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Archive for: April 2021 - DIGEST UKRAINE

Monthly Archives: April 2021

Russia’s defense ministry released video Friday of its warships firing rockets during military drills in the Black Sea, the Reuters news agency reported Friday.
 
The drills were conducted earlier this week amid rising tensions between Russia and the west over Russia’s military buildup near the border it shares with Ukraine.  
 
Russia said the troop buildup was part of drills it planned in response to what it said was NATO’s threatening behavior. Last week, Russia ordered a pullback of some troops from the border area.  
 
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is scheduled to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy during a May 5-6 visit to Ukraine “to reaffirm unwavering U.S. support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s ongoing aggression,” Blinken’s spokesman, Ned Price, said in a statement.
 Blinken Heads to Ukraine After Russia Sends 150K Troops to Border Trip aims to ‘reaffirm unwavering US support for country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in face of Russia’s ongoing aggression,’ State Department saysRussia began naval combat drills Tuesday as the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Hamilton was entering the Black Sea to work with NATO and other allies in the area.
 
Russia’s Black Sea fleet said its Moskva cruiser would participate in live-fire exercises with other Russian ships and military helicopters, according to Russia’s Interfax news agency.
 
The drill took place as fighting in eastern Ukraine between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed troops escalated sharply since January, despite a cease-fire that took effect last July.
 
The conflict began when Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, since killing some 14,000 people, according to Ukraine’s government.
 


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The Turkish government’s decision to ban alcohol sales as part of a nearly three-week lockdown to contain COVID-19 is causing a political storm, with opponents accusing the Islamic-rooted government of using the pandemic to pursue a religious agenda.   The alcohol ban is part of a national lockdown that took effect Thursday and will end on May 17. The ban is stoking tensions and suspicion over the Islamist roots of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who critics accuse of seeking to undermine the 90-year-old secular state, said columnist Mehves Evin of the Duvar news portal. “Erdogan’s regime, it’s like trying all the little ways to change the way, he thinks it’s the right way for people to live. Meaning, for example, the way they are building up the Imam Hatip religious schools. The way they are encouraging more and more students to go to those schools, actually is social engineering. So with the alcohol ban, it is actually also the same thing,” Evin said.  A customer shops for alcoholic beverages at a supermarket ahead of a nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, in Istanbul, April 29, 2021.The government denies such accusations. But with the ban coinciding with the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan, such denials have done little to quell the controversy.  The head of Turkey’s trader’s association, Bendeki Palandoken, called for the ban’s reversal, asking if is it possible to demand an alcohol ban in a developed and democratic country of law, which is integrated with Europe, and has many foreign customers, as well. The ban is also being challenged in Turkey’s high courts. But the government is vigorously defending the controls, noting that other countries, like South Africa, imposed similar restrictions.  Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said Thursday there would be no exemptions and no backing down. The alcohol shops will endure this sacrifice, as everyone else will, he added. But numerous shops are starting to challenge the ban by selling alcohol, with many people posting pictures of their purchases on social media. “Don’t touch my alcohol” is among this week’s Turkish Twitter top trending hashtags.   
 


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German officials say they have reached an agreement with Nigeria to return some of the famed Benin Bronzes that were looted from Nigeria in the 19th century.About 500 of the plundered artifacts are on display in several German museums.The handoff is expected to take place next year under an agreement reached between Germany and Nigeria on Thursday.The return of the artifacts is “a turning point in our approach to colonial history,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said.In 1897, British soldiers snatched thousands of exquisitely decorated bronze and brass plaques and sculptures created by guilds in the Kingdom of Benin in what is now Nigeria.  The objects have become known as the Benin Bronzes and are on display in museums around the world.The British Museum has more than 900 of the objects.  Germany’s agreement with Nigeria pertains only to the artifacts that are in Germany.


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Дозволено в’їзд з Індії українцям, а також іноземцям, які постійно проживають на території України, або перебувають у шлюбі з громадянами України


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The trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin made headline news in France. But much of the reporting about the trial, and its underlying themes of police violence and racism, largely zoomed in on the United States.“I think it’s viewed as an American problem with some resonance in France,” said Steven Ekovich, a U.S. politics and foreign policy professor at the American University of Paris.American University of Paris professor Steven Ekovich says the French viewed the Derek Cauvin trial in the death of George Floyd as an American problem, but with some resonance in France. (Lisa Bryant/VOA)”It also feeds into a certain strain of French anti-Americanism, on the left and on the right, so that the French can moralize about the United States, and its difficulties and its flaws,” he said.That wasn’t the case last year, when George Floyd’s death caused many French to look inward. They joined spreading global protests for police accountability. Traore deathAlong with Floyd, many chanted the name of Frenchman Adama Traore, 24, whose family said he died under circumstances similar to Floyd’s, although that claim is disputed. The Black American’s death opened a broader spigot here of soul-searching about France’s colonial past and continuing injustices today.French authorities vowed zero tolerance of police racism and brutality and pledged to ban a controversial police chokehold. President Emmanuel Macron called racial profiling “unbearable.”Police representatives deny systemic racism. They say police are overworked and underappreciated as they tackle violence in tough neighborhoods, and they sometimes become targets of terrorism.David-Olivier Reverdy of the National Police Alliance union said the country’s police aren’t racist. To the contrary, he said, they’re Republican and diverse, from all ethnic origins and religions. There may be some problematic individuals, he added, but the force itself isn’t racist.Critics argue otherwise. A 2017 report by an independent citizens rights group found young Black or Arab-looking men here are five times more likely to be stopped for police identity checks than the rest of the population. Four Paris police officers were suspended last November after TV footage showed them punching a Black music producer. In January, six nongovernmental groups announced the country’s first class-action lawsuit on alleged racial profiling by police.’Struggling’ for a decade“We’ve been struggling with the state for 10 years,” said Slim Ben Achour, one of the lawyers representing the groups in the case.“The French Supreme Court convicted the state in November 2016 for discrimination, and after that we could have expected from the state … which should respect the rule of law — to do police reform. They have done nothing,” he said.Allegations of police violence and racism are an old story in France. In 2005, the deaths of two youngsters fleeing police sparked rioting in the banlieues — code word for the multicultural, working-class suburbs ringing cities here. Activists point to bigger, long-standing inequalities going far beyond policing.Some aren’t waiting for change from above. In the Paris suburb of Bobigny, youth group Nouvel Elan 93 is mentoring youngsters, helping them with schoolwork and giving them alternatives to hanging in the streets.Aboubacar N’diaye, left, helped launch a youth group in the Paris suburb of Bobigny. He says police profiling is something that could happen to him. (Lisa Bryant/VOA)One of Nouvel Elan’s founders, Aboubacar N’Diaye, said the group is trying to push youngsters to the maximum of their potential. They’re talented, he said, in sports, music, theater — everything.N’Diaye said Floyd’s death has resonated in this community and that it could happen to Blacks here like him. There’s a close relationship, he added, in the protests for Floyd and Traore.He and other activists said it would take time for the lessons from Floyd’s death — and France’s colorblind creed of liberty, equality and fraternity —to take hold.


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Reports of police violence and racial injustice resonate especially strongly in France, with its large population of ethnic Africans and Arabs. Yet cautious optimism by some in the United States and elsewhere that the guilty verdict in American former police officer Derek Chauvin’s murder trial might trigger societal change is less shared in France. From the Paris suburb of Bobigny, Lisa Bryant reports for VOA.   Camera:   Lisa Bryant, Agencies  


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Слідчі ДБР шукали докази в справі про ймовірний продаж Міністерству оборони неякісної військової техніки за завищеними цінами


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Шлях полярників в Україну почався 19 квітня


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In his first court appearance since ending a three-week hunger strike, Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny called Russian President Vladimir Putin a “naked, thieving king.” Navalny appeared Thursday in a video link from prison to a Moscow courtroom where he was appealing a guilty verdict for defaming a World War 2 veteran. According to news reports, Navalny appeared thin, and his head was shaved. “I looked in the mirror. Of course, I’m just a dreadful skeleton,” he said. Yulia Navalnaya, wife of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny, is seen in a courtroom, in Moscow, Russia, April 29, 2021, in this still image taken from video. (Press Service of Babushkinsky District Court of Moscow/Handout via Reuters)Navalny began his hunger strike March 3 and ended it April 23. Later in Thursday’s hearing, he took the opportunity to attack Putin. “I want to tell the dear court that your king is naked,” he said of Putin. “Millions of people are already shouting about it, because it is obvious. … His crown is hanging and slipping.” He also reiterated his claim of innocence on the embezzlement allegations that ostensibly landed him in prison. “Your naked, thieving king wants to continue to rule until the end. … Another 10 years will come, a stolen decade will come,” Navalny said referring to Putin. Last week, authorities in Russia disbanded several regional offices of Navalny’s anti-corruption group, the Anti-Corruption Foundation. A Russian court is considering branding the group extremist. FILE – Demonstrators march during a rally in support of jailed Russian opposition politician Alexey Navalny, in Saint Petersburg, Russia, April 21, 2021.Last week, more than 1,900 Navalny supporters were detained during protests in cities across the country. From his Instagram account, he said he felt “pride and hope” after learning about the protests. Navalny survived a near-fatal poisoning last year and was arrested when he returned to Moscow in January following lifesaving treatment in Germany. The Kremlin denies any role in the poisoning. He was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison in February on an embezzlement charge and was being held at the Pokrov correctional colony, which he described as “a real concentration camp.” The United States and other countries have sanctioned Kremlin officials over the poisoning, and many are calling for Navalny’s release. 
 


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The World Health Organization’s Europe Regional Director Hans Kluge reported Thursday the number of new COVID-19 infections in the region dropped significantly in the last week for the first time in two months. Speaking from WHO regional headquarters in Copenhagen, Kluge said hospitalizations and deaths were also down in the past week. He also said as of Thursday, 7% of Europeans have been totally vaccinated, more than the 5.5% of the population that has contracted COVID-19. Kluge cautioned that while that is good news, the virus remains a threat, as infection rates remain high in several areas. He said individual and collective public health and social measures remain dominant factors in shaping the pandemic’s course. A man receives his first dose of the of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, at a vaccination center in Piraeus, near Athens, April 29, 2021.But he also noted that in those areas where high-risk groups such as health and other frontline workers were prioritized with vaccines, admissions to hospitals and death rates are falling. Kluge said in the context of the pandemic, it is a combination of vaccines and strong public health measures that offer the clearest path back to normal. But noting it is European Immunization Week, the WHO regional director said he wanted to send a message beyond COVID-19 and pressed the value of vaccines in general. He said before the pandemic, vaccines had protected the world against life-threatening diseases for more than 200 years. While vaccines bring the world closer to ending the pandemic, he said they could also end measles, cervical cancer and other vaccine-preventable diseases. He said when COVID-19 interrupted routine vaccine programs around the world, the results can be other severe infectious disease outbreaks just down the line. He urged public health systems to maintain routine primary health care while continuing to control the pandemic. “Once again, vaccines are about to change the course of history — but only if we act responsibly and get vaccinated when offered the opportunity to do so,” Kluge said. 
 


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