Monthly: July 2023

Представники уряду США візьмуть участь у саміті Саудівської Аравії щодо України – Держдеп

«Важливо, аби країни, які досі напряму не чули від України, вислухали її»

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US Sanctions 4 Top Bosnian Serb Officials for Undermining Peace Deal


The United States on Monday imposed sanctions against four top Bosnian Serb officials, including the Serb member of the country’s presidency, for undermining a U.S.-sponsored peace deal that ended the Balkan country’s war in the 1990s.

Bosnia’s presidency member Zeljka Cvijanovic, along with the prime minister, justice minister and parliament speaker of the Serb Republic, facilitated the passage of a law that undermines the Bosnian constitution, U.S. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement.

The constitution is part of the Dayton peace accords that ended the 1992-1995 Bosnian war in which 100,000 were killed, dividing the country into two autonomous regions, the Serb Republic and the Bosniak-Croat Federation, linked via a weak central government.

Late in June, lawmakers in the Serb Republic voted to suspend rulings by Bosnia’s constitutional court, a vote initiated by the region’s separatist pro-Russian President Milorad Dodik, who is already under U.S. and U.K. sanctions.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury designated Cvijanovic, Prime Minister Radovan Viskovic, Justice Minister Milos Bukejlovic and parliament speaker Nenad Stevandic for obstructing and threatening the implementation of the Dayton accords by providing the passage of the law.

“This action threatens the stability, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the hard-won peace underpinned by the Dayton Peace Agreement,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson.

“This behavior further threatens the country’s future trajectory and successful integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions,” Nelson added.

Cvijanovic was put under U.K. sanctions last year along with Dodik for what were described as attempts to undermine the legitimacy and functionality of the Bosnian state.

In reaction to the sanctions, Stevandic said that he saw them as a “decoration for consistency, steadfastness and non-indulgence in the face of blackmail and threats from those considered powerful.”

A spokesman for Dodik’s ruling SNSD party said the U.S. decision was “shameless and hypocritical.” “No sanctions will prevent us from doing our job,” Radovan Kovacevic said.

The designations build on prior U.S. sanctions and visa restrictions designed to promote accountability of persons who undermine democratic processes or institutions, the U.S. Department of the Treasury said.

Dodik and his allies have long promoted the secession of the region from Bosnia and its unification with neighboring Serbia. They stepped up activities undermining state institutions in recent months, including suspension of decisions by an international peace envoy.

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Росія в обхід санкцій ввезла чіпи подвійного призначення на понад пів мільярда доларів – розслідування

Журналістам вдалося підрахувати обсяги ввезених до Росії санкційних товарів за період з 1 січня до 1 липня 2023 року за допомогою закритої митної статистики, а також з’ясувати, як працюють схеми нелегального постачання

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Україна домовилася з Хорватією про використання хорватських портів для експорту українського зерна – МЗС

«Ми домовилися про можливість використання хорватських портів на Дунаї і в Адріатичному морі для транспортування українського зерна. Зараз ми будемо працювати над тим, щоб прокласти якомога ефективніші маршрути до цих портів і максимально скористатися цією можливістю»

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Greece Seeks Better Relations with Turkey, Provided Ankara Drops Aggression

Greece’s prime minister said Monday that his government wants to take full advantage of a developing positive political climate with neighboring Turkey to improve bilateral relations despite a string of decades-old disputes.

But Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that doesn’t mean Turkey has “substantially changed” its stance on key differences between the two countries and needs to “decisively abandon its aggressive and unlawful conduct” against Greece’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Turkey and Greece remain at odds over maritime boundaries in the eastern Mediterranean, a dispute that affects irregular migration into the European Union, mineral rights and the projection of military power.

Mitsotakis said that he agreed with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, on July 11-12 to initiate new “lines of communication” and to maintain “a period of calm.”

High-level talks between the two countries are expected to take place in the Greek city of Thessaloniki later this year.

However, the Greek prime minister said that Erdogan’s outreach to the EU can’t come at the expense of efforts to heal Cyprus’ nearly half-century ethnic division.

Speaking after talks with Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides, Mitsotakis said that he told Erdogan that improved European-Turkish ties can’t exclude a Cyprus peace accord and that the issue can’t be “left by the wayside.”

Turkey and the breakaway Turkish Cypriots have insisted on a two-state solution since July 2017 when the most recent round of U.N.-facilitated peace talks collapsed.

That position overturned a long-standing agreement sanctioned by the U.N. Security Council in numerous resolutions that any peace deal would aim for a reunified Cyprus as a federation made up of Greek and Turkish speaking zones.

Cyprus was split in 1974 when Turkey invaded following a coup by supporters of a union with Greece. Only Turkey recognizes a Turkish Cypriot declaration of independence in the island’s northern third, where more than 35,000 Turkish troops are stationed.

On Friday, Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar repeated that peace talks could resume only if Greek Cypriots recognize the Turkish Cypriots’ “sovereign equality.”

Christodoulides said Monday that any improvement in European-Turkish relations should be based on reciprocal action by Turkey, adding that the EU prioritizes a Cyprus peace deal in line with U.N. resolutions.

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«Слуга народу» Холодов написав заяву про складання депутатських повноважень після розслідування «Схем»

Напередодні журналісти проєкту «Схеми» повідомили, що нардеп виїхав з України у січні 2023 року і з того часу не повертався – не відвідував засідання парламенту та не голосував

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EU Leader Warns Europe Won’t Tolerate Aggression: ‘Not in Ukraine, Not in Indo-Pacific’ 

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen warned on Monday that Europe won’t tolerate aggression in Ukraine or the Indo-Pacific as she reaffirmed the EU’s recognition of a 2016 arbitration decision that invalidated China’s expansive claims in the disputed South China Sea.

Von der Leyen spoke at a joint news conference with Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. after holding talks in Manila that aimed to bolster trade, economic and security relations. The leaders announced the 27-nation bloc would resume negotiations with the Philippines for a free-trade agreement that stalled in 2017 under Marcos’s predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte.

She stressed the need for security cooperation, citing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which she said shows how authoritarian leaders “are willing to act on their threats.”

“Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine shakes the foundation of the international order. It is in violation of the U.N. charter and the fundamental principles of international law, such as territorial integrity and sovereignty,” she said.

“This is why Europe supports Ukraine’s brave fight against the aggressor because the illegal use of force cannot be tolerated, not in Ukraine, not in the Indo-Pacific,” von der Leyen said. “Security in Europe and security in the Indo-Pacific is indivisible. Challenges to the rules-based order in our interconnected world affect all of us.”

“This is why we are concerned about the rising tensions in the Indo-Pacific,” she said, adding that the EU backs a free and open Indo-Pacific “because an Indo-Pacific free of the threats of coercion is key to all our stability to our peace, and to the prosperity of our people.”

Her veiled rhetoric echoed that of U.S. leaders, who have raised alarms over China’s increasingly aggressive actions in the disputed South China Sea.

Without naming China, von der Leyen underscored the EU’s recognition of a decision by a U.N.-backed tribunal that invalidated China’s territorial claims in virtually the entire waterway on historical grounds. China has rejected the arbitration decision as a sham and continues to defy it.

The award “is legally binding” and provides the basis for a peaceful resolution of the disputes, she said.

The European Union is ready to boost cooperation with the Philippines to foster regional maritime security by sharing information, carrying out threat assessments and bolstering the Philippine coast guard, she said.

China has warned the United States and its allies from meddling in what it says is a purely Asian dispute. It has turned seven disputed reefs into missile-protected island bases in the last decade, further alarming Western governments and rival claimants, including the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

Von der Leyen’s visit to the Philippines is a sign of improving ties after a stormy period between the EU and Duterte over human rights. It’s the first such top-level visit in nearly six decades of relations with the Philippines.

The visit came at a time when the EU is assessing whether to extend special trade incentives, including slashed tariffs for a wide variety of products, to the Philippines.

The EU trade incentives under the so-called Generalized Scheme of Preferences for the Philippines and seven other developing countries are anchored on their adherence to more than two dozen international conventions on human and labor rights, environmental protection and good governance.

But the Philippines came under intense EU criticism during Duterte’s six-year term, mainly because of the bloody anti-drugs crackdown he oversaw that left more than 6,000 mostly petty suspects dead. Marcos succeeded Duterte in June last year.

The killings sparked an International Criminal Court investigation as a possible crime against humanity. Duterte withdrew the Philippines from the ICC in 2018, but its prosecutor has proceeded to investigate the widespread deaths that occurred in the years when the country was still part of The Hague-based court.

Duterte then often lashed at the EU’s criticisms of his brutal anti-drugs crackdown with profanity-laced outbursts.

Marcos and von der Leyen said relations between the EU and the Philippines were entering a new era.

We “are like-minded partners through our shared values of democracy, sustainable and inclusive prosperity, the rule of law, peace and stability, and human rights,” Marcos said, comments that reflected a stark departure from Duterte’s hostile rhetoric against the EU.

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Безпілотник, який впав під Таганрогом, належить Міноборони РФ – ЗМІ

Місцева влада і Міноборони Росії офіційно нічого не повідомляли про те, кому належить безпілотник

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Каховську ГЕС відбудують за шість років після деокупації – гендиректор «Укргідроенерго»

Відбудова Каховської гідроелектростанції після її деокупації займе шість років. Нова станція буде сучасною і значно потужнішою за зруйновану. А зараз, упродовж двох років, розробляють експериментальний проєкт відбудови. Про це в ефірі Радіо Свобода (проєкт «Свобода.Ранок») повідомив голова компанії «Укргідроенерго» Ігор Сирота.

За його словами, головне завдання експериментального проєкту – забезпечити роботу станції ДніпроГЕС. На першому етапі також планують спроектувати тимчасові греблі водосховища. Після деокупації, за словами Сироти, це допоможе швидко розпочати будівництво тимчасової гідроспоруди для перегородження водосховища і за умов паводку допоможе наповнити його водою до необхідного рівня.

«Якщо буде хороший паводок, ми можемо хоча би дійти до відмітки 12 з половиною, що необхідно для того, щоб забезпечити водою наші три області. Після цього ми повинні побудувати таку ж саму тимчасову гідроспоруду з нижньої сторони станції, щоб осушити станцію, осушити цей будівельний майданчик, запросити експертів, подивитися наслідки руйнування, зібрати всі докази підриву цієї станції. І потім, другий етап – це демонтаж цієї станції і проектування нової станції. На все це уряд виділив два роки», – сказав Сирота.

За цей час планують розробити проєкт побудови нової станції. Вона, за словами Ігоря Сироти, буде потужнішою за стару. А її будівництво за умов деокупації займе шість років.

«Ми втратили 340 МВт. Планується нову станцію побудувати на 520-580 МВт. І, звичайно, це вже повинна бути сучасна станція, з вимогами до екології. Трансформатори повинні бути без масла, або з синтетичним маслом, яке дуже швидко розчиняється у воді. Це і рибоходи треба буде будувати такі, як є вже на сучасних станціях. Тобто, це вже буде вже проектуватися. Але це все буде вже робитися після деокупації. Термін реалізації самої станції, щоб побудувати потрібно буде ще шість років. Тобто, від сьогоднішнього дня нам потрібно сім з половиною – вісім років, щоб відновити цей потенціал, який був зруйнований шостого червня», – сказав Сирота.

На світанку 6 червня стало відомо про руйнування дамби Каховської ГЕС. Україна звинувачує у підриві греблі Каховської ГЕС Росію. Кремль називає руйнування греблі «навмисною диверсією» з боку Києва.

Представники країн Заходу, коментуючи руйнування греблі, прямо не заявляли про те, що її підірвала Росія, проте все ж таки відзначали відповідальність Москви за те, що сталося – оскільки саме Росія здійснила повномасштабне вторгнення в Україну 24 лютого минулого року й окупувала частину Херсонської області (зокрема і Каховську ГЕС), перетворивши її на зону боїв.

Руйнування дамби спричинило затоплення значних територій нижче за течією й обміління водосховища вище. Були затоплені десятки населених пунктів.


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Latest in Ukraine: Saudi Arabia Peace Summit Organized by Kyiv 

Latest developments:

Pope Francis appealed Sunday to Russia to revive the U.N.-brokered Black Sea grain deal allowing Ukraine to export grain from its Black Sea ports. The deal expired July 17. Addressing crowds in St. Peter's Square, the pope urged the faithful to continue praying "for martyred Ukraine, where war is destroying everything, even grain," calling this "a grave insult to God."

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Sunday he expects Russia to resume its attacks on Ukraine's power grid next winter and pledged to do everything possible to protect his nation's power infrastructure.


Saudi Arabia will soon host a summit to discuss implementation of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s peace plan to end the war Russia launched last year.

The head of Zelenskyy’s presidential office, Andriy Yermak, said the summit would bring together national security advisers for talks that follow an initial round held in Copenhagen in June. Yermak said Ukraine is “working hard to involve as many partners as possible from both the West and the Global South.”

Yermak did not confirm a date for the summit, but The Wall Street Journal reported it would take place August 5-6 and involve 30 countries. The Associated Press cited officials saying the United States, Brazil, India and South Africa would participate.

“The Ukrainian Peace Formula contains 10 fundamental points, the implementation of which will not only ensure peace for Ukraine, but also create mechanisms to counter future conflicts in the world,” Yermak said in a statement. “We are deeply convinced that the Ukrainian peace plan should be taken as a basis, because the war is taking place on our land.”

African leaders to get grain

African leaders left Russia after a two-day Russia-Africa summit with no resolution on the resumption of the deal that allowed for the safe export of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea corridor.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Saturday that higher grain prices, which have risen since Moscow’s exit from the Black Sea Grain Initiative, will benefit Russian companies as well as the world’s poorest countries.

In his effort to woo African leaders, Putin said during a news conference Saturday in St. Petersburg that Russia will share its profits from rising grain prices with African nations and poor countries. Russia, like Ukraine, is a major grain exporter.

That commitment, with no details, follows Putin’s promise to start shipping 25,000 to 50,000 tons of grain for free to each of six African nations in the next three to four months — an amount dwarfed by the 725,000 tons shipped by the United Nations World Food Program to several hungry countries, African and otherwise, under the grain deal. Russia plans to send the free grain to Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Mali, Somalia, Eritrea and the Central African Republic.

Fewer than 20 of Africa’s 54 heads of state or government attended the Russia summit compared to 43 who attended the previous gathering in 2019.

Russian attacks

A Russian missile attack killed at least one person and injured five in the Ukrainian city of Sumy, National Police said Sunday.

The strike by Russian forces hit “an educational facility,” spokesperson Maryna Polosina said.

A video released by Ukrainian police showed injured people being carried away from the scene as smoke rose from a damaged building nearby.

Moscow said Sunday that Russian forces thwarted a Ukrainian attempt to attack Crimea with 25 drones overnight.

“Sixteen Ukrainian UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] were destroyed by air defense fire,” the Russian defense ministry said. “There were no victims.”

Ukrainian drones attacked Moscow early Sunday, but there were no casualties, the Tass news agency reported, citing city Mayor Sergei Sobyanin.

“Tonight, there was a Ukrainian drone attack. The facades of two office buildings in Moscow City (business district) were slightly damaged. There are no casualties,” Sobyanin said on his Telegram channel.

The Russian defense ministry said it downed three drones targeting the city and described the incident as an “attempted terrorist attack by the Kyiv regime.”

A security guard was injured, Tass reported, citing emergency officials.

The Vnukovo airport on the outskirts of the city suspended flights for about an hour, according to Tass, and the airspace over and around Moscow was temporarily closed.

Some information for this story came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters

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Круїзний лайнер із росіянами вдруге зайшов у Батумі. Його знову зустріли протестами

Лайнер Astoria Grande, на борту якого понад 800 туристів, більшість із яких є громадянами Росії, здійснює круїз маршрутом Сочі – Трабзон – Батумі – Амасра – Стамбул – Сочі

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«Терор нас не зламає» – Зеленський відреагував на обстріли Херсона і Кривого Рогу

«Мої співчуття всім, хто втратив рідних і близьких через російський терор» – президент

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Російський мільярдер внесений до санкційного списку Чехії

Російський олігарх Володимир Євтушенков володіє в Чехії кількома готелями

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Denmark Seeks to Legally Prevent Burnings of Quran, Other Religious Scriptures

Denmark’s foreign minister said Sunday the government will seek to make it illegal to desecrate the Quran or other religious holy books in front of foreign embassies in the Nordic country.

Foreign Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen said in an interview with the Danish public broadcaster DR that the burning of holy scriptures “only serves the purpose of creating division in a world that actually needs unity.”

“That is why we have decided in the government that we will look at how, in very special situations, we can put an end to mockery of other countries, which is in direct conflict with Danish interests and the safety of the Danes,” he said.

A recent string of public Quran desecrations by a handful of anti-Islam activists in Denmark and neighboring Sweden have sparked angry demonstrations in Muslim countries.

Lokke Rasmussen said the Cabinet of Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen is determined to find “a legal tool” to prohibit such acts without compromising freedom of expression, but he acknowledged that would not be easy.

“There must be room for religious criticism, and we have no thoughts of reintroducing a blasphemy clause,” he told DR. “But when you stand up in front of a foreign embassy and burn a Quran or burn the Torah scroll in front of the Israeli embassy, it serves no other purpose than to mock.”

His comments followed a statement issued late Sunday by the Danish government saying freedom of expression is one of the most important values in Danish society.

But, it added, the desecration of the Muslim holy book in Denmark has resulted in the nation being viewed in many places around the world “as a country that facilitates insult and denigration of the cultures, religions, and traditions of other countries.”

The government repeated its condemnation of such desecrations, say they are “deeply offensive and reckless acts committed by few individuals” and “do not represent the values the Danish society is built on.”

In Sweden, Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said Sunday on Instagram that his government is analyzing the legal situation regarding desecration of the Quran and other holy books, given the animosity such acts are stirring up against Sweden.

“We are in the most serious security policy situation since the Second World War,” Kristersson said.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation has called an emergency remote meeting Monday to discuss the Quran burnings in Sweden and Denmark.

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Wildlife Lovers Urged to Join UK’s Annual Butterfly Count

Wildlife enthusiasts across Britain are being encouraged to log sightings of butterflies and some moths, as the world’s largest annual survey of the increasingly endangered pollinating insects returns.

The U.K.-wide “Big Butterfly Count” — which this year runs from July 14 to August 6 — helps conservationists assess the health of the country’s natural environment, amid mounting evidence it is increasingly imperiled. 

Volunteers download a chart helping them to identify different butterfly species and then record their sightings in gardens, parks and elsewhere using a smartphone app and other online tools.

It comes as experts warn the often brightly colored winged insects are in rapid decline in Britain as they fail to cope with unprecedented environmental change. 

“It’s a pretty worrying picture,” Richard Fox, head of science at the Butterfly Conservation charity, which runs the nationwide citizen-led survey, told AFP at Orley Common, a vast park in Devon, southwest England.

“The major causes of the decline are what we humans have done to the landscape in the U.K. over the past 50, 60, 70 years,” he added from the site, which is seeing fewer butterflies despite offering an ideal habitat for them. 

A report published this year that Fox co-authored, based on 23 million items of data, revealed that four in every five U.K. butterfly species have decreased since the 1970s. 

Half of the country’s 58 species are listed as threatened, according to a conservation “red list.” 

‘Citizen scientists’

The UK, one of the world’s most nature-depleted countries, has lost almost half of its biodiversity over recent decades, according to a 2021 U.K. parliament report.

Agriculture, and its use of fertilizers and pesticides, alongside changes to landscapes including the removal of hedge rows to maximize space for growing crops, is partly blamed.

Counting butterflies, which are among the most monitored insects globally, has helped track the grim trend. 

Volunteers have been contributing to the effort since the 1970s, but recording is more popular than ever, in part thanks to evolving technology.

The Big Butterfly Count launched in 2010 and claims to have become the world’s biggest such survey. 

Over 64,000 “citizen scientists” participated last year, submitting 96,257 counts of butterflies and day-flying moths from across Britain.

Butterfly Conservation and the U.K. Centre for Ecology and Hydrology have developed an iRecord Butterflies app to help identify and geo-locate different butterfly species sightings.

It has logged nearly 1 million submissions since launching in 2014.

Butterflies help identify the health of an ecosystem because they react quickly to environmental changes and are seen as an early warning system for other wildlife losses, conservationists note.

“One of the great things about butterflies and of this fantastic data that we have about butterflies is that they act as indicators about all the other groups,” Fox explained. 

“So we know a bit about how our bees are doing, we know a little about how bugs, and beetles, and flies, and wasps, and other important insects are doing.”

‘We’ll starve’

Amy Walkden, Butterfly Conservation’s branch secretary in Devon, is one of many enthusiasts monitoring the insects year-round with the help of her 8-year-old daughter, Robin.

“Having a yearly record of what is around and what is not around I think is really good scientific data to indicate changes such as global warming, habitat destruction,” she said. 

Her daughter Robin appears equally aware of their value.

“If we don’t have any butterflies and all the buzzy things, then the things that eat butterflies won’t have any food,” she noted.

“The food chain is basically what we eat and if there is none of them, we’ll starve and we won’t really be able to survive, will we?”

Fox hopes that the latest annual count will help prompt policy makers to take more action, although he concedes the scale of the task is “enormous.”

The U.K. government has said it wants to reverse biodiversity loss and climate change, partly by planting tens of millions of trees in the next three years.

Fox called the plan “fantastic” but said other areas such as low intensity agri-environment schemes are also needed, “so that the public money paid to farmers will benefit the environment and support biodiversity.”

“There’s a lot more we can do there to make sure that the margins around fields are being managed in a way to turn around the fortunes of our more common and widespread butterflies,” he added.

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Зеленський відреагував на заклик папи Римського до Росії

«Головне зараз – зупинити російський терор і повністю реалізувати формулу миру»

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10 Die, Including 3 Children, as Strong Winds Hit Tourist Camp in Central Russia

Ten people — including three children — died after high winds tore through central Russia, emergency services and a local official reported Sunday.

Eight of the dead were part of a group of tourists camping close to Lake Yalchik in the Mari-El region when the storm hit Saturday, Russia’s emergencies ministry said.

The strong winds caused a large number of trees to fall in the area, including where the group’s tents had been pitched on a stretch of wild beach inside the Mariy Chodra National Park, regional leader Yuri Zaitsev wrote on social media. He said that three children were among the dead. Russia’s investigative committee has opened a criminal case to determine whether unsafe or sub-standard services provided by the park’s management company contributed to the deaths.

Across the wider Volga Federal District, 76 people were injured in the storm, with thousands of households losing power, emergency services said.

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African Leaders Leave Russia Summit Without Grain Deal or Path to End Ukraine War

African leaders are leaving two days of meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin with little to show for their requests to resume a deal that kept grain flowing from Ukraine and to find a path to end the war there.

Putin in a press conference late Saturday following the Russia-Africa summit said Russia’s termination of the grain deal earlier this month caused a rise in grain prices that benefits Russian companies. He added that Moscow would share some of those revenues with the “poorest nations.”

That commitment, with no details, follows Putin’s promise to start shipping 25,000 to 50,000 tons of grain for free to each of six African nations in the next three to four months — an amount dwarfed by the 725,000 tons shipped by the U.N. World Food Program to several hungry countries, African and otherwise, under the grain deal. Russia plans to send the free grain to Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Mali, Somalia, Eritrea and Central African Republic.

Fewer than 20 of Africa’s 54 heads of state or government attended the Russia summit, while 43 attended the previous gathering in 2019, reflecting concerns over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine even as Moscow seeks more allies on the African continent of 1.3 billion people. Putin praised Africa as a rising center of power in the world, while the Kremlin blamed “outrageous” Western pressure for discouraging some African countries from showing up.

The presidents of Egypt and South Africa were among the most outspoken on the need to resume the grain deal.

“We would like the Black Sea initiative to be implemented and that the Black Sea should be open,” South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said. “We are not here to plead for donations for the African continent.”

Putin also said Russia would analyze African leaders’ peace proposal for Ukraine, whose details have not been publicly shared. But the Russian leader asked: “Why do you ask us to pause fire? We can’t pause fire while we’re being attacked.”

The next significant step in peace efforts instead appears to be a Ukrainian-organized peace summit hosted by Saudi Arabia in August. Russia is not invited.

Africa’s nations make up the largest voting bloc at the United Nations and have been more divided than any other region on General Assembly resolutions criticizing Russia’s actions in Ukraine. Delegations at the summit in St. Petersburg roamed exhibits of weapons, a reminder of Russia’s role as the top arms supplier to the African continent.

Putin in his remarks on Saturday also downplayed his absence from the BRICS economic summit in South Africa next month amid a controversy over an arrest warrant issued against him by the International Criminal Court. His presence there, Putin said, is not “more important than my presence here, in Russia.”

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AM Radio Fights to Keep Its Spot on US Car Dashboards

The number of AM radio stations in the United States is dwindling. Over the decades, mainstream broadcasters have moved to the FM band — especially music stations — to take advantage of FM’s superior audio fidelity. Now, there is a new threat to America’s remaining 4,000 AM stations. Some automakers want to kick AM off their dashboard radios.

In Dimmitt, in the state of Texas, that has Nancy and Todd Whalen worried. For eight years, they’ve owned KDHN-AM 1470, on the air since 1963. The Whalens are heard live on the station’s morning show and are KDHN’s sole employees.

“We came here to Dimmitt and told people that we wanted to give them something to be proud of. And we feel like what we’ve done and what we continue to do is provide that, not just for Dimmitt but for all the small towns in the area that no longer have local radio stations,” Nancy said.

KDHN, known as “The Twister,” also has received a Federal Communications Commission license for an FM (frequency modulation) translator, limited to 250 watts, which simulcasts the AM (amplitude modulation) signal. But the 500-watt AM signal covers more territory — about a 160-kilometer (99-mile) radius — compared with the 30-kilometer (19-mile) reach of the FM signal.

“The AM radio station is everything for us,” Nancy Whalen said. “We just turned on the FM translator, it’ll be two years in September. But the AM signal has been our bread and butter since the beginning.”

Where the profit is

Some urban station owners have decided it is more profitable to sell the real estate on which their antenna towers sit rather than continue to try to make money from commercials targeting a dwindling audience. That is what happened to KDWN in Las Vegas, Nevada, which was authorized by the FCC to transmit the maximum 50,000 watts allowed for AM stations. Corporate owner Audacy sold its 15-hectare (37-acre) transmission site on desert land last year to a real estate developer for $40 million and then switched off the powerful AM station, which had listeners across the entire Western U.S. at night.

Unlike FM band stations, which are limited to line-of-sight reception by the laws of physics, lower-frequency AM signals bounce off the ionosphere after sunset, giving them a range of hundreds and sometimes thousands of kilometers. FM stations have a greater audio frequency range, as they are allowed a wider bandwidth compared with AM stations. The most popular formats for the remaining AM stations in the United States are news/talk programming and sports, followed by country music.

Todd Whalen said audio quality is not an issue for his KDHN listeners.

“Our AM signal actually sounds as good as an FM signal because we have a state-of-the-art transmitter and processing,” he explained.

Recently, some major auto manufacturers announced plans to stop including AM radios in new vehicles, contending electric vehicle motor systems cause interference with reception, making stations unlistenable and, thus, the AM band obsolete.

Legislative response

Broadcasters and lawmakers object.

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, posted a video to Twitter about legislation she co-sponsored that would require vehicle manufacturers to include AM receivers in all new vehicles.

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation approved via voice vote Thursday the “AM For Every Vehicle Act,” sending it to the Senate floor for consideration.

“Maybe people don’t understand how rural works, but a lot of people drive long distances to get to their town, to visit their friends,” Klobuchar said in her online video. She added she did not think auto manufacturers “understand how important AM radio is to people today.”

People like Rodney Hunter, who manages two grain silo sites in Tulia and Edmonson, Texas, said news on AM radio about corn, cotton, wheat and cattle are critical.

“I’ve had at least three farmers that called in today and said they heard on the radio that the markets are up. And without AM radio that would not be possible,” he told VOA on a recent morning at the grain silo in Tulia when a halt to grain shipments from Ukraine was causing a surge in prices of some agricultural commodities.

“Farmers are in their pickups or in their tractors, and they’re going up and down the road,” Hunter said. Relying on AM radio reception in vehicles “is just a lot handier” than trying to get crop-related news online.

Different languages

A five-hour drive southeast of Tulia found Joann Whang, in Carrollton, tuned in to another AM station. She’s not a farmer, but a pharmacist — listening to Korean-language KKDA-AM 730.

“My friend told me about it,” she said. “At first, I thought a Korean radio station is usually for the older generation, but it was actually pretty interesting. You can get all the information and highlights and even K-pop [music].”

The station is owned by the DK Media Group, which also publishes two Korean-language weekly newspapers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The company’s president, Stephanie Min Kim, said having no AM radios in new cars would imperil ethnic broadcasters who cannot afford the limited and more lucrative FM licenses.

“We feel that it is our duty to help and support our Korean immigrants integrate into American society,” said Kim, a former broadcaster at KBS in South Korea. “So, we invite experts from the law, health care and education to provide practical and useful information” over the station’s airwaves.

“More than 40% of radio listening is done in the car,” Kim said. “So, I think AM radio is facing a potential existential threat.”

That existential threat also affects another Dallas-area station — KHSE at 700 on the AM dial.

The station, known as Radio Caravan, with announcers speaking in Hindi, Tamil, English and other languages, plays South Asian music and provides information about community events.

While Radio Caravan also simulcasts on FM from a site 50 kilometers (31 miles) north of Dallas, that transmission does not have the reach of the 1,500-watt AM station whose transmitter and antenna array are located at a different site, also about 50 kilometers northeast of downtown Dallas.

“I don’t think AM can ever go away,” said Radio Caravan program host Aparna Ragnan, who suggested that auto manufacturers find a way to minimize the noise interference in electric vehicles instead of stopping installation of AM receivers in new cars and trucks.

Content is key

The inferior audio range of AM is not really an issue, said Radio Caravan’s station manager, Vaibhav Sheth.

“It’s the content that matters,” according to Sheth, who also noted that AM stations are a critical link for the alerts sent by the nationwide Emergency Alert System.

“Those sirens go off and your regular programming is interrupted, and when there’s an emergency, whether it’s a tornado warning, whether it’s a child abduction, whatever it is that’s happening, it goes to the AM frequency,” he said.

Some radio stations, including those struggling with personnel costs to fill 24 hours of programming, are beginning to use artificial intelligence, known as AI, which can grab real-time information, such as weather forecasts and sports scores, and use cloned announcer voices to make the computer-generated content sound live.

Kim at DK Media Group said AI might be valuable for some content, such as commercials, but she did not see it replacing empathetic voices interacting with the community in live programming.

“We are human beings,” Kim said.

The Whalens said they have not considered AI, even though they could use extra help at their “mom ‘n’ pop”-style station, which also broadcasts some local high school sports.

“We like being live in the studio. There’s just a different energy and a different feel,” said Nancy Whalen. “I think people listening can tell that over the radio. Artificial Intelligence is just that, and it’s not going to give the listener what they’re really looking for.”

Her husband, Todd, agreed. “We don’t want to be a canned radio station, because there’s a lot of canned stations out there.”

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AM Radio Fights to Keep Its Spot on US Car Dashboards

There has been a steady decline in the number of AM radio stations in the United States. Over the decades, urban and mainstream broadcasters have moved to the FM band, which has better audio fidelity, although more limited range. Now, there is a new threat to the remaining AM stations. Some automakers want to kick AM off their dashboard radios, deeming it obsolete. VOA’s chief national correspondent, Steve Herman, in the state of Texas, has been tuning in to some traditional rural stations, as well as those broadcasting in languages others than English in the big cities. Camera – Steve Herman and Jonathan Zizzo.

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