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CAIRO, Egypt — Field Marshal Abdul Fatah al-Sisi, who resigned his position as armed forces chief and announced his candidacy for the Egyptian presidency Wednesday, is the most popular figure in modern Egyptian politics. Polls suggest he is likely to win the upcoming election by a landslide.

But what would a Sisi presidency look like?

His vague public pronouncements, filled with calls for national unity and praise for the common man, have won him millions of Egyptian admirers, for whom he represents a much-needed aspiration of stability after the turbulent past three years.

But away from the speeches, there is another Sisi.

Between October and December 2013, a series of private recordings appeared on YouTube and were publicized by Rassd, an online news outlet associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, and Al Jazeera. The recordings, which included off-the-record interviews between Sisi and unidentified journalists as well as internal military video, are thought to have taken place between late 2012 and shortly before they became public, though it’s difficult to tell, as the Egyptian Armed Forces refuse to comment.  

What the recordings reveal might surprise Egyptians who think Sisi is their ticket out of hard times.

"The people think that I’m a soft guy,” the military commander’s voice is heard saying in one. “It’s not like that … Sisi is torture and suffering." It isn’t clear whether or not he’s being ironic.

What a Sisi presidency in Egypt would look like

Photo by AFP/Getty Images

March 27th — and source with 9 notes

Activist Dmytro Bulatov went missing around the time that a few other prominent activists were apparently kidnapped during the Ukraine protests.

Bulatov proved more fortunate than one of the activists who was found dead in a forest, but he emerged bruised and bloody, with an account of being tortured and hung up by his wrists.

"My hands… they crucified me, nailed me, cut my ear off, cut my face," Bulatov told Channel 5 television on Friday. “Thank God I am alive.”

"I can’t see well now, because I sat in darkness the whole time," he said, through a swollen face and bruised body, still covered in blood.

Bulatov is a member of the activist Avtomaidan group, which helped ferry protesters and supplies during the ongoing protests in Kyiv.

Missing Ukrainian activist emerges bloody, beaten as tensions continue (VIDEO)

The situation in Ukraine remained tense on Friday, with the army calling on Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to take “urgent steps” to ease the crisis.

US Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to meet Ukraine’s opposition leaders over the weekend in Munich.

The latest from Dan Peleschuk in Kyiv:

Ukraine’s revolution grows radical

The EU’s Ukraine dilemma

7 reasons Russia wants to keep Ukraine all to itself

Photos via AFP/Getty & Dan Peleschuk/GlobalPost

BANGKOK — In Thailand’s capital, voting can require not just a sense of civic duty, but also nerves of steel.

A self-proclaimed “people’s coup” movement — which has already invaded government ministries and vowed to abduct the premier — is now hell-bent on stopping an upcoming election by forcibly preventing voters from entering polling stations.

On Jan. 26, an advance voting day preceding the big Feb. 2 election, the movement gave Thailand a preview of its tactics.

Throngs of protesters successfully shut down almost all of Bangkok’s polling stations. In some districts, they shackled gates with steel chains. In others, they sprawled on the ground to form a sea of bodies, and dared would-be voters to step on their heads.

Many undeterred voters were physically restrained or jeered by noisy mobs.

This generated several unflattering scenes that ricocheted through social media: a would-be voter violently choked at one precinct; a middle-aged woman manhandled in another. There was also resistance: a protest captain was shot dead by unidentified gunmen while shutting down polls. The killing was captured by a camera phone.

“Of course, voters may feel afraid,” said Chaiya, a 36-year-old merchant and protester, who aided a throng of hundreds in forcing a polling station to shut its gates. “We don’t mean to hurt anybody. But they need to know nothing good will come of this election.”

You need nerves of steel to vote in Bangkok

Photo by AFP/Getty Images

January 29th — and source with 15 notes

BANGKOK — Though life in Bangkok is hardly predictable, there are three constants. It’s hot, it’s loud and the traffic is dreadful.

But the Thai capital’s gridlock — already infamously bad — is set to get a lot worse.

Seven of Bangkok’s most-congested intersections are now blocked off by legions of anti-government protesters. Their strategy relies on generating traffic jams so unbearable that the government will cancel elections and surrender power to an unelected council.

This uprising, called “Operation Occupy Bangkok,” is the latest maneuver by a protest movement that spent much of December invading key government key ministries. That offensive compelled the ruling party — elected in 2011 — to dissolve parliament and call for new elections early next month.

But even that concession has failed to satisfy protesters. Operation Occupy Bangkok’s leaders and their faithful vow to barricade the Thai capital’s traffic choke points until the government capitulates. They refuse to negotiate.

“We’re beyond fear. Past being afraid,” said protester Kwan Issa, 48, who drove from the nearby province of Chonburi to reinforce a blockade on Sukhumvit Road, one of Bangkok’s busiest thoroughfares. “We don’t want the army to stage a coup. We want the people to do it themselves.”

Bangkokalypse: Thai protestors deploy epic traffic to bring down government

Photos by AFP/Getty Images 

January 13th — and source with 16 notes

NEW DELHI, India — Ever since 1947 when South Asians threw off the yoke of the British Raj, India has been dominated by the Congress party, led by the Gandhi family, with occasional interruptions from the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party.

Now a new force in Indian politics has emerged that threatens to wreck the established order.

Late last year, the Aam Aadmi Party, a ragtag collection of political amateurs, crushed the Congress party in elections for the Delhi assembly. And against everyone’s expectations, the party has taken the reins of power to govern the Indian capital.

The party’s leader, former tax inspector Arvind Kejriwal, engineered a political decapitation by defeating local Congress leader Sheila Dikshit, ending her 15-year tenure as Delhi’s chief minister. He did it resoundingly, with a whopping 25,600 margin.

AAP won 28 seats out of 70. That left Congress with only 8, and ruined the BJP’s hopes of a landslide victory by limiting them to 32 seats. The two big parties dared Kejriwal to form a government and he called their bluff

Anna Hazare-inspired ‘common man’ party takes first step toward its Indian revolution

Photo by AFP/Getty Images

January 7th — and source with 7 notes

Istanbul’s Taksim Square saw clashes break out between police and anti-government protesters on Friday, as the corruption scandal that has created political turmoil in Turkey spilled into its streets.

In scenes reminiscent of this summer, riot police doused anti-government demonstrators with water cannons, tear gas and rubber bullets, as some of the protesters retaliated with rocks and firecrackers.

Protesters yelled “Catch the thief!” calling on Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to step down after a corruption probe ensnared some of his ministers and implicated his own son.

Turkey corruption scandal sparks anti-government protests

Photos via AFP/Getty Images

December 27th — and source with 18 notes

HONG KONG — Journalists across China are now boning up on Marxist terminology like the “labor theory of value” and “commodity fetishism.”

The United States “is bent on undermining China” — that’s a “fact” they’re committing to memory.

Their jobs depend on it.

Thanks to a new regulation promulgated last fall, all 250,000 of China’s journalists and editors will have to pass an exam on the “Marxist view of journalism” in January or February of 2014. In the several months leading up to the exam, the government has mandated that reporters take weekly classes to ensure “political consistency” with the Communist Party line.

“Some reporter[s] who lack ethics still have not surfaced,” one Marxist educator told the state-run Global Times. “We urgently need to educate media circles with the Marxist view of journalism. Such education can’t be loosened and should be conducted in a long term.”

China will require its 250,000 journalists to pass a ‘Marxism test’

Photo by AFP/Getty Images

December 23rd — and with 18 notes

On Wednesday, the nervously anticipated crackdown seemed finally to arrive: In the early morning hours, police moved in on the square, demolishing makeshift barricades and tents, pressing together groups of protesters and shifting them out.

They kept their batons at their side, but their sudden raid was no less frightening.

As the sweep dragged on, speakers on stage — who included Ukrainian pop star Ruslana — rallied supporters, appealed to police to stand down, and called out to Ukrainians across the country to join the protest.

Then, the tide seemed to turn.

“Last night we were praying to god because all our boys are here, but look how it turned out,” said Halyna Yurievna, a 62-year-old retiree who was busy preparing food and warm beverages as the activity picked up.

“We’re standing here and everything is wonderful.”

 reported from Kyiv, Ukraine: As a crackdown fails, a protest is reinvigorated

Latest: Ukrainian president intends to sign EU deal after mass protests

14 stunning photos from the protests in Kyiv

Protesters in Kyiv declare victory as police stand down

Photos via AFP/Getty Images

December 11th — and source with 74 notes

KYIV, Ukraine — Ihor Kostiantynovych never thought he’d live to see the day.

But on Sunday night, the weathered, 78-year-old stood dumbfounded and overcome with emotion, staring at the empty pedestal in central Kyiv where a statue of Soviet founder Vladimir Lenin stood before it was toppled by anti-government protesters.

“There’s nothing left of him,” he said. “And thank god.”

For more than two weeks, pro-European demonstrators have rallied in Ukraine’s capital by the thousands, calling for the government’s ouster over its abandonment of key deals with the EU in favor of closer ties with Russia.

On Sunday, hundreds of thousands rallied in the largest protest yet.

The demonstrations have spawned an array of trademarks: the moniker “YevroMaidan” (EuroSqaure), lapel ribbons that blend the Ukrainian and European flags, and chants — such as “Away with the gang!” — which are shouted rapturously on the streets and in the subway.

But after nationalist protesters dragged the marble statue down with a steel cable and bashed it to bits with sledgehammers on Sunday night, the uprising may have finally acquired its most vivid image.

Elated crowds rallied around the bare mantle, erupting into renditions of Ukraine’s national anthem. Passing cars feverishly honked in support. Protesters called their friends and loved ones with the momentous news.

“Hi Mom,” said one. “Tell grandma that Lenin has fallen.”

Ukraine: Goodbye Lenin!

Follow Dan Peleschuk on Twitter and Instagram for updates

Photo by AFP/Getty Images

December 9th — and source with 109 notes

"I can’t have confidence in a state that’s beaten innocent people."

Viktor Storozhenko, a 23-year-old theater student, participating in anti-government protests in Ukraine

Kyiv’s ‘citizen defenders’ maintain nighttime vigil (PHOTOS)

December 5th — and source with 28 notes

GlobalPost’s Dan Peleschuk visited the Ukraine protests’ base of operations in Kyiv.

He reports:

By Tuesday evening, anti-government demonstrators effectively controlled much of downtown Kyiv and forced the partial closure of Kreshchatyk, the city’s main street.

They continued to occupy several key administrative buildings, including city hall — the site of a makeshift “revolutionary headquarters” where volunteers distribute food, warm clothing and medicine to fellow protesters.

Around-the-clock demonstrators have also erected barricades around Independence Square — the nucleus of the Orange Revolution as well as the current protests — while others roam freely around the streets housing most of the central government’s main buildings.

Several thousand gathered outside parliament during Tuesday’s session, some huddled around parked cars listening to a live feed of the proceedings.

On Independence Square, trash-barrel fires and army-green tents erected to provide warmth for protesters are lending a revolutionary feel to this bustling and brightly lit former city.

Graffiti have appeared on walls and sidewalks, some reading “Away with Yanukovych” and “Revolution.”

Follow him on Instagram for more pictures from the scene.

December 3rd — and source with 10 notes

BERLIN, Germany — Streams of cars flash through the busy Nollendorf intersection as young prostitutes dressed in skin-tight hotpants and stilettos flag down drivers, dragging deeply on cigarettes or chatting on mobile phones.

Hailing from Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria, few speak English. But they know why they’re in Germany.

“Street prostitution is legal here,” says a tall, spindly woman from Hungary. “I’m doing this because I have to send money home to my family.”

A decade after Germany legalized big-money brothels and recognized prostitutes’ rights as workers in some of the world’s most liberal prostitution laws, business is booming. Organized sex workers say the trade is safer and healthier than ever.

But now a surprise campaign by the country’s most prominent feminist is invigorating longtime enemies of the oldest profession who argue that the changes have turned Berlin and other towns into city-sized discount stores for sex.

Germany’s legalized sex industry is booming

Photo by AFP/Getty Images

Narendra Modi: Nightmare or savior for India’s struggling economy?

November 18th — and with 3 notes

The social and economic changes unveiled by China on Friday have been hailed as the boldest and most significant changes in the communist country in decades. 

The measures include pledges to loosen the controversial one-child policy, abolish labor camps, speed up residential registration, or hukou, system reforms and let the market play a "decisive role" in the world’s second largest economy. 

The sweeping changes were contained in a document released by the Communist Party following a four-day meeting of senior leaders in Beijing. The more-than-20,000 Chinese character statement listed 60 reforms.

Chinese leaders have a penchant for gradualism, and reforms, particularly of this magnitude, typically take years — if not decades — to implement. President Xi Jinping and his colleagues have given themselves until 2020 to achieve "decisive" results.

GlobalPost asked Elizabeth Economy, director for Asia studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, and Nicholas Bequelin, senior researcher in the Asia division of Human Rights Watch, for their views on the significance of the reforms. 

China’s reforms: ‘An important step, but not the end of the road’

Photo by AFP/Getty Images

November 18th — and source with 25 notes