions in his neighborhood. And that is why some argue he will support he would support Lukashenko until the end. Second, and Putin is, yes, fed up with Lukashenko. He has posed himself as a defender of sovereignty of Belorussia against Russia, and that probably Putin will gladly see him replaced with someone more complacent, most of the Lukashenko possible successors, if there will be any.
Of course, there will be inevitably pro-Russian because the countries, Russia and Belorussia, they are as close as it gets, though Russia is totally dependent economically on Russia. So it's very probable that any successor of Lukashenko will be pro-Russian. The Belarussian will stay in the orbit of the Russian influence. That's why some argue Putin will not support Lukashenko, but will gladly see him again to be replaced with someone.
Yuri Vendig of the BBC Russian Service on events in Belarus. For several years after Yugoslavia's bloody disintegration, Montenegro remained in a union with Serbia. It finally became an independent sovereign state in 2006.
But the parliamentary election, which took place there on Sunday, has seen a tense battle between the pro-Western governing party and an opposition alliance seeking closer ties with Serbia and Russia and which has the backing of the powerful Serbian Orthodox Church.
Shortly before we recorded this podcast, I got the latest results from our Balkans correspondent, Guy Delaunay.
The latest. As things are extremely tight, it looks like President Milo Djukanovic, his party, the Democratic Party of Socialists, has got just about the same number of seats as the main opposition alliance. So that's going to make for some very interesting calculations. Other opposition alliances seem to have at this point enough seats to form a coalition with the main opposition alliance, which could see the Democratic Party of socialists out of power for the first time in three decades.
But of course, when you have these sort of elections with different coalition lists, a lot of it's in the post-election and negotiations. So the way the people go into the elections isn't necessarily the same way that they come out of them. But it's definitely a blow for President Milo Djukanovic, who's been the dominant figure in Montenegro's politics for the past 30 years. He was very much the face of his party's campaign, even if he personally wasn't standing for election.
And this fall in the vote of his party, that's fallen. Its popularity is definitely a personal blow for him, and it was quite a big turnout.
What's at stake for Montenegro?
Well, the turnout was closer to 80 percent than it was to 70 percent. And what's at stake for Montenegro, according to Mr. Djukanovic and his party, is the direction of the country. Do people want a country that's going to have reforms and joining the European Union, or do they want a country that's looking back to its union with Serbia and to what they called the the Orthodox churches medieval doctrines? I think it was. And both of the leading coalitions were playing it that way.
Now, this, of course, came as something of a disappointment to many voters who said this is all very well talking about religion and history, but we've got problems in the here and now. We've just been absolutely battered in our tourist season, lost more than 90 percent of our usual clients who were very, very important to us. Our economy is struggling. And your. Talking about religion, the BBC's Balkans correspondent, Guider Lowney, following the unexpected deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates earlier this month to normalize relations.
The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has said that his officials have held unpublicized talks with many more Arab countries speaking on the eve of Israel's first commercial flight to the UAE. Mr. Netanyahu said today's breakthroughs would become tomorrow's norms.
The Emirates officially abolished the anachronistic boycott of the Jewish state. And this opens the door for what I can only call unbridled trade tourism investments. Exchanges between the Middle East, two most advanced economies, and you will see how the sparks fly on this.
It's already happening in the US National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien said that more Arab and Muslim countries were likely to follow the example.
It's been almost four weeks since whole neighborhoods of old Beirut were shattered by a vast explosion of ammonium nitrate in the city's port. The blast on August the 4th left hundreds of thousands of people homeless and caused untold damage in a city which has seen much change in the decade since Lebanon's long civil war, many now fear that greed and unfettered development will accelerate the disappearance of Beirut's remaining Ottoman era buildings. Our correspondent Paul Adams reports on a city trying to recover.
Beirut's long, laborious cleanup goes on, broken glass still being swept into piles on street corners, belongings retrieved, damage assessed. Skyscrapers close to the port may have been gutted, but as the shockwave hurtled through the city's tightly packed streets on August the 4th, it left some of Beirut's most distinctive traditional buildings in ruins. Arched windows ripped out, red tiled roofs scattered, whole Ottoman era facades blown open.
We will support the roof from collapsing and we are trying to build in hard hats and HIVers jackets.
Civil engineer Hassan Alarabiya and his team are racing to save one such house from falling down.
The aim is to preserve the spirit of the collapsed buildings here in the street and also to preserve the spirit of the thrift itself.
So this is your house. Looks like those of you who live upstairs. And how old is this house? More than 100 years.
But how much can be saved in the neighborhood of GMAC? 70 year old Gabby Golomb shows me the house where he grew up. Pictures of old Beirut still hang on the walls, but this elegant house with its high ceilings and shuttered windows is a rack full of sinister cracks.
And what is the situation in the house now? Somebody that the wallet and the vultures are circling.
Rapacious developers, sensing an opportunity to snap up valuable real estate, are preying on families like Gabbie's who would love to rebuild their homes but can't afford to.
Somebody has already expressed an interest in this for so many. So many they can't. Every day, I think a lot of what was said or not, I know a lot of people say, yes, we are born here, we live here.
So even if someone comes and offers you a large amount of money, whatever they give us, but we don't want to that.
But there's a real danger that in these calamitous times, people battered by the explosion and Lebanon's collapsing economy will feel compelled to abandon their old homes, homes that will then be torn down, like so much of Beirut before, to make way for luxury apartment blocks that no one can afford and which stand half empty in Beirut.
They're always like at risk and in danger of taking them down and making a profit out of the land.
Judy is a photographer. For the last four years, he's been documenting the gradual disappearance of Beirut's architectural gems. Whenever you pass by here in Beirut, you can see these houses between the bigger buildings and the more modern. And we're standing in front of one of those houses now. We're probably no more than a few hundred meters from the port. So this house would have taken the full force of the blast. Yes, it did. And you can see on the side that the cracks like there really showing and you don't know if it's going to collapse at any time.
Now, this was a house that was already abandoned, is that right? Yes. It was already a bit distracted from the civil war. So it's been sitting here for decades, sort of crumbling away. Why was it allowed to just sit empty like that? It was it was a classy house. So you couldn't sell them because it's a heritage and it represents the Lebanese heritage and culture. But now, because it's at risk of falling, I think that the owner is able to resell them.
So this is a moment of danger for houses like this because they could simply disappear. Yes, that's true.
In theory, there's a government edict banning the sale of houses affected by the blast until restoration is over. But having allowed such destruction in the first place, the government is not exactly trusted to protect what's left. That report from Beirut by Paul Adams.
And still to come on the podcast, this is an important step for players and this has proven to be a good step forward for other major sports in the world.
Tennis, number one, leads a player rebellion against the sports authorities after weeks of tensions with Greece over maritime borders and access to natural resources.
Turkey has begun two weeks of military exercises in the eastern Mediterranean. It follows the decision by France to send forces to the region and hold military exercises of its own with Greece. So how dangerous are these shows of strength between two NATO allies? Pyotr Zalewski is the correspondent for The Economist magazine in Istanbul.
Well, so far, there have been no violent incidents. The problem is that anytime you have, you know, warships in the sea and F-16 flying above, there is always a possibility of skirmish of an accident. And in fact, when Greece held its exercises on Crete on Wednesday, Turkey intercepted six. Of its F-16 with its own F-16 and force them to turn back, and this essentially is about sovereignty, isn't it?
Right. This is about sovereignty and it's about access to gas and oil reserves, which everyone suspects beneath the waters of the Mediterranean. But at the core of the conflict is and has been about continental shelves, territorial waters and broadly speaking, sovereignty.
Turkey and Greece have been here before. They almost came to blows in 1976. Then again in 1987. Then again in 1996. Each time they managed to de-escalate. The difference now is that energy is involved and both Turkey and Greece are fighting over access to gas and oil fields. And so the stakes seem to be higher and no side seems to be very eager to hit the brakes.
And what do we know is out there that they are essentially fighting over a bit of a trick question because we don't know what's there in those waters that are now under dispute.
There haven't yet been any major fines. But those waters that maritime territory is crucial because it would be territory that would be used by Greece, Cyprus and others to construct a major pipeline delivering Mediterranean gas to Europe from Cyprus onto Crete and then to the European mainland.
And that's where Turkey is involved because Turkey wants to have a say in this.
How to the two sides sit down together. Is there anyone who could play the role of broker?
Berlin has attempted to play the role of broker most recently, and they did succeed in forcing Turkey to de-escalate earlier on during this conflict. But then Greece went ahead and signed a maritime agreement with Egypt, which Turkey considered a violation of their truce, and Turkey then responded.
So hope right now is that this is just posturing and that's obviously what it seems to be, and that at some point, Turkey and Greece will decide that they need to sit down and agree some kind of a solution. And right now, each side wants to be able to negotiate from a position of strength. And I think that's how we should look at this type of posturing in the Mediterranean.
Peter Zalewski talking to James Coomaraswamy. On Sunday, the world passed 25 million cases of covid-19.
Nearly four million of those were recorded in Brazil. Its failure to bring the outbreak under control has led to criticism of President Jabel scenario, including from the country's Roman Catholic bishops.
Around a third of them wrote an open letter condemning the, quote, systematic use of unscientific arguments in the approach to the pandemic in Brazil. But the Pentecostal evangelicals who share Mr. Bolton faith and are among his strongest supporters take a different view, as our South America correspondent Katie Watson reports from Sao Paolo. It's time for midweek mass at Christ the Redeemer Church on the eastern outskirts of Sao Paolo. The congregation is socially distancing and everyone is wearing masks. And on the door, the sanitation squad, several women dressed in orange T-shirts with the church's image on it all clutching a bottle of alcohol spray.
The pandemic is far from over in Brazil and the reminders are everywhere. Bishop Pedro Luis from Guinea is leading tonight's mass one with music, singing and some melodic swaying to he's a man of God but not afraid of getting political. He and more than 150 other bishops recently signed a letter criticizing President Jabel scenario for his leadership. It was called A Letter to God's People, which is just systematic.
Come here to discuss as we continue to witness and said difficult arguments to try to normalize the scores of thousands of people dead from covid-19 to speak up the representative democracy.
It was, he says, a duty of the church to intervene. After all, Bolzano is a man who came to power promising a policy of Brazil above everything and God above all. You know, it's ironic, isn't it? The fact that he defends the family yet also defends arms, doesn't protect the environment, doesn't talk about the poor, badmouths indigenous and black communities. It's a huge contradiction.
And he fears this president is undoing all the progress the countries made in recent years.
But Bill Narbethong, Mother Democratica, the Catholic Church had a big role in the return to democracy here at the end of the dictatorship in the 1980s.
So in the same way, today, the church is acting. I do see a parallel that we are taking steps back. I've been a priest for 40 years. We've gone back 50 ideologies shouldn't divide US political parties even so.
This month, the bells tolled across Brazil's Catholic churches to remember the dead. This has been a testing time for the whole country. For many who voted for Jabel scenario, the way he's handled the pandemic has led to a great deal of reflection and repentance. But he still has his supporters. In fact, in recent weeks, his approval rating has gone up. Much of that has been down to government handouts, the so-called Korona voucher that's helped to support the most vulnerable during the pandemic of the state.
There's a lot of pain and evangelically church in one of Sao Paulo's poorest areas. That help has no doubt kept many families afloat. It's Pastor Douglas Levy is a conservative who won't hear a bad word set against the president from the media he believes always takes his words out of context. He was joking when he called covid-19 the sniffles.
He says federal sympathy from the federal government has always been concerned with both the economy and people's health. This neighborhood is suffering like other low income areas. The social problems here are immense. But I want to teach people how to fish, not give them fish to give them the ability to think. So they aren't corrupted by handouts.
But for now, it's the handouts that are keeping the faith in the president. For some others, though, hold him responsible for the deaths of so many.
Katie Watson in Brazil. For the first time in its 54 year history, Europe's largest and loudest street party, the Notting Hill Carnival, is taking place online because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The two day event usually attracts more than a million people to the streets of West London. Parades, music and Caribbean food are all part of the spectacle which celebrates West Indian culture. This year, the organisers are bringing the festival direct to people's homes. As Katherine Stanchion reports.
Everybody unlike sealing divides right now. Everybody online right now, says Notting Hill Carnival 20 with the legendary Sunday is traditionally the Children's Day at Notting Hill.
The opportunity for families together and celebrate at one of the UK's most famous events. But this bank holiday weekend, the streets of West London aren't filled with the usual parades, live music and dancing. Instead, the carnival organisers have put together a digital festival with videos filmed from all over the world, as well as live deejay and musician sets. Terry Walker is an R and B singer who will be performing virtually this weekend. She says it's a change, but artists are making it work.
You know, it's fine because obviously if you're if you're a recording artist, if that's what you do anyway, because when you when you get that performance that ends up being a lifetime on your record, you have to kind of have the same energy where you're well. So you kind of have to switch yourself into that. But that's what I do anyway.
So so to be fabulous performance to myself, I mean, anyone can download the Notting Hill Carnival app and watch the festivities free of charge. Organizers and the police are urging people not to come to the area, but to enjoy the spectacle safely at home instead. Katherine, stand to fashion.
A split is emerging at the top of men's professional tennis. The world number one, Novak Djokovic has quit as president of the ATP Player Council to set up a breakaway union aimed at increasing player power. He and his fellow rebels want a greater share of prize money and a bigger say in running the sport.
I think this is an important step for players and for the sport. And this has proven to be a good step forward for other major sports, global sports around the world as well, that have a similar associations in place.
But he is facing some opposition. I heard more about the plan from our tennis correspondent, Russell Fuller.
This is the formation of a new organisation, the Professional Tennis Players Association, which Novak Djokovic and many others, I have to say, there were over 60 at the inaugural meeting on the grandstand court at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York last night, I think will give the players greater power. Now, they already have a seat at the table because the current structure sees the ATP, the Association of Tennis Professionals run by the players and the tournaments.
They have an equal voice, but the players don't feel that they are getting their own way as often as they would like, that their voice is not being heard sufficiently. And therefore, Novak Djokovic resigned as the president of the ATP Player Council that advises those board members who represent the players to set up this new organization, which he hopes will give players a greater voice.
But he hasn't won over everyone. Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer are not going along for the ride.
That's right. They are not in New York because Nadal prepared to stay in Europe, prepare for the French Open, which follows on two weeks after the US Open. And Roger Federer because he's injured. But Nadal took. Social media and said now is a time for unity, not separation, and Federer retweeted that and echoed his comments. They do have support from players like Canada's Milos Roundish. She's gone public. And somebody like Andy Murray, the British player, sees both sides of it.
He says, I'm not signing up for now, but I'm not against the concept of a union. What he would like to see is the current management team that run the ATP given a little bit longer to see what they can do and also for women to be involved. We thought a year ago when this was in the news that women would be involved, but this is very much a male only organisation for the now.
Interesting timing just ahead of the U.S. Open. And of course, that is the first grand slam event since the coronavirus outbreak. What can we expect?
Yeah, the timing is interesting and it's raised a few eyebrows given that the sport is trying to grapple with the fallout from the pandemic and also empty stadia. 854 thousand fans in New York last year, none this no qualifying events, no mixed doubles. The players staying in a bubble in one of two hotels or in a strictly vetted private house with 24 hour security. The other part of life for many people, but particularly elite sportsmen and women at the moment, is the testing that goes on the covid testing.
They have two tests within the first 48 hours of arriving in the bubble in New York. And there's been news in the last few hours that the French player, Buñuel pair, has returned a positive test. So he's been ruled out of the US Open. And now we wait for the Department of Health in New York City to decide how many other people may have come into close enough contact with him, which would mean they would have to go into self isolation for 14 days.
And if those are players, they'll also be out of the US Open.
The BBC tennis correspondent Russell Fuller. India and Russia have been declared joint winners of a major international chess tournament after a controversial final. The Chess Olympiad, which dates back to the 1920s, had to be held online because of the coronavirus. But it didn't go quite according to plan. As I heard from our South Asia editor and Barazani Nataraja.
It was a very interesting tournament because then we were checking online. The Indian newspapers were reporting that India had lost the final to Russia under bizarre circumstances because of connectivity problems. And the two of the Indian players, they were in a winning position, but they could not complete the moves because there was a global outage of some Internet problems. So they had to lose the match. They forfeited the matches. And and then the Indian authorities there lodged an appeal with the International Justice Federation.
There was a committee which looked into it and there was no unanimous decision. And as a result, they decided to jointly declare Russia and India as joint winners of this Olympiad, which is held once in two years. This was supposed to be held in Russia face to face tournament. But because of this unprecedented coronavirus pandemic, it was held online. It was a great victory for India because this is the first time they're being declared as winners and this time, of course, joint winners.
And I suppose those are the hazards of holding these kind of events over the Internet. But India actually benefited from a similar glitch earlier in the tournament as there was another incident in the run up to the tournament.
You know, this started in July with more than a hundred and sixty teams from around the world. And it is a very prestigious tournament. But they didn't want to postpone the tournament and that's why it was held online. And they should have actually, you know, visualized these kind of problems, given that Internet connectivity is not the same in different countries. And it was also the same problem with Armenia on Friday said one of its players was disconnected from the server during its quarterfinal match against India and lost on time.
But then the appeal was rejected and in fact, Armenia withdrew from the competition in protest.
And briefly, what will this win mean for chess in India?
This will definitely trigger more interest. Test itself is very popular, though not as popular as cricket in India. India has got about 64 grandmasters at the moment. There was a previous world champion on India which were not, and he was also taking part in this Olympiad. He was five times world champion. So this will also give more encouragement for parents to bring their kids and ask them to play chess because it is very popular, especially in southern India and Pakistan.
Natarajan and that's all from us for now.
There'll be an updated version of the Global News podcast later. I'm Oliver Conaway. Until next time, goodbye.