«Незважаючи на заподіяні їм величезні труднощі й біль, українці продовжують демонструвати героїзм, з яким їх так тісно асоціює світ»
VALENCIA, Spain — The death toll from a dramatic fire that left two residential buildings charred in the Spanish city of Valencia rose to 10 Saturday after authorities announced they had located the remains of what they believed was the last missing person.
Forensic police found the 10th victim inside the scorched building, national government delegate in Valencia Pilar Bernabé told journalists. Police will proceed with DNA testing to confirm the identities of all the victims, she said.
While there were no other missing persons reported, Bernabé stressed that police and firefighters would continue the “complex” work of combing through the building debris in search of any other possible victim.
It was not immediately known how many people were in the two buildings when the fire broke out, but the complex had some 140 apartments.
The blaze that appeared to begin in one home Thursday afternoon engulfed the rest of the 14-story apartment block in less than an hour, raising questions about whether construction materials used on the façade may have contributed to the fire spreading so furiously.
Neighbors described seeing the rapid evolution of the flames, with residents stuck on balconies and children screaming. Those left homeless from the fire, including many Ukrainian refugees who lived in the large residential complex, were initially given refuge in city hotels but were expected to be moved to other accommodation over the weekend.
Experts suggested that a type of cladding might have made the blaze spread faster. However, Valencia Mayor María José Catalá said the fire’s cause was still unknown and that it was too early to comment on whether some materials used in the construction of the modern complex might have worsened it.
Поляки і українці зупиняються біля будівель та фотографують світлові інсталяції
У Чехії проживає понад 600 тисяч українців. Серед них понад 380 тисяч втекли від російської війни проти України та отримали тимчасовий захист, переважно жінки та діти
london — The U.K.’s governing Conservative Party has suspended ties with one if its lawmakers after he accused London Mayor Sadiq Khan of being controlled by Islamists, as tensions over the Israel-Hamas war roil British politics.
The party said Saturday that Lee Anderson was suspended after he refused to apologize for remarks made about Khan in a television interview Friday. The action means that Anderson, a deputy chairman of the Conservatives until last month, will sit in Parliament as an independent.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and other senior Conservative leaders had come under increasing pressure to reject the comments, which the chairwoman of the opposition Labor Party called “unambiguously racist and Islamophobic.”
The controversy comes as the Israel-Hamas war fuels tensions in British society. Pro-Palestinian marches in London have regularly drawn hundreds of thousands of demonstrators calling for an immediate cease-fire, even as critics describe the events as “antisemitic hate marches.” Figures released over the last week show that both anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim incidents have risen sharply since Hamas’ attack on Israel on October 7.
That anger has spilled over into Parliament, where some lawmakers say they fear for their safety after receiving threats over their positions on the conflict in Gaza.
In his interview with GB News, Anderson criticized the police response to pro-Palestinian demonstrations in London, leveling the blame on Khan.
Anderson said he didn’t “actually believe that the Islamists have got control of our country, but what I do believe is they’ve got control of Khan and they’ve got control of London.”
Khan flatly rejected the allegations, telling the BBC that all forms of hatred need to be rejected, including antisemitism, Islamophobia and misogyny.
“My concern is there’ll be people across the country, people who are Muslim, or look like Muslims, who’ll be really concerned about entering into politics because they know if these are the sorts of comments that are said against me by a senior Conservative, what chance do they have?” he said.
Президент закликав лідерів країн «Групи семи» «не забувати, що імперські амбіції та реваншизм зникають лише від програшу того, хто ними заражений»
Казахстан офіційно не підтримав повномасштабне вторгнення Росії в Україну, але й не засудив ці дії
PARIS — A strike by staff at the Eiffel Tower has ended, the company that runs one of the most visited tourist sites in the world said in a statement Saturday.
The tower will reopen Sunday, the Societe d’Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel, or SETE, which is owned by Paris City Hall, said.
Workers at the Eiffel Tower went on strike on Feb. 19 in protest over the way the Paris monument is managed.
It came as Paris prepares to host the 2024 Summer Olympics, which begin on July 26 and will feature metal from the tower in the winners’ medals.
SETE and trade unions “reached an end-of-strike agreement stipulating that the parties will regularly review the company’s business model, maintenance costs and sales through a body that will meet every six months,” the company said.
SETE said visitors who bought tickets between Feb. 19-24 will get refunds.
Unions claim Paris City Hall, which owns 99% of SETE, is underestimating the cost of the planned maintenance and repairs to the monument ahead of the Olympics.
LONDON — A World War II-era bomb whose discovery prompted one of the largest peacetime evacuations in British history has been detonated at sea, the Ministry of Defense said Saturday.
The 500-kilogram (1,100-pound) explosive was discovered Tuesday in the backyard of a home in Plymouth, a port city on the southwestern coast of Britain. More than 10,000 residents were evacuated to ensure their safety as a military convoy transported the unexploded bomb through a densely populated residential area to a ferry slipway, from which it was taken out to sea.
“I think it is fair to say that the last few days will go down in history for Plymouth,” said Tudor Evans, the leader of Plymouth City Council.
Plymouth, home to major naval bases for centuries, was one of the most heavily bombed cities in Britain during World War II. Fifty-nine separate air raids killed 1,174 civilians, according to local officials. The raids destroyed almost 3,800 homes, and heavily damaged another 18,000.
Президент наголосив, що «це потужне і вчасне рішення, яке є важливим внеском у посилення української стійкості»
TOKYO — Chip giant Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. opened its first semiconductor plant in Japan Saturday as part of its ongoing global expansion.
“We are deeply grateful for the seamless support provided by you at every step,” TSMC Chairman Mark Liu said after thanking the Japanese government, local community and business partners, including electronic giant Sony and auto-parts maker Denso. The company’s founder, Morris Chang, was also present at the ceremony in Kikuyo.
This comes as Japan is trying to regain its presence in the chip production industry.
Japan Advanced Semiconductor Manufacturing, or JASM, is set to be up and running later this year. TSMC also announced plans for a second plant in Japan earlier this month, with production expected to start in about three years. Private sector investment totals $20 billion for both plants. Both plants are in the Kumamoto region, southwestern Japan.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida sent a congratulatory video message, calling the plant’s opening “a giant first step.” He stressed Japan’s friendly relations with Taiwan and the importance of cutting-edge semiconductor technology.
Japan had previously promised TSMC 476 billion yen ($3 billion) in government funding to encourage the semiconductor giant to invest. Kishida confirmed a second package, raising Japan’s support to more than 1 trillion yen ($7 billion).
Although TSMC is building its second plant in the U.S. and has announced a plan for its first in Europe, Japan could prove an attractive option.
Closer to Taiwan geographically, Japan is an important U.S. ally. Neighboring China claims the self-governing island as its own territory and says it must come under Beijing’s control. The long-running divide is a flashpoint in U.S.-China relations.
The move is also important for Japan, which has recently earmarked about 5 trillion yen ($33 billion) to revive its chips industry.
Four decades ago, Japan dominated in chips, headlined by Toshiba Corp. and NEC controlling half the world’s production. That’s declined lately to under 10%, due to competition from South Korean, U.S. and European manufacturers, as well as from TSMC.
The coronavirus pandemic negatively affected the supply of electronic chips, stalling plants, including automakers, with Japan almost entirely dependent on chip imports. This pushed Japan to seek chip production in pursuit of self-sufficiency.
Sony Semiconductor Solutions Corporation, Denso Corporation and top automaker Toyota Motor Corporation are investing in TSMC’s Japan plant, with the Taiwanese giant retaining an 86.5% ownership of JASM.
Once the two plants are up and running, they’re expected to create 3,400 high-tech jobs directly, according to TSMC.
Ensuring access to an ample supply of the most advanced chips is vital with the growing popularity of electric vehicles and artificial intelligence. Some analysts note Japan still leads in crucial aspects of the industry, as seen in Tokyo Electron, which manufactures the machinery used to produce chips.
Still, it’s clear the Japanese government is intent on playing catchup. Tokyo is supporting various semiconductor projects nationwide, such as those involving Western Digital and Micron of the U.S., and Japanese companies such as Renesas Electronics, Canon and Sumitomo.
Попри бажання завершити війну, важливо, аби вона закінчилася на умовах України, сказав президент
«Інших варіантів завершити війну, окрім обвалу лінії фронту, тактичних поразок Росії, не існує. Все інше – це фікція»
За оцінкою розвідки, наразі чисельність російських військ в Україні більша, ніж була на початку вторгнення
«Два роки ганьби всім, хто залишився байдужим», заявив голова польського уряду Дональд Туск
TALLINN, Estonia — Earlier this month, when Tucker Carlson asked Vladimir Putin about his reasons for invading Ukraine two years ago, Putin gave him a lecture on Russian history. The 71-year-old Russian leader spent more than 20 minutes showering a baffled Carlson with dates and names going back to the ninth century.
Putin even gave him a folder containing what he said were copies of historical documents proving his points: that Ukrainians and Russians historically have always been one people, and that Ukraine’s sovereignty is merely an illegitimate holdover from the Soviet era.
Carlson said he was “shocked” at being on the receiving end of the history lesson. But for those familiar with Putin’s government, it was not surprising in the least: In Russia, history has long been a propaganda tool used to advance the Kremlin’s political goals. And the last two years have been entirely in keeping with that ethos.
In an effort to rally people around their world view, Russian authorities have tried to magnify the country’s past victories while glossing over the more sordid chapters of its history. They have rewritten textbooks, funded sprawling historical exhibitions and suppressed — sometimes harshly — voices that contradict their narrative.
Russian officials have also regularly bristled at Ukraine and other European countries for pulling down Soviet monuments, widely seen there as an unwanted legacy of past oppression, and even put scores of European officials on a wanted list over that in a move that made headlines this month.
“In the hands of the authorities,” says Oleg Orlov, co-founder of Memorial, Russia’s oldest and most prominent rights group, “history has become a hammer — or even an axe.”
From the early years of his quarter-century rule, Putin has repeatedly contended that studying their history should make Russians proud. Even controversial figures, such as Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, contributed to Russia’s greatness, Putin argues. (Russian media have counted over 100 monuments to Stalin in Russia, most of which were installed during Putin’s rule.)
The Russian president has said that there should be one “fundamental state narrative” instead of different textbooks that contradict each other. And he has called for a “universal” history textbook that would convey that narrative. But that idea, criticized heavily by historians, didn’t gain much traction for quite a while — until Russia invaded Ukraine.
Last year, the government rolled out a series of four new “universal” history textbooks for 10th- and 11th-graders. One featured a chapter on Moscow’s “special military operation” in Ukraine, blamed the West for the Cold War and described the collapse of the Soviet Union as “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century.”
Some historians derided it as blatant propaganda. “The Soviet Union, and later Russia, is (depicted in the textbook as) always a besieged fortress, which constantly lives surrounded by enemies. These hostile circles are trying to weaken Russia in every conceivable way and seize its resources,” says historian Nikita Sokolov.
The Kremlin-friendly vision of Russian history is also dominating a chain of sprawling, state-funded “history parks” – venues that host history-themed exhibitions in 24 cities across the country.
Those venues were opened after a series of historical exhibitions in the early 2010s drew hundreds of thousands of Russians and received praise from Putin. Metropolitan Tikhon (Shevkunov), a Russian Orthodox bishop reported to be Putin’s personal confessor, was the driving force behind them.
Packed with animations, touch-screen displays and other flashy elements, those widely popular expositions were criticized by historians for inaccurate claims and deliberate glorification of Russian rulers and their conquests.
One exhibition described Ivan the Terrible, a 16th-century Russian czar known for his violent purges of Russian nobility, as a victim of “an information war.” Another was widely advertised with a quote falsely attributed to Otto von Bismarck, chancellor of the German Empire in the 19th century, that was removed swiftly after sparking outcry: “It is impossible to defeat the Russians. We have seen this ourselves over hundreds of years. But Russians can be instilled with false values, and then they will defeat themselves.”
Central to this narrative of an invincible Russia is the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II. Marked on May 9 — Germany officially capitulated after midnight Moscow time on May 9, 1945 — the Soviet victory has become integral to Russian identity.
The Soviet Union lost an estimated 27 million people in the war, pushing German forces from Stalingrad, deep inside Russia, all the way to Berlin. The suffering and valor that went into the German defeat have been touchstones ever since, and under Putin Victory Day has become the country’s primary secular holiday.
For the authorities, “Russia’s history is a road from one victory to the next,” sums up Orlov, whose group won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2022. “And more beautiful victories lie ahead. And (the Kremlin says that) we must be proud of our history; history is a means of instilling patriotism. Of course in their view, patriotism is appreciation of the leadership – be it the leadership of the czarist Russia, the leadership of the Soviet Russia or the current leadership.”
As celebrations of Victory Day over the years grew more imperious, Putin’s government grew less tolerant of any questioning or criticism of the Soviet Union’s actions in that war — or generally.
In 2014, Russian cable networks dropped Dozhd, the county’s sole independent TV channel, after it hosted a history program on the 1941-44 Siege of Leningrad and asked viewers to vote on whether Soviet authorities should have surrendered Leningrad to save lives. Famine in the city, now called St. Petersburg, killed more than 500,000 people during the siege. The question caused an uproar, with officials accusing the channel of crossing moral and ethical lines.
That same year, the Russian government adopted a law that made “rehabilitating Nazism” – or “spreading knowingly false information about the actions of the USSR during World War II” – a criminal offense.
The first conviction on those charges was reported in 2016. A man was fined 200,000 rubles (about $3,000 at the time) for a social media post saying that “the Communists and Germany attacked Poland together, unleashing World War II.” In the years that followed, the number of convictions on the charge only grew.
Research and public debate about mass repressions by Stalin also have faced significant resistance in recent years. Historians and rights advocates cite the inevitable parallels to the current crackdown against dissent that has already landed hundreds of people behind bars.
Two historians involved in researching Stalin’s mass executions in northwestern Russia were jailed in recent years – prosecutions on unrelated charges many link to their work. Memorial, Russia’s oldest and most prominent human rights group that drew international acclaim for its studies of political repression in the Soviet Union, has been shut down. It continues to work, but its activities in Russia have been significantly curtailed.
And a queue of people waiting for their turn to read out the names of victims of Soviet repressions no longer snakes through central Moscow streets in late October. The tradition to read them aloud once a year in front of a monument to victims of Soviet repressions — called “Returning the Names” — was started in 2007 and once attracted thousands of people. In 2020, Moscow authorities stopped authorizing it, citing COVID-19.
The authorities are threatened by efforts to preserve historical memory, and it has gotten worse since the war in Ukraine began, says Natalya Baryshnikova, producer of last year’s “Returning the Names,” which in 2023 went ahead in dozens of cities abroad and online.
“We see this very clearly” since the Ukraine war began, says Baryshnikova. “Any grassroots civil movement or statement about the memory of Soviet terror is inconvenient.”
According to prominent history teacher Tamara Eidelman, the historical narrative the Kremlin is trying to impose on society contains several main elements: the primacy of the state, the affairs of which are always more important than individual lives; the cult of self-sacrifice and readiness to give up one’s life for a greater cause; and the cult of war.
“Of course, (the latter) is never explicitly spelled out,” Eidelman says. Instead, the narrative is: “`We have always strived for peace … We have always been attacked and merely fought back.'”
That laid the perfect ideological groundwork for the invasion of Ukraine, she says, and points out how the “Never again!” sentiment about World War II for some in Russia in recent years became “We can do it again” — a popular slogan after the annexation of Crimea in 2014 as the Kremlin adopted increasingly aggressive rhetoric toward the West.
Indeed, in the years before the Ukraine war, Putin cited history increasingly often. In 2020, during a reform that reset the limits on his presidential terms, a reference to history was even added to the country’s constitution — a new clause that stipulated Russia is “united by a thousand-year history” and “enforces protection of the historical truth.”
In 2020-21, Putin published two lengthy articles on history — one criticizing the West for actions leading up to World War II, another arguing that Ukrainians and Russians have always been one people. In an address to the nation days before sending troops into Ukraine, he once again invoked history, claiming Ukraine as a state was created artificially by Soviet leaders.
History “has been used to legitimize the regime essentially since the beginning of Putin’s rule,” Ivan Kurilla, a historian at Wellesley College, said in a recent article. And with the war in Ukraine, it “finally took a central place in the state ideology next to geopolitical talk about sovereignty, the ‘decline of the West’ and the protection of traditional values.”
PARIS — Angry farmers were back in Paris on their tractors in a new protest Friday demanding more government support and simpler regulations, on the eve of a major agricultural fair in the French capital.
Dozens of tractors drove peacefully into Paris carrying flags from Rural Coordination, the farmers’ union that staged the protest. The protesters then posed with their tractors on a bridge over the Seine River with the Eiffel Tower in the background, before heading towards the Vauban plaza in central Paris, where they all gathered for the demonstration.
The latest protest comes three weeks after farmers lifted roadblocks around Paris and elsewhere in the country after the government offered over 400 million euros ($433 million) to address their grievances over low earnings, heavy regulation and what they describe as unfair competition from abroad.
“Save our agriculture,” the Rural Coordination said on X, formerly Twitter. One tractor was carrying a poster reading: “Death is in the field.”
The convoy temporarily slowed traffic on the A4 highway, east of the capital, and on the Paris ring-road earlier on Friday morning.
French farmers’ actions are part of a broader protest movement in Europe against EU agriculture policies, bureaucracy and overall business conditions.
Farmers complain that the 27-nation bloc’s environmental policies, such as the Green Deal, which calls for limits on the use of chemicals and on greenhouse gas emissions, limit their business and make their products more expensive than non-EU imports.
Other protests are being staged across France as farmers seek to put pressure on the government to implement its promises.
Government officials have held a series of meetings with farmers unions in recent weeks to discuss a new bill meant to defend France’s “agricultural sovereignty,” and which will be debated in parliament this spring.
The government’s plan also includes hundreds of millions of euros in aid, tax breaks and a promise not to ban pesticides in France that are allowed elsewhere in Europe. French farmers say such bans put them at an unfair disadvantage.
Cyril Hoffman, a cereal producer in the Burgundy region and a member of the Rural Coordination, said farmers now want the government to “take action.”
He said his union is advocating for exempting the farming industry from free trade agreements.
“They can make free trade agreements but agriculture should not be part of them, so we can remain sovereign regarding our food,” Hoffman said. “Only in France do we let our farming disappear.”
French President Emmanuel Macron planned to visit the Paris Agricultural Fair on Saturday, though his office appeared to have removed from his agenda a previously scheduled “big debate” with farmers and members of environmental groups at the event.
The president will meet with farmers’ unions before the fair’s opening, his office said late Friday.
Yet France’s major farmer’s union, the FNSEA, said Friday its board decided not to participate in the debate because “conditions for a peaceful dialogue are not met.” The FNSEA staged another protest in Paris, near the site of the fair, on Friday afternoon.
The Paris Agricultural Fair is one of the world’s largest farm fairs, drawing crowds every year.
pentagon — The U.S. military has been forced to dip into its own funding to cover American training of Ukrainian forces, a strategy that could leave the Army short on finances in Europe as the Russian war on Ukraine enters its third year.
“U.S. Army Europe and Africa (USAREUR-AF) is currently paying to fund Ukraine training ourselves,” Col. Martin O’Donnell, the public affairs director for the Army’s forces across those two continents, told VOA.
Without a 2024 budget approved by Congress, and without Congress passing supplemental funding for Ukraine, USAREUR-AF currently has roughly $3 billion to pay for $5 billion of operations costs, according to two U.S. Army officials.
“If nothing changes, and we do not receive additional money, we will run out of funding for everything — support to Ukraine, operations and exercises in Europe and Africa — at the start of summer,” O’Donnell said.
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have been debating new funding for Ukraine for months. The Pentagon sent the last round of aid that could be pulled from its military stockpiles in late December.
Last week, the Senate approved a $95 billion foreign aid bill that included $60 billion in support for Ukraine. However, Republican leadership in the House of Representatives has so far declined to bring the bill up for a vote.
Congressional “inaction” is forcing the Army and others to make “tough decisions” that could “impact the entire force,” Pentagon spokesperson Sabrina Singh told VOA.
“We are definitely vulnerable,” she said in an interview Friday. “We’re unable to modernize. We’re unable to change programs. It’s like fighting with one arm tied behind our back. It puts us at a complete disadvantage.”
Singh called the training of Ukrainian forces “an essential mission.”
“We can’t just turn our backs on those Ukrainian soldiers that are coming, whether it’s in Europe or to the United States to train, to go back out there and fight this war,” she said.
The Biden administration believes that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s goals do not end with taking Ukraine. Should Putin attack a NATO ally, the U.S. would be bound by treaties to defend that nation, bringing the U.S. into war with Russia.
In the administration’s view, supporting Ukraine not only comes to the aid of a democratic partner that was illegally invaded, but also keeps the U.S. out of a future war.
According to an Army official, the U.S. just completed training a Ukrainian battalion in Germany and is currently training approximately 150 Ukrainians at Grafenwoehr Training Area.
“We remain postured to support Ukraine’s needs,” Col. O’Donnell told VOA.
Arizona National Guardsmen are also training a small number of Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets at Morris Air National Guard Base in Tucson, Arizona, while a small number of other Ukrainian pilots and aircraft maintainers attend English-language training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in Texas.
National Guard Bureau Chief Gen. Dan Hokanson told reporters earlier this month that the Guard can continue the training to completion — likely later this year.
“Then if we decide to increase that, obviously, we’ll need the resources to train additional pilots and ground support personnel,” he said.
Saturday marks two years since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Ukraine says it has retaken control over more than 50% of the territory once controlled by Russia. Russia still controls about 18% of Ukrainian territory.
Earlier this week, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told CNN that Ukraine wouldn’t have lost the city of Avdiivka, where Kyiv’s forces recently withdrew, if Ukraine “had received all the artillery ammunition that we needed to defend it.”
Singh on Friday agreed with Kuleba’s assessment, saying there was a “direct link” between “congressional inaction” and Ukraine’s withdrawal from Avdiivka.
«На жаль, поки що немає української пропозиції, яка б дозволила сподіватися на вихід з глухого кута в торговельних відносинах»