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Defense Pathology Expert says George Floyd Died from Multiple Factors

The killing of a Black motorist during a police traffic stop earlier this week has raised tensions in the U.S. state of Minnesota, which is preparing for an outcome in former police officer Derek Chauvin’s murder trial. VOA’s Jesusemen Oni has more.

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Ліга чемпіонів: у півфіналах зіграють ПСЖ – «Манчестер Сіті» та «Реал» – «Челсі»

Півфінальні поєдинки Ліги чемпіонів відбудуться 27 квітня і 4 травня

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Biden Announces End to ‘America’s Longest War’

President Joe Biden announced his plan to withdraw all 2,500 American troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, months later than the May 1 deadline that the Trump administration and the Taliban agreed on last year. White House correspondent Patsy Widakuswara has this report.

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Russia Targets Student Magazine With Raids, Criminal Charges

Russian authorities on Wednesday charged four editors of an online student magazine with encouraging minors to take part in illegal activity for a report about the nationwide protests supporting jailed opposition leader Alexey Navalny.All four were ordered by a court not to leave their residences for the next two months and were banned from using the internet and communicating with anyone other than immediate family, lawyers and law-enforcement agencies.The charges, which carry a potential sentence of three years in prison, come amid heightened pressure on independent news media.Police raided the Moscow apartments of the four DOXA magazine editors as well as the apartments of two of the editors’ parents and the magazine’s offices before taking the editors in for questioning, according to DOXA and a human rights group involved in their defense. DOXA said the actions were connected to a video the magazine ran about the protests calling for Navalny’s freedom, which took place throughout the country on two consecutive weekends in January, among the largest shows of defiance in a decade.The video talked about the pressure that school and university students faced before the protests and described threats of expulsion, which it said were unlawful, for participating in the demonstrations.Russia’s media and internet watchdog Roskomnadzor demanded that DOXA delete the video. The magazine complied, but filed a lawsuit contesting the order.DOXA said Wednesday that the video contained “no calls for unlawful actions — we were saying that young people shouldn’t be afraid to express their opinion.””The pressure the journalist community has faced recently is unprecedented, but we won’t stop our work. We will continue to cover what’s important for young people and will continue to stand up for their rights,” the magazine’s statement read. Navalny’s chief strategist, Leonid Volkov, faces similar charges, although he left Russia in 2019. On Wednesday, he expressed “unconditional respect and support” on Facebook for the four DOXA editors: Armen Aramyan, Natalya Tyshkevich, Vladimir Metelkin and Alla Gutnikova.As the four appeared one-by-one in front a judge on Wednesday evening, dozens of supporters gathered near the courthouse in central Moscow. Some carried banners saying “We are DOXA” and “Get your hands away from DOXA.” Navalny, who is President Vladimir Putin’s most visible foe, was arrested on Jan. 17 upon returning to Russia from Germany, where he had spent five months recovering from nerve-agent poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin. He was later sentenced to about 2 1/2 years in prison on the grounds that his long stay in Germany violated terms of a suspended sentence on a previous conviction for financial misdeeds. The crackdown on DOXA came several days after police searched the apartment of a prominent investigative journalist, Roman Anin, chief editor of the Vazhniye Istorii website. The website said the raid was likely linked with a 2016 story Anin wrote for the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta that alleged a lavish super-yacht belonged to Igor Sechin, head of Russian state oil company Rosneft.Novaya Gazeta was ordered to retract the story as a result of a civil court case, but a criminal case on the matter has been pending for years.”Coverage of some important issues — protests, corruption, and so on — is perceived as hostile criminal activity, so none of the journalists who honestly do their job can feel safe now,” said Damir Gainutdinov of the Agora human rights organization that is providing legal support to three of the DOXA editors.

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Sources: US Set to Slap New Sanctions on Russian Officials as Soon as Thursday

The United States will announce sanctions on Russia as soon as Thursday for alleged election interference and malicious cyber activity, targeting several individuals and entities, people familiar the matter said.The sanctions, in which 30 entities are expected to be blacklisted, will be tied with orders expelling about 10 Russian officials from the United States, one of the people said.The White House, the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Treasury Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.The action will add a new chill to the already frosty relations between Washington and Moscow, which has tested the West’s patience with a military buildup near Ukraine.The wide-ranging sanctions would come in response to a cybersecurity breach affecting software made by SolarWinds Corp. that the U.S. government has said was likely orchestrated by Russia. The breach gave hackers access to thousands of companies and government offices that used the company’s products.Microsoft President Brad Smith described the attack, which was identified in December, as “the largest and most sophisticated attack the world has ever seen.”The United States also intends to punish Moscow for alleged interference in the 2020 U.S. presidential election. In a report last month, U.S. intelligence agencies said Russian President Vladimir Putin likely directed efforts to try to swing the election to then-President Donald Trump and away from now-President Joe Biden.Washington’s expected action is likely to exacerbate tensions in a relationship that slumped to a new post-Cold War low last month after Biden said he thought Putin was a “killer.”In a call on Tuesday, Biden told Putin that the United States would act “firmly” to defend its interests in response to those actions, according to U.S. officials’ account of the call.Biden also proposed a meeting with Putin “in a third country” that could allow the leaders to find areas to work together.In the past few weeks, Washington and its NATO allies have been alarmed by a large build-up of Russian troops near Ukraine and in Crimea, the peninsula that Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014.”The hostility and unpredictability of America’s actions force us in general to be prepared for the worst scenarios,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters last week, anticipating the new sanctions.    
 

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British Ministers Rebuff Dublin Pleas for Emergency Summit on Northern Ireland

Ireland’s foreign minister Simon Coveney is expected to press his British counterpart, Dominic Rabb, this week during a meeting in London to convene an emergency British-Irish intergovernmental conference to discuss a recent outbreak of violence in Northern Ireland. But British ministers are reluctant. Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis told the House of Commons on Tuesday that the British government would “look for an appropriate time for a future meeting” but did not commit to do so as a matter of urgency, despite a growing clamor in the British Parliament for a summit, which would include Northern Irish politicians. Loyalist paramilitaries in Northern Ireland deny they have been behind an eruption of street violence in the British-ruled province, but they have warned that politicians in London, Dublin and Brussels are playing with fire, saying they underestimate the impact Brexit is having on the sectarian balance. The sustained nature of rioting in largely Protestant neighborhoods of Belfast and Londonderry is prompting rising alarm in government circles in Dublin and London, with fears mounting the province risks being dragged back into its dark past of sectarian violence between pro-British, mainly Protestant Unionists and mostly Catholic Irish nationalists. Loyalists are seen as Unionist paramilitaries. FILE – Rioters throw burning bottles at the police on the Springfield Road as protests continue in Belfast, Northern Ireland, April 8, 2021.The rioting has been among the worst seen since the U.S.-brokered Good Friday Agreement was struck in April 1998, which ended three decades of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland. Many politicians and analysts agree that fury over the Brexit deal — which has left Northern Ireland inside the European Union’s single market and customs union, resulting in a regulatory “sea border” between it and the United Kingdom mainland — is the source of the rioting. Customs inspections are required under the Brexit agreement between London and Brussels on goods and agricultural produce to ensure compliance with EU standards. The imposition of a sea border meant a land border between the two halves of Ireland could be avoided, which would have risked sparking a violent reaction from nationalists and the paramilitary Provisional IRA. The reverse has happened — an outcome that some Unionists warned was likely. FILE – Graffiti in a loyalist area of south Belfast, Northern Ireland, against an Irish sea border is seen Feb. 2, 2021.Authorities say more than 90 police officers have been injured in the rioting, including 14 on Friday when youngsters lobbed bricks, fireworks and petrol bombs. The riots in Loyalist strongholds also have involved sectarian clashes along a peace wall in west Belfast with children as young as 13 years old participating. A burning car Monday was placed on the tracks of the Londonderry-to-Belfast rail-line. The engineer managed to bring her train to a standstill to avoid a collision. The unrest has cooled in recent days, but observers fear it will flare again. FILE – Ireland’s Prime Minister Micheal Martin speaks to the media in Brussels, Belgium, Oct. 16, 2020.Micheál Martin, the Irish prime minister, has been urging his British counterpart, Boris Johnson, to agree to the intergovernmental talks, according to Irish officials. Martin has also asked the White House to lobby for an emergency summit, insisting Northern Ireland must not be allowed to “spiral back to that dark place of sectarian murders and political discord.” U.S. President Joe Biden has echoed the appeal for calm. Northern Ireland’s Unionists worry the Brexit deal Johnson struck with Brussels will in effect start peeling the province away from the U.K., and they say it affects their cultural identity. Analysts are concerned it will inexorably lead to reunification of the island of Ireland and feed into a psyche of political grievance. Reaction to the Brexit trading arrangements has revealed how fragile peace in Northern Ireland remains, according to observers. Some blame politicians in London and Belfast for neglecting to build on the Good Friday Agreement and do more to dilute the province’s toxic sectarianism. The presence of youngsters in the rioting is especially worrying, they say. “More than 600,000 young people have been born in Northern Ireland since the Belfast Agreement was signed,” lamented Abby Wallace this week in the Irish Times, using another term for the Good Friday Agreement. “But under the broad umbrella of the ‘peace generation,’ not all young people have felt this peace in the same way. This is because our leaders have failed to build on the Belfast Agreement in a way which would allow all of Northern Ireland’s youth to feel that we are no longer living in the past. “More than 90 percent of Northern Ireland’s young people are still educated in segregated schools,” noted Wallace, a radio journalist and postgraduate politics student at Belfast’s Queen’s University. FILE – Pro-Union Loyalists demonstrate against the Northern Ireland Protocol implemented following Brexit, on the road leading to the Port of Larne in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, April 6, 2021.Northern Ireland’s police chief says there is no evidence rioting has been sanctioned by Loyalist leaders. “We feel that there may be some people who could have connections to proscribed organizations, who have been present at the scenes of violence,” he said, but added in a statement that “we don’t believe it’s been sanctioned and organized by proscribed organizations.” Others are less sure. Irish news outlets have reported that much of the trouble has been in neighborhoods where criminal gangs and drug traffickers linked to Loyalist paramilitaries have a strong presence. The rioting came after a recent police crackdown on crime in some Loyalist areas. “The motivations of the rioters appear to be an inchoate mix of criminal aggression and political grievance, their anger stoked by the manipulations of drug gangs and a climate of instability, all underlaid by decades of community neglect,” the Irish Times newspaper said in an editorial. FILE – A police officer walks behind a police vehicle with flames leaping up after violence broke out in Newtownabbey, north of Belfast, in Northern Ireland, April 3, 2021.British officials say the unrest is being fueled by several factors — among them the impact of Brexit, which Lewis told the British Parliament overlaps “with wider questions about national identity and political allegiance and comes at a time of economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic.” The poisonous brew of disillusionment got an added ingredient last month when Northern Ireland officials declined to prosecute politicians from Sinn Fein, the political wing of the Provisional IRA, for attending the funeral of former IRA leader Bobby Storey, despite the funeral breaking pandemic restrictions. “To date there has been a spectacular collective failure to understand properly the scale and nature of unionist and loyalist anger,” Loyalist paramilitaries said in a joint statement last week. “Indeed, there is a complete failure to understand loyalists as people and equal citizens.” British and EU officials are now scrambling to see if they can tweak the trading arrangements to make them less intrusive, and they say they are making progress. But it remains unclear whether that will be a long-term cure. Sinn Fein, which always saw the Good Friday Agreement as a steppingstone to eventual Irish reunification, is pushing for a so-called border poll on the future of the British-ruled province, to the increasing frustration of Northern Ireland’s Unionists.

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An Existential Choice? France’s Communist Party Eyes Presidential Race 

France’s once-powerful Communist Party is fielding its first presidential candidate in years for the 2022 elections, a choice some consider vital for its very survival. It’s one of Western Europe’s last relevant Communist parties, whose latest move paradoxically risks further fracturing an already weakened French left.  The French Communist Party’s presidential hopeful is Fabien Roussel, a former journalist with a reputation as a bon vivant and amateur fisherman, who has been at its helm since 2018. He got strong backing at a party meeting last weekend, although the movement’s base must still endorse his candidacy next month.  A new poll finds France’s Communist Party leader Fabien Roussel would score only a tiny percentage in the next presidential vote. But some say a run is key if the party is to stay relevant. (Lisa Bryant/VOA)Announcing his run Sunday, Roussel said he wanted to offer the French people a program of hope — not only in defeating the coronavirus pandemic but also unemployment, poverty and inequality. 
 
France’s century-old Communist Party was once a major political force. In the 1970s, it was the country’s most powerful leftist party, with about 20% popular support. It also governed a raft of working-class towns around Paris nicknamed the Red Belt, with streets named after communist icons like Marx and Lenin.  
 The French Communist Party headquarters in northeastern Paris, designed by leading Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer in 1965, when the party was a major player in French political life. (Lisa Bryant/VOA)Today, it’s a shadow of its former self — although it’s among a handful of Communist parties across Europe with deputies in the European Parliament. Here in France, center- and far-right candidates have pierced the Paris-area “Red Belt” and the Communists now control just one French department.  FILE – French Communist Party (PCF) deputy Marie-George Buffet attends a session of questions to the Government at the French National Assembly in Paris, Apr. 14, 2020.The party’s last presidential hopeful, Marie-George Buffet, got less than 2% of the vote in 2007. Roussel was partly elected on his call for another run.   Political analyst Jean Petaux says Roussel’s move is almost an existential decision for the party. If the Communists don’t field a candidate they risk disappearing altogether. If they do, they risk another humiliating defeat.  
 FILE – French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a press conference, in Paris, France, Feb. 25, 2021.An IFOP poll Sunday found President Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen leading in voter intentions for next year’s elections. It found no leftist candidate would score more 13% — and Roussel only capturing 2.5%.   FILE – Leader of France’s National Rally Party Marine Le Pen speaks during a news conference in Milan, Italy, May 18, 2019.Analyst Petaux says it’s a paradox, since the coronavirus crisis has left some French hungry for the kinds of messages the Communist Party has long embraced — like the return of the protector state. Yet even among the working class, the party has lost its shine. Many have turned instead to Le Pen’s far-right National Rally.  

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FBI Director Concerned About QAnon’s Potential for Violence

The FBI remains “concerned” about the far-right QAnon conspiracy movement’s potential for violence and will soon release an unclassified threat assessment about the group, FBI Director Christopher Wray said Wednesday. The FBI views QAnon as a “set of complex conspiracy theories largely promoted online which has sort of morphed into more of a movement,” Wray testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee. FBI Director Christopher Wray speaks during a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing about worldwide threats, on Capitol Hill in Washington, April 14, 2021.”And we’re concerned about the potential that [people’s vulnerability to QAnon] can lead to violence. And where it is an inspiration for federal crime, we’re going to aggressively pursue it,” Wray said. Wray made the comments during a hearing on the U.S. intelligence community’s annual assessment of global threats, which warned that the U.S. and its allies will face “a diverse array of threats” over the coming year. CIA Director William Burns and other top intelligence officials also testified during Wednesday’s hearing. The QAnon movement emerged in 2017 when an anonymous poster on the 4chan messaging board began writing about then-President Donald Trump’s alleged secret battle with a “deep state” cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles. It has since grown into a global movement that boasts millions of followers and promotes an assortment of conspiracy theories. FILE – Jacob Anthony Chansley, who also goes by the name Jake Angeli, a QAnon follower, speaks to supporters of then-President Donald Trump outside of the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office, in Phoenix, Nov. 5, 2020.In 2019, the FILE – A man in a QAnon shirt confront U.S. Capitol Police in the hallway outside of the Senate chamber at the Capitol in Washington, Jan. 6, 2021.But researchers have identified a much higher level of QAnon participation. According to the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) at the University of Maryland, 37 QAnon supporters were among the Capitol rioters who have been arrested. Including the 37 rioters, START has identified 71 QAnon supporters who have committed ideologically motivated crimes. “Everyone in our data at a minimum made public statements in support of the conspiracy theory. And if that doesn’t count as self-identification as a supporter, then I don’t know what does,” said Michael Jensen, principal investigator for the program. Asked how Wray arrived at the figure, an FBI spokeswoman said the bureau did not have anything to add to his comment. Jensen said Wray’s concerns about QAnon’s potential for violence are “justified.” “However, it is important to note that risk of violence from QAnon supporters is likely not as great as it is from other types of domestic extremists, including white nationalists, who are responsible for dozens of attacks and hundreds of hate crimes every year,” he said in an email.