Three-person crew blasts off for ISS in Russian capsule | AFP

Russia’s Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft with two cosmonauts and a NASA astronaut on board blasts off to the International Space Station from the Russian-operated Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. It is the first such launch since SpaceX’s game-changing debut manned flight from US soil.

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Coronavirus ‘second wave’ batters ex-Soviet Central Asia | AFP

At a call centre functioning as a coronavirus hotline in Kyrgyzstan’s capital Bishkek, the volunteers manning the telephones are under siege as the disease has re-emerged with a vengeance. Meanwhile neighboring Kazakhstan is also experiencing a surge.

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Kazakhstan imposes ‘second wave’ of restrictions as coronavirus surges | AFP

Kazakhstan imposes a second round of nationwide restrictions to counter a huge surge in coronavirus cases, a measure that authorities could choose to extend.

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Dozens detained in first Kazakh protests since lockdown eased | AFP

Dozens of people are detained in authoritarian Kazakhstan’s largest city Almaty in the first opposition protests since the government relaxed some lockdown restrictions. An AFP correspondent witnessed several demonstrators detained in central Almaty while witnesses said at least 30 were held in another part of the Central Asian country’s former capital. IMAGES

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Artificial hearts | AFP Animé

The Carmat company, which is developing a total artificial heart, announced on Monday the first implantation of its prosthesis in Denmark, the third country to enter the PIVOT study, along with the Czech Republic and Kazakhstan. Artificial heart in videographic.VIDEOGRAPHIC

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Space station crew blast off despite virus-hit build up | AFP

A three-man crew blasts off to the International Space Station, leaving behind a planet overwhelmed by the coronavirus pandemic. Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner of Russia’s Roscosmos space agency and NASA’s Chris Cassidy launched at 08:05 GMT from Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, where COVID-19 has changed pre-launch protocol.  IMAGES

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Police in Kazakhstan detain dozens after activist’s death | AFP

Police in authoritarian Kazakhstan detain more than 60 people in the Central Asian country’s largest city, after an activist’s death in jail triggered diplomatic condemnation and calls for anti-government rallies.

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Poachers sentenced to life for murder of Kazakh antelope defender | AFP

A court in Kazakhstan sentences three poachers to life in prison for beating to death a state ranger charged with protecting the endangered saiga antelope. In a high-profile case that shook the Central Asian nation, a group of poachers attacked two rangers on duty in January last year. One of the rangers, 52-year-old Yerlan Nurgaliyev, died of his injuries in a hospital.

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Kazakh violence puts spotlight on Chinese Muslim minority | AFP

Residents of the Dungan village of Masanchi in Kazakhstan clean up after the February 7 rampage, which resulted in 11 deaths, and saw hundreds of ethnic Kazakh assailants set fire to dozens of homes, shops and livestock in the village inhabited by ethnic Chinese Muslims. The bloody clashes have highlighted underlying tensions in a region where many ethnic groups live side by side, and have left some in the Dungan community wondering what the future holds for them.

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Record-breaking US astronaut set to return to Earth | AFP

American astronaut Christina Koch, Russian cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov and Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano are set to return to Earth from the International Space Station on Thursday. Koch will touch down in Kazakhstan after 328 days at the ISS as the holder of the record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman. Parmitano of the European Space Agency and Skvortsov of Roscosmos are rounding off standard half-year missions. IMAGES

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Passenger plane crashes in Kazakhstan | AFP

A passenger plane crashed shortly after takeoff from Almaty airport in Kazakhstan, the government says. The Central Asian country’s emergencies committee said that 100 people were on board the Bek Air plane, including five staff.

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Soyuz rocket carrying Emirati blasts off for ISS | AFP

A Russian Soyuz spacecraft blasts off from the Baikonur space centre in Kazakhstan Wednesday with an Emirati astronaut onboard who will make history by becoming the first Arab on the International Space Station.