Daily: 16/04/2022

Абрамович, ймовірно, був у Києві задля відновлення переговорів – ЗМІ

Він, як пояснювали в ОП, виступає «посередником» між делегаціями Росії та України

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Russia Says All Urban Areas of Mariupol Cleared of Ukrainian Forces

The Russian defense ministry on Saturday announced it had cleared the entire urban area of Mariupol of Ukrainian forces and said only a few fighters remained in the Azovstal steelworks, the scene of repeated clashes.

In an online post, the ministry said that as of April 16, Ukrainian forces in the besieged port city had lost more than 4,000 people, RIA, the state-owned news agency added.

Russian forces have been trying for several weeks to take the port, which is on the Sea of Azov, a body of water to the northeast of the Black Sea.

“The entire urban area of Mariupol has been completely cleared … remnants of the Ukrainian group are currently completely blockaded on the territory of the Azovstal metallurgical plant,” the ministry said.

“Their only chance to save their lives is to voluntarily lay down their arms and surrender.”

There was no immediate reaction from Kyiv to the statement by the Russian ministry, which also said 1,464 Ukrainian servicemen had surrendered so far.

Moscow said the total number of what it called “irretrievable losses” suffered by Ukraine totaled 23,367 people but did not provide any evidence and did not say whether this included only those who had died or who had also been injured.

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Депутат від «Слуги народу» Ковальов розповів, як та чому повернувся на окуповану Херсонщину

У коментарі Радіо Свобода депутат розповів про досвід спілкування з російськими військовослужбовцями

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How Audiences in Authoritarian Countries Can Bypass Censorship

Russia is clamping down on news and the internet. Overseas media organizations and activists are finding new ways in.

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Russia Hits Kyiv, Lviv; Presses Offensive in Ruins of Mariupol

Russia’s warplanes bombed Lviv and its missiles struck Kyiv on Saturday, as Moscow followed through on a threat to launch more long-range attacks on Ukrainian cities after its Black Sea Fleet’s flagship was sunk.

In besieged Mariupol, scene of the war’s heaviest fighting and worst humanitarian catastrophe, Russian troops pressed recent advances, hoping to make up for their failure to capture Kyiv by finally seizing their first big prize of the war.

Moscow said its planes had struck a tank repair factory in the capital, where an explosion was heard and smoke was seen in the southeastern Darnytskyi district. Its mayor said rescuers and medics were working there but gave no further details.

Ukraine’s military said Russian warplanes that took off from Belarus had also fired missiles at the Lviv region near the Polish border, where four cruise missiles were shot down by Ukrainian air defenses.

Across Ukraine to the southeast in Mariupol, Reuters journalists in Russian-held parts of the port city reached the Ilyich steel works, which Moscow claimed to have captured on Friday, one of two giant metals plants where defenders have held out in underground tunnels and bunkers.

The factory was reduced to a silent ruin of twisted steel and blasted concrete, with no sign of defenders present.  

Outside, at least half a dozen civilian bodies were scattered on nearby streets, including a woman in a pink parka and white shoes.

Someone had spraypainted “mined” on a fence by an obliterated filling station forecourt. In a rare sign of life, one red car drove slowly down an otherwise empty street, the word “children” scrawled on a card taped to the windshield.

In Mykolaiv, another a city close to the southern front, Russia said it had struck a military vehicle repair factory.

The bomb and missile attacks followed Russia’s announcement Friday that it would intensify long-range strikes in retaliation for unspecified acts of “sabotage” and “terrorism,” hours after it confirmed the sinking of its Black Sea flagship, the Moskva.

Kyiv and Washington say the ship was hit by Ukrainian missiles, a striking display of Ukraine’s military success against a far better-armed foe. Moscow says it sank after a fire.

A month and a half into President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, Russia is trying to capture territory in the south and east after withdrawing from the north following a massive assault on Kyiv that was repelled at the capital’s outskirts.

Russian troops that pulled out of the north left behind towns littered with bodies of civilians, evidence of what U.S. President Joe Biden this week called genocide – an attempt to erase Ukrainian national identity.

Russia denies targeting civilians and says the aim of what it calls its “special military operation” is to disarm its neighbor, defeat nationalists and protect separatists in the southeast.

Ukraine said its troops are still holding out in the ruins of Mariupol, where the defense is concentrated around Azovstal, another huge steel works that has yet to yield.

“The situation in Mariupol is difficult … Fighting is happening right now. The Russian army is constantly calling on additional units to storm the city,” defense ministry spokesperson Oleksandr Motuzyanyk told a televised briefing.

‘Evacuate, while still possible’

If Mariupol falls, it would be Russia’s biggest prize of the war so far. It is the main port of the Donbas, a region of two provinces in the southeast, which Moscow demands be fully ceded to Russian-backed separatists it has backed since 2014.

Ukraine says it has so far held off Russian advances elsewhere in the Donbas. One person was killed and three wounded in shelling in Luhansk, one of the Donbas provinces, Governor Serhiy Haidai said in an online post.

A gas pipeline was damaged in the frontline towns of Lysychansk and Severodonetsk, which were without gas and water, Haidai said in a post on the Telegram messaging app.

“Evacuate, while it is still possible,” Haidai said. Buses were ready for those wanting to leave.  

Ukraine gained the upper hand in the early phase of a war many Western military experts had predicted it would quickly lose. It has successfully deployed mobile units armed with anti-tank missiles supplied by the West against huge Russian armored convoys confined to roads by muddy terrain.

But Putin appears determined to capture more Donbas territory to claim victory in a war that has left Russia subject to increasingly punitive Western sanctions and with few allies.  

All independent media has been shut at home, opposition figures have been jailed or driven abroad and dissent effectively stamped out.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said about 2,500 to 3,000 Ukrainian troops have been killed so far, compared to up to 20,000 Russian troops. Moscow has given no updates on its military casualties since March 25, when it said 1,351 had died.

Western estimates of Russian losses are many times higher, while there are few independent estimates of Ukraine’s losses.

Ukraine says civilian deaths are impossible to count, estimating tens of thousands have been killed in Mariupol alone.  

Around a quarter of Ukrainians have been driven from their homes, including a tenth of the population that has fled abroad.  

“The successes of our military on the battlefield are really significant, historically significant. But they are still not enough to clean our land of the occupiers. We will beat them some more,” Zelenskyy said in a late-night video address.

Zelenskyy has appealed to Biden for the United States to designate Russia a state sponsor of terrorism, joining North Korea, Cuba, Iran and Syria, The Washington Post reported.

A White House spokesperson responded: “We will continue to consider all options to increase the pressure on Putin.”

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Поставка Німеччиною важкої зброї Україні не означатиме участі у війні – міністр юстиції

 

Міністр юстиції Німеччини каже, що поставка танків та іншого важкого озброєння в Україну – за міжнародним правом – не означатиме вступу його країни у війну проти Росії.

Міністр юстиції Марко Бушманн заявив в інтерв’ю газеті Welt am Sonntag, опублікованому 16 квітня, що міжнародне право не маркує доставку зброї як вступ у війну.

Тому, якщо Україна «реалізує своє законне право на самооборону, підтримка її постачанням зброї не може призвести до того, що (ми) стаємо учасником війни», – сказав Бушманн.

Водночас міністр фінансів Крістіан Лінднер оголосив, що Німеччина збільшить фонд військової підтримки зарубіжних країн до 2 мільярдів євро. За його словами, «ці кошти значною мірою підуть на користь Україні».

Багато німецьких політиків і громадян обговорювали, наскільки серйозно країна має бути залучена до військової допомоги Києву.

Західні країни на чолі зі Сполученими Штатами посилюють поставки зброї українським військам.

Натомість Німеччина надала Україні гуманітарну допомогу на сотні мільйонів доларів. Канцлер країни Олаф Шольц поки не зробив остаточної публічної заяви щодо можливості відправки в Україну важкого озброєння, такого як танки, гелікоптери та літаки, навіть попри заклики до такої допомоги.

Влада Німеччини після початку російського вторгнення змінила на жорсткішу свою політику щодо Москви, зокрема, стала постачати Україні зброю. Але кілька країн ЄС, як і раніше, критикують Німеччину за недостатню, на їхню думку, жорсткість щодо Росії.

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Частина військової техніки РФ, що базується в окупованому селі на Харківщині, виїхала колоною у напрямку Ізюма – «Схеми»

Свіжі супутникові знімки зафіксували військову техніку РФ, що базується в тимчасово окупованому селі Липчанівка у Харківській області

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Moscow Bars Entry to Russia for Britain’s Johnson, Truss, Wallace

Russia’s foreign ministry said Saturday it had barred entry to the country for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace and 10 other British government members and politicians.

The move was taken “in view of the unprecedented hostile action by the British Government, in particular the imposition of sanctions against senior Russian officials,” the ministry said in a statement, adding that it would expand the list soon.

The Kremlin has described Johnson, who has been one of Ukraine’s staunchest backers, as “the most active participant in the race to be anti-Russian.”

A week ago, Johnson visited Kyiv where he and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy praised each other for their cooperation since the Russian invasion, which Moscow calls a “special operation.”

“The UK and our international partners stand united in condemning the Russian government’s reprehensible actions in Ukraine and calling for the Kremlin to stop the war,” a British government spokesperson said in response to Moscow’s decision to bar Johnson and other British politicians.

“We remain resolute in our support for Ukraine,” the spokesperson added.

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Сербія: в Белграді відбулася проросійська демонстрація

Організатори протесту вимагали від уряду «негайно припинити всі провадження проти Росії в міжнародних організаціях»

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Росія заборонила вʼїзд премʼєр-міністру Великої Британії Борису Джонсону

Велика Британія є однією з найактивніших держав Заходу в питанні підтримки України на тлі агресії Росії

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В Україні деокуповано 918 населених пунктів – президент

Водночас Зеленський наголосив, що на півдні і сході України ситуація «ще дуже складна, далека від того, щоб говорити про відновлення»

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Twitter Opts for ‘Poison Pill’ to Repel Elon Musk Takeover 

Twitter’s board of directors on Friday voted unanimously to use a tactic called a “poison pill” to fend off Elon Musk’s attempt to take over the company.

In such a defensive tactic, all Twitter shareholders except Musk could buy more shares at a discount. This would dilute the world’s richest person’s stake in the company and prevent him from recruiting a majority of shareholders supporting his move.

If Musk’s ownership in Twitter grows to 15% or more, the poison pill would go into effect.

Musk, who earlier this week was revealed as the company’s largest individual shareholder, with 9.2% of the shares, later offered more than $43 billion, or $54.20 a share, to purchase the entire company.

Musk’s offer would provide a substantial premium over Twitter’s current stock price of just more than $45 a share.

Free-speech concern expressed

When Musk made his offer, he lamented the company’s stance on free speech.

“I believe free speech is a societal imperative for a functioning democracy,” Musk said in the filing. “I now realize the company will neither thrive nor serve this societal imperative in its current form.”

But instead of putting Musk’s offer up for a vote with Twitter shareholders, the company’s board said Friday that it would instead offer its shareholders a chance to buy even more shares at a steep discount, effectively diluting the price of the stock.

The plan “will reduce the likelihood that any entity … gains control of Twitter through open market accumulation without paying all shareholders an appropriate control premium,” the company said.

The Twitter board’s plan will be effective for one year.

As rumors of a poison pill action circulated Thursday, Musk speculated via Twitter on what might happen.

“If the current Twitter board takes actions contrary to shareholder interests, they would be breaching their fiduciary duty,” he wrote. “The liability they would thereby assume would be titanic in scale.”

 

One analyst, Dan Ives of Wedbush Securities, told the New York Post that the board’s move was a “defensive measure,” adding that shareholders would not likely view it positively.

“We believe Musk and his team expected this poker move, which will be perceived as a sign of weakness, not strength, by the Street,” Ives told the Post.

Josh White, a former financial economist for the Securities and Exchange Commission, told BBC that Musk’s negotiation tactics might not be the “right approach” if Musk wants to acquire the company.

“I actually think if he was truly serious about the takeover attempt, he would have started at a price and left the window open for negotiation,” White said.

Twitter ‘storm’?

Edward Rock, who teaches corporate law and governance at New York University’s law school, also had doubts about whether Musk was serious about buying Twitter.

As Rock told NPR, Musk can show he is serious by revealing how he plans to finance the takeover, which he did not show in his SEC filing, or launch a proxy contest to replace Twitter board members in response to its poison pill.

If Musk fails to do so, Rock said, “he’s not going to acquire the company, and people can just write it off like some of his other Twitter storms.”

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press.

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Defeating Censorship About War in Ukraine a Focus of TED Conference

The free flow of information about Russia’s war on Ukraine was a focus of this year’s TED – Technology, Environment and Design – conference in Vancouver, Canada. It was the first such gathering of esteemed speakers since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and architect Alison Killing was among the eclectic group of speakers opening the conference. She won the journalism award for using satellite imagery and open-source information to help uncover detention and forced labor camps in China’s Xinjiang region.

Killing spoke days after reports emerged of satellite imagery showing possible war crimes being committed by Russia in Ukraine. She told VOA one of the best ways to keep information flowing into Ukraine and Russia is for private citizens in both countries to use virtual private networks, or VPNs, on the internet.

“I think that open-source data and investigations have a really important role to play in helping to provide good information and in providing that information in a way that anyone can go and check it,” she said.

But Killing added that information, as always, must be fact-checked.

Bektour Iskender, who runs Kloop – a blogging website he started in 2007 to counter state-controlled media in Kyrgyzstan – said if governments are going to block websites, the more the better, because that encourages people to start using VPNs and other methods to seek independent sources of information.

“The worst situation, I think, is when a few media outlets are blocked, but like 95% is available, and then people just don’t care about the ones which are blocked, because they still have most of information available,” Iskender said. “But when you have like 50% of media, content blocked, then people start caring.”

Katherine Mangu-Ward, the editor-in-chief of Reason magazine, said that while social media sites can play an important role in disseminating unfiltered information from sources on the ground, it’s important not to lose focus on who is doing the censoring and why.

“I think people can really get caught up in debates about misinformation on Facebook and, you know, who’s gatekeeping Twitter,” she said. “They can forget that there is a much, much more serious threat, which is authoritarian states, just bottlenecking true information about really, really important issues like Russia’s role in Ukraine right now.”

Billionaire Elon Musk appeared at the conference hours after announcing a $43 billion takeover bid for Twitter. The co-founder of electric car manufacturer Tesla said he would change the social media platform, including allowing users to edit tweets after posting them and making Twitter’s algorithms open source.

Philanthropist and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates launched his upcoming book, How to Prevent the Next Pandemic. He urged developed countries collectively to spend $1 billion a year to prevent future pandemics by creating a team he called Global Epidemic Response and Mobilization, or GERM. The team would be made up of 3,000 doctors, diplomats, and policy and communication experts who would work with the World Health Organization to contain any future pandemic contagions within 100 days.

In an unusual move for the conference, TED head curator Chris Anderson started by asking the assembled crowd and those watching online to donate to five organizations helping with humanitarian relief in Ukraine. A total of $2.15 million was pledged by attendees to help relief efforts in Ukraine.

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Ransomware Attacks: Hackers Endanger Critical US Infrastructure    

Even before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, U.S. officials warned about cyberattacks originating in Russia against critical American infrastructure. Now, U.S. security agencies are increasingly cracking down on the networks used by cybercriminals, including for ransomware attacks. Dino Jahic has the story, narrated by Anna Rice. 

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Two Men Get Lengthy Jail Terms in Foiled Attack Plot in France

A Frenchman and a Moroccan received heavy prison terms on appeal Friday for an attack plot that was foiled after an intelligence agent posing as a jihadi infiltrated their cyber network.

Yassine Bousseria, 42, was sentenced to 24 years in prison for participation in a terrorist conspiracy to prepare terrorist acts, the same term he had been handed by a lower court in February.

The other man, Hicham El-Hanafi, 31, was sentenced to 30 years in prison, also in line with the lower court ruling.

A third person convicted in the case, Frenchman Hicham Makran, was sentenced to 22 years in jail in February and did not appeal.

The three were tried on charges of joining a terror group with a view to carrying out attacks.

An agent from France’s DGSI domestic intelligence service, using the codename Ulysse, had infiltrated communication networks of Islamic State (IS) group in a ruse that led to the arrest of the three.

The case began in 2016. After intelligence indicating the IS group was seeking to obtain weapons for a “violent action” on French soil, the DGSI agent penetrated an encrypted Telegram messaging loop and make contact with an IS “emir” in Syria, nicknamed Sayyaf.

Sayyaf said the jihadis needed munitions including four Kalashnikovs, which Ulysse said he could supply.

In June 2016, Sayyaf sent Ulysse $16,000 in cash.

With this money, Ulysse then told Sayyaf that he had bought weapons and hid them in a forest north of Paris. The surroundings were then equipped with surveillance cameras.

French intelligence then received information that the two French citizens, who had been around the Turkish-Syrian border, had come home.

They were arrested and found to have a USB key encrypted with the coordinates of the arms cache.

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Журналіст Дудь, політологиня Шульман і художник Йолкін визнані в Росії «іноагентами»

Про причини внесення до списку Мін’юст Росії, як завжди, не повідомив

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Зеленський розповів про нараду з керівниками силових структур щодо Маріуполя

«Деталі зараз не можуть бути публічними. Але робимо все для порятунку наших людей»

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Зеленський: успіхи ЗСУ і санкції проти РФ визначать, скільки триватиме війна

«Демократичний світ має визначитисья з тим, що гроші Росії за енергоресурси – це насправді гроші на руйнацію демократії. Коли ці рішення будуть, ми всі зможемо побачити, що мир наближається»

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Reporter’s Notebook: Amid Laughter and Tears, Ukrainians Wait at Mexico-US Border

It is more than 10,000 kilometers from Medyka, the Polish border city that is a first stop for many Ukrainian refugees, to Tijuana, Mexico, where more than 1,700 Ukrainians are waiting for a chance to cross into the United States.

“They’re arriving as tourists,” says Enrique Lucero Vásquez, the municipal director of migrant care in Tijuana, with whom I spoke in a sports complex that has been repurposed to receive the Ukrainian families.

About 400 people are already housed at the center, where they spend one to two nights before being escorted to the border crossing and admitted by the U.S. Border Patrol.

In 2018 I was in this same place, in an even more congested courtyard, but instead of Ukrainians it was packed with Central American migrants who had journeyed north in a series of caravans. The process this time is as different as the circumstances that led the people to flee their homelands.

As in Medyka — where I reported before coming to Tijuana — many of the refugees are separated from husbands, parents or children. I remember the pain in the face of Yulia Usik, a mother of children aged 4 and 5, when we spoke at the Przemysl train station in Poland.

Through tears, she repeated the words of her husband who had stayed in Ukraine to fight: “He promised that he would come back for us.”

Now history is repeating itself. This time it is at the San Ysidro checkpoint, where Ukrainian volunteers have set up chairs for people waiting to cross, that a mother of a 4-year-old girl and a 5-month-old girl talks to me with the help of a translation phone app.

Without revealing her name, the woman explains that on the first day of the war, after the first bombing, she decided to leave Ukraine. She arrived with her daughters in Poland where she has a sister and after three weeks decided to try to reach the United States, where another sister is living in Springfield, Missouri.

She traveled to Cancun with her daughters, her two sisters and her 56-year-old mother, who sits nearby with a scarf covering her head and a Ukrainian passport in her hand. In the midst of the people and the noise of construction at the border, the woman stares at the horizon, lost in thought.

According to the older daughter, the family has left four men behind in Ukraine to fight the Russian invaders.

Ukrainian Camp

Apart from the sports complex, a tent city has sprung up where about 800 refugees spend the night before traveling by municipal bus to the border crossing. Ukrainian volunteers provide security, food and amusement for the children who run around chasing soap bubbles.

Day and night, the cars line up to cross into San Ysidro, California, beckoned by the American hills visible behind the border wall. Voices rise in Russian and Ukrainian, though the laughter and tears of the children recognize no language barriers.

Lucero, the municipal director of migrant care in Tijuana, tells me the sports complex was opened for the refugees because the tent camp near the Tijuana-San Ysidro crossing had become too crowded.

He acknowledges that the city has responded more quickly to this crisis than to the usual flow of migrants from Central America, Haiti and more remote parts of Mexico. For those, the city maintains another 25 shelters where some have waited for almost two years for a change in American policy that will permit them to seek asylum in the U.S.

He also says some of these Ukrainian refugees have more resources than the Central Americans; some have even been staying in local hotels in the city.

Upon arrival in Tijuana, the refugees are registered by volunteers and placed on a waiting list, explains white-coated Gilberto, who prefers not to provide his surname. We speak in an improvised medical care center in the Ukrainian camp.

“I arrived two weeks ago, before I helped with transportation from the airport, to here or to the other side, but then I came here to help with the medical side,” he says. “Here they are on a priority list, those who came before are here, those who came after stay in the gymnasium, they are gradually moving to the line, but in an orderly manner.”

The coordination of all activities — arrival, transportation, registration, lodging and delivery to the Border Patrol — is managed by a mixed group of volunteers that includes representatives of The Light of the World Church in Sacramento, California, and Calvary Church in San Diego.

The volunteers are deeply committed to ensuring that the families are not only cared for but are quickly admitted into the United States.

To do this, they created a phone app that allows them not only to be registered on a list that will be presented to the Border Patrol, but also to maintain an orderly flow of people through the pedestrian checkpoint.

Anastasiya Polovin, a Ukrainian native now living in Orange County in the Los Angeles area, has left the music academy that she runs to assist her compatriots. Speaking to me in the sports complex, she stresses the importance of providing the refugees with hot food, showers and other basic comforts.

But she says, even more urgent is to speed up the process of admitting them into the United States under a humanitarian exception to normal admission procedures that is not available to most other migrants arriving at the border.

Polovin insists that the humanitarian exception should be available not only here in Tijuana after long journeys and considerable expense. Advocates for the refugees want the government to allow them to fly directly into the United States from Europe.

Polovin shares that she is originally from the besieged southern city of Mikolaiv, where Ukrainian forces halted the Russian advance toward Odesa. “I have lost many people I know,” she says.

Even so, she says, six of her relatives have recently made it into the United States and will join her mother who is already in California. Ironically, one of them was turned down for refugee status in the U.S. two years ago.

“It was not until the war began that he was guaranteed access,” she says.

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