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Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re looking at university students in New Delhi pushing back against a ban on a controversial BBC program , the Czech presidential election runoff , and yet another Russian missile strike on Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital.

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re looking at university students in New Delhi pushing back against a ban on a controversial BBC program, the Czech presidential election runoff, and yet another Russian missile strike on Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital.

If you would like to receive Morning Brief in your inbox every weekday, please sign up here.

New Delhi Students Push Back on Documentary Ban

Telling someone not to do something and ensuring they don’t do it are two different and, at times, contradictory acts.

India banned a BBC documentary on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, called India: The Modi Question, which critically examined the then-Gujarati chief minister’s role in that state’s 2002 riots. Sharing video clips of or links to the documentary on social media was banned. (The Intercept reported that Twitter, despite CEO Elon Musk’s professed free speech absolutism, is indeed complying.)

But students at Jamia Millia Islamia—a Muslim-majority university in New Delhi—planned a screening of the documentary; dozens of people were detained ahead of it. Shortly before this happened, elsewhere in the capital, at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), power was cut on Tuesday night to try to stop the film from being shown.

The university, which asked students not to screen the film, did not immediately respond to reports alleging it had cut the power. Some JNU students have also said they were attacked. In any event, after the power went out, students passed out QR codes so their peers could watch the movie on their phones and laptops. The JNU students’ union, apparently undeterred by the power cut, has already said it will organize another screening of the film.

These two universities have previously been sites of protests against Modi and Indian authorities. In December 2019, Jamia students protested the Citizenship Amendment Act, a law many people criticized as discriminating against Muslims; police were reported to have stormed the university’s campus. In January 2020, JNU students accused police of failing to intervene when assailants heard to be yelling Hindu nationalist slogans violently ran through their own campus.

They are far from the only ones in India watching the documentary. The Students’ Federation of India in Kolkata’s Presidency University asked to screen the film. And ban or no ban, political groups in the leftist-led state of Kerala are pressing play and showing the documentary.

What We’re Following Today

Czech elections, round two. Czech voters head back to the polls on Friday for the second round of presidential elections. The choices in the runoff round are Andrej Babis, a former prime minister, and Petr Pavel, a former army chief. Pavel goes into the elections ahead in the polls. Babis made news in this past weekend’s debate when he said Czech soldiers wouldn’t be dispatched if fellow NATO members Poland or the Baltic states were attacked.

He has since tried to walk these comments back, but many voters nevertheless found the statement concerning. “In times of peace, countries can cope with populist leaders for one or two election terms. In times of crisis or even war, such leadership becomes increasingly problematic, threatening democracy not only from the inside but letting the gate open to outside revisionist powers as well,” Petr Tuma, a visiting fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Europe Center, wrote in an email to Foreign Policy.

Tuma, who previously worked at the Czech Embassy in Washington, added: “What’s at stake is the political culture in the country, the value of saying the truth in politics. Babis showed that in his ‘will to power’ he’s increasingly ready to play with fire, use hardline populist tools, create fear, spill lies, and further divide society. In the case of his accession to the [Prague] Castle, such an approach could become more of a norm than just a campaign exception.”

At least some in Prague agree: On Wednesday night, a crowd chanted “Pavel to the castle” on Prague’s Old Town Square.

Russia strikes Kyiv, again. A barrage of Russian missiles struck Kyiv on Thursday morning, less than 24 hours after the United States and Germany committed to sending battle tanks to Ukraine. Officials said at least 30 missiles and Ukrainian air defenses reportedly shot down 24 Iranian-made Shahed kamikaze drones and 15 missiles, according to the Guardian.

Deadly cold snap in Asia. Thousands of people have been stranded, with hundreds of flights canceled, and one person has died from frigid temperatures in East Asia. Record snowfalls have been reported in Japan, and Japanese as well as North Korean weather authorities have issued warnings. Northeast China also reached record lows of minus 53 degrees Celsius (minus 63.4 degrees Fahrenheit).

The snow and subfreezing temperatures were exacerbated by violent winds in the region. Such wind was also potentially responsible for the sinking of a cargo ship, registered by Hong Kong, in the seas between Japan and South Korea’s Jeju Island. Climate experts warn that subzero temperatures and huge snowstorms could be the “new norm.”

Keep an Eye On

“Worst food crisis.” Cindy McCain, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations’ agencies for food and agriculture in Rome, has said a spike in food prices will continue this year—and that only when Russia’s war in Ukraine is over will supplies be safe. McCain called it the “worst food crisis” and “worst humanitarian crisis” since World War II. She also said U.S. funding for the agencies would be “tight” this year.

Grounded in Berlin. Berlin’s airport said it canceled all flights on Wednesday because of a union strike; an estimated 300 takeoffs and landings as well as roughly 35,000 passengers were impacted. Staff were striking over pay demands. The union expected 1,500 employees to participate as it pushes for a monthly salary increase of 500 euros (about $545) for ground crew. Germany’s largest trade union was able to secure a salary increase after strikes last year. The air shutdown in Berlin follows last week’s “Black Thursday,” in which workers all over France went on strike to protest changes to their pension plans.

Wednesday’s Most Read

• The Real Reason Behind Peru’s Political Crisis by Simeon Tegel

• The M1 Abrams Is the Right Tank for the Job in Ukraine by Gabriel B. Collins and Christopher Bronk

• Turkey’s Problem Isn’t Sweden. It’s the United States. by Halil Karaveli

Odds and Ends

Fair play to them. During a soccer game in Portugal, a white card was issued for the very first time. The white card, which has only been adopted by Portugal and is an initiative of Portugal’s National Plan for Ethics in Sport, is meant to recognize and praise acts of fair play. It was issued by referee Catarina Campos during a women’s match between Sporting Lisbon and Benfica after both teams’ medical personnel rushed to help a fan who had fainted.