Your Friday Briefing: Russia’s Growing Isolation

Hello. We cover Russia’s departure from the UN Human Rights Council, a political blow to Pakistani Imran Khan and Shanghai’s growing frustration with Covid restrictions.

Diplomacy: Prospects for the success of the peace talks have dimmed: the Russian foreign minister said that Ukraine had offered a new draft agreement that deviated from previous versions, and President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus demanded that his country is included in the negotiations.

State of the war:


Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Thursday overturned Prime Minister Imran Khan’s decision to dissolve parliament, paving the way for a vote of no confidence on Saturday.

The vote, which Khan had tried to block, is widely expected to impeach him. If this happens, an interim government will be formed and the country will prepare for elections in the coming months.

The Supreme Court ruling is a major victory for opposition leaders, who said Khan had attempted an “open coup”. New elections would be a test for the coalition of opposition parties, which are generally at loggerheads but have coalesced around the no-confidence vote.

To analyse: The military controls key levers of power and Khan’s relationship with key leaders soured after he refused to back a new head of the country’s intelligence agency last year.

Economy: The Pakistani rupee fell to a record low on Thursday. Analysts say the current crisis has further polarized the country and could lead to unrest.


The city of 26 million is facing its worst outbreak since the pandemic began, and Chinese authorities have rolled out their usual tough restrictions to curb transmission.

But Shanghai is different. Residents of the city – China’s wealthiest and most populous – are voicing their grievances. They have signed petitions protesting a policy that separates infected children from their parents, criticized conditions in isolation centers and defiantly confronted authorities.

Their grumbling could eat away at the power of the central government, as the crisis quickly becomes the most significant political test yet of the country’s zero-tolerance approach – a policy on which the Chinese Communist Party has staked its legitimacy.

To analyse: The city is home to a dynamic middle class but also to many elites, accustomed to a relatively high level of political autonomy.

Context: Officials had insisted Shanghai was too important to quarantine. “The fact that Shanghai is on lockdown suggests that we are quite close to the red line, the tolerable limit of Covid zero accuracy,” said a political scientist.

Here are the latest pandemic updates and maps.

In other news:

Rihanna’s midriff-baring maternity outfits are both high fashion and, perhaps, transgressive political statements. As right-wing lawmakers fight to control women’s bodies, Rihanna “mixes the right to dress as you want with all sorts of other more constitutional rights,” writes our leading fashion critic. “It’s a pretty drastic move.”

For years, the rich collection of the Museum of Modern Art in Caracas has been stored in the middle of a decaying housing complex, as unpaid workers and cultural officials struggle to preserve the collection.

Oil wealth once supported the museum, a gem of Venezuela’s modernization project. But in 2001, the socialist government launched a “cultural revolution,” turning every institution into an ideological battleground. The art, which includes works by Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, Marc Chagall and Lucian Freud, has been caught in the crossfire.

Last February, the museum began a partial reopening after a two-year closure; workers are painting galleries and fixing the lighting in a few rooms. The new exhibit is modest, with just 86 of the museum’s 4,500 works on display, and reflects the country’s uneven economic recovery.

Experts fear the collection remains at risk of defacement and theft without salary increases and a profound change in how the state views culture. Last year, civil servants earned the equivalent of $12 a month, and the museum received a daily budget of $1.50 to maintain its facilities.

Yogurt adds moisture to these bright and light kofte-style meatballs.

“Aline” is a passionate and sometimes awkward ode to singer Celine Dion.