Daily: 16/08/2022

Зеленський прокоментував повідомлення про вибухи на окупованих територіях

«Причини вибухів на окупованій території можуть бути різні, «дуже різні, зокрема, цитую визначення самих окупантів, «головотяпство»

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At Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant, Ukrainians Work Under Russian Guns, Technician Says

Ukrainian technicians at the Russian-held nuclear power plant hit by shelling work under the barrels of Russian guns and face huge pressure, but they are staying on to make sure there is no Chernobyl-style disaster, one of them said.

The technician, who asked that his identity not be disclosed for fear of Russian reprisals, offered a rare glimpse into the fraught working conditions at the Zaporizhzhia plant, which Moscow and Kyiv accuse each other of shelling.

Europe’s biggest nuclear plant was captured by Russia in March, and the bouts of shelling have been widely condemned, prompting calls for an urgent mission of the International Atomic Energy Agency to the facility in southern Ukraine.

The technician told Reuters that many workers had sent their families away from the town of Enerhodar where the plant is located but had stayed on themselves to ensure the station’s safe operation.

“The employees understand they need to get their families out, but they themselves come back. They have to work because of the possibility of a major catastrophe like Chernobyl in 1986 and that would be much worse,” the technician said.

Heavily armed Russian troops are everywhere at the site, which is in itself highly unnerving, and armored personnel carriers have their barrels pointed at the entrance as workers enter, he added.

The Russian forces sometimes don’t immediately allow workers home after their shifts, he said.

“They find a reason not to let (employees) out — shelling, or they come up with something else,” he said.

“They’re constantly walking around the premises with guns. It’s very hard when you go into the plant and see these people and have to be there. It’s very mentally and psychologically taxing.”

The Russian Defense Ministry did not immediately reply to a request for a comment.

Energoatom, the top Ukrainian state body that normally oversees the plant, said it believed the facility’s workers were being pressured and were also in danger.

It referred Reuters to comments made by its chief Petro Kotin on August 2 in which he said staff members were working under “intense psychological and physical pressure” and complained about the Russian military presence at the site.

The nuclear power plant had 11,000 personnel before Russia invaded on February 24. Ukrainian authorities are not disclosing the current number of workers, citing security reasons.

One of the constant fears is the electricity lines to the plant could be severed because the pumps that cool the reactor core and spent fuel pools need electricity to function, the technician said.

There is a backup electricity station that runs on diesel, but the technician said he did not know how much diesel fuel was left at the site.

Enerhodar had a pre-war population of more than 50,000. The town’s mayor, Dmytro Orlov, told Reuters that around 25,000 people remain.

Around 1,000 of the plant’s employees had left the town by July, Energoatom’s spokesperson Leonid Oliynyk told Reuters, adding that he had no data for their family members.

Even though only two of the six reactors are functioning currently, there is still a huge amount of important safety work for staff to do, the technician said. Four of the plant’s six reactors are not working at normal capacity currently, but they still require proper maintenance, he said.

“The staff came back to maintain control because the security of Ukraine is at stake and that of the whole European continent and the world,” the technician said.

As several bouts of shelling have hit the complex of the nuclear power plant, Ukraine and Russia have said they want IAEA inspectors to visit the facility, and the agency’s chief, Rafael Grossi, has said he is ready to lead a mission.

The United Nations has said it can facilitate such a trip, but that Ukraine and Russia have to agree on it.  

The technician voiced skepticism that a trip to the facility by an IAEA mission would help much.

“Only the full de-occupation of the town, the nuclear station, the thermal power plant, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions and others, only then will people actually be safe,” he said.

There was no immediate response from the IAEA to a Reuters request for comment.

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UN Chief, Ukrainian and Turkish Presidents to Meet

The United Nations said Tuesday that Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will meet Thursday in western Ukraine with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the invitation to the tripartite meeting was made by Zelenskyy.

The leaders represent three of the four members in the Black Sea Grain Initiative. Russia is the fourth member. The deal, signed in Istanbul on July 22, has allowed for the resumption of Ukrainian grain exports to the international market, while removing some obstacles to the sale of Russian fertilizer and food stuffs.

Some 20 million metric tons of Ukrainian grain has been stuck in silos and on about two dozen ships in the country’s southern ports since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

The situation has driven up the price of food on global markets at a time when the World Food Program warns that a record 345 million people in 82 countries are now facing acute food insecurity, while up to 50 million people in 45 countries are on the brink of famine. Before the war, Ukrainian food exports fed an estimated 400 million people worldwide.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative has been working smoothly since the Joint Coordination Center that oversees the operation went online on July 27. Since then, the JCC has authorized 21 vessels to leave Ukraine’s southern ports of Odesa, Chernomorsk and Pivdennyi (also known as Yuzhny) carrying 563,317 metric tons of grain and other foodstuffs. Fifteen more ships have been cleared to enter the ports to pick up food cargo. They are moving through a maritime humanitarian corridor in the Black Sea.

On Friday, Guterres will go to the port of Odesa to see the operation in action. Then he will travel to Istanbul where he will visit the JCC on Saturday.

Dujarric said the U.N. chief will have a bilateral meeting with Zelenskyy, during which a number of issues are likely to be raised, including the need for a political solution to the conflict and the urgent need for a technical mission from the International Atomic Energy Agency to go to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant. That facility is in currently Russian-controlled territory and has been the subject of shelling in recent weeks, which the IAEA says risks a “nuclear catastrophe.”

Moscow has accused the U.N. secretariat of blocking the visit, an accusation the U.N. denies. 

“On the power plant, there’s been no change, though, in our position as stated yesterday that we are there to support the IAEA’s implementation of its mandate,” Dujarric told reporters. “We are ready to support it logistically and security-wise from Kyiv.”

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Фінляндія різко скоротить видачу туристичних віз громадянам Росії

З 1 вересня кількість російських туристичних віз буде скорочена до 10 відсотків від поточного обсягу

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Greek Phone-Hacking Scandal: Investigative Media’s Key Role

Investigative journalism has emerged as a powerful force during Greece’s phone-hacking scandal, rocking a government that tries to “control” the media landscape, experts say.

The long-rumbling “Predatorgate” affair reignited at the end of July when Nikos Androulakis, leader of the opposition Socialists, told journalists about the attempted surveillance of his mobile phone via spyware Predator, having filed a legal complaint.

The spyware can hack into a target’s phone and access messages and conversations.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis acknowledged last week that the intelligence service’s surveillance had been “politically unacceptable,” claiming he had not been informed.

He was speaking three days after two key members of his conservative government resigned over the matter.

Earlier this year two Greek journalists launched legal action, saying they had fallen prey to similar attacks on their phones.

Months-long probes by Greek investigative media have played a crucial part in shedding light on the phone-hacking.

Eliza Triantafyllou, a journalist with the Inside Story website, began investigating the case in January after the publication of two reports by the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab and Meta (Facebook) referring to a new spyware, Predator, with clients and targets in Greece.

“These reports went unnoticed by the [mainstream] Greek media at the time, though they revealed that the Greek government had probably bought Predator,” she wrote in a recent article.

Last April, Inside Story published “the first confirmed case of Predator use in 2021 against a European citizen”—Greek journalist Thanasis Koukakis, who specializes in reporting on corruption.

Online investigative news site Reporters United followed up by reporting that the journalist’s phone was monitored by the Greek intelligence service, EYP, in 2020.

Stories first published online by investigative journalists are now making headlines in Greek newspapers.

The country’s media landscape is marked by the connivance of traditional media groups with public authorities in line with political and financial interests.

The Reporters Without Borders (RSF) non-profit gives Greece the lowest press freedom rank in Europe.

RSF and the Media Freedom Rapid Response NGO have said the ruling party is “obsessed with controlling the message” and “minimizing critical and dissenting voices.”

But investigative outlets are “a hope for freedom of expression” in Greece, according to Katerina Batzeli, a member of the Pasok-Kinal central committee, former minister and European Parliamentarian.

“These innovative media have taken risks and done an extraordinary job,” she said.

Greek investigative media, including Inside Story, Solomon and Reporters United, have been on the rise in recent years, using subscriptions to promote “independent and analytical information.”

With disinformation rife, “investigative media dare to control the power,” said media analyst Georges Tzogopoulos.

He said investigative sites had played a “key role” and called for support through crowdfunding.

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ФСБ Росії заявила про підрив ліній електропередач від Курської АЕС

Як йдеться в повідомленні, вибухи опор ЛЕП відбувалися 4, 9 та 12 серпня

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CIA Sued Over Alleged Spying on Lawyers, Journalists Who Met Assange

A group of journalists and lawyers sued the CIA and its former director Mike Pompeo over allegations the intelligence agency spied on them when they visited WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange during his stay in Ecuador’s embassy in London.

The lawsuit said the CIA under Pompeo violated the privacy rights of those American journalists and lawyers by allegedly spying on them. The plaintiffs include journalists Charles Glass and John Goetz and attorneys Margaret Kunstler and Deborah Hrbek, who have represented Assange.

“The United States Constitution shields American citizens from U.S. government overreach even when the activities take place in a foreign embassy in a foreign country,” said Richard Roth, the lead attorney representing the plaintiffs.

The CIA, which declined to comment on the lawsuit, is prohibited from collecting intelligence on U.S. citizens, although several lawmakers have alleged the agency maintains a secret repository of Americans’ communications data.

Assange has appealed to the High Court in London to block his extradition to the United States to face criminal charges in a legal battle that has dragged on for more than a decade.

Monday’s lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

The filing said the journalists and lawyers were required to surrender their electronic devices to Undercover Global S.L., a private security company which at the time provided security to the embassy, before their visits to Assange. The lawsuit alleged the company copied that information and provided it to the CIA, which was then headed by Pompeo.

Assange spent seven years in the embassy before being dragged out and jailed in 2019.

Pompeo and Undercover Global S.L. could not immediately be reached for comment.

Assange is wanted by U.S. authorities on 18 counts, including a spying charge, related to WikiLeaks’ release of confidential U.S. military records and diplomatic cables. His supporters say he is an anti-establishment hero who has been victimized because he exposed U.S. wrongdoing in conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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Більшість лідерів країн G7 візьмуть участь у саміті «Кримська платформа» – Джеппар

Перша заступниця голови МЗС України наголосила, що географія учасників саміту «Кримська платформа» розширюється, цього року серед учасників будуть країни Латинської Америки

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На Керченському мосту зафіксували рекорд трафіку після низки вибухів у Криму

Минулої доби Керченським мостом в обидва боки проїхало близько 38,3 тисячі автомобілів

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Вибух у Єревані: кількість загиблих зросла до 16

Особи шести загиблих наразі встановлюють. Ще дев’ятеро людей вважаються зниклими безвісти

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Естонія: влада демонтує радянський пам’ятник у Нарві

Радянський танк буде перевезено до військового музею на північ від столиці Таллінна

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Al-Qaida Affiliate Claims It Killed Four Russian Mercenaries in Mali

Al-Qaida’s affiliate in Mali claimed Monday it had killed four mercenaries from Russia’s private military firm, the Wagner Group, in an ambush around Bandiagara in central Mali.

The media unit for Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen (JNIM), said in a statement its fighters clashed with the mercenaries Saturday in the Mopti region, according to a translation by the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist statements.

Wagner has no public representation and could not be reached for comment.

Mali is struggling to stem an Islamist insurgency that took root after a 2012 uprising and has since spread to neighboring countries, killing thousands and displacing millions across West Africa’s Sahel region.

Wagner began supplying hundreds of fighters last year to support the Malian military and has since been accused by human rights groups and local residents of participating in massacres of civilians — accusations it has not responded to.

The Russian government has acknowledged Wagner personnel are in Mali, but the Malian government has described them as instructors from the Russian military rather than private security contractors.

In July, JNIM claimed responsibility for an attack on Mali’s main military base, which it said was a response to governmental collaboration with Wagner.

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Президент Радіо Свобода: Україна має ретельно розслідувати можливе стеження за Віталієм Портниковим

«Важливо, щоб демократичні уряди гарантували, що журналісти не стають мішенями за свою роботу, навіть під час війни»

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South Africa’s Defense Minister in Russia for Security Conference 

South Africa’s Defense Minister Thandi Modise has arrived in Russia for a Moscow-hosted conference on international security. The visit comes amid Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine and as Russian forces there are occupying Europe’s largest nuclear power plant. It also comes just days after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited South Africa in part to try to win more African support against Russia’s invasion.

Despite South Africa repeatedly proclaiming its neutrality in the Russia/Ukraine war, several analysts say Modise’s attendance at the 10th Moscow Conference on International Security shows the country is siding with Russia.

“We have not seen any condemnation of Russia, despite the dire impact of the war on the supply of goods and services in South Africa, said Ralph Mathekga, a political analyst at Geopolitical Intelligence Services. “And, also, when you look at attending a defense-kind of a forum in a moment such as this, I mean I cannot imagine any stronger indication of support of Russia,” he said.

Mathekga believes it’s a blow to South African-U.S. relations, considering U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited South Africa just last week.

“It actually says that South Africa is nailing its colors to the mast.,” he said. “I think it was a frustrating visit for the secretary of state because South Africa did not hold back on their indication that they are not going to pick sides on this, they are not going to be bullied by global powers in their continued cold war as it’s being called.”

Mathekga warns that while South Africa may be willing to rely on its bigger partners in the BRICS alliance, namely China and India, to help it through these turbulent economic times, it should not ignore the reality that the European Union and America are two of its biggest trading partners.

Sipho Mantula, a researcher at the Thabo Mbeki African School on Public and International Affairs, says it’s likely South Africa couldn’t ignore the invitation because of its status as a member of the African Union’s Peace and Security Council.

He says Russia also has a close relationship with many African states whose freedom fighters it helped train during the 1960s and 1970s.

“The conflict of Russia and Ukraine is absent from this official program. The key issues that will come out will be around dealing with international global terrorism, the issues of the Middle East and North Africa,” he said.

However, he conceded that while South Africa may call for peaceful negotiations to end the Russian/Ukraine war, the gathering in Moscow may be a sign of a potential military alliance.

“One will assume so because Russia is trying by all means to galvanize its support politically, economically, militarily. So one would assume that they are trying by all means because this is a very high-level technical meeting that is taking place. And one will assume yes, it is part of mobilizing allies, mobilize those who can say they are friendly states towards Russia,” he said.

Defense Minister Modise is due to address the Moscow security conference Tuesday.

 

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