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Secrets of US National Spelling Bee: Picking the Right Words

As the final pre-competition meeting of the Scripps National Spelling Bee’s word selection panel stretches into its seventh hour, the pronouncers no longer seem to care.

Before panelists can debate the words picked for the bee, they need to hear each word and its language of origin, part of speech, definition and exemplary sentence read aloud. Late in the meeting, lead pronouncer Jacques Bailly and his colleagues — so measured in their pacing and meticulous in their enunciation during the bee — rip through that chore as quickly as possible. No pauses. No apologies for flubs.

By the time of this gathering, two days before the bee, the word list is all but complete. Each word has been vetted by the panel and slotted into the appropriate round of the nearly century-old annual competition to identify the English language’s best speller.

For decades, the word panel’s work has been a closely guarded secret. This year, Scripps — a Cincinnati-based media company — granted The Associated Press exclusive access to the panelists and their pre-bee meeting, with the stipulation that The AP would not reveal words unless they were cut from the list.

They’re tough on words

The 21 panelists sit around a makeshift, rectangular conference table in a windowless room tucked inside the convention center outside Washington where the bee is staged every year. They are given printouts including words Nos. 770-1,110 — those used in the semifinal rounds and beyond — with instructions that those sheets of paper cannot leave the room.

Hearing the words aloud with the entire panel present — laptops open to Merriam-Webster’s Unabridged dictionary website — sometimes illuminates problems. That’s what happened late in Sunday’s meeting. Kavya Shivashankar, the 2009 champion, an obstetrician/gynecologist and a recent addition to the panel, chimed in with an objection.

The word gleyde (pronounced “glide”), which means a decrepit old horse and is only used in Britain, has a near-homonym — glyde — with a similar but not identical pronunciation and the same meaning. Shivashankar said the variant spelling makes the word too confusing, and the rest of the panel quickly agrees to spike gleyde altogether. It won’t be used.

“Nice word, but bye-bye,” pronouncer Kevin Moch said.

For the panelists, the meeting is the culmination of a yearlong process to assemble a word list that will challenge but not embarrass the 230 middle- and elementary-school-aged competitors — and preferably produce a champion within the two-hour broadcast window for Thursday night’s finals.

The panel’s work has changed over the decades. From 1961 to 1984, according to James Maguire’s book American Bee, creating the list was a one-man operation overseen by Jim Wagner, a Scripps Howard editorial promotions director, and then by Harvey Elentuck, a then-MIT student who approached Wagner about helping with the list in the mid-1970s.

The panel was created in 1985. The current collaborative approach didn’t take shape until the early ’90s. Bailly, the 1980 champion, joined in 1991.

“Harvey … made the whole list,” Bailly said. “I never met him. I was just told, ‘You’re the new Harvey.'”

It’s not just picking words

This year’s meeting includes five full-time bee staffers and 16 contract panelists. The positions are filled via word of mouth within the spelling community or recommendations from panelists. The group includes five former champions: Barrie Trinkle (1973), Bailly, George Thampy (2000), Sameer Mishra (2008) and Shivashankar.

Trinkle, who joined the panel in 1997, used to produce the majority of her submissions by reading periodicals like The New Yorker or The Economist.

“Our raison d’etre was to teach spellers a rich vocabulary that they could use in their daily lives. And as they got smarter and smarter, they got more in contact with each other and were studying off the same lists, it became harder to hold a bee with those same types of words,” Trinkle said.

Now, more often than not she goes directly to the source — Merriam-Webster’s Unabridged. Now online, that’s easier than it used to be.

“The dictionary is on the computer and is highly searchable in all kinds of ways — which the spellers know as well. If they want to find all the words that entered the language in the 1650s, they can do that, which is sometimes what I do,” Trinkle said. “The best words kind of happen to you as you’re scrolling around through the dictionary.”

Not everyone on the panel submits words. Some work to ensure that the definitions, parts of speech and other accompanying information are correct; others are tasked with ensuring that words of similar difficulty are asked at the right times in the competition; others focus on crafting the bee’s new multiple-choice vocabulary questions. Those who submit words, like Trinkle and Mishra, are given assignments throughout the year to come up with a certain number at a certain level of difficulty.

Mishra pulls his submissions from his own list, which he started when he was a 13-year-old speller. He gravitates toward “the harder end of the spectrum.”

“They are fun and challenging for me and they make me smile, and I know if I was a speller I would be intimidated by that word,” says the 28-year-old Mishra, who just finished his MBA at Harvard. “I have no fear about running out (of words), and I feel good about that.”

How the bee has evolved

The panel meets a few times a year, often virtually, to go over words, edit definitions and sentences, and weed out problems. The process seemed to go smoothly through the 2010s, even amid a proliferation of so-called “minor league” bees, many catering to offspring of highly educated, first-generation Indian immigrants — a group that has come to dominate the competition.

In 2019, a confluence of factors — among them, a wild-card program that allowed multiple spellers from competitive regions to reach nationals — produced an unusually deep field of spellers. Scripps had to use the toughest words on its list just to cull to a dozen finalists. The bee ended in an eight-way tie, and there was no shortage of critics.

Scripps, however, didn’t fundamentally change the way the word panel operates. It brought in younger panelists more attuned to the ways contemporary spellers study and prepare. And it made format changes designed to identify a sole champion. The wild-card program was scrapped, and Scripps added onstage vocabulary questions and a lightning-round tiebreaker.

The panel also began pulling words avoided in the past. Place names, trademarks, words with no language of origin: As long as a word isn’t archaic or obsolete, it’s fair game.

“They’ve started to understand they have to push further into the dictionary,” said Shourav Dasari, a 20-year-old former speller and a co-founder with his older sister Shobha of SpellPundit, which sells study guides and hosts a popular online bee. “Last year, we started seeing stuff like tribal names that are some of the hardest words in the dictionary.”

There’s a meticulousness to it all

Members of the panel insist they worry little about other bees or the proliferation of study materials and private coaches. But those coaches and entrepreneurs spend a lot of time thinking about the words Scripps is likely to use — often quite successfully.

Dasari says there are roughly 100,000 words in the dictionary that are appropriate for spelling bees. He pledges that 99% of the words on Scripps’ list are included in SpellPundit’s materials. Anyone who learns all those words is all but guaranteed to win, Dasari said— but no one has shown they can do it.

“I just don’t know when anybody would be able to completely master the unabridged dictionary,” Dasari said.

 

Since the bee resumed after its 2020 pandemic cancellation, the panel has been scrutinized largely for the vocabulary questions, which have added a capricious element, knocking out some of the most gifted spellers even if they don’t misspell a word. Last year’s champion, Harini Logan, was briefly ousted on a vocabulary word, “pullulation” — only to be reinstated minutes later after arguing that her answer could be construed as correct.

“That gave us a sense of how very, very careful we need to be in terms of crafting these questions,” said Ben Zimmer, the language columnist for The Wall Street Journal and a chief contributor of words for the vocabulary rounds.

Zimmer is also sensitive to the criticism that some vocabulary questions are evaluating the spellers’ cultural sophistication rather than their mastery of roots and language patterns. This year’s vocabulary questions contain more clues that will guide gifted spellers to the answers, he says.

There will always be complaints about the word list, but making the competition as fair as possible is the panel’s chief goal. Missing hyphens or incorrect capitalization, ambiguities about singular and plural nouns or transitive and intransitive verbs — no question is too insignificant.

“This is really problematic,” Trinkle said, pointing out a word that has a homonym with a similar definition.

Scripps editorial manager Maggie Lorenz agrees: “We’re going to bump that word entirely.”

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Спортсменів можуть дискваліфікувати – Матвій Бідний про тих, хто не повернувся зі змагань в Україну

Раніше Міністерство молоді та спорту України оприлюднило списки спортсменів, які не повернулися з-за кордону. Перелік прізвищ відомство опублікувало на сайті. В ньому – 236 чоловіків

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«Як ми взагалі вижили там?» Кияни після того, як російський дрон зруйнував їхній будинок

– Як ми взагалі вижили там?
– Не знаю.
Двоє дітей біля будинку в Голосіївському районі Києва, де внаслідок падіння уламків виникла пожежа, обговорюють те, що сталося. Це 6-річний Марко і 8-річна Аліса, повідомляє кореспондент Радіо Свобода.

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Міненерго повідомило про знеструмлення в кількох регіонах через негоду й обстріли

«Виробленої електроенергії достатньо для покриття потреб споживачів. Дефіциту в системі не спостерігається»

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5 Greek Border Police Officers Arrested on Suspicion of Working With Migrant Smugglers

Greek authorities said Monday they had arrested five police officers from a special border guard force on suspicion of working with smugglers to help migrants cross into the country from neighboring Turkey. 

A police statement said the five suspects are believed to have facilitated the entry of at least 100 people since late October, using boats to cross the Evros River that runs along the northeastern Greek land border with Turkey. 

During the arrests in the border town of Didymoteicho Monday, police confiscated some $28,000 in cash, and nearly 60 mobile phones. The operation followed an investigation by the police internal affairs squad. 

The Evros is a key crossing point into Greece for people seeking a better life in the European Union. Greece has built a high fence along much of the border to prevent migrant entries and is planning to further extend it. 

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Missing 73 Years, Medal of Honor Recipient’s Remains Return Home

Soldiers of the 9th Infantry Regiment made a desperate retreat as North Korean troops closed in around them. A wounded, 18-year-old Army Pfc. Luther Herschel Story feared his injuries would slow down his company, so he stayed behind to cover their withdrawal. 

Story’s actions in the Korean War on September 1, 1950, would ensure he was remembered. He was awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military honor, which is now displayed alongside his portrait at the National Infantry Museum, an hour’s drive from his hometown of Americus, Georgia. 

But Story was never seen alive again, and his resting place long remained a mystery. 

“In my family, we always believed that he would never be found,” said Judy Wade, Story’s niece and closest surviving relative. 

That changed in April when the U.S. military revealed lab tests had matched DNA from Wade and her late mother to bones of an unidentified American soldier recovered from Korea in October 1950. The remains belonged to Story, a case agent told Wade over the phone. After nearly 73 years, he was coming home. 

A Memorial Day burial with military honors took place Monday at the Andersonville National Cemetery. A police escort with flashing lights escorted Story’s casket through the streets of nearby Americus on Wednesday after it arrived in Georgia. Then residents lined the streets Monday as the funeral procession drove by, WALB-TV reported. 

“I don’t have to worry about him anymore,” said Wade, who was born four years after her uncle went missing overseas. “I’m just glad he’s home.” 

Among those celebrating Story’s return was former President Jimmy Carter. When Story was a young boy, according to Wade, his family lived and worked in Plains on land owned by Carter’s father, James Earl Carter Sr. 

Jimmy Carter, 98, has been under hospice care at his home in Plains since February. Jill Stuckey, superintendent of the Jimmy Carter National Historical Park, said she shared the news about Story with Carter as soon as she heard it. 

“Oh, there was a big smile on his face,” Stuckey said. “He was very excited to know that a hero was coming home.” 

Story grew up about 150 miles (241 kilometers) south of Atlanta in Sumter County, where his father was a sharecropper. As a young boy, Story, who had a keen sense of humor and liked baseball, joined his parents and older siblings in the fields to help harvest cotton. The work was hard, and it didn’t pay much. 

“Momma talked about eating sweet potatoes three times a day,” said Wade, whose mother, Gwendolyn Story Chambliss, was Luther Story’s older sister. “She used to talk about how at night her fingers would be bleeding from picking cotton out of the bolls. Everybody in the family had to do it for them to exist.” 

The family eventually moved to Americus, the county’s largest city, where Story’s parents found better work. He enrolled in high school, but soon set his sights on joining the military in the years following World War II. 

In 1948, his mother agreed to sign papers allowing Story to enlist in the Army. She listed his birthdate as July 20, 1931. But Wade said she later obtained a copy of her uncle’s birth certificate that showed he was born in 1932 — which would have made him just 16 when he joined. 

Story left school during his sophomore year. In the summer of 1950, he deployed with Company A of the 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment to Korea around the time the war began. 

On September 1, 1950, near the village of Agok on the Naktong River, Story’s unit came under attack by three divisions of North Korean troops that moved to surround the Americans and cut off their escape. 

Story seized a machine gun and fired on enemy soldiers crossing the river, killing or wounding about 100, according to his Medal of Honor citation. As his company commander ordered a retreat, Story rushed into a road and threw grenades into an approaching truck carrying North Korean troops and ammunition. Despite being wounded, he continued fighting. 

“Realizing that his wounds would hamper his comrades, he refused to retire to the next position but remained to cover the company’s withdrawal,” Story’s award citation said.  

“When last seen he was firing every weapon available and fighting off another hostile assault.” 

Story was presumed dead. He would have been 18 years old, according to the birth certificate Wade obtained. 

In 1951, his father received Story’s Medal of Honor at a Pentagon ceremony. Story was also posthumously promoted to corporal. 

About a month after Story went missing in Korea, the U.S. military recovered a body in the area where he was last seen fighting. The unidentified remains were buried with other unknown service members at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii. 

According to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, more than 7,500 Americans who served in the Korean War remain missing or their remains have not been identified. That’s roughly 20% of the nearly 37,000 U.S. service members who died in the war. 

Remains of the unknown soldier recovered near Agok were disinterred in 2021 as part of a broader military effort to determine the identities of several hundred Americans who died in the war. Eventually scientists compared DNA from the bones with samples submitted by Wade and her mother before she died in 2017. They made a successful match. 

President Joe Biden announced the breakthrough April 26 in Washington, joined by South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol. 

“Today, we can return him to his family,” Biden said of Story, “and to his rest.” 

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У Києві та області оголошено повітряну тривогу

Близько другої години ночі 30 травня спочатку на Київщині, а згодом і у самій столиці прозвучало сповіщення про повітряну тривогу.

Громадян закликали убезпечитись в укриттях.

У мережі повідомили про рух БПЛА в бік столичного регіону. Інформація від військових з цього приводу не надходила.

Кіровоградська, Черкаська та Чернігівська області станом на 2:00 також охоплені повітряною тривогою.

Протягом минулої доби російські війська завдали двох масованих ракетно-авіаційних ударів по території України. У ніч на 29 травня армія РФ застосувала крилаті ракети повітряного базування Х-101/Х-555 та іранські ударні безпілотники. Українські сили ППО знищили 36 із 40 крилатих ракет та 30 із 38 ударних БПЛА. У понеділок вдень російські війська вдарили крилатими та балістичними ракети «Іскандер» по Києву: 11 з 11-ти ракет були знищені.

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У скандинавських водах плаває російський «кит-шпигун» – The Guardian

У територіальних водах країн Північної Європи помітили полярного кита-білуга в нашийнику. Як передає The Guardian, місцева влада вважає, що це російський «кит-шпигун». На його нашийнику є напис «Спорядження Петербург 2019».

Повідомляється, що білугу помітили у неділю в територіальних водах Швеції, неподалік її південно-західного узбережжя.

За словами шведських зоологів, південь Швеції – надто теплі води для білуг, зазвичай вони живуть ближче до Полярного кола. Фахівці вважають, що кит заплив на південь у пошуках пари чи компанії, оскільки білуги – дуже соціальний вид.

Це не перша поява білуги у водах Скандинавії. Вперше кит був помічений у Норвегії у квітні 2019 року. Його нашийник був оснащений кріпленнями для відеокамер. Кит був навчений слідувати за кораблями. Імовірно, він міг утекти з тренувальної військової бази або міг бути випущений «на завдання», але дорогою втратив відеокамери.

Про тварину багато писала місцева преса. Йому дали прізвисько Хвалдімір – від норвезького слова hval (кит) та імені російського президента Володимир. Нині Хвалдіміру близько 14 років. Зоологи стверджують, що він не боїться морських суден і доброзичливий до людей. Припускають, що раніше він багато спілкувався з людьми і був добре надресирований.

У 1980-х роках радянська армія розвивала програму навчання дельфінів для виявлення підводних мін. Ця програма була закрита у 1990-х. У 2017 році російський державний телеканал «Звезда» повідомляв про програму навчання китів-білуг, тюленів та дельфінів для використання у військових цілях.

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У РФ пропонують збільшити штрафи за прийом на роботу без документів про військовий облік

Також пропонується збільшити штрафи для роботодавців, які не повідомили у військкомати про співробітників, що мали б перебувати, але не є на військовому обліку

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Biden, Harris Honor War Dead for US Memorial Day Holiday

On Memorial Day, observed annually on the last Monday of May, Americans commemorate those who died while serving in the U.S. military. The day is also celebrated as the beginning of the summer season with family cookouts, a dip in the pool or a trip to the beach. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

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Why Do Kosovo-Serbia Tensions Persist?

Tensions between Serbia and Kosovo flared anew this weekend after Kosovo’s police raided Serb-dominated areas in the region’s north and seized local municipality buildings.

Violent clashes between Kosovo’s police and NATO-led peacekeepers on one side and local Serbs on the other have left several people injured on both sides.

The violence led Serbia to raise the combat readiness of its troops stationed near the border and warned it won’t stand by if Serbs in Kosovo are attacked again. The situation has again fueled fears of a renewal of the 1998-99 conflict in Kosovo that claimed more than 10,000 lives and left more than 1 million homeless.

Why are Serbia and Kosovo at odds?

Kosovo is a mainly ethnic Albanian-populated territory that was formerly a province of Serbia. It declared independence in 2008.

Serbia has refused to recognize Kosovo’s statehood and still considers it a part of Serbia, even though it has no formal control there.

Kosovo’s independence has been recognized by about 100 countries, including the United States, Russia and China, while five European Union nations have sided with Serbia.

The deadlock has kept tensions simmering and prevented full stabilization of the Balkan region after the bloody wars in the 1990s.

What’s the latest flare-up about?

After Serbs boycotted last month’s local elections held in northern Kosovo — where Serbs represent a majority — newly elected ethnic Albanian mayors needed the help of Kosovo’s riot police to move into their offices last Friday.

Serbs tried to prevent them from taking over the premises, but police fired tear gas to disperse them.

On Monday, Serbs staged a protest in front of the municipality buildings, triggering a tense standoff that resulted in fierce clashes between the Serbs and local police, along with Kosovo peacekeepers.

The election boycott followed a collective resignation in November by Serb officials from the area, including administrative staff, judges, and police officers.

How deep is the ethnic conflict in Kosovo?

The dispute over Kosovo is centuries old. Serbia cherishes the region as the heart of its statehood and religion.

Numerous medieval Serb Orthodox Christian monasteries are in Kosovo. Serb nationalists view a 1389 battle against Ottoman Turks there as a symbol of its national struggle.

Kosovo’s majority ethnic Albanians view Kosovo as their country and accuse Serbia of occupation and repression. Ethnic Albanian rebels launched a rebellion in 1998 to rid the country of Serbian rule.

Belgrade’s brutal response prompted a NATO intervention in 1999, which forced Serbia to pull out and cede control to international peacekeepers.

What is the situation locally?

There are constant tensions between the Kosovo government and the Serbs who live mainly in the north of the country and keep close ties with Belgrade.

Attempts by the central government to impose more control in the Serb-dominated north are usually met with resistance from Serbs.

Mitrovica, the main town in the north, has been effectively divided into an ethnic Albanian part and a Serb-held part, and the two sides rarely mix. There are also smaller Serb-populated enclaves in the south of Kosovo, while tens of thousands of Kosovo Serbs live in central Serbia, where they fled together with the withdrawing Serb troops in 1999.

Have there been attempts to resolve the dispute?

There have been constant international efforts to find common ground between the two former wartime foes, but there has been no final comprehensive agreement.

EU officials have mediated negotiations designed to normalize relations between Serbia and Kosovo. Numerous agreements have been reached during those negotiations, but they were rarely implemented on the ground. Some areas have seen results, such as introducing freedom of movement within the country.

An idea has been floated for border changes and land swaps as the way forward, but this was rejected by many EU countries out of fears that it could cause a chain reaction in other ethnically mixed areas in the Balkans and trigger more trouble in the region that went through bloody wars in the 1990s.

Who are the main players?

Both Kosovo and Serbia are led by nationalist leaders who haven’t shown readiness for a compromise.

In Kosovo, Albin Kurti, a former student protest leader and political prisoner in Serbia, leads the government and is the main negotiator in EU-mediated talks. He was also known as a fierce supporter of Kosovo’s unification with Albania and is against any compromise with Serbia.

Serbia is led by populist President Aleksandar Vucic, who was information minister during the war in Kosovo. The former ultranationalist insists that any solution must be a compromise in order to last and says Serbia won’t settle unless it gains something.

What happens next?

International officials are hoping to speed up negotiations and reach a solution in the coming months.

Both nations must normalize ties if they want to advance toward EU membership. No major breakthrough would mean prolonged instability, economic decline and constant potential for clashes.

Any Serbian military intervention in Kosovo would mean a clash with NATO peacekeepers stationed there. Belgrade controls Kosovo’s Serbs, and Kosovo can’t become a member of the U.N. and a functional state without resolving the dispute with Serbia.

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Солідарність з Україною вигідна для безпеки країн Заходу – президентка Словаччини

Президентка Словаччини Зузана Чапутова: «Наша єдність піддається випробуванню. Ті, хто стверджує, що наші заходи не працюють, або, що ми повинні зосередитися на власних інтересах, – помиляються»

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Голова Служби безпеки Чехії заявив про відверто агресивний характер дій РФ і пов’язані з цим ризики

У Службі безпеки Чехії не виключають, що російська сторона зберігає можливості стеження за допомогою телефонного зв’язку

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Варшава запровадила санкції проти 365 білорусів – МВС Польщі

Польща ввела санкції проти 365 громадян Білорусі через залишення в силі вироку щодо журналіста і активіста Спілки поляків Анджея Почобута і репресій проти політичних опонентів режиму Олександра Лукашенка, повідомило міністерство внутрішніх справ та адміністрації Польщі.

Під санкції потрапили, зокрема, 159 депутатів, 76 суддів, семеро прокурорів, 32 представники місцевої адміністрації, 28 силовиків, 23 представники пропагандистських ЗМІ, 24 спортсмени та спортивні активісти, вісім співробітників держустанов і стільки ж діячів культури і науки. Тим, хто підпадає під санкції, буде заборонено в’їзд до Шенгенської зони, а їхні активи будуть заморожені.

До списку санкцій також внесли 16 підприємців (15 росіян і один білорус), пов’язаних з російськими активами. Крім того, санкції запровадили проти 20 юридичних осіб (19 із них пов’язані з Росією, одна – з Білоруссю).

Відносини Лукашенка з владою Польщі різко зіпсувалися останніми роками – після масових протестів у серпні 2020 року, міграційної кризи на кордоні та повномасштабного вторгнення Росії в Україну.

У лютому 2023 року журналіста та активіста Спілки поляків Анджея Почобута засудили у Білорусі до восьми років колонії. За інформацією видання Rzeczpospolita, серед епізодів кримінальної справи проти активіста – «розмови про радянську агресію проти Польщі», стаття в Gazeta Wyborcza про розгін протестів у 2020 році та матеріал 2006 року про командира польського антикомуністичного підпілля у Гродненській області. У жовтні 2022 року КДБ Білорусі вніс Анджея Почобута до списку осіб, причетних до терористичної діяльності.

Переслідування зазнали й інші активісти Союзу поляків: Анжеліка Борис і троє її колег були заарештовані і звинувачені в «розпалюванні расової чи іншої соціальної ворожнечі». Пізніше обвинувачення їм посилили на підставі статті про «реабілітацію нацизму та виправдання геноциду білоруського народу». Влітку 2021 року кілька фігурантів справи щодо Союзу поляків були примусово вислані до Польщі, при цьому влада Білорусі заявила, що вони нібито виїхали добровільно.

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Poland Imposes Sanctions on 365 Belarusians Over ‘Draconian’ Verdict Against Journalist

Poland imposed sanctions Monday on 365 Belarusian citizens and froze the financial assets of 20 entities and 16 other people associated with the Russian capital in reaction to what it condemned as a “draconian” verdict against a journalist.

Under the sanctions announced by Poland’s interior ministry, the 365 Belarusians will be barred from entering the Schengen area, an area of visa-free travel in Europe. The group includes lawmakers, judges, prosecutors, members of state media, athletes and people working for state enterprises.

The move is the latest development amid a tense relationship between Poland, a member of NATO and the European Union, and Belarus, a country on its northeastern border that is allied with Russia and led by an authoritarian president, Alexander Lukashenko, who has held power since 1994.

“These people promoted the Belarusian regime and were also involved in legitimizing and supporting the repressive policy of the authorities in Minsk. They are also responsible for the politically motivated sentence against Andrzej Poczobut, issued on false charges,” the interior ministry said.

Belarus’ Supreme Court on Friday upheld an eight-year prison sentence against Poczobut, a prominent member of the country’s sizable Polish minority and a correspondent for a top newspaper in Poland.

The rulings against Poczobut, a 50-year-old reporter with Poland’s liberal Gazeta Wyborcza daily, is seen as part of the Belarusian government’s sweeping crackdown on opposition figures, human rights activists and independent reporters.

Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya called Poland’s move “an important gesture of solidarity with Andrzej Poczobut and all Belarusians who suffer at the hands of the regime.”

“All political prisoners must be released from prison without any conditions,” Tsikhanouskaya said. “It is also a message to all those who support the regime with their positions and actions. We hope that other countries will follow this example, and those responsible for political court verdicts will be held accountable for their actions.”

As Poland announced the sanctions, migrants were stuck at Poland’s border wall with Belarus. Polish human rights activists said that they heard from the migrants that the Belarusian forces would not let them turn back. Meanwhile, Polish authorities would not allow them in to request asylum.

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Russia Issues Arrest Warrant for US Senator Graham Over Ukraine Comments

Russia’s Interior Ministry issued an arrest warrant Monday for U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham following his comments related to the fighting in Ukraine.

In an edited video of his meeting Friday with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy that was released by Zelenskyy’s office, Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, noted that “the Russians are dying” and described the U.S. military assistance to the country as “the best money we’ve ever spent.”

While Graham appeared to have made the remarks in different parts of the conversation, the short video by Ukraine’s presidential office put them next to each other, causing outrage in Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov commented Sunday by saying that “it’s hard to imagine a greater shame for the country than having such senators.”

The Investigative Committee, the country’s top criminal investigation agency, has moved to open a criminal inquiry against Graham, and the Interior Ministry followed up by issuing a warrant for his arrest as indicated Monday by its official record of wanted criminal suspects.

Graham is among more than 200 U.S. members of Congress whom Moscow banned last year from entering Russia.

Graham commented on Twitter, saying that “to know that my commitment to Ukraine has drawn the ire of Putin’s regime brings me immense joy.”

“I will continue to stand with and for Ukraine’s freedom until every Russian soldier is expelled from Ukrainian territory,” he tweeted. “I will wear the arrest warrant issued by Putin’s corrupt and immoral government as a Badge of Honor.”

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«Хоче підірвати єдність»: Маляр пояснила, навіщо РФ поширює фейки про українську владу

«Повномасштабна війна показала цікаву властивість української колективної свідомості. Так, ми відчуваємо біль, розпач, сум, але водночас в нас немає страху»

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Обстріл Дніпропетровщини: збільшилась кількість поранених – влада

«Більшість постраждалих «швидкі» доправили до лікарень Запорізької області. Загинула 51-річна жінка»

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Ukrainian Teen Barely Escapes War-Torn Bakhmut Alive

Depending on who you ask, the city of Bakhmut or separate parts of it are during any given week either controlled by Russian troops or by the Ukrainian Army. But the reality is that the city is in ruins and has been a dangerous and even deadly place for civilians, including some children who stayed during the fighting. Omelyan Oshchudlyak has one 16-year-old’s story. VOA footage by Yuriy Dankevych.

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У Києві затримали двох чоловіків, які знімали роботу ППО – поліція

«Поліція Києва вкотре нагадує про заборону фото та відеофіксації роботи ППО! Зберігайте інформаційну тишу, адже мовчання – надійний тил наших захисників!»