новини, досягнення, звершення


China Establishing ‘Commanding Lead’ with Key Military Technologies

Chinese research on some key military technologies is so far ahead that the United States and its key allies may never be able to catch up, according to a new analysis by an Australian think tank.

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) issued its findings Tuesday based on a review of the top 10% of the most highly cited research papers, concluding China leads in 19 of 23 key categories, including some that are likely to play a major role in Beijing’s push for military prominence in the Indo-Pacific and beyond.

China “has a commanding lead in hypersonics, electronic warfare and in key undersea capabilities,” the ASPI study found, further warning, “China’s leads are so emphatic they create a significant risk that China might dominate future technological breakthroughs in these areas.”

The analysis further found that for hypersonics, nine of the 10 leading research institutions are based in China, while China is home to all 10 of the top research venues for undersea drones.

Unlike ballistic missiles, which fly at hypersonic speeds but travel along a set trajectory, hypersonic weapons are highly maneuverable despite flying at Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound.

And the gaps between China and everyone else are significant. With some technologies, like hypersonics, China produces more than 73% of all high-impact research, more than the U.S. and the next eight countries combined.

The analysis also found indications that China is using Western research institutions to its advantage.

More than 14% of “high-impact” Chinese authors — those who wrote the works cited most often — did their post-graduate training in the U.S., Australia or Britain, ASPI said, noting the percentage is close to 20% for researchers writing about hypersonic detections and close to 18% for electronic warfare.

There are some areas, however, where the U.S. and its allies maintain an edge.

ASPI said the U.S. leads in high-impact research on autonomous systems, quantum computing and quantum sensors, some areas of artificial intelligence and in protective cybersecurity.

When U.S. research efforts are combined with those of Australia and Britain, the so-called AUKUS partnership, the gap closes a bit more, though China still retains a considerable research advantage.

“The fact that the three AUKUS nations still trail China in some fields even when their efforts are tallied underscores the value of the technology-sharing agreement, whose aim is to accelerate shared technological development by enabling the partners to leverage one another’s strengths,” ASPI wrote in a statement accompanying the report.

ASPI also said it hopes the findings would “strengthen some calls for AUKUS to expand technology cooperation to other countries such as Japan.”

The U.S., Australia and Britain entered into the AUKUS agreement in September 2021 to address mutual concerns in the Indo-Pacific and to boost advancements in artificial technology, quantum computing and cyber defense.

One of the most prominent pieces of the three-country alliance included a U.S.-Australian plan to build Australia at least eight nuclear powered submarines.

U.S. defense and military officials have repeatedly voiced concerns about China’s expanding military and the advanced technology fueling the expansion.

In March, the Defense Intelligence Agency’s chief scientist told reporters in Washington that Beijing already has the world’s leading arsenal of hypersonic weapons.

The U.S. is developing its own hypersonic weapons but all of them remain in testing or development.

Other U.S. intelligence officials have also warned about China’s ability to leverage advanced technology.

In February, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines warned that the high-altitude spy balloon China sent over the continental U.S. could just be the start of Chinese surveillance efforts.

“As technology improves, as we start to see more high-altitude vehicles, in effect, we’re going to see more of this,” she said. “We’re going to have to understand that and manage it.”

Chinese officials continue to deny the high-altitude balloon that was ultimately shot down off the U.S. Atlantic coast was a surveillance device, arguing instead it was a weather balloon.


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At Normandy D-Day Celebrations, Echoes of Ukraine’s Looming Fight

While U.S. military officers here caution against too direct a comparison between the 1944 D-Day landings and Ukraine’s upcoming counteroffensive, the echoes of what Kyiv faces today are a dominant theme of this year’s commemorations of the young U.S. soldiers who died on the Normandy beaches nearly 80 years ago. 

For days the villages and towns surrounding Omaha and Utah beaches have held parades, memorial events, flyovers and parachute demonstrations to build up to the annual celebration of D-Day, the launch of Operation Overlord. The June 6, 1944, invasion marked the beginning of the Allies’ massive ground invasion which would eventually lead to Germany’s surrender and the end of World War II in Europe. 

The celebration is taking place as Ukraine prepares to launch its own counteroffensive against Russia — an impending fight for which many of those same allied forces have now provided billions of dollars in weapons and training to Kyiv’s soldiers to best prepare them to win. 

“There’s echoes of that of course,” said Joint Chiefs chairman Gen. Mark Milley. However, he cautioned against making a direct comparison to World War II’s Normandy invasion, where more than 150,000 troops made landfall in Normandy in a 24-hour period and millions eventually fought across Europe to defeat the Nazis. 

The goal “is certainly the same, to liberate occupied territory and to free a country that has been unjustly attacked by an aggressor nation, in this case, Russia,” Milley said. 

Over the last several days, Ukraine has been a theme. 

“[They are] very naive, those who think peace is eternal: history shows us quite the opposite,” said Alain Holley, mayor of Ste Mere Eglise, at a D-Day commemoration ceremony Sunday. “The proof is that today, the shells are again falling in Europe, two hours by plane from here. Where and when this new war will stop, no one knows today.” 

Holley said it was imperative to stop “these arsonists, before the fire takes away our children, our grandchildren, as well as these brave young American paratroopers.” 

At the spot where Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower established the first forward Supreme Allied Command headquarters in 1944, current U.S. Army Europe and Africa commander Gen. Darryl Williams said Eisenhower’s choice to push forward was like the West’s decision to continue arming Ukraine – that it was a sign of hope. 

“We particularly need hope today, because the dark clouds of war once again hang over Europe.” 

Just 20 miles (32 kilometers) from Omaha Beach, the larger town of Carentan was the site of a key victory allowing Allied forces to advance. The commander of the current 101st Airborne Division 2nd brigade air assault troops – whose predecessors gave their lives freeing Carentan one week after D-Day — said the grounds were a hallowed reminder of the present. 

The unit was one of the first sent back to Europe after Russia invaded last year, to bolster Eastern European defenses. 

“While we did not return to fight, we were ready to fight,” said Col. Ed Matthaidess, commander of 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (air assault). “So, we stand here in Carentan today, and across Normandy this week, in remembrance not only of our past, but also mindful of our present.” 

Two days before the annual celebration of Operation Overlord, Ukraine’s ministry of defense posted a video to Twitter of soldier after soldier putting their finger to their lips, in a hint that Kyiv’s much anticipated counteroffensive is imminent. 

“Plans like silence,” the video text read. “There will be no announcements about the beginning,” according to a translation by the Kyiv Post. 

There’s usually a Ukrainian military delegation here as part of the commemorations, but not this year, as they focus on the fight at home, said a U.S. official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters. 

Ste Mere Eglise became the first French town liberated by Allied forces; its namesake church was made famous by 82nd Airborne Division paratrooper John Steele, whose parachute got caught on the church steeple, leaving him hanging there for two hours during the initial invasion. 

“D-Day is a commemoration. I think it’s also a warning,” said Army Col. Marty O’Donnell, spokesperson for U.S. Army forces in Europe. “While certainly there is not a world war going on right now, we certainly must reflect upon the history as we deal with current events.” 

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ЄС продовжив до 15 вересня обмеження на експорт аграрної продукції з України до 5 країн – Єврокомісія

Блок «поступово скасує до 15 вересня» заходи щодо української пшениці, кукурудзи, ріпаку та насіння соняшнику

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«Росія істерично сприймає будь-який наш крок» – Зеленський про Бахмут і контрнаступ

Українські військові продовжують оборонну операцію, переходячи на деяких напрямках до наступальних дій, повідомила раніше 5 червня заступниця міністра оборони України Ганна Маляр

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Британський міністр Клеверлі в Києві запевнив Зеленського, що Лондон продовжить підтримку України

Ця поїздка є другим візитом Клеверлі до Києва та четвертою зустріччю між британськими високопосадовцями та президентом Зеленським за останні тижні

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Seven Punished by Spanish Government for Racist Insults Against Vinicius

Seven people involved in different racist attacks against Real Madrid forward Vinicius Jr have been punished by Spain’s State Commission against Violence, Racism, Xenophobia and Intolerance in Sport, the country’s Sports Commission said on Monday.

Four men were fined $64,255 and banned from sports venues for two years after hanging a banner reading “Madrid hates Real” and an inflatable black effigy in a replica of Vinicius’ No. 20 shirt on a bridge near Real’s facilities before the team’s Cup match against Atletico Madrid on Jan. 26.

Three other people were fined $5,354.50 and banned from sports venues for one year after making racist gestures towards the Brazil international during a LaLiga match at Valencia’s Mestalla Stadium on May 21.

The sanctions come 11 days after the arrest of the four men on suspicion of hanging the effigy and their release on bail by a Madrid court.

Vinicius Jr has been in the spotlight for the past couple of weeks after calling LaLiga and Spain racist following the abuse he suffered during Real’s match against Valencia.  

The sporting world has shown solidarity with the 22-year-old since then and the Brazilian government has called for severe sanctions against those responsible for the racial slurs.

Brazil will play friendlies against Guinea on June 17 and Senegal, three days later, as a part of an anti-racism campaign.


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Moscow Bans ‘Unfriendly’ Journalists From Economic Forum

Moscow announced that journalists from what it deems “unfriendly countries” would not be allowed to attend this year’s St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, marking the latest move by the Kremlin to hinder Western journalists from covering Russia. 

Held annually since 1997, the economic forum is considered Russia’s version of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. President Vladimir Putin uses the forum, one of the country’s showpiece events, to advertise Russia’s economy to global investors. This year the forum will be held June 14-17.

Western journalists have never been banned from covering the forum in such a sweeping way, according to Reuters. But this ban — announced Saturday — comes amid ever-rising tensions between Moscow and Western countries that have imposed extensive sanctions on Russia over the country’s ongoing war in Ukraine. 

“It was decided not to accredit media outlets from unfriendly countries to the SPIEF this time,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the state-owned news outlet Tass on Saturday. SPIEF is the forum’s acronym.

The Kremlin’s list of “unfriendly countries” is composed of those that have sanctioned Russia over the war in Ukraine.

“Interest in SPIEF is always great, all other journalists will work on the site,” Peskov also said. 

Some Western reporters were initially accredited to cover the forum this year. 

Reuters’ Moscow bureau received a confirmation of accreditation Thursday but was notified the next day that accreditation for its reporters had been canceled. 

Foreign journalists have already been leaving Russia in droves for safety reasons since the country invaded Ukraine last year. 

Those who have opted to stay face escalating risks, including arbitrary detention. American reporter Evan Gershkovich, who works for The Wall Street Journal, has been detained for over two months in Russia on espionage accusations that he and the U.S. government deny. 

Some information in this report came from Reuters and The Associated Press.  

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Посланець папи й омбудсмен України обговорили повернення депортованих Росією українських дітей

Кардинал Маттео Дзуппі, якому Папа Римський доручив миротворчу місію в Україні, відвідує Київ 5-6 червня

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CNN: Україна створила в Росії групи диверсантів і постачає їм дрони

Співрозмовники CNN кажуть, що осередки складаються з добре навчених оперативників і тих, хто підтримує Україну у її боротьбі проти російської агресії

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Prince Harry a No-Show on First Day of Court Showdown With British Tabloid Publisher 

Prince Harry’s highly anticipated showdown against the publisher of the Daily Mirror kicked off Monday without him present in court — and the judge was not happy.

Harry’s lawyer said the Duke of Sussex would be unavailable to testify following opening statements because he’d taken a flight from Los Angeles after the birthday of his 2-year-old daughter, Lilibet, on Sunday.

“I’m a little surprised,” Justice Timothy Fancourt said, noting he had directed Harry to be in court for the first day of his case.

Mirror Group Newspaper’s lawyer, Andrew Green, said he was “deeply troubled” by Harry’s absence on the trial’s opening day.

The case against Mirror Group is the first of the prince’s several lawsuits against the media to go to trial, and one of three alleging tabloid publishers unlawfully snooped on him in their cutthroat competition for scoops on the royal family.

Harry’s lawyer, David Sherborne, said phone hacking and forms of unlawful information gathering were carried out on such a widespread scale, it was implausible the publisher’s newspapers used a private investigator to dig up dirt on the prince only once, which is what they have admitted.

“The ends justify the means for the defendant,” Sherborne said.

Stories about Harry were big sellers for the newspapers, and some 2,500 articles had covered all facets of his life — from his illnesses at school to ups and downs with girlfriends, Sherborne said.

“There was no time in his life when he was safe from these activities,” Sherborne said. “Nothing was sacrosanct or out of bounds.”

Mirror Group has said it used documents, public statements and sources to legally report on the prince.

But Sherborne it was not hard to infer that Mirror journalists used the same techniques on Harry — eavesdropping on voicemails and hiring private eyes to snoop — as they did on others.

Harry had been scheduled to testify Tuesday, but his lawyer was told last week the duke should attend Monday’s proceedings in London’s High Court in case the opening statements concluded before the end of the day.

When he enters the witness box, Harry, 38, will be the first member of the British royal family in more than a century to testify in court. He is expected to describe his anguish and anger over being hounded by the media throughout his life, and its impact on those around him.

He has blamed paparazzi for causing the car crash that killed his mother, Princess Diana, and said harassment and intrusion by the U.K. press, including allegedly racist articles, led him and his wife, Meghan, to flee to the U.S. in 2020 and leave royal life behind.

The articles at issue in the trial date back to his 12th birthday, in 1996, when the Mirror reported Harry was feeling “badly” about the divorce of his mother and father, now King Charles III.

Harry said in court documents that ongoing tabloid reports made him wonder whom he could trust as he feared friends and associates were betraying him by leaking information to the newspapers. His circle of friends grew smaller, and he suffered “huge bouts of depression and paranoia.” Relationships fell apart as the women in his life — and even their family members — were “dragged into the chaos.”

He says he later discovered that the source wasn’t disloyal friends but aggressive journalists and the private investigators they hired to eavesdrop on voicemails and track him to locations as remote as Argentina and an island off Mozambique.

Mirror Group Newspapers said it didn’t hack Harry’s phone and its articles were based on legitimate reporting techniques. The publisher admitted and apologized for hiring a private eye to dig up dirt on one of Harry’s nights out at a bar, but the resulting 2004 article headlined “Sex on the beach with Harry” is not among the 33 in question at trial.

Phone hacking that involved guessing or obtaining security codes to listen in on celebrities’ cell phone voice messages was widespread at British tabloids in the early years of this century. It became an existential crisis for the industry after the revelation in 2011 that the News of the World had hacked the phone of a slain 13-year-old girl.

Owner Rupert Murdoch shut down the paper and several of his executives faced criminal trials.

Mirror Group has paid more than 100 million pounds ($125 million) to settle hundreds of unlawful information-gathering claims, and printed an apology to phone hacking victims in 2015. But it denies executives – including Piers Morgan, who was editor of the Daily Mirror editor between 1995 and 2004 — knew about hacking.

Harry’s fury at the U.K. press — and sometimes at his own royal relatives for what he sees as their collusion with the media — runs through his memoir, “Spare,” and interviews conducted by Oprah Winfrey and others. His claims will face a tough audience in court when he is cross-examined by Mirror Group’s attorney.

The opening statements mark the second phase of a trial in which Harry and three others have accused the Mirror of phone hacking and unlawful information gathering.

In the first part, Sherborne, who represents Harry and the other claimants, including two actors from the soap opera “Coronation Street,” said the unlawful acts were “widespread and habitual” at the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and Sunday People, and carried out on “an industrial scale.”

Two judges — including Fancourt — are in the process of deciding whether Harry’s two other phone hacking cases will proceed to trial.

Murdoch’s News Group Newspapers, publisher of The Sun, and Associated Newspapers Ltd., which owns the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday, have argued the cases should be thrown out because Harry failed to file the lawsuits within a six-year deadline of discovering the alleged wrongdoing.

Harry’s lawyer has argued that he and other claimants should be granted an exception to the time limit, because the publishers lied and deceived to hide the illegal actions.

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France’s Spectacular Abbey Mont-Saint-Michel Celebrates 1,000th Birthday 

 PARIS (AP) — France’s beloved abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel has reached a ripe old age. It’s been 1,000 years since the laying of its first stone. 

The millennial of the UNESCO World Heritage site and key Normandy tourism magnet is being celebrated until November with exhibits, dance shows and concerts. French President Emmanuel Macron is heading there on Monday. 

Macron plans to deliver a speech and to see a new exhibit tracing the Romanesque abbey’s history via 30 objects and pieces, including a restored statue of Saint Michael.  

Legend has it that the archangel Michael appeared in 708, duly instructing the bishop of nearby Avranches to build him a church on the rocky outcrop. 

The exhibit, two years in the making, opened last month. It covers the complex process of building what is considered an architectural jewel on a rocky island linked to the mainland only by a narrow causeway at high tide. 

Four crypts were constructed on the granite tip along with a church on top. The exhibit explains how the original structure, built in 966, became too small for pilgrims, spurring on the builders to create the 11th century abbey that stands to this day. 

France has spent more than $34 million over 15 years to restore the building, and the work is nearing completion. Authorities have also tried in recent years to protect the monument’s surrounding environment from the impact of mass tourism. 

One of the most popular French destinations outside Paris, Mont-Saint-Michel island attracted 2.8 million visitors last year, including 1.3 million for the abbey. It was not closed to visitors for the presidential visit, but local authorities were taking measures for it to go as smoothly as possible. 

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ЄК видала проєкт постанови про продовження заборони на імпорт української агропродукції до 15 вересня – влада Польщі

Заборона на постачання пшениці, кукурудзи, ріпаку та насіння соняшнику з України до пʼяти країн – Болгарії, Угорщини, Польщі, Румунії та Словаччини – мала тривати до 5 червня

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Папа Римський відправив свого посланця до Києва

13 травня у Ватикані відбулася зустріч президента України Володимира Зеленського з папою Римським Франциском

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Fans Go Undercover To Track Racism at European Soccer Matches

Among the thousands of fans in the stands at Europe’s biggest soccer games are a few people operating undercover. Trained volunteer observers listen for racist chants and watch for extremist symbols on banners.

“You have to be aware of the environment and fit in without standing out. You have to be discreet,” one observer, who has worked at games involving some of soccer’s best-known clubs and national teams, told The Associated Press.

“Obviously nothing gets published on social media. You have to be anonymous. You have to just sort of blend in. Don’t engage in conversations with anybody.”

A way to improve soccer

The observer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the job requires it, is part of a program run on behalf of European soccer’s governing body, UEFA, by the Fare Network, a prominent anti-discrimination group. Fare monitors about 120 games per season in Europe’s main three men’s club competitions, executive director Piara Powar told the AP, and more around the world in national team events like World Cup qualifying.

Evidence from the program, including photos taken surreptitiously from the stands, is used in disciplinary cases against clubs or national teams whose fans display racist behavior in European competitions like the Champions League.

It’s not a career, but a way to make soccer better for the future, the observer said.

Observers work on a volunteer basis, with expenses covered, and are expected to keep tabs on hardcore fan groups’ social media to track where incidents may occur.

Inside the stadium, an observer watches the stands for signs of racist, homophobic, sexist or other discriminatory chants or banners, while also keeping an eye on the action on the field, which shapes what happens among fans.

“If you get a disgruntled fan base and they’re getting beaten 5-0 and they get knocked out of a competition that they felt that they were going to progress in, then that could be another catalyst,” the observer said. “You have to constantly read the situation as it unfolds.”

Observers are expected to be familiar with symbols used by nationalist groups, especially the logos and number codes — like 88 for Heil Hitler — they use to send surreptitious messages.

Games are given risk ratings to determine how many observers are needed, and up to three observers can work at the highest-risk games.

Sometimes a game rated “medium-risk” can “blow up in your face” unexpectedly, the observer added. That sets off a scramble to document the evidence and send it to a UEFA delegate in the stands — not always easy on overloaded stadium Wi-Fi.

That documentation can then be used by the UEFA disciplinary unit for “further investigation and possible proceedings,” the European soccer governing body said in a statement to the AP.

Sometimes feeling ‘ill at ease’

Hooliganism incidents have decreased in European soccer in recent decades, but some fan groups have a reputation for racist behavior and violence. For security reasons, the identity of the observers at a game are known to as few people as possible.

The observer described feeling “ill at ease” in some situations, but never in personal danger. Observers are not expected to infiltrate close-knit, hardcore fan groups, but to watch from a distance.

“You need to get as close as you can, but be as far away as your safety requires,” the observer said.

Fare’s work isn’t always welcome.

In a case at the Court of Arbitration for Sport over a banner at a 2019 game that was judged to contain a coded racist message, Georgian club Dinamo Tbilisi sought to challenge Fare’s assessment, arguing that the observer collecting the evidence was “professionally trained to recognize potentially racist symbols and is therefore biased.”

The panel rejected the argument and pointed out that even if the banner’s message wasn’t clear to most fans, it still broke rules against racist messages.

Like referees, Fare observers can’t work at games involving clubs they support. The observer said the goal is to make the atmosphere at games safer and more inclusive for the future.

Over several years working games, the observer has seen change for the better, but so far only “baby steps.”

“It’s a professional endeavor. It’s not going for the sake of it,” the observer said.

“I’m indifferent to the results. When a goal’s scored, sometimes I have to stand up to feign excitement, but they are teams that I have zero emotional moments with.”

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Tour de France Anti-COVID Protocol to Keep Riders in Hotels

Tour de France organizers have set up an anti-COVID protocol for this year’s race, with riders and team staff banned from signing autographs and eating out of their hotels, a source with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters Saturday. 

Riders and staff members were allowed out of their hotels last year. Access to the paddock at the start of the stages was open to reporters until midway through the race, when organizers decided to close it to “fight against the propagation of COVID-19.” 

Access to the paddock will be allowed when the Tour starts in Bilbao, Spain, on June 29, with everyone required to wear a mask. 

“For all the team members: Respect a confinement – Limit the interactions outside the race bubble. No eating out. Respect social distancing at the hotel,” the chart, seen by Reuters, said. 

“Do not get too close to the spectators – Social distancing, no selfies, no autograph.” 

On Friday, France reported 3,204 COVID-19 cases in the country. At this time last year, there were about 25,000 reported daily cases in France. 

Giro d’Italia organizers last month set up an anti-COVID protocol near the halfway point of the race after overall leader Remco Evenepoel pulled out after testing positive for coronavirus. 

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Life ‘in Danger’ of German Jailed in Iran, Activist Says

The life of a German Iranian detained in Iran is in danger and she is in such pain she can barely move, a fellow prisoner who is a prominent rights activist said Sunday.

Nahid Taghavi, 68, was sentenced to 10 years and eight months in jail in August 2021 after being arrested at her Tehran apartment in October 2020, and is being held in solitary confinement at Tehran’s Evin prison.

Even after recent releases, more than a dozen Western passport holders remain detained in Iran, held according to rights groups as part of a deliberate policy of hostage-taking by Tehran to extract concessions.

“The life of Nahid Taghavi, a political prisoner, is in danger,” her fellow inmate in Evin prison, the prize-winning campaigner and rights activist Narges Mohammadi, wrote on Instagram.

Mohammadi’s Instagram account is run by her family in France based on her phone calls to relatives. Through this, despite her incarceration, Mohammadi continues to push for the rights of prisoners in Evin.

Taghavi was allowed brief medical leave in 2022, but according to her family she was returned to jail before she could recover.

“She can barely get out of her bed,” wrote Mohammadi. “She goes to the infirmary, receives strong painkiller injections and returns to her bed.”

“The pain is so severe it can be seen on her face,” she added.

Mohammadi said that Taghavi had now spent 220 days in solitary confinement. This had worsened an existing spinal disc condition, and she was now also suffering from cervical disc problems, diabetes and high blood pressure.

Taghavi was convicted on national security charges along with British-Iranian Mehran Raoof, who is also still being held. Her family vehemently rejects the accusations.

Iran on Friday released one Dane and two Austrian-Iranian citizens in the wake of the release the week earlier of a Belgian aid worker.

Their release came after mediation by Oman and the release by Belgium of an Iranian diplomat convicted of “terror” offenses, a move that troubled some rights groups.

Last month Iran also freed a French citizen and a French Irish citizen, both of whom had been on hunger strike and the subject of increasing concerns about their health.

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В окупованому Криму по телебаченню показали ролик про контрнаступ України

Хто відповідальний за поширення відповідного ролика в окупованому Криму, не повідомляється

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Армія РФ понад 20 разів обстріляла Сумщину: двоє поранених, пошкоджено церкву і пост рятувальників

На території області зафіксовано 104 вибухи

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Latest in Ukraine: Many of Kyiv’s Bomb Shelters Unusable, Inspection Finds 

Latest developments:

A 2-year-old girl was killed and 22 other injured, five of them children, from a Russian missile strike near the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro, the regional governor, Serhiy Lysak, said Sunday. "Overnight, the body of a girl who had just turned two was pulled from under the rubble of a house," he wrote on the Telegram messaging channel. Reuters could not independently verify the report. There was no immediate response from Moscow.
Saudi Arabia plans new oil production cuts in 2024 as part of a broader OPEC+ deal to curb output as the group faces flagging oil prices and a looming supply glut, Reuters reports. Western nations have accused OPEC of manipulating oil prices and undermining the global economy through high energy costs and siding with Russia despite Western sanctions on Moscow.
The award-winning film, “20 Days in Mariupol,” premiered Saturday in Ukraine. The documentary chronicles the port city's bitter resistance against Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The film was met with tears, applause and a standing ovation for those who toiled to keep people alive in the city.

Many of the more than 1,000 Kyiv’s air raid shelters checked during the first day of an inspection ordered by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy were found inaccessible or unsuitable for use, said the minister of strategic industries, Oleksandr Kamyshin.

In a post on the Telegram messaging app, the senior Ukrainian official expressed his “disbelief” at the findings. Kamyshin said that out of 1,078 shelters examined, 359 were unprepared and another 122 locked, while 597 were found to be usable.

An inspection of all Ukrainian shelters was ordered Friday, a day after three civilians were killed in Kyiv while trying to enter a locked facility in the early hours of the morning during a Russian airstrike.

Thursday’s deaths caused a public outcry and a promise of a harsh response by Zelenskyy, which appeared aimed at Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko, who has clashed with the president before.

Klitschko acknowledged at a local committee meeting Friday, that he bore some responsibility but said others were also to blame, particularly allies of the president who had been appointed to lead the city’s districts.

The interior ministry said that more than 5,300 volunteers, including emergency workers, police officers and local officials, would continue to inspect shelters across the country.

Cross-border incursions

The Freedom of Russia Legion and the Russian Volunteer Corps, a pro-Ukraine group of Russian partisans, have claimed responsibility for a flurry of cross-border attacks into Russia’s Belgorod region.

In a video on the Freedom of Russia’s Telegram channel, a man identifying himself as the commander of the Russian Volunteer Corps showed two Russian soldiers held captive. One of them appeared to be injured and was placed on an operating table.

The commander demanded a meeting with the governor of Belgorod, Vyacheslav Gladkov, in exchange for the captives.

“Today until 17:00 you have the opportunity to communicate without weapons and take home two Russian citizens, ordinary soldiers whom you and your political leadership sent to the slaughter,” read a joint statement posted along with the video.

Three hours later, Gladkov agreed to meet with the group provided the soldiers were still alive.

“Most likely they (the saboteurs) killed them, as hard as it is for me to say. But if they are alive, from 5-6 p.m. – Shebekino checkpoint. I guarantee safety,” he said.

Gladkov added that fighting with a group of “Ukrainian saboteurs” was taking place in the town of Novaya Tavolzhanka, near the Ukrainian border, without providing any details.

Ukraine has denied direct involvement in the cross-border attacks.

Gladkov said Saturday, two people were killed and two were injured by Ukrainian artillery fire on Belgorod’s border region with Ukraine. On Friday, attacks in the area prompted about 5,000 evacuees from nearby border villages to find makeshift housing in the city of Belgorod, said the mayor, Valentin Demidov.

Russian airstrikes – children

A 2-year-old girl has become the most recent victim from the latest Russian airstrike near the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro. The body of the child identified as Liza was pulled from the rubble while five other children were among 22 people wounded in the attack Saturday. President Zelenskyy says Russia’s war has killed at least 500 Ukrainian children.

Writing on Telegram shortly after Liza’s body was recovered, Zelenskyy said that at least 500 Ukrainian children have been killed since Russia’s full-scale invasion Feb. 24, 2022.

The United Nations says that around 1,000 other Ukrainian children have been wounded, and thousands of others have been forcibly deported to Russia.

Zelenskyy, who Thursday marked International Children’s Day, said, “Russian weapons and hatred continue to take and destroy the lives of Ukrainian children every day,” adding, “Many of them could have become famous scholars, artists, sports champions, contributing to Ukraine’s history.”

He also said, “We must hold out and win this war!

Zelenskyy went on to say, “All of Ukraine, all our people, all our children, must be free from the Russian terror!”

Russia clamps down on blue-yellow colors

Some local Russian officials are interpreting Russia’s “draconian wartime legislation,” the British defense ministry said Sunday, to mean that any public display of blue and yellow items is outlawed because it shows support for Ukraine. Blue and yellow are the colors of Ukraine’s flag.

One person has been reportedly detained, according to the ministry, for wearing a blue and yellow jacket, while someone else was arrested for displaying a blue and yellow flag “eventually determined” to be the flag of Russia’s Aerospace Forces.

Russia’s ultra-nationalist, pro-war Liberal Democratic party is an unexpected critic of the arrests, the ministry said, but its logo features yellow on a blue background.

Some information in this article came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

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Fire at Refugee Shelter in Eastern Germany Kills 1, Injures 10 

A fire at a refugee shelter in eastern Germany killed one person and injured 10 others early Sunday, according to local police. 

Police in the German state of Thuringia said the fire broke out around 5 a.m. local time at a facility in the city of Apolda and that one body was recovered from the burned building. 

A 9-year-old child was reported missing, police said. They did not say if the recovered body belonged to a child. 

Writing on Twitter, German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser called the incident “terrible news.” She confirmed an investigation was under way to determine the cause of the fire. 

The shelter, which housed 300 people, was evacuated and residents were taken to another refugee center in nearby Hermsdorf, a local government spokesperson told German news agency dpa. 

Police said 250 people were in the shelter at the time of the fire, and 10 were taken to a local hospital with injuries, police said. Information about their condition was not immediately available. 

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