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У МЗС назвали «провокацією» обстріл будівлі Генконсульства Польщі в Луцьку

Міністр закордонних справ України Павло Клімкін заявив, що обурений провокацією проти Генерального консульства Польщі в Луцьку Волинської області. Про це він написав на сторінці у Twitter.

«Обурений провокацією проти Генконсульства Польщі в Луцьку. Це підлість від тих, хто проти нашої дружби з Республікою Польща», – написав Клімкін.

За його словами, дипломати роблять все, «щоб винні були покарані».

За даними місцевих ЗМІ, в ніч на 29 березня невідомі обстріляли приміщення Генерального консульства Польщі в Луцьку. Відповідно до повідомлень, через обстріл пошкоджений дах і розбите вікно. На момент вибуху в приміщенні нікого не було, ніхто не постраждав.

Правоохоронці вирішують питання про відкриття кримінального провадження за статтею про «теракт».

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НАБУ просить САП пояснити причини закриття справи щодо одного з посадовців «Укрзалізниці»

Детективи Національного антикорупційного бюро України звернулося за роз’ясненням до керівника Спеціалізованої антикорупційної прокуратури Назара Холодницького щодо причин закриття справи стосовно посадовця «Укрзалізниці». Про це йдеться в повідомленні на сайті НАБУ.

«Детективи НАБУ завершили досудове розслідування стосовно 6 осіб, підозрюваних у завданні збитків ДП «Укрзалізничпостач» (з грудня 2015 року – філія ПАТ «Укрзалізниця») на суму 20 мільйонів гривень та замаху на заволодіння його коштами в розмірі майже 44 мільйони гривень. Водночас 24 березня, безпосередньо напередодні погодження та скерування обвинувального акту до суду, Спеціалізована антикорупційна прокуратура в односторонньому порядку закрила провадження стосовно начальника департаменту матеріально-технічного забезпечення ПАТ «Укрзалізниця». За версією слідства, саме ця особа погоджувала закупівлю продукції за завищеними цінами», – повідомили у НАБУ.

За даними Антикорупційного бюро, своє рішення прокурори САП з детективами НАБУ не обговорювали, а постанову про закриття провадження не передавали.

«Після завершення ознайомлення усіх шістьох підозрюваних та їхніх захисників з матеріалами кримінального провадження прокурори САП без будь-яких пояснень та очевидних причин закрили провадження стосовно посадовця ПАТ «Укрзалізниця». Національне бюро занепокоєне даною ситуацію», – йдеться в повідомленні.

У НАБУ повідомили про сподівання, що очільник САП Назар Холодницький «не дозволить через необґрунтовані рішення своїх підлеглих уникнути відповідальності підозрюваному».

Спеціалізована антикорупційна прокуратура і її голова Назар Холодницький поки цю заяву не коментували.

За даними НАБУ, троє посадовців підприємства «Укрзалізничпостач» та один – «Укрзалізниці»,за попередньою змовою з представниками приватних компаній у квітні-листопаді 2015 року здійснили закупівлі метизної продукції за завищеними цінами. Досудове розслідування детективи НАБУ розпочали в січні 2016 року, інкримінуючи посадовцям злочини за статтею «привласнення, розтрата майна шляхом зловживання службовим становищем в особливо великих розмірах». Підозру було оголошено шістьом особам, ще одна людина перебуває у розшуку.

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Німеччина заарештувала ймовірного командира талібів, причетного до вбивств іноземних солдатів

Німецька прокуратура повідомила про арешт ймовірного колишнього командира афганських талібів, який, як підозрюють, причетний до нападу, через який загинули американські і афганські солдати.

У заяві прокуратури 28 березня йдеться, що 30-річний афганський громадянин, ім’я якого вказують як Абдулла П., був заарештований 23 березня у Баварії за підозрою у членстві в терористичній організації і замаху на вбивство.

У заяві також вказано, що підозрюваний, як передбачається, приєднався до ісламістського руху «Талібан» в 2002 році і перейняв на себе командування від свого батька в 2004 році.

Прокурори стверджують, що він брав участь в «незліченних» місіях проти іноземних і афганських солдатів, включаючи напад на військовий конвой, в результаті якого загинули 16 американських і афганських солдатів. Коли саме відбувся цей напад не вказується.

За даними німецької прокуратури, чоловік покинув свій бойовий підрозділ у 2008 році, коли йому погрожували вбивством. У 2009 році він втік до Пакистану і прибув як мігрант до Німеччини в 2011-му.

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South Korea Ferry Site Bones From Animal, Not Human

South Korea’s Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries confirmed Wednesday that remains found at the site of a 2014 ferry disaster were animal bones and not from one of the victims.

Salvage crews found the bones Tuesday, and authorities initially said they were believed to be human. That raised hopes for some family members of the nine people whose bodies were never recovered after the ferry capsized.

There were a total of 476 people on board, many of them high school students, when the ship went down as it traveled from Incheon to the holiday resort of Jeju Island.  A total of 304 people died in what is one of the country’s worst maritime disasters.

Crews raised the ship’s wreckage last week, and the bones were found at that site.

The disaster quickly highlighted the government’s inadequate emergency protocol, but it also exposed deep-seated issues of corruption and failed regulations, sparking public outrage that in part fueled the recent ouster of President Park Geun-hye.

The ferry’s captain Lee Joon-seok, who abandoned ship, was convicted of gross negligence and sentenced to life in prison, while 14 other crew members were sentenced to up to 12 years in prison for abandonment and violating maritime law.

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Army Assesses Damage After Cyclone ‘Absolutely Smashes’ North Australia

Australia’s army and emergency workers headed to areas of tropical Queensland state hardest hit by Cyclone Debbie on Wednesday, finding roads blocked by fallen trees, sugarcane fields flattened and widespread damage in coastal towns.

No deaths were reported after Debbie tore a trail of destruction through Australia’s northeast on Tuesday as a category four storm, one rung below the most dangerous wind speed level, before being gradually downgraded to a tropical low.

Thousands of people took shelter as tourist resorts along the world-famous Great Barrier Reef and coastal areas were belted with wind gusts stronger than 260 km per hour (160 mph). They woke to streets filled with debris.

“It’s been absolutely smashed. You can’t get out or in there’s so many trees down,” Jon Clements, who was holidaying on Hamilton Island in the Whitsundays when the storm hit, told Reuters. “There are hardly any leaves left on any trees.”

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the worst-hit area was the Whitsunday coast and islands, some 900 km (560 miles) northwest of the state capital, Brisbane. Water was cut to Daydream Island, where there were 200 guests and 100 staff, she said.

At Mackay, not far from the Whitsunday coast, fences and sheds were blown away, rivers were swollen and high tides and heavy swells still pounded the shore on Wednesday, Nine Network television footage showed.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told reporters at the Crisis Coordination Centre in Canberra: “Nature has flung her worst at the people of Queensland. There will be … a lot of damage done now to recover, to clean up, to restore power, to make power lines safe.”

More than 63,000 people were without electricity.

Queensland State Emergency Services Assistant Commissioner Peter Jeffrey said there had been “a limited amount of severe damage”. Campbell Fuller, a spokesman for the Insurance Council of Australia, said it was too early to put a dollar figure on the damage.

A defense force fly-over was scheduled for 9 a.m. local time (2300 GMT Tuesday) to assess the damage, Palaszczuk told reporters in Brisbane.

Hundreds of hectares of sugarcane crops had been flattened, Dan Galligan, chief executive of industry body Canegrowers, said in a statement.

Townsville Airport reopened, although airlines Qantas and Virgin said flights to Hamilton Island, Proserpine and Mackay were canceled. Ports at Abbot Point, Hay Point and Mackay were closed.

BHP Billiton said in a statement work remained halted at its coal mines in the storm’s path, as did Stanmore Coal Limited.

Heavy rain fell over a wide swath of Queensland on Wednesday as the system moved inland, with flood and poor weather warnings in place statewide.

Only two injuries were reported, police said.

One family near Airlie Beach, over which the eye of the storm passed, had a particularly dramatic night. Palaszczuk said the family welcomed a baby girl who was born inside the Whitsunday Ambulance Station as the storm raged outside.

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У коаліції під проводом США визнали «можливу» роль в авіаударах, через які загинули цивільні у Мосулі

Командувач коаліційних сил під проводом США в Іраці й Сирії генерал-лейтенант Армії США Стівен Таунсенд заявив, що очолювана США коаліція «ймовірно» зіграла роль у повітряних ударах, в результаті яких загинули цивільні в іракському місті Мосул.

28 березня на брифінгу в Пентагоні Таунсенд зазначив, що його «первісна оцінка полягає в тому, що ми (коаліція на чолі зі США – ред.), ймовірно, зіграли роль в цих жертвах».

Водночас він відкинув звинувачення правозахисників із Amnesty International, що очолювана США коаліція послабила гарантії із захисту цивільних у своїй боротьбі з бойовиками-ісламістами.

Напередодні Міжнародна правозахисна організація Amnesty International закликала очолювану США коаліцію запобігти втратам серед цивільного населення в зоні бойових дій. Заява з’явилася після того, як офіційні особи США повідомили про авіаудари в Мосулі, в результаті яких загинули близько 150 осіб, але не підтвердили, що були жертви серед цивільного населення.

28 березня ООН заявила, що понад 300 мирних жителів були вбиті в Мосулі від початку минулого місяця нового наступу на бойовиків-ісламістів.

Верховний комісар ООН із прав людини Зейд Раад аль-Хусейн 28 березня заявив, що «важливо, щоб іракські сили безпеки і їхні партнери по коаліції» уникали «пастки», коли атаки на бойовиків здійснюються в районах, де вони використовують цивільне населення як живий щит.

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Trump’s North Korea Policy: Is It Different from Obama’s?

Now that the Trump administration has vowed its North Korea policy will differ from its predecessor’s, the question is how it will chart a new course, U.S. experts say.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declared a departure from former President Barack Obama’s containment policy of “strategic patience,” which many viewed as a failure because it did not curtail North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs.

“The policy of strategic patience has ended,” Tillerson told reporters in South Korea this month while on his first official East Asia tour. “We are exploring a new range of diplomatic, security and economic measures.”

Although Trump’s White House is reviewing policy options for the unruly regime, Tillerson laid out the precepts for how the U.S. would cope with the North — no negotiations unless North Korean leader Kim Jong Un commits to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and a willingness to take pre-emptive military action if necessary.

Different, but the same

Thomas Countryman, who served as assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation in the Obama administration, believes the secretary’s tough rhetoric notwithstanding, Trump’s North Korea policy is not very different from that of his predecessor.

“The Trump administration is very much on the same path as the Obama administration, putting greater emphasis on sanctions, putting greater emphasis on the need to provide defensive and deterrence capabilities to protect Japan and South Korea,” he said.

“Tillerson said military options are under consideration, and that is not substantially different from what President Obama always said, that ‘all options are on the table,’ ” Countryman added.

But Trump appears to be shunning “effective engagement with China, which remains the key,” the former diplomat said.

The Trump administration has called out Beijing several times for failing to provide sufficient support in containing Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions. While Tillerson was in Asia, the president tweeted, “North Korea is behaving very badly. They have been ‘playing’ the United States for years. China has done little to help!”

Trump is expected to host Chinese President Xi Jinping for a two-day summit next month, and North Korea is likely to top the agenda.

Strategic patience by another name

Ken Gause, director of the International Affairs Group at the Center for Naval Analyses, maintains that strategies outlined by the Trump team are no different from Obama’s failed approach, and he expects Trump’s policy for North Korea has the same chance of success.

“You are basically going to get North Korea, [which] will continue to do what it does, or to continue to lump more sanctions and pressure on North Korea [and] try to pressure China in solving the problem before us as the Obama administration did,” Gause said. “It won’t solve the problem.”

Still, other experts believe Trump will stake out different strategies to denuclearize North Korea, and they expect Trump to adopt a harder-line policy that centers on tightening the financial noose around the isolated state’s nuclear and missile programs.

A former CIA deputy division chief for Korea, Bruce Klingner, said that although it is premature to draw conclusions, with the Trump administration’s policy for the North still being defined, “there may be differences in how strongly sanctions are implemented.”

“Obama talked a good game on sanctions, calling North Korea the most heavily sanctioned and the most cut-off nation on Earth, and he was flat-out wrong,” said Klingner, who is now at the Heritage Foundation’s Asian Studies Center. “The U.S., the U.N. and the EU did far more to Iran than to North Korea, and it was only last year that the U.S., under the Obama administration, cumulatively sanctioned as many North Korean entities as those of Zimbabwe.”

Targeting Chinese banks, businesses

When it comes to sanctioning Chinese individuals and businesses that facilitated North Korea’s nuclear development, Klingner said the Obama administration was “pulling its punches.” He noted Trump can vigorously use U.S. laws to wean Chinese banks and businesses away from engaging the Kim regime.

“It only finally sanctioned a handful of Chinese entities for violating U.S. law last year, but only because it was required to do so under the new congressional law,” said the former intelligence official, in reference to the North Korea Sanctions Policy and Enhancement Act, which Obama signed in February 2016.

Sung-Yoon Lee, a North Korea expert at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, said the Trump administration appears to have “a growing awareness that the old ways of doing things will not only not work, but invite a bigger calamity.”

“The era of half-measures, procrastination, on-and-off half-party diplomacy, half-party sanctions is now over, and we have entered a period of consequences,” the professor said. “There’s a consensus in Washington … there’s a lot more that the U.S. could and should do to financially squeeze North Korea — to toughen up on sanctions against North Korea and also to go after North Korea’s third-country partners.”

Pyongyang’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper has denounced Trump’s North Korea policy, saying that “no big differences are found between Obama’s ruptured ‘strategic patience’ policy and the incumbent U.S. administration’s [North Korea] policy.”

Baik Sungwon contributed to this story, which was first reported by VOA’s Korean service.

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Indonesian Tax Amnesty Makes Final Push for Overseas Assets

Indonesia has the world’s fourth-largest population at almost 260 million, but only 10 percent are registered as taxpayers and only about one million actually submit a tax return. That’s a major reason for the country’s huge and growing deficit, which has stalled the present administration’s ambitious infrastructure plans.

To jump-start the recovery of assets that wealthy Indonesians sequester abroad, the country launched a tax amnesty program in the summer of 2016. It was an experiment that drew criticism from the likes of OECD, the IMF, and domestic labor unions. Still, as it enters the final days of its nine months, the program has exceeded monetary expectations, netting about $330 billion of tax revenue.

The big question, once it wraps up on March 31, is what to do with that money. Finance Minister Sri Mulyani has created a task force to address the repatriated assets, but they can only really start their work after the final numbers are released. The government must also respond to criticism that the amnesty program lets off tax evaders too easily, to the detriment of the working class.

Closing the deficit

“The revenue from this will significantly contribute to reducing the national deficit,” said Asmiati Malik, an economics researcher at the University of Birmingham. “It could do so by as much as 70 percent: from $23 billion to $8.2 billion.”

In recent weeks, regional tax offices have put on daily public campaigns to encourage participation in the amnesty program. Hestu Yoga Saksama of the Taxation Directorate General told the Jakarta Post as many as 4,000 people signed up for it every day in March that as many as 4,000 people signed up for it every day in March, suggesting it arose from a general tendency to procrastinate on personal finances.

“In our culture, people tend to wait until the very last moment,” said Yoga.

Over three million Indonesians have become new tax payers in the last year, according to the Directorate General of Taxation. This includes high profile business people like those of the Indonesian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, a business lobby, who signed up en masse earlier this year.

Since the 1990s, when there were ethnic riots and political unrest before and after the fall of long-time dictator Suharto, rich Indonesians have relocated money to tax havens like Singapore, according to Bloomberg.

“Two huge benefits of the amnesty program for taxpayers now are the low interest rate and the abolition of tax debt,” said Yustinus Prastowo of the Center for Indonesia Taxation Analysis.

If they repatriate assets, individuals will be charged between two and ten percent interest, rather than typical corporate or personal income tax rates, which can reach 30 percent. And they must commit to keeping those assets within Indonesia for at least three years.

Expanding the tax base

Indonesia has already generated more revenue from its tax amnesty experiment than analogous efforts in countries like India and Germany, but according to some experts, there remains room for expansion.

“The major issue is that the number of taxpayers who joined the amnesty program is still low, proportionally,” said Malik. “There are roughly 700,000 people who joined the program out of a total 32 million taxpayers… which is only 2.2 percent of those eligible.”

Malik called for a more progressive tax policy to increase participation in both the amnesty program and taxation in general. “It should be more progressive regarding extensification [widening the tax base], and increase the incentive for tax compliance and avoidance,” she said. “These solutions hinge on using ‘one-gate identification’ that integrates a person’s bank account, national ID, and tax ID, so that no one can avoid declaring their assets.”

That being said, the first round of the amnesty program is well-timed; by September of this year, Indonesia will join the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Automatic Exchange of Information initiative to share its tax figures internationally. That means it will be able to access the details of Indonesian citizens’ offshore assets in countries like Singapore and the Cayman Islands.

Rising inequality

The OECD, however, was an early critic of Indonesia’s project of tax amnesty. Programs like this are “unlikely to deliver benefits that exceed their true costs, but carry a risk of leading to an erosion of the gross revenue collected and may negatively affect overall tax compliance,” Philip Kerfs, of OECD’s Centre for Tax Policy and Administration, told Bloomberg in August 2016.

Opponents of the program argue that tax evaders are essentially rewarded for flouting the law.

Last fall, there were large worker protests in Jakarta against tax amnesty, and most of the country’s labor unions have vocally opposed the policy.

The International Monetary Fund also expressed doubts about the program. “We were a little skeptical with the implementation of tax amnesty anywhere, but we hope we are wrong in Indonesia,” said IMF’s Luis Bereu.

On Monday, the Directorate General of Taxation announced it was devoting “special attention” to pursuing several members of a Forbes list of the richest Indonesians who have not yet registered for tax amnesty.

 

 

Prastowo suggested another reason why the funds may eventually fall short of their potential — the hardline rallies that gripped Jakarta last November and December, against the city’s Chinese Christian governor. The political disturbance, he said, may have deterred investors from bringing their money back home. It’s a remarkable parallel to the unrest that sent many wealthy Indonesians packing in the first place.