Daily: 12/06/2022

В європейських столицях пройшли антивоєнні акції

Наймасовіші антивоєнні акції відбулися у Лондоні, Варшаві, Берліні, Гельсінкі, Парижі, Празі, Відні, Тбілісі

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Life Goes On as Ukraine Army Holds War Weddings

Air raid sirens wailed and one of the brides wore camouflage trousers as the Ukrainian army took a break from frontline fighting in the east to hold a double wedding Sunday.

Two young couples who met just months earlier while serving in the army tied the knot together Sunday in the small city of Druzhkivka, 40 kilometers (25 miles) from frontline zones where Ukrainian forces are battling Russian invaders.

The sun shone and soldiers carried bouquets in a brief interlude from heavy fighting as Russians intensify efforts to push out Kyiv’s forces in the east.

One of the brides, Khrystyna Lyuta, a 23-year-old contract soldier with the rank of private first class, wore camouflage trousers and army boots with a traditional red Ukrainian blouse embroidered with flowers.

“I’ve got used to this uniform,” she explained of her choice of outfit.

She met her husband Volodymyr Mykhalchuk, 28, just two months ago, when he was mobilized. They live around five kilometers from each other in the same southwestern Vinnytsia region but might never have met if it had not been for the war.

“War is war, but life goes on,” Lyuta explained their decision to marry.

“This was not a hasty decision,” said Volodymyr.

“The main thing is that we love each other and we want to be together.”

The other bride, Kristina (no last name given), 23, who works in the signal corps, opted for a traditional long white dress with red folk embroidery to marry Vitaliy Orlich, also 23, a sniper.

“I believe that this is about creating a new family — it doesn’t matter where it happens or how,” she said.

The grooms both wore soldiers’ uniforms.

The couples were set to return to serve in the war zone on the same day.

“I can’t give them free days as such. The only thing is that they won’t be on the frontline, they will stay in the rear,” the brigade’s commander Oleksandr Okhrimenko told AFP.

Neither couple had family present but they said relatives had been understanding.

Kristina said that her husband had spoken to her mother online and “she already calls him a son”.

The soldiers were from the 14th Separate Mechanized Brigade, which has been fighting Russian-backed forces in Donbas since May.

The young couples married in front of a registry office, which had closed due to the war.

The quiet street had few cars and occasional trams. Sandbags were piled up in front of cafe and shop windows.

‘There’s no time’

The couples went through traditional rituals such as stepping together onto an embroidered towel, symbolizing togetherness.

The brigade’s chaplain gave them an Orthodox Christian blessing, flicking holy water and placing crowns on their heads, on the day of a major Church holiday, the Festival of the Holy Trinity.

The Priest in a khaki cassock, Yuriy Zdebskiy, told AFP that “it’s the first marriage in the brigade in wartime”, since Russia launched its invasion on February 24.

“Now it’s wartime and there’s no time for big celebrations,” he said.

The infantry brigade’s commander, Okhrimenko, has the right to certify marriages under martial law.

He said the location for the weddings “was chosen primarily for security reasons”.

Druzhkivka is about 40 kilometers as the crow flies from three fronts, as Russian troop threaten the towns of Slovyansk to the northeast, Bakhmut to the east and Horlivka to the southeast.

Hours later, AFP reporters heard shelling and saw smoke rising as the two sides exchanged fire close to Bakhmut.

Even in relatively untouched Druzhkivka, shelling earlier this month tore apart private houses and crashed through the roof of a Baptist church in one street.

During the wedding, air raid sirens went off three times, an AFP reporter heard.

None of those attending reacted. Many war-hardened locals now ignore warnings to go to shelters unless there is an obvious threat.

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Питання лише в рішучості деяких європейських лідерів – Зеленський про статус кандидата в члени ЄС для України

Володимир Зеленський каже, що «Україна зробила все заради позитивної відповіді»

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Голова МЗС Латвії у День Росії побажав РФ поразки у війні проти України

«Бажаю поразки в агресивній війні проти України, відмови від імперських амбіцій і побудови сучасної, демократичної та правової держави»

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Канцлер Шольц поїде до Києва з Макроном і Драгі перед самітом G7 – Bild

Жоден із трьох лідерів не був у Києві після початку масштабного вторгнення Росії в Україну в лютому

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Понад тисячу українців вимагали в Брюсселі статусу кандидата в члени ЄС для України

Висновок Європейської комісії щодо готовності України до надання їй статусу кандидата на вступ до ЄС оприлюднять 17 червня

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Rebranded McDonalds Restaurants Reopen in Russia 

The first of dozens of restaurants taken over after the iconic fast-food chain McDonald’s pulled out of Russia has reopened in Moscow, under new ownership and a new name: Tasty and That’s It.

Owners of the new chain, whose name in Russian is Vkusno and Tochka, say initially 15 rebranded restaurants will reopen across Russia, with more to come in coming months.

Dozens of Russians lined up on Sunday at the famous Moscow location where McDonald’s first opened its doors 30 years ago to try out the new burgers and fries.

Oleg Paroyev, chief executive of the company taking over the McDonald’s facilities, said they planned to reopen 200 restaurants in Russia by the end of June and all 850 locations nationwide by the end of the summer.

“Our goal is that our guests do not notice a difference either in quality or ambience,” Paroyev was quoted as telling a news conference.

Paroyev said the new chain will keep its old McDonald’s interior but will remove any references to its old name.

The reopening of the fast-food outlets is seen as one test of whether and how Russia’s economy can withstand Western sanctions imposed after Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.

At the time of its withdrawal from Russia, McDonald’s said it employed 62,000 workers across the country.

Information from AFP was used in this report.

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UK’s New Northern Ireland Trade Rules Will Not Break Law, Minister Says 

Legislation that Britain will unilaterally bring forward on Monday to scrap some of the rules that govern post-Brexit trade with Northern Ireland will not break international law, minister Brandon Lewis said on Sunday.

“The legislation that we will outline tomorrow is within the law; what we are going to do is lawful and it is correct,” the Northern Ireland Secretary told Sky News.

When Britain left the EU, Prime Minister Boris Johnson agreed a protocol that effectively left Northern Ireland in the EU’s single market and customs union to preserve the open border with Ireland specified in the Good Friday peace agreement.

Any unilateral move by London to override the treaty will inflame a simmering argument with the European Union.

Ireland’s Sinn Fein, the nationalist party that won a historic victory in the Northern Ireland Assembly election last month, said on Sunday Britain would “undoubtedly” break the law by imposing unilateral changes to the protocol.

Lewis said however the protocol needed to be changed because it was “fundamentally undermining” the Good Friday agreement.

He said it was disrupting the lives of people in Northern Ireland, was stopping government institutions functioning, and was not respecting the UK’s own internal market. 

Lewis declined to say how the protocol would be changed, but said the government would set out the legal basis on which it was bringing forward the legislation.

Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald said London could work with Dublin and Brussels to improve the application of the protocol.

“There is a willingness here, there is a willingness to engage by the European Commission, but the British government has refused to engage,” she told Sky News from Dublin.

“It has not been constructive, it has sought a destructive path, and is now proposing to introduce legislation that will undoubtedly breach international law.”

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ООН: 3,2 млн українських біженців отримали тимчасовий захист у ЄС

Від 24 лютого кордони України з країнами ЄС перетнули приблизно 7,3 млн громадян, трохи менше ніж 2,4 млн – перетнули українські кордони у зворотному напрямку

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Володимир Зеленський став лауреатом Премії Бориса Нємцова за сміливість

Фонд Нємцова за свободу цього року ухвалив рішення номінувати на премію лише представників України

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Penny Taylor Calls for Griner’s Release at Hall of Fame Induction

Penny Taylor used her induction into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame to call for the release of her former WNBA Phoenix Mercury teammate Brittney Griner, noting it’s been 114 days since the seven-time WNBA All-Star was detained.

“BG is our family,” Taylor said in asking President Biden’s help freeing Griner. “She’s yours too. The entire global sport community needs to come together to insist that she be a priority.”

The two-time Olympic gold medalist has been detained Feb. 17 after vape cartridges containing oil derived from cannabis were allegedly found in her luggage at an airport near Moscow.

Taylor also wished her wife, Diana Taurasi, a happy 40th birthday after playing Friday night in a Mercury win and then traveling to Tennessee to escort her to the induction ceremony. Taylor helped Australia win two Olympic silver medals in 2004 and 2008. She also won three WNBA titles in 2007, 2009 and 2014 and was a three-time All-Star.

“If you continue to work hard, you too may be up here,” Taylor said to Taurasi.

DeLisha Milton-Jones wrapped up her acceptance speech calling to bring Griner home. DePaul coach Doug Bruno noted Griner has been a big part of USA Basketball’s Olympic success.

“Brittney is a great human being,” Bruno said. “No one deserves what Britney’s going through. Enough is absolute enough. It’s time for the powers that be to bring Brittney home.”

Other inductees included Becky Hammon, Debbie Antonelli, Wayland Baptist star Alice “Cookie” Barron as a veteran player, Paul Sanderford who coached Western Kentucky to three Final Fours and coach Bob Schneider who ranked third all-time with 634 Division II victories.

The hall also honored Title IX as one of the Trailblazers of the Game award at its 50th anniversary. Barron, who flew to games between 1954-1957 with the Flying Queens literally flying to away games while the men traveled by bus, made a call to everyone listening.

“I want to implore all of us to keep a very close watch on Title IX,” Barron said. “The doors are open. We must never let them close.”

Milton-Jones, now head coach at Old Dominion, capped her four-year career at Florida as the 1997 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year and All-American. She led the Gators to four straight NCAA Tournament berths, including the Elite Eight in 1997.

The fourth overall pick in the 1999 WNBA draft played 17 seasons in the league. When she retired in 2016, she held the league record for most games played with 499 for Los Angeles, Atlanta, New York, Washington and San Antonio. She helped the Los Angeles Sparks win back-to-back WNBA titles in 2001 and 2002.

Milton-Jones also helped the U.S. win Olympic gold in 2000 and 2008, missing the 2004 Athens Games with an injury. She played in Spain, Italy, Turkey, South Korea, the Czech Republic and Republic. in 2005, she was interim coach of the Los Angeles Stars in the American Basketball Association, becoming only the second female to coach a men’s pro team.

Her family made T-shirts and visors to help her commemorate this moment, and Milton-Jones said this helped put Riceboro, Georgia, on the map.

Hammon couldn’t attend with her WNBA-leading Las Vegas Aces playing against the Sparks on Saturday night in Los Angeles.

Bruno has coached 36 seasons at DePaul with 24 NCAA Tournament berths. He also has helped win six gold medals with USA Basketball.

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Kyiv’s Bitter Summer: War, Guilt and Last Kisses

In the outdoor gym on Venice Beach, the name given to an inviting stretch of sand on the majestic Dnieper River that courses through the capital of Ukraine, Serhiy Chornyi is working on his summer body, up-down-up-downing a chunky hunk of iron.

The aim of his sweat and toil isn’t to impress the girls in their bright summer bikinis. Working out is part of his contribution to Ukraine’s all-hands-on-deck war effort: The National Guardsman expects to be sent eastward to the battlefields soon and doesn’t want to take his paunch with him for the fight against Russia’s invasion force.

“I’m here to get in shape. To be able to help my friends with whom I’ll be,” the 32-year-old said. “I feel that my place is there now. … There is only one thing left: to defend. There is no other option, only one road.”

So goes Kyiv’s bitter summer of 2022, where the sun shines but sadness and grim determination reign, where canoodling couples cannot be sure that their kisses won’t be their last as more soldiers head to the fronts; where flitting swallows are nesting as people made homeless weep in blown-apart ruins, and where the peace is deceptive, because it’s shorn of peace of mind.

After Russia’s initial assault on Kyiv was repelled in the invasion’s opening month, leaving death and destruction, the capital found itself in the somewhat uncomfortable position of becoming largely a bystander in the war that continues to rage in the east and south, where Russian President Vladimir Putin has redirected his forces and military resources.

The burned-out hulks of Russian tanks are being hauled away from the capital’s outskirts, even as Western-supplied weapons turn more Russian armor into smoking junk on battlefronts. Cafes and restaurants are open again, the chatter and the chink of glasses from their outdoor tables providing a semblance of normalcy — until everyone scoots home for the 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew, less constraining than it used to be when Kyiv had seemed at risk of falling.

Sitting on a lawn, savoring wine with friends one evening this week, Andrii Bashtovyi remarked that it “looks like there’s no war but people are talking about their friends who are injured or who are mobilized.” He recently passed his military medical check, meaning he could soon be thrown into combat, too.

“If they call me, I need to go to the recruiting center. I’ll have 12 hours,” said the chief editor of The Village online magazine, which covers life, news and events in Kyiv and other unoccupied cities.

Air raid alarms still sound regularly, screeching shrilly on downloadable phone apps, but they’re so rarely followed by blasts — unlike in pounded front-line towns and cities — that few pay them much mind. Cruise missile strikes that wrecked a warehouse and a train repair workshop on June 5 were Kyiv’s first in five weeks. Dog walkers and parents pushing strollers ambled unperturbed nearby even before the flames had been extinguished.

Many, but by no means all, of the 2 million inhabitants who Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said had fled when Russian forces tried to encircle the city in March are now returning. But with soldiers falling by the hundreds to the east and south, the surreal calm of Kyiv is laced with nagging guilt.

“People are feeling grateful but asking themselves, ‘Am I doing enough?'” said Snezhana Vialko, as she and boyfriend Denys Koreiba bought plump strawberries from one of the summer-fruit vendors who have deployed across the city, in neighborhoods where just weeks ago jumpy troops manned checkpoints of sandbags and tank traps.

Now greatly reduced in numbers and vigilance, they generally wave through the restored buzz of car traffic, barely glancing up from pass-the-time scrolling on phones.

With the peace still so fragile and more treasured than ever, many are plowing their energy, time, money and muscle into supporting the soldiers fighting what has become a grinding war of attrition for control of destroyed villages, towns and cities.

Trained as a chef and now working as a journalist, Volodymyr Denysenko brewed up 100 bottles of spicy sauce, using his home-grown hot peppers to enliven the troops’ rations. He dropped them off with volunteers who drive in convoys from Kyiv to the fronts, laden with crowdfunded gun sights, night-vision goggles, drones, medical kits and other badly needed gear.

“All Ukrainian people must help the army, the soldiers,” he said. “It’s our country, our freedom.”

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Голова МЗС Туреччини вперше за 13 років відвідав Чехію, говорив із Ліпавським про Україну

«Глави МЗС особливо концентрувалися на поточній ситуації в Україні, перспективах протидії російської агресії та глобальній продовольчій безпеці»

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Зеленський на зустрічі з головою Єврокомісії закликав до санкцій проти російських банків і суддів

За словами президента, сьомий пакет санкцій проти Росії має стати ще потужнішим, ніж шостий

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