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Former Soviet Union Leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, Dies at 91

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The last leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, is dead.

Russian news agencies reported on Tuesday that he died in Moscow at the age of 91 years.

“Mikhail Sergeevich Gorbachev died this evening after a serious and long illness,” the Central Clinical Hospital in Moscow said, quoted by the Interfax, TASS and RIA Novosti news agencies.

Gorbachev, who was in power between 1985 and 1991 and helped bring US-Soviet relations out of a deep freeze, was the last surviving Cold War leader.

He spent much of the last two decades on the political periphery, intermittently calling for the Kremlin and the White House to mend ties as tensions soared to Cold War levels since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 and launched an offensive in Ukraine earlier this year.

Gorbachev spent the twilight years of his life in and out of hospital with increasingly fragile health and observed self-quarantine during the pandemic as a precaution against the coronavirus.

Gorbachev was remembered fondly in the West, where he was referred to affectionately by the nickname Gorby and best known for defusing US-Soviet nuclear tensions in the 1980s as well as bringing Eastern Europe out from behind the Iron Curtain.

He won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1990 for negotiating a historic nuclear arms pact with US leader Ronald Reagan and his decision to withhold the Soviet army when the Berlin Wall fell a year earlier was seen as key to preserving Cold War peace.

He was also championed in the West for spearheading reforms to achieve transparency and greater public discussion that hastened the breakup of the Soviet empire.

AFP

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Africa

South Africa: Gunmen Attack Birthday Party, Kill Host, Eight Others

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Gunmen opened fire on a group of people celebrating a birthday at the weekend in a township in South Africa, killing eight and wounding three others, police said on Monday.

The birthday celebrant was among those gunned down in the mass shooting in the southern port city of Gqeberha, formerly Port Elizabeth.

“The owner of the house was celebrating his birthday when two unknown gunmen entered the yard” on Sunday evening “and started shooting at the guests,” police said in a statement.

The gunmen “randomly shot at guests,” police said, adding “eight people died while three others are still fighting for their lives in hospital. The homeowner is among the deceased”.

The motive of the attack is yet unknown.

Nomthetheleli Mene, the provincial police chief for the Eastern Cape province, condemned the killings as “a blatant disregard for human life”.

An investigation has been launched into the attack and police said a manhunt for the perpetrators was underway.

Shootings are common in South Africa, which has one of the world’s highest murder rates, fuelled by gang violence and alcohol.

South Africa last year saw string of shootings that killed nearly two dozen at separate bars in working class suburbs in Johannesburg and in the eastern city of Pietermaritzburg.

Police Minister Bheki Cele, the national police commissioner Fannie Masemola, and crime experts were scheduled to visit the scene of the attack later Monday morning.

AFP

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World

US Govt Moves to Enforce Visa Restriction on Nigerians Undermining Democracy

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By Eric Elezuo

The Mr Joe Biden-led government of the United States of America, has announced its readiness to implement visa restrictions on individuals found to be undermining democracy in Nigeria as the February 25 Presidential election draws closer.

The announcement was made via a press statement obtained from the website of the official website of the Government of the United States of America through the Department of State, and signed by the Secretary of State,  Anthony J. Blinken.

The statement said the measure was necessary because America is committed to supporting and advancing democracy in Nigeria and around the world.

It further clarified that the restrictions are specific to certain individuals and not directed to Nigerian people and government.

The statement in full:

We are committed to supporting and advancing democracy in Nigeria and around the world.  Today, I am announcing visa restrictions on specific individuals in Nigeria for undermining the democratic process in a recent Nigerian election.

Under Section 212(a)(3)C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, these individuals will be found ineligible for visas to the United States under a policy to restrict visas of those believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining democracy in Nigeria.  Certain family members of such persons may also be subject to these restrictions.  Additional persons who undermine the democratic process in Nigeria—including in the lead-up to, during, and following Nigeria’s 2023 elections—may be found ineligible for U.S. visas under this policy.

The visa restrictions announced today are specific to certain individuals and are not directed at the Nigerian people or the Government of Nigeria.  The decision to impose visa restrictions reflects the commitment of the United States to support Nigerian aspirations to combat corruption and strengthen democracy and the rule of law.

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World

72-Year-Old Shooter Kills 10, Self During Lunar New Year festival in US

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No fewer than 10 people were killed by a 72-year-old at a dance club, in Monterey Park, Los Angeles, California in the United States on Saturday.

The septuagenarian gunman, identified as Huu Can Tran, however, killed himself on Sunday as the police approached him after he had carried out a Lunar New Year massacre.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said the shooter used a high-capacity magazine pistol to shoot up a ballroom dance venue popular with older patrons about 11km east of downtown Los Angeles.

Reuters reported that 10 people were also wounded but the investigators did not yet know a motive, although gun violence is frequent in the United States.

Luna did not identify any of the victims but said the five men and five women appeared to be in their 50s, 60s and beyond.

The sheriff said the pistol Tran used appeared to be illegal in California, where state laws ban any magazine holding more than 10 rounds.

“We want to know, we want to know how something this awful can happen,” Luna said.

After police say Tran carried out the shooting in Monterey Park at about 10 pm US time, he was confronted by bystanders at a second dance club in the neighbouring city of Alhambra about 20 minutes later, Luna said.

“I can tell you that the suspect walked in there, probably with the intent to kill more people, and two brave community members decided they were going to jump into action and disarm him,” Luna said.

Of the 10 people injured, seven remained hospitalised Sunday night, with at least one person in critical condition.

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