Category: Protests


Genetically engineered crops banned in Jackson County, Oregon in landslide victory against GMOs

Oregon
Wednesday, May 21, 2014

(NaturalNews) A ban on the growing of all genetically engineered plants appears to be a landslide victory in Jackson County, Oregon. With 100 percent of the precincts reporting and a huge voter turnout of over 50 percent, nearly 66% of voters elected to ban all genetically engineered crops from being grown in the county.

The vote ran 39,489 to 20,432 in favor of the ban, and it sends a clear signal that the People of Jackson County, Oregon — a largely agricultural area of the country — absolutely do not want genetically engineered crops to be growing anywhere near them. (Click here to see county election results.)

This is on top of the recent victory in Vermont where lawmakers passed a mandatory GMO labeling law that requires foods to be honestly labeled with their GMO content. (The evil biotech industry and its Grocery Manufacturers of America front group plant to sue Vermont to keep consumers in the dark.)

“Destroy all genetically engineered plants”

This ordinance in Oregon requires everyone to “destroy” all genetically engineered plants except those grown under indoor laboratory conditions (i.e. those which are safely isolated from the wild). This will allow scientists to continue to study GMOs without risking the lives of everyone else in the process.

Click here to read the full text of the ordinance (PDF).

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Oregon counties ban cultivation of GMO crops

Published time: May 21, 2014 16:37
Edited time: May 22, 2014 11:18

Reuters/Ints Kalnins

Reuters/Ints Kalnins

Despite the flood of corporate money poured into two small Oregon counties, local residents voted on Tuesday to ban genetically engineered crops from being planted within their borders.

Although Jackson County itself is home to less than 120,000 registered voters, the measure to ban genetically modified crops (GMOs) made headlines around the nation when it was revealed that large biotech companies like Monsanto were pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into the area in order to affect the vote’s outcome.

As RT reported previously, Monsanto and five other corporations spent at least $455,000 in an attempt to defeat the initiative, and opponents of the GMO ban had gained an eight-to-one spending advantage as of April. According to the Associated Press, nearly $1 million of the $1.3 million spent during the campaign was used by opponents.

When the results were tallied, however, 66 percent of Jackson County residents voted in favor of the ban.

“We fought the most powerful and influential chemical companies in the world and we won,” local farmer and anti-GMO advocate Elise Higley told the Oregonian.

“It’s a great day for the people of Oregon who care about sustainability and healthy ecosystems,” added the group GMO Free Oregon on its Facebook page.

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Cecily McMillan, who faces up to seven years in prison, was immediately handcuffed and ‘whisked away’

- Sarah Lazare, staff writer

Cecily McMillan arrives at court in New York at the start of her assault trial. (Photo: Andrew Gombert/EPA)

Cecily McMillan—the 25-year-old Occupy Wall Street organizer who was allegedly sexually assaulted and brutalized by a police officer at Zuccotti Park, is facing up to seven years in prison after—in what her supporters say is a cruel twist—she was convicted Monday afternoon of “felony assault” of the very police officer she says is her perpetrator.

“This threatens a chilling effect over protest movements going forward,” said Stan Williams, media coordinator for Justice for Cecily, in an interview with Common Dreams. “I am so sad and raw right now.”

After four weeks of trial and just three hours of jury deliberation, the verdict was issued Monday afternoon, and Judge Ronald Zweibel immediately remanded McMillan into custody pending sentencing, rejecting her lawyer’s requests for bail.

The courtroom, which was packed with McMillan’s supporters and approximately 50 police officers, erupted into cries of “Shame!” as McMillan was handcuffed. According to Williams, people who stood up were pushed down and told to be quiet, yet the crowd “continued to shout and yell.”

“You could see Cecily over the heads of police officers who lined the front of the courtroom,” he added. “She looked upset and in shock over the verdict. Then she was whisked away.”

Williams said the scene was “extremely triggering” given the brutality of the March 2012 incident around which the trial orbited. According to a statement from Justice for Cecily,

[O]n March 17, 2012, Cecily’s attendance at Zuccotti was a point of party, not protest. It was St. Patrick’s Day and as a McMillan, she vowed for this one occasion to put down the bullhorn and pick up the beer. Cecily swung by the park to pick up a friend on her way to a nearby pub. Minutes later, she was sexually assaulted while attempting to leave Zuccotti in compliance with police evacuation orders. Seized from behind, she was forcefully grabbed by the breast and ripped backwards. Cecily startled and her arm involuntarily flew backward into the temple of her attacker, who promptly flung her to the ground, where others repeatedly kicked and beat her into a string of seizures.

McMillan is described by her supporters as “a 25-year-old organizer” who “has been politically active for over a decade — most notably in the Democratic Socialists for America, the anti-Scott Walker mobilization, and Occupy Wall Street.”

She earlier rejected a deal from prosecutors, in which she would plea guilty to second-degree assault of a police officer in exchange for a recommendation from prosecutors for no prison time.

McMillan’s supporters have slammed Judge Zweibel for imposing a gag order on her lawyers and showing strong favor to the prosecution.

McMillan will soon be on her way to Rikers Island, said Williams.

According to The Guardian, “Hers is believed to be the last of more than 2,600 prosecutions brought against members of the movement, most of which were dismissed or dropped.”

McMillan’s supporters say McMillan will fight the verdict in an appeals court. According to Williams, there will be a rally Monday evening at Zuccotti Park, and there is a separate fund being collected for her commissary costs.

In a statement immediately following the verdict, Justice for Cecily declared:

We recognize that, as poorly as Cecily has been treated these past two years, she was lucky enough to have an amazing support system comprised of representation from the National Lawyer’s Guild and Mutant Legal, as well as significant financial help from supporters of Occupy Wall Street and a team of ten who tirelessly worked to bring her case to light and support her through this trying time. It’s harrowing to imagine how many unfortunate people encounter this system without the resources Cecily had, though we know countless innocent people are forced to plea to felonies and ruin their lives every day in this building.

Reactions and reports are being posted on Twitter:

Below is an exclusive Democracy Now! interview with McMillan.

 

 

Exclusive: OWS Activist Cecily McMillan Describes Seizure, Bodily Injuries in Arrest by NYPD

 

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SacBee.com

Donetsk referendum wording mentions neither Ukraine nor Russia

Sergei L. Loiko / MCT

A pro-Russia gunman sits at a barricade in front of the administration building in Konstyantynivka, in the Donetsk region of the Ukraine, Monday, April 28, 2014.

 

Published: Wednesday, Apr. 30, 2014 – 3:02 pm

Having lived through a month of pro-Russian separatists storming and seizing government buildings to raise the Russian flag, Donetsk residents will be asked May 11 to answer a single question in a hastily organized referendum.

That question, according to a government official who said he was present at a meeting Tuesday where the wording was agreed on: “Do you support the creation of the Donetsk People’s Republic?”

What would a “yes” vote actually mean? Officials admit they aren’t sure. In fact, one noted that more than a desire to join Russia, or be a separate nation, the vote is an attempt to persuade the central government in Kiev to listen to this populous, industrial region. Regional council member Nikolai Zagoruiko said that if the central government would agree to two long-standing demands, the vote might never have to happen.

“If they would agree to make Russian a second official language of Ukraine _ so that everyone can understand the state documents they must read and sign _ and agree to give Donetsk more local control over the taxes we collect to send to Kiev, so that we can make this a better place to live, we would probably be satisfied,” he said. “In fact, if they did those two things, I’m sure the referendum could be postponed, and eventually forgotten about.”

Analysts and experts on the region have repeatedly said that they think the idea of a referendum is more about having a bargaining chip with the Ukrainian government than a real desire to join Russia. The local legend is that regional business and political leaders helped create the separatist movement hoping it would lead to more local budget control.

“But after creating the monster, they lost control of the monster,” Volodymr Kipen, the head of the Donetsk Institute for Social Research and Policy Analysis, told McClatchy this week.

The notion of the region’s union with Russia _ a primary goal of pro-separatists _ won’t be mentioned on the yet-to-be printed ballots. The possibility of remaining a part of Ukraine after the vote _ a primary concern of pro-Ukrainians, who risk beatings during efforts to make their point _ also won’t be mentioned on the ballot.

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NYPD Twitter campaign backfires, thousands of negative tweets

NEW YORK Wed Apr 23, 2014 3:18pm EDT

 

A pedestrian walks past a line of New York Police Department (NYPD) cars parked at Times Square in New York, October 18, 2011. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn

A pedestrian walks past a line of New York Police Department (NYPD) cars parked at Times Square in New York, October 18, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Gary Hershorn

 

(Reuters) – A New York Police Department campaign to burnish its image via social media instead produced a flood of pictures of apparent police brutality and tweets critical of the force being shared at a rate of thousands an hour.

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said on Wednesday he would continue and expand the NYPD Twitter campaign a day after it backfired, triggering an outpouring of negative images including police violence at New York’s Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, an NYPD officer pointing a gun at a dog, and an officer asleep in a subway car.

“The reality of policing is that oftentimes our actions are lawful, but they look awful,” Bratton told a news briefing at New York City Hall.

“Most of those photos that I looked at are old news,” said Bratton, appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio to take over from Ray Kelly, who served for 12 years under de Blasio’s predecessor, Michael Bloomberg.

 

Read More Here

 

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NYPD commissioner welcomes attention from disastrous #myNYPD hashtag

FILE - In this May 1, 2012, file photo, a police lieutenant swings his baton at Occupy Wall Street activists in New York. This photo is among the many put on Twitter in response to a New York Police Department request for Twitter users to share pictures of themselves posing with police officers. The NYPD sent a tweet on Tuesday, April 22, 2014, saying it might feature the photographs on its Facebook page. The responses soon turned ugly when Occupy Wall Street tweeted a photograph of cops battling protesters with the caption

This file photo, from May 2012, shows a police lieutenant swinging his baton at Occupy Wall Street activists in New York. It was recirculated Tuesday in response to a police hashtag that went awry. (Mary Altaffer/AP)

The New York Police Department’s attempt at using social media to connect with constituents on Tuesday went…well, let’s say awry.

An initial tweet asked people to post photos of themselves with police officers along with the hashtag #myNYPD. Obviously this went poorly, because obviously it was going to go poorly, because these things can really only go poorly (we’ll get back to that in a moment). In response, people sent in lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of photos of New York police officers doing violent things to people. (Like the photo at the top of this post. It’s almost two years old, but thanks to the #myNYPD hashtag, it has been everywhere over the last 24 hours.)

William J. Bratton, the police commissioner, said he isn’t too bothered by the reaction:

“I kind of welcome the attention,” Bratton said Wednesday as the negative tweets kept coming nearly 24 hours after cops invited the cyber-submissions….

“Most of the pictures I looked at, they’re old news,” Bratton said, tossing previous NYPD administrations under the patrol car. “They’ve been out there for a long time.”

Read More Here

 

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Black smoke billows from barricades outside the Ukrainian town of Slovyansk, set alight by pro-Russia gunmen as they were driven from the site by Ukrainian national forces trying to recover occupied towns and cities in the east of the country.

( Mika Velikovskiy / Associated Press / April 24, 2014 )

Black smoke billows from barricades outside the Ukrainian town of Slovyansk, set alight by pro-Russia gunmen as they were driven from the site by Ukrainian national forces trying to recover occupied towns and cities in the east of the country.

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Ukrainian forces report killings, ouster of separatist gunmen

 

Ukrainian forces launch an operation Thursday to drive pro-Russia insurgents out of occupied buildings in the country’s tumultuous east, prompting new threats from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

SLOVYANSK, Ukraine — Ukrainian government troops killed at least two pro-Russia separatist gunmen in Slovyansk on Thursday and drove away others occupying key public buildings in the city of Mariupol in an operation the Kremlin condemned as the Kiev government attacking “its own people.”

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said the actions in eastern Ukraine and the deployment of NATO forces in member states bordering Russia to the west had “forced” the Kremlin to order more military drills of its troops amassed on Ukraine’s border.

The Ukrainian Interior Ministry said that “up to five” separatists had been killed in Kiev’s “anti-terrorist operation” targeting armed checkpoints set up by the Russian-speaking militants in Slovyansk.

A spokeswoman for the militants, Stella Khorosheva, confirmed to the Associated Press that two had been killed in the provincial town 100 miles west of the Russia-Ukraine border. Slovyansk has become the main flashpoint in the weeks-old confrontation between pro-Russia gunmen demanding autonomy from Kiev for the territory they are holding and Ukrainian officials trying to hold the country together.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned the Ukrainian interim leadership of “consequences” for its move against pro-Russia militants who have seized a dozen towns and cities in eastern Ukraine in demand of local votes on whether to secede from Ukraine and join Russia or revise the constitution to make their regions virtually independent. The separatists’ actions followed last month’s Russian  annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula after a swift occupation by Russian troops and a hastily called referendum on secession.

 

Read More and Watch Videos Here

 

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Amid Russia warning, Ukraine is in a security bind

DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) — Russia’s foreign minister warned Wednesday that attacks on Russian citizens or interests in Ukraine would bring a firm response and drew a comparison to the circumstances that opened the war with Georgia in 2008.

“Russian citizens being attacked is an attack against the Russian Federation,” Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, a day after Ukraine announced it was re-launching a campaign against pro-Kremlin insurgents occupying government facilities in the mostly Russian-speaking east.

“If we were attacked we could certainly respond,” Lavrov said, speaking on the Kremlin-funded satellite TV channel RT.

Lavrov’s warning came as the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a separate statement demanding that Ukraine pull its armed forces out of the crisis-ridden region.

“If our interests, our legitimate interests, the interests of Russians have been attacked directly, like they were in South Ossetia, I do not see any other way but to respond in full accordance with international law,” Lavrov said, referring to the 2008 war that led to the breaking away of the Georgian republic of South Ossetia.

In that conflict, Russia launched an invasion of Georgia after it unleashed an artillery attack on the capital of the separatist region, where Russian peacekeeping forces were stationed. However, unlike the conflict with Georgia, Russia has denied having troops or agents in eastern Ukraine.

The Russian warnings came as an accord reached last week in Geneva to defuse the Ukraine crisis continued to crumble, with pro-Russian insurgents in the east defying calls for all sides to disarm and to vacate the buildings they are occupying.

On Tuesday, Ukraine’s acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov, ordered resumption of an “anti-terrorist operation” against the pro-Russia forces. However, the highly publicized move produced little action on the ground Wednesday.

Read More and Watch Video Here

 

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Collapse of the Industrial Civilization | Interview with Michael Ruppert

 

Published on Feb 28, 2013

Michael Ruppert let’s fly with both barrels as he speaks on Peak Oil, who the media are serving, and the truth behind Pat Tilman and Christopher Dorner. Ruppert’s candor is so strong that it is clear to see why he has been persecuted for his journalism, and he also shows why he is resilient enough to keep on speaking his truth.

GUEST BIO:
Michael Ruppert is an investigative journalist and author of two books, Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil and Confronting Collapse: The Crisis of Energy and Money in a Post Peak Oil World. In the 1970s, Ruppert was a narcotics officer for the LAPD. While there, he discovered evidence that the CIA was complicit in the illegal drug trade. He alerted his superiors with this information and soon found himself dismissed even though he had an honorable record. These events spurred Ruppert to begin a new career for himself as an investigative journalist. He was the publisher/editor of the From The Wilderness newsletter which, until its closure in 2006, examined government corruption and complicity in such areas as the CIA’s involvement in the war on drugs, the Pat Tillman scandal, the 2008 economic collapse and issues surrounding Peak Oil. Ruppert has lectured widely on these topics and was the subject of a documentary,Collapse, in 2009 which was based on one of his books. Currently, he hosts the radio show, The Lifeboat, on the Progressive Radio Network.

ADD’L LINKS:
http://www.fromthewilderness.com/
http://www.collapsenet.com/
http://www.thelip.tv

EPISODE BREAKDOWN:
00:01 Coming up on Media Mayhem.
00:50 Welcoming Michael Ruppert
01:44 Getting persecuted as a journalist over Pat Tilman.
04:35 Bringing down the Bush administration.
08:55 The Pat Tilman cover-up.
15:01 Getting push back from controversial stories.
23:14 Media red herrings and distractions from the Right and Left.
27:54 Collapse, peak oil and the Iraq War explained.
36:17 The cognitive dissonance swirling around Christopher Dorner.
45:04 Investigative journalism appears through the cracks.

 

Part 2

 

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Published on Mar 5, 2013

Collapse mastermind Michael Ruppert joins Media Mayhem to continue his conversation about the dirty secrets of the US government. This time he pulls out the big guns when discussing 9/11, the Bush administration, and why Dick Cheney was such an important (and nefarious) figure.
He also gives his thoughts on President Obama, and the overwhelming force that keeps the machine of US government ticking in the direction of criminality.

GUEST BIO:
Michael Ruppert is an investigative journalist and author of two books, Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil andConfronting Collapse: The Crisis of Energy and Money in a Post Peak Oil World.In the 1970s, Ruppert was a narcotics officer for the LAPD. While there, he discovered evidence that the CIA was complicit in the illegal drug trade. He alerted his superiors with this information and soon found himself dismissed even though he had an honorable record. These events spurred Ruppert to begin a new career for himself as an investigative journalist. He was the publisher/editor of the From The Wilderness newsletter which, until its closure in 2006, examined government corruption and complicity in such areas as the CIA’s involvement in the war on drugs, the Pat Tillman scandal, the 2008 economic collapse and issues surrounding Peak Oil. Ruppert has lectured widely on these topics and was the subject of a documentary, Collapse, in 2009 which was based on one of his books. Currently, he hosts the radio show, The Lifeboat, on the Progressive Radio Network.

ADD’L LINKS:
http://www.fromthewilderness.com/
http://www.collapsenet.com/
https://www.facebook.com/MediaMayhem
https://twitter.com/ahopeweiner
http://thelip.tv/

EPISODE BREAKDOWN:
00:01 Coming Up on Media Mayhem
00:41 The Collapse network of outside media.
03:34 30 years of experience in skepticism.
05:24 Osama Bin Laden and the truth.
09:44 9/11 was orchestrated by Dick Cheney.
11:24 Evidence for his case.
16:33 How Cheney consolidated power so effectively.
20:56 The excuse for the Iraq War, and the connection to Pearl Harbor.
26:12 Halliburton and the C.I.A.
31:44 Working with the LAPD and C.I.A. and coming from a background related to security.
34:34 The C.I.A. drug shipment conspiracy.
36:35 Has the LAPD changed since Rodney King?
40:14 Obama and the machine.
43:52 The balance of power and the executive.

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Pro-Russia Militant Rejects Ukraine Pact

The leader of a group of pro-Russia separatists, Denis Pushilin, said he would ignore the diplomatic pact between Russia and Ukraine to de-escalate the crisis.

Credit Sergei Grits/Associated Press

 

KIEV, Ukraine — An American-backed deal to settle the crisis in eastern Ukraine fell flat on Friday as pro-Russian militants vowed to stay in occupied government buildings, dashing hopes of a swift end to an insurgency that the authorities in Kiev portray as a Kremlin-orchestrated effort to put Ukraine’s industrial heartland under Russian control.

But the agreement, reached in Geneva on Thursday by diplomats from the European Union, Russia, Ukraine and the United States, appeared to arrest, at least temporarily, the momentum of separatist unrest in Ukraine’s Russian-speaking east. Armed pro-Russian militants, who have seized buildings in at least 10 towns and cities since Feb. 6, paused their efforts to purge all central government authority from the populous Donetsk region.

It was clear all along that for the pact to have a chance of success, the Kremlin would have to pressure the militants to leave the buildings they had seized. So far, it has shown no inclination to do so, blaming the Ukrainian government for the turmoil and denying that Russia has any ties to the rebels.

With militants vowing to ignore the agreement but halting what had been a daily expansion of territory under their control, officials in Kiev, the capital, voiced some hope that a settlement was still possible. They were skeptical, however, about Russia’s willingness to push the separatists to disarm and vacate occupied buildings.

“If Russia is responsible before not just Ukraine but the world community, it should prove it,” said Andrii Deshchytsia, the acting Ukrainian foreign minister, who took part in the Geneva talks.

Western officials said the United States planned to reassure Eastern European members of NATO by conducting company-size — about 150 soldiers — ground force exercises in Estonia and Poland. The exercises would last a couple of weeks and would most likely be followed by other troop rotations in the region.

In a sign of the chasm separating Russian and Ukrainian views, Russia’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Friday that made no mention of the pro-Russian militants driving the unrest. It said the call for militants to disarm “meant in the first place” the disarming of Ukrainian nationalist groups hostile to Russia, like Right Sector “and other pro-fascist groups which took part in the February coup in Kiev.”

The state-run Russian television channel, Rossiya, reporting from an occupied building in Horlivka in the Donetsk region, featured a masked gunman who pledged to “fight to the end for his convictions.” He displayed an armband emblazoned with a swastika-like symbol, which he said had been seized from supporters of the Ukrainian government.

Doubts about the Kremlin’s readiness to push pro-Russian militants to surrender their guns have been strengthened by its insistence that it has no hand in or control over the separatist unrest, which Washington and Kiev believe is the result of a covert Russian operation involving, in some places, the direct action of special forces.

“I don’t know Russia’s intentions,” Mr. Deshchytsia said, noting that during the negotiations, Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, had repeatedly asserted “that Russia was not involved.” He said Mr. Lavrov had been “cooperative and aggressive at the same time.”

 Russia’s denials have stirred concerns that it went along with the agreement not to curb the turmoil in eastern Ukraine, but to blunt American and European calls for tougher sanctions that could severely damage Russia’s already sickly economy. Western sanctions have so far been limited to a travel ban and asset freeze on a few dozen individuals and a Russian bank.

Secretary of State John Kerry called Mr. Lavrov on Friday and urged Russia to ensure “full and immediate compliance” with the agreement, a senior State Department official said. Mr. Kerry, the official added, “made clear that the next few days would be a pivotal period for all sides to implement the statement’s provisions, particularly that all illegal armed groups must be disarmed and all illegally seized buildings must be returned to legitimate owners.”

Read More Here

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In Ukraine, Pro-Russia Radicals Reject Call To Leave Occupied Buildings

By RFE/RL
Pro-Russia radicals occupying official buildings in eastern Ukraine say they will only leave if the pro-Western government in Kyiv resigns.

Denis Pushilin, the self-declared leader of the radicals in Donetsk, told reporters on April 18 that he did not consider his men bound by a compromise agreement between Russia and Ukraine to disarm and vacate occupied buildings.

The agreement was reached at four-party talks on April 17 in Geneva also involving the United States and the European Union.

Pushilin said the government in Kyiv was illegitimate and also must vacate public buildings that he said it was occupying illegally.

Local media reports on April 18 said none of the government buildings seized across eastern Ukraine had yet been vacated.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk told parliament on April 18 that the government had drafted a law that would offer an amnesty to insurgents who would lay down their arms and leave the occupied buildings.

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Armed Men Seize Police Station in Eastern Ukraine City

Armed men wearing masks and camouflage uniforms guard a police station in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slovyansk on Saturday. Credit Anatoliy Stepanov/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

DONETSK, Ukraine — Pro-Russian militants attacked police stations and other security facilities in the most populous part of eastern Ukraine on Saturday, in a brush fire of violent unrest that the government in Kiev immediately denounced as Russian “aggression.”

The attacks on the Police Headquarters here and on a police station and a state security branch in Slovyansk about 60 miles away, along with reports of shooting in several other towns, suggested a coordinated campaign to destabilize the Donetsk region, a vitally important industrial and coal-mining area that borders Russia.

A local journalist on the scene said the raid on the police station appeared to be the work of local pro-Russian militants rather than a repeat of the scenario in Crimea, where heavily armed Russian soldiers without markings on their uniforms seized control of airports and other vital installations in late February at the start of a Kremlin-orchestrated campaign to annex the region.

In Donetsk, the regional capital, a group of unarmed pro-Moscow activists tried to storm a prosecutor’s office, but were beaten back by riot police. A few blocks away, several hundred people gathered outside the headquarters of the regional administration to cheer pro-Russian groups that seized the building last Sunday and declared an independent state, the People’s Republic of Donetsk. Ukrainian authorities vowed on Wednesday to end the occupation, by force if necessary, by Friday but later backed away from this threat, hoping that government promises of more local autonomy for Ukraine’s Russian-speaking regions might resolve the standoff.

But there was no sign Saturday of the protesters ending their occupation. Instead, they reinforced their defensive barricades and welcomed several dozen Cossacks in military uniforms to their ranks.

Ukraine’s acting president, Oleksandr V. Turchynov, called an emergency meeting late Saturday of the country’s national security council to discuss the escalating crisis in the mainly Russian-speaking east of the country. Fears that the government is losing control have been fueled by the militants’ seizing of a large number of weapons over the last week. Some 300 automatic rifles were taken from the Donetsk offices of the state security service after it was briefly taken over by pro-Russian protesters last weekend, and according to the Ukrainian Interior Ministry, 400 Makarov handguns and 20 automatic weapons were looted on Saturday from the police station in Slovyansk, which had been seized. “The goal of the takeover was the guns,” the ministry said.

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Pro-Russian Protesters Build Barricades

After seizing a police station in Slovyansk, Ukraine, pro-Russian protesters raised the banner of the People’s Republic of Donetsk and constructed barricades around the station.

Credit Anastasia Vlasova/European Pressphoto Agency

The demands of the pro-Russian activists in eastern Ukraine keep shifting between outright secession and greater autonomy within Ukraine. But calls for unity with Russia now seem to predominate, heightening concerns in the West that Moscow is orchestrating the disorder to create a pretext for an invasion. Russian troops have been massed for weeks near the Ukrainian border.

Read More Watch Videos Here

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New Zealand Herald 

Kiev government to deploy troops in Ukraine’s east

Armed pro-Russian activist stands at a makeshift checkpoint at the entrance into the eastern Ukrainian town of Slovyansk. Photo / AP

Armed pro-Russian activist stands at a makeshift checkpoint at the entrance into the eastern Ukrainian town of Slovyansk. Photo / AP

Turning to force to try to restore its authority in the vital industrial east, Ukraine’s government announced it was sending in troops to try to quash an increasingly brazen pro-Russian insurgency, despite repeated warnings from the Kremlin.

Accusing Moscow of fomenting the unrest, Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov said in a televised address that such a “large-scale anti-terrorist operation” would ensure Russia did not “repeat the Crimean scenario in Ukraine’s east.” Turchynov pledged to offer amnesty to anyone surrendering their weapons by Monday morning (local time).

Watch: Ukraine to launch anti-terror operation

Video

Reliance on the military is a response that hints at concerns over the reliability of the police, who have often proven unable or unwilling to repel pro-Russian gunmen and other Moscow loyalists from seizing key state facilities.

With tens of thousands of Russian troops massed along Ukraine’s eastern border, there are fears that Moscow might use unrest in the mainly Russian-speaking region as a pretext for an invasion.

Speaking late Sunday on Russian state television, ousted president Viktor Yanukovych accused the CIA of being behind the new government’s decision to turn to force, a claim the CIA denied as “completely false.”

Yanukovych claimed that CIA director John Brennan met with Ukraine’s new leadership and “in fact sanctioned the use of weapons and provoked bloodshed.”

CIA spokesman Dean Boyd said that while the agency doesn’t comment on Brennan’s travel itinerary, the “claim that director Brennan encouraged Ukrainian authorities to conduct tactical operations inside Ukraine is completely false.”

Ukraine now has “one foot into a civil war,” Yanukovych declared, flanked by his former prosecutor general and interior minister, the two associates most despised by the protesters whose monthslong demonstrations were ignited by Yanukovych’s decision to back away from closer relations with the European Union and turn toward Russia. Yanukovych fled to Russia in February, saying he feared for his life.

Earlier Sunday, Ukrainian special forces exchanged gunfire with a pro-Russia militia outside the eastern city of Slovyansk – the first reported gunbattle in the east, where armed pro-Russian men have seized a number of key government buildings to press their demands for referendums on autonomy and possible annexation by Russia, following the pattern set by the vote in Crimea last month. A Ukrainian security officer was killed and at least two others wounded.

Calling such attacks a “Russian aggression,” Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said in a Facebook post Sunday that special forces of up to 12,000 people will be drawn from volunteers who will be tasked with resisting attacks from pro-Russian forces in their local areas.

Read More and Watch Videos Here

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Ukraine crisis: Helicopter gunships take country closer to all-out war

 Ukrainian troops use helicopters to seize back airport held by pro-Russian militiamen while ground forces gather around separatist stronghold of Slovyansk

Slovyansk

A prolonged and increasingly vicious confrontation in eastern Ukraine has turned into armed conflict as Ukrainian troops used helicopter gunships to seize back an airport that had been held by pro-Russian militiamen.

The attack at Kramatorsk came as ground forces with armour gathered around Slovyansk, which had become a symbolic stronghold for well-armed separatists.

At Kramatorsk, two of the aircraft carried out strafing runs, before two others landed troops. Four people were believed to have been injured, but claims of people killed, some of them civilians, could not be verified.

A stand-off developed afterwards, when protesters unfurled a banner saying “Shame on you! Go back home” and shouting while the soldiers fired in the air. Eight miles away the residents of Slovyansk marched towards their own small airstrip. They were, they stated, doing so to protect it from “fascists and Nazis” being flown in from the west of the country.

The outbreak of fighting raised deep trepidation that Ukraine, which has already lost Crimea to the Kremlin, could be entering into a civil war which may lead to the intervention of Vladimir Putin, who has repeatedly declared that he was prepared to act to protect ethnic Russians across the border.

The Russian Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev, warned “Ukraine is on the brink of civil war”, adding that he hoped the Kiev administration had “enough brains” to avoid a catastrophic escalation. He blamed the government in Kiev for creating a situation where people felt they had no choice but to rise up for their rights.

Key installations in 10 cities have now slipped out of the control of Kiev and into the hands of protesters who are demanding a referendum on the future of the country. Repeated ultimatums for the gunmen to surrender have been ignored, severely damaging the credibility of the government.

As evening fell the office of Ukraine’s acting President, Olexander Turchynov, announced that the airfield had been captured in an “anti-terrorist operation”. There were also claims that a number of public buildings in the region had been retaken; but there was no immediate verification of that on the ground.

 

The operation at Kramatorsk appeared to be aimed at providing a landing site for positioning forces on one approach to Slovyansk.

Airborne forces, along with Ministry of Interior police units, were at Kamianka, near Izyum, south east of Kiev, with armoured personnel carriers, light artillery and transport helicopters. Further back, an armoured bulldozer for clearing barricades had been parked near a hotel. General Vasily Krutov, commander of Ukraine’s security service, SBU, was in no doubt about the need for action or the identity of the enemy.

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Russia, West Face Off Over Ukraine at UN

  • A pro-Russian gunman stands guard at a police station that was seized by pro-Russian militants, in the eastern Ukraine town of Slovyansk, April 13, 2014.

    Ukrainian, Pro-Russian Militia Sustain Casualties in Slovyansk Gunfire

Russia came under heavy criticism from world powers at an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council Sunday, as violent clashes flared between pro-Russia separatists and Kyiv government supporters in eastern Ukraine.

U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power and British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant accused Russia of orchestrating the violence.

Power said the instability in Ukraine was “completely man-made.” She said it was “written and choreographed” by Russia. Grant called on the Security Council to warn Russia against “further military escalation.”

Russia, which called the meeting, rejected the charges.

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin called on the international community to demand that those who are in power in Kyiv stop war on their own citizens, referring to a warning by Ukraine’s government that it will use force against pro-Russia activists in the eastern part of Ukraine if they do not disarm.

In a televised speech Sunday, Ukraine’s acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov, vowed Kyiv will not let Russia take over eastern Ukraine after its annexation of the Crimean peninsula last month.

He said he will grant amnesty to any pro-Russian separatists who lay down their weapons by Monday but vowed to use force against those who don’t.

Turchynov accused Moscow of carrying out a war against Ukraine, once part of its Soviet empire.

“Blood has been shed in a war which the Russian Federation unleashed against Ukraine. The aggressor has not stopped but continues to incite unrest in Ukraine’s east. It’s not a war between Ukrainians; it’s an artificially created confrontation, whose goal is to see Ukraine weakened and destroyed as a country. But in the end it will weaken our enemies. Russia today has drawn condemnation from the entire civilized world,” said Turchynov.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry immediately dismissed Turchynov’s order to launch the operation as “criminal” and called for its immediate review by the U.N. Security Council. A meeting is set for Sunday night.

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Obama, Putin Talk as Separatists Tighten Grip on East Ukraine

Pro-Russia demonstrators on Monday defied a government deadline to vacate occupied buildings in exchange for amnesty, as Ukraine’s interim president threatened a military crackdown.

Dozens of protesters smashed windows of the police headquarters in the eastern Ukrainian city of Horlivka and scuffled with police as they took control of the facility.

Obama, Putin to continue diplomacy

Russian President Vladimir Putin urged U.S. President Barack Obama to discourage the Ukrainian government from using force against protesters.

During a phone conversation Monday with Obama, the Russian leader denied claims of Russian agents’ involvement in the protests as “speculations based on unreliable information.”  Putin said the protests vented public anger about the Ukrainian government’s reluctance to recognize the interests of Russian speakers in the east.

The Kremlin said it had requested the call. The White House said the call was frank and direct.

The White House said Obama urged Russia to use its influence to get separatists in the country to stand down.

“The president emphasized that all irregular forces in the country need to lay down their arms, and he urged President Putin to use his influence with these armed, pro-Russian groups to convince them to depart the buildings they have seized,” the White House said in a statement.

The two sides agreed to continue efforts to seek diplomatic cooperation in the context of the Ukrainian situation ahead of a four-party meeting (EU, Russia, U.S. and Ukraine) scheduled to take place in Geneva on April 17.

Demanding a referendum

The demonstrators are demanding a referendum on whether to split with Ukraine and join Russia – similar to last month’s vote in Crimea.

Donetsk, a province with 4.3 million people – 10 percent of Ukraine’s population – and much of its heavy industry, is the biggest prize of the eastern regions where pro-Russian separatists have captured government buildings in the past week.

Ukrainian leader Oleksandr Turchynov said he is not against a national referendum on what kind of country Ukraine should be.  He said he is certain a majority would support a united and independent Ukraine, possibly giving broader localized rights to the east.  He said such a vote could be held at the same time as the May 25 presidential election.

In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday he believes Russian-speaking Ukrainians in the eastern part of the country should be part of drafting a new constitution.

CIA visit

 

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“CIVIL WAR HAS BEGUN IN UKRAINE” = headline in major Russian paper this morning. No clarifying context, of course. pic.twitter.com/SGsoCw1ZeW
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RFE/RL

In Eastern Ukraine, The Hunt For A Smoking Gun — And A Real Russian Holding It

Pro-Russian gunmen stand guard outside the mayor's office in Slovyansk, Ukraine, on April 14. Can Kyiv prove some are Russian servicemen?

Pro-Russian gunmen stand guard outside the mayor’s office in Slovyansk, Ukraine, on April 14. Can Kyiv prove some are Russian servicemen?

By Daisy Sindelar
As separatists continue to hold government buildings throughout the Ukrainian east, a desperate search is on to prove that Russian forces are behind the coordinated actions, much as they were in Crimea.

The proof would cement suspicions that Russia, which has maintained a military presence on Ukraine’s eastern border for months, is preparing to further destabilize its already fragile neighbor, if not annex certain portions of it outright.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov continues to insist that Russia has none of its forces inside Ukraine.

But Western officials say they are already convinced of Russian involvement. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, said the weekend instability that swept through cities like Slovyansk, Mariupol, and Kramatorsk “was choreographed in and by Russia.”

Ukrainian officials, too, have offered evidence of Russian involvement. In an interview with RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service, acting Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsya said the armed men seizing government buildings were armed with automatic rifles used by the Russian Army, and not the types of rifles stolen from Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) forces, as many pro-Russian protesters have claimed. (Although he does not offer specific details, Deshchytsya appears to be referring to documented use of Kalashnikov AK-100 rifles, which are not part of the Ukrainian arsenal.)

But it may be Andriy Parubiy, the head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, who holds the true smoking gun. Parubiy, a former lawmaker and Euromaidan protest leader, announced on April 15 that SBU agents had detained officers from the Russian Defense Ministry’s main intelligence wing, the GRU, for involvement in the eastern actions.

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Lavrov denies east Ukraine unrest was conducted by supposed Russian agents

Lavrov denies east Ukraine unrest was conducted by supposed Russian agents

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has denied allegations that the current unrest in southeastern Ukraine is the work of supposed Russian agents. Ukrainian acting Foreign Minister Andrei Deshchytsya called Lavrov on Saturday and, “in the course of the conversation, tried to hold Russia accountable for the aggravation of the situation in the south and southeast of Ukraine,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

A statement recently published by the Russian Foreign Ministry says that there are no reasons to accuse Russia of aggravating of the situation in Ukraine’s southern and southeastern regions.

In response, Sergey Lavrov said that there are no grounds for such claims. He added that the US has already put forward similar accusations against Russia, but failed to give any concrete evidence.

Mr. Lavrov also said that Ukraine’s current authorities should try their best to prevent any acts of violence in Ukraine. The Russian minister also told his Ukrainian counterpart that Ukraine’s government should stop threats to start attacks against protesters who have occupied several buildings in the cities of Donetsk and Lugansk. Ukraine’s authorities should use only peaceful means, Mr. Lavrov said. They should start a dialogue with their opponents in the country’s south and southeast, fulfill their lawful demands and involve the opposition in the formation of Ukraine’s new constitution.

When Andrey Deshitsa asked about the possibility of holding a four-sided meeting between Russia, the US, the EU and Ukraine, Sergey Lavrov answered that preparations for such a meeting are already under way. The details of the agenda, the format and the place of this meeting are still being discussed.

Read More here

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