Category: Retaliation


 

 

Egyptian soldiers in the capital, Cairo (20 February 2014) Judges accused the defendants of inciting violence against the army and police

 

 

An Egyptian court has sentenced 26 people to death for founding a “terror group” with the aim of attacking ships using the Suez Canal.

 

Judges said the men were also accused of manufacturing missiles and explosives, local media report.

 

The defendants were tried in absentia, Reuters news agency says.

 

The sentencing comes a day after the new Prime Minister designate, Ibrahim Mahlab, vowed he would “crush terrorism in all the corners of the country”.

 

Mr Mahlab has been put in charge of forming a new government following Monday’s surprise resignation of interim Prime Minister Hazem Beblawi and his cabinet.

 

Mr Beblawi was appointed in July 2013 after the military overthrew President Mohammed Morsi in the wake of mass protests.

 

Since then, more than 1,000 people have been killed and thousands of others detained in a crackdown by the security forces on the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist movement to which Mr Morsi belongs.

 

Militants based in the Sinai peninsula have meanwhile stepped up attacks on government, police and the armed forces, killing hundreds.

‘Harmed unity’

In Wednesday’s verdict, the court said the accused had harmed “national unity”, inciting violence against the army, police, and Christians.

 

The case will now be referred to the mufti, Egypt’s top Islamic official, who has to validate the sentence.

 

The final verdict is expected on 19 March.

 

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Irish Times

Parliament votes to send Yanukovich to be tried by the International Criminal Court

A member of a civilian defence unit warms up by a fire at Independence Square in Kiev today. Photograph: Uriel Sinai/The New York TimesA member of a civilian defence unit warms up by a fire at Independence Square in Kiev today. Photograph: Uriel Sinai/The New York Times

Tue, Feb 25, 2014, 16:12

   

Ukraine’s acting president warned today about the increasing signs of signs of separatism and threats to the country’s territorial integrity.

Speaking following a meeting of security chiefs in the Crimea today acting president Oleksander Turchinov said anyone who found responsible for separatist moves should be punished.

Protesters on the southern peninsula have staged rallies against Ukraine’s new leaders since president Viktor Yanukovich was ousted.

Earlier today Ukraine’s parliament voted to send Mr Yanukovich to be tried by the International Criminal Court for “serious crimes” committed during violent anti-government protests in which scores were killed.

A resolution, overwhelmingly supported by the assembly, linked Mr Yanukovich, who was ousted on Saturday and is now on the run, to police violence against protesters which it said had led to the deaths of more than 100 citizens from Ukraine and other states.

The Hague-based court said it would need a request from the government of Ukraine giving it jurisdiction over the deaths.

With early elections set for May 25th, one of Ukraine’s most prominent opposition figures, retired world boxing champion Vitaly Klitschko, confirmed he would run for president.

Mr Yanukovich was indicted for “mass murder” on Monday over the shooting of demonstrators and is now on the wanted list, having last been seen at Balaclava in Crimea, near Russia’s Sevastopol naval base.

An aide said be on the run with Mr Yanukovich was shot in the leg, his spokesman said. It was not clear where the aide, Andriy Klyuev, was, or whether he with the fugitive leader.

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New Ukraine leader pleads for unity as protesters in Crimea shout ‘Russia, Russia’ and tensions grow between Kiev and Moscow in wake of ‘revolution’

  • Olexander Turchynov has warned of the dangers of separatism
  • Pro-Russian crowds gather in southern region of Crimea
  • Visiting Russian politician says it will protect compatriots from danger
  • Moscow faces claims it colluded in death of dozens of demonstrators
  • Former Kremlin advisor warns Moscow could annexation Crimea next week
  • Vladimir Putin ‘sweeping aside Western warnings and preparing troops’
  • Ousted president Viktor Yanukovich is still on the run from authorities
  • But it is revealed a former aide, also a fugitive, has been shot in the leg

By Will Stewart and Leon Watson

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Ukraine’s new leader has made a desperate plea for unity as experts warn Russia might annex the increasingly tense region of Crimea.

Interim president Olexander Turchynov warned of the dangers of separatism following the ousting of President Viktor Yanukovych. It came as UK and US foreign ministers met to discuss emergency financial assistance for the country.

Addressing the country’s parliament, Mr Turchynov said he would meet law enforcement agencies to discuss the risk of separatism in regions with large ethnic Russian populations.

Separatism was a ‘serious threat’, he said.

Plea: Interim President Olexander Turchynov warned of the dangers of separatism in the Ukrainian parliament today

Plea: Interim President Olexander Turchynov warned of the dangers of separatism in the Ukrainian parliament today

Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, chaired a security council meeting in the Kremlin today, attended by among others the foreign secretary, Sergey Lavrov (second from left). Its conclusions were not made public but tensions between Moscow and Kiev have mounted amid claims of Russian involvement in the killings of protesters whose demonstrations led to the removal of Ukraine's president Viktor Yanukovych, an ally of Moscow.

Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, chaired a security council meeting in the Kremlin today, attended by among others the foreign secretary, Sergey Lavrov (second from left). Its conclusions were not made public but tensions between Moscow and Kiev have mounted amid claims of Russian involvement in the killings of protesters whose demonstrations led to the removal of Ukraine’s president Viktor Yanukovych, an ally of Moscow.

Political heavyweight: Ukrainian opposition leader and head of the UDAR (Punch) party Vitaly Klitschko has revealed he will run for the presidentcy

Political heavyweight: Ukrainian opposition leader and head of the UDAR (Punch) party Vitaly Klitschko has revealed he will run for the presidentcy

Mr Turchynov was speaking as tensions mounted between Kiev and Moscow in the wake of former president Vyktor Yanukoych being removed from power and fleeing the Ukrainian capital.

In the latest escalation, Ukraine’s parliament called for the former president to be put in front of the International Criminal Court at the Hague for ‘human rights abuses’, including ordering the deaths of protesters in Kiev who eventually prompted him to flee and be deposed.

One MP claimed there was a ‘smoking gun’ which linked the deaths of the protesters directly to the Kremlin, with a former Russian intelligence officer helping direct operations which lead to the death of more than 80 demonstrators.

The MP, Hennadiy Moskal, a former deputy interior minister, said he had found the evidence at the interior ministry and in files at the SBU, the secret police in the country.

‘The Interior Ministry and the SBU were assisted in the preparations for these special operations by the former deputy head of Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate who lived in the Kiev hotel (his accommodation and meals were paid for by the SBU),” said Moskal.

“All the information regarding this Russian will be handed over to the PGO, [the Hague court’s prosecutor general’s office] and the investigation will reveal the extent of his guilt.”

The suggestion of Russian involvement in the deaths will only increase tensions – particularly over the Crimea, the majority-Russian area where the Kremlin’s Black Sea naval fleet is based, and where it is thought Yanukoych is in hiding.

 In Sevastapol, the home port of the Russian fleet, the local mayor was forced to quit after removing a Russian flag, and replaced by Aleksei Chaliy, a pro-Moscow politician after a meeting at which people shouted ‘Russia, Russia’ and: ‘A Russian mayor for a Russian city.’

There are widespread fears in Ukraine that Russia will move to annex the Crimea, which was added to the then Soviet republic of Ukraine in 1954 and where Ukrainians are in a minority.

Leonid Slutsky, a senior member of the Moscow parliament used a visit to the Crimea to say that Russia will protect its compatriots there if their lives are in danger.

Slutsky, speaking at a meeting with local activists, did not detail what that might involve, but a former Kremlin advisor warned a Russian annexation of Sebastopol could happen within a week.

Likening the situation to Nazi Germany’s takeover of Austria, Andrey Illarionov said a furious Russian president Vladimir Putin is sweeping aside Western warnings and putting troops on alert.

A Russian flag is seen flying outside the state and city administration building in the Crimean city of Sevastopol

A Russian flag is seen flying outside the state and city administration building in the Crimean city of Sevastopol

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Begging for forgiveness, the riot police blamed for dozens of deaths in Kiev: ‘Brutal’ security forces get down on their knees but are greeted with shouts of ‘shame’

  • Extraordinary scenes in Lviv involved Berkut elite anti-riot force
  • The officers had returned from fighting protesters in the capital
  • Crowds greeted them with chants of ‘Shame!’ and ‘Tribunal’
  • But in Odessa and Crimea, returning Berkut police have been cheered
  • Also revealed some police have disappeared along with weapons

By Will Stewart

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Riot police in Ukraine fell to their knees to ask for forgiveness for their colleagues who shot and beat antigovernment protesters in the recent Kiev massacre.

The extraordinary scenes in Lviv involved the Berkut elite anti-riot force whose members had returned from duty in the capital.

They apologised on a stage in front of pro-Europe protesters.

 

Riot police kneel as they apologize to Lviv residents for taking part in an operation against anti-government protesters in Kiev

Riot police kneel as they apologize to Lviv residents for taking part in an operation against anti-government protesters in Kiev

The officers told locals that they did not beat protesters, during a rally in central Lviv

The officers told locals that they did not beat protesters, during a rally in central Lviv

Officers from Lviv Berkut Special Police Unit beg people of Ukraine to forgive them

Officers from Lviv Berkut Special Police Unit beg people of Ukraine to forgive them

Returning from duty in Kiev, crowds greeted them with chants of 'Shame!' and 'Tribunal'

Returning from duty in Kiev, crowds greeted them with chants of ‘Shame!’ and ‘Tribunal’

‘I am asking you to forgive us,’ said an officer who stood in front of other men. In memory of those who were killed, we want to kneel down.’

The officers were greeted with chants of ‘Shame!’ and ‘Tribunal’ but they stressed they had not killed or beaten people themselves.

 Today it was revealed that some Berkut riot police personnel have disappeared along with weapons.
Begging for forgiveness: Members of Berkut anti-riot unit prepare to leave their barracks in Kiev

Begging for forgiveness: Members of Berkut anti-riot unit prepare to leave their barracks in Kiev

Interim Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said the officers were alarmed at the prospect of an investigation into their conduct on Independence Square when dozens of protesters were killed last week.

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CBC News World

Parliament votes to put fugitive president Yanukovych before International Criminal Court

Thomson Reuters Posted: Feb 25, 2014 2:33 AM ET Last Updated: Feb 25, 2014 5:02 PM ET

A Russian armoured personnel carrier is driven on a street in Sevastopol, Ukraine's Black Sea Port that hosts a major Russian navy base. Ethnic Russians in the region are deeply suspicious of the new Ukrainian authorities who replaced fugitive Russia-backed President Viktor Yanukovych.

A Russian armoured personnel carrier is driven on a street in Sevastopol, Ukraine’s Black Sea Port that hosts a major Russian navy base. Ethnic Russians in the region are deeply suspicious of the new Ukrainian authorities who replaced fugitive Russia-backed President Viktor Yanukovych. (Andrew Lubimov/Associated Press)

Dozens of pro-Russian protesters rallied Tuesday in the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea against “the bandits” in Kyiv who are trying to form a new government — with some even speaking of secession. A lawmaker from Russia stoked their passions further by promising them that Russia will protect them.

As a Russian flag flew Tuesday in front of the city council building in Sevastopol — a key Crimean port where Russia’s Black Sea Fleet is based — an armoured Russian personnel carrier and two trucks full of troops made a rare appearance on the streets of the city.

The Crimean Peninsula — a pro-Russian region about the size of Massachusetts or Belgium — is a tinder pot in the making.

Protesters had torn down the Ukrainian flag a day ago, pleading with Moscow to protect them from the new authorities in Ukraine who have forced President Viktor Yanukovych to flee Kyiv, the capital, and go into hiding.

“Bandits have come to power,” said Vyacheslav Tokarev, a 39-year-old construction worker in Sevastopol. “I’m ready to take arms to fight the fascists who have seized power in Kyiv.”

hi-yanu-852.jpg

A portrait of Ukraine’s ousted president Viktor Yanukovych, used for a game of darts, is displayed at Kyiv’s Maidan. (Marko Drobnjakovic/Associated Press)

Earlier on Tuesday the country’s parliament voted to send Yanukovych to be tried for “serious crimes” by the International Criminal Court once he has been captured.

A resolution, overwhelmingly supported by the assembly, linked Yanukovych, who was ousted on Saturday and is on the run, to police violence against protesters which had caused the deaths of more than 100 citizens from Ukraine and other states and injured 2,000.

The resolution said two of Yanukovych’s close allies — former interior minister Vitaly Zakharchenko and former prosecutor-general Viktor Pshonka who are also being sought by the authorities — should also be sent for trial at the ICC, which is based in The Hague.

Over the three months of street unrest and anti-government protests, it said, authorities under Yanukovych had systematically abused their power.

Methods of torture, used by police against protesters, included holding activists naked in temperatures of 15 degrees below freezing, it said.

Wanted for ‘mass murder’

“Parliament asks the International Criminal Court to hold Viktor Yanukovych and other high-level people criminally responsible for “issuing and carrying out openly criminal orders,” it said.

‘If you consider Kalashnikov-toting people in black masks who are roaming Kyiv to be the government, then it will be hard for us to work with that government’- Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev

Oleh Myrny, a deputy of the nationalist Svoboda (Freedom) party, said: “If we don’t take this decision, we will not move forward.”

A spokesman for the court said on Tuesday it had not received a request from the Ukrainian government to investigate the events leading up to Yanukovych ouster.

“A government can make a declaration accepting the court’s jurisdiction for past events,” said court spokesman Fadi El Abdallah, adding that it would then be up to the court’s prosecutor to decide whether to open an investigation.

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The Vancouver Sun

Rally in pro-Russian region of Crimea decries the ‘bandits’ in Kyiv forming new government

John Lenczuk, red scarf, holds a sign with pictures of some of those who died at Euromaidan. Lenczuk's son, Dimitri Lenczuk, mustache, stands to his left holding a similar sign (not shown). Ukrainian-Americans rallied at the Consulate General of Ukraine in New York City on Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014. Ukrainians were there to ask for continuing support from the U.S. as well as to remember the ones who died at Euromaidan and celebrate their victory in ousting Viktor Yanukovych from office over the week

John Lenczuk, red scarf, holds a sign with pictures of some of those who died at Euromaidan. Lenczuk’s son, Dimitri Lenczuk, mustache, stands to his left holding a similar sign (not shown). Ukrainian-Americans rallied at the Consulate General of Ukraine in New York City on Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014. Ukrainians were there to ask for continuing support from the U.S. as well as to remember the ones who died at Euromaidan and celebrate their victory in ousting Viktor Yanukovych from office over the weekend.(AP Photo/Northjersey.com, Kevin R. Wexler)

By Yuras Karmanau, The Associated Press February 25, 2014 2:00 PM

SEVASTOPOL, Ukraine – Dozens of pro-Russian protesters rallied Tuesday in the Crimean Peninsula against “the bandits” in Kyiv who are trying to form a new government, with some even speaking of secession, and a Russian lawmaker stoked their passions by promising that Moscow will protect them.

“Russia, save us!” some chanted.

An armoured personnel carrier and two trucks full of Russian troops made a rare appearance on the streets of the port city where the Kremlin’s Black Sea Fleet is based. A Russian flag fluttered in front of the city council building, replacing the Ukrainian flag that demonstrators had torn down a day earlier.

The protesters pleaded with Moscow to protect them from the new authorities who forced President Viktor Yanukovych to flee the capital and go into hiding.

“Bandits have come to power,” said Vyacheslav Tokarev, a 39-year-old construction worker. “I’m ready to take arms to fight the fascists who have seized power in Kyiv.”

Yanukovych was reportedly last seen in the Crimea, a staunchly pro-Russian region the size of Massachusetts. Law enforcement agencies have issued an arrest warrant for him over the killing of 82 people, mainly protesters, last week in the bloodiest violence in Ukraine’s post-Soviet history.

His former chief of staff, Andriy Klyuyev, was wounded by gunfire Monday and hospitalized, spokesman Artem Petrenko told The Associated Press. It wasn’t clear where in Ukraine the shooting took place.

The protesters gathered for a third day in front of administrative buildings in Sevastopol and in other Crimean cities in the pro-Moscow region in the southern Ukraine. Protests on Sunday numbered in the thousands.

“We won’t allow them to wipe their feet on us,” said Anatoly Mareta, wearing the colours of the Russian flag on his arm. “Only Russia will be able to protect the Crimea.”

“I hope for the Ossetian way,” he added — a reference to the brief but fierce 2008 war in which Russian tanks and troops helped Georgia’s separatist provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia to break free. Russia has recognized both as independence states, but few other nations have.

Russia, which has thousands of Black Sea Fleet seamen at its base, so far has refrained from any sharp moves in Ukraine’s political turmoil, but could be drawn into the fray if there are confrontations between the population in Crimea and the supporters of the new authorities.

The open movement of Russian military vehicles — normally avoided in Sevastopol at Ukraine’s request — was seen as a reflection of the tensions in the city.

A senior Russian lawmaker promised protesters that his government will protect its Russian-speaking compatriots in the southern and eastern parts of Ukraine that tilt heavily toward Moscow.

“If lives and health of our compatriots are in danger, we won’t stay aside,” Leonid Slutsky told activists in Simferopol, the regional capital of Crimea.

Slutsky, who heads a parliamentary committee in charge of relations with other ex-Soviet republics, also promised that the Russian parliament is considering a bill to offer Crimea residents and others in Ukraine a quick way of getting Russian citizenship.

He also declared that Yanukovych remains the only legitimate leader of Ukraine, adding there is a “big question mark” over the legitimacy of the decisions made by the Ukrainian parliament since he left the seat of power.

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The Washington Times

The Washington Times

By Maria Danilova and Yuras Karmanau-

Associated Press

Enlarge Photo

Photo by: Efrem Lukatsky

People lay flowers and lit candles at one of the barricades heading to Independence Square,Kiev, the epicenter of the country’s recent unrest, on a mourning day Monday, Feb. 24, 2014. Ukraine’s acting government issued a warrant Monday for the arrest of President Viktor Yanukovych, last reportedly seen in the pro-Russian Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, accusing him of mass crimes against protesters who stood up for months against his rule. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

SEVASTOPOL, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine’s acting government issued an arrest warrant Monday for President Viktor Yanukovych, accusing him of mass crimes against the protesters who stood up for months against his rule. Russia sharply questioned its authority, calling it an “armed mutiny.”

Yanukovych himself has reportedly fled to the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, a pro-Russian area in Ukraine.

Calls are mounting in Ukraine to put Yanukovych on trial, after a tumultuous presidency in which he amassed powers, enriched his allies and family and cracked down on protesters. Anger boiled over last week after government snipers killed scores of protesters in the bloodiest violence in Ukraine’s post-Soviet history.

The turmoil has turned this strategically located country of 46 million inside out over the past few days. The parliament speaker is now nominally in charge of a country whose ailing economy is on the brink of default and whose loyalties are sharply torn between Europe and longtime ruler Russia.

Russia and the European Union appeared to be taking opposing sides in Ukraine’s new political landscape.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev questioned the legitimacy of the new Ukrainian authorities on Monday. According to Russian news agencies, he said the acting authorities have come to power as a result of an “armed mutiny,” so their legitimacy is causing “big doubts.”

In Brussels, European Commission spokesman Olivier Bailly referred to parliament speaker Oleksandr Turchinov as the “interim president” and said Turchinov will meet with Monday visiting EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in Kiev.

Turchinov said he hopes to form a new coalition government by Tuesday.

Ukraine’s acting interior minister, Arsen Avakhov, said on his official Facebook page that a warrant has been issued for the arrest of Yanukovych and several other officials for the “mass killing of civilians.”

At least 82 people, primarily protesters, were killed in clashes in Kiev last week.

Yanukovych set off a wave of protests by shelving an agreement with the European Union in November and turning instead for a $15 billion bailout loan from Russia. Within weeks, the protests expanded to include outrage over corruption and human rights abuses, leading to calls for Yanukovych’s resignation.

After signing an agreement Friday with the opposition to form a unity government, Yanukovych fled Kiev for his pro-Russian power base in eastern Ukraine. Avakhov said he tried to fly out of Donetsk but was stopped then went to Crimea on Sunday.

Yanukovych then freed his official security detail and drove off to an unknown location, turning off all forms of communication, Avakhov said.

Yanukovych has disappeared,” he said.

Security has been tightened across Ukraine’s borders, the Interfax news agency quoted the State Border Guard service as saying.

Avakhov published a letter that he said was from Yanukovych, dated Monday, in which he gave up his security guard. Yanukovych’s aides and spokespeople could not be reached Monday to verify the reported letter — they have been rapidly distancing themselves from him as his hold on power disintegrates.

Activist Valeri Kazachenko said Yanukovych must be arrested and brought to Kiev’s main square for trial.

“He must answer for all the crimes he has committed against Ukraine and its people,” he said, as thousands continued to flock to the area to light candles and lay flowers where dozens were shot dead during clashes with police last week. “Yanukovych must be tried by the court of the people right here in the square.”

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Medvedev accuses Ukraine of mutiny

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Dmitry Medvedev has questioned the legitimacy of Ukraine’s acting government

Russia has questioned the authority of Ukraine’s acting government, with prime minister Dmitry Medvedev saying the country’s acting authorities have come to power as a result of an ‘armed mutiny’.

Ukraine’s acting government has issued an arrest warrant for president Viktor Yanukovych, accusing him of mass crimes against the protesters who stood up for months against his rule.

Yanukovych himself has reportedly fled to the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, a pro-Russian area in Ukraine.

Calls are mounting in Ukraine to put Yanukovych on trial, after a tumultuous presidency in which he amassed powers, enriched his allies and family and cracked down on protesters. Anger boiled over last week after government snipers killed scores of protesters in the bloodiest violence in Ukraine’s post-Soviet history.

Ukraine’s parliament speaker is now nominally in charge of a country whose ailing economy is on the brink of default and whose loyalties are sharply torn between Europe and long-time ruler Russia.

Russia and the European Union appear to be taking opposing sides in Ukraine’s new political landscape.

Medvedev has questioned the legitimacy of the new Ukrainian authorities. He said the acting authorities have come to power as a result of an “armed mutiny”, so their legitimacy is causing “big doubts”.

In Brussels, European Commission spokesman Olivier Bailly referred to parliament speaker Oleksandr Turchinov as the “interim president” and said Turchinov will meet with visiting EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in Kiev.

Turchinov said he hopes to form a new coalition government by Tuesday.

Ukraine’s acting interior minister, Arsen Avakhov, said on his official Facebook page that a warrant has been issued for the arrest of Yanukovych and several other officials for the “mass killing of civilians.”

At least 82 people, primarily protesters, were killed in clashes in Kiev last week.

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KIEV, Ukraine — The Ukrainian parliament appealed Tuesday to the International Criminal Court in the Hague to try ousted President Viktor Yanukovich and other officials on charges of crimes against humanity.

The parliament passed a measure seeking an international trial of the officials for actions “which led to especially dire consequences and mass murder of Ukrainian citizens in the course of the peaceful protest actions in the period from Nov. 21, 2013, to Feb. 22, 2014,” the UNIAN news agency reported.

The political crisis in Ukraine, the worst since the country gained independence in 1991, turned especially violent last week when at least 100 people were killed, many of them believed to have been shot by snipers, and thousands were injured.

The measure adopted Tuesday named, in addition to Yanukovich, as parliament is known, named such top state officials as former Prosecutor General Viktor Pshonka and former Interior Minister Vitaly Zakharchenko, both of whom are believed to be in hiding somewhere in Ukraine.

The parliament, known as the Supreme Rada, also asked that an International Criminal Court investigator decide on charging other Ukraine officials after studying evidence in the case.

The declaration by parliament said that law enforcement agencies in Ukraine assaulted demonstrators using clubs, tear gas, stun grenades and firearms on orders from top state officials who, the statement said, had exceeded and abused their powers.

Riot police inflicted bodily harm, used water cannons against protesters in subfreezing temperatures and forced some to stand naked outside, the document said.

“A typical sign of that period were kidnappings and disappearances of people, illegal detentions of them when they were forcefully taken outside to desolated places with an aim of being tortured and killed,” the statement said.

While the allegations are being made to the international court, a case is also being considered by a district court in Kiev, the deputy speaker of parliament, Ruslan Koshulinsky, said.

 

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US official caught on tape cursing EU for handling of Ukraine crisis

By , Washington, and David Blair

America’s frustration with Europe’s response to the political crisis in Ukraine burst into the open on Thursday after a senior US official was apparently caught on tape saying “f— the EU”.

Victoria Nuland, the assistant secretary of state for European affairs, used the undiplomatic language in a phone conversation with Geoffrey Pyatt, the US ambassador to Ukraine, which was posted online by an unknown source.

The pair are overheard discussing a possible deal between President Viktor Yanukovych and three opposition leaders to end the occupation of central Kiev by tens of thousands of protesters.

Ms Nuland relays the news that the United Nations has agreed to send an envoy to mediate between the rivals, a decision that she welcomes as necessary to “help glue this thing”.

Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovich (L) greets US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland

“And you know,” adds Ms Nuland, “f— the EU.”

”Exactly,” agrees the ambassador, Mr Pyatt. “And I think we got to do something to make it stick together, because you can be sure that if it does start to gain altitude the Russians will be working behind the scenes to torpedo it.”

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US blames Russia for leak of undiplomatic language from top official

State department’s diplomat for Europe, Victoria Nuland, apparently said ‘Fuck the EU’ in conversation over Ukraine crisis
  • The Guardian, Thursday 6 February 2014 15.12 EST

Victoria Nuland and Viktor Yanukovych

Victoria Nuland, right, meeting the Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych, in Kiev. Photograph: Markiv Mykhailo/Itar-Tass Photo/Corbis

America’s new top diplomat for Europe seems to have been caught being decidedly undiplomatic about her EU allies in a phone call apparently intercepted and leaked by Russia.

“Fuck the EU,” Victoria Nuland apparently says in a recent phone call with the US ambassador to Kiev, Geoff Pyatt, as they discuss the next moves to try to resolve the crisis in Ukraine amid weeks of pro-democracy protests which have rocked the country. The call appears to have been intercepted and released on YouTube, accompanied by Russian captions of the private and candid conversation.

Although the US state department did not immediately respond to a request for comment, White House spokesman Jay Carney alleged that because it had been “tweeted out by the Russian government, it says something about Russia’s role”.

It was impossible to immediately verify the undated post, although the woman speaking sounds like Nuland, who served as the state department’s spokeswoman before becoming assistant secretary for European and Eurasian affairs last year.

Nuland and Pyatt appear to discuss the upheavals in Ukraine, and President Viktor Yanukovych’s offer last month to make opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk the new prime minister and Vitali Klitschko deputy prime minister. Both men turned the offer down.

Nuland, who in December went to Independence Square in Kiev in a sign of support for the demonstrators, adds that she has also been told that the UN chief, Ban Ki-moon, is about to appoint a former Dutch ambassador to Kiev, Robert Serry, as his representative to Ukraine.

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Марионетки Майдана

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US News

Bugged US diplomats conversation: Moscow relishes in Washington’s embarrassment

By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV, Associated Press

MOSCOW (AP) — It was a conversation not meant for public consumption: two senior U.S. diplomats discussing the political crisis in Ukraine in strikingly frank language.

But within days, the bugged phone call landed on YouTube and was avidly tweeted by Russian officials, who cited it as proof of Western meddling in Ukrainian affairs.

The Russians denied they had any role in bugging the conversation, but they clearly relished in the embarrassment of the U.S. at a time when the ties between the two countries have been strained by a number of disputes, including Syria and most recently, Ukraine.

A look at recent attempts by Russia to jeer at the U.S.

DIPLOMAT IN BLOND WIG

Last May, Russian counterintelligence agents ambushed Ryan Fogle, a 29-year-old U.S. diplomat who they said was trying to recruit a Russian officer. They said he was caught red handed with a recruitment letter, two wigs, sunglasses, a compass and a wad of cash. The spy toolkit that seemed to come straight from a movie became the subject of mockery on Russian state TV for weeks.

SNOWDEN AFFAIR

By harboring NSA leaker Edward Snowden and refusing U.S. demands to extradite him, Russia has dealt a blow to the United States. Though President Vladimir Putin denied that Russian security agencies were controlling Snowden, many security analysts were skeptical, saying it was inconceivable the Russians wouldn’t have rummaged through a trove of secrets in his possession.

The Snowden affair and the spotlight it has shone on U.S. eavesdropping activities also offered the Kremlin an opportunity to turn the tables following criticism of Russia’s rights record.

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Assistant secretary of state, Victoria Nuland, apologises to EU counterparts for ‘undiplomatic language’

LAST UPDATED AT 10:39 ON Fri 7 Feb 2014

THE United States has issued a humiliating apology after a senior official was heard to say “f*** the EU” in an apparently leaked private phone conversation with the US ambassador to Ukraine.

The alleged phone call between Victoria Nuland, the assistant secretary of state, and the US ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, was released on YouTube on Thursday. The candid chat is thought to have been conducted on an unencrypted line, which led to its interception.

Moscow has accused the US of meddling in the internal affairs of the sovereign former-Soviet state, which Russia hopes to keep within its economic orbit, Reuters reports. The Kremlin went so far as to suggest that the conversation was evidence that the US may be attempting to foment a coup within Ukraine.

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• State body seeks documents from 17 people and three groups
• Governor uses appearance to focus on Sandy recovery

  • theguardian.com, Thursday 16 January 2014 18.28 EST
Chris Christie
New Jersey governor Chris Christie hugs a homeowners who lost her home to Hurricane Sandy. Photograph: Mel Evans/AP

A special legislative panel investigating an apparent political payback scheme involving New Jersey governor Chris Christie’s aides issued 20 new subpoenas on Thursday, the day the Republican star made his first trip since the scandal broke, to pledge that he will not be distracted from the job of rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy.

Christie also announced the hiring of a legal team to help his administration deal with multiple investigations into a scandal that will not be put to rest quickly.

The governor’s legal team, to be led by former federal prosecutor Randy Mastro, will “review best practices for office operations and information flow, and assist with document retention and production”, the administration said in a brief written statement. A spokeswoman would not say who was paying for the team or how much it cost.

Two state legislative committees, including one also using a former federal prosecutor; the US attorney’s office in New Jersey, which Christie headed before running for governor; and the chairman of a US Senate committee are conducting inquiries into what happened in September, when lanes to the George Washington bridge from the town of Fort Lee were shut for four days, causing massive traffic gridlock.

The plot was apparently hatched by Christie’s aides as a political vendetta, possibly because Fort Lee’s Democratic mayor would not endorse the Republican governor’s November re-election campaign.

Assemblyman John Wisniewski, who is leading the primary legislative probe, said the new subpoenas sought documents from 17 people and three organisations. The recipients of the subpoenas will not be named until the documents are served, presumably by Friday. The likely targets are people who worked for Christie or who are or were part of his inner circle, such as Bridget Anne Kelly, the fired aide who suggested in an email to another Christie confidante that it was “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee”. Another likely target is Bill Stepien, Christie’s two-time campaign manager who appeared to gloat over the traffic chaos.

At a news conference last week, Christie said he would continue interviewing his senior staff to determine if there is any other information he needs to know and if he needs to take any further action, but he did not indicate his review would go further than that.

Christie did not address the scandal directly on Thursday, when he made his first public appearance outside the State House in the eight days since the lane scandal broke wide open. He went to friendly territory – heavily Republican Ocean County – for an event initially scheduled for 8 January that was postponed after the revelation of emails that appear to show Kelly, formerly a top aide, ordering the lane closures for political retribution.

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New Jersey’s Christie hires law firm to fight bridge scandal

NEW YORK Thu Jan 16, 2014 6:49pm EST

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie speaks during his annual State of the State address in Trenton, New Jersey January 14, 2014. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie speaks during his annual State of the State address in Trenton, New Jersey January 14, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Lucas Jackson

(Reuters) – The administration of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has hired a high-powered legal firm to help his office as federal prosecutors investigate whether any laws were broken when a top aide ordered seemingly politically motivated traffic jams.

Christie, a likely 2016 Republican White House contender, turned to a former deputy of ex New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, another Republican with presidential aspirations, after revelations that a former aide called for “traffic problems” at the George Washington Bridge in apparent retribution against a local Democratic mayor.

About 20 subpoenas were issued in the case on Thursday, according to Democratic state Assembly member John Wisniewski. They included some 17 people and three organizations, he said, but no names would be disclosed until subpoenas are served.

He said Christie was not among those subpoenaed.

The governor’s office said it retained the law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP to help with an internal review and to cooperate with an investigation announced last week by U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Paul Fishman.

Randy Mastro who in the 1990s served as chief of staff and deputy mayor for operations to Giuliani will lead the team.

The outside attorneys will bring a “third-party perspective to the situation, and they will be a valuable asset as we move forward,” Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak said in the statement announcing the law firm’s hiring.

Working for the Giuliani administration, Mastro led efforts to clean up Times Square and rid organized crime from the city’s Fulton Fish Market, private carting industry and popular San Gennaro Festival.

In private practice since then, he frequently took on the administration of Giuliani’s successor, Michael Bloomberg.

Gibson Dunn’s partners charge $980 an hour on average, according to a survey published by the National Law Journal.

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Glenn Greenwald “I Would Say To Democrats Imagine If The NSA Was In The Hands Of Chris Christie”

MOXNEWSd0tC0M MOXNEWSd0tC0M

Published on Jan 10, 2014

January 10, 2014 MSNBC News

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New documents reveal ‘Bridgegate’ PA appointees ignored danger warnings

Bill Baroni and David Wildstein — despite email warning that traffic problems could threaten lives — continued with punitive Washington Bridge scheme. Now documents reveal that Baroni reached out to another Christie appointee: PA Chairman David Samson. Samson issued a statement earlier this week denying knowledge of the shutdown.

 

Published: Friday, January 10, 2014, 3:21 PM
Updated: Friday, January 10, 2014, 7:49 PM

MONDAY, SEPT. 2, 2013 PHOTO

Mel Evans/AP

Top aides to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie ignored warnings of potentially life-threatening traffic problems such as this email: “Wanted you both have a heads-up — Peggy Thomas, Borough Administrator, called me regarding the increased volume and congestion,” warned PA employee Tino Lado, “She mentioned there were two incidents that Ft Lee PD and ems had difficulty responding to: a missing child (later found) and a cardiac arrest … If there is anything you need me to do, let me know.”

Gov. Chris Christie’s top two Port Authority appointees continued the George Washington Bridge gridlock for three days after learning the traffic jams were life-threatening.

A Sept. 9 e-mail to Bill Baroni and David Wildstein laid out the emergency response problems for police and ambulances in Fort Lee, N.J., after the punitive rush-hour lane closings.

“Wanted you both have a heads-up — Peggy Thomas, Borough Administrator, called me regarding the increased volume and congestion,” wrote PA employee Tina Lado.

RELATED: CHRISTIE’S LOAD OF BULL: AIDE MERELY A PATSY

“She mentioned there were two incidents that Ft Lee PD and EMS had difficulty responding to: a missing child (later found) and a cardiac arrest … If there is anything you need me to do, let me know.”

The lanes instead remained closed for three more days in the “Bridgegate” scandal that led to the resignations last month of Baroni and Wildstein.

A 91-year-old Fort Lee woman died on Sept. 9, and local officials said it took twice the usual time for first responders to reach her home.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie spoke  about his knowledge of a traffic study that snarled traffic at the George Washington Bridge during a news conference on January 9, 2014.

Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie spoke about his knowledge of a traffic study that snarled traffic at the George Washington Bridge during a news conference on January 9, 2014.

RELATED: CHRISTIE HAS PRESIDENT NIXON MOMENT

The punitive closings were apparent payback for the refusal of Fort Lee’s mayor to endorse Christie’s 2013 re-election bid.

The email was included Friday in a massive document dump by New Jersey state legislators investigating the Sept. 9-12 lanes closings that paralyzed traffic in and around the west side of the bridge.

PA Executive Director Patrick Foye said in a fiery email that “this hasty and ill-advised decision violates Federal Law and the laws of both states … I pray that no life has been lost.”

RELATED: N.J. RESIDENTS SUE CHRISTIE, STATE OVER GWB TRAFFIC SCANDAL

Foye’s page-long Sept. 13 rant detailed how “appalled” he was by word of the massive tie-ups.

“I will get to the bottom of this abusive decision which violates everything this agency stands for,” Foye continued. “I intend to learn how PA process was wrongfully subverted and the public interest damaged, to say nothing of the credibility of this agency.”

David Wildstein  invoked his right to remain silent at a legislative hearing. “Will be at bridge early Monday to view new test lane,”  Wildstein had emailed.

Emile Wamsteker/Bloomberg

David Wildstein invoked his right to remain silent at a legislative hearing. “Will be at bridge early Monday to view new test lane,” Wildstein had emailed.

 

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Mexican vigilantes take on drug cartels – and worry authorities

Mexico militias take on drug cartels

Self-defence forces gather near Buenavista in Michoacan, Mexico, part of a growing movement of militias taking on the drug cartels. Photograph: ZUMA/REX

 

With their scuffed shoes, baggy trousers and single shot hunting guns, the eight men preparing to patrol their hillside barrio in the southern Mexican town of Tixtla hardly looked like a disciplined military force. But this motley collection of construction workers and shopkeepers claim to have protected their community from Mexico‘s violent drug cartels in a way the police and military have been unable – or unwilling – to do.

“Since we got organised, the hit men don’t dare come in here,” said one young member of the group, which had gathered at dusk on the town’s basketball court, before heading out on patrol. “Extortions, kidnappings and disappearances are right down.”

Over the past year, vigilante groups like this have sprung up in towns and villages across Mexico, especially in the Pacific coast states of Guerrero and Michoacán. They make no pretence to be interrupting drug trafficking itself but they do claim to have restored a degree of tranquillity to daily life.

In a country where the police are commonly felt to commit more crime than they prevent, the militias have won significant popular support, but they have also prompted fears that the appearance of more armed groups can only provoke more violence.

Tensions exploded this weekend when a march by self-defence groups triggered a gun-battle between gunmen and federal forces in the city of Apatzingán, followed by attacks on power stations that left hundreds of thousands without electricity.

Nearly seven years after the government launched a military-led crackdown on the cartels, the weekend’s events have caused many to ask if the new government of President Enrique Peña Nieto is presiding over the first rumblings of an undeclared civil war.

“Perhaps the closest antecedent is the civil wars of central America,” said an editorial posted on the widely-read news site Sin Embargo.

The weekend’s violence began on Saturday when a group of militiamen marched on the city, saying they were responding to calls for support by residents there who want to set up their own self-defence group. Similar groups claim to have forced the brutal Knights Templar cartel out of smaller towns in the region, but Apatzingán, capital of the Tierra Caliente region, has remained largely in the hands of the drug barons.

Troops allowed the marchers into the city after they had disarmed, but when they gathered in the central square, they came under attack from gunmen on the rooftops – including some who were reportedly stationed in the cathedral belltower. A video shows people running for cover as federal police officers appear to return fire at the attackers.

At the end of the day, the marchers withdrew after the army agreed to step up patrols and include observers from the self-defence groups. But the movement’s leader, José Mirales, warned reporters that the fight was not over. “We are going to make sure that organised crime is expelled from Apatzingán,” he said. “They will try to respond.”

That response came just hours later, when, shortly after midnight, nine electricity substations were firebombed in a string of almost simultaneous attacks. More than 400,000 people were left without electricity. At least four petrol stations were also torched.

In a statement, Mexico’s interior ministry promised that: “The actions of the criminals will not stop the actions of the government to protect the population.”

But while the government claimed order had been restored to Aptazingán, the tension continued into Sunday when a second group of civilians marched on the local army base. The Knights Templar were widely believed to be behind this second march that demanded federal forces withdraw their protection from the self-defence groups. Also on Sunday, five bodies were reportedly found on the outskirts of the city, all wearing t-shirts identifying them as members of the self-defence groups.

 

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5 Dead as Mexican Vigilante Groups, Cartel Clash


Clashes in which self-described “self-defense” forces sought to oust the Knights Templar drug cartel from the western Mexico state of Michoacan left at least five men dead and hundreds of thousands of people without electricity.

The weekend confrontations followed a daring march by a self-defense force into the city of Apatzingan, the central stronghold of the pseudo-religious Knights Templar cartel that for years has dominated Michoacan, a state that sends a steady stream of avocados and migrants to the United States.

State Interior Secretary Jaime Mares said soldiers and federal police had taken over security in Apatzingan following the clashes.

Since rising up in February against systematic extortion by the Knights Templar, residents of a half dozen towns that formed self-defense patrols have lived without access to Apatzingan, a commercial and road hub that is home to the region’s main hospital and markets.

Self-defense leaders said they finally grew tired of the cartel blocking services and commerce in an attempt to strangle their uprising and showed up Friday on Apatzingan’s outskirts, armed and ready to “liberate” the city. They were turned back by soldiers who said they couldn’t enter with weapons.

A convoy of hundreds of unarmed self-defense patrol members returned on Saturday and successfully entered the city, where they were met by gunfire, presumably from the Knights Templar.

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Published time: October 23, 2013 05:35

AFP Photo / Saeed Khan

AFP Photo / Saeed Khan

A senior US National Security Council staffer has been fired for using an anonymous Twitter account to send hundreds of messages criticizing the Obama administration from inside the White House.

Jofi Joseph, a director in the nuclear non-proliferation team inside the NSC, was let go a week ago after administration officials spent months investigating who was tweeting from @natsecwonk. The account opened in February 2011 and lasted until last week, sending thousands of tweets critical of Obama’s policies, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and various high level officials in the interim.

Two sources in the administration confirmed to The Daily Beast that Joseph, 40, was behind the account. The staffer was a member of the NSC team that sat across the negotiating table from Iran in Istanbul earlier this year.

“Is it just me, or with the Jews celebrating Rosh Hashanah tonight, is Twitter much quieter?” he once wrote.

What’s so disturbing about the Hillary dancing photo is the high-def resolution of Ben Rhodes’ balding pate. And Jake Sullivan behind him,” another read, referencing US President Obama’s deputy national security advisor and speechwriter as well as Vice President Joe Biden’s national security advisor.

 

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NSC aide admits Twitter attack on White House

A senior National Security Council staffer who was a key member of the White House team negotiating on Iran’s nuclear weapons program told POLITICO he deeply regrets tweeting hundreds of anti-administration messages under the pseudonym @natsecwonk.

Jofi Joseph, 40, was fired from his job on the NSC nuclear non-proliferation team a week ago after a months-long probe into a barrage of tweets that included caustic criticisms of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and top NSC officials, especially Ben Rhodes – whom he accused of dodging questions about Benghazi.

“It has been a privilege to serve in this Administration and I deeply regret violating the trust and confidence placed in me,” Joseph told POLITICO in an email.

“What started out as an intended parody account of DC culture developed over time into a series of inappropriate and mean-spirited comments.  I bear complete responsibility for this affair and I sincerely apologize to everyone I insulted.”

(Also on POLITICO: White House official fired for tweets)

Obama spokesman Eric Schultz confirmed that Joseph  had left the White House – and that he no longer had his top security clearances.

In the course of their investigations, officials also told Joseph they suspected he was responsible for a second anonymous Twitter account “@dchobbyist” which included racier tweets about sexual encounters, escort services – and the inner workings of the State Department.

“Wow, you look amazingly sexy in this photo!” the @dchobbyist wrote in an Oct. 5th post.

“That was him,” a person briefed on the probe told POLITICO.

Joseph didn’t respond to a request for comment on the second account.

Joseph, who was part of the White House team that opened up preliminary negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program in Istanbul earlier this year, lived a double life, working with NSC officials and State Department higher-ups on the most sensitive issues while secretly tweet-bombing them with comments like: “’Has shitty staff.’ #ObamaInThreeWords.”

For months, White House and State department officials searched for @NatSecWonk, a hunt that intensified after he repeatedly expressed doubts about the official administration accounts about the Sept. 11, 2012 attack in Benghazi.

After a probe that included an investigation into Joseph’s travel and shopping patterns – parsed from over 2,000 tweets – lawyers from the White House counsel’s office confronted Joseph and ordered him to leave the executive complex, according to two sources familiar with the situation. Joseph had been scheduled to rotate out of White House duty to a senior job in the Pentagon, an administration official told POLITICO.

The revelation that Joseph was @natsecwonk came as a shock because Joseph was a familiar figure in the foreign policy world – as is his wife Carolyn Leddy, a highly-regarded staffer on the Republican side of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, according to Daily Beast reporter Josh Rogin.

 

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