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A mural to Nicaragua's missing man. Photo: Inti Ocon/AFP via Getty

While some politicians have been criticized for a lack of leadership during the coronavirus crisis, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega takes that to an extreme.

Driving the news: Nicaragua’s government continues to encourage crowds at stadiums and on beaches during the pandemic, though Ortega has personally stayed away. In fact, Sunday marked one month since he last appeared in public.

  • Instead, the response has been led by Ortega's vice president, chief spokesperson and first lady. Those roles are all filled by the same person: Rosario Murillo.
  • As for Ortega, "Nicaraguans are nervously wondering if the former Marxist guerrilla is ill, dead or simply avoiding human contact," the Washington Post notes.

Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov can probably relate, and not only because he was recently rumored to be dead after a prolonged public absence.

  • One of the most secretive countries on earth, Turkmenistan claims to have zero cases of the virus and is fiercely suppressing any evidence to the contrary, Foreign Policy reports.
  • But the government isn't entirely complacent. After Berdimuhamedov said a certain herb could keep viruses at bay, it reportedly began burning it to fumigate public buildings.

Belarusian strongman Alexander Lukashenko is also fighting the virus with machismo rather than science.

  • “There are no viruses here. Did you see any flying around?” Lukashenko said of the threat from COVID-19, particles of which are about 0.125 micron in diameter. "It’s better to die standing than to live on your knees.”
  • Belarus is currently dealing with another risk — of nuclear radiation potentially being blown toward the country from wildfires near the site of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
  • Lukashenko was already rising through the Communist Party ranks at the time of the meltdown. That may be where he honed his approach to government transparency.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro also continues to downplay the threat, to the extent that some former allies are now backing calls for him to be impeached.

  • Unlike the other denialist leaders, the Economist notes, Bolsonaro is "the elected president of a great, if battered, democracy."

Go deeper

21 mins ago - World

Jerusalem crisis: Hamas fires rockets, Israel begins military campaign

Palestinian protesters and an Israeli police officer near the Damascus Gate. Photo: Amir Levy/Getty Images

Days of tensions in Jerusalem escalated into an exchange of fire on Monday, as Hamas fired dozens of rockets toward Israel and the Israeli military responded with strikes of its own and said it was preparing for a military operation that could last several days.

Why it matters: This is the first time Hamas has fired rockets at Jerusalem since 2014, and the most serious escalation between the Israelis and Palestinians in many months. It comes during the most sensitive days on the calendar — the last days of Ramadan and the Jerusalem Day commemoration on Monday — and amid political crises in both countries.

Colonial Pipeline aims to be "substantially" back online by end of week

Photo: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The FBI confirmed in a statement Monday that a professional cybercriminal group called DarkSide was responsible for a ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline network, which provides roughly 45% of the fuel used on the East Coast.

The latest: Colonial said in a statement at 12:25pm ET on Monday that segments of the pipeline are being brought back online in a "stepwise fashion," with the goal of "substantially restoring operational service by the end of the week."

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios