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THE HAGUE: Dutch police arrested three people after climate activists targeted Johannes Vermeer’s painting “Girl with a Pearl Earring” at the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague on Thursday.
Two people glued themselves to the famed painting and adjoining wall, while another threw an unknown substance, but the artwork was behind glass and undamaged, the Mauritshuis said.
Social media images showed activists wearing “Just Stop Oil” T-shirts and saying “how do you feel,” while museum visitors shouted “shame” and “you’re stupid.”
The attack comes after environmental activists poured tomato soup over Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” at the National Gallery in London and smeared mashed potato over a Monet painting in Germany.
“Around 2 p.m. (1200 GMT) two people glued themselves to the Girl with a Pearl Earring by Johannes Vermeer,” the Mauritshuis said in a statement to AFP.
“One person glued his head to the painting, which was behind glass, and the other person glued his hand to the green wall next to the painting. A third person threw an unknown substance at the painting.”
The museum added: “We have immediately inspected the painting, which was done by our restorers. Fortunately the painting… was not damaged.”
The painting would return on display “as soon as possible.”
“Art is defenseless and to try and damage it for whichever cause, we strongly condemn it,” the Mauritshuis added.
The Hague police said on Twitter that they had arrested three people in a museum for “public violence against goods.”
Dozens of people were gathered inside the museum waiting for news, while security guards told them not to get too close to the other paintings, an AFP reporter said.
The entrance to the room where the “Girl with a Pearl Earring” normally hangs was blocked off by a large reproduction oil painting and a guard said it would likely be closed for the rest of the day.
Two police vans were parked outside the museum while investigations continued.
BEIJING: Protesters in southern China clashed with police in a rare display of public opposition to anti-COVID measures, videos posted online showed, after lockdowns in the area were extended over a surge in infections.
Videos circulating on social media since Monday night and verified by AFP showed hundreds taking to the street in the industrial metropolis of Guangzhou, some tearing down cordons intended to keep locked-down residents from leaving their homes.
A few scuffled with officials in hazmat suits.
“No more testing,” protesters chanted, with some throwing debris at police.
Another video shows a man trying to swim across a waterway that separates the affected district of Haizhu from the neighboring area, with passers-by suggesting the man was trying to escape the lockdown.
The district of more than 1.8 million residents has been the source of the bulk of Guangzhou’s COVID-19 cases.
Officials announced the first snap lockdown there in late October, targeting dozens of residential neighborhoods.
And on Monday, a lockdown order covering nearly two-thirds of the district was extended until Wednesday night.
City officials launched mandatory mass testing in nine districts last week, as daily case numbers rose above 1,000.
The megacity of more than 18 million people reported nearly 2,300 cases on Tuesday, most of them asymptomatic.
China is the only major economy sticking to a zero-Covid strategy to stamp out virus clusters as they emerge, but swift and harsh lockdowns have battered the economy.
Under the policy, thousands of residents can be locked down over just one positive case in their housing complex.
But a torrent of lockdown-related scandals — where residents have complained of inadequate conditions, food shortages and delayed emergency medical care — have chipped away at public confidence in the policy.
Dozens of people took to the streets in southern tech hub Shenzhen in September after officials announced a snap lockdown over a handful of COVID cases.
And earlier this year, a gruelling two-month lockdown in Shanghai — the world’s third most populous city with more than 25 million residents — saw widespread food shortages, deaths due to lack of access to medical care, and scattered protests.
On Friday the government announced some relaxation of the measures, cutting quarantine times for inbound travelers and scrapping the requirement to identify and isolate “secondary close contacts” — those who may have come into contact with infected people.
INDONESIA: Now is the time to end Russia’s “destructive” war and “save thousands of lives,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told the G20 summit in Bali via video address on Tuesday.
“I am convinced now is the time when the Russian destructive war must and can be stopped,” he said, according to a speech obtained by AFP. “It will save thousands of lives.”
Wearing his now-familiar army green T-shirt and speaking in Ukrainian, Zelensky addressed leaders including China’s Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden.
Russian President Vladimir Putin was not in the room, however, having shunned the gathering and sent his Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to Bali in his place.
Zelensky slammed “the crazy threats of nuclear weapons that Russian officials resort to,” referring to dark rhetoric by Putin that has made even Beijing uncomfortable.
“There are and cannot be any excuses for nuclear blackmail,” he added, pointedly thanking the “G19” — excluding Russia — for “making this clear.”
The Ukrainian leader also called for the expansion and indefinite extension of a grain deal brokered by the United Nations and Turkiye that will expire on November 19.
Ukraine is one of the world’s top grain producers, and the Russian invasion had blocked 20 million tons of grain in its ports until the deal was reached in July.
“I believe our export grain initiative deserves an indefinite extension — no matter when the war ends,” Zelensky said, urging its expansion to other ports.
The Ukrainian leader also accused Russia of an “attempt to turn the cold into a weapon” with a campaign of strikes against key infrastructure ahead of the coming winter.
Zelensky also backed a US-led push for a price cap on Russian oil exports “so that energy resources are no longer used as weapons.”
“If Russia is trying to deprive Ukraine, Europe and all energy consumers in the world of predictability and price stability, the answer to this should be a forced limitation of export prices for Russia.”
NUSA DUA, Indonesia: The G20 will issue an end-of-summit statement in which “most” members will strongly condemn Russia’s war against Ukraine, a senior US official said Tuesday in Bali.
“I think you’re going to see most members of the G-20 make clear that they condemn Russia’s war in Ukraine, that they see Russia’s war in Ukraine as the root source of immense economic and humanitarian suffering in the world,” the official told reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The statement, to be issued at the end of the summit this week in Bali, will show that the G20 is “really isolating Russia” — a member of the group of the world’s biggest economies.
The official would not say how many countries would not join the condemnation, nor how diplomats would craft the non-unanimous declaration within the document, which is issued by all member countries.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who ordered a devastating and so far largely failing invasion of Ukraine nine months ago, has not joined other leaders in Bali. Russia is represented at the summit by his foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov.
With Russia objecting even to the use of the word “war” to describe its attempt to subjugate neighboring Ukraine, there has been intense speculation over how — or if — G20 countries would respond to the crisis in a collective manner.
The US official said nevertheless, “Russia’s war of aggression … is being condemned in the strongest possible terms.”
The statement, said the official, “speaks in very clear terms.”
 
WASHINGTON: Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov will meet with White House officials on Tuesday to discuss the treatment of Russians who are in US prisons, the Russian embassy said on Tuesday.
“It seems to me that the American authorities could do more, at least help people who find themselves in such difficult conditions, both with food and medical care,” Antonov was cited as saying on the embassy’s Telegram messaging app.
On Monday, US Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns met with Sergei Naryshkin, head of Russia’s SVR foreign intelligence service, to discuss, among others, the issue of US prisoners in Russia.
The Russian embassy said that Antonov will “raise the issue of softening the conditions of detention of Russians in US prisons” at his meeting at the White House.
The embassy also said that Antonov visited Roman Seleznev, the son of Russian lawmaker Valery Seleznev, who was sentenced in 2017 to 27 years in prison for his role in a cyber assault.
Antonov called Seleznev’s prison conditions in North Carolina “unacceptable” and said the embassy will demand Seleznev is transferred to a penitentiary with better care.
“Roman’s (Seleznev’s) illnesses from being in jail have only gotten worse,” Antonov said.
Russian newspaper Izvestia cited Seleznev’s lawyer in August as saying that Seleznev would be an “ideal candidate” for a potential prisoner exchange between Moscow and Washington, that have been negotiated between the two countries.
Washington has offered to exchange Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer serving a 25-year prison sentence in the United States, for US basketball star Brittney Griner, sentenced in August to nine years in a penal colony on charges of possessing and smuggling drugs.
Moscow has also suggested it is open to a prisoner swap, but there have been so far no official decisions.
Former US ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson, who traveled to Moscow in September, said that he thought an exchange of detainees would include two Russians in exchange for the two Americans. He did not identify the Russians.
 

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