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Російських ведучих Скабєєву та Кисельова підозрюють у посяганні на цілісність України – МВС

«Головним рупорам кремля – Ользі Скабєєвій та Дмитру Кисельову за українським законодавством може загрожувати довічне позбавлення волі»

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Пентагон: російські солдати в Україні мерзнуть, а у військових кораблів проблеми з паливом

За інформацією Пентагону, російські військові мають в Україні проблеми з запасами – їжею та паливом

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Військові на Донбасі відбили сім атак російських військ – штаб

Командування ООС оцінює втрати російських військ на Донбасі в близько 100 людей

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Azerbaijan’s Jailing of Opposition Party Leader Highlights Criminalization of Slander

Rights activists in Azerbaijan say the government’s recent sentencing to prison of an opposition party leader on charges of slander is another sign of how defamation laws are being used against political opponents and civil society activists in the country.

Last month the Baku Appellate Court upheld the five-month prison sentence given to Ali Aliyev, the chairman of the opposition Citizens and Development Party on defamation charges under a lawsuit filed by a border guard.

Ali Aliyev and his lawyer, Javad Javadov, say his imprisonment is a violation of his freedom of expression and retaliation for his political activities.

Border guard Emil Jafarov filed the lawsuit against Ali Aliyev in response to his comments in a YouTube interview in which Aliyev expressed his doubts about Jafarov’s chances of surviving a deadly helicopter crash on November 30 of last year during training flights at the Garaheybat airfield in the Khizi region. Some 14 servicemen died in the crash and two were injured, one of whom was Lieutenant Colonel Emil Jafarov.

Azerbaijan’s Prosecutor General’s Office blamed the helicopter crash on pilot error. However, Ali Aliyev had suggested the possibility Russia was involved, speculating it could have been sabotage. In his interview, Aliyev argued that it was impossible for someone to survive a deadly helicopter crash with no burns and only minor injuries. So he suggested that Jafarov’s presence on the flight was staged to back up the government’s explanation.

Aliyev’s lawyer complained of unfair treatment by the court and said his client was not given the chance to defend himself.

Human rights defender Zafar Ahmadov told VOA that defamation in Azerbaijan has reached unbearable levels, but high-profile slander cases like Aliyev’s are highlighting the issue and leading to more public discussion.

“There is no criminal act here. Of course, he should have been released. It has been proved once again that this is a political order. But in any case, Ali Aliyev, with his arrest, has served a sacred cause, which today has probably given a great impetus to the fight against defamation in the world, including Azerbaijan.”

Debate over criminalizing defamation

Independent lawyers and human rights activists believe that articles criminalizing defamation and insult in the media should be removed from the Criminal Code, which carries a penalty of more than $500 and maximum imprisonment of 3 years.

In addition, Article 323 of the Criminal Code, which deals with the dissemination of defamatory statements against the president of Azerbaijan, carries a punishment of imprisonment for up to five years.

Lawyer Khalid Agaliyev says that the issue of abolishing criminal liability for libel and insult has been on the government’s agenda several times.

“Relevant laws and drafts have been developed, particularly with the support of the OSCE,” he said. “But in the end, the government has not approved them.”

The media legal expert believes that the criminal liability for defamation intimidates the media, journalists, and those who exercise the right to freedom of expression, in the first place, and discourages criticism.

“The abolition of accountability will further encourage people to express themselves freely. Apparently, the government does not see the need for this and is delaying the adoption of the law,” Agaliyev said.

Azerbaijan committed to removing or changing its libel and insult laws upon its accession to the Council of Europe. But it has not yet done so.

Zahid Oruj, a member of the Azerbaijani parliament and chairman of the parliamentary Human Rights Committee, told VOA that not all Council of Europe member states have adopted legislation on defamation.

He said that the Azerbaijani government has been actively working to include the project on defamation to be considered in its legislative system. According to him, under the new law, journalists will not be punished in a criminal court, but they could still face administrative liabilities.

“The Azerbaijani government, especially with collaboration of OSCE and the relevant structures of the Council of Europe, has been actively lobbying, promoting, advocating, holding joint meetings, raising awareness and doing other activities to include this project in our legislative system, especially since 2012. In other words, journalist’s actions would not be treated at the level of criminal law, and sanctions against them would be removed from the relevant law. But the journalists administrative liability would remain,” Oruj said.

In his view, finding consensus on the issue is a challenge.

“In other words, it is not so easy to find a trilateral agreement between the media, relevant government agencies and society, which is necessary for the adoption of such a law.”

Local and international organizations report that defamation charges against citizens, public and political figures, and especially journalists, have increased in Azerbaijan in recent years.

Lawyer Agaliyev says that between 2017 and 2019, journalists were sued 72 times for slander and insult.

Azerbaijan is among 56 countries included in Freedom House’s Freedom in the World report in the “non-free” category. Azerbaijan, along with 15 other countries, had the worst score in the category of political rights and civil liberties.

This story was originated in VOA’s Azerbaijani Service.

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Nicaraguan Entrepreneur in LA Joins Aid Effort for Ukraine

As the war unfolds in Ukraine, the owner of Amazing Piñatas in Los Angeles, has found a creative way to help Ukrainian refugees. Originally from Nicaragua, Lorena Robletto tells VOA’s Verónica Villafañe why she wants to help.

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US Expands Travel Bans on Chinese Officials for Persecution

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration on Monday expanded existing U.S. travel bans against Chinese officials whom it accuses of repressing ethnic and religious minorities.

The State Department said it is barring those targeted from traveling to the United States due to their involvement in crackdowns on freedom of speech and religion in China and abroad. The department did not identify which officials would be subject to the expanded ban nor say how many would be affected.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement that the sanctions are being applied to Chinese officials who “are believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, policies or actions aimed at repressing religious and spiritual practitioners, members of ethnic minority groups, dissidents, human rights defenders, journalists, labor organizers, civil society organizers, and peaceful protestors in China and beyond.”

The move adds to visa restrictions originally imposed by the Trump administration over China’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims in the western region of Xinjiang as well as for repression of pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong and advocates for freedoms in Tibet.

“The United States rejects efforts by (Chinese) officials to harass, intimidate, surveil, and abduct members of ethnic and religious minority groups, including those who seek safety abroad, and U.S. citizens, who speak out on behalf of these vulnerable populations,” Blinken said. “We are committed to defending human rights around the world and will continue to use all diplomatic and economic measures to promote accountability.”

Just last week, the Justice Department announced charges against five men accused of acting on behalf of the Chinese government in a series of brazen and wide-ranging schemes to stalk and harass Chinese dissidents in the United States.

The criminal cases, filed in federal court in Brooklyn, alleged longstanding efforts to dig up dirt on dissidents, intimidate them and stifle their speech.

It’s not the first time the Justice Department has brought charges for similar conduct: in 2020, prosecutors charged eight people with working on behalf of the Chinese government in a pressure campaign aimed at coercing a New Jersey man who was wanted by Beijing into returning to China to face charges.

Posted by Ukrap on

Під Харковом українські артилеристи знищили російську артустановку «Акація» (відео)

За даними військових, армія РФ «готувалась нанести удар по мирному місту»

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Баскетбол: Євроліга остаточно дискваліфікувала російські клуби, результати анульовані

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Росія знову застосувала проти України заборонені фосфорні боєприпаси – Денісова

Ураження такими боєприпасами може викликати особливо тяжкі та болісні каліцтва, хімічні опіки, ураження кісток та кісткового мозку, спровокувати повільну та болісну смерть

Posted by Worldkrap on

What Are the Chances of a Kremlin Coup?

With Russia’s ground invasion largely stalled and stuttering, a minority view is emerging among some Kremlin watchers that Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s days are numbered.  

“Whatever Putin does, he does not look as if he can survive for long,” tweeted Anders Aslund, a Swedish economist and former economic adviser to the governments of Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Ukraine. 

Aslund believes a major power struggle is already evident inside the Kremlin. Others who hazard that Putin’s position is becoming precarious point to the public opposition to Russia’s war on Ukraine by Arkady Dvorkovich, a veteran Russian government official and a former Russian deputy prime minister. 

Dvorkovich last week told the American magazine Mother Jones, “My thoughts are with Ukrainian civilians,” he said, adding, “Wars are the worst things one might face in life… including this war.”

“Wars do not just kill priceless lives,” Dvorkovich was quoted as saying. “Wars kill hopes and aspirations, freeze or destroy relationships and connections,” he explained.

Other seasoned Kremlin watchers are not yet persuaded Putin is at any immediate risk, saying the opposition is mainly coming from Yeltsin-era oligarchs who have little political sway and are intimidated by the security strongmen around Putin. The strongmen are nicknamed “siloviki” and, like Putin, came into politics from the security, intelligence or military services.

They share Putin’s revanchist aim of reversing the territorial losses suffered when the Soviet Union splintered apart.

“There is a general feeling that, objectively, a split is already happening among the elites: former Yeltsin oligarchs versus Putin’s conservative elites. This isn’t a confrontation or a political struggle; it is simply a case of two camps exhibiting opposing views about how to proceed in the current situation,” according to Tatiana Stanovaya, an independent analyst and non-resident scholar at the Carnegie Moscow Center, a think tank.

“The former has the economy in their hands and the latter control politics. The oligarchs are intimidated and under pressure, while the conservative elites are on horseback with drawn swords.”

Dvorkovich’s voice has been a very rare one from within Russia’s political upper echelons to express criticism of Putin’s war on Ukraine. And he appears already to have been punished for the dissent. He was immediately labeled a traitor for his remarks by Russian lawmakers. And a few days after he expressed his opposition, he stepped down as chair of the Skolkovo Foundation, a high-tech fund set up to help diversify Russia’s economy and to build a Russian rival to Silicon Valley outside Moscow. 

The Skolkovo Foundation also published a recanting statement from Dvorkovich, in which he condemned Western sanctions on Russia and derided a world order in which “Nazism and the domination of one nation over others is possible,” a reference to the United States. 

Aside from Dvorkovich, no senior Kremlin-associated figure has stepped out of line. On Monday Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy chairman of the Security Council of Russia, who served as Russian president from 2008 to 2012 and as Putin’s prime minister from 2012 to 2020, became noticeably more bellicose.

Medvedev has presented himself at various times as a modernizer and technocrat and might have been regarded as someone likely to harbor reservations about the invasion. But he has ratcheted up his support for the war and Monday launched veiled threats against Poland in an essay that dubbed “imbecilic” Polish leaders as “vassals” of the United States. He described Poland as the “most evil, vulgar and shrill critic of Russia.”

And he echoed Putin’s oft repeated grievances against the West for what the Russian leader sees as a minimizing by the West’s politicians of Russia’s role in defeating Nazi Germany.  Medvedev accused Warsaw of trying to scrub Soviet “liberators” out of history. 

“In Poland they dream of forgetting about the Second World War. Firstly, about those Soviet soldiers who defeated Fascism and expelled the invaders from Polish cities. The Fascist occupation is openly equated with the Soviet. It is difficult to come up with a more deceitful and disgusting rhetoric, but the Poles succeed,” he wrote.

Only a handful of Russia’s oligarchs and super-wealthy have spoken out against the invasion. Billionaire Mikhail Fridman, founder of the country’s largest private bank Alfa Bank, was the first, calling for an end to the “tragedy” and “bloodshed.” Metals mogul Oleg Deripaska wrote on Telegram earlier this month: “Peace is very important! Negotiations must begin as soon as possible!” And Oleg Tinkov, another billionaire banker, has described the conflict as “unthinkable and unacceptable.” 

Nonetheless, Ukraine’s military intelligence agency has fueled speculation about the prospects of Putin being overthrown as a result of a Kremlin coup. On Facebook, the Chief Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine claimed it had information that a “group of influential people in opposition to Vladimir Putin is being formed among the Russian business and political elite.”

Angry at the personal financial losses of the war they are enduring thanks to Western sanctions and frustrated by the lack of military progress on the ground, “their goal is to remove Putin from power as soon as possible,” the agency claimed. It identified a top Russian spymaster, Alexander Bortnikov, who is one of five key members of Putin’s inner circle, as a potential successor. “It is known that Bortnikov and some other influential members of the Russian elite are considering various options for removing Putin from power. In particular, poisoning, sudden illness, or other ‘accident’ is not excluded,” the agency concluded. 

There have been unverified reports that Bortnikov’s star has been falling in the Kremlin and that Putin may be blaming him partly for the lack of military progress on the ground as the battle plans were likely drafted on the pre-war intelligence Bortnikov was feeding him. But that might also disqualify him as a potential successor for any in the elite who really want Putin out, a Western security official told VOA. 

He said he “can’t see any of the security people around Putin,” men like Bortnikov or Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of the Russian Security Council, who worked with Putin closely for years in the KGB, turning on him. “If Putin goes down; they go down,” he said.

Other Western intelligence sources VOA spoke with also were skeptical of the Ukrainian coup claim, suggesting it may have been made to sow doubts about loyalty within the top echelons of Putin’s Kremlin. “Bortnikov has been a hawk, remember he has been a loyal intelligence apparatchik and is cut from very much the same Soviet cloth as Putin and has set about with relish suppressing dissent and has even justified Stalin’s Great Purge,” said one Western official.

Posted by Worldkrap on

Navalny Jailed for 9 Years on Charges He Denies

A court in Russia has found opposition politician Alexey Navalny guilty of embezzlement and contempt charges and sentenced him to nine years in prison.

Judge Margarita Kotova announced the verdict on Tuesday at the penal colony outside Moscow where Navalny is being held. Prosecutors had asked for a prison sentence of 13 years.

Navalny was also fined $11,500

It was not immediately clear whether the sentence would run concurrently with Navalny’s current 2 1/2-year sentence on a separate charge, or if the new sentence would commence only after his previous punishment ends.

Looking gaunt and dressed in his all-black prison outfit, Navalny stood with his lawyers in the makeshift courtroom filled with security officers as Kotova read out the accusations against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s most vocal critic.

The 45-year-old, who is a lawyer himself, seemed unfazed during the proceedings, often looking down while Kotova spoke as he perused court documents.

Navalny has spent the last year in the penal colony on a different charge after returning from abroad, where he was recovering from a near-fatal poison attack that he blames on the Kremlin. 

The corruption crusader reiterated his innocence during his final statement at the trial, noting the prosecution’s demands highlighted the corrupt nature of the trial.

Russian authorities have tried to cast Navalny and his supporters as Western-backed operatives trying to destabilize Russia. Many of Navalny’s allies have fled Russia rather than face restrictions on their freedom or even prison time at home.

His Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) has been labelled an “extremist” organization and banned.

The new case against Navalny was launched in December 2020 on allegations that the 45-year-old anti-corruption campaigner embezzled money from his now defunct and banned Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) and for contempt of a Moscow court.

Investigators accused Navalny of taking around $33,770 in donations for his own personal use. Navalny and his supporters reject all the charges, calling them politically motivated.

The contempt charge stems from a separate case he was involved in last year.

Within weeks of returning from his convalescence in Germany in January 2021, Navalny was jailed for violating the terms of an earlier parole. His conviction is widely regarded as the result of a trumped-up, politically motivated case.

The Kremlin has denied any role in the poisoning, which along with his arrest sparked widespread condemnation and sanctions from the West.

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Judiciary Committee to Question Supreme Court Nominee Jackson

Confirmation hearings opened with Democrats largely praising nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson, while Republicans telegraphed tough questioning ahead 

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Генштаб ЗСУ про втрати РФ: понад 15 тисяч осіб, понад пів тисячі танків, майже 100 літаків

«Дані уточнюються. Підрахунок ускладнюється високою інтенсивністю бойових дій», – наголосили у Генштабі

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Президент США: Путін «притиснутий до стіни»

Що більше Путіна «притискають до стіни», то до агресивнішої тактики він може вдатися, вважає Джо Байден

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Верещук: 22 березня увага буде зосереджена на маршрутах для евакуації жителів Маріуполя

Для виїзду людей із Маріуполя до Запоріжжя сьогодні працюватиме три маршрути

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Russian Court Finds Kremlin Critic Navalny Guilty of Fraud

A Russian court found jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny guilty of large-scale fraud on Tuesday, a move likely to see the time that President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent critic spends in jail extended by years. 

Navalny is already serving a two-and-a-half sentence at a prison camp east of Moscow for parole violations related to charges he says were fabricated to thwart his political ambitions. 

In the latest criminal case against him, which he has also dismissed as politically-motivated, he could have up to 13 years added to that sentence. 

A gaunt Navalny stood besides his lawyers in a room filled with prison security officers as the judge read out the accusations against him. The 45-year-old seemed unfazed, looking down as he flipped through court documents. 

Prosecutors had asked the court to send him to a maximum-security penal colony for 13 years on charges of fraud and contempt of court. A ruling is expected later on Tuesday. 

Navalny was jailed last year when he returned to Russia after receiving medical treatment in Germany following a poison attack with a Soviet-era nerve agent during a visit to Siberia in 2020. Navalny blamed Putin for the attack. 

The Kremlin said it had seen no evidence that Navalny was poisoned and denied any Russian role if he was. 

After the last court hearing into his case on March 15, Navalny struck a typically defiant tone, writing via Instagram: “If the prison term is the price of my human right to say things that need to be said … then they can ask for 113 years. I will not renounce my words or deeds.” 

Russian authorities have cast Navalny and his supporters as subversives determined to destabilize Russia with backing from the West. Many of Navalny’s allies have fled Russia rather than face restrictions or jail at home. 

Navalny’s opposition movement has been labeled “extremist” and shut down, although his supporters continue to express their political stance, including their opposition to Moscow’s military intervention in Ukraine, on social media. 

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Supreme Court Confirmation Process

The U.S. Supreme Court is made up of nine justices. Like all federal judges, they are appointed for life. When a justice chooses to step down, or dies in office, the process begins to select a replacement.

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New Corporate Climate Change Disclosures Proposed by SEC

Companies would be required to disclose the greenhouse gas emissions they produce and how climate risk affects their business under new rules proposed Monday by the Securities and Exchange Commission as part of a drive across the government to address climate change. 

Under the proposals adopted on a 3-1 SEC vote, public companies would have to report on their climate risks, including the costs of moving away from fossil fuels, as well as risks related to the physical impact of storms, drought and higher temperatures caused by global warming. They would be required to lay out their transition plans for managing climate risk, how they intend to meet climate goals and progress made, and the impact of severe weather events on their finances. 

The number of investors seeking more information on risk related to global warming has grown dramatically in recent years. Many companies already provide climate-risk information voluntarily. The idea is that, with uniform required information, investors would be able to compare companies within industries and sectors. 

“Companies and investors alike would benefit from the clear rules of the road” in the proposal, SEC Chairman Gary Gensler said. 

The required disclosures would include greenhouse gas emissions produced by companies directly or indirectly — such as from consumption of the company’s products, vehicles used to transport products, employee business travel and energy used to grow raw materials. 

The SEC issued voluntary guidance in 2010, but this is the first-time mandatory disclosure rules were put forward. The rules were opened to a public comment period of around 60 days and they could be modified before any final adoption. 

Climate activists and investor groups have clamored for mandatory disclosure of information that would be uniformly required of all companies. The advocates estimate that excluding companies’ indirect emissions would leave out some 75% of greenhouse gas emissions. 

“Investors can only assess risks if they know they exist,” Mike Litt, consumer campaigns director of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, said in a prepared statement. “Americans’ retirement accounts and other savings could be endangered if we don’t acknowledge potential liabilities caused by climate change and take them seriously.” 

“Climate risks and harms are growing across our communities with threats to our economy,” said Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., chair of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. “Investors, pension fund managers and the public need better information about the physical and transition-related risks that climate change poses to hard-earned investments,” 

On the other hand, major business interests and Republican officials — reaching down to the state level — began mobilizing against the climate disclosures long before the SEC unveiled the proposed rules Monday, exposing the sharply divided political dynamic of the climate issue. 

Hester Peirce, the sole Republican among the four SEC commissioners, voted against the proposal. “We cannot make such fundamental changes without harming” companies, investors and the SEC, she said. “The results won’t be reliable, let alone comparable.” 

The SEC action is part of a government-wide effort to identify climate risks, with new regulations planned from various agencies touching on the financial industry, housing and agriculture, among other areas. President Joe Biden issued an executive order last May calling for concrete steps to blunt climate risks, while spurring job creation and helping the U.S. reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. 

Biden has made slowing climate change a top priority and has set a target to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 52% below 2005 levels by 2030. He also has said he expects to adopt a clean-energy standard that would make electric power carbon-free by 2035, along with the wider goal of net-zero carbon emissions through the economy by 2050. 

“This is a huge step forward to protect our economy and boost transparency for investors and the public,” White House national climate adviser Gina McCarthy tweeted as the SEC acted. 

The premier business lobby, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry’s top trade group, expressed objections in letters to the SEC last year. 

Frank Macchiarola, senior vice president of policy, economics and regulatory affairs at API, said Monday the group is concerned that the SEC’s proposal could require disclosure of information that isn’t significant for investors’ decisions, “and create confusion for investors and capital markets.” 

“As the (SEC) pursues a final rule, we encourage them to collaborate with our industry and build on private-sector efforts that are already underway to improve consistency and comparability of climate-related reporting,” Macchiarola said in a statement. 

The threat that opponents could take the SEC to court over the regulations has loomed. 

Last June, a group of 16 Republican state attorneys general, led by Patrick Morrisey of West Virginia, raised objections in a letter to SEC Chairman Gensler. “Companies are well positioned to decide whether and how to satisfy the market’s evolving demands, for both customers and investors,” they said. “If the (SEC) were to move forward in this area, however, it would be delving into an inherently political morass for which it is ill-suited.” 

Morrisey previously threatened to sue the SEC over expanded disclosures from companies of environmental, social and governance information.