Home /
Archive for: May 2021 - DIGEST UKRAINE

Monthly Archives: May 2021

Imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny asked a court Monday to halt the hourly nighttime checks he has been subjected to in his penal colony.  Speaking to the court in a video link from prison, Navalny charged that he has done nothing that would warrant the authorities’ decision to designate him as a flight risk, which has resulted in the checks.  “I just want them to stop coming to me and waking me up at nighttime,” he told the judge in remarks that were broadcast by the independent Dozhd TV. “What did I do: Did I climb the fence? Did I dig up an underpass? Or was I wringing a pistol from someone? Just explain why they named me a flight risk!”He argued that the hourly nighttime checks “effectively amount to torture,” telling the judge that “you would go mad in a week” if subjected to such regular wake-ups.The court later adjourned the hearing until Wednesday.Navalny, the most determined political foe of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was arrested in January upon his return from Germany, where he had spent five months recovering from a nerve agent poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin — accusations that Russian officials reject.In February, he was handed a 2 1/2-year sentence for violating terms of a suspended sentence stemming from a 2014 embezzlement conviction, which he says was politically motivated.He went on a 24-day hunger strike in prison to protest the lack of medical treatment for severe back pain and numbness in his legs, ending it last month after getting the medical attention he demanded.While he still was on hunger strike, Navalny was moved from a penal colony east of Moscow, where he was serving his sentence, to the hospital ward of another prison in Vladimir, a city 180 kilometers (110 miles) east of the capital. He remains at that prison, where he said the nighttime checks continued, although they were less intrusive.With Navalny in prison, prosecutors have asked a Moscow court to designate his Foundation for Fighting Corruption and his network of regional offices as extremist groups. A bill, which has sailed quickly through the Kremlin-controlled lower house of Russian parliament, bars members, donors and supporters of extremist groups from seeking public office.The parallel moves have been widely seen as an attempt to keep any of Navalny’s associates from running in September’s parliamentary election. 


your ad here

After outlining a fresh chapter in French-African relations, with calls for massive economic support for Africa and visits to Rwanda and South Africa last week, President Emmanuel Macron is back home to confront familiar and thorny problems in France’s former colonies, underscoring the challenges of breaking with the past.At front and center is Mali, buffeted by its fifth coup since independence from Paris in 1960 — and the second in less than a year. To the east, Chad is also unsettled by a controversial political transition, following the April death of longstanding leader Idriss Deby. Both countries are key allies in France’s counter-terrorism operation in the Sahel.Russians and Malian flags are waved by protesters in Bamako, Mali, during a demonstration against French influence in the country on May 27, 2021.Farther south, Paris fears Russia’s growing influence in the Central African Republic — among that of other newer foreign powers — including Moscow’s alleged role in fueling anti-French sentiments.Taken together, some analysts say, these developments, combined with France’s legacy in Africa — and, in some cases, Macron’s own actions — may make it harder to deliver on his promises of change.“Emmanuel Macron is trapped in a contradictory position,” Africa specialist Antoine Glaser told French television station TV5 Monde.“He wants to get out of FrancAfrique by turning to anglophone countries like Rwanda and South Africa,” he said, referring to the tangle web of business and political interests with France’s former colonies, “but he’s bogged down in the francophone countries.”Moving forward, looking backMacron states otherwise, as he looks for new ways and new places to exert French influence on the continent. At a May summit in Paris, he called on richer countries to invest massively in Africa’s economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and echoed Washington’s call for a patent waiver on COVID-19 vaccines — calls he reiterated during his visit to South Africa on Friday. COVID-19 is the disease caused by the virus.The French leader also organized a special donors’ conference on Sudan — another country outside Paris’ traditional sphere of influence — and announced plans to cancel Khartoum’s $5 billion bilateral debt.Burkina Faso President Roch Marc Christian Kabore, left, Chad President Idriss Deby, center, and France President Emmanuel Macron arrive for a picture during the G5 Sahel summit on June 30, 2020, in Nouakchott, Mauritania.The calls fit into Macron’s broader reset of relations with the continent since taking office in 2017. Visiting Burkina Faso later that year, he promised to return plundered artifacts to former colonies, a pledge several other European governments have since echoed.“For sure, colonialization has left a strong imprint,” Macron told the weekly Le Journal du Dimanche newspaper, in a lengthy interview published Sunday. “But I also told young people in Ouagadougou (in 2017) that today’s problems aren’t linked to colonialism, they’re more caused by bad governance by some, and corruption by others. These are African subjects, and relations with France should not exonerate leaders from their own responsibilities.” Ouagadougou is the capital of Burkina Faso.Yet Macron has also gone further than his predecessors in acknowledging France’s blame for past injustices. He set up fact-finding commissions to examine Paris’ role in Algeria’s war of independence and in Rwanda’s 1994 genocide. While both reports were critical, Macron ruled out official apologies.Still, he has followed some of the reconciliatory actions recommended by the Algeria commission. And in Kigali on Thursday, he turned the problem around, asking Rwandans instead to forgive France for its role in the mass killings, while saying France had not been an accomplice in them.”His words were something more valuable than an apology. They were the truth,” Rwandan President Paul Kagame said of Macron’s speech, calling it “an act of tremendous courage.”French President Emmanuel Macron, center, and his wife Brigitte Macron, left, welcome Chadian Prime Minister Albert Pahimi Padacke, right, for a dinner with leaders of African states, at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, May 17, 2021.Continuation or break?Yet in Rwanda and elsewhere, Macron’s actions have also drawn controversy—reflecting, some analysts say, a continuation rather than a break with the past. Some question Macron’s visit to Kigali, for example, noting its increasingly authoritarian leader.In Chad, where Macron was the only Western leader to attend Deby’s funeral, Paris appeared to initially endorse the military council that took over after Deby’s death, and which is headed by his son. While the body has promised eventual elections, some opposition activists claim its existence amounts to an effective coup d’etat.Days later, Macron appeared to backtrack, saying France supported a democratic and inclusive transition and not a “succession plan.”“For too long, France’s view remained short-sighted and purely military: Chad was no more than a provider of troops for regional wars,” Chad expert Jerome Tubiana wrote in Foreign Policy magazine.Deby’s death, he added, was a potential game changer Paris should seize.“If France renews with a new junta the same deal it had with Deby — fighters in exchange for political, financial, and military backing — it will miss that long-awaited turning point when democratic change in Chad could actually become a reality,” he added.In Mali, by contrast, France and the European Union have denounced the country’s latest coup as “unacceptable.” Macron warned West African leaders they could not support a country without “democratic legitimacy or transition,” he told Le Journal du Dimanche, threatening to pull French troops from the country if it tipped to “radical Islamism.”The president has long floated an eventual drawdown of France’s 5,100-strong counter-insurgency operation in the Sahel, hoping also to beef up other European forces in the region, to help shoulder the fight.But analyst Glaser believes Mali’s latest military takeover could make it harder, not easier, to fulfill that goal.“This situation puts him in a delicate position,” Glaser said of Macron. “He wants to get out of FrancAfrique and keeps saying … that the solution in Africa is political, not military. So, when Mali faces major problems politically, his whole strategy is undermined.” 


your ad here

Russian online news site Newsru announced on Monday it was closing for economic reasons, saying that advertisers were steering clear of it because its story selection did not follow pro-Kremlin state media.
 
Russia’s TV media landscape is dominated by pro-Kremlin state outlets. There’s a bit more variety online and in print, though moves are afoot to label outlets critical of the Kremlin with foreign funding as “foreign agents,” a step that deters advertisers and readers alike.
 
Newsru, which has functioned primarily as a news aggregator in recent years, said it was not economical for it to continue. “We are stopping work for economic reasons, but they are provoked by the political situation in the country,” Newsru said in a farewell note to its readers on its website.
 
The outlet, set up in 2000 when President Vladimir Putin was starting his first term in the Kremlin, pointed to 2014 as a turning point when Russian foreign policy and the structure of the domestic economy changed dramatically.
 
That was the year that Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine, prompting a surge in patriotic sentiment domestically and sending relations with the West to post-Cold War lows.
 
“Our picture of the day became so different from the picture favored by state (media) resources that major advertisers stopped cooperating with us after the events of 2014, while others began to be particularly wary this year,” Newsru said.
 
The Kremlin denies cracking down on independent media. It has said the online news media landscape is vibrant and that people have many sources to choose from and that outlets open and close for various reasons.
 
Russia’s ties with the West this year are acutely strained over its jailing of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny and a bout of saber rattling over neighboring Ukraine.
 
Newsru also complained of regulations requiring media in Russia to label anyone the state regards as “extremists” or “foreign agents” when referencing them in their articles.
 
Russia has declared several media outlets “foreign agents” including U.S. broadcaster Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Meduza media portal and the VTimes news site.
A court is also considering a call to declare Navalny’s movement “extremist”.
 
“We have increasingly had to write about the passing of restrictive laws that could affect us ourselves any day now,” said Newsru. “We had to label as foreign agents and extremists more and more respected people and sources of truthful information,” it said.


your ad here

The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) used a partnership with Denmark’s foreign intelligence unit to spy on senior officials of neighboring countries, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Danish state broadcaster DR said.
 
The findings are the result of a 2015 internal investigation in the Danish Defense Intelligence Service into NSA’s role in the partnership, DR said, citing nine unnamed sources with access to the investigation.
 
According to the investigation, which covered the period from 2012 to 2014, the NSA used Danish information cables to spy on senior officials in Sweden, Norway, France and Germany, including former German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and former German opposition leader Peer Steinbruck.
 
Asked for comment on the DR report, a spokesperson for the German chancellery said it only became aware of the allegations when asked about them by journalists and declined to comment further.
 
Danish Defense Minister Trine Bramsen declined to comment on “speculation” about intelligence matters in the media. “I can more generally say that this government has the same attitude as the former Prime Minister expressed in 2013 and 2014 – systematic wiretapping of close allies is unacceptable,” Bramsen told Reuters in a statement.
 
In Washington, the NSA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) declined to comment. A spokesperson for the Danish Defense Intelligence Service also declined to comment.
 
Denmark, a close ally of the United States, hosts several key landing stations for subsea internet cables to and from Sweden, Norway, Germany, Holland and Britain.
 
Through targeted retrievals and the use of NSA-developed analysis software known as Xkeyscore, NSA intercepted both calls, texts and chat messages to and from telephones of officials in the neighboring countries, sources told DR.
 
The internal investigation in the Danish Defense Intelligence Service was launched in 2014 following concerns about former NSA employee Edward Snowden’s leaks the previous year revealing how the NSA works, according to DR.
 
Snowden fled the United States after leaking secret NSA files in 2013 and was given asylum in Russia.
 
Following DR’s report, Snowden posted a cryptic Danish-language comment on Twitter saying: “If only there had been some reason to investigate many years ago. Oh why didn’t anyone warn us?”
 
Steinbruck told German broadcaster ARD he thought it was “grotesque that friendly intelligence services are indeed intercepting and spying on top representatives” of other countries.
 
“Politically I consider it a scandal,” he said.  
 
Swedish Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist told Swedish SVT broadcaster that he “demanded full information”. Norwegian Defense Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen told broadcaster NRK that he took the allegations seriously.
 
In Paris, French Minister for European Affairs Clement Beaune told France Info radio that the DR report needed to be checked and that, if confirmed, it would be a “serious” matter.
 
“These potential facts, they are serious, they must be checked,” he said, adding there could be “some diplomatic protests.”
 
A decision in August last year to suspend the head of the Danish Defense Intelligence Service and three other officials following criticism and accusations of serious wrongdoings from an independent board overseeing the agency centered on the 2015 investigation, according to DR.
 
Denmark said last year it would initiate an investigation into the case based on information from a whistleblower report.
 
That investigation is expected to be concluded later this year.


your ad here

«Заключна фаза тренувань пройшла в прифронтовій Авдіївці. Тренування відбувалися на головному стратегічному об’єкті міста в умовах, максимально наближених до реальних»


your ad here

The far-right ELAM party and a centrist splinter group made big gains in Cyprus’ parliamentary election on Sunday as a sizeable chunk of supporters appeared to have turned their back on the top three parties amid voter disenchantment with traditional power centers.With 100% of votes counted, ELAM garnered 6.78% of the vote — a 3% increase from the previous election in 2016 — to edge out the socialist EDEK party by the razor-thin margin of around 200 votes.The centrist DIPA — made up of key figures from the center-right DIKO party which has traditionally been the third biggest party — gained 6.1% of the vote.The center-right DISY emerged in first place with 27.77% of the vote, 5.4% more than second-place, communist-rooted AKEL. But the parties respectively lost 2.9% and 3.3% of their support from the previous election.“The result isn’t what we expected,” AKEL General-Secretary Andros Kyprianou told a party rally. “We respect it and we’ll examine it carefully to draw conclusions, but we can now say that we failed to convince (our supporters).”Analyst Christoforos Christoforou said the results indicate a “very big failure” on the part of both DISY and AKEL to rally more supporters by convincing them of the benefits of their policies. A last-ditch appeal by the DISY leadership limited a projected 5% voter loss to 3%.Christoforou said the real winners were ELAM with its strident anti-migration platform and hardline nationalist policies and DIPA whose top echelons still have connections to the centers of political power as former ministers and lawmakers.He said that the high electoral threshold of 3.6% means that 15,000 voters who cast ballots for smaller parties who didn’t win any seats are left without a voice in parliament.Opinion polls in the weeks preceding the vote indicated that both DISY and AKEL would hemorrhage support as disappointed voters seek out alternatives among smaller parties.The election won’t affect the running of the government on the divided Mediterranean island nation, as executive power rests in the hands of the president, who is elected separately.About 65.73% of nearly 558,000 eligible voters cast ballots for the 56 Greek Cypriot seats in parliament. Voter turnout was 1% less than the previous poll.Among the key campaign issues were the country’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the hoped-for economic reboot as the country ramps up vaccinations. Migration has also been an issue as the Cypriot government insists it has exceeded its limits and can no longer receive more migrants.Smaller parties have appealed to voters to turn their backs on DISY, which they said is burdened by a legacy of corruption.An independent investigation into Cyprus’ now-defunct investment-for-citizenship program found that the government unlawfully granted passports to thousands of relatives of wealthy investors, some with shady pasts. DISY bore the brunt of the criticism because it backs the policies of Anastasiades, the party’s former leader.Christoforou said there are questions as to whether the government has breached rules by using state funds to campaign for DISY.
 


your ad here

На території Києва та області була введена спеціальна поліцейська операція


your ad here

Georgia’s main opposition party on Sunday announced the end of a months-long parliamentary boycott that has plunged the Caucasus nation into a spiraling political crisis, following disputed elections last year.Georgia’s opposition parties have denounced massive fraud in the October 31 parliamentary elections, which were won narrowly by the ruling Georgian Dream party.In the months since, they have staged numerous mass protests, demanding snap polls and refused to assume their seats in the newly elected parliament.The boycott that has left around 40 seats vacant in the 150-seat legislature weighed heavily on Georgian Dream’s political legitimacy.On Sunday, Georgia’s main opposition force — the United National Movement (UNM) founded by exiled ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili — said it had taken the decision to end the boycott.”We will enter parliament to liberate the Georgian state captured by oligarch Bidzina Ivanishvili,” UNM chairman Nika Melia told journalists.He was referring to the billionaire founder of the ruling party, who is widely believed to be the man in charge in Georgia, despite having no official political role.The post-electoral stalemate worsened in February after police arrested Melia in a violent raid on his party headquarters, leading to the prime minister’s resignation and prompting swift condemnation from the West.Melia was released from pre-trial detention in May, on bail posted by the European Union.The move was part of an agreement Georgian Dream and the opposition signed in April under the European Council President Charles Michel’s mediation.The deal commits opposition parties to enter parliament, while Georgian Dream has promised sweeping political, electoral and judicial reforms.In power since 2012, Georgian Dream and its founder Ivanishvili — Georgia’s richest man — have faced mounting criticism from the West over the country’s worsening democratic record.Critics accuse Ivanishvili of persecuting political opponents and creating a corrupt system where private interests permeate politics.
 


your ad here

The chief editor of a popular internet news site in one of Belarus’ largest cities was detained Sunday on suspicion of extremism. The arrest Sunday of Hrodna.life editor Aliaksei Shota comes amid a crackdown on independent journalists and opponents of authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko. The publication focuses on Belarus’ fifth-largest city, Grodno. City police said the website “posted information products that were duly recognized as extremist,” but didn’t give details. It wasn’t immediately clear if Shota had been formally charged with extremism, which can carry a prison sentence of up to 10 years. Shota had collaborated with the country’s most popular internet portal Tut.by, which authorities closed this month after arresting 15 employees. Belarusian journalist Raman Pratasevich stands in an airport bus in the international airport outside Minsk, Belarus, May 23, 2021, in this photo released by Telegram Chanel t.me/motolkohelp. He was arrested shortly thereafter.Belarus’ crackdown escalated a week ago with the arrest of dissident journalist Raman Pratasevich and his girlfriend who were aboard a commercial flight that was diverted to the Minsk airport because of an alleged bomb threat. The flight was flying over Belarus en route from Athens, Greece, to Vilnius, Lithuania. The move sparked wide denunciation in the West as an act of hijacking and demands for Pratasevich’s release. The European Union banned flights from Belarus. Pratasevich is charged with organizing riots, a charge that carries a potential sentence of 15 years. The day after his arrest, authorities released a brief video in which Pratasevich said he was confessing, but observers said the statement appeared to be forced. The Belarusian human rights group Viasna said Sunday that Pratasevich had received a package from his sister but that an unspecified book had been taken from it. Large protests broke out last August after a presidential election that officials said overwhelmingly gave a sixth term in office to Lukashenko, who has consistently repressed opposition since coming to power in 1994. Police detained more than 30,000 people in the course of the protests, which persisted for months. Although protests died down during the winter, authorities have continued strong actions against opposition supporters and independent journalists.  


your ad here