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Зеленський: ще потрібен час і допомога партнерів, щоб відбити в Росії бажання воювати

«Повна допомога! Без винятків, без обмежень», – сказав президент у зверненні 25 травня

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New Media Law Casts Shadow Over Azeri Media

Azerbaijan’s journalists are used to working in tense conditions, but a media bill passed into law earlier this year has many of them on edge.

Lawmakers have not yet established penalties to accompany the law, but critics say provisions, including a media registry, will make working more difficult, especially for freelance or independent reporters.

Journalists in Azerbaijan have always faced obstacles, says Nigar Mubariz, who contributes to several media outlets. But now, she says, they have to be more vigilant.

“The places I work for have not censored me even after the law was passed. Unfortunately, we are accustomed to working in tense conditions. But now this tension has increased and we have to protect our rights,” she told VOA.

Mubariz believes the media registry will make it hard for some journalists to gain access to official sources because freelance reporters like her may not be considered journalists.

Other parts of the law set up to address objectivity and bias could also be used to restrict critical reporting.

“This law not only hinders the work of journalists, but also prevents the public from accessing accurate information,” Mubariz said.

She added that the new law “directly contradicts” Article 50 of the Constitution, which guarantees the right to seek and disseminate information.

Restricting the media’s work is damaging both to journalists and their audiences, Mubariz said, adding that it “hinders the coverage of future problems in the country, socio-political processes, and the provision of accurate information to society.”

Azerbaijani lawmakers have defended the new ruling as a way to improve relations between media and the state, and say the bill was widely discussed, including with journalists.

“The law protects media independence, freedom of speech and does not impose any sanctions or restrictions,” Aydin Mirzazade, a member of the ruling New Azerbaijan Party, told VOA earlier this year.

He also dismissed claims that it contradicts Azerbaijan’s constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.

The law adds to an already restrictive environment. Azerbaijan has a poor press freedom record, ranking 154 out of 180 countries on the World Press Freedom Index, where 1 is freest, says Reporters Without Borders.

The watchdog says “media laws have become increasingly repressive” in the past two decades and authorities imprison and harass independent and critical journalists.

Despite those challenges, the country’s media are involved in reporting on and exposing big issues. Investigative reporter Khadija Ismayilova was part of the global coverage of the Pegasus project last year, which examined how spyware targeted politicians, civil society, and media workers, including Ismayilova.

Period of change

Some journalists are adopting a wait-and-see approach: working as usual while waiting to see how authorities plan to enforce the law.

Freelancer Parvana Gurbanli says she just follows the existing rules for international and professional media.

“I want to continue to operate on this principle. But I don’t know how successful I will be after the enforcement of the law,” she said. “I think that if all independent journalists continue at the same pace, the new law will lose its force over time.”

Gurbanli believes that the law violates conventions on freedom of expression and the right to information and worries that the media registry could concentrate journalism in the hands of the government.

“These media outlets and all their employees will be included in the media register. Under the new law, independent journalists will not be considered journalists,” she said.

Farid Gahramanov, who works for the independent Turan news agency, said questions remain over how the registry will work.

The government media regulator is expected to oversee the operation but, Gahramanov said, “There is no clarity on this issue.”

“The question is how soon will the agency include a given media outlet in the register? In what cases can there be refusals? How should they be justified?” he said.

Gahramanov believes the obligation to register could result in self-censorship, saying “The danger of breaking the law will force [journalists] to be loyal.”

Potential benefits that some officials say will be extended to press card holders could also be problematic, Gahramanov said.

“To ensure objectivity and impartiality, a journalist must be independent of the state, political institutions and business organizations. Their only privilege should be [to be] able to access information quickly,” he said.

Gahramanov believes that the best way the state can help journalists is by strengthening security.

“This means swift investigation of crimes against journalists, toughening of penalties for crimes against media representatives,” he said.

This story originated in VOA’s Azerbaijani Service.

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Кулеба закликав бізнес і світових лідерів «вбити російський експорт»

«Припиніть купувати в Росії. Припиніть дозволяти їм заробляти гроші, які вони можуть інвестувати у військову машину, яка знищує, вбиває, ґвалтує й катує людей в Україні»

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ЗСУ на Донецькому і Луганському напрямках відбили 10 атак сил РФ – штаб ОС

За даними штабу ОС, загарбники обстріляли більше ніж 40 населених пунктів у Донецькій і Луганській областях, загинули п’ятеро цивільних осіб, ще 12 – поранені

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Delegations from Sweden, Finland Hold NATO Talks in Turkey

Senior officials from Sweden and Finland held some five hours of talks with Turkish counterparts in Ankara on Wednesday in an effort to overcome Turkey’s strong objections to the Nordic nations’ bids to join NATO. 

Sweden and Finland submitted their written applications to join NATO last week. The move represents one of the biggest geopolitical ramifications of Russia’s war in Ukraine and could rewrite Europe’s security map. 

Turkey has said it opposes the countries’ membership in the Western military alliance, citing grievances with Sweden’s — and a to a lesser extent Finland’s — perceived support of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, and other entities that Turkey views as security threats. 

The PKK, which is listed as a terror organization by several of Turkey’s allies, has waged a decades-long insurgency against Turkey, a conflict that has cost the lives of tens of thousands people. 

The Turkish government also accuses Finland and Sweden of imposing arms exports restrictions on Turkey and refusing to extradite suspected “terrorists.” 

Turkey’s objections have dampened Stockholm’s and Helsinki’s hopes for joining NATO quickly amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and put the trans-Atlantic alliance’s credibility at stake. All 30 NATO members must agree on admitting new members. 

The Swedish and Finnish delegations met with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, and Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Onal. The Swedish delegation was led by state secretary Oscar Stenstrom, while Jukka Salovaara, the foreign ministry undersecretary, headed up the Finnish delegation, Turkish officials said. 

Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said following a meeting with European Council President Charles Michel in Stockholm that her country wanted to “clarify” claims that have been floating around during discussions with Turkey. 

“We do not send money or weapons to terrorist organizations,” Andersson said. 

During a news conference with the Estonian prime minister later Wednesday, Andersson said that “in these times, it is important to strengthen our security.” 

She said Sweden has “a constructive dialogue” with Turkey and that Stockholm was “eager to sort out issues and misunderstandings and questions.” 

Michel, who is scheduled to head to Helsinki from Stockholm, said it was “a pivotal moment for Sweden” and “we fully support your choices.” 

Turkey this week listed five “concrete assurances” it was demanding from Sweden, including what it said was “termination of political support for terrorism,” an “elimination of the source of terrorism financing,” and the “cessation of arms support” to the banned PKK and a Syrian Kurdish militia group affiliated with it. 

The demands also called for the lifting of arms sanctions against Turkey and global cooperation against terrorism. 

Turkey said that it has requested the extradition of Kurdish militants and other suspects since 2017 but hasn’t received a positive response from Stockholm. The Turkish government claimed Sweden had decided to provide $376 million to support the Kurdish militants in 2023 and that it had provided them with military equipment, including anti-tank weapons and drones. 

Finland has received nine extradition requests from Turkey in a recent period covering over three years, Finnish news agency STT said Wednesday, citing data from the Finnish justice ministry. Two people were extradited while six of the requests were rejected. A decision was pending regarding one other case. 

Sweden has denied providing financial assistance or military support to Kurdish groups or entities in Syria. 

“Sweden is a major humanitarian donor to the Syria crisis through global allocations to humanitarian actors,” Foreign Minister Ann Linde told the Aftonbladet newspaper. 

“Cooperation in northeastern Syria is carried out primarily through the United Nations and international organizations,” she said. “Sweden doesn’t provide targeted support to Syrian Kurds or to the political or military structures in northeastern Syria, but the population in these areas is, of course, taking part in these aid projects.” 

Speaking Tuesday before a meeting of the Council of the Baltic Sea States, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Russia had left Sweden and Finland “no choice” but to join NATO. 

She said Germany would support the two countries’ membership, calling it “a real gain” for the military alliance. 

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У бухті Севастополя на підводні човни вантажать ракети «Калібр» – фото

Біля причалів у Південній бухті Севастополя пришвартовано два підводні човни

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МЗС: російська паспортизація в Україні є черговим свідченням злочинної мети війни Росії

У дипломатичному відомстві України наголошують, що «указ президента Росії є юридично нікчемним та не матиме правових наслідків»

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Вибиті шибки, розбитий ТРЦ та будинки. Росія вдарила ракетами по Запоріжжю (фотогалерея)

25 травня, близько 5 ранку російські війська знову вдарили по Запоріжжю. Всього було випущено 4 крилаті ракети.

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UK’s Johnson ‘Humbled’ But Wants to Move on From ‘Partygate’

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other senior officials bear responsibility for a culture of rule-breaking that resulted in several parties that breached the U.K.’s COVID-19 lockdown rules, a report into the events said Wednesday.

Revelations that Johnson and his staff repeatedly flouted the rules they imposed on others have elicited outrage in Britain and led to calls from opponents for the prime minister to resign.

Johnson said he took “full responsibility for everything that took place” but that he would not step down.

In her report into the “partygate” scandal, senior civil servant Sue Gray said the “senior leadership team … must bear responsibility” for a culture that allowed events to take place that “should not have been allowed to happen.”

Gray investigated 16 gatherings attended by Johnson and his staff in 2020 and 2021 while people in the U.K. were barred from socializing, or even from visiting sick and dying relatives, because of coronavirus restrictions.

Gray said there had been “failures of leadership and judgment in No. 10,” a reference to the address of the prime minister’s office.

“Those in the most junior positions attended gatherings at which their seniors were present, or indeed organized,” she said.

A separate police investigation resulted in 83 people getting hit with fines, including Johnson — making him the first British prime minister ever found to have broken the law while in office.

Speaking to lawmakers after the report was published, Johnson said he was sorry but again insisted again that he did not knowingly break any rules.

The prime minister said he was “humbled” and had “learned a lesson” but that it was now time to “move on” and focus on the government’s priorities.

Critics, some of them inside Johnson’s Conservative Party, have said the prime minister has lied to Parliament about the events. Ministers who knowingly mislead Parliament are expected to resign.

Johnson said Wednesday that when he told Parliament last year that no rules were broken and there were no parties, “it was what I believed to be true.”

The British media and opposition politicians have found that hard to square with staff member’s accounts of “bring your own booze” parties and regular “wine time Fridays” in the prime minister’s 10 Downing St. office at the height of the pandemic.

Keir Starmer, the leader of the opposition Labour Party, said Gray’s report was a “catalogue of criminality.” Starmer said Johnson’s government had “treated the sacrifices of the British people with utter contempt.”

Much of Gray’s 37-page report was devoted to a detailed account of the events, including a May 2020 party in the Downing Street garden to which “the Prime Minister brought cheese and wine from his flat” and a party the following month at which “one individual was sick” and “there was a minor altercation between two other individuals.”

At another party — held the night before the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II’s husband, Prince Philip — revelers in the garden broke a swing belonging to Johnson’s toddler son Wilf and partied until 4 a.m.

“Many will be dismayed that behavior of this kind took place on this scale at the heart of government,” Gray wrote. “The public have a right to expect the very highest standards of behavior in such places and clearly what happened fell well short of this.”

Johnson has clung on to power so far, partly because Russia’s invasion of Ukraine diverted public and political attention. Some Conservatives who considered seeking a no-confidence vote in their leader decided it would be rash to push Johnson out in the middle of the war, which is destabilizing Europe and fueling a cost-of-living crisis.

The prime minister got a further reprieve when the Metropolitan Police told him last week that he wouldn’t be getting any more fines even though he attended several events under investigation.

But Gray’s conclusions could revive calls from Conservative lawmakers for a no-confidence vote in the leader who won them a big parliamentary majority just over two years ago. Under party rules, such a vote is triggered if 15% of party lawmakers — currently 54 people — write letters calling for one.

If Johnson lost such a vote, he would be replaced as Conservative leader and prime minister. It’s unclear how many letters have been submitted so far.

Environment Secretary George Eustice defended the prime minister on Wednesday but acknowledged that the “boundary between what was acceptable and what wasn’t got blurred, and that was a mistake.”

“The prime minister himself has accepted that and recognizes there were of course failings and therefore there’s got to be some changes to the way the place is run,” Eustice told Times Radio.

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Gallaudet University Celebrates its Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Graduates

Gallaudet University in Washington hosted its first undergraduate commencement ceremony since the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020. Gallaudet is the only university in the world where deaf, deaf-blind and hard-of-hearing students live and learn bilingually in American Sign Language and English. Keynote speaker Apple CEO Tim Cook and Oscar-winning actress Marlee Matlin, among others, addressed the graduating students. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has the story

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Pope ‘Heartbroken’ by Texas School Shooting, Calls for Gun Control  

Pope Francis on Wednesday said he was “heartbroken” by the shooting at a school in Texas that killed at least 19 children and two teachers, calling for greater controls on weapons.

The crowed in St. Peter’s Square for his weekly general audience applauded his appeal, made a day after worst school shooting in the United States in nearly a decade.

“I am heartbroken by the massacre at the elementary school in Texas. I pray for the children and the adults who were killed and for their families,” Francis said of the shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

“It is time to say ‘enough’ to the indiscriminate trafficking of weapons. Let us all make a commitment so that tragedies like this cannot happen again,” he said.

Speaking from the White House hours after the shooting, a visibly shaken President Joe Biden urged Americans to stand up to the politically powerful gun lobby, which he blamed for blocking enactment of tougher firearms safety laws.

Francis has often taken on the weapons industry. In 2015 he said people who manufacture weapons or invest in weapons industries are hypocrites if they call themselves Christian.

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Biden Vows Gun Law Action After Texas School Shooting Kills 19

A visibly angry and upset U.S. President Joe Biden vowed Tuesday to push legislators to take action to reform gun laws, after a school shooting in the gun-friendly state of Texas saw the deaths of at least 19 young children. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Washington.

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Війська РФ щодня обстрілюють Криворіжжя – голова районної військової адміністрації

За попередніми даними, внаслідок нічних обстрілів ніхто не постраждав

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Зеленський у Давосі нагадав про закриття неба: «Ми нічого не забули»

«Ми боролися з питанням закриття неба. Потім, крок за кроком, це питання забули. Хтось забув – ми не забули»

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Zelenskyy Says Only Path for Talks is Directly With Putin

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Wednesday he would be open to negotiations with Russia, but only direct talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Speaking by video link to the World Economic Forum, Zelenskyy said there is a potential for finding a diplomatic way out of the conflict if Putin “understands reality.”

Zelenskyy added that a first step toward talks with Russia would be for Russian forces to withdraw back to the lines that were in place before Russia launched its invasion in late February.

There has been no sign of movement toward a negotiated end to the conflict in recent weeks with both sides accusing the other of not being willing to engage in talks.

Zelenskyy also used part of his address to express his condolences to the family members of those killed Tuesday in a mass shooting at a U.S. elementary school.

“As far as I know, 21 people were killed, including 19 children. This is terrible, to have victims of shooters in peaceful time,” he said.

The key to peace

As Russian forces bombarded eastern Ukraine, including Severodonetsk in the Luhansk region, Zelenskyy adviser Mykhailo Podolyak pushed foreign governments to take action to pressure Russia to end its fighting in Ukraine.

“Today, the future of Europe is not formed in Brussels or Davos. It is formed in the trenches near Severodonetsk and Bakhmut. The duration of this war depends on the speed of imposing energy sanctions and weapons supply. Want to end the war? The key to peace is in your capitals,” Podolyak tweeted.

That followed a Zelenskyy message late Tuesday in which he said sending Ukraine rocket-propelled grenades, tanks, anti-ship missiles and other weapons is “the best investment” to prevent future Russian aggression.


Economic pressure

The United States said it will not extend a waiver, set to expire Wednesday, that allowed Russia to pay back its debts to international investors.

The Treasury Department had let Russia use U.S. banks to make the payments, saying that was a temporary measure meant to provide an “orderly transition” and allow for the investors to sell their stakes.

Closing that pathway raises the prospect that Russia may default on its debt.

NATO expansion

Delegations from Sweden and Finland were in the Turkish capital, Ankara, on Wednesday for talks with Turkish officials about the two nations’ applications to join NATO, which have been met with opposition from Turkey.

Turkey accused Sweden and Finland of harboring people linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group and followers of U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkey says orchestrated a 2016 coup attempt.

NATO bids need approval from all of the alliance’s current members. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has said he is confident any objections will be overcome and both Sweden and Finland will be welcomed into the alliance.

Some information for this story came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

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Google став першою компанією, яку Україна відзначила за вихід із Росії – Федоров

Міністр подякував компанії за закриття російських пропагандистських каналів на YouTube та блокування низки для користувачів із Росії

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Trump-Pence Proxy Fight in Georgia Raises Questions About GOP’s Future 

On its face, Tuesday’s primary election for the Republican party’s gubernatorial nominee in the U.S. state of Georgia was nothing remarkable. Brian Kemp, the sitting governor, faced off against former U.S. Senator David Perdue and comfortably won his party’s nod to pursue another term in office by 73% to 22%.   

Normally, two veteran politicians slugging it out over the chance to win a state’s highest office wouldn’t raise too many eyebrows. But some wonder whether the Georgia race presages a larger fight in the GOP that will play out in both the 2022 midterms and the 2024 general elections. 

That’s because the two highest-profile supporters of Kemp and Perdue were, respectively, former Vice President Mike Pence and former President Donald Trump. 

Trump’s influence varies 

A clear takeaway from Tuesday night is that the Trump endorsement doesn’t carry the weight it used to and that the former president’s inner circle appeared to believe it did just days ago.  

As Pence prepared to campaign for Kemp in Georgia on Monday, a spokesman for Trump said in a statement, “Mike Pence was set to lose a governor’s race in 2016 before he was plucked up and his political career was salvaged. Now, desperate to chase his lost relevance, Pence is parachuting into races, hoping someone is paying attention. The reality is, President Trump is already 82-3 with his endorsements, and there’s nothing stopping him from saving America in 2022 and beyond.” 

That, however, was not how things played out Tuesday. And according to Charlie Cook, founder of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, Perdue’s weakness in Georgia highlights the limits of Trump’s power over individual races. 

“In a Republican primary, when the voters don’t know much about either candidate, the Trump endorsement is enormous,” Cook told VOA.  

But in a high visibility race like Georgia’s, where a sitting governor ran against a challenger who had served as one of the state’s U.S. senators, Trump’s influence is clearly less potent, Cook said. 

“If it’s a blank slate, his endorsement means a lot in a Republican primary,” he said. “But if they already knew a lot about both people, it doesn’t mean nearly as much.” 

Deeper conflict in GOP 

There are multiple reasons Pence and Trump, who spent four years together in the White House, find themselves on different sides of the Georgia gubernatorial race. 

One is that Pence is clearly testing the waters for a run, possibly against Trump, in the GOP presidential primary in 2024.  

But the most significant factor is the ongoing battle within the Republican Party for control of the narrative surrounding the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, when Trump supporters — some threatening to “hang” Pence — disrupted the certification of Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election. 

‘Proxy conflict’ 

“This is a proxy conflict between the former president and the former vice president,” William A. Galston, a senior fellow in Brookings’ Governance Studies program, told VOA as ballots were being cast on Tuesday. 

“And it is a conflict not just over the candidates that they’ve backed but also about the two very different stories about the end of the Trump administration, and January 6, that each of them represents.” 

Galston said that he had begun to notice “a steady undertone” of resistance to the former president’s fixation on his 2020 loss, even among Republicans who supported Trump during his presidency.  

“They don’t think it’s helpful to the party or the country to continue this endless retrospective on the 2020 presidential election, and Mr. Trump keeps it up,” Galston said. “He may well be opening the door for candidates who strike Republicans — including staunch Republicans, including Trump Republicans — as more forward-looking.” 

A likely Trump challenger 

That Pence would challenge his former running mate was not always clear. 

Trump, both on the day of the Capitol riot and after, criticized Pence for his refusal to reject the electoral votes submitted by a number of states after it had become clear that Joe Biden had won the 2020 presidential election. Trump and a number of his advisers had come up with a plan to throw the election to the House of Representatives, where Republican lawmakers could have voted to declare Trump the president. 

The plan was illegal, and Pence refused to go along with it, inciting the fury of both Trump and the crowd that stormed the Capitol. 

In the year that followed the January 6 assault, Pence slowly and cautiously distanced himself from his former running mate. 

Pence steps away 

After more than a year of remaining mostly quiet, Pence delivered a speech to the conservative Federalist Society in February in which he publicly broke from the former president, saying that Trump’s claims about Pence’s ability to reject electoral votes were incorrect. 

“President Trump is wrong,” Pence said. “I had no right to overturn the election.” 

He added, “The presidency belongs to the American people, and the American people alone. And frankly there is no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American president.” 

That same day, Trump issued a statement repeating his false claim that the 2020 election results had been marred by fraud. “I was right and everyone knows it,” he said. “If there is fraud or large-scale irregularities, it would have been appropriate to send those votes back to the legislatures to figure it out.” 

Trump targets Kemp 

The Georgia gubernatorial primary became a flashpoint between Pence and Trump because Kemp had been one of the Republican elected officials who had refused to go along with the former president’s effort to overturn the election.  

Georgia, which Trump lost in 2020 by just under 12,000 votes, was one of the states where Trump and his advisers had hoped to reverse the election results. Kemp, however, publicly refused their request that he decertify the election results and appoint electors who would vote for Trump. 

Trump has been highly critical of Kemp ever since, and when Perdue announced his campaign in December 2021, Trump endorsed him immediately. 

Perdue’s loss on Tuesday suggests that the former president’s consistent focus on the results of the 2020 election may not continue to pay political dividends.

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Texas Elementary School’s End-of-year Plans Shattered by Shooting

The children at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, were two days away from their summer break when Tuesday’s massacre unfolded.

They had visited the zoo and participated in a gifted-and-talented showcase, recent posts on the school’s Facebook page showed. Tuesday was awards day, according to the calendar, and students were invited to wear a nice outfit and fun shoes as part of a “footloose and fancy” theme.

But at 11:43 a.m., a note was posted on the Facebook feed: “Please know at this time Robb Elementary is under a Lockdown Status due to gunshots in the area. The students and staff are safe in the building,” it read.

Then came a second message: “There is an active shooter at Robb Elementary. Law enforcement is on site.”

School administrators asked parents to stay away. The school serves about 570 children in second through fourth grades, nearly 90% of them Hispanic.

The details that came next were devastating: an 18-year-old gunman had opened fire at the school, killing 18 children and one adult, officials said. Read full story

Messages poured in from around the world, offering prayers and expressing outrage at yet another U.S. mass shooting.

“Our hearts are breaking for the families that have been affected by this evil,” Susan Vanderwier of Indiana wrote on the school’s Facebook page.

The school district said the elementary school, where the mission statement is “Live. Learn. Love. Lead,” would remain closed for the final days of the school year.

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Latest Developments in Ukraine: May 25

For full coverage of the crisis in Ukraine, visit Flashpoint Ukraine.

The latest developments in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. All times EDT:

12:15 a.m.: Reuters reports that Russian-born tennis star Daria Saville, who plays for Australia, says she cannot return to Russia because she spoke publicly against its invasion of Ukraine.

In a social media post, Saville urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the conflict and encouraged Russian soldiers to leave Ukraine.

Even though her parents still live in Ukraine, “I can’t really go back,” she said.