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Syria's parliament speaker
2014.04.22 03:30:27

Syria's parliament speaker has said the country will hold presidential elections on June 3.

[AP]



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Reuters on Lavrov's comments
2014.04.22 03:22:02

A slightly more coherent translation from Reuters on Lavrov's comments.

Steps are being taken - above all by those who seized power in Kiev - not only that do not fulfill, but that crudely violate the Geneva agreement.

Lavrov also told the news conference that the Slovyansk gunfight on Sunday showed Kiev did not want to control "extremists".



Tags: Ukraine | Russia | Sergey Lavrov

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Mortar shells hit near the parliament building
2014.04.22 03:19:14

At least five people have died in the capital, Damascus, after mortar shells hit near the parliament building, according to Syrian state media. [AP]



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Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister
2014.04.22 03:10:25

Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, has spoken this morning on the situation in Ukraine.

He says it is impossible to isolate Russia from the rest of the world. "We know what they want."

He says Kiev is violating the Geneva deal agreed last week. He called the attack in Slovyansk as "senseless violence" and that there were calls from pro-Russians for Russia to enter Ukraine to help them.

There is a popular uprising in eastern Ukraine. People cannot understand why the Kiev government is not in a position to end the violence of extremists and why we have to wait so long. There should be a clear expression of constitutional reform, why are they being dragged out?

The attack in Slovyansk, this is completely senseless, they are opening fire without warning. It puts Russia in a difficult position. There is a very serious risk of civil war.

We will not only condemn these criminals but we will pursue them.

People have been killed on both sides. These are crimes that must be emphasized. The authorities can not, or do not, want to control the extremists who are continuing to carry out their orders. And we need to see responsibility for what is happening.

Sergey Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister



Tags: Sergey Lavrov | Russia | Ukraine

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United Nations refugee convention
2014.04.22 03:07:46

It has been 60 years since the United Nations refugee convention was signed.

But in Syria, and elsewhere in the world, millions of refugees across the world are struggling for basic essentials.

After three years of war, more than 2.5 million Syrians have fled to neighboring countries for safety.

But almost 6.5 million Syrians are now internally displaced in their own country.

Richard Murphy, a former US Ambassador to Syria and Saudi Arabia, discusses the plight of Syrian refugees today.



Tags: Syria | Saudi Arabia

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Putin approved amendment
2014.04.22 02:42:25

The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has approved amendments to a law to allow Russian speakers in the former Soviet Union to acquire Russian citizenship, according to the Kremlin.

[Reuters]



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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Syrian warplanes
2014.04.22 02:25:39

Activists have claimed that Syrian warplanes have targeted the neighborhood of al-Fardous in Aleppo city with barrel bombs, killing at least 40 people.

A video posted on Saturday to YouTube showed severe damage on buildings and the street, while firefighters extinguished the fire. The number of casualties remained unclear.

At least 10 people were also killed in another barrel bomb attack in the suburb of Biideen, activists claimed. Videos posted online showed buildings engulfed in fire creating large plumes of smoke rising over the city.

Barrel bombs are imprecise weapons, causing extensive damages and at least 1,000 people have been killed in such attacks since mid-December, activists say.

MWC cannot independently verify the authenticity of the activist videos.



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Latest developments in Ukraine
2014.04.22 02:05:59

Good morning from Vancouver. Here is a recap of the latest developments in Ukraine:

* At least three people were killed in a gun battle between pro-Russians and unknown assailants at a checkpoint in Slovyansk.

The Russian foreign ministry said the separatists killed were "innocent civilians", while Kiev said the battle was a "cynical provocation".

* The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, says he "very much hopes" he will not have to send troops into Ukraine, but asserted he had the "right to do so". According to Western sources, Russia has at least 40,000 troops near the border of Ukraine, and 25,000 in Crimea.

* Separatists in east Ukraine continue to defy the terms of a Geneva deal to defuse the standoff, refusing to leave state buildings they have occupied for weeks.

* The US vice president, Joe Biden, is due in Kiev to start a two-day visit.

We'll have more for you as the situation develops today.



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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Two people were injured in southern Turkey
2014.04.21 04:10:58

Two people were injured in southern Turkey on Sunday when a shell fired in Syria landed on the other side of the border, a Turkish news agency reported.

The incident happened in a rural area near the village of Yayladadi, according to a report by the Dogan agency.

The two villagers were injured when the shell fell near a tractor, it said.

Turkey normally responds when shrapnel or shells fired by government forces or rebel groups in Syria land on its soil.

Earlier this month it fired artillery after shrapnel from Syrian shells reached its side of the border.

On March 23 the Turkish airforce shot down a Syrian fighter jet that it said had crossed into its airspace.

Turkey has sided with rebels opposed to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad during the three-year Syrian conflict and is hosting close to 900,000 refugees who have fled the fighting.

[AFP]



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Assad hopes all Syrians have a happy Easter
2014.04.21 04:09:26

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Easter Sunday visited the ancient Christian town of Maalula, which his troops recently recaptured from rebels, state television said.

"On the day of the resurrection of Christ, and from the heart of Maalula, President Assad hopes all Syrians have a happy Easter, and for the reestablishment of peace and security throughout Syria," the channel announced in a caption at the bottom of the screen, without showing images of the visit - AFP



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Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk
2014.04.21 04:08:24

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk warned in an interview that aired on Sunday that Russia is undermining global stability and nuclear nonproliferation efforts amid an ongoing crisis between Kiev and the Kremlin.

Ahead of a visit by US Vice President Joe Biden, he also called for financial and economic support and help modernizing Ukraine's military -- while stopping short of asking for weapons.

[AFP]



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Syria's Christians won't yield to extremists
2014.04.21 04:07:35

In Easter message, Greek Orthodox Patriarch says Syria's Christians won't yield to extremists - AP



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Leader of pro-Russian forces in Slovaynsk
2014.04.21 04:06:49

"I want to ask the Russian government and Vladimir Putin personally to send us help. If you can't send peacekeepers, help us by sending food, weapons - everything you can. Our people are ready to stand until the end to protect our land from the fascist invasion."

Vyacheslav Ponomaryov

Leader of pro-Russian forces in Slovaynsk



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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Sabahi only rival to Sisi in presidential poll
2014.04.21 04:05:37

The former army general who toppled Egypt's first freely elected president will face a leftist politician in next month's presidential election, as they were the only candidates to enter before nominations closed, the committee organizing the vote said .

The committee said on Sunday that it had received paperwork from former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and former parliamentarian and presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi, it said at a news conference several hours after the deadline had passed.

Abdelaziz Salman, secretary-general of the Presidential Elections Committee, said that Sisi had submitted 188,930 signatures endorsing his candidacy to the committee, and Sabahi had submitted 31,555.

The required number was 25,000.

The committee will announce the official list of candidates on May 2 for the vote on May 26-27. Sisi, who deposed Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood last year, is expected to win the vote easily.

[Reuters]



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Europe 1 reporter Didier Francois
2014.04.21 04:04:39

Veteran Europe 1 reporter Didier Francois on being released from Syria:

"It's a great joy and an immense relief, obviously, to be free. Under the sky, which we haven't seen for a long time, to breathe the fresh air, walk freely."



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Slavyansk's mayor
2014.04.21 04:03:37

The self-styled mayor of the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk, which is controlled by armed pro-Russian separatists, said on Sunday he had been in contact with mediators from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, speaking at a news conference in Slavyansk, did not say what he had discussed with the mediators.



Tags: Ukraine | Russia

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Egypt's Interior Ministry
2014.04.21 04:02:22

Egypt's Interior Ministry says gunmen have killed a captain from the intelligence services and a policeman on a desert road outside Cairo.

The ministry's media center said the joint security patrol was trying to stop a suspicious vehicle on the road to the canal city of Suez early Sunday when its occupants opened fire.

Captain Ashraf Badeer al-Qazaz was killed in the firefight, along with a policeman from the central security force. The assailants managed to flee.

On Saturday, a militant group called Ajnad Misr, or ``Egypt's Soldiers,'' claimed responsibility for a bombing that killed a police officer late Friday in Cairo. The group said it is waging a campaign of retribution for the killing and detentions of protesters and young Egyptians. [AP]



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France has 'information' but no proof
2014.04.21 03:59:59

France has "information" but no firm proof that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime is still using chemical weapons, President Francois Hollande said Sunday.

"We have a few elements of information but I do not have the proof," Hollande told journalists after he was asked about reports that Assad was currently using chemical weapons -

AFP



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Pro-Russia separatists in Slovyansk
2014.04.21 03:10:23

The leader of pro-Russia separatists in Slovyansk has called on Putin to send weapons and food if he is unable to send troops.

The separatist leader also says he has evidence that the attack earlier today was carried out by Ukraine's Right Sector group.



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Police officer and a conscript were killed
2014.04.21 03:09:23

A police officer and a conscript were killed after armed attackers opened fire on their patrol car, Egypt's interior ministry announced on Sunday, the latest deadly assault against the country's security forces. [AFP]



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