speech celebrating the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China, Chinese President Xi Jinping strongly reaffirmed the territory’s autonomy under the promise of “One Country, Two Systems” but with one very strong caveat: Beijing has full jurisdiction and Hong Kong must respect that.

A Citi branch in Moscow

he two argued that a local licence issued by Turkey’s RTUK media regulator would infringe on their independence and allow Ankara to censor their content.

Rights advocates said Turkey’s decision underscores erosion to freedom of expression in the run up to next year’s general election, the toughest of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s two-decade rule.

It also threatens to spark new tensions in Turkey’s relations with two of its most important Western allies and trading partners.

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Citigroup is in talks with several local buyers over a potential sale of its operations in Russia, making it the latest major foreign bank to exit the country following Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. The US group is in negotiations with privately owned Russian companies including Expobank and insurance company Reso-Garantia over the fate of its consumer and commercial businesses, according to people familiar with the matter. Rosbank, Société Générale’s former Russian subsidiary, has also expressed interest in buying Citi’s operations, but its ability to complete any deal has been thrown into doubt after the UK sanctioned its new owner, oligarch Vladimir Potanin, this week. He remains unsanctioned by the US and EU, however. Potanin’s interest in Citi’s assets is a new development after he said previously that he was not interested in buying any more banks after acquiring a stake in fintech TCS from fellow Russian billionaire Oleg Tinkov, who said he was forced into the sale by the Kremlin after criticising the war. Citi is also winding down its corporate banking balances and operations as quickly as it can, but is continuing to work with its multinational clients that are also exiting the country after western sanctions made it all but impossible to remain in Russia.

The broadcasters went dark hours after a NATO summit at which Erdogan won praise from US President Joe Biden for lifting his objections to Sweden and Finland joining the Western defence alliance.

The US State Department criticised the new rules when they first went into force in February, stressing that a “free media is essential to a robust democracy”.

The new media regulation applies to foreign providers of Turkish audio and video content.

On Friday, both news portals were inaccessible in Turkey without the use of VPN technology that hides users’ location.

“One Country, Two Systems is an unprecedented great initiative of historical significance,” Xi declared in a victory lap of a speech now that the opposition in the city has either been silenced or behind bars. “There is no reason to change such a good system, and it must be maintained for a long time.”

Xi’s words run counter to the view of many in the city who supported the now-silenced pro-democracy activists and Western politicians around the world who view Beijing’s increasing direct influence in the city as reneging on the agreement made between the United Kingdom and China that led to the handover on July 1, 1997.

Also marking the occasion, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson issued a video statement on Twitter saying, “We made a promise to the territory and its people and we intend to keep it, doing all we can to hold China to its commitment”

“We simply cannot avoid the fact that for some time now, Beijing has been failing to comply with its obligations. It’s a state of affairs that threatens both the rights and freedoms of Hong Kongers and the continued progress and prosperity of their home.”

PHOTO: People hold the Hong Kong and Chinese flags while singing to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the city's handover from Britain to China, in Hong Kong on July 1, 2022. (Isaac Lawrence/AFP via Getty Images)
PHOTO: People hold the Hong Kong and Chinese flags while singing to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the city’s handover from Britain to China, in Hong Kong on July 1, 2022. (Isaac Lawrence/AFP via Getty Images)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken added, “it is now evident that Hong Kong and Beijing authorities no longer view democratic participation, fundamental freedoms, and an independent media” as a part of its promise.

In Xi’s view, the Chinese government is fulfilling its obligations in allowing the former British colony to choose its path and thrive economically, if not politically, over the past quarter century.

“Hong Kong will maintain the original capitalist system unchanged for a long time and enjoy a high degree of autonomy” Xi, who is on a two-day visit to the city, told a 1,300-strong gathering of Hong Kong’s political and business elite at t

American basketball star Brittney Griner appeared in a Moscow-area court for trial Friday, about 4 1/2 months after she was arrested on cannabis possession charges at an airport while traveling to play for a Russian team.

Griner was arrested in February at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport. Police said she was carrying vape canisters with cannabis oil. The Phoenix Mercury center and two-time U.S. Olympic gold medalist could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted of large-scale transportation of drugs.

Fewer than 1% of defendants in Russian criminal cases are acquitted, and unlike in the U.S., acquittals can be overturned.

At a closed-door preliminary hearing Monday in the Moscow suburb of Khimki, Griner’s detention was extended for another six months, to Dec. 20.

Photos obtained by The Associated Press, including one of the few close-ups of Griner since her arrest on Feb. 17, showed the 31-year-old in handcuffs and looking straight ahead, unlike a previous court appearance where she kept her head down and covered with a hood.

She declined to answer questions from reporters in English as she was led through the courthouse, according to video shown in Russian media. Russian media later reported that Griner’s lawyers would not comment on how their client planned to plead.

The athlete’s detention and trial come at an extraordinarily low point in Moscow-Washington relations. Griner was arrested less than a week before Russia sent troops into Ukraine, which aggravated already high tensions between the two countries. The invasion led to sweeping sanctions imposed by the United States, and Russia denounced the U.S. for sending weapons to Ukraine.

Amid the tensions, Griner’s supporters have kept a low profile in hopes of a quiet resolution, until May, when the State Department reclassified her as wrongfully detained and shifted oversight of her case to its special presidential envoy for hostage affairs — effectively the U.S. government’s chief negotiator.

Griner’s wife, Cherelle, has urged President Joe Biden to secure her release, calling her “a political pawn.”

“It was good to see her in some of those images, but it’s tough. Every time’s a reminder that their teammate, their friend, is wrongfully imprisoned in another country,” Phoenix Mercury coach Vanessa Nygaard said Monday.

The coach hoped that Biden would “take the steps to ensure she comes home.”

Griner’s supporters have encouraged a prisoner swap like the one in April that brought home Marine veteran Trevor Reed in exchange for a Russian pilot convicted of drug trafficking conspiracy.

Russian news media have repeatedly raised speculation that she could be swapped for Russian arms trader Viktor Bout, nicknamed “the Merchant of Death,” who is serving a 25-year sentence on conviction of conspiracy to kill U.S. citizens and providing aid to a terrorist organization.

Russia has agitated for Bout’s release for years. But the wide discrepancy between Griner’s case — which involves alleged possession of vape cartridges containing cannabis oil — and Bout’s global dealings in deadly weapons could make such a swap unpalatable to the U.S.

Others have suggested that she could be traded in tandem with Paul Whelan, a former Marine and security director serving a 16-year sentence on an espionage conviction that the United States has repeatedly described as a setup.

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