In the first story today, we go to Belarus to discuss some more about the fallout from last years’ presidential election. For those of you who have followed the Daily Briefing for a while, you’ll know that last year we covered quite a lot about the Belarusian election. For those of you who haven’t been around that long, here’s a quick summary.
President Lukashenko has been at the helm in Belarus since 1994 – around the time the new constitution was adopted. However, many of the elections have been seen as corrupt by international organisations. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) have claimed that due to arbitrary detention of opposition candidates, elections simply are not fair. This bubbled over last year following yet another corrupt election.
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya opposed President Lukashenko after her husband, the former opposition leader, was arrested. The night before the election, two of her senior staffers were arrested. She was threatened with having her children taken away from her and put in a state-run orphanage. As a result, she sent her children to live with their grandmother abroad.
Many contest that Ms. Tsikhanouskaya is the winner of the 2020 presidential election – and that President Lukashenko’s victory only happened as the result of mass electoral fraud.
The reason this story has cropped up again today is because Belarusian authorities have “sent a request to the General Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Lithuania to extradite Svetlana Tsikhanouskaya for criminal prosecution for crimes against the order of government, public safety and the state”. This is, at least, according to the Belarusian prosecutor general’s office.
Given that Lithuania opened its borders to Belarusian protestors on humanitarian grounds, and given that the President of Lithuania has said “we can not call Mr. Lukashenko legitimate because there were no free democratic elections in Belarus”, it seems unlikely that they will adhere to the request.
For the second story today, we move back to the UK (or potentially Cyprus, depending on how you interpret the story) to discuss tourism. So much of the news nowadays is about what we will soon be able to do again with the pandemic seemingly calming slightly. This conversation really got going in the UK when Johnson announced his roadmap out of COVID a couple weeks back. That plan is reliant on the suppression of the virus & a successful vaccination drive, but people still seem to be excited about the prospect of returning to normal.
The relaxation that the news appears to be focussed on today is that of foreign holidays. According to the Prime Minister’s roadmap, Britons will be able to get a tan abroad from the middle of May. Cyprus, though, do not appear to have received this memo – with them announcing today that Britons who have received both doses of the vaccine will be allowed to enter the country from the 1st May. The issue is that as it stands, UK law will not permit this until two weeks after this border relaxation.
Additionally, the UK government has not yet decided on how vaccination passports will work – or even whether they are going to introduce them.
The UK government could, theoretically, backtrack on its mid-May holiday date and swifty decide on a vaccination passport scheme – although this would certainly look like a u-turn following the Prime Minister’s insistence that the dates mentioned in his roadmap were simply the earliest possible relaxation dates. Aside from this, it’s hard to see how tourists would visit Cyprus without breaking the law.
Ultimately we’ll have to see if the government is able to stick to it’s mid May plans, if they get delayed and if they issue the vaccine passports required for Britons to be allowed entry.
NHS Workers Pay
In the last story of the Daily Briefing today, we discuss the controversy surrounding the increase in NHS workers pay. The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) have pushed for a pay increase of 12.5% to NHS staff – calculated to rectify the pay freeze of the last few years which allowed NHS workers wages to drop in real terms. The government, though, has agreed to increase their pay by only 1%.
The RCN have calculated that an experienced nurse would take home an extra £3.50 a week on the back of the pay increase.
There is debate as to whether the pay increase is above the rate of inflation. It depends on which measure of inflation you use. If the pay increase is below the rate of inflation, it can be argued that it is, in fact, not actually even a pay rise at all – instead, in real terms it would actually be considered a pay cut. As we said though, it depends on which measure of inflation you use – but a 1% rise isn’t likely to cut the mustard.
In response to this criticism, the Health Minister Nadine Dorries has stated that the pay increase is “the most we think we can afford” – although she did admit that “everybody in an ideal world would love to see nurses paid far more”.
What do you think though – should NHS workers be paid more? Or can we simply not afford it?
An Update on the Daily Briefing
One final note to end the week with. A couple times this week we’ve discussed the financial situation surrounding the Daily Briefing and how, despite us believing in the series, it’s not yet even close to profitable.
It’s been so encouraging to see the response from you and seeing how much you guys clearly like the Briefing. So let me make this commitment to you. We will be keeping the Briefing running for at least 2 more months, until May and we’ll update you before we make any further changes.
Lots of you commented wanting to know how you can help us out so let me tell you:
Firstly and most importantly, share the Briefing. Essentially for the Briefing to be viable we need to reach new people. So if you know someone who’d like the Briefing tell them about it. If you’ve got a few Instagram or Twitter followers share it with them.
Secondly and only if you feel able to – you can support us financially.
One great way to do this is by paying £4 a month for the Morning Briefing, our completely exclusive daily summary of the news sent out each morning. I personally make that newsletter scouring the web for the best stories, sharing them with you alongside my summaries. All the money from the Morning Briefing is pooled with the Daily Briefing so you’re funding this project too.
Alternatively you can always sign up to the TLDR Patreon or donate through PayPal.
If you don’t want to do any of those things, then no worries. At the end of the day, this is capitalism, and if it’s no longer viable then we’ll just move on from it – but we’re giving it at least 2 more months.
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