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Turkey Arrests Four Kurdish Journalists Ahead of Crucial Elections

Four Kurdish journalists appeared in court in Turkey this week, accused of having ties to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

JinNews reporter Beritan Canozer, journalist Remzi Akkaya, Mesopotamia News Agency (MA) editor Abdurrahman Gok, and MA reporter Mehmet Sah Oruc were taken into custody in coordinated dawn raids Tuesday, in which Turkish police detained at least 128 people in 21 cities.

Among those detained are 10 journalists, a lawyer representing arrested Kurdish journalists in other court cases, and members of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), the third-biggest party in the Turkish parliament.

HDP faces a party closure case in Turkey’s Constitutional Court as it is accused of being linked to the PKK, a charge that the HDP denies.

Allegations include spreading propaganda

The detentions came ahead of Turkey’s upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections May 14, which are seen as the biggest electoral challenge that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has faced during two decades in power.

A Turkish security source told Reuters that the suspects were accused of providing financing, recruiting and spreading propaganda for the PKK, which is designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States, and the European Union.

In a joint statement, several international rights organizations, including Freedom House, the International Press Institute, and PEN International, have called on the Turkish authorities “to stop the systematic harassment and intimidation of Kurdish journalists, media workers, media outlets, the lawyers that defend them, and Kurdish political party officials, give them access to legal counsel, disclose full details of charges brought and to ensure that they are released from detention.” 

‘This no longer surprises anyone’

Several journalism organizations reacted to the arrest of the journalists.

Erol Onderoglu, the Turkish representative for media watchdog Reporters Without Borders, said that the police raids Tuesday were carried out to crack down on the Kurdish journalists.

“It is clear that the investigation and operation were carried out to purge the Kurdish media and put the opposition parties in trouble before the election, and this no longer surprises anyone,” Onderoglu told VOA. “With these arrests, it seems that we will once again gain a reputation of being among the countries which arrested the most journalists in the world, as was the case after the coup attempt.” 

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists’ annual prison census in 2022, Turkey was among the top five jailers of journalists, as 40 journalists were behind bars last year. 

Veysel Ok, co-director of the Istanbul-based Media and Law Studies Association, thinks that the operation has threatened freedom of expression and election security in Turkey.

“Lawyers will be on duty at the ballot box, and journalists are the ones who will inform the public about possible unlawfulness, corruption and extortion at the polls. Therefore, there is a serious risk,” Ok told VOA.

Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu posted a video of the police raids Tuesday on Twitter and said, “Either on the mountain or in the city, we are always breathing down their necks.”

“This video shows that the operation aims to create psychological, political and social fear among the public. In an operation within the limits of the law, the interior minister cannot post a video like this. Here is a logic that equates journalism, being a lawyer, or rights advocate with terrorism,” Ok said.

This story originated in VOA’s Turkish Service.

Posted by Ukrap on

У Донецькій області через російський обстріл постраждав енергетичний об’єкт – Міненерго

Російські війська 28 квітня завдали удару по одному з об’єктів генерації електроенергії в Донецькій області, повідомила пресслужба Міністерства енергетики.

«Під час масованого обстрілу, який Росія здійснила 28 квітня, було зафіксовано попадання в один із об’єктів генерації електроенергії в Донецькій області. Ворог здійснив артилерійський обстріл, внаслідок якого було частково пошкоджено обладнання», – йдеться в повідомленні.

Працівники об’єкту не постраждали, наголосили у відомстві.

«Інші об’єкти генерації України під час обстрілу 28 квітня не були пошкоджені. Об’єднана енергетична система працює стабільно з профіцитом потужності», – повідомили в Міненерго.

27 квітня на Харківщині на російській міні підірвався автомобіль, в якому перебувала аварійно-відновлювальна бригада енергетиків «Харківобленерго», – одна людина загинула і четверо зазнали поранень.

Posted by Ukrap on

Армія РФ обстріляла Білозерку на Херсонщині: одна людина загинула, троє – поранені

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Медики розповіли про стан дівчинки, пораненої під час удару військ РФ по Київщині

У Національній дитячій спеціалізованій лікарні «Охматдит» розповіли про стан пораненої під час удару по місту Українка Обухівського району на Київщині дівчинки.

«Однією з постраждалих, яку доставили в Охматдит, була 13-річна дівчинка з Київської області. Уламки російської ракети потрапили в будинок дівчинки і травмували її», – йдеться у повідомленні.

Повідомляється, що дитину прооперували.

«Зараз загрози життю усунуті, дівчинка в стабільному стані. Далі на неї чекає довготривалий процес лікування та реабілітації. Медики докладають всіх зусиль для відновлення здоров’я дитини та нормалізації її емоційного стану», – зазначили в «Охматдиті».

28 квітня близько 4:00 російські війська атакували Україну з літаків стратегічної авіації Ту-95. Українські військові знищили 21 із 23 крилатих ракет, а також два БПЛА оперативно-тактичного рівня.

В результаті обстрілу було пошкоджено будинки в Дніпрі, Умані та в місті Українка на Київщині. Зокрема, в Українці було поранено 13-річну дівчинку. У Дніпрі в приватному секторі загинули молода жінка і її дворічна дитина. В Умані одна із ракет влучила у житловий дев’ятиповерховий будинок – 23 людини загинули, четверо з них – діти.

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US-Philippines Conclude Largest-Ever Military Exercise

The U.S. and Philippines Friday concluded nearly three weeks of annual military drills known as Balikatan in the south Pacific Ocean near the island chain nation.

In a news release, the U.S. military said nearly 18,000 soldiers from both nations took part in the drills, making them the largest in the 38-year history of the military exercises.

Balikatan means “shoulder-to-shoulder” or “sharing the load together,” in Philippine Tagalog dialect, a term becoming more appropriate in the past year as relations between the two longtime allies have improved since the election of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.   

On Wednesday, Marcos watched the exercises in person from an observation tower in the northwestern Philippine coastal town of San Antonio. That day U.S. and Philippines forces, working together, targeted, engaged and sank a decommissioned Philippines battleship.

Marcos has sought to improve relations with the United States that soured under his predecessor, former president Rodrigo Duterte, at least in part because of increased tensions with China regarding the disputed waters in the region.

A Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson issued a statement Friday rebuking what she called China’s recent “highly dangerous maneuvers” earlier this week against the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in the waters off Ayungin Shoal. The PCG was on a routine maritime patrol.  

The Ayungin Shoal – also known as the Second Thomas Shoal – is a submerged reef in the Spratly Islands. The coast guard reported that two Chinese Coast Guard (CCG) vessels “intercepted” them in the vicinity of the shoal and exhibited “aggressive tactics,” coming within 46 meters of the ship.  

The Chinese Foreign Ministry insisted the near miss was caused by the PCG, claiming it was the aggressor.  

Reuters reports China has claimed sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea, an area that stretches more than 1,500 kilometers off its mainland and cuts into the exclusive economic zones of Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia. An international arbitral ruling in 2016 dismissed that line as having no legal basis.

Tensions with China were mentioned during the closing ceremonies of the Balikatan exercises Friday. Philippines Armed Forces Chief of Staff Andres Centino noted the “strong results” of the exercises are more significant “given the current security environment and the real threats” that continue to evolve within the region.

President Marcos is scheduled to travel to Washington next week for meetings with U.S. President Joe Biden. Their defense alliance is expected to be high on the agenda.

Some information in this report was provided by The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence French-Presse.

Posted by Ukrap on

Число загиблих в Умані зросло до 21 – влада

«Дев’ять родин уже розмістили в тимчасові помешкання – завчасно були підготовлені для внутрішньо переміщених осіб» – начальник ОВА

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Iran TV Airs Footage of Commandos Seizing US-Bound Tanker

Masked Iranian navy commandos conducted a helicopter-borne raid to seize a U.S.-bound oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman, footage aired by Iran’s state television showed Friday. 

The capture on Thursday of the Turkish-managed, Chinese-owned Advantage Sweet represents the latest seizure by Iran amid tensions with the U.S. over advancing nuclear program. While Tehran says the tanker was seized because it was running into another Iranian vessel, it has provided no evidence yet to support the claim — and the Islamic Republic has taken other ships as bargaining chips in negotiations with the West. 

The footage showed the commandos descending on the deck of the Advantage Sweet by ropes from a hovering helicopter. A photograph showed one commando with his fist in the air after apparently taking the vessel. 

The U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet has said the Iranian seizure was at least the fifth commercial vessel taken by Tehran in the last two years. 

“Iran’s continued harassment of vessels and interference with navigational rights in regional waters are a threat to maritime security and the global economy,” it added. 

The vessel’s manager, a Turkish firm called Advantage Tankers, issued a statement acknowledging the Advantage Sweet was “being escorted by the Iranian navy to a port on the basis of an international dispute.” All the ship’s 24 crew members are Indian. 

“The safety and welfare of our valued crew members is our No. 1 priority,” the firm said. “Similar experiences show that crew members of vessels taken under such circumstances are in no danger.”

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В Україні оголосили повітряну тривогу в багатьох областях

Унаслідок влучання ракет по житлових будинках у Дніпрі та Умані вночі 28 квітня загинули щонайменше 22 людини

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Двоє з чотирьох людей, поранених через ракетний удар по Дніпру, – в реанімації

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BBC’s Sharp Resigns After Breaching Rules over Boris Johnson Loan

BBC Chairman Richard Sharp resigned on Friday after an
independent report found he had breached public appointment rules by not disclosing potential conflict of interest in his role in securing a $1 million loan for the then-prime minister, Boris Johnson.

His exit comes at a time of heightened political scrutiny of the British public broadcaster. A high-profile dispute with highly paid presenter Gary Lineker over neutrality dominated headlines in Britain last month.

Sharp, a former Goldman Sachs banker who became BBC chairman in 2021, had been under pressure since February when a committee of lawmakers said he had made “significant errors of judgement” in failing to declare his involvement in the loan.

Sharp said he had agreed to stay on until the end of June to give the government time to find a successor to lead the broadcaster, funded by a license fee paid by TV-watching households.

The investigation, initiated by the public appointments watchdog, examine dthe way in which Sharp was selected by the government to chair the corporation in 2021.

Specifically, it looked at whether Sharp fully disclosed details of his role in facilitating a $1 million loan for Johnson before he was named chairman.

The report found that, while he had breached the government’s code for public appointments, that breach did not necessarily invalidate his appointment. Sharp said he believed the breach had been “inadvertent and not material.”

But he also said staying until the end of his four-year term would be a distraction from the broadcaster’s “good work.”

“I have decided that it is right to prioritize the interests of the BBC,” Sharp said in a statement. “I have therefore, this morning, resigned as the BBC chair.”

The opposition Labour Party’s culture spokeswoman, Lucy Powell, said the breach had “caused untold damage to the reputation of the BBC and seriously undermined its independence as a result of the Conservatives sleaze and cronyism.”

The report mentions Johnson’s Downing Street office as having recommended Sharp as “a strong candidate” for the role, which attracted 23 applications.

Sharp has maintained he was not involved in making the loan or in arranging a guarantee or any financing, and that he did no more than seek to introduce Canadian businessman Sam Blyth to a government official in late 2020.

Andrew Heppinstall, who carried out the inquiry, said he was “happy to record” that he had seen no evidence of Sharp having any role in Johnson’s private financial affairs aside from the attempted introduction.

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Україна передала МКЧХ список з іменами 19 тисяч викрадених Росією українських дітей – Мезенцева

«Міжнародний комітет Червоного Хреста має чи не прямі повноваження для того, щоб відвідати дітей. Ми дуже чекаємо на їхній візит до Росії та інших держав»

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Pope Arrives in Hungary for 3-Day Visit

Pope Francis arrived in Hungary on Friday.

During his three-day visit, he is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Francis will also preside over an open-air Mass on Sunday in front of parliament.

Francis’ visit occurs as Europe is experiencing a migrant crisis and the war in Ukraine. He is expected to address both issues during his visit and he is scheduled to meet with some Ukrainians who fled their homes after Russia’s invasion.

Orban famously erected a razor wire fence in 2015 to keep Serbs out of Hungary, but he has welcomed Ukrainians. However, unlike some of his European counterparts, he has not supplied Ukraine with weapons for its battle against Russia.

The pontiff and the prime minister have both called for a cease-fire and negotiations to end the war.

Some information for this report was provided by The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

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Президент Бразилії заявив, що не передав Україні боєприпаси, тому що це «означало б вступ у війну»

За словами да Сілви, канцлер Німеччини попросив його передати танкові боєприпаси Україні, але він відмовився

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Experts Say Wagner Group Could Fuel the Conflict in Sudan

Reports emerged this week that the Kremlin-linked Wagner Group could be supplying weapons to one of the warring parties in the conflict in Sudan. Salem Solomon has the story with Patsy Widakuswara contributing.

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Другий дивізіон системи Patriot заступив на бойове чергування – Повітряні сили ЗСУ

У ЗСУ 23 квітня повідомляли, що на роботу заступив один дивізіон ЗРК Patriot, тепер – другий

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Генштаб повідомляє про смерть 20 військових РФ у Мелітопольському районі через отруєння

Тривають бої в Бахмуті, також Сили оборони відбили атаки в районах Красногорівки й Мар’їнки

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FBI Braces for Flood of DNA Samples From US-Mexico Border

With the looming expiration next month of the pandemic-era Title 42 restriction on immigration into the United States along its southern border, the FBI is bracing for the fallout from an influx of border crossings.

The FBI processes DNA samples collected from migrants detained at the U.S.-Mexico border. FBI Director Christopher Wray told lawmakers Thursday he expects a “dramatic increase” in samples because of more border crossings.

In the first three months of fiscal 2023, the FBI handled more than 130,000 such samples, Wray said, adding that the number is expected to jump by about 30,000 a month once Title 42 is lifted.

“That gives you a sense of the pretty blistering pace that our folks are having to engage in to test all the samples,” Wray said during testimony before a House appropriations panel. “Time is of the essence because in many cases these are leading to and solving sexual assaults, homicides and other serious crimes.”

Since the start of the COVID-9 pandemic in early 2020, Title 42 has allowed U.S. immigration officials to expel nearly all migrants and asylum-seekers apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The controversial measure is set to expire May 11, raising concerns about a new wave of asylum-seekers arriving at the border.

The Biden administration has announced measures to stem the expected surge in border crossings, but Republicans say they’re inadequate.

Under a program launched in 2020, the U.S. Border Patrol has been collecting DNA samples from migrants taken into custody at the border as well as U.S. citizens and permanent residents arrested there on federal criminal charges.

The samples feed into the FBI’s DNA database, which is used by law enforcement to investigate violent crimes such as homicides and sexual assault.

Wray said the DNA samples tested by the FBI have been used in more than 220 criminal investigations, including more than 100 sexual assaults and a dozen homicides.

He said the FBI is working to boost its DNA testing capacity and asked Congress for an additional $53 million to keep pace with the expected surge in sample collections.

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Умань: російські ракети влучили в житловий будинок і склад – Табурець

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Biden Notecard Raises Question of Collusion Between White House, Media

The White House and a newspaper are denying there was collusion this week when a reporter asked U.S. President Joe Biden a question very similar to what was written on a card Biden held while facing journalists in the White House Rose Garden.

“We do not have specific questions in advance. That’s not something that we do,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre responded when asked at Thursday’s briefing about the president’s pocket card, titled “Question # 1,” which contained the name and photograph of Los Angeles Times correspondent Courtney Subramanian, along with a question: “How are YOU squaring YOUR domestic priorities — like reshoring semiconductors manufacturing — with alliance-based foreign policy?”

Close-up images of the notecard were captured by multiple news photographers in the Rose Garden.

Biden, alongside visiting South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol on Wednesday, called first on Subramanian, who asked: “Your top economic priority has been to build up U.S. domestic manufacturing in competition with China, but your rules against expanding chip manufacturing in China is hurting South Korean companies that rely heavily on Beijing. Are you damaging a key ally in the competition with China to help your domestic politics ahead of the election?”

Biden responded with an extensive and nuanced comment on the topic.

‘It seems like there’s collusion’

Jean-Pierre explained the following day that Subramanian was one of two correspondents called on by Biden because California has the largest Korean American community of any U.S. state.

“We are mindful on who we pick and who we want to communicate out to,” added Jean-Pierre.

Her response did not satisfy the briefing room audience. Among those denied an opportunity to ask a follow-up question about the matter was Jon Decker, White House correspondent for Gray Television, whose career spans 16 White House press secretaries and five presidencies.

“I was just simply trying to ask her is it her contention that the question that everyone could read on that so-called cheat sheet was not similar to the question that was asked at the White House press conference? And it was similar,” he told VOA.

“I’ve never seen an instance where the president is being given a question from a reporter that covers the president at a pre-announced White House press conference,” Decker added. “It really reflects poorly on the White House press corps, and it reflects poorly on the White House for allowing that to happen. It seems like there’s collusion, and for the public that has distrust, skepticism and even disdain for the media, it doesn’t put us in a good light.”

The White House continued to rebuff inquiries following Thursday’s briefing.

“Karine addressed this very clearly and in-depth in the briefing room today,” responded principal deputy press secretary Olivia Dalton to VOA, which attempted to pursue the topic of presubmitted questions to the president.

Subramanian has not commented. Her newspaper issued a statement to inquiries from media organizations.

“Our reporter did not submit any questions in advance of the Q&A with President Biden,” said Hillary Manning, vice president of communications for the Los Angeles Times. Subramanian “is in regular contact with the White House press office seeking information for her reporting. You would have to ask the White House who prepared the document for the president and why they included that question.”

April Ryan, Washington bureau chief of The Grio, who refers to herself as the longest-serving black female journalist covering the White House, said while it is not unusual for presidents to have a card listing journalists who could potentially be called on, she had never seen one that contained a picture of the reporter and the “actual question itself.”

Ryan told VOA it is routine prior to news conferences for the president and his principals, who help him with messaging, to discuss potential questions but what occurred Wednesday seemed unprecedented.

Kayleigh McEnany, a press secretary in the previous administration of Donald Trump, on the set of Fox News on Thursday, said “it’s very unordinary to have the question as specific as semiconductors as they pertain to alliances written out and scripted for the president.”

A correspondent, who asked not to be named and covers the White House for a foreign broadcaster, told VOA: “It raises questions of not only President Biden needing a heads up to come up with answers but also transparency of how the White House chooses who gets to ask questions. It is frustrating for reporters who aren’t in their inner circle.”

Reagan, Bush, had a seating chart

The president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, Tamara Keith of National Public Radio, declined to comment on the issue. The association noted it has no involvement on who gets called on by presidents at news conferences.

During the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, the presidents had a seating chart to know where to find a sympathetic questioner, said Charles Bierbauer, who was CNN’s senior White House correspondent from 1983-93.

“The guessing game between the press and the White House has long been to figure out who might ask what of the president at news conferences,” he told VOA.

“I recall presidential aides gleefully telling us when they had anticipated every question. My pattern was to be prepared for the questions I knew I had to ask but always have kind of an offbeat question, too,” recalled Bierbauer, distinguished professor and dean emeritus at the College of Information and Communications at the University of South Carolina.

It is not uncommon for the White House to let a reporter know he or she will be called on during a news conference and to query the reporter about what they might ask, according to former CBS Radio White House correspondent Mark Knoller, who covered eight presidents from Gerald Ford to Trump.

“As a reporter, I always prepared questions on a number of subjects,” Knoller told VOA. “More often than not the White House knows what subjects a reporter is interested in based on questions at briefings and inquiries made previously to the press office. I can’t believe a reporter worth his or her salt would give a detailed question in advance.”