Pope Denounces Fake News About COVID, Vaccines, Urges Truth

Pope Francis denounced fake news about COVID-19 and vaccines Friday, blasting the “distortion of reality based on fear” but also urging that people who believe such lies are helped to understand true scientific facts.

Francis met with Catholic journalists who have formed a fact-checking network to try to combat misinformation about the pandemic. Francis has frequently called for responsible journalism that searches for the truth and respects individuals, and his meeting with the “Catholic fact-checking” media consortium furthered that message.

“We can hardly fail to see that these days, in addition to the pandemic, an ‘infodemic’ is spreading: a distortion of reality based on fear, which in our global society leads to an explosion of commentary on falsified if not invented news,” Francis said.

He said access to accurate information, based on scientific data, is a human right that must be especially guaranteed for those who are less equipped to separate out the morass of misinformation and commentary masquerading as fact that is available online.

At the same time, Francis asked for a merciful, missionary approach to those who fall prey to such distortions so they are helped to understand the truth.

“Fake news has to be refuted, but individual persons must always be respected, for they believe it often without full awareness or responsibility,” he said. “Reality is always more complex than we think and we must respect the doubts, the concerns and the questions that people raise, seeking to accompany them without ever dismissing them.”

Some Catholics, including some conservative U.S. bishops and cardinals, have claimed that vaccines based on research that used cells derived from aborted fetuses were immoral, and have refused to get the jabs.

The Vatican’s doctrine office, however, has said it is “morally acceptable” for Catholics to receive COVID-19 vaccines, including those based on research that used cells derived from aborted fetuses. Francis and Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI have both been fully vaccinated with Pfizer-BioNTech shots.

Francis has been one of the most vocal religious leaders speaking out in favor of vaccines and respect for measures to fight the pandemic. He has implied that people have a “moral obligation” to ensure the health care of themselves and others, and the Vatican recently required all staff to either be vaccinated or show proof of having had COVID-19 to access their workplaces.

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НАБУ заявляє, що викрило на хабарі чинного народного депутата

За даними слідства, посадовець отримав кошти за сприяння в укладенні контрактів між приватними компаніями і лікарнею у Житомирській області

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Зеленський вказав на «помилку» Білого дому і закликав до «конкретики» у питанні вступу в НАТО

«Ситуація з дипломатами, я вважаю, що це неправильні, надмірні кроки, які нам сьогодні не допомагають», – заявив президент

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German Health Minister Says Omicron COVID-19 Wave ‘Well Under Control’

Germany’s health minister said Friday the omicron variant of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is “well under control” in the nation, even though he said he expects the number of daily cases to double to nearly 400,000 cases before it begins to drop. 

Speaking at a news conference Friday in Berlin, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach explained that while the wave of infections itself cannot be controlled, the consequences can be minimized by taking the proper steps.

He said he expects daily cases to double to nearly 400,000 cases by mid-February, but he then expects them to drop, probably by the end of next month.

Cases are currently rising, with the country’s Robert Koch Institute for Infectious Diseases, or RKI, reporting 190,148 new cases as of Friday. Speaking at the same news briefing, RKI President Lothar Wieler said about 890,000 new cases were reported – nearly “1 percent of the entire population in just one week.” 

The RKI reports the infection rate per 100,000 people, as of Friday, was 1,073. 

Lauterbach says the government’s goal is to get through the wave with as few elderly people falling ill and as few deaths as possible, and he says so far, they are succeeding.

The health minister sought to dissuade people of the notion that just because the omicron variant is believed to be less severe, that vaccinations were not needed, saying that is wrong and not helpful. He encouraged everyone to get vaccinated and all those eligible to get booster shots. 

Some information for this report was provided by the Associated Press and Reuters.

 

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Swedish-Kenyan Group Introduces Electric Buses in Kenya

A Swedish-Kenyan company, Opibus, has introduced the first African-designed and manufactured electric bus in Kenya with the aim of bringing clean energy to public transportation. Opibus, Kenya’s first company to make electric motorcycles, plans to launch the bus commercially in a few months and bring it to markets across Africa by 2023.

As other vehicles jostle for space while belching clouds of dark smoke in the streets of Nairobi, Benjamin Maina is driving a unique bus; one that is fully electric.

“I feel privileged driving this vehicle,” said Maina. “It is also very amazing when you are driving this vehicle compared to the fossil fuel vehicles, considering there is a lot of vibration on fossil fuel vehicles and also a lot of noise. But with this vehicle, it’s quite silent and very sleek.”

Public transport in Kenya and across the African continent is largely run informally, and emissions standards are rarely enforced, making the vehicles highly pollutive as Jane Akumu, a Sustainable Mobility expert at the U.N. Environment Program explains.

“If you look at the cities, the heavy-duty vehicles which are buses and trucks, that’s the bulk of the pollution,” said Akumu. “So, they are a big contributor to pollution. But as I said, they are also an opportunity. Because how do we shift to cleaner modes? Because we need mass transport to be sustainable to make cities more sustainable.”

The introduction of electric buses into the African market by Opibus is aimed at remedying the situation. Albin Wilson is the chief of strategy and marketing at Opibus.

“This electric bus is really (an) important first step in the transition from fossil fuel vehicles to electric clean mobility,” said Wilson. “And I think we are really showing precedence being the first movers in this market with a bus that is even locally developed.”

Christopher Maina is a resident of Nairobi. VOA asked him about his experience as a passenger riding on an electric bus.

“This ride today is one of its own, having ridden on an electric vehicle,” said Maina. “It’s just cool, no noises like the combustion engines, there are no smells like the combustion engines. So, it’s just cool and awesome to be in this vehicle.”

Africa’s electric car market, currently in its infancy, presents a huge opportunity for investment and the creation of green jobs, say experts. Here again is Jane Akumu.

“When you look at our source of electricity, it is renewable,” said Akumu. “For example, in Ethiopia it is almost 100% renewable energy: hydro and such. If you look at Kenya it is over 90%. So, we have energy. We don’t have to import fossil fuel; petrol, diesel and all that. So, we have the energy here, then this is also very good opportunity for jobs, green jobs.”

Benjamin Maina notes one other benefit of his electric bus – lower costs for maintenance and fuel.  It means more money in his pocket, he says, and a higher standard of living. 

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China Eyes Risks and Rewards of US-Russia Standoff Over Ukraine

China is watching with growing interest as Russia and the West face off over Ukraine. With more than 100-thousand Russian troops deployed on the Ukrainian border, there is growing concern among Western nations that the Kremlin is planning an imminent invasion. Moscow has denied any such plans.

Western nations have threatened unprecedented economic sanctions against Moscow if it invades Ukraine. If cut off by the West, could Russia look east, to China, for help? Professor Steve Tsang, director of the China Institute at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, says Beijing is ready to step in.

“China under Xi Jinping has a clear policy of making the world safe for autocrats. And China under Xi Jinping also believes itself to be a leading socialist country now and it has a soft spot for former socialist countries. So, Russia under (President Vladimir) Putin ticks two boxes that make Russia very deserving of Chinese support.”

WATCH: China Weighs Risks, Rewards of US-Russia Standoff Over Ukraine

 

“The policy I think China is likely to take is to do whatever they can to help the Russians to face up to the economic sanctions that the U.S. and Europeans may impose on Russia. (However) I think economic links between Russia and China are not really strong enough to replace any break of economic links between Russia and Europe,” Tsang told VOA.

Moscow-Beijing coordination

Beijing is engaged in its own territorial disputes in Asia and has offered political support for Moscow.

“This foreign policy coordination will definitely increase,” says analyst Dmitry Suslov of Russia’s National Research University in Moscow. “Because from the Russian perspective, intensification of the military partnership between Russia and China is precisely one of the major pains which Russia can inflict to the United States and NATO in order to compel them to compromise,” Suslov said at a recent panel discussion on Ukraine, organized by the London-based policy group Chatham House.

NATO states are mulling increased troop deployments in eastern European member states to deter Russia. The United States has put further 8,500 troops on alert for possible deployment to Europe.

 

Taiwan

China is closely watching NATO and America’s response to any Russian invasion, says security analyst Julie Norman of University College London. “Even though there’s these troop deployments to Eastern European states, no states are talking about directly sending troops into Ukraine itself to defend it. And of course, China’s taking note of that, with some of their own territorial disputes in their own areas,” Norman told VOA.

Taiwan is China’s biggest territorial dispute — and there is a risk of miscalculation as Beijing watches events unfold in Ukraine, says Steve Tsang.

“The Chinese seeing the Americans and the Europeans talking big but not doing very much about it… would embolden them over Taiwan and potentially miscalculate what the American response to a crisis over Taiwan might be.”

China’s Belt and Road

Despite their mutual rivalry with the United States, China’s and Russia’s interests don’t always align. China has also invested billions of dollars in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, which could be at risk in the event of any conflict.

Beijing’s multitrillion-dollar “Belt and Road” initiative’ cuts through several former Soviet bloc states, including Ukraine. A direct rail and ferry freight link opened in 2016, linking China with Illichivsk port on Ukraine’s Black Sea coast via Georgia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, bypassing Russia. 

 

Ukraine is a major exporter of grains to China. By 2025, Beijing and Kyiv aim to increase bilateral trade by 50 percent, to $20 billion per year. China has also funded infrastructure projects, including a new metro line for Kyiv. If Russia invades Ukraine, could Beijing’s investments in the region be at risk? For now, China is showing little concern, says Tsang.

“The more immediate impact on the Belt and Road initiative would in fact be the Russian military intervention in Kazakhstan. And the Chinese government have actually shown that they are quite relaxed and comfortable with that. To them, it’s more important to support authoritarian states and autocrats to stay in power than for some of them to be closer to Russia than to China, at the moment. Over the longer term, things may change,” Tsang said.

In the short term, analysts say, China is keen to keep a lid on the simmering tensions for at least the next few weeks, as it prepares to host the Winter Olympics starting February 4.

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«Категорично відкидаємо»: в МЗС України відповіли на заяви угорського міністра Сійярто щодо нацменшин

МЗС: «Немає жодних обґрунтованих підстав звинувачувати Україну в порушенні прав національних меншин, а тим більше блокувати співпрацю нашої держави з НАТО, особливо на тлі агресивних дій Росії»

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У Білому домі не виключають вторгнення Росії в Україну у лютому

З осені минулого року у ЗМІ почали з’являтися повідомлення з посиланням на дані розвідки про концентрацію російських військ на кордоні з Україною

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Biden: ‘Distinct Possibility’ Russia Will Invade Ukraine

U.S. President Joe Biden warned Thursday warned Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy there is a “distinct possibility” that Russia could invade Ukraine next month, according to a White House statement.

“President Biden said that there is a distinct possibility that the Russians could invade Ukraine in February,” Emily Horne, the White House National Security Council spokesperson said. “He has said this publicly, and we have been warning about this for months.”

Russia said Thursday there was “little ground for optimism” that tensions would ease in Eastern Europe after the United States rejected its demand that Ukraine be banned from NATO membership and that the West pull back its troop deployment and weaponry from countries bordering Russia.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the U.S. reply to its demands “contains no positive response,” but that some elements of it could lead to “the start of a serious talk on secondary issues.” The U.S. and its European allies have rejected the key Moscow demands as nonstarters.

The top Kremlin diplomat said officials will submit proposals to President Vladimir Putin. His spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, said the Russian reaction would come soon, adding that “there always are prospects for continuing a dialogue. It’s in the interests of both us and the Americans.”

Biden talked Thursday with President Zelenskiy to reassure him of U.S. and allied support during the mounting tension. Afterward, the Ukrainian leader tweeted that he and Biden had also talked about additional financial support for Ukraine.

 

Officials from Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany held talks Wednesday in Paris and agreed to another round of talks in Berlin in the second week of February. The sides agreed to maintain an official cease-fire in eastern Ukraine, according to Dmitry Kozak, the Kremlin’s envoy.

“We need a supplementary pause. We hope that this process will have results in two weeks,” he said.

The February talks will take place at the same diplomatic level as the Paris talks. Not on the agenda is a summit with heads of state.

“Nothing has changed, this is the bad news,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said. “The good news is that advisers agreed to meet in Berlin in two weeks, which means that Russia for the next two weeks is likely to remain on the diplomatic track.”

The U.S. has called for a meeting Monday of the United Nations Security Council on Ukraine.

“More than 100,000 Russian troops are deployed on the Ukrainian border and Russia is engaging in other destabilizing acts aimed at Ukraine, posing a clear threat to international peace and security and the U.N. Charter,” U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Thursday in a statement. “This is not a moment to wait and see. The Council’s full attention is needed now, and we look forward to direct and purposeful discussion on Monday.”

Russia is one of the five permanent members of the Security Council and therefore has veto power over any resolution.

The meeting, Thomas-Greenfield said, will be about exposing Russia for its actions and isolating the Kremlin for its aggressive posture regarding Ukraine, according to Agence France-Presse.

 

The U.S. and its European allies, fearing an imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine, continue to protest Russia’s massing of more than 100,000 troops along its border with the onetime Soviet republic, although Moscow says it has no intention of attacking.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the document the U.S. handed Russia “includes concerns of the United States and our allies and partners about Russia’s actions that undermine security — a principled and pragmatic evaluation of the concerns that Russia has raised, and our own proposals for areas where we may be able to find common ground.”

Biden, while ruling out sending U.S. troops to Ukraine, repeatedly has warned Russia that the West will impose crippling economic sanctions against it if it crosses the border and attacks Ukraine.

While Russia and the U.S. and its allies trade demands, both sides have ramped up military preparations. Russia has launched military drills involving motorized infantry and artillery units in southwestern Russia, warplanes in Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea, dozens of warships in the Black Sea and the Arctic, and Russian fighter jets and paratroopers in Belarus.

NATO said it was boosting its presence in the Baltic Sea region, and the U.S. has put 8,500 troops on heightened alert for deployment to Europe as part of a NATO operation.

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said American forces currently in Europe, some already on heightened alert, could likewise be mobilized “to also bolster our NATO allies if they need that.

Kuleba said Ukraine is not planning any offensive actions, and he expects diplomatic efforts to address the crisis along the Russia-Ukraine border to continue.

“We are committed to [a] diplomatic track, and we are ready to engage with Russia at different levels in order to find [a] diplomatic solution to the conflict,” Kuleba said at a news conference. “However, if Russia decides to fight, we will fight back. This is our country, and we will defend it.”

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Deutsche Welle, Agence France-Presse, and France 24.  

 

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Russia Says It’s Ready for More Talks on Ukraine

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says the U.S. has failed to address Moscow’s main security concerns over Ukraine in the written document delivered Wednesday, but he left the door open for more talks to ease simmering tensions. VOA’s Senior Diplomatic Correspondent Cindy Saine reports. 

Produced by:  Bakhtiyar Zamano

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US Aware of Allegations of Russian Links to Burkinabe Coup

Reports that Russia is connected to this week’s coup in Burkina Faso have made their way to the Pentagon, though U.S. defense officials decline to say whether the allegations have merit. 

Burkinabe soldiers went on national television late Monday, announcing they had deposed President Roch Kabore due to “the continuous deterioration of the security situation which threatens the very foundations of our nation.” 

A day later, Alexander Ivanov, the official representative of Russian military trainers in the Central African Republic, issued a statement offering training to the Burkinabe military. The CAR has been employing mercenaries with Russia’s Wagner Group to help with security since 2017. 

“The Department of Defense is aware of the allegations that the Russian-backed Wagner Group may have been a force behind the military takeover in Burkina Faso,” Cindi King, a Defense Department spokesperson, told VOA Thursday. 

But the Pentagon stopped short of saying whether the allegations are true. 

“We cannot speak to these reports or any potential factors that led to this event,” King said of Monday’s coup.

“We support the State Department’s call for the Burkinabe armed forces to respect Burkina Faso’s constitution and civilian leadership,” she said. “We encourage the restoration of safety and security for the Burkinabe people and for legitimate, constitutional rule in Burkina Faso.” 

Questions emailed to the Russian Embassy in Washington and the Burkinabe Embassy in Washington seeking comment have not been answered. 

The Daily Beast first reported the allegations that Wagner was tied to the coup in Burkina Faso earlier this week, citing sources close to the deposed president as saying his final acts in office were to oppose requests by the Burkinabe military to hire Wagner. 

“The president quickly rejected the idea,” one official told The Daily Beast. “Kabore didn’t want to run into any problems with the West for aligning with Russia.” 

U.S. military and intelligence officials have been increasingly wary of the presence of mercenaries with Russia’s Wagner Group in Africa, which was initially limited to the CAR and Libya. 

The head of U.S. Africa Command confirmed to VOA last week allegations by France and other European nations that Wagner personnel are now in Mali, brought in by that country’s military junta despite multiple pleas and warnings from the U.S. and others.

“Wagner [Group] is in Mali. They are there, we think, numbering several hundred now,” said General Stephen Townsend, the commander of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). “Russian air force airplanes are delivering them.”

Whether Wagner mercenaries are destined for Burkina Faso, U.S. officials are wary. 

“We’ve been watching this for years,” said Major General Andrew Rohling, the commander of the U.S. Army Southern European Task Force, Africa, during an online seminar late Wednesday.

“It is a way that Russia of course is able to influence [a] military without actually putting a Russian flag on it,” he said, calling the situation in Burkina Faso “a little bit of an unknown right now.” 

As in Mali, though, where demonstrators have repeatedly voiced support for Russian assistance, there seems to be at least some support among Burkinabes for turning to Moscow. 

Speakers at a rally of about 1,000 people earlier this week in Ouagadougou, the capital, repeatedly called for Russian military intervention. 

U.S. forces have been supporting Burkinabe forces through several initiatives over the past several years as the country has battled extremists aligned both with al-Qaida and the Islamic State terror group. 

Earlier this week, the Pentagon said it was reviewing the situation in Burkina Faso and the impact on relations with the U.S. military going forward. 

Separately, U.S. Ambassador to Burkina Faso Sandra Clark told VOA that should the Burkinabe military install its own leader, Washington could cut support to the country. 

VOA’s Henry Wilkins contributed to this report.

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Cuba Accused of Violating Human Rights of Foreign Workers

Cuban sailors working on luxury cruises are reduced to “ ‘slaves’ who only get paid 20% of their wages while the rest of their salaries go to the Cuban government,” according to a report by human rights groups. 

MSC Cruises, one of the world’s biggest cruise line companies, was named in the report released Wednesday by Prisoners Defenders and accused of keeping the passports of Cuban sailors.

Both the cruise line and the Cuban government deny any wrongdoing.

Sailors, along with doctors, engineers, architects and musicians, are among about 100,000 Cuban professionals who work abroad as part of an international outreach program launched by Cuba in the 1960s. The program’s aim is to expand the communist government’s influence in the world, and in recent years it has become an important source of revenue for the Cuban regime. 

Prisoners Defenders, a Spain-based human rights group linked to the Cuban opposition, Human Rights Watch and lawmakers from the European Parliament accuse the Cuban government of exploiting its own citizens by taking an 80% cut from their wages.

Doctors contend they have been sexually abused, posted to dangerous places and face an eight-year ban from Cuba if they decide to leave the government service.

These international missions are a lucrative source of income for the Cuban government, bringing Havana $8.5 billion every year, according to the Prisoners Defenders report, compared with tourism, which brings in $2.9 billion in annual income.

About 41% of Cubans working abroad say they have suffered sexual assault during their posts, the report said.

In a complaint to the International Criminal Court and the United Nations, human rights groups allege that Cuba breaches the basic rights of the professionals who form part of Cuba’s international missions.

The Cuban government has defended its record on its foreign health workers.

The Cuban Embassy in Madrid did not reply to requests by VOA for comment on the report. 

‘Slave plantation’

A spokesperson for MSC Cruises said in a statement that any shipping company employing Cuban staff had to deal with the Selecmar state agency in Havana and added that storing crew members’ passports centrally on board was standard practice.

However, Jordi Canas, a European lawmaker from the Spanish centrist Citizens party and part of the Euro Latin American Parliamentary Assembly, which is linked to the European Parliament, said at a press conference Wednesday: “Cuba is more like a slave plantation than a free country. Free Cuba treats its people like slaves to generate money.” 

Dayami Gonzalez, a Cuban doctor who has worked in Ecuador for eight years, said she received threats after she said she wanted to leave the Cuban government mission. 

An estimated 30,000 Cuban doctors work in 60 countries around the world, mainly in Latin America and Africa, and the Cuban authorities draw up strict rules to stop them from defecting once they are abroad.

Medics and other Cubans working abroad who refuse to continue to work for the international mission can be barred from seeing their families back home for years, according to Cuban government laws. 

Prisoners Defenders has taken testimony from 1,111 Cuban professionals who have been working abroad and says it has evidence of systematic human rights violations.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday called for a federal task force to deal with human trafficking in Cuba, North Korea and other countries.

“Our commitment to combat #HumanTrafficking is backed by action and engagement from across the federal government,” he tweeted.

‘Dece

Cuban officials reacted angrily.

“The deceitful allegations by US Secretary of State linking Cuba to trafficking in persons seek to tarnish the fraternal effort of Cuba’s medical cooperation that saves lives, whose unquestionable merits have received international recognition,” Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez tweeted.

In 2019, Prisoners Defenders issued a report saying Cuban doctors suffered abuses when they were sent abroad. Its latest report has broadened the scope of this complaint to include Cuban sailors and other professionals.

The latest allegations came as Cuba rejected accusations by rights groups and diplomats that its courts system had unfairly jailed protesters following widespread protests in July on the island. 

In the largest protests in decades, thousands took to the streets to voice their anger over shortages of food, medicine and electricity when COVID-19 cases soared.

The Cuban state prosecutor said it had charged 710 people with crimes including vandalism, assault and “grave public disorder.”

Human rights groups, the U.S. government and the European Union have condemned the trials of the protesters, saying they lacked transparency.

However, the Cuban state prosecutor’s office said these accusations were “manipulations of public opinion” and it had “verified compliance with the rights and constitutional guarantees of due process” under Cuban law. 

Some information for this report came from Reuters. 

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Переможець конкурсу на посаду директора Державного бюро розслідувань Олексій Сухачов пересувається на елітному позашляховику Toyota Land Cruiser

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Ukrainian Serviceman Kills 4 Fellow Soldiers, 1 Civilian 

A member of Ukraine’s National Guard on Thursday opened fire on his fellow soldiers, killing five people and wounding five more, Ukraine’s Interior Ministry said. The serviceman was detained by police but his motives remain unclear.

The incident occurred in the city of Dnipro, 500 kilometers (310 miles) southeast of Kyiv on Thursday morning. The soldier, identified by the authorities as Artemiy Ryabchuk, 20, was on guard duty at a military factory and opened fire on his colleagues, fleeing the scene immediately after.

Four soldiers and one civilian died, and five more people sustained injuries. Police detained Ryabchuk shortly after the shooting. It wasn’t immediately clear what prompted him to open fire.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy demanded the authorities thoroughly investigate and analyze the incident.

“I expect law enforcement to fully inform the public about all the circumstances of the crime. Motives of the killer, how [the shooting] became possible — everything should be analyzed as thoroughly as possible,” Zelenskiy said in an online statement, adding that conclusions should be drawn from the incident about personnel in the National Guard.

The shooting took place against the backdrop of soaring tensions between Russia and Ukraine. Moscow has massed an estimated 100,000 troops near its borders with Ukraine, stoking fears that such a buildup might indicate plans to invade its ex-Soviet neighbor.

The Kremlin denied harboring such plans, but demanded security guarantees from the West, including a clause precluding NATO from accepting Ukraine and other former Soviet states as members — a demand the U.S. and NATO have rejected as a nonstarter.

Ukraine’s officials have acknowledged the threat of an invasion, but insisted it was not imminent and accused Russia of fomenting tensions and fear among Ukrainians in order to destabilize the country from within. 

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Leaders in Europe, Israel Mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Nations throughout Europe on Thursday marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a global event to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust.

The annual commemoration was established by the U.N. General Assembly in November 2005.January 27 was chosen because it was the day in 1945 that the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland was liberated by Soviet troops.  

French Prime Minister Jean Castex was among those taking part in ceremonies at the former World War II German Nazi concentration camp remembering the 1.1 million Jewish people the Nazis put to death there.

In Berlin, the speaker of Israel’s parliament or Knesset, Mickey Levy, joined German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in laying wreaths at the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.  

Later, Levy addressed the lower house of Germany’s parliament, the Bundestag, during ceremonies there.  

He broke down in tears while reciting the Jewish mourner’s prayer from a prayer book that belonged to a German Jewish boy who celebrated his bar mitzvah on the eve of Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass), when German Nazi paramilitary forces attacked Jewish people and property on the nights of November 9-10, 1938. Shortly after, some 30,000 Jewish men were rounded up and sent to concentration camps.

Levy said Israel and Germany experienced “an exceptional journey on the way to reconciliation and establishing relations and brave friendship.”

Speaking during the same ceremony, Bundestag President Baerbel Bas noted the recent rise of anti-Semitism that she says has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Her comments echoed a report issued this week by the Israeli government that said many of the people protesting COVID-19 measures have likened themselves to Jews under Nazi persecution, which the study said distorts and trivializes the Holocaust.

The authors of the study say such trivializations show that factual knowledge of the genocide is fading and can put Jews today in actual danger. They urged world leaders and educators to be proactive in combating this behavior.

About 6 million European Jews and millions of other people were killed by the Nazis and their collaborators during the Holocaust.

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

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Офіційний курс показує подальше слабшання гривні, на міжбанку долар сягнув 29 гривень

Торги на міжбанківському ринку почалися з близько 28,80-82 вранці, але курс  до обіду послабшав на близько 20 копійок

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У МЗС відреагували на подання Росією скарги на рішення щодо «скіфського золота»

«Ми готові втретє довести приналежність артефактів до музейного фонду України вже у Верховному суді Королівства Нідерланди»

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