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Valery Giscard d’Estaing, the president of France from 1974 to 1981 who became a champion of European integration, died on Wednesday. He was 94.Giscard d’Estaing’s office said he passed away in his family home in the Loir-et-Cher region, in central France, after contracting COVID-19.”In accordance with his wishes, his funeral will take place in strict privacy,” his office said.Giscard d’Estaing was hospitalized last month with heart problems, but remained vigorous deep into old age.In a January 2020 interview with The Associated Press, he displayed a firm handshake and sharp eye, recounting details from his meetings as French president in the 1970s with then-U.S. President Jimmy Carter and then-Egyptian leader Anwar Sadat, whose photos graced his office walls.He wrote the article in the EU charter that allowed Brexit to happen – the brief measure that allows a member state to leave the bloc.On the eve of Britain’s departure this year, Giscard told AP it was a “step backward” geopolitically, but took the long view. “We functioned without Britain during the first years of the European Union. … So we will rediscover a situation that we have already known.”Born in Germany in the wake of World War I, Giscard d’Estaing helped liberate Paris from the Nazis in the next world war, and later laid the groundwork for the shared euro currency and helped integrate Britain into what became the EU in the 1970s.Seeing the Britons leave, “I feel great regret,” he said.FILE – Valery Giscard d’Estaing, left, as finance minister and Jacques Chirac as secretary of state to finance leave Elysee Palace, Aug. 9, 1969.He remained unfailingly optimistic in the European project, forecasting that the EU and the euro would bounce back and gradually grow stronger and bigger despite the challenges of losing a major member.When he took office in 1974, Giscard d’Estaing began as the model of a modern French president, a conservative with liberal views on social issues.Abortion and divorce by mutual consent were legalized under his term, and he reduced the age of majority from 21 to 18.He played his accordion in working class neighborhoods. One Christmas morning, he invited four passing garbage men to breakfast at the presidential palace.He lost his reelection bid in 1981 to Socialist Francois Mitterrand.Born in 1926 in Coblenz, Germany, where his father was a financial director of the post-World War I French occupation administration, he grew up with a pan-European view. After joining the French Resistance during World War II, he next saw Germany as a tank commander in the French military in 1944.In 1952, he married Anne-AymoneIt de Brantes, the daughter of a count and heiress to a steel fortune. They had four children: Valerie-Anne, Louis, Henri and Jacinte.Young Giscard d’Estaing studied at the prestigious Polytechnical Institute and then the elite National School of Administration, before mastering economics at Oxford.President Charles de Gaulle named him finance minister at the age of 36.
After his defeat in the 1981 presidential election, he temporarily retired from politics.FILE – French former President Valery Giscard d’Estaing speaks to the media in Paris, April 8, 2013.He then found a second calling in the European Union. He worked on writing a European Constitution, which was formally presented in 2004 but rejected by French and Dutch voters. However, it paved the way for the adoption of the Treaty on European Union in 2007.At age 83, he published a romance novel called The Princess and the President, which he said was based on Princess Diana, with whom he said he discussed writing a love story.Asked about the nature of their relationship, he said only: “Let us not exaggerate. I knew her a bit in a climate of a confidential relationship. She needed to communicate.”Earlier this year, a German journalist accused Giscard of repeatedly grabbing her during an interview, and filed a sexual assault complaint with Paris prosecutors. Giscard’s French lawyer said the 94-year-old former president “retains no memory” of the incident.Former French President Francois Hollande paid tribute to “a statesman who had chosen to open up to the world and was thinking that Europe was a condition for France to be greater.”Hollande’s predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, expressed his “deep sadness.” Giscard d’Estaing “made France be proud,” he said.

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Britain has approved the use of the coronavirus vaccine made by Pfizer – and plans to begin inoculations in the coming days. As Henry Ridgwell reports, it represents a significant milestone in the battle against the pandemic – but challenges remain.Camera: Henry Ridgwell   Producer: Bakhtiyar Zamanov

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Europe’s alpine nations are split regarding how to handle the ski season at their respective resorts during the COVID-19 pandemic.Germany, France and Italy are staying temporarily closed, while Switzerland, Spain and Austria are partially opening.France, like Italy, Austria and Germany, has ordered the high-altitude lifts to remain closed in the hope that all resorts can benefit at peak season, if and when the infection rate slows.French Prime Minister Jean Castex announced Wednesday that the country would go so far as to conduct random border checks to stop the spread of COVID-19 crossing into neighboring Switzerland and Spain where ski resorts remain open.The measures are also aimed at appeasing French resort operators, who are complaining of an “uneven playing field.”The announcement came a day after French President Emmanuel Macron said France would put in place “restrictive and dissuasive measures” to deter the French from leaving the country to ski.Meanwhile, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz on Wednesday announced his country’s plan for a “cautious” reopening of ski resorts beginning December 24. The plan calls for limiting capacity on the ski lifts and keeping restaurants, bars and hotels largely closed until early January.Austria will also require many people entering the country over the Christmas period to go into quarantine.Last week in Switzerland, where several resorts are already open, Health Minister Alain Berset said resorts would be allowed to stay open if safety measures — masks, proper hygiene, social distancing and limited capacity for bars and restaurants — remained in place.Berset said he understood the regional tensions that would arise if Swiss resorts were the only ones open, but said, “We are a sovereign country and can decide ourselves what the facts are on our territory.”

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Наразі триває процедура пошуку оцінювача для «Українського медіа холдингу», який передали в управління компанії «1+1 Інтернет», розповів виконувач обов’язків голови Національного агентства з питань виявлення, розшуку та управління активами, одержаними від корупційних та інших злочинів (Агентство з розшуку та менеджменту активів – АРМА) Віталій Сигидин. Про це він сказав в інтерв’ю Радіо Свобода.

За словами Сигидина, зараз триває етап оцінки «УМХ», але виконавця цієї процедури ще не знайшли.

«Це надзвичайно складний і комплексний актив, він складається з різних видів майна. Це й права інтелектуальної власності, це й корпоративні права в основному, це й рухоме і нерухоме майно. Тому щоб знайти такого оцінювача – це досить складна процедура», – додав він.

Згідно з сайтом АРМА, прийом документів для участі в конкурсі на оцінку майна та прав інтелектуальної власності «УМХ» завершується 3 грудня.

Читайте також: «Підозрілі операції» Януковича, Курченка, Фірташа і Тимошенко у банках Латвії з файлів FinCEN

Очільник агентства підкреслив, що АРМА передбачило такий механізм відбору, який не дозволить затягувати процес, але водночас допоможе обрати «найбільш якісного оцінювача» із відповідними фахівцями та досвідом ліцензування звітів про оцінку.

«Намагалися передбачити всі моменти і можливість його (оцінювача – ред.) здійснити відповідний вид оцінки. Тому що є різні види оцінки й різні сертифікати. Ми ці всі моменти передбачили. На цьому тижні закінчується прийом документів, після цього ми будемо аналізувати, тендерний комітет буде обирати цього оцінювача», – повідомив Сигидин.

У вересні Агентство з розшуку та менеджменту активів повідомило, що передало «УМХ» в управління компанії «1+1 Інтернет», яка належить кіпрській компанії Grintwood Investments Limited. За офіційними даними, 5% цієї компанії належать телерадіокомпанії «Студія 1+1» Ігоря Коломойського. За даними АРМА, компанія зобов’язалася забезпечити 5 мільйонів гривень гарантованих щомісячних перерахувань до державного бюджету, а прогнозувала суму 8 мільйонів гривень щомісяця.

Читайте також: Чи міг Курченко бути причетним до убивства ватажка «ДНР»? (рос)

Перед цим, на початку вересня, компанія «1+1 Медіа» критикувала проведення конкурсу АРМА за брак «прозорості й публічності». В агентстві відкидали звинувачення компанії.

Кінцевим бенефіціаром «Українського медіа холдингу» (UMH) є Сергій Курченко – підприємець часів президента Віктора Януковича, нині втікач до Росії, якого називали «гаманцем Януковича».

У грудні 2017 року рішенням суду був накладений арешт на цінні папери, корпоративні й інтелектуальні права, а також частину нерухомого майна цього холдингу. У вересні 2019-го суд передав майнові й корпоративні права групи «Український медіа холдинг» в управління Національного агентства з питань виявлення, розшуку та управління корупційними активами (АРМА).

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Наразі не всі частини комплексу «Межигір’я», де мешкав експрезидент Віктор Янукович, передані в управління Агентства з розшуку та менеджменту активів. Це не дозволяє почати пошук управителя, заявив виконувач обов’язків голови АРМА (Національного агентства з питань виявлення, розшуку та управління активами, одержаними від корупційних та інших злочинів) Віталій Сигидин в інтерв’ю Радіо Свобода. 

Однак він сподівається, що процедуру вдасться завершити до весни.

Сигидин підтвердив попередню заяву міністра юстиції Дениса Малюськи про те, що наразі майном «Межигір’я» фактично опікується громадська організація згідно з постановою прокурора від 2016 року.

«Нам було передано не все майно, яке входить до цього комплексу. «Межигір’я» розташоване на площі 170 гектарів, а в управління АРМА було передано земельну ділянку розміром 1,7 гектара. Тобто 1% від всієї території комплексу. АРМА передано більшість будівель, але не передані зелені насадження, які є дуже дороговартісними, вони, по суті, складають невід’ємну частину комплексу. Ми розглядаємо «Межигір’я» не відокремленими частинами, окремо – «Хонку», будівлю для допоміжного персоналу, вертолітний майданчик разом із ангаром – вони не можуть функціонувати окремо. Це все комплекс, і цей комплекс ми повинні зберегти в його цілісності. Натомість маємо багато безгосподарного майна, яким нині ніхто не зможе законно управляти, – не описані газони, інші елементи ландшафту, паркани, там дуже багато чого», – перелічив Сигидин.

Водночас, пояснює він, процедура інвентаризації не може бути завершена без доступу до всіх матеріалів досудового розслідування. Не всі з цих матеріалів, за словами голови агентства, Офіс генерального прокурора передав Національному антикорупційному бюро, яке зараз веде справу щодо «Межигір’я».

«Без доступу до всіх матеріалів досудового розслідування, які ще не передано від Офісу генерального прокурора в НАБУ, це зробити юридично не можна. Але ми постійно в діалозі зі Спеціалізованою антикорупційною прокуратурою та НАБУ. Ми очікуємо, коли їм передадуть всі ці матеріали, і ми фактично розпочнемо інвентаризацію. Після цього буде також звернення до суду, щоб визначити статус іншого майна, яке входить у цей комплекс, але в той же час не арештоване і не передане АРМА. Я думаю, що цей процес досить довготривалий, але в нас є спільно з НАБУ і САП єдине розуміння щодо вирішення проблеми. Щойно ми цей процес закінчимо, можна буде проводити відбір управителя на цей актив, як цілісний і унікальний комплекс», – каже він.

Очільник АРМА зазначає, що йдеться про дотаційний об’єкт, адже резиденцію в «Межигір’ї» було побудовано як маєток, а не як джерело прибутку.

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«Все це будувалося для розкішного приватного життя однієї людини. А для всіх воно сприймається як об’єкт, який повинен генерувати дохід. Але наше основне завдання – принаймні його зберегти. Це майно потребує постійної модернізації, обслуговування, відбувається амортизація. Конструкції з часом руйнуються, наприклад, та ж «Хонка», той самий корабель. Це колосальні кошти, ще потрібно знайти таку спроможну організацію, яка має не управляти для прибутку, а фандрейзити, напевно, щоб зберегти цей парк», – міркує Сигидин.

Держслужбовець наголошує, що завершення процедури передачі матеріалів не залежить від АРМА, проте сподівається, що оголосити конкурс з відбору управителя Межигір’ям вдасться до кінця зими.

«Я дуже сподіваюся, дуже б хотів, щоб наприкінці зими – навесні ми оголосили проведення конкурсу», – додає він.

У червні міністр юстиції України Денис Малюська повідомив в інтерв’ю Радіо Свобода, що резиденцією «Межигір’я» фактично керують громадські активісти. Згодом того ж місяця виконувач обов’язків голови АРМА Віталій Сигидин сказав в інтерв’ю проєкту «Наші Гроші», що до початку пошуку управителя резиденції потрібно провести інвентаризацію об’єкту.

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The European Space Agency (ESA) has signed a $102 million contract with a Swiss start-up company to purchase a unique service: the first-ever removal of an item of space debris from orbit.
The company, ClearSpace SA, will capture part of a used rocket using what is described as a “tentacle,” and then dragging it down for reentry. The object to be removed from orbit is a so-called Vespa payload adapter that was used in 2013 to hold and then release a satellite. It weighs about 112 kilograms.
Experts have long warned that hundreds of thousands of pieces of space debris circling the planet — including an astronaut’s lost mirror — pose a threat to functioning satellites and even the International Space Station (ISS).
During a remote news conference regarding the contract late Tuesday, ESA Director General Jan Woerner said there are more than a million pieces of space debris orbiting the Earth. He said there have already been cases in which satellites and spacecraft have been hit by the debris.
The ESA says the deal with ClearSpace SA will lead to the “first active debris removal mission” in 2025, in which a custom-made spacecraft, known as the ClearSpace-1, will rendezvous with, capture and take down the Vespa payload adapter for reentry.
ClearSpace SA CEO Luc Piguet says the company hopes to expand such operations in the future to include multiple object removal, and even servicing and refueling spacecraft.  
“When we look toward the future, what we can see already today is that there’s more than 5,000 nonfunctional objects in orbit, which essentially are, if you want, clients that need some sort of service. And every year, we add 74 new objects to this list,” Piguet says.

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Britain’s prime minister, Boris Johnson, has likened the scientists who have developed coronavirus vaccines to the cavalry arriving just in the nick of time. “The toot of the bugle is louder,” he reassured Britons during a recent news conference.   But like his European counterparts, Johnson’s government is scrambling to come up with a vaccine distribution plan and is having to answer key logistical and epidemiological questions, including who should be in the early waves to receive inoculations and how to ramp up a mass immunization program able to vaccinate millions as soon as possible.   On Tuesday, British regulators approved the use of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine, saying a rollout will begin next week. Health minister Matt Hancock said the approval of the vaccine is “fantastic news.”   Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street in London, Britain, Dec. 2, 2020.And at a Wednesday press conference, Johnson admitted that it would be an “immense logistical challenge” just to get the vulnerable inoculated.  “It will inevitably take some months before all the most vulnerable are protected — long, cold months. So it’s all the more vital that as we celebrate this scientific achievement we are not carried away with over-optimism or fall into the naive belief that the struggle is over,” he said.  Most countries say they will focus early inoculations on medical professionals and care workers and vulnerable groups, the elderly and those with chronic underlying health conditions.   Thereafter it gets more complicated.   Vaccine skepticismAnd another crucial question is how to persuade enough people to accept vaccinations so that the virus can be suppressed.  Even before the emergence of the coronavirus, Europeans were among the most skeptical about the safety and efficacy of vaccines, according to a pre-pandemic survey of 140,000 people across more than 140 countries.   The survey conducted for the Wellcome Trust, a medical research charity based in London, found that in France, Austria, Switzerland, Russia and Belgium up to a third of the population distrusts vaccines.   FILE – Anti-vaccination activists protest the decision of the Health Ministry and Education Ministry to not allow children without vaccination to go to school, in Kyiv, Ukraine, Aug. 22, 2019.And in Ukraine only about half of the population agreed that modern vaccines are safe.   European governments fear vaccine skepticism is only increasing because of social media agitation by extreme critics of vaccinations, or anti-vaxxers. Recent surveys have found that Britons are becoming increasingly questioning about the coronavirus vaccine. A majority in France, Germany, Italy and Britain say they are “likely” to get inoculated, but only a minority say they will definitely get vaccinated. And hesitancy is growing, according to a French Prime Minister Jean Castex, wearing a protective face mask, attends the questions to the government session at the National Assembly in Paris, France, Dec. 1, 2020.The chairman of the French Senate, Gérard Larcher, has called for mandatory inoculations, saying, “It’s not just for yourself, it’s a form of solidarity and protection for the whole of society.” But so far Macron has rebuffed the idea of compulsion, fearing it will prompt greater resistance. Fifty-nine percent of the French say they will refuse to be vaccinated, according to an opinion poll conducted for Journal du Dimanche.  Germany’s science minister, Anja Karliczek, said Tuesday vaccinations would be voluntary and that the same safety standards are being applied in the approval process for coronavirus vaccines as for other drugs. Emphasizing how standards have been maintained would likely gain the widest possible public acceptance for coronavirus immunization, she added.   Logistical challenges  Aside from the problem posed by vaccine refusal, European governments say they’re also trying to solve logistical challenges, from securing sufficient vaccines before the northern hemisphere summer ends, to having enough cold storage facilities for the vaccines manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna, when they start arriving after European regulators have approved them.  An employee of Cryonomic, a Belgium company producing dry ice machines and containers which will be used for COVID-19 vaccine transportation, pushes a medical dry ice container in Ghent, Dec. 2, 2020.The vaccine developed by U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer needs to be stored and shipped at minus 75 degrees Celsius. Germany has already started gearing up to solve the storage challenge, with large freezers already rolling off production lines. Wales’ health minister, Vaughan Gething, warned Tuesday that the Welsh government doesn’t have any storage facilities as yet and will be unable to receive or store any vaccines allocated by the British government.  Other challenges include having sufficient staff available to administer vaccines, setting up data systems able to track the progress of immunizations and notifying people when to receive vaccinations and then when to return for a second booster shot. Germany is planning to set up inoculation centers that will be overseen by the governments of the country’s 16 regional states.   In France, immunizations will likely be left to family doctors and local pharmacists. In Britain, the national health service will be in charge, but it has been overstretched with rolling out tests and tracing the contacts of the infected, earning sharp criticism from lawmakers.  Government officials across Europe say they hope that they have learned lessons from the less than smooth supply lines and production shortages they experienced earlier in the year for ventilators, drugs and personal protective gear. Huge global demand led to bottlenecks, delays and transportation shortfalls. 

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Britain has given emergency approval to a new COVID-19 vaccine developed by U.S.-based pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, becoming the world’s first western nation ready to begin mass inoculations against a disease that has sickened nearly 64 million people worldwide, including more than 1.4 million deaths.The government’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority granted approval Wednesday for the vaccine, which Pfizer developed along with Germany’s BioNTech. The first vaccinations will begin next week, with staffers of the Britain’s National Health Service, nursing home residents and staffers expected to receive first priority.The approval comes weeks after Pfizer announced the vaccine had been shown to be over 90% effective after its final, widespread clinical trials.  Britain has already pre-ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.FILE – In this Nov. 19, 2020, file photo, healthcare workers process people waiting in line at a United Memorial Medical Center COVID-19 testing site in Houston.The Trump administration has said that 20 million people could be inoculated by the end of this year.As it has for months, the United States continues to lead the world in coronavirus infections, with nearly 13.7 million cases and more than 270,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. [[ COVID-19 Map – Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center (jhu.edu) ]] The U.S. has 98,691 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, according to the COVID Tracking Project, making it the highest number of hospitalizations since the pandemic reached the nation’s shores.Since it began nearly a year ago, the coronavirus pandemic has dramatically increased the number of people who are experiencing extreme poverty, according to the United Nations.The world body said in its annual humanitarian report that 235 million people, or one in 33 people, will require basic needs like food, water and sanitation in 2021, a 40% increase from this year.The U.N. report said the greatest need for humanitarian assistance next year is in Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia.The United Nations contributed a record $17 billion in 2020 for humanitarian response worldwide, the report said.

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Five people, including 9-month-old baby, were killed in Germany on Tuesday when a car plowed into a pedestrian street, according to local police. At least 14 other people were injured. Police in the southwestern town of Trier arrested the driver, a 51-year-old Trier native, who was intoxicated and appeared to be suffering from psychological problems, prosecutor Peter Fritzen said at a news conference. Police said there does not appear to be a political motive behind the incident, but Trier Mayor Wolfram Leibe warned that authorities “should not pass premature judgment.” In a statement, German Chancellor Angela Merkel offered condolences. “My sympathy goes to the families of those whose lives were so suddenly and violently torn away from them. I am also thinking of the people who suffered injuries, in some cases very serious ones, and I wish them strength,” she said. Germany has tightened security in pedestrian zones across the country since an attack on a Christmas market in Berlin in 2016 left 12 people dead. 

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World leaders should commit to a climate-smart recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, recognize a new human right to a healthy environment and make the deliberate destruction of nature a crime, youth climate activists urged on Tuesday.”Every moment of inaction makes things worse for our generation” as climate change impacts and nature losses surge, young representatives of more than 140 countries warned in a statement negotiated during two weeks of online talks.The youth-led “Mock COP” event was organized after the COP26 U.N. climate negotiations, due to be held in Glasgow last month, were delayed a year by the pandemic, with young people vowing to push ahead to develop climate policy if adults could not.”We know what needs to be done. What is lacking is political will to do it,” said Kelo Uchendu, 24, a Nigerian engineering student and delegate at the conference.As the talks ended Tuesday, researchers with the independent Climate Action Tracker reported that if all national governments met the 2050 net-zero emissions targets they have set or are considering, global warming goals remained within reach.Those targets include U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s plan to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, as well as Chinese President Xi Jinping’s pledge of carbon-neutrality by 2060.With net-zero or similar aims now planned or in place in 127 countries, planetary heating could be limited to 2.1 degrees Celsius, putting the 2015 Paris Agreement goal of keeping it to “well below” 2C far closer than before, Climate Action Tracker said.But the world would still exceed the lower Paris aim of 1.5C of warming since pre-industrial times, which scientists say is key to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.And interim emissions reduction targets that would drive rapid action are insufficient, analysts said.”Long-term goals are good but it’s clear that governments need to act more quickly in the short term,” said Kat Kramer, charity Christian Aid’s climate change lead, in a statement.She urged “a transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, ending ecosystem destruction and building resilience of communities vulnerable to climate impacts.”In a final statement like those produced at U.N. talks — and similarly issued in the form of a legal treaty that could be formally adopted by countries — young “Mock COP” delegates said all national climate plans should be aligned with the 1.5C goal.Delegates also called for 30% of land and oceans to be conserved, more safeguards for Indigenous people and for every country to ensure clean air through stronger regulation.Other demands included a stronger youth voice in decision-making, better education on climate change and more mental health services for youth struggling with “eco-anxiety.”Nigel Topping, Britain’s high-level climate action champion for the postponed COP26 talks who received the statement, said government leaders had been pressed into faster action on climate threats largely because of youth campaigning.”You’re sending a loud signal — and a very professional one — of expecting more from leaders around the world. Never underestimate how significant that is,” he told delegates.Participants said they would push their home governments to turn some of the statement’s language into new laws, particularly now that responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have made clear that big, rapid policy shifts are possible.”Getting countries to adopt this treaty would make a huge impact,” Uchendu, from Nigeria, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an online interview.David R. Boyd, a U.N. special rapporteur on human rights and the environment, said new policies would be crucial to avoiding the worst impacts of climate change, from growing hunger and poverty to more extreme weather and rising seas.”We know conclusively that we are on the precipice … and this has terrible consequences for people’s human rights,” he said. 

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