Daily: 03/11/2021

Іран повідомив, що 29 листопада повернеться до переговорів щодо ядерної угоди

Дата початку нового раунду переговорів, після перерви на п’ять місяців, була погоджена телефоном із координатором від Європейського союзу Енріке Морою

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Russia Tightens Pressure on Independent Media

Russia is increasing pressure on independent Russian media by legislating the systematic labeling of many of them as “foreign agents,” a category that in Russia is historically associated with the idea of “enemies of the state.” Jon Spier narrates this report from the VOA Moscow Bureau.

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Влада Узбекистану обмежила доступ до YouTube, Instagram, Telegram та інших мереж

Обмеження роботи не означає повне блокування: соцмережі залишаються доступними, але вантажаться значно довше, ніж звичайно

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ФСБ визнала справжність білінгів телефонів своїх співробітників зі справи Навального – ЗМІ

У грудні 2020 року Володимир Путін заявляв, що дані про співробітників ФСБ, що з’явилися в справі Навального, – це робота американських спецслужб

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Арахамія «особисто просив» звільнених міністрів не звітувати в Раді, щоб заощадити час

«Я особисто просив, тому що не встигаю провести всі законопроєкти»

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Росія суттєво уповільнила пропуск вантажівок з України – прикордонники

За даними прикордонників, скупчення відбувається через повільне оформленням вантажних транспортних засобів в російських пунктах пропуску «Нєхотєєвка» та «Троєбортноє»

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Diplomatic Dispute Between Algeria and Morocco Prompts Energy Crisis in Spain

Spain faces a fresh energy crisis after Algeria shut off supplies of natural gas through one of the two pipelines linking Spain with the North African state.

Like many other European countries, Spain has been hit hard by soaring electricity prices in recent months.

A surge in demand as the world’s economies began to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic has not been matched by supply, sending prices climbing.

Households have been hit by electricity prices which rose more than 40% in the past year, prompting the Spanish government to bring in emergency measures to reduce bills.

Now the fresh crisis over natural gas supplies from their North African neighbors has added to tensions in the energy market for Spain.

Algeria closed a land pipeline Sunday after a diplomatic dispute with its neighbor Morocco, through which the pipeline passes.

Algiers agreed to keep open a second pipeline which passes under the Mediterranean to Spain, but this does not supply as much natural gas as the land pipeline through Morocco.

Without any natural energy source except the burgeoning renewables market, Spain depends on Algeria for its natural gas supply.

Spain’s geographic isolation in western Europe and lack of any domestic source of energy has left it especially vulnerable.

The Spanish media have reported that the country could face possible blackouts because of energy shortages.

El Pais, a Spanish-language daily newspaper, reported Tuesday that Spain would have to deliver liquified natural gas, or LNG, supplies by ship which could prove costly as other countries are competing for the same supplies because of a world shortage of the energy source.

Spain’s government sought to cool fears over a possible energy shortage. 

During an interview Tuesday on state broadcaster TVE, Spain’s environment minister, Teresa Ribera, said the country has accumulated natural gas reserves equivalent to 43 days of consumption.

She added that Algeria agreed to supply more gas to Spain if the latter needed it.

Enagas, a Spanish company which owns and operates the country’s energy grid and is one of the biggest LNG transporters in western Europe, said in a statement, “There are no objective signs of a situation of lack of gas supplies in the coming months.”

Algeria said it was planning to stop shipments through the Gaz-Maghreb-Europe pipeline which traverses Morocco and carries about 10 billion cubic meters (bcm) per year.

Algiers took this step after cutting diplomatic ties with Morocco in August and accusing its leadership of taking “hostile actions.” Algeria further accused Morocco of aiding the Movement for the Autonomy of Kabylie, a regional nationalist movement in Algeria, of starting a series of fires which ravaged the country, an accusation which Morocco denied.

Algeria’s decision to shut off a pipeline comes as natural gas prices have soared in recent months across Europe because of a shortage of supplies from Russia, pushing up electricity bills for consumers.

Spain hopes that it can weather the storm by using deliveries of natural gas from the Medgaz pipeline which passes under the Mediterranean directly from Algeria to Spain.

This line carries about eight billion cubic meters per year of gas but planned works could see its capacity rise to 10.5 billion cubic meters per year by January.

Algeria also proposes increasing LNG deliveries by sea.

Analysts said that events in North Africa did not help a difficult situation in the world energy market as supplies to Europe were restricted by Russia, the continent’s most important supplier of natural gas.

“The most important factor is Russia because it is restricting supply. Demand is going up because economies are recuperating but supply is not rising because the primary supplier for Europe is Russia,” Massimo Maoret, associate professor of strategic management at IESE business school in Madrid, told VOA.

“On top of that you have the situation in Algeria which is creating more uncertainty. Algeria has promised that supply will be ensured. It is an additional strain on dynamics which are building on global tensions.”

Political pressure has mounted on the Spanish government after electricity prices for consumers rose 44% over the past year, according to data from the National Institute for Statistics.

Professor Maoret said a harsh winter may exacerbate problems if demand increases.

Jorge Sanz, an analyst at Nera Economic Consulting, said supply was not in doubt so government reassurances were well founded. He did say prices may rise and could possibly affect consumers.

“The Medgaz pipeline will be expanded by New Year to ensure it carries 10.5 bcm (billion cubic meters), the same as the line which passes through Morocco. It is a temporary shortfall which can be covered by reserves,” he told VOA.

“However, what is in doubt is the price of natural gas which could go up — or it could go down — and this could be passed onto the electricity prices for consumers.”

Some information for this report comes from Reuters. 

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Lawyer: Russia Accuses Ex-reporter of Being Paid $248 for Treason

Russian special services have charged former journalist Ivan Safronov with selling information on Russian military operations in Syria for $248 to a political analyst who they say then passed it to German intelligence, Safronov’s lawyer said.

In a rare glimpse into the classified investigation against Safronov, lawyer Ivan Pavlov said the Syria-related charge had been added to the case against him for state treason, which his supporters say is part of a campaign to intimidate journalists.

Pavlov said the charge states that Safronov sold the information in 2015 to political analyst Demuri Voronin, who in turn passed it to Germany’s BND foreign intelligence agency and to a Swiss university.

“According to the charges, Voronin paid him compensation of $248,” the lawyer wrote on social media, saying reporters in Russia could be accused of treason just for doing their job.

Safronov, a former defense reporter who later worked as an aide to the head of Russia’s space agency, was arrested last year and faces up to 20 years in prison if found guilty. He denies wrongdoing.

Russian media reported on Monday that the investigation had been completed. The FSB intelligence service did not reply to a Reuters request for comment, while the BND declined to comment.

The main accusation against Safronov is that he passed military secrets to the Czech Republic in 2017 concerning Russian arms deliveries to the Middle East and Africa.

Nearly 100,000 people have signed an online petition accusing the authorities of cooking up fake proof of Safronov’s guilt under the cover of state secrecy which surrounds the case, something the Kremlin has denied.

Pavlov, one of a team of lawyers defending Safronov, fledRussia and moved to Georgia in September after coming under criminal investigation for disclosing classified information about the case.

Political analyst Voronin, who holds Russian and German citizenship, was arrested in Moscow in February on treason charges. His lawyer Maria Orlova denied these were linked to Safronov’s case, telling Reuters that Voronin did not admit guilt and refused to testify against himself.

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СБУ: контррозвідка викрила на Донбасі «агентурну мережу ФСБ РФ»

За даними СБУ, одного з підозрюваних членів мережі затримали, повідомили про підозру та взяли під варту

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У ДТЕК звинуватили «Укренерго» в «політичному тиску»

У ДТЕК вимагають спростувати «звинувачення на адресу компанії щодо причин зриву балансування енергосистеми і запиту аварійної допомоги з Білорусі»

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Biden Slams China, Russia on Climate Commitments

U.S. President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced ambitious climate commitments at  the United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, in Glasgow, Scotland. He also slammed Chinese and Russian leaders for not doing their part. VOA’s White House Bureau Chief Patsy Widakuswara brings this report from Glasgow.

Produced by: Kimberlyn Weeks           

Anita Powell contributed to this report.

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Soviet-Era Memories Shape European Lawmakers’ View of China and Taiwan 

“My granduncle — cousin of my grandfather — was a Catholic priest who was put in the labor camp when the communist regime barbarically tried to destroy all the monasteries,” said Miriam Lexmann, one of dozens of legislators from around the world who gathered in Rome last weekend on the sidelines of the G-20 summit. 

Their message for the leaders of the world’s richest countries: Take a tougher stance toward the Chinese government, and stand up for those who are threatened by Beijing’s policies, from Xinjiang to Taiwan. 

The so-called “counter-meeting” was organized by the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), comprising some 200 parliamentarians from countries as diverse as Italy, the Czech Republic, Canada, Belgium, Sweden, Uganda, Japan, India, Australia, Britain, Ireland, France and Switzerland. 

For many of the European members who participated, the sense of urgency in standing up to China stems from bitter memories of communist repression within the now defunct Soviet Union.

Lexmann, a member of the European Parliament representing Slovakia, said that during the Soviet period, many of those considered dangerous to the regime in her country were taken away to labor camps. 

“Many died in those camps due to the horrible conditions there,” she told VOA in a phone interview from Rome. “My granduncle died in 1952,” two years after he was taken away. 

The granduncle’s brother was also a Catholic priest, and he was imprisoned for nine years for having taken part in a movement to let foreigners and countrymen alike know what was going on inside the Slovak region of what was then Czechoslovakia.

“These two granduncles had died long before I was born,” said Lexmann, who was born in 1971. But another member of the family, whom she did know as a child, was active in the underground church in Czechoslovakia. 

“He organized in 1988 the Candle Demonstration. People holding candles went to one of the main squares in Bratislava demanding that Czechoslovakia act in accordance with the international human rights treaty the country’s government had signed,” she said. 

Such memories, Lexmann said, gave her an understanding of what totalitarian regimes are about, as well as what people did to fight against them. “All this has helped me see why it’s important to defend freedom of man,” she said.

Memories of Soviet rule also helped motivate Dovile Sakaliene to fly to Rome from her home in Lithuania to take part in the IPAC gathering.

“Lithuania has suffered badly under the Soviet communist regime,” she said. “Unfortunately, what the Chinese government is doing, on many levels, is worse.”

Yes, neighbors were asked to spy on each other in the Soviet Union, she said. “But nobody came to your house, sat on your sofa and stayed in your house 24-7 to watch how you feel after one of your family members was taken to the camp.” 

That, said the Lithuanian lawmaker, is what happens in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region when members of the Uyghur Muslim population are incarcerated. 

“We must raise the question: Is this really going to stay within the borders of China? Are we all, in 20 or 30 years’ time, going to be living in the neighborhood grid-control system, spying on each other, reporting on each other? 

“This is not a rhetorical question,” she continued, pointing out that China now has the technology and manpower “to produce traumatized generation after generation — not just to have their private lives invaded, but their private lives deleted.” 

Sakaliene said Beijing seems set on not only using technology to control the population “but constantly developing (new) technology to monitor human beings even more (closely).”

The Chinese government has repeatedly defended its policies in Xinjiang, maintaining that what the West describes as detention camps are in fact training facilities where Uyghurs are provided with new skills. 

But for Pavel Fischer, Senate Foreign Affairs Committee chair in the Czech Republic, “What we see happening in China is exactly what happened to us during the Soviet times, as my parents would say.” 

Fischer, who spoke to VOA from Prague, also journeyed to Rome to participate in the IPAC bid to raise awareness about what is happening in China and the impact that China’s political system could have on the rest of the world.

“It is our duty to share our experiences” of life under communism, said Fischer, 56, who served for eight years as an aide to Vaclav Havel, the Czech dissident and playwright who became the country’s first democratically elected president.

To Fischer, Lexmann, Sakaliene and the others who gathered in Rome last week, that duty includes showing support for Taiwan.

Joseph Wu, minister of foreign affairs on the self-governing island, also spoke at the IPAC event, which was attended by activists from Hong Kong and Xinjiang. 

This past week, Wu visited Slovakia and the Czech Republic before making a stop in Brussels, headquarters of the European Union, in a diplomatic coup that Beijing denounced as cuan-fang, roughly translated as “tour of an outlaw.”

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Голова ЦРУ перебуває в Москві

Представник посольства США у Москві повідомив, що Бернс на прохання президента Джо Байдена очолив делегацію високопоставлених американських офіційних осіб, яка перебуває в Москві 2 і 3 листопада

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МВС Білорусі визнало «екстремістським формуванням» телеканал «Белсат»

«Екстремістськими» у Білорусі визнано понад 100 телеграм-каналів, їхні автори публікували інформацію про протести 2020 року та критикували дії влади

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CIA Director Makes Rare Trip to Moscow for Talks on Russia-US Ties 

CIA Director William Burns is making a rare visit to Moscow to discuss U.S.-Russia relations, the latest in a series of high-level contacts that show both sides want to keep talking despite mutual distrust and a long list of disputes. 

A U.S. Embassy spokesperson said Burns was leading a delegation of senior U.S. officials to Moscow on Tuesday and Wednesday at President Joe Biden’s request. 

“They are meeting with members of the Russian government to discuss a range of issues in the bilateral relationship,” the spokesperson said. 

Russia’s Security Council said Burns, a Russian-speaker and former ambassador to Moscow, held talks with Nikolai Patrushev, the council’s secretary and a former head of Russia’s FSB intelligence service. 

Neither side gave details of the conversation, but security issues loom large in their troubled relationship. 

Ties have hit a series of post-Cold War lows over issues including Russian-based cyberattacks against U.S. targets, Moscow’s support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the jailing of opposition politician Alexey Navalny and Russia’s behavior toward Ukraine, from which it seized the Crimea Peninsula in 2014. 

Biden sent a top Russia expert, Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, to Moscow for talks last month that failed to yield any progress in a dispute between the two countries over the sizes of their respective embassies. 

Biden met Russian President Vladimir Putin at a summit in Geneva in June, and said at the time it would take six months to a year to find out whether the two countries could establish a meaningful strategic dialog. 

Putin frequently criticizes the United States but said last month he had established a constructive relationship with Biden. The Kremlin has said a further meeting between the two this year is a realistic possibility. 

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Why Israel and Switzerland Stayed Silent on Uyghur Human Rights in China

Human rights activists are expressing surprise at the failure of Israel and Switzerland to participate in a joint statement criticizing China’s treatment of its Uyghur minority. 

France delivered the statement on behalf of 43 countries at the United Nations last month. 

The two countries “have signed previous statements, especially Switzerland, which has always joined collective statements condemning atrocities in East Turkistan,” said Dolkun Isa, president of the Munich-based World Uyghur Congress, who used the Uyghurs’ preferred name for the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China in an interview with VOA. 

Varied responses to China and Uyghurs 

In the joint statement, France’s U.N. Ambassador Nicolas de Rivière said the signatory countries “are particularly concerned about the situation in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region” He added that credible reports “indicate the existence of a large network of ‘political re-education’ camps where over a million people have been arbitrarily detained.”

The statement called on China to allow “immediate, meaningful and unfettered access” to Xinjiang for independent observers, including the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights.

China’s U.N. ambassador, Zhang Jun, rejected the joint criticism as “unfounded” and likened the signatory countries the “henchmen” of the United States.

“Xinjiang enjoys stability, development and prosperity, and the Chinese people’s life is getting better day by day,” Zhang said. “The Chinese people are satisfied with and proud of such achievements, and those achievements are widely recognized and praised by people around the world.”

Switzerland and Israel 

In June at the United Nations in Geneva, Israel and Switzerland joined 42 other countries in signing a joint statement concerning Uyghur human rights in China. 

But Switzerland’s foreign ministry spokesperson Pierre-Alain Eltschinger told VOA in an email that his country decided not to join in the latest statement because of various factors, including an upcoming “strategic dialogue” with China.

“Switzerland’s substantive position on China and human rights remains unchanged,” Eltschinger wrote. “Switzerland continues to be concerned about the human rights situation in Xinjiang and other parts of China.”

Eltschinger added that Switzerland assesses support for any joint statement on a case-by-case basis. “Switzerland will continue to join joint statements in the future when it deems it appropriate,” he said. 

Israel’s foreign ministry and the embassy of Israel in Washington did not respond to questions from VOA about its decision not to sign the October statement.

However, the Jewish Movement for Uyghur Freedom, a grassroots Jewish rights organization, suggested that the Israeli government is bargaining with China in order to “preserve” relations.

“It was on the right side of the Uyghur issue in June when it signed an earlier statement, and we call on [Israel] to reestablish this position,” the group said in an email to VOA.

Isa said it is not unprecedented at the United Nations for a country to shift its position on Uyghur human rights in the face of diplomatic pressure from China.

“During the last statement in June, Ukraine was initially part of the joint statement delivered by 44 U.N. member states. However, it withdrew its signature shortly after, because of the vaccine diplomacy that China exercised against Ukraine,” Isa said. 

Sixty-two countries including Cuba signed onto a joint statement opposing interference in China’s internal affairs in the name of human rights, according to Chinese state media. 

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Щонайменше до 19 людей зросло число жертв вибухів у Кабулі

За даними телеканалу Tolo News, перший вибух стався біля входу до шпиталю, другий – неподалік від будівлі

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ЄСПЛ розпочав розгляд скарги Януковича проти України

Експрезидент наполягає, що кримінальне розслідування проти нього в Україні триває надто довго і «не є ані незалежним, ані неупередженим»

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Russia Ups Pressure on Independent Media

Russia is increasing pressure on independent Russian media by legislating the systematic labeling of many of them as “foreign agents,” a category that in Russia is historically associated with the idea of “enemies of the state.” Jon Spier narrates this report from VOA’s Moscow bureau.

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