World News Roundup: 'It's dead out here': China's slow exit from zero-COVID; Israel's Netanyahu gets an extension until Dec. 21 to form government and more
Five civilians were killed and two wounded in Ukrainian-controlled parts of Donetsk over the previous day, he said early on Friday. Griner lands in U.S. as Russia's Bout greets family in Moscow Basketball star Brittney Griner landed in the United States on Friday after 10 months in Russian detention following a prisoner swap with arms dealer Viktor Bout who flew home hours earlier to embrace his family on the airport tarmac in Moscow.
Following is a summary of current world news briefs.
'It's dead out here': China's slow exit from zero-COVID
Judging by Friday's quiet streets in China's capital Beijing and the reluctance of some businesses to drop COVID curbs, enduring anxieties about the coronavirus are likely to hamper a speedy return to health for the world's second-largest economy. Although the government on Wednesday loosened key parts of its strict "zero-COVID" policy that has kept the pandemic largely at bay for the past three years, many people appear wary of being too quick to shake off the shackles.
Israel's Netanyahu gets an extension until Dec. 21 to form government
Israeli Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu will have until Dec. 21 to form a new government after President Isaac Herzog granted him a 10-day extension, Herzog's office said on Friday. Netanyahu was tapped to form a new government after a right-wing victory in a Nov. 1 election. While he has secured majority support in parliament, he has yet to finalize the coalition agreements.
Russian opposition figure gets 8-1/2 years' jail on 'false information' charge
Russian opposition politician Ilya Yashin was sentenced in court to eight-and-a-half years in prison on Friday on charges of spreading "false information" about the army. Yashin, 39, was tried over a YouTube video released in April in which he discussed evidence uncovered by Western journalists of Russian atrocities in Bucha, near Kyiv, and cast doubt on the official Moscow version that such reports had been fabricated as a "provocation" against Russia.
Russian state media lauds Putin's 'win' on Viktor Bout exchange
Russian state media on Friday lauded President Vladimir Putin for "winning" a prisoner exchange with the United States by swapping U.S. basketball player Brittney Griner for notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout. "Everyone will forget about Griner tomorrow," Russian state television host Yevgeny Popov wrote on Telegram on Thursday. "Bout's life is only beginning."
As China loosens COVID restrictions, protesters fear retribution
Late last month, Shanghai resident Pei was one of many people who came out in support of historic protests against China's COVID-19 curbs, including filming several seconds of footage of a man being arrested on a street corner. Almost immediately, Pei said, five or six plainclothes police grabbed him. He was taken to a police station and held for 20 hours, at times with his arms and legs tied to a chair, he told Reuters.
Saudi Arabia gathers China's Xi with Arab leaders in 'new era' of ties
Chinese President Xi Jinping met Gulf Arab leaders in Riyadh on Friday in the first of two "milestone" Arab summits showcasing Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as an aspiring leader of the Middle East and key partner for global powers. Xi, who has been welcomed in Saudi Arabia with pomp and ceremony, signed a strategic partnership pact with the world's top oil exporter a day before Friday's meeting with the energy-rich, six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council.
German security forces loyal to the constitution - interior ministry
Germany is confident in the loyalty of its own security forces, the interior ministry said on Friday, responding to claims that a far-right group with suspected plans to overthrow the state had sought to recruit soldiers and police officers. "We are firmly of the view that employees of security agencies stand firmly behind the constitution," a ministry spokesperson told reporters in Berlin.
UN human rights chief 'determined' to follow up with China on Xinjiang concerns
U.N. human rights chief Volker Turk said on Friday he wanted to engage with Beijing over the findings of a report issued by his predecessor that said China's treatment of Uyghurs and other Muslims in its Xinjiang region may constitute crimes against humanity. Grappling with the human rights record of China, a permanent member of the United Nations' Security Council, is one of the thorniest among dozens of human rights challenges facing the new high commissioner since he started in October.
Russia shells eastern front, Ukraine says, as war aims appear to shift
Russian forces have shelled the entire front line in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine, Ukrainian officials said, part of what appears to be the Kremlin's scaled-back ambition to secure only the bulk of territory it has claimed. The fiercest fighting was near the towns of Bakhmut and Avdiivka, the region's governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said in a television interview. Five civilians were killed and two wounded in Ukrainian-controlled parts of Donetsk over the previous day, he said early on Friday.
Griner lands in U.S. as Russia's Bout greets family in Moscow
Basketball star Brittney Griner landed in the United States on Friday after 10 months in Russian detention following a prisoner swap with arms dealer Viktor Bout who flew home hours earlier to embrace his family on the airport tarmac in Moscow. Securing Thursday's swap, after months of painstaking negotiations, was a rare instance of U.S.-Russian cooperation after Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, although the Kremlin was quick to say it did not show improving relations.
(With inputs from agencies.)