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Armored cars with Russian flags roll into eastern Ukraine
2014.04.17 01:02:27

Armored vehicles bearing the Russian flag have driven through the eastern Ukraine town of Kramatorsk and the city of Slovyansk, a day after authorities in Kiev launched an operation to oust pro-Moscow separatists.

Dozens of armed men in camouflage were seated on top of the three vehicles as they drove through Kramatorsk accompanied by a military truck on Wednesday, according to Agence France Presse news agency.

The Associated Press is also reporting that six combat vehicles flying Russian flags rolled into Slovyansk, and were "enthusiastically greeted" at pro-Russian checkpoints outside the city.



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Police step up security in eastern Ukrainian city of Lugansk
2014.04.17 01:00:42

Lugansk in eastern Ukraine has tightened security measures after a new wave of unrest erupted in Ukraine's east over last weekend.

Pro-Russia activists seized several government buildings in the eastern cities of Lugansk, Donetsk and Kharkov, demanding a referendum on autonomy and closer ties with Russia.

With a population of around 240,000, Lugansk is an industrial center in Ukraine. Most of local residents work in coal- or steel-producing plants.

Situations in the city was generally stable as of Tuesday, with pro-Russia and pro-Ukraine residents holding peaceful rallies respectively to express their political appeals. [AP]



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Cairo rocked by bomb blasts
2014.04.16 08:44:58

Two bomb blasts have wounded at least five people in the Egyptian capital.

Two police officers and a civilian were wounded in an attack on Tuesday that blew the roof off a shelter manned by traffic police at a busy intersection in the Dokki neighborhood.

A second bombing wounded two people in western Cairo, according to a security source, who declined to indicate whether the injured were civilians or members of the security forces.

Egypt has been rocked by a series of bombings and shootings since July, when the military ousted Hosni Mubarak.

[AFP]



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Constitution Party will hold press conference
2014.04.16 08:44:13

The liberal Constitution Party will hold a press conference on Wednesday to announce its stance regarding Egypt's upcoming presidential elections, state-run Ahram online reported.

On Monday, a source speaking on the condition of anonymity told Ahram Online that the party will likely announce its support for Hamdeen Sabahi's candidacy during Wednesday's conference.



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Ghali arrested in France
2014.04.16 08:42:58

Former Egyptian finance minister Youssef Boutros Ghali was arrested in France this week on an international warrant over corruption charges from his time in Hosni Mubarak's government, the French foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

Boutros Ghali was sentenced in absentia to 30 years in prison for corruption and abuse of power following the uprising that unseated Mubarak in 2011. He was one of a group of influential economic policymakers close to Mubarak's son Gamal. [Reuters]



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France pushes for ICC probe into detainee torture
2014.04.16 08:41:45

France has said it will table a proposal  before the United Nations Security Council authorizing the International Criminal Court to investigate crimes against humanity in Syria, according to France's ambassador to the UN.

Gerard Araud said on Tuesday that France hoped to introduce the resolution in the next few weeks, after a presentation to council members showed thousands of gruesome photographs of starved and tortured detainees in prisons run by the Syrian regime.

"We are going to try to obtain authorization for the ICC to act," Araud said. "We now have proof," he added.

[AFP]



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Civil war warnings
2014.04.16 08:15:13

Russia's president, Vladimir Putin has warned the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, that Ukraine is lurching towards a state of war. The leaders were discussing in a telephone conversation forthcoming international talks on the crisis.

"The Russian president remarked that the sharp escalation of the conflict has placed the country, in effect, on the verge of civil war," the Kremlin said in a statement after the conversation.

But the leaders both "emphasized the importance" of the planned four-way talks on Ukraine on Thursday between top diplomats of Russia, the European Union, the United States and Ukraine.

We'll be publishing our new lead story on the events in the next few minutes.



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Video- General Vasily Krutov
2014.04.16 08:14:15

In this video, General Vasily Krutov, the Ukraine commander in Kramatorsk, is seen urging a group of pro-Russians to disperse. They take his microphone from him and repeatedly surround him chanting. A shot is heard at 6m 47s, with more at about 8m 35s. According to journalist Alec Luhn, two people were injured.

The video was posted to Youtube by the local news site, 6264.com.ua on April 15.



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Fighter jet flying over the airport in Kramatorsk
2014.04.16 08:11:46

This video, posted on Youtube by 6264.com.ua reportedly shows a fighter jet flying over the airport in Kramatorsk, north of Donetsk, on April 15. Local reports said an unidentified jet was fired on while trying to land, and flew away, and that aircraft had then strafed the area. This footage shows planes flying over the airport with a pro-Russian group visible in balaclavas.

The plane's silhouette resembles a Sukhoi Su-25, a ground support aircraft.



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A list of government buildings occupied by pro-Russian
2014.04.16 08:09:30

A list of government buildings occupied by pro-Russian armed men in Ukraine's eastern cities:

Donetsk: Regional government building occupied

Slovyansk: Police station and security service buildings occupied

Kramatorsk: Police station evacuated, airfield cleared, but the city council still occupied

Horlivka: Police station occupied

Artemivsk: No buildings are seized, but the mayor let protesters put a flag of the "Donetsk Republic" on the city council as a compromise

Luhansk: Security service building occupied



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Ukraine’s Batkivshchina announces formation of national resistance movement
2014.04.16 08:08:14

Ukraine’s former Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko, who is running for president with the Batkivshchina (Fatherland) party has announced the formation of the national resistance movement.

“Law enforcement structures and the army are failing to cope with their tasks because they have been plundered,” Batkivshchina’s press service quoted Timoshenko as saying on Tuesday. “That is why it is necessary to form special brigades in each city. Mobilization centres will be set up on the basis of our party’s offices, where everyone will be able to join people’s volunteer corps.”

Such brigades, according to Timoshenko, are already being formed in the Kharkov, Zaporozhye and Dnetpropetrovsk regions.

TAR-TASS



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France's ambassador
2014.04.16 02:45:06

France's ambassador says the members of the UN Security Council fell silent after viewing a series of ghastly photographs of dead Syrian civil war victims. The pictures show people who were emaciated, with their bones protruding, and some bearing the marks of strangulation.

Ambassador Gerard Araud says the pall of silence lingered, and then questions slowly began about the credibility of the slides of the dead, who offer mute testimony to the savagery of a Syrian civil war in which more than 150,000 have died.

[AP]



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Putin urges UN and world to condemn Kiev's actions
2014.04.16 02:16:51

Russian President Vladimir Putin told UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday that the United Nations and the international community should condemn the use of force by the Ukrainian authorities in eastern Ukraine, the Kremlin said.

In a telephone conversation with Ban, Putin "underscored that the Russian side expects a clear condemnation from the United Nations and the international community of these anti-constitutional actions", a Kremlin statement said. [Reuters]

A statement issued by the UN said: "The Secretary-General expressed his alarm about the highly volatile situation in eastern Ukraine and underlined that any deepening of the crisis would be profoundly detrimental for all concerned; hence the need for everyone to work to de-escalate the situation."



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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Fighter jet shot down
2014.04.16 02:15:49

Shots are being fired at the airdrome near the city of Kramatorsk, Donetsk Oblast, and one fighter plane has been shot down, witnesses report from the scene.

As follows from what the people say four fighter planes, presumably Sukhoi-27 were hovering over Kramatorsk. At a certain point they opened fire at the local airdrome. Who commanded the planes and who downed the fighter remains unclear. Witnesses claim there have been casualties at the airdrome. An ambulance is on the way to the scene.

Earlier, a Ukrainian daily reported with reference to witnesses that shots and explosions were heard at the military airdrome near the city of Kramatorsk.

According to the website of the daily Novosti Kramatorska, a military aircraft circled over the airdrome for a while.

“Witnesses say it was a MiG-25 or Sukhoi-27 plane. It was flying at a very low altitude,” the paper said.

ITAR-TASS



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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Russia involved in the crisis in eastern Ukraine
2014.04.16 02:14:00

Russia is deeply involved in the crisis in eastern Ukraine where pro-Moscow separatists have seized control of a number of government buildings, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Tuesday.

Asked if he had seen evidence of Russian involvement in events in eastern Ukraine, Rasmussen told reporters:

We never... comment on intelligence, but I think from what is visible, it is very clear that Russia's hand is deeply engaged in this.

NATO ambassadors are expected on Wednesday to discuss options put forward by military planners for reinforcing the defences of eastern allies through exercises and temporary deployments of planes and ships sent by other allies. [Reuters]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | NATO

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Pro-Russian politicians attacked
2014.04.16 02:12:20

Two pro-Russian politicians have been attacked by pro-Ukrainian activists in the capital Kiev as tensions grow over unrest in eastern parts of Ukraine, where pro-Russian gunmen have seized government buildings in nearly 10 cities.

Oleh Tsaryov, a pro-Russian lawmaker and a candidate in the May 25 presidential elections, was beaten by dozens of enraged activists in the early hours of Tuesday as he was leaving a television studio. The activists pelted him with eggs, shouted insults and then assaulted him.

Tsaryov's press service said in a statement that he was "brutally beaten".

Another Russian-leaning politician and presidential hopeful, Mikhaylo Dobkin, was sprayed with a green disinfectant and had flour thrown at him late Monday.

Moscow accused Kiev authorities of condoning such activism. [AP]



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Harboring 'brutal plans'
2014.04.16 02:11:27

Ukraine's acting president accused Russia on Tuesday of harboring "brutal plans" to destabilize the southeast of his ex-Soviet country by backing separatists.

"Russia had and continues to have brutal plans," Oleksandr Turchynov told a session of parliament. "They want to set fire not only to the Donetsk region but to the entire south and east -- from Kharkiv to the Odessa region." [AFP]



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Russian Foreign Minister
2014.04.16 02:10:06

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday said he welcomes signs that the government in Kiev was ready for dialogue with separatists in eastern Ukraine, calling it "a step in the right direction", the Interfax news agency reported.

Speaking during a visit to Beijing, Lavrov said Kiev's apparent willingness to "resolve through negotiations all the problems relating to the legal demands of the inhabitants of the south-east regions of Ukraine, is certainly a step in the right direction, albeit very belated." [Reuters]



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Pro-Russian separatists ignored ultimatum
2014.04.16 02:09:14

Pro-Russian separatists ignored an ultimatum to leave occupied government buildings in eastern Ukraine and instead seized more buildings as Kiev failed to follow through on a threatened military crackdown.

To read the full article click here.



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Syrian rebels receive US-made TOW anti-tank
2014.04.16 01:53:04

Syrian rebels fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad for the first time received at least 20 US-made TOW anti-tank missiles from a "Western source," a rebel official told AFP news agency Tuesday.

"Moderate, well-organized fighters from the Hazm movement have for the first time received more than 20 TOW anti-tank missiles from a Western source," the source said on condition of anonymity, and without specifying who had supplied the rockets.

The Hazm movement, part of the opposition Free Syrian Army, brings together mainly ex-army officers and soldiers who defected from the military to join the revolt.

"More have been promised should it be proven that the missiles are being used in an effective way," the source said.

"Dozens of fighters have been trained with international assistance in the use of these missiles," the rebel said, adding that the weapons have been used in flashpoint areas of Idlib, Aleppo and Latakia provinces in the north.

Amateur video distributed by the opposition Masarat media network showed rebels unpacking, loading and firing several missiles at unnamed locations in the Syrian countryside.

"Most of the targets were tanks," said the rebel official, adding that "the 20 missiles have been used 100 percent effectively, always hitting their targets."

Vastly outgunned by the army, rebels have frequently called on the West to provide them with specialized weaponry.

"The international community needs to help stop Assad's army and Iran. We are calling for anti-aircraft weapons to be shipped over," opposition National Coalition member Louay Muqdad told AFP Tuesday.

[AFP]



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