16 грудня вночі у південних, вдень у західних та північних областях місцями невеликий дощ, на решті території без опадів
16 грудня вночі у південних, вдень у західних та північних областях місцями невеликий дощ, на решті території без опадів
Germany is expelling two Russian diplomats over what a German court said was a Russian-ordered killing of a German citizen of Chechen origin in Berlin in 2019.
In the high-profile incident, Zelimkhan “Tornike” Khangoshvili was gunned down in a Berlin park.
On Wednesday, a German court found Russian Vadim Krasikov guilty of murder and sentenced him to life imprisonment, saying he was working for Russian authorities who had provided him with a false identity and other resources.
Calling the murder a “grave breach of German law and the sovereignty of the Federal Republic of Germany,” Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock summoned the Russian ambassador to discuss the case and expel the two diplomats.
In 2004, Khangoshvili was involved in an attack on a Russian police station that left police and civilians dead.
“There is no doubt that Khangoshvili bears responsibility for people’s deaths,” Judge Olaf Arnoldi said, adding that Russian authorities wanted “revenge and retribution” for the attack.
“Khangoshvili had given up the fight against the Russian Federation years before. He had not held a weapon in his hands since 2008,” Arnoldi said. “This was not an act of self-defense by Russia. This was and is nothing other than state terrorism.”
In December 2019, Russian President Vladimir Putin called Khangoshvili a “terrorist and murderer.”
While living in Georgia in 2015, Khangoshvili survived an assassination attempt. He later moved to Ukraine and then to Berlin.
Russia’s ambassador in Berlin denied Russian involvement in Khangoshvili’s murder.
“We consider the verdict an unobjective, politically motivated decision that seriously aggravates already complicated Russian-German relations,” Russian Ambassador Sergei Nechayev said, adding it was “an unfriendly act that won’t go unanswered.”
“The absurd notion about Russia’s involvement in the wrongdoing during the entire course of the trial was being methodically imposed on the public, was being weaved into the general anti-Russian background, but wasn’t in the end proved with convincing evidence,” he said.
Some information in this report comes from Reuters and The Associated Press.
Istanbul hosts a two-day African Summit this week, the latest effort by Turkey to expand its diplomatic and economic influence in Africa. For VOA, Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul.
Produced by: Marcus Harton
The U.S. space agency NASA says its Parker Solar Probe this week became the first spacecraft to enter the Sun’s atmosphere, also known as the corona.
The space agency announced the news Tuesday at a press conference during a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in New Orleans.
In a statement, NASA scientists said the probe actually entered the Sun’s corona April 18, but it took until now to get the data and examine it to confirm it had accomplished its mission.
NASA said while the Sun doesn’t have a solid surface, it does have a superheated corona made of solar material bound to the Sun by gravity and magnetic forces. The point at which those forces are too weak to contain material ejected from the sun is considered the edge of the corona, an area scientists call the Alfvén critical surface.
NASA says the Parker probe crossed this boundry about 13 million kilometers above the surface of the sun. Until they were able to examine the data from the probe, scientists were not exactly sure where the area was.
The scientists say during the flyby, which lasted only a few hours, the solar probe passed into and out of the corona several times. The data it gathered in doing so proved what some had predicted — that the Alfvén critical surface isn’t shaped like a smooth ball, but has it has spikes and valleys that wrinkle the surface.
The Parker Solar Probe was launched in 2018 and was intended to exactly what it is doing: flying closer to the sun than any spacecraft has done before. NASA scientists compare what the probe has accomplished to landing on the moon. As the mission continues, the agency says, it will help scientists uncover critical information about Earth’s closest star and its influence on the solar system.
A paper on the achievement was also published Tuesday in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.
Some information for this report was provided by the Associated Press.
European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen Wednesday warned Russia it could face “unprecedented measures” if it does not de-escalate its aggressive posture against Ukraine.
Speaking to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, Von der Leyen noted Russia’s recent buildup of troops and equipment near its border with Ukraine. She reiterated the European Union’s “unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
Although the EU already has a set of economic sanctions in place, she said, any further aggression will have “massive costs” for Russia. She said the response may be a “robust scaling up” of those sanctions, adding that the EU is ready to take additional “unprecedented measures with serious consequences for Russia.”
Von der Leyen urged Russia to “de-escalate, to pursue diplomatic channels and to abide by its international commitments.”
Russia has maintained that the troops and equipment at the border are there for defensive purposes only and denied intelligence reports indicating it is planning an invasion.
Von der Leyen also criticized what she described as blatant efforts by Moscow to intimidate the former Soviet republic, Moldova, by squeezing its gas supplies and raising prices. Russia has denied those claims.
Also on Wednesday, Von der Leyen held a news briefing with Moldova’s reformist president, Maia Sandu, and pledged nearly $68 million in funding to help offset the rising fuel prices the nation is facing.
In an interview Tuesday, Sandu told the Reuters news agency she would like Moldova to join the EU and was taking part in the bloc’s Eastern Partnership Summit in Brussels Wednesday. Since the nation won its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, pro-Russian and pro-EU factions in Moldova have been vying for control.
Some information for this report was provided by The Associated Press, Reuters, and Agence France-Presse.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken postponed his scheduled visit to Thailand Wednesday because a member of the traveling U.S. press team tested positive for COVID-19.
Blinken was set to leave Malaysia for Thailand Thursday as part of a U.S. effort to strengthen relations in a region where China’s influence continues to grow.
Wednesday’s development forced the top U.S. diplomat to cut short his first Southeast Asia trip since U.S. President Joe Biden took office in January. The trip began with a visit to the Indonesian capital of Jakarta.
Blinken informed Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai of his decision Wednesday not to visit as scheduled, according to U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price.
“He explained that, in order to mitigate the risk of the spread of COVID-19 and to prioritize the health and safety of the U.S. traveling party and those they would otherwise come into contact with, the Secretary would be returning to Washington, D.C. out of an abundance of caution,” Price said in a statement.
Price said Blinken invited Thailand’s foreign minister to visit Washington “at the earliest opportunity and noted that he looked forward to traveling to Thailand as soon as possible.”
The U.S. embassy in Kuala Lumpur said in a statement it informed the Malaysian government of the infection and confirmed the other members of the U.S. traveling group tested negative when they arrived in Malaysia.
VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching contributed to this report from Kuala Lumpur.
Путін підтвердив, що візьме участь у зимових Олімпійських іграх у Пекіні
В ОПУ вказали, що із підписанням спільної декларації «фіксується підтримка словенською стороною європейської перспективи нашої держави»
«Крім сертифіката про вакцинацію, громадяни мають надати результати негативного діагностичного тесту SARS-CoV-2, польською або англійською мовами, зробленого не раніше, ніж за 24 години до перетину кордону»
French troops have left a military base in Timbuktu, Mali, where they were posted since liberating the area from Islamist militants in 2013. French forces have been gradually withdrawing from the region, despite ongoing fighting with militants that threatens stability. Locals are expressing unease about the French troops’ departure.
On Tuesday, French troops left their military base in Timbuktu as part of a reorganization of Operation Barkhane announced by French president Emmanuel Macron in June.
The Kidal and Tessalit bases were handed over to the Malian army in October and November, respectively. The French troops first set up a base here when the city, along with several others in northern Mali, was liberated in 2013 from Islamist militants. Then-French president Francois Hollande visited Timbuktu the day after its liberation and was welcomed by residents.
Salem Ould El Hadj, a historian and a teacher at Timbuktu’s famous Ahmed Baba Institute, spoke from a public square by Timbuktu’s Sankore mosque about his experience when the city was liberated.
We needed it, he says, and you’ve seen how the population welcomed them with widespread enthusiasm. An unabashed fervor. It’s true. I was in Bamako, he says, and it’s thanks to [the French intervention] that I came back to Timbuktu.
Since 2013, Mali has weathered two more coup d’etats. Violence and killings have increased and moved further south into the country’s center. Large protests in Bamako have called for the departure of French troops, with popular sentiment in the capital favoring a potential Russian intervention in Mali.
Mohamed El Bashir, president of Timbuktu’s municipal youth council, says that withdrawing Barkhane troops from Timbuktu will make the region less secure.
It’s not the same feeling here, he says, because the people in Bamako don’t live what we’re living here in Timbuktu. What we’re living here, people in Bamako aren’t living. They should come here, and we will go to Bamako, and they can ask that Barkhane leaves, he says, then they will understand. That’s the reality.
France has been gradually retiring its troops from military bases in northern Mali and moving them to Gao, which will now serve as Operation Barkhane’s northern base.
General Etienne du Peyroux, Barkhane’s representative in Mali, says that the handing over of Timbuktu’s military base is not an abandonment.
He says, this is ultimately the goal of Operation Barkhane, to allow Mali to take its destiny in its hands. After a phase of preparation, after a phase of ramping up, after a training phase. And always in partnership, which will be different, with less of a physical presence but just as real, he says.
At a ceremony on the military base yesterday, the French flag was lowered, the Malian flag raised, and a symbolic key to the base handed over from the French military to the Malian army. Malian military authorities declined to comment to journalists, who were asked to leave the ceremony before their commander spoke to Malian troops.
French armored vehicles exited the base for the last time.
At the airport, French troops could be seen boarding a military plane headed for Gao. The fate of Timbuktu, once a symbol of Mali’s liberation from extremist rule, now rests in the hands of Mali’s army.
Yarnbombing is part street art, part graffiti, and part activism. A new art trend in New York City takes the age-old craft of crocheting to the streets, where traditionally walls and fences have been serving as canvases for graffiti artists. Nina Vishneva has the story, narrated by Anna Rice.
Початкові зразки, зібрані у цьому районі, показали, що це не холера, яку припускали лікарі
Премію Сахарова «За свободу думки» Європарламент присудив Навальному 20 жовтня з формулюванням «за мужність у боротьбі за свободу, демократію та права людини»
«Звинуватили у екстремізмі. Поки що збираються відкривати кілька адміністративних справ за 20.3.1 КоАП РФ»
The U.S. House of Representatives has approved a resolution that calls on the Justice Department to formally charge Mark Meadows, former President Donald Trump’s chief of staff, with criminal contempt of Congress for refusing to testify to the special committee investigating the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol by Trump’s supporters.
The resolution passed the Democratic-led House late Tuesday night by a vote of 222-208, with just two Republicans joining all Democrats voting in favor. The two Republicans, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois and Liz Cheney, serve on the special committee with seven Democrats that voted unanimously Monday to recommend that Meadows face criminal charges.
Meadows handed over 6,600 pages of records taken from personal email accounts and about 2,000 text messages to the nine-member House of Representatives committee investigating the violence by hundreds of Trump supporters at the Capitol 11 months ago. The trouble happened as lawmakers were certifying that Democrat Joe Biden had defeated Trump in his reelection bid.
Meadows initially agreed to testify about his role before January 6 in trying to help Trump claim a second four-year term in the White House and his actions that day. Protesters, urged by Trump to “fight like hell” to keep him in office, stormed the Capitol, smashed windows and fought with police. Last week, Meadows changed his mind about testifying, citing Trump’s assertion of executive privilege to keep documents secret to inhibit the investigation.
“If you’re making excuses to avoid cooperating with our investigation, you’re making excuses to hide the truth from the American people about what happened on January 6th,” Mississippi Representative Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, the chairman of the special committee, told lawmakers during a debate before Tuesday night’s vote.
Meadows served in the U.S. House of Representatives as a Republican from North Carolina from 2013 to 2020 before becoming Trump’s chief of staff. He is the first former congressman to be held in contempt since 1830.
Republican Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio condemned the resolution during the full House debate and defended his former colleague. “This is as wrong as it gets,” Jordan told lawmakers. “You all know it. But your lust for power, your lust to get your opponents, is so intense you don’t care.”
Ahead of Monday’s committee vote, Cheney detailed text messages sent to Meadows as the January 6 attack on the Capitol unfolded with prominent conservative media figures and one of Trump’s sons urging Meadows to encourage Trump to do more to halt the actions of his supporters.
Cheney said the messages show Trump’s “supreme dereliction” and raised questions about whether through his inaction he sought to interrupt the congressional task of certifying the presidential election result showing that he lost.
“These texts leave no doubt,” Cheney said. “The White House knew exactly what was happening at the Capitol.”
The House committee has already held another former Trump aide, Steve Bannon, in contempt of Congress for his refusal to comply with a subpoena to testify. Bannon was later indicted and, if convicted, could face up to a year in prison.
The investigative panel late Sunday issued a 51-page report that showed Meadows was deeply involved in trying to keep Trump in office even though the former president had lost five dozen court challenges in various states contesting his election loss and numerous vote recounts in individual political battleground states all upheld Biden’s victories.
State election officials often said there was no appreciable voter fraud, as Trump has alleged to this day, that would have changed the outcome in his favor.
If Meadows had appeared for a deposition, the committee said it would have questioned him about numerous documents he provided.
On Monday, Meadows said through his attorney that the committee’s referral was unwise, unfair and contrary to law, according to The Associated Press.
Meadows said in an interview on the Fox News cable network late Monday the committee’s decision was “disappointing, but not surprising.”
“This is about Donald Trump and about actually going after him once again,” Meadows said.
In a November 7, 2020, email, the committee said that just days after Trump lost the election, Meadows discussed an effort to have state legislators in states Trump lost appoint electors supporting Trump rather than the pro-Biden electors a majority of voters had chosen.
In text messages with an unidentified senator, Meadows discussed Trump’s erroneous view that then-Vice President Mike Pence had the power to overturn the Electoral College vote count as lawmakers officially certified the state-by-state tally on January 6. Pence drew Trump’s ire as he refused to upend the Electoral College vote, which Biden won by a 306-232 margin, the same count Trump won by in 2016.
A day before the riot occurred, Meadows said National Guard troops would be at the Capitol to “protect pro-Trump people.” Other emails touched on the rioting at the Capitol as it unfolded, with pro-Trump supporters shutting down the Electoral College vote count for hours before Biden was finally declared the winner in the early hours of January 7.
The committee also said it wants to ask Meadows about claims he made in his new book, “The Chief’s Chief,” about his time in the White House with Trump.
“Mr. Meadows has shown his willingness to talk about issues related to the Select Committee’s investigation across a variety of media platforms — anywhere, it seems, except to the Select Committee,” the panel wrote.
In turn, Meadows has sued the committee, asking a court to invalidate two subpoenas that he says are “overly broad and unduly burdensome.”
The panel has interviewed nearly 300 witnesses and lawmakers linked in some way to the rioting or contesting of the election results. The committee says it is planning a series of hearings early next year to make public many of its findings.
Some of the more than 600 people charged in the rioting, often identified by boasts on social media accounts of being inside the Capitol, have been sentenced to prison terms of a few months or, in more serious cases, to more than four years. But most of the criminal charges have yet to be adjudicated.
Some information in this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday it is necessary to look at applying additional measures against Myanmar where 10 months after a military coup “the crisis has only continued to worsen.”
Speaking to reporters alongside Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah during a visit to Kuala Lumpur, Blinken said the goal of actions by individual countries or a collective effort would be to “pressure the regime to put the country back on a democratic trajectory.”
He cited several specific goals, including an end to violence, the release of prisoners and access for humanitarian workers.
“ASEAN has a five-point consensus plan that the junta agreed to and signed on to,” Blinken said, referencing the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. “That plan needs to be implemented.”
Saifuddin said the situation in Myanmar will be an important part of the agenda when ASEAN foreign ministers meet next month and that a more detailed plan for the roadmap is necessary.
“We should be looking at what are the real next steps,” he said. “We have the five-point consensus, but we do not identify exactly when certain things need to be achieved and how. So, outlining the actual steps and the actual milestones as to the dates and outcomes would be, I believe, an important position that we will try and arrive at during our meeting.”
Saifuddin expressed the need to take action, highlighting the spillover effects to Myanmar’s neighbors such as the number of Rohingya refugees being hosted in Bangladesh and Malaysia.
“I understand that we celebrate the principles of non-interference, but if I can reiterate what I had said earlier, ASEAN should also look at the principle of non-indifference because what is happening in Myanmar is already getting out of Myanmar,” he said.
Blinken’s visit to Malaysia also includes a meeting with Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Ismail Sabri bin, as well as talking with representatives from Malaysia’s energy sector about clean energy reforms and an event with people involved with the Malaysian Young Southeast Asia Leadership Initiative.
He travels Thursday to Thailand.
VOA State Department Correspondent Nike Ching contributed to this report from Kuala Lumpur.
U.S. lawmakers just back from a visit to Ukraine warn that Washington’s threats of sanctions and diplomatic maneuvering are not doing enough to dissuade Russian President Vladimir Putin from potentially launching an invasion.
The group of Democrats and Republicans visited Kyiv Saturday and Sunday where they met with the commander of the Ukrainian special forces and with U.S. special operators and National Guard troops who have been helping the Ukrainian military with training.
They described the situation as “very concerning” and urged the White House to speed up the delivery of weapons to the Ukrainian forces in the hopes of staving off a Russian invasion.
“I think promising tough action, just to be candid, after an invasion, will do very little in terms of Putin’s calculus,” Republican Representative Michael Waltz told reporters Tuesday.
“We’re seeing Putin, I think, do this in many respects because he knows he can get away with it,” Waltz added. “We need to help Ukraine porcupine themselves and raise the costs now.”
Democrats on the trip likewise urged the White House to take actions that will make Russia feel the blowback for an invasion of Ukraine almost instantly.
“If Putin invades, I want him to know that he’ll have trouble buying a soda from a vending machine in the next five minutes, not that NATO will convene a conference to debate what to do next over the ensuing several weeks,” Representative Seth Moulton said.
“We need to clearly communicate how the weapons we provide will cause large losses of Russian troops on Day One, not just over time,” he said. “Not just convincing them or trying to convince them that an occupation will be painful, but rather that an immediate full-scale invasion will be hard to take immediately.”
The lawmakers also expressed confidence that unlike in 2014, when Russia invaded and occupied Crimea, Ukrainian forces are prepared to mount a fierce resistance if Putin sends in Russian troops. They said it would be folly, though, to think Ukrainian troops could hold out for long.
“I think what we have to work on in the immediate future, right now, is to create the capability for a strong resistance in nonconventional warfare,” said Democrat Ruben Gallego.
“(Ukraine) being able to hold out and impose costs will be very helpful,” he said. And that would “hopefully change the calculation that Putin is using.”
The lawmakers called for the White House to speed up the delivery of weapons to Ukraine, including ship-to-shore missiles, air defense missiles and additional Javelin anti-tank missiles.
Some analysts have suggested such a strategy, aimed at imposing a military cost on Moscow, could work.
“I think if Putin goes big, it could become very costly for him,” Luke Coffey of the Washington-based Heritage Foundation said Monday in response to a question from VOA.
“They have a very robust reserve system in Ukraine where they can call up huge numbers of forces,” he said. “The further west that Russian forces would move, the stiffer the resistance would become, without a doubt.”
The White House signaled Tuesday it is prepared to stay the course, however, promising Moscow will pay a “terrible price” should it invade Ukraine due to what U.S. President Joe Biden has described as devastating sanctions.
“Our objective continues to be to keep this on a diplomatic path and for that to lead to de-escalation,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Tuesday.
“We’re obviously engaged in daily conversations with Europeans, with Russians, with Ukrainians, and conveying exactly what we think should happen here to de-escalate the situation on the ground,” Psaki said.
Yet those talks, including meetings by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Karen Donfried with Russian officials in Moscow, seem to be having little impact on the ground, at least so far.
The Pentagon said Tuesday it has seen no evidence of a pullback by Russian forces massed along the border with Ukraine.
Putin on Tuesday reiterated Russia’s concern about Ukraine’s potential membership in NATO during a call with French President Emmanuel Macron, insisting the West provide Moscow with needed security guarantees.
“The Russian president emphasized the importance of immediately launching international negotiations to develop legally fixed guarantees that would prevent any further NATO expansion to the east and the deployment of weapons to neighboring states, primarily in Ukraine, that threaten Russia,” the Kremlin said in a statement.
Russia’s deputy foreign minister earlier threatened that Moscow could be forced to deploy tactical nuclear weapons if the U.S. and NATO fail to put an end the alliance’s eastward expansion.
NATO Tuesday dismissed such talk as hypocritical, specifically the Kremlin’s call for a moratorium on intermediate-range nuclear forces in Europe.
“We had a ban, and they violated that ban,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters. “It is not credible when they now propose a ban on something they actually have already started to deploy.”
Some information from Reuters was used in this report.
Russian journalism experienced extreme highs and lows in 2021. On the plus side, a Nobel Peace Prize for newspaper editor Dmitry Muratov. But the downside saw an escalating government crackdown on independent media. News organizations and individual reporters were declared “foreign agents” and “undesirable elements,” while some journalists went into exile.
During a speech in Jakarta, Indonesia, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on China to stop “aggressive actions” in the Indo-Pacific region. Beijing has already rejected Blinken’s assertions, as VOA’s Senior Diplomatic Correspondent Cindy Saine reports.
The U.S. Senate on Tuesday approved raising the federal government’s debt limit by $2.5 trillion, to about $31.4 trillion, and sent it to the House of Representatives to pass and avert an unprecedented default.
The 50-49 party-line vote follows a months-long standoff between Democrats and Republicans, with the latter seeking to force President Joe Biden’s party to raise the debt limit on its own from the current $28.9 trillion level, generating fodder for attack ads during the 2022 congressional elections.
A deal last week between Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and his Republican counterpart, Mitch McConnell, set the stage for Tuesday’s vote, bypassing normal Senate rules requiring at least 60 of the chamber’s 100 members to agree to advance most legislation.
The Democratic-led House will also need to approve the bill before sending it to Biden for his signature. The chamber was expected to take the matter up later on Tuesday.
Schumer said the increase would cover the government’s needs into 2023, through the November 8 midterm elections that will determine control of Congress.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen had urged Congress to hike the debt limit before Wednesday.
Under the unusual deal worked out by Schumer and McConnell, and approved by both chambers last week, legislation raising the debt ceiling could be passed this one time in the Senate by a simple majority, which meant Democrats could get it through on their own.
In the House, Republican Representative Jodey Arrington told the chamber’s Rules Committee he was disappointed that McConnell had agreed to the deal. The country’s debt level was at its highest since World War Two and “we ain’t in a war,” Arrington said.
The committee’s chairman, Democrat Jim McGovern, responded: “I don’t normally have many nice things to say about Mitch McConnell, but I do think he understands that … not to allow this to go forward, it would be ruinous to our economy.” The committee then voted 9-4 to move the legislation to the House floor.
The increase is needed in part to cover debt incurred during Republican Donald Trump’s presidency, when the debt rose by about $7.85 trillion, partly through sweeping tax cuts and spending to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
Republicans, who oppose the debt ceiling increase and control half of the Senate’s 100 seats, have tried to link the vote to Biden’s $1.75 trillion “Build Back Better” bill to bolster the social safety net and fight climate change.
“Every Senate Democrat is going to vote along party lines to raise our nation’s debt limit by trillions of dollars,” McConnell said in a speech before the vote. “If they jam through another reckless taxing and spending spree, this massive debt increase will just be the beginning.”
But Schumer was upbeat, saying: “This is about paying debt accumulated by both parties, so I’m pleased Republicans and Democrats came together to facilitate a process that has made addressing the debt ceiling possible.”
The debt ceiling fight and another self-created crisis, passing a bill to continue funding the government through February, occupied much of Congress’ time this month, and members in both chambers are now eager to begin long holiday breaks.
It remains unclear if congressional Democrats will be able to meet Schumer’s other goal, passing Biden’s sweeping $1.75 trillion bill to bolster the social safety net and fight climate change, by Christmas. Deep disagreements within the party on the size and scope of the package have stalled that effort.