Ukraine Latest News – April 24, 2014

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US journalist Simon Ostrovsky held by pro-Russian militia in Ukraine

April 23, 2014

Pro-Russian gunmen in Ukraine confirmed on Wednesday that they had taken hostage an American journalist, whom they were holding according to “war rules”, they said, in the town of Slavyansk. Simon Ostrovsky, a correspondent for Vice News, had not been seen since early Tuesday. He had been covering the crisis in Ukraine for several weeks, first in Crimea and then in the east of the country. He had been following the activities of masked gunmen as they seized government buildings. Ostrovsky had visited Slavyansk several times. The town has been under the control of a heavily armed pro-Russian militia since 6 April.

Reuters

“Murdered” Ukraine politician faced hostile mob, video shows

April 23, 2014

SLAVIANSK, Ukraine, April 23 (Reuters) – The Ukrainian town councillor whose apparent torture and murder helped to prompt a threatened new government offensive in the east was mobbed by a hostile, pro-Russian crowd before he disappeared, a video of the incident shows. The apparent murder of Volodymyr Rybak and a second man prompted the European Union to call on Russia to use its influence to stop kidnappings and killings in mainly Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine, scene of separatist rebellions against Kiev’s leaders. Ukraine’s security service said a rogue officer and a member of Russian military intelligence were involved in Rybak’s killing.

 

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News Update – Ukraine, Israel, Syria and Egypt – April 18, 2014

bbc

Ukraine crisis: Deal to ‘de-escalate’ agreed in Geneva

April 17, 2014

Russia, Ukraine, the US and the European Union have said that all sides have agreed to steps to “de-escalate” the crisis in eastern Ukraine. Their foreign ministers were speaking at the end of talks between Russia, Ukraine, the EU and US in the Swiss city of Geneva. Analysts say the outline agreement could stay economic sanctions the West was preparing to impose on Russia. Ukraine has been in crisis since its pro-Moscow president was toppled. Russia then annexed the Crimean peninsula – part of Ukraine but with a Russian-speaking majority population – in a move that provoked international outrage. This was followed by the seizing of government buildings in eastern Ukraine by pro-Russian separatists opposed to the new order in the capital Kiev.

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Washington post

Israel arrests Arab journalist over Lebanon visit

April 17, 2014

JERUSALEM — Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence service said on Thursday that it has detained a young Israeli Arab journalist for traveling to Lebanon, which Israel considers an enemy country. Majd Kayyal, a 23-year-old journalist for the Lebanese newspaper As-Safir, traveled to Beirut last month for a conference. Although Lebanon bars Israeli citizens from entering, the Shin Bet said Palestinian officials in the West Bank gave Kayyal Palestinian travel documents that allowed him to enter Lebanon. Kayyal was arrested last Saturday at the Israeli border on suspicion of being recruited by a militant organization. The Shin Bet said it dropped that suspicion, and is considering indicting him for traveling to Lebanon. Kayyal was held for five days before being allowed access to a lawyer. The Shin Bet said this is permitted in security cases.

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Middle East Online

Egypt leftist leader urges all revolutionary groups to unite

April 16, 2014

CAIRO – Egypt’s leftist leader, the ex-army chief’s main rival in next month’s presidential election, Wednesday urged all revolutionary groups to unite, as a liberal party threw its weight behind him. Hamdeen Sabbahi, who has emerged as the main challenger to former field marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in the May 26-27 vote, also reiterated that the military should stay out of politics. Sabbahi came third in the 2012 presidential election won by Islamist Mohamed Morsi, whom Sisi ousted last July. On Wednesday, Sabbahi urged all groups that joined the 2011 uprising against Hosni Mubarak to unite. “I tell them, now is the time to unify our efforts and define our objectives and prove our ability to win,” the prominent opposition leader said at a news conference.

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The Independent

Syria conflict: ‘We will be martyrs’ say rebel fighters from inside the besieged city of Homs

April 17, 2014

The Syrian regime is on the verge of winning back the city of Homs – known as the capital of the revolution for its role in the three-year-old uprising. The Syrian army began a large scale military campaign on Monday to retake the last four neighbourhoods in opposition hands. Those inside face a stark choice between surrender to the regime or fighting till death. “Life is disastrous in every meaning of the word,” says one activist inside the Old City. Following a siege of almost two years, there are less than a thousand people remaining in the area. The majority are fighters, but there are several families and two dozen Christians who refused to leave during a UN orchestrated evacuation in February.

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#Kyiv says will provide evidence of #Russia’s role in events in #eastern #Ukraine – April 13, 2014

Russia Beyond the Headlines

April 13, 2014

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has pledged to provide proof of Russian special services’ involvement in the events in southeastern Ukraine at the upcoming four-party talks in Geneva between representatives of Russia, the European Union, the United States and Ukraine. “The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has ample proof of Russian special services’ role in the separatist rebellion and seizure of administrative buildings in eastern Ukraine. The relevant evidence and proof will be provided to the world community in Geneva on April 17,” the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said. It said the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council has made the decision to conduct an operation “against the current encroachment on our state.”

Copyright 2014 ©: Russia Beyond The Headlines

 

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Ukraine in 48-hour ultimatum to east’s pro-Russia activists – April 9, 2014

bbc

April 9, 2014

Ukraine’s interior minister has warned pro-Russian activists who have taken over state buildings in eastern cities to enter talks to find a political solution or face “force”. Arsen Avakov said the situation would “be resolved in 48 hours” either way. Earlier, some of those who had been inside security service offices in Luhansk since Sunday left the building. The EU, Russia, US and Ukraine are to meet next week in the first four-way meeting since the crisis erupted. The talks are aimed at breaking the impasse since Russia annexed the southern Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea in February. Russian troops are now massed along the borders of the two countries. In another development on Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested state-controlled energy company Gazprom should make Ukraine pay up front for its gas, but said there should be “additional consultations” first.

Tensions have been high since government buildings in the eastern cities of Luhansk, Donetsk and Kharkiv were taken over by pro-Russian activists on Sunday. Mr Avakov said an “anti-terrorist operation” was under way in the three regions and would be concluded within the next two days. “There are two options,” he told journalists, ” political settlement through talks or the use of force. “For those who want dialogue, we propose talks and a political solution. For the minority who want conflict they will get a forceful answer from the Ukrainian authorities.” The leader of the armed activists inside the state security service building in Luhansk has appealed to President Putin for help.

Calling Luhansk the “last remaining hope for all Ukraine”, the man identified only as Vitaly said: “Mr Putin, have mercy on your fighters. If you lose us then you will lose the last hope to create a good neighbour.” Earlier, Ukraine’s security service said 56 people held inside its Luhansk offices had been allowed to leave following two rounds of negotiations with local politicians. During a rally outside the building overnight, speakers condemned the interim leadership in Kiev and repeated their call for a referendum on greater regional autonomy. Ukraine’s authorities said on Tuesday they had retaken control of the government building in Kharkiv.

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Israel Allows Turkey to Import Goods to Gaza

ABC News

March 27, 2014

Israel says it is allowing building materials into the Gaza Strip for the construction of a Turkish hospital in the crowded seaside strip. Thursday’s announcement is a new sign that Israel and Turkey could be close to ending a four-year rift. Relations broke down in 2010 after an Israeli naval raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla killed nine Turkish citizens. Reconciliation efforts have repeatedly stalled, but this week Turkey’s deputy prime minister said an agreement may be near. Israel has maintained a blockade of Gaza since Hamas militants took power in 2007. Turkey began construction of the Gaza hospital in 2011, smuggling in materials from Egypt. With the tunnels closed, Israel said Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon had agreed to ease the blockade to allow Turkey to ship in materials from Israel.

Copyright © 2014: Associated Press

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Mass Egypt death sentences ‘breach international law’

bbc

March 25, 2014

The UN human rights commissioner has condemned an Egyptian court’s decision to sentence to death 528 supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi.A spokesman for Navi Pillay said the “cursory mass trial” was “rife with procedural irregularities” and breached international human rights law. The defendants were found guilty on Monday of charges relating to an attack on a police station in Minya in August. Another 683 Morsi supporters went on trial at the same court on Tuesday.

They include the Muslim Brotherhood’s general guide, Mohammed Badie, and the chairman of its Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), Saad al-Katatni. Later, security forces clashed with hundreds of Minya University students protesting against the trials. Tear gas was fired at the students after they blocked a main road, threw stones and set an armoured police vehicle on fire.

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Ukraine crisis: Killing of ultra-nationalist leader causes more problems for new government in Kiev

The Independent

March 25, 2014

A leader of the hard-right movement in Ukraine, charged by the Russians of committing war crimes, has been shot dead by security forces. The killing of Oleksandr Muzychko brought immediate claims of a cover up and demands for retribution by his followers, adding fuel to an already combustible situation. Sashko Bily, as he was better known, a prominent leader of the Right Sector group, died at Rivne, in the west of the country. The government in Kiev announced that he had opened fire first on ‘Special Forces’ who had tracked him down to a café. But an MP gave a very different account, claiming that Mr Muzychko been dragged into a car after being stopped on the road; his body found dumped later with his hands tied, ‘executed’ with two bullets to the heart. Mr Muzychko was pictured in the Maidan, the centre of protests in the Ukrainian capital, brandishing a Kalashnikov last month.

The Kremlin used the images as an example of how “fascists” had taken over the opposition to Viktor Yanukovych before his overthrow. A warrant had been issued for his arrest by authorities in Moscow for alleged torture of captive Russian soldiers during the Chechnya conflict in the 1990s. The presence of Right Sector members in the Maidan demonstrations, often engaged in acts of violence, had been heavily publicised and the supposed threat they posed to ethnic Russians in the east and south of the country was one of the key reasons used by President Vladimir Putin for military intervention in Crimea. Dmytro Yarosh, the leader of the Right Sector, has declared that he will be running in the Ukrainian presidential elections on 25 May. He remains, however, an outsider in the race and the acting government in Kiev had repeatedly denied that the group exerted any significant influence in the new political set up.

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