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Archive for: October 2022 - DIGEST UKRAINE

Month: October 2022

The Supreme Court on Monday rejected Turkey’s bid to shut down lawsuits in U.S. courts stemming from a violent brawl outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence in Washington more than five years ago that left anti-government protesters badly beaten.

The justices did not comment in turning away Turkey’s arguments that American law shields foreign countries from most lawsuits. Lower courts ruled that those protections did not extend to the events of May 16, 2017, when during a visit by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, “Turkish security forces violently clashed with a crowd of protesters,” as one judge described the situation.

The Supreme Court’s action allows the lawsuits to proceed. In the lawsuits, protesters claim they were brutally punched and kicked, cursed at and greeted with slurs and throat-slashing gestures. One woman slipped in and out of consciousness and has suffered seizures, and others reported post-traumatic stress, depression, concussions and nightmares, according to the complaints.

The high court had put off a decision about whether to intervene for months, asking for the Biden administration’s views on the legal issues presented.

Turkey can be sued in these circumstances, the Justice Department said in its high court filing, concluding that lower courts were correct in finding that the U.S. ally does not have legal immunity.

Lawyers for the Turkish government had told the court that Erdogan’s security detail had discretion to use physical force because it was protecting its head of state in a potentially dangerous situation.

They described some protesters as “supporters of a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization that poses a genuine national security threat to Turkey.”

The altercation was caught on camera and led to criminal charges against some of Erdogan’s security officers and civilian supporters, two of whom pleaded guilty. Most other charges were dropped. The violence occurred as Erdogan was returning to the ambassador’s residence after a White House visit, where he and then-President Donald Trump pledged cooperation in fighting the Islamic State group.

Erdogan remained in his car after it arrived at the ambassador’s residence while an initial skirmish took place. The lawsuits claim that he ordered a second, more violent attack. Turkey says he did no such thing.

Окремі представники цієї громади, за даними спецслужби, «причетні до поширення ідей, що посягають на територіальну цілісність України та розпалювання релігійної ворожнечі»

Two environmental activists glued themselves to a dinosaur display at Berlin’s Natural History Museum on Sunday to protest what they said was the German government’s failure to properly address the threat of climate change.

The women used superglue to attach themselves to poles holding up the skeleton of a large four-legged dinosaur that lived tens of millions of years ago.

“Unlike the dinosaurs, we hold our fate in our own hands,” protester Caris Connell, 34, said as museum visitors milled around the display. “Do we want to go extinct like the dinosaurs, or do we want to survive?”

Fellow activist Solvig Schinkoethe, 42, said that as a mother of four she feared the consequences of the climate crisis.

“This peaceful resistance is the means we have chosen to protect our children from the government’s deadly ignorance,” she said.

The museum didn’t immediately comment on the protest.

The activists were part of the group Uprising of the Last Generation, which has staged numerous demonstrations in recent months, including blocking streets and throwing mashed potatoes at a Claude Monet painting.

Three men were injured early Sunday when a pro-democracy vigil outside the Iranian Embassy in Berlin was attacked, German police said.

An officer guarding the property saw several men, whose faces were covered with scarves, tearing down flags and banners from a trailer parked outside.

They then sought to rip open the door of the trailer, and a scuffle and argument erupted between four men who were inside and the attackers.

The men from the trailer chased the other group — and were then attacked by them, police said. Three of the men from the vehicle were injured, with two needing hospital treatment.

The attackers fled by car.

The trailer had posters on it with slogans such as “Women, Life, Freedom,” which has been commonly used in anti-government protests in Iran, German media reported.

There have been large protests in Germany and other European countries in solidarity with women-led demonstrations in Iran sparked by the death in custody of Mahsa Amini.

The Iranian protests, now in their sixth week, are the biggest seen in the Islamic Republic for years. 

Germany and the European Union are considering adding Iran’s Revolutionary Guards to the list of terrorist organizations, German Foreign Minister Annalina Baerbock said on Sunday.   

Last week, Germany announced that it would impose tougher sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran outside of the EU sanctions package.  

In an interview Sunday with a German news agency, Baerbock added, “We are also examining how we can list the Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization.”   

Baerbock’s comments come a day after Hossein Salami, the head of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guards, warned protesters that Saturday would be their last day of taking to the streets, signaling that security forces might intensify their crackdown on nationwide protests. 

The Revolutionary Guards are a part of Iran’s military charged with protecting the country’s Islamic political system. It also controls a huge business empire active in almost all sectors of Iran’s economy.      

Iran has been gripped by protests since the death of 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in the custody of the morality police last month, posing one of the boldest challenges to the clerical leadership since the 1979 revolution. 

Iran has accused countries that have expressed support for the protests of meddling in its internal affairs. 

In her interview Sunday, Baerbok also said there are currently no negotiations to revive the Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) between Western countries and Iran.   

The U.S. State Department designated the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization in April, 2019.   

Some material for this article came from Agence France-Presse and Reuters. 

King Charles III announced Sunday he would hold a reception ahead of next month’s COP27 climate summit after being advised not to attend by the government.

Buckingham Palace said the event on November 4 would gather over 200 “international business leaders, decision makers and NGOs” two days before the summit begins in Egypt.

The Palace said the event was to mark the end of the UK’s hosting of COP26.

Charles has long backed environmental causes and spoke at the COP26 event in Glasgow in 2021.

But Downing Street said Friday that the monarch will not go to COP27 after the previous UK government led by Liz Truss advised him it was not the “right occasion” for him to attend.

British PM Rishi Sunak has also decided not to go, instead focusing on domestic issues.

The UK’s COP26 Minister Alok Sharma told The Sunday Times that he was “pretty disappointed that the prime minister is not going”, saying attendance would send a signal about the UK’s “renewed commitment on this issue.”

The Sunday Times reported earlier that Charles was expected to host an event with Sunak set to make a speech.



For web: PRAGUE (AP) — Tens of thousands of Czechs gathered in the capital on Sunday to demonstrate their solidarity with Ukraine and their support for democratic values. 

The rally took place in reaction to three recent anti-government demonstrations where other protesters demanded the resignation of the pro-Western coalition government of conservative Prime Minister Petr Fiala for its support for Ukraine. Those earlier rallies also protested soaring energy prices and opposed the country’s membership in the European Union and NATO. 

The organizers of the earlier rallies are known for spreading Russian propaganda and opposing COVID-19 vaccinations. 

The people who turned out Sunday in Prague waved the Czech, Ukrainian and EU flags while displaying slogans that read “Czech Republic against fear” and “We will manage it.” 

Sunday’s rally at central Wenceslas Square was organized by a group called Million Moments for Democracy, which was behind several rallies in support of Ukraine following the Feb 24 Russian invasion. The group also previously held massive rallies against the former prime minister, populist billionaire Andrej Babis, calling him a threat for democracy. 

The group said the anti-government protests, which united the far right with the far left. exploited the people’s fear of inflation and the war in Ukraine and were trying to undermine democracy. 

Ukraine’s first lady, Olena Zelenska, thanked those at the rally in a video message. She said her country has been facing “the darkest moment in its history” but added hope that Russia’s aggression won’t succeed. 


«В Куп’янську внаслідок обстрілів пошкоджено цивільний промисловий об’єкт, сталася масштабна пожежа. На місці працюють рятувальники, пожежу локалізовано. Попередньо, ніхто не постраждав»

Thousands of demonstrators defied an official ban to march Saturday against the deployment of new water storage infrastructure for agricultural irrigation in western France, some clashing with police.

Clashes between paramilitary gendarmes and demonstrators erupted with Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin reporting that 61 officers had been hurt, 22 seriously.

“Bassines Non Merci,” which organized the protest, said around 30 demonstrators had been injured. Of them, 10 had to seek medical treatment and three were hospitalized.

The group brings together environmental associations, trade unions and anti-capitalist groups against what it claims is a “water grab” by the “agro-industry” in western France.

Local officials said six people were arrested during the protest and that 4,000 people had turned up for the banned demonstration. Organizers put the turnout at 7,000.

The deployment of giant water “basins” is underway in the village of Sainte-Soline, in the Deux-Sevres department, to irrigate crops, which opponents claim distorts access to water amid drought conditions.

Around 1,500 police were deployed, according to the prefect of the Deux-Sevres department Emmanuelle Dubee.

Dubee said Friday she had wanted to limit possible “acts of violence,” referring to the clashes between demonstrators and security forces that marred a previous rally in March. 

The Sainte-Soline water reserve is the second of 16 such installations, part of a project developed by a group of 400 farmers organized in a water cooperative to significantly reduce water usage in the summer.

The open-air craters, covered with a plastic tarpaulin, are filled by pumping water from surface groundwater in winter and can store up to 650,000 square meters of water. 

This water is used for irrigation in summer, when rainfall is scarcer. 

Opponents claim the “mega-basins” are wrongly reserved for large export-oriented grain farms and deprive the community of access to essential resources.

Marine archaeologists in Sweden say they have found the sister vessel of a famed 17th century warship that sank on its maiden voyage and is now on display in a popular Stockholm museum.

The wreck of the royal warship Vasa was raised in 1961, remarkably well preserved, after more than 300 years underwater in the Stockholm harbor. Visitors can admire its intricate wooden carvings at the Vasa Museum, one of Stockholm’s top tourist attractions.

Its sister warship, Applet (Apple), was built around the same time as the Vasa on the orders of Swedish King Gustav II Adolf.

Unlike the Vasa, which keeled over and sank just minutes after leaving port in 1628, the sister ship was launched without incident the following year and remained in active service for three decades. It was sunk in 1659 to become part of an underwater barrier mean to protect the Swedish capital from enemy fleets.

The exact location of the wreck was lost over time but marine archaeologists working for Vrak — the Museum of Wrecks in Stockholm — say they found a large shipwreck in December 2021 near the island of Vaxholm, just east of the capital.

“Our pulses spiked when we saw how similar the wreck was to Vasa,” said Jim Hansson, one of the archaeologists. “Both the construction and the powerful dimensions seemed very familiar.”

Experts were able to confirm that it was the long-lost Applet by analyzing its technical details, wood samples and archival data, the museum said in a statement on Monday.

Parts of the ship’s sides had collapsed onto the seabed but the hull was otherwise preserved up to a lower gun deck. The fallen sides had gun ports on two different levels, which was seen as evidence of a warship with two gun decks.

A second, more thorough dive was made in the spring of 2022, and details were found that had so far only been seen in Vasa. Several samples were taken and analyses made, and it emerged that the oak for the ship’s timber was felled in 1627 in the same place as Vasa’s timber just a few years earlier.

Experts say the Vasa sunk because it lacked the ballast to counterweigh its heavy guns. Applet was built broader than Vasa and with a slightly different hull shape. Still, ships that size were difficult to maneuver and Applet probably remained idle for most of its service, though it sailed toward Germany with more than 1,000 people on board during the Thirty Years’ War, the Vrak museum said.

No decision has been taken on whether to raise the ship, which would be a costly and complicated endeavor.

China has emerged as an even more prominent player in world affairs as a result of the crisis in Ukraine and the weakening of Russia, but not necessarily to its advantage, says a Warsaw-based analyst.

The two major events that have “shaped or reshaped Europe’s attitude towards China” are the war in Ukraine and how China reacted to it, and the 20th Chinese communist party congress and its outcome, Ireneusz Bil, chairman of the Warsaw-based Amicus Europae Foundation, said in a phone interview with VOA. The foundation was established by former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski.

If attitudes toward Beijing were hardened due to its stance on the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the latest policy pronouncements and the lineup of the new leadership at the Chinese party congress lends the EU an additional reason to recalibrate its former largely welcoming approach, Bil said.

Under these circumstances, China’s expanded role in international affairs and in a potentially enlarged footprint in Europe, including in Central and Eastern Europe, will be accompanied with increased scrutiny and greater “vigilance,” according to the analyst.

Europe will be more aware of the consequences of the technological exchanges and investments from China than it was before, more vigilant in the screening process, Bil said, compared with the previous experience when “there was no second thought on Chinese investment into the EU.”

Now, people will look at “who’s behind [Chinese investments], what kind of technology they will have access to, what kind of infrastructure they will have access to, what security risks are behind it,” Bil said.

Given these developments, the German government’s recent decision to send a chancellor-led delegation to Beijing and to allow a Chinese state-owned company stakes in the port of Hamburg is viewed with strong reservation in Poland and most other Central and Eastern European countries, Bil told VOA.

Bil described Berlin’s choice as “a unilateral decision to go so quickly after the 20th party congress” that “could be seen as lending support to rising authoritarianism in China.”

“This is not welcomed in Poland, and I think in a majority of EU — as I said, here Germany is seen as under-performing versus Russia, so now their effort to build some kind of new relationship with China is being seen as not in the interest of the whole of the European Union,” he said.

Bil added that whether this action is in the interest of Germany itself is also questionable, judging from the opposition put forth by Germany’s security agencies, among other groups.

Germany and France — bigger countries in the EU — “have overlooked our [most Central and Eastern European countries] interest and our opinions vis-a-vis Russia, you can imagine that we are now seeing a ‘mirror effect’ in their relations with China,” he said. “This has led to a crisis of trust, towards Germany — and their understanding of the change of [the] geostrategic map.”

At the center of Germany and the EU’s relations with China is to what extent each country, and the EU as a whole, rely on China for its economic well-being. At this week’s policy roundtable organized by the European Parliament’s Research Service in Brussels, two analysts say that dependency is “overblown.”

Jacob Kirkegaard is senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund (GMF) in Brussels and nonresident senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE) in Washington, D.C. He noted at the event held Thursday that the Ukraine crisis has led European nations to look carefully at potential consequences of a fallout with China, in the event Beijing takes similar actions against Taiwan, as Russia did against Ukraine.

“China is a bigger economy, so sanctioning China following a military invasion of Taiwan is going to be a bigger deal than sanctioning Russia, no doubt about that,” Kirkegaard said.

Although undoubtedly there’s going to be a very large contingent of “European industrial interests who will cry that it’s going to be a disaster,” the reality is, he said, “as we have seen during the pandemic, as we have seen now with the gas dependency on Russia,” the global supply chain possesses much more flexibility, “and the actual true long-term dependencies on China will turn out to be a lot lower than we think,” Kirkegaard said.

Ulrich Jochheim, a policy analyst in the external policies unit of the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) who earlier worked as an economic desk officer for Germany and China in the European Commission, agrees.

“Our [German] export to China makes up less than 10%,” relatively insignificant compared to “a figure of 30% — more or less — for Australia, and 42% in the case of Taiwan,” he pointed out at Thursday policy roundtable.

Earlier this month, the EU identified China as a “tough competitor” at its foreign ministers meeting, known as the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC).

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky described the gathering as providing a platform for “very good and very consensual internal deliberation among EU foreign ministers” about the EU-China relations.

“There is no formal or agreed public outcome of this debate and we do not comment on details of internal debates,” he wrote, in response to VOA’s request for comment. “As customary, the High Representative Josep Borrell as the chairman commented publicly after the meeting and he indeed spoke about ‘a tough competitor, tougher and tougher, and a systemic rival.'”

Lipavsky continued: “I only have one thing to add — there is a cleared-eyed assessment of China and the recognition that the EU is having the biggest leverage, when acting in unity both internally and externally with like-minded partners. As for Czechia, we appreciated the debate, and we will support continuation of it.”

The Czech Republic currently holds the EU presidency.

Спецслужби фактично щодня повідомляють про виявлення агентурних мереж чи підозрюваних у підривній діяльності на шкоду Україні в умовах воєнного стану

U.S. firm Westinghouse Electric Co will build Poland’s first nuclear power plant, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Friday, confirming a long-awaited decision aiming to reduce the country’s carbon emissions and phase out coal.   

With Russia waging war in neighboring Ukraine, Poland’s choice of a partner from the United States underlines the emphasis Warsaw places on relations with Washington at a time when its security is in the spotlight.   

“We confirm our nuclear energy project will use the reliable, safe technology of @WECNuclear,” Morawiecki said on Twitter.   

Westinghouse was competing with South Korea’s state-owned Korea Hydro Nuclear Power, which submitted an offer in April. Warsaw was also talking to French companies about the project.   

“U.S. partnership on this project is advantageous for us all: we can address the climate crisis, strengthen European energy security, and deepen the U.S.-Poland strategic relationship,” Vice President Kamala Harris said in a tweet.   

Harris worked to help Westinghouse secure the contract together with Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, engaging with Morawiecki several times over the past year, a White House official said. The project would create thousands of American jobs, the official added.   

The selection of Westinghouse and of the United States sent a message to Russian President Vladimir Putin “about the strength and the meshing together of a U.S.-Poland alliance,” a senior U.S. government official said.   

Warsaw had been seeking a partner to build 6-9 gigawatts (GW) of nuclear capacity and provide up to 49% equity financing for the project. It planned to choose the technology for the first three reactors by the end of 2022, with the first set to start its operations in 2033.   

“We understand that the decision will be for the first three reactors and it is our expectation that Poland intends to eventually construct six AP1000 reactors from Westinghouse and will make a formal decision about the second set of three at a later date,” the U.S. official said.   

Sources have said that Poland would choose the technology first, which would indicate who the partner would be, and discuss the details of the contract afterwards. 

Editor’s note: Here is a fast take on what the international community has been up to this past week, as seen from the United Nations perch.    

Russia and Ukraine trade allegations at Security Council

Russia called three meetings of the Security Council this week to press its allegations against Ukraine and its Western allies that they are building dirty bombs to use against Russia and to deny that Moscow had received drones from Iran in violation of a Security Council resolution. Western countries said the dirty bomb meetings were a waste of time and accused Russia of using the council to promote Kremlin disinformation. They have asked the U.N. to send investigators to Ukraine to examine drone debris to determine their origin.

In a private session, International Atomic Energy Agency director general Rafael Grossi updated the council on his efforts to establish a de-militarized protection zone around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. The Russian-occupied facility has been repeatedly shelled during the conflict and has raised fears of a nuclear incident or accident.

Difficult winter ahead for millions of Syrians

The United Nations appealed Tuesday for more money and access to needy Syrians, as winter sets in and a cholera outbreak strains limited resources. At least 14.6 million people need assistance – more than at any other time during the 11-year civil war. In January, the U.N. Security Council will consider renewing the authorization for the cross-border aid operation from Turkey into northwest Syria. Russia has long sought to end the operation, and the already difficult negotiations will take place against the backdrop of council divisions intensified by the war in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, a new study of U.N. contracts in Syria found that a large share of donor funds went to companies owned by individuals with troubling human rights records or associated with the Bashar al-Assad regime. The report, by U.K.-based nongovernmental organization Syrian Legal Development Program and the Observatory of Political and Economic Networks, said nearly half of U.N. procurement funds went to “risky” or “highly risky” suppliers.

UNEP: Greenhouse gases need to be drastically cut by 2030

Ten days before leaders meet at the COP27 climate review conference in Egypt, the U.N. Environment Program warned Thursday that the window for preventing a climate catastrophe is quickly closing. The agency’s latest Emissions Gap Report says greenhouse gas emissions must be cut by 45% by 2030 to stop climate change. UNEP says the world is falling far short of the Paris climate agreement goals, with no credible pathway for limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of this century.

Rights expert calls for new strategy on Myanmar

The U.N. special rapporteur for Myanmar warns that unless the international community changes how it deals with the military junta in that country, the already catastrophic situation will only get worse. Tom Andrews told VOA in an interview this week that countries should form a coalition to implement a coordinated strategy to deprive the military of arms, fuel for their aircraft, financing and the legitimacy the junta seeks.

He singled out Myanmar’s civil society, human rights defenders and journalists as “heroes” who are risking their lives to document atrocities and deserve international support. The junta, he said, has committed crimes against humanity and war crimes.

More atrocities without peace in Ethiopia’s Tigray

A commission of independent U.N. experts examining rights violations and atrocities in the war in Ethiopia’s Tigray region said Friday that without an end to the fighting, the risk of further atrocity crimes is growing. The U.N. International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia said that Ethiopian, Eritrean and Tigrayan forces have all committed violations in the hostilities that began two years ago, several of which rise to war crimes and crimes against humanity.  

Read more on the humanitarian crisis in Tigray:

WHO: Blockade of Humanitarian Aid to Tigray Puts Millions at Risk of Deadly Diseases

In brief

—  The International Organization for Migration said Monday that at least 5,684 migrants have died on European migration routes since the start of 2021. The agency said the numbers of deaths are rising on routes across the Mediterranean, on land borders to Europe and within the continent. The IOM said this highlights the need for more legal and safe pathways for migration.

— As protests across Iran enter their seventh week, the U.N. said Friday it is increasingly concerned about reports of increasing fatalities. Spokesman Stephane Dujarric condemned “all incidents that have resulted in death or serious injury to protestors” and reiterated that security forces must “avoid all unnecessary or disproportionate use of force against peaceful protestors.” The U.N. has called for accountability and for the Iranian authorities to respect human rights, women’s rights and the rights to peaceful assembly, freedom of expression and freedom of association.

—  The U.N. has expressed concern about outbreaks of cholera and watery diarrhea in at least 29 countries this year, including most recently, Haiti, Syria, Lebanon, Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya. The situation is even more worrying, as the World Health Organization said recently there is a shortage of cholera vaccines due to the high number of outbreaks.

Good news

On Thursday, the governments of Lebanon and Israel signed separate letters with the United States delineating the maritime border, ending a yearslong dispute. The signing took place at the U.N. peacekeeping premises in south Lebanon. The letters will be deposited with the United Nations. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the agreement can promote increased regional stability and enhanced prosperity for both nations. The deal between the two enemies that have fought multiple wars removes a hurdle to each country being able to exploit hydrocarbon fields along the border.

Quote of note

“A war without witnesses, as you know, can be terrible.” 

Radhika Coomaraswamy, a member of the three-person U.N. International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia to reporters Friday on the need for access to conflict areas in northern Ethiopia.

What we are watching next week

On Wednesday, the U.N. Security Council will hold an informal meeting on the weeks of protests in Iran sparked by the death in police custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini. The United States and Albania have called the meeting to highlight “the ongoing repression of women and girls and members of religious and ethnic minority groups in Iran.” Briefers will include Nobel Laureate and human rights defender Shirin Ebadi and Javaid Rehman, the U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in Iran.

Norwegian climber Kristin Harila on Friday abandoned for now her bid to scale the world’s 14 highest peaks in record time, after China refused to grant her a permit for the final two.

Harila had until November 4 to conquer the summits of Shishapangma and Cho Oyu in Tibet to make history and beat the world record.

The record was set in 2019 by Nepali mountaineer Nirmal Purja, who scaled the 14 “super peaks” above 8,000 meters (26,247 feet) in just six months and six days.

“It is over for now,” Harila, 36, wrote in an Instagram message with emojis of broken hearts and floods of tears.

“We have left no stone unturned in this process and have exhausted every possible avenue to make this happen, but unfortunately due to reasons out of our control we were unable to get the permits in time,” she said.

But the mountaineer, who is on a quest to change how the climbing world views female athletes, vowed to complete her dizzying challenge and make history in 2023.

“In times of adversity one has to find inner strength, which is why I am letting you all know that I am coming back, and I WILL complete this record next year!” she wrote.

Harila, currently in Kathmandu, Nepal, had just a week left to ascend 8,027-meter Shishapangma and Cho Oyu’s 8,201 meters.

But she was refused permission to enter Tibet by the Chinese authorities, who have ruled the region since the 1950s and are accused by rights groups of violently repressing the majority ethnic Tibetan population.

China has rarely issued climbing permits in tightly controlled Tibet in recent years and all but sealed its borders during the coronavirus pandemic.

Harila is a native of Vadso in Norway’s far north, where the highest point is 633 meters.