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Grain burned by Ukrainian nationalists : Moscow

Bangladesh Beyond
  • Updated on Thursday, June 9, 2022
  • 317 Impressed

Grain burned by Ukrainian nationalists : Moscow

 

Dhaka June 09 2022 :

 

Inside Russia : Outside Russia : News Digest by the Embassy of Russian Federation in Bangladesh on June 09 2022.

 

INSIDE RUSSIA

Demand for consumer loans in Russia hits March 2022 high in early June, says survey

MOSCOW, June 9. /TASS/. The demand for consumer loans in Russia has reached its highest level since March 2022, according to a survey conducted by Home Credit bank (obtained by TASS).

“The results of the survey showed that in the first week of June the demand for consumer loans reached its highest level in the spring of 2022. Some 12% of respondents reported their wish to get a consumer loan now. To compare, in the middle of April this indicator equaled 8%,” the credit organization said.

The demand for consumer loans was the highest in the group of respondents aged from 25 to 34 (16%).

“We see that as the Russian population gets adjusted to new economic conditions the demand for loans starts to recover gradually. Changes on the side of their supply also facilitate it. As the key rate goes down and loan rates concurrently decrease, they become increasingly available,” Home Credit bank analyst Stanislav Duzhinsky said, adding that the risk of debt load growth is small now.

As many as 450 men and 550 women aged from 18 to 55 participated in the opinion survey devoted to demand for consumer loans.

 

Russia ready for UN-mediated meeting with Ukraine, but it is to be symbolic — Lavrov

ANKARA, June 8. /TASS/. The Russian side is ready for a UN-mediated meeting with Ukraine in Istanbul, but the meeting will rather be symbolic than actually resolve the grain issue, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Wednesday at a press conference following talks with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu.

“About additional meetings in Istanbul [on the issue of grain exports]: we are ready for such meetings. We appreciate the UN’s interest in getting involved in some way, marking its presence, but, frankly, it would be nothing but symbolic,” Lavrov said.

As the Russian minister stressed, all that is needed to solve this problem is for “the Ukrainians to let ships leave their ports by either demining or identifying safe corridors.” “Nothing else is required,” he summarized.

 

Conditions for Putin-Zelensky talks, grain exports: what Lavrov said in Ankara

ANKARA, June 8. /TASS/. Russia will not use the demining of Ukrainian ports for military purposes and agrees “in one way or another” to formalize appropriate guarantees, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Wednesday at a press conference following talks with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu.

According to the minister, Moscow is ready to discuss with Kiev the export of Ukrainian grain through the UN mediation, but the solution of this issue depends only on Ukraine. At the same time, a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Vladimir Zelensky, who reiterated his readiness to meet the day before, is possible only after the resumption of the negotiation process as a whole, Lavrov stressed.

Ukrainian grain export

Ankara believes a mechanism for grain exports from Ukraine’s ports can be established by Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the UN, Cavusoglu pointed out.

According to Lavrov, Moscow is ready for coordination with Ankara to ensure the safety of ships leaving Ukrainian ports, the only problem is the position of Kiev, which has so far refused to demine its territorial waters: “Yet if now, as our Turkish friends say, the Ukrainian side is ready to provide passage <…>, let’s hope that the problem will be resolved. <…> If the Kiev regime is ready, we’ll be only happy to cooperate.”

Lavrov said that Russia is ready for a UN-mediated meeting with Ukraine, however, the participation of the latter “would be nothing but symbolic <…>”, in order to solve the problem it is enough for the Ukrainians “to let ships leave their ports.”

At the same time, Lavrov emphasized that the grain export issue, which the West and Kiev are trying to present as a “global catastrophe,” has nothing to do with the world food crisis: ” <…> The share of grain in question is less than 1% from the global production of wheat and other cereals.”

Security for Ukrainian ports

“We guarantee <…> that when and if Ukraine agrees to demine its coast and let ships leave its ports, we will not take advantage of the situation to advance our special military operation. These are President [Vladimir Putin’s] guarantees, and we are prepared to formalize them one way or the other,” Lavrov said.

Possible Putin-Zelensky meeting

Lavrov stressed that an opportunity for a meeting between Putin and Zelensky will emerge only after the process of negotiations between Moscow and Kiev has resumed: “We proceed from the assumption that the teams of negotiators are to resume their work first.” Lavrov slammed the Ukrainian president’s approach to the negotiations as unserious: “Zelensky wants to meet for meeting’s sake. He changes his mind with every passing day <…>”. The resumption of dialogue depends on the position of Kiev, which has not yet provided its response to the Russian version of the draft agreements, presented in mid-April: “The ball has been in Ukraine’s court for almost two months now.”

According to Cavusoglu, Ankara sees an opportunity for resuming negotiations between Moscow and Kiev and is ready to organize a meeting between the Russian and Ukrainian presidents. The minister noted that Turkey understands Ukraine’s dissatisfaction over the republic’s refusal to join the anti-Russian sanctions, but seeks “from the very beginning to maintain a balanced position and not to try to please any of the parties.”

Syria

Moscow will continue to cooperate with Ankara “on the Syrian settlement” and understands its concerns about the threats created on Turkish borders by “external forces,” including US units illegally present in Syria, Lavrov said. He reiterated Russia’s commitment to the agreements with Turkey: they are being implemented slowly, but the sides fully share the set goals.

Cavusoglu called for continuing work in the Astana format, which includes Iran along with Russia and Turkey, and stressed the West’s fault for supporting “terrorists in northern Syria.” “We expect both the US and Russia to implement the agreements to clear these regions of terrorists.”

Moscow-Ankara relations

The relations between Russia and Turkey, according to Lavrov, are “mature.” “They are based on pragmatism, on respect and taking into account each other’s interests, [they are] guided by good neighborhood principles.”

Ukrainian representatives’ behavior

The Russian foreign minister described the behavior of Ukrainian ambassadors in a number of Western countries as unacceptable and boorish: “I am also being accused of poor choice of words sometimes, but it’s one thing to pick words poorly, and it’s another thing altogether what is being meant by that.” He said he had briefly discussed this matter with Cavusoglu, and they “have a common understanding here that it is better to talk decently after all.”

Lavrov himself had to deal with inappropriate behavior right at the press conference when a Ukrainian journalist decided to ask the minister, out of order, what “of the stolen goods in Ukraine, besides grain, Russia has already managed to sell.” “Do you always have a headache about where to steal something? And you think everyone does that?” the foreign minister responded.

 

Former Russian Industry and Trade Ministry official appointed DPR premier

MOSCOW. June 8 (Interfax) – Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) head Denis Pushilin has appointed Vitaly Hotsenko prime minister. The relevant decree of the DPR head was published on his website on Wednesday.

Prior to his appointment, Hotsenko held the post of the director of the department of regional industry policy and project management at the Russian Industry and Trade Ministry.

Pushilin dismissed the DPR government earlier on Wednesday.

 

OUTSIDE RUSSIA

Leaked documents expose US ‘Ministry of Truth’

Whistleblower disclosures suggest the government sought to ‘operationalize’ social media sites to combat supposed disinformation

The Joe Biden administration previously had wide-ranging goals for its planned Disinformation Board, including using social media platforms to remove posts the government deemed false, according to leaked documents obtained by Republican lawmakers.

In an open letter to Department of Homeland Security chief Alejandro Mayorkas published on Wednesday, GOP Senators Chuck Grassley (Iowa) and Josh Hawley (Missouri) pressed for details on the DHS Disinformation Governance Board, citing the whistleblower files.

The department “planned to coordinate efforts to leverage ties with social media platforms to enable the removal of user content,” the senators said in a press release, adding that it sought to use Big Tech sites to “enforce its agenda.”

While the project was recently paused due to public a backlash after it was first floated in April – with critics likening it to a state-run ‘Ministry of Truth’ – the lawmakers nonetheless said the documents raised “serious concerns” about the effort.

“The DGB was established to serve as much more than a simple ‘working group’ to ‘develop guidelines, standards, [and] guardrails’ for protecting civil rights and civil liberties,” they wrote. “In fact, DHS documents show that the DGB was designed to be the Department’s central hub, clearinghouse and gatekeeper for Administration policy and response to whatever it happened to decide was ‘disinformation.’”

Grassley and Hawley argued that the Biden administration has offered no clear definition of “disinformation,” and that the DHS board had shown serious bias even in its earliest stages, despite assurances it would remain apolitical. In particular, they pointed to the official tapped to lead the DGB, Nina Jankowicz, claiming she is “a known trafficker of foreign disinformation and liberal conspiracy theories.”

Jankowicz, moreover, may have been hired chiefly due to “her relationship with executives at Twitter,” the senators claimed, adding that the leaked materials show the White House planned to “operationalize” connections with social media companies to “implement its public policy goals.”

Draft briefing notes prepared in late April indicate that a senior DHS official, Robert Silvers, planned to meet with Twitter executives to discuss the disinformation board, though it remains unclear whether the scheduled meeting ever took place.

The two senators urged Mayorkas to divulge more information about the department’s goals for the DGB, including whether it ever asked social media firms to “censor, flag, add context to, or remove” user posts or ban accounts. They also requested documents and communications related to Jankowicz, and called on the government to give its definition for actionable disinformation, saying it should “identify who exactly is ultimately responsible for making this determination.”

 

US uses travel firms as spying tools

A secret order under a 1789 law was reportedly used to force travel companies to track a person of interest.

Using a 233-year-old law, the US government ordered two major global travel companies to track a Russian national so he could be arrested and extradited, Forbes magazine disclosed on Wednesday. The outlet sued to obtain the court records, aided by privacy advocates who have criticized such warrants as secretive and open to abuse.

The magazine also revealed that Aleksey Burkov, the alleged hacker at the heart of the affair, was sent back to Russia in 2021 under circumstances the US government has yet to fully explain.

A November 2015 court order told the US-based Sabre and UK-based Travelport to provide “complete and contemporaneous real-time account activity” of Burkov’s travel for two years, and give weekly reports to the US Secret Service, Forbes reported. This was “significantly longer” in duration than a previous order issued to Sabre, telling the company to track another alleged hacker for a period of six months – which Forbes also dug up in 2020. The court also banned the two companies from disclosing the order without prior permission.

Sabre and Travelport are major players in the business of collecting and storing information about international tourists. Along with the Spanish-based Amadeus, they dominate the global distribution system (GDS) industry in the West, coordinating bookings between airlines, hotels, car rental companies and cruise lines.

Travelport is a private company, sold for $4.4 billion in 2018. Sabre says it processes over $120 billion of travel spending every year. It is publicly traded on NASDAQ, with a market cap of $2.5 billion.

To force them to monitor Burkov, the US government invoked the All Writs Act of 1789. The ancient law gained attention – and notoriety – in 2015, during the probe into the San Bernardino, California terrorist attack. The FBI tried to force Apple to unlock the iPhone belonging to Rizwan Farook, an Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorist group sympathizer who along with his wife killed 14 people in a mass shooting. Apple refused. The government was eventually able to unlock the phone, reportedly using Israeli software, but said it found nothing of use.

The US Justice Department declined to comment or provide further details to Forbes. Court filings do not show that either Sabre or Travelport fought the orders.

“Too much about these types of warrants is hidden from the public,” Forbes quoted Jennifer Granick, a surveillance and cybersecurity counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). She called the collection of information about future travel “particularly invasive and susceptible to abuse.”

“The police are capitalizing on private data collection to obtain revolutionary surveillance powers that are essentially unapproved and unsupervised by democratic processes,” she said.

As it turned out, Travelport and Sabre did not have to monitor Burkov for long. He went to Israel with his girlfriend for a vacation in late 2015 and was arrested there on the US warrant. The Secret Service accused him of running a website called Cardplanet, which they said sold $20 million worth of stolen credit cards.

“I’m an average man. I was dealing with cyber security and programming, I worked with databases. I did have acquaintances among people complicit in hacking, but I myself didn’t commit those crimes – the Americans simply decided to blame all this on me,” Burkov told RT in October 2019.

Burkov ended up taking a plea deal to serve nine years in prison, in order to avoid an 80-year sentence. He was extradited to the US in June 2020, and sent to a prison near Washington, DC. The DOJ has “yet to provide a full explanation” why he was released and sent back to Russia in September 2021.

 

Moldova paving way to join Romania & NATO – ex-president

The pro-EU Moldovan government is paving the way for foreign troop presence on its territory, former president Igor Dodon claims

A looming economic crisis, which Moldova is about to face due to rising gas prices, is just a step on the way to Chisinau losing its sovereignty, the former Moldovan president, Igor Dodon, claimed on Wednesday. President Maia Sandu’s pro-EU government plans to surrender Moldova to Romania, he warned.

The government is “unable to find a way out” of the current crisis, Dodon, who was the president of Moldova between 2016 and 2020, said in a Telegram post. Instead, the authorities allegedly lead the nation towards “economic, moral and political liquidation,” the politician claimed, adding that rising gas prices would inevitably lead to massive price hikes, as well as an energy and food crisis.

According to Dodon, this is all necessary for a “military and political merging” with Romania. The unification of Moldova and Romania – which enjoy close cultural ties and share a language – has been a recurring concept in Moldovan politics since the late 1980s. However, a poll conducted in March 2022 showed that only 11% of Moldovans support this idea, while one-third of the population openly opposes it and 42% believe it is just not the right moment for the move.

Dodon, however, believes that the current government might make the move without holding a referendum on the issue and then “make it legal through a parliamentary majority” and the Constitutional Court. The former president has not named any specific dates as to when that could happen.

Instead, he has also accused the government of planning to bring foreign – or rather NATO – troops on Moldovan soil and put an end to the nation’s decades-long policy of neutrality.

Such an angry reaction from the former president was sparked by amendments to the national border security law proposed by the government. The bill provoked heated debates in Moldova’s parliament last week.

A major point of contention was the government-sponsored proposal to create a legal framework to allow the EU border police – Frontex – to be deployed to Moldova’s borders with Romania and Ukraine. The government has argued it was needed to manage the crisis sparked by the conflict in neighboring Ukraine.

The bill has been vehemently opposed by both opposition parties in the parliament. “By voting on this project, we allow a military contingent to enter the territory of the Republic of Moldova at any time,” said MP Vadim Fotescu, a member of the Eurosceptic Sor Party.

Vladimir Voronin, another Moldovan ex-president, and a senior member of the opposition Socialist and Communist bloc, has called the proposal a “dangerous path” that could lead to the nation “ceding its sovereignty” in the field of border control and eventually losing its voice on issues such as European integration or the delimitation of the border with Romania.

Moldova’s head of parliament, Igor Grosu, has argued that Frontex is a “civilian” police force that would pose no threat to the nation. It is a “civilian contingent that wants to help us in this complicated situation at the border.” A senior official within the Interior Ministry, Serghei Diaconu, has also said that the potential arrival of the Frontex specialists “has nothing to do with the military contingent” and would hardly compromise Moldova’s neutrality.

Dodon’s words come amid an acute energy crisis in Moldova. The nation – which gets its gas from Russia – has accumulated a massive debt for earlier gas deliveries. According to the Russian state energy giant Gazprom, Moldovagaz owes it some $709 million.

Chisinau should have completed an audit of its debt before extending the contract with Gazprom in May but it has not yet, arguing that the conflict in Ukraine has prevented it from hiring a foreign auditor to do the job. Gazprom still continues to supply it with gas despite the delays in the contract extension.

Dodon himself is facing charges of “passive corruption, illegal financing of political parties and illicit enrichment” at home. The nation’s anti-corruption authorities and law enforcement agencies charged him with corruption and treason in late May. The politician brushed the accusations off as “fake” charges aimed at destroying the opposition.

 

Russian ambassador to US claims he was encouraged to defect

Russia’s envoy to the US said he received a letter suggesting he contact the State Department and switch his allegiance.

Russia’s Ambassador to Washington Anatoly Antonov has revealed that he received a letter inviting him to condemn President Vladimir Putin.

The message proposed that he should “give up on his motherland and condemn the actions of the Russian president,” Antonov told Russia’s Channel 1 on Tuesday.

“If I wanted to do so, I was told to contact the office of Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman,” he added.

The Russian Embassy has written to the US State Department demanding to know “what it all meant”, the diplomat said.

Antonov also claimed that people have been handing out cards allegedly containing FBI contacts outside the Russian Embassy compound, and inviting staff to have a chat with US special services.

He also noted that American media published articles calling on Russian service personnel and diplomats to betray their country, he added.

“I stress my firm rejection of such policies and such treatment of Russian diplomats,” the ambassador said.

Relations between Moscow and Washington have sharply deteriorated since the launch of Russia’s military offensive in Ukraine in late February.

The US has been actively backing Kiev with arms, funds and intelligence. Last month, US President Joe Biden approved a vast $40 billion military aid package for Ukraine.

Washington has imposed harsh economic sanctions on Russia over its actions in Ukraine, including a ban on oil imports, while also putting pressure on countries who continue to  cooperate with Moscow.

 

Ukrainian grain a ‘minor issue’ – Russia

Foreign minister says Ukraine and the West are inflating the loss of 1% of global grain into a “universal catastrophe”

Ukraine and its Western supporters are trying to portray a “minor issue” with Ukrainian grain as a “universal catastrophe,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Wednesday.

Speaking after a meeting with his Turkish counterpart in Ankara, Lavrov said he and Mevlut Cavusoglu paid “much attention” to the problem of Ukrainian grain stuck in Black Sea ports. However, the diplomat noted that “the share of this Ukrainian grain in question is less than 1% of the global production of wheat and other cereals.”

“Therefore, the current situation with Ukrainian grain has nothing to do with the food crisis,” Lavrov concluded.

He thanked Ankara for its willingness to help ensure that “several dozen” foreign ships carrying grain can leave Black Sea ports, where they are now “being used as hostages” by the Ukrainian side.

Ukraine and Western states have repeatedly accused Moscow of impeding grain exports by blocking Ukraine’s Black Sea ports and thus stoking a global food crisis. Russia has rejected such claims, saying it is ready to ensure safe passage for grain-carrying vessels. Moscow insists the disruption stems from Kiev’s own actions and extensive mining of the shoreline by the Ukrainian military.

Lavrov noted that over the last two months, Russian forces have announced humanitarian corridors from Ukrainian territorial waters to the Bosporus Strait.

“Until recently, the Ukrainian authorities, including President Zelensky, publicly denied their readiness to clear these territorial waters to start this process. And now, as our Turkish friends tell us, the Ukrainian side is ready to clear the mines or provide secure passage through the minefields.” Lavrov said.

He expressed hope for a speedy resolution of the problem.

“Our military is in touch with our Turkish friends. They are discussing the details of these processes, these initiatives. On our part, there are not and never been any obstacles to solving this issue, which is a minor issue in fact. If the Kiev government is ready, we will be happy to cooperate,” Lavrov said.

He stressed that Russia is prepared “to ensure the safety” of ships departing from Ukrainian ports, working in coordination with Turkey.

“President Putin publicly said that we guarantee the safety of this kind of route, and we guarantee that if and when Ukraine conducts mine clearance and allows ships to depart from its ports, we will not use this situation in the interests of the ongoing special military operation. These are the guarantees of the President of Russia. We are ready to formalize them one way or another,” Lavrov said.

Cavusoglu, in turn, called on the West to withdraw Russian grain and fertilizer exports from sanctions lists.

While the West has accused Russia of causing a surge in food prices by continuing its military operation, Moscow maintains that the real cause of the food crisis is the “politically motivated” Western sanctions against it.

“If we need to open up the international market to Ukrainian grain, we see the removal of obstacles standing in the way of Russia’s exports as a legitimate demand,” the Turkish Foreign Minister said.

Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.

The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.

 

Arctic Council’s decisions taken without Moscow will be illegal, says ambassador to US

WASHINGTON, June 9. /TASS/. The decisions that the Arctic Council will take without the participation of the Russian side, will be illegal and they violate the consensus principle, Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov said on Wednesday.

“Such a step cannot but give cause for concern both of Russia as its current chair and of the whole international community interested in further sustainable development of the region,” Antonov was quoted as saying by the press service of the embassy on its Telegram channel when commenting on a joint statement of western participants of the Arctic Council on limited resumption of its activities without Moscow’s participation. “We state that this unique format of cooperation between states is still being politicized. The decisions on behalf of the Arctic Council taken without our countries will be illegal and they violate the consensus principle stipulated by its guideline documents,” he explained.

“It is simply impossible to efficiently settle the problems of the Arctic without Russia,” the diplomat added.

Earlier on Wednesday Denmark, Iceland, Canada, Norway, the US, Finland and Sweden decided to resume the work of the Arctic Council without Russia’s participation. A corresponding statement was published on websites of their foreign services. On March 3, all countries of the Arctic Council excluding Russia released a written statement, in which they refused to take part in meetings chaired by Russia and taking place on its territory due to the situation around Ukraine.

The Arctic Council is an intergovernmental organization of Arctic states, containing Denmark (along with Greenland and the Faroe Islands), Iceland, Canada, Norway, Russia, the United States, Finland, and Sweden. In 2021, when the Council marked its 25th anniversary, the two-year presidency came over from Iceland to Russia.

 

Lavrov’s visit to Ankara showed Russia-Turkey relations are normal — expert

ANKARA, June 8. /TASS/. The latest contacts between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara were an important sign bilateral relations are proceeding at the normal level, politician and economist Aydin Sezer, Turkey’s former trade representative to Russia, said about bilateral foreign-minister-level talks on Wednesday.

“The Cavusoglu-Lavrov contacts were an important indication that relations between Russia and Turkey proceed normally,” he said.

“From the standpoint of diversity it is also important that the meeting, apart from bilateral relations, encompassed regional issues. This was well seen in the presence of Russia’s military delegation,” Sezer said. “Turkey sees the grain crisis not only through Ukraine’s eyes. It also takes Russia’s viewpoint into consideration. Ankara has made pretty clear the need for lifting the Western embargoes on agricultural exports from Russia, as well as restrictions on Russia in logistics, insurance and banking.”

Sezer believes that the chances to see any progress towards “the establishment of peace in Ukraine” in the near future are slim.

“The influence of the British and US leadership on Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky is the reason. It explains why he makes such contradictory statements regarding a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin,” he added.

The Turkish expert appreciated Lavrov’s decision to allow a Ukrainian journalist to ask a question at the final news conference with his Turkish counterpart. “It was extremely important that Lavrov let a Ukrainian journalist ask a question. It was a professional approach,” he said.

Lavrov and Cavusoglu held talks at the presidential complex in Ankara on Wednesday. Speaking at a news conference afterwards Lavrov and Cavusoglu told the media that during their talks, which were productive and useful, they discussed Ukraine, Syria, Afghanistan and Libya. The possibility of grain supplies from Ukrainian ports was touched upon.

 

Disgraced Ukraine Ombudswoman Admits She ‘Exaggerated’ Russian ‘Rape’ To Get More Western Weapons

Following her dismissal, the former Ukrainian human rights commissioner told a Ukrainian outlet that her obscene claims of rape by Russian soldiers, which were circulated widely by Western corporate media, were actually part of a campaign to “pressure” governments to give weapons and political support to the Ukrainian regime.

The former Ukrainian Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights, Lyudmila Denisova, has admitted she “exaggerated” reports of sex crimes allegedly committed by Russian soldiers in an effort to “convince the world to provide weapons and pressure” on behalf of the regime in Kiev. In an interview published in a Ukrainian outlet Friday, Denisova claimed her exaggerations succeeded on at least one occasion:

“When, for example, I spoke in the Italian parliament at the Committee on International Affairs, I heard and saw such fatigue from Ukraine, you know? I talked about terrible things in order to somehow push them to make the decisions that Ukraine and the Ukrainian people need.” Italy’s Five Star Movement, Denisova claimed, was originally “against the provision of weapons to us, but after [her] speech, one of the party leaders… said that they will support [us], including by the provision of weapons.”

Denisova was removed from her post as human rights ombudswoman for spreading misinformation following a no-confidence vote of 234-to-9 by Ukraine’s parliament on May 31. As Newsweek reported in the days that followed, one member of the Ukrainian parliament, Pavlo Frolov, provided a number of reasons why Denisova was removed, including “the numerous details of ‘unnatural sexual offenses’ and child sexual abuses in the occupied territories, which were unsupported by evidence.” Frolov reportedly claimed that such misinformation has “only harmed Ukraine.”

But there’s little doubt that Denisova’s penchant for “exaggeration” has harmed Russia as well. Since the beginning of the Russian Federation’s special military operations in Ukraine in February, the disgraced ombudswoman’s dramatized claims have been presented as fact in dozens of mainstream publications, including CNN and the Washington Post.

An open letter by hundreds of Ukrainian journalists, which preceded her firing, pointed out Denisova’s shocking (and apparently unfounded) allegations were frequently taken at face value, citing her claims that “a girl of 6 months, the Russians raped with a teaspoon,” that “two [soldiers] raped babies orally and anally,” and “a nine-month-old daughter was raped with a candle.”

Such accusations bring to mind other horrifying and obscene allegations used to delegitimize governments targeted by NATO, which later proved to be fabrications. In 2011, then-US Ambassador Susan Rice told officials at the UN that the Libyan government of Moammar Gaddafi was distributing Viagara to soldiers to encourage ‘mass rape’–an allegation for which Western-funded human rights organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch later declared there was no evidence.

Denisova has reportedly called her dismissal “illegal” and condemned it as an “unjustified political reprisal,” but there doesn’t seem to be much evidence to support those assertions either. Shortly after she was fired, the office of Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky ridiculed her allegations as “an attempt to deflect attention… to some kind of conspiracy theories.” Just how many of her other declarations fall under the same category remains to be seen.

SPECIAL MILITARY OPERATION IN UKRAINE

Foreigners who fought for Ukraine plead guilty

Three foreigners who fought for Ukrainian forces pleaded guilty to a number of charges in a Donetsk court on Wednesday. British nationals Shaun Pinner and Aiden Aslin, and Moroccan citizen Ibrahim Saadoun, face a series of charges – some of which carry the possibility of the death penalty – after being captured by Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) forces in and around the city of Mariupol.

The DPR, recognised by Russia in February, claims sovereignty over the former Ukrainian province of Donetsk. Kiev still regards the land as part of its territory.

Aslin, Pinner, and Saadoun issued guilty pleas under Article 232 of the DPR Code, for “undergoing training for the purpose of carrying out terrorist activities.” Pinner also admitted to the Article 323 charge, “act of seizing power by force.”

All three said they were not guilty of being mercenaries in an armed conflict (Article 430) or participating in a conspiracy (Article 34). Proceedings against them at the Supreme Court of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) began on Monday.

The DPR accuses Ukraine of military aggression against the breakaway state, which first declared independence in 2014 following the US-backed coup in Kiev. Both Britons said they had fought on the Ukrainian side since 2018.

Under the laws of the DPR, forcible seizure of power carries a penalty of 12-20 years behind bars, but could be escalated to capital punishment due to wartime aggravating circumstances. Being a mercenary is punishable by a prison sentence of three to seven years.

Pinner and Aslin were captured in Mariupol in April, as Russian and DPR troops cut off a brigade of Ukrainian marines to which they were attached. Neo-Nazi ‘Azov’ militants held out at an industrial complex of the Black Sea port city for another month before surrendering on May 20.

The British government has demanded that Aslin and Pinner be treated as prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions. However, the DPR has pointed out that the conventions only apply to uniformed soldiers of a national military, not foreign mercenaries.

 

Ukraine sets condition for resuming grain exports

“No grain will go anywhere” unless Ukraine’s security is ensured, a senior official has said

Ukraine will resume grain exports only when its own security is ensured, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Alexey Danilov said on Tuesday as the Russian military offensive continues in his country.

Speaking on national TV, Danilov recalled a statement by the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs “which clearly said that the first issue is security, the second issue is security, the third issue is security.”

“If this issue is not resolved, and the security of our country is not ensured, no grain will go anywhere. Because for us the issue of security is the number one priority,” Danilov stated, without specifying what exactly he meant by the term “security.”

At the same time, he claimed that “this issue is under control” and made clear that the Ukrainian authorities remember their obligations.

“Nobody wants the world to be hungry,” he stressed.

Ukraine and Russia have accused each other of impeding grain exports. Kiev and its Western supporters claim that, by blocking Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, Russia is aggravating the global food crisis. Moscow has rejected such claims, saying it is ready to ensure safe passage for grain-carrying vessels and that the disruption stems from extensive mining of the shoreline by the Ukrainian military.

Danilov accused Russia of “artificially creating” obstacles for its own benefit, of shifting responsibility and “blackmailing” Europe.

On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Ukraine and the West are trying to portray a “minor issue” with Ukrainian grain as a “universal catastrophe.” He also claimed that the Ukrainian authorities, including President Volodymyr Zelensky, have shown unwillingness to start the process of unblocking the ports. Lavrov stressed that if Kiev is now ready to clear the shoreline of mines, Russia would be happy to cooperate and is even ready to provide written guarantees that it “will not use this situation in the interests of the ongoing special military operation.”

Russia attacked its neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocol was designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.

The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.

 

Grain burned by Ukrainian nationalists – Moscow

Russia says a large granary in the port of Mariupol has been deliberately destroyed.

The Russian Defense Ministry has accused Ukrainian “militants of the nationalist battalions” of deliberately setting fire to a large granary in Mariupol’s sea port while fleeing from Russian forces.

According to a statement, issued on Wednesday, the alleged act of arson was down to the unwillingness of the “militants” to leave grain supplies to Mariupol’s residents. As a result, according to the military, more than 50 thousand tons of grain were destroyed.

“This inhuman crime demonstrates to the entire world community the ‘true face’ of the Kiev regime, which, in fact, uses the methods of food terrorism against its own people,” it claimed.

The ministry said the destruction was committed as the “so-called civilized West” continues to support Kiev while accusing Russia of stoking a global food crisis.

The Defense Ministry stressed that Russian forces during their “special military operation” support the civilian population, treat it humanely and “do not strike at the social infrastructure of the country, unlike the Ukrainian armed formations.”

Since the launch of the Russian military operation in Ukraine, Moscow and Kiev have accused each other of various war crimes, while denying their own liability.

The Donetsk People’s Republic authorities reported earlier that the firefighters failed to save the grain stock despite several days of efforts.

“There is a large amount of grain on the territory of the Mariupol port, this is both corn grain and wheat. Judging by the smell and appearance, it is unsuitable for further use, most of it,” an aide to the government of the Donetsk People’s Republic, Yan Gagin, told RIA Novosti.

The global food market, already affected by climate change and the Covid pandemic, has been badly affected by the Russian military offensive in Ukraine, as the two countries account for about 30% of global wheat exports. Russia is also the world’s largest exporter of fertilizers.

While the West has accused Russia of causing a surge in food prices by continuing its military operation, Moscow maintains that the real cause of the food crisis is the “politically motivated” Western sanctions against it.

Ukraine has repeatedly accused Moscow of “stealing” its stockpiles of wheat and sending it overseas. The spokesman for the UN Secretary-General, Stephane Dujarric, however, said the United Nations is unable to verify these claims.

Ukraine and Western states have repeatedly accused Moscow of impeding grain exports by blocking Ukraine’s Black Sea ports. Russia has rejected such claims, maintaining it is ready to ensure safe passage for grain-carrying vessels from the ports. The disruption of grain flow stems from Kiev’s own actions and extensive mining of the shoreline by the Ukrainian military, Moscow insists.

Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.

The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.

 

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