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Ukraine's economy minister announces resignation
2014.08.22 04:50:13

Ukraine's economy minister announced his resignation on Thursday following conflicts within the government on how to turn around the dire national economic situation.

"Instead of continuing to fight yesterday's system, I have decided to focus on working with the people of tomorrow," Pavlo Sheremeta wrote on his Facebook page.

His resignation has to be signed by President Petro Poroshenko to go into effect.

Politically inexperienced Sheremeta, 43, was appointed on February 27 as economy minister in the government of Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, days after former leader Viktor Yanukovych was toppled.

The two politicians have clashed over the slow pace of economic reforms needed to kick start Ukraine's stalling economy and receive badly needed international aid.

Fierce fighting in the east - Ukraine's industrial heartland - between government forces and pro-Russia rebels has sapped already weak growth and caused the national currency to plunge to a record low against the dollar.

[AFP]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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EU should stick to measures against Russia - Czech minister
2014.08.22 04:49:24

The European Union should stick to targeted sanctions imposed on Russia over the Ukraine crisis despite Moscow responding with sanctions that are hurting Europe's economy, the Czech foreign minister said on Thursday.

EU unity on the matter showed signs of fraying after Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said last Friday that the 28-nation bloc had "shot itself in the foot" and that the sanctions policy should be reconsidered.

His comments came a day after Slovak counterpart Robert Fico criticized the sanctions as "meaningless", saying they would threaten economic growth in the EU.

"I can hardly imagine what alternatives we had," Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek said after meeting Czech business officials.

"I feel we should stand by that and it is not difficult to say why have done it," he said.

Zaoralek mentioned Russia's annexation of Crimea in March as well as the shooting down in July of a Malaysian airliner over Ukrainian territory where pro-Russian separatists and government forces are fighting.

[Reuters]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | European Union

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Calling for ceasefire in south-eastern Ukraine
2014.08.22 04:18:41

Moscow asked the UN Security Council to adopt a statement calling for ceasefire in south-eastern Ukraine for the duration of the humanitarian mission there, the Foreign Ministry said on Thursday, the Itar-Tass news agency reports.



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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Ukraine's Poroshenko says will urge rebel withdrawal at Minsk meeting with Putin
2014.08.22 04:17:51

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said on Thursday he would call on Russian President Vladimir Putin to take action for pro-Russian separatists to be withdrawn from Ukraine when the two men meet next week, his website said.

Poroshenko is scheduled to see Putin in the Belarussian capital Minsk on August 26 at a meeting that will also include top leaders of the European Union and of the Russian-led Customs Union.

Though he did not mention Putin by name, Poroshenko was quoted by his website as saying that the Ukrainian side "would call for the (rebel) fighters to be withdrawn from Ukraine."

Poroshenko's pro-Western leadership accuses Russia of orchestrating separatist rebellions in Ukraine, in which more than 2,000 people have been killed, and of arming the rebels.

Moscow denies this.

[Reuters]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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Ukrainian border guards begin checks on Russian aid convoy
2014.08.22 04:16:46

Ukrainian border guards on Thursday began checks on a Russian truck convoy which is carrying aid earmarked for humanitarian relief in eastern Ukraine, the border guards service said.

"I can confirm that at 2:15 pm the Ukrainian side began border-customs formalities relating to the Russian humanitarian cargo," border guard spokesman Andriy Demchenko told Reuters.

Asked on whose territory the cargo was, he replied: "On the territory of the Russian border point."

[Reuters]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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Three refugees killed, including one child
2014.08.22 03:58:13

Three refugees including a five-year-old child were killed near the eastern Ukrainian city of Luhansk when rebel gunfire hit their car, a Ukrainian military spokesman said on Thursday.

About 500 people a day have been fleeing Luhansk, a pro-Russian separatist stronghold that has been battered by months of fighting between rebels and Ukrainian forces, but some have been caught in the crossfire while attempting to leave.



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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Kiev says Russian army vehicles seized in east
2014.08.22 03:57:25

Ukraine said Thursday it hadĀ  captured two armored vehicles belonging to the Russian military as it pushed on with a brutal offensive to snap the back of the pro-Moscow rebellion in the war-torn east.

More soon.



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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Reports: Syria troops kill scores of Islamic State group fighters
2014.08.22 03:56:30

Activists and Syria's state media are reporting that dozens of members of Islamic State group have been killed in fighting around a northern military base.

Syria's state news agency SANA quoted an unnamed military official as saying that "large numbers of terrorists were wiped out'' on Thursday near the Tabqa air base in the northern province of Raqqa.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the death toll among fighters from the Islamic State group is at least 11 and possibly as many as "tens".

Beirut-based Al-Mayadeen TV said more than 150 members of the group were killed in an ambush near the air base.

The base is the last army position in Raqqa province that is still under government control.

[AP]



Tags: Syria | Islamic State

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Russia has ordered the temporary closure of four McDonald's restaurants
2014.08.22 03:39:27

The fast food giant was told its restaurants have violated sanitation rules.

Many, however, are linking the closures to the political friction between the US and Russia over the crisis in Ukraine.



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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Islamic State group affiliated accounts on Twitter
2014.08.22 03:38:32

Islamic State group affiliated accounts on Twitter have posted pictures of the aftermath of what appears to be a battle with fighters from the PKK the village of Jazaa in Hasakah, Syria.

The images show the bodies of several female fighters belonging to the group, which fought the Turkish government for decades before a peace deal last year.

The group claimed to have killed 10 fighters, all of them women, and posted a photo of what appears to be a female captive.

At least one Islamic State group supporter was reported to have been killed in the battle.



Tags: Syria | Islamic State

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Ukraine's economy minister Sheremeta offers resignation
2014.08.22 03:22:18

Ukrainian Economy Minister Pavlo Sheremeta said on Thursday he had tendered his resignation and voiced frustration at not being able to push ahead with much-needed economic reform.

After months of fighting in its eastern regions following the toppling of a government blighted by corruption and economic mismanagement, Ukraine's economy has contracted sharply, even with a multi-billion dollar financial lifeline from the International Monetary Fund.

[Reuters]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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Israeli security cabinet has approved the call-up of 10,000 reservists
2014.08.22 03:21:22

According to the website of the Israeli army radio, the Israeli security cabinet has approved the call-up of 10,000 reservists, adding that yesterday, following the collapse of the indirect peace talks, the Israeli army called up 2,000 reservists.

http://www.iba.org.il



Tags: Gaza | Israel

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US cannot bomb the IS inside Syria
2014.08.22 03:19:40

The US cannot bomb the Islamic State group inside Syria without asking President Assad, Omran al-Zoubi, the interim information minister has said.

Speaking to Al-Mayadeen TV, Al-Zoubi said, "the American planes can only strike inside Syria if they ask for the consent of the government because Syria looks at the war on terror as being comprehensive and not partial.

"The international community cannot afford double standards and dismiss the role of Turkey, Qatar and other countries in the region in the financing of terrorism and it must deal with the threat as a whole."



Tags: Syria | Islamic State | United States

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Statement by Arouri
2014.08.22 02:55:15

An addition to the previous post: No other senior Hamas official has repeated or confirmed the comments in the statement by Arouri, MWC is seeking further comment.



Tags: Gaza | Israel | Hamas

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ICRC spokesman Ewan Watson speaking to Reuters
2014.08.22 02:54:00

"An ICRC team visited Luhansk (on Wednesday) to check the roads and establish contacts for the delivery of the convoy, having received security guarantees for the mission. We hope all issues can be resolved shortly."



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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Syria war toll over 180,000: NGO
2014.08.22 02:53:00

More than 180,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict broke out in March 2011, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in a new toll published on Thursday.

The Britain-based monitoring group, which relies on a network of sources on the ground, said it had documented the deaths of 180,215 people.

Among them were 58,805 civilians, including 9,428 children and 6,036 women.

The group said 49,699 members of the armed opposition had been killed, among them fighters from armed groups like Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State.

It did not break the figures down further.

The new toll includes 66,365 regime forces - 40,438 from the military, and 25,927 members of a pro-regime militia.

The Observatory also documented the deaths of 561 members of Lebanon's Hezbollah movement, which is fighting alongside the regime, and 1,854 other non-Syrian pro-regime fighters.

The toll also includes 2,931 unidentified people whose deaths the Observatory has confirmed without being able to record their identities.

The conflict has also displaced nearly half of the country's population.

[AFP]



Tags: Syria

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Three kidnapped Israeli settlers
2014.08.22 02:42:10

A senior Hamas official said members of his group kidnapped three Israeli settlers whose deaths in June provoked a spiral of violence that led to the ongoing war in Gaza, the first acknowledgement of the movement's involvement.

Saleh al-Arouri, a Hamas official from the West Bank who lives in exile in Turkey, was speaking at a conference of international Islamic scholars in Istanbul.

"The popular will was exercised throughout our occupied land, and culminated in the heroic operation by the al-Qassam Brigades in imprisoning the three settlers in Hebron," he said, referring to the group's armed wing.

Hamas officials have up to now refused to confirm or deny any involvement.

[Reuters]



Tags: Gaza | Israel | Hamas | Qassam Brigades

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Dutch museum keeps disputed Crimea treasure
2014.08.22 02:39:33

A Dutch museum has said it would delay the return of Crimean archaeological treasures it is exhibiting, fearingĀ  a legal tussle with either Russia or Ukraine.

The priceless medieval artifacts, on loan from four Crimean museums, went on display at Amsterdam's Allard Pierson Museum in February, less than a month before the peninsula was annexed by Russia.

The museums, now under Russian authority, have asked for them to be returned, while the Ukrainian government in Kiev has also claimed the treasures.

The exhibition, entitled "The Crimea: Gold and Secrets from the Black Sea", features items spanning the 2nd century BC to the late medieval era, including a ceremonial Scythian helmet made from gold, as well as a lacquered box, originally from China, which in Roman times found its way to Crimea via the Silk Road.



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | Netherlands | Crimea

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Four more foreign hostages near Aleppo
2014.08.22 02:38:06

Islamic State fighters have seized four more foreign hostages near Aleppo in recent days, taking the number of foreigners they now hold to more than 20.



Tags: Syria | Islamic State

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Israeli drone hit
2014.08.22 02:28:33

Gaza medical sources say that 2 other Palestinians were killed as Israeli drone hit a car at Nasser neighborhood in Gaza city.



Tags: Gaza | Israel

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