Daily Archives: March 2, 2014

​US military seize documents raided by Ukrainian radicals – suspected looter

Vladislav, an alleged activist of Right Sector group.

Ukrainian radical activists are conducting organized searches of residences of former government officials and handing over all documents to the US military, a man who says that he took part in some of these operations claims.

The allegations come from a Russian citizen who was detained by the Federal Security Service (FSB) shortly after returning from Ukraine. The 21-year-old, who calls himself Vladislav, says he spent some three days among the ranks of the Right Sector group in Kiev after the ousting of President Viktor Yanukovich, and took part in the raids of his deposed officials.

“They load buses with the self-defense troops and go to MPs’ dachas in the suburbs, to their apartments, and break down their doors. It’s not looting, like in taking furniture and stuff. They take documents and hand them over to special people, who check them,” he said in an interview with the Russia-24 news channel.

Vladislav says he saw a group of people, whom he calls American military, who copied or took some of the documents from the radicals.

“It was on the afternoon of February 26, when an American group came in two Mercedes cars. Then American troops came out wearing their uniforms,” he recalled.

The man claims that Germans, too, collected intelligence with the help of the radical group, but at some point they curbed their activities.

Apart from the documents, the Right Sector activists took valuables from the raided residences, but the loot was not taken by the activists themselves. Instead it was handed over to intendants, to be sold. The money would then be used to buy weapons in the black market for the group, it was said.

But the “captains” of the radicals are not as strict with discipline in other areas, the man said.

“To keep men from raving about, the captains give them a bit of freedom in the city. Like telling them ‘Go rob some shops or car dealerships,’” he explained. “It’s not to allow serious violence at Maidan itself, so that the structure they built didn’t collapse.”

Vladislav says he arrived in Kiev on Feb. 25, days after the most violent clashes hit the capital. A trained security guard, he came to the Ukrainian capital partially for an adventure, partially with a hope of participating in looting, he said.

He brought with him from Russia a bulletproof vest, a handgun and a complete set of protective equipment. Actually this same attire brought him into trouble, when he returned to Russia, as police thought he looked suspicious.

He says he was treated with suspicion by Rights Sector activists on the account of his being Russian. He had to take a polygraph test to prove that he was not “a Russian sniper,” a member of an alleged secret team of Russian special operation troops, whom some Maidan activists accuse of killing protesters, but whose existence was never proven. The hostility didn’t pass after he passed the test, Vladislav said, so he decided to leave Ukraine.

He insists that he didn’t get any money for his short tour to Kiev, but mentions “foreign mercenaries” in the interview. It’s not clear who those people may actually be from a legal point of view, considering Vladislav’s own dubious experience with the Right Sector.

 RT News.

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Urkraine mobilizes for war, calls up reserves

A woman waves a Russian flag as armed servicemen wait near Russian military vehicles outside a Ukrainian border guard post in the Crimean town of Balaclava

A woman waves a Russian flag as armed servicemen wait near Russian military vehicles outside a Ukrainian border guard post in the Crimean town of Balaclava

(Reuters) – Ukraine mobilized on Sunday for war and called up its reserves, after Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened to invade in the biggest confrontation between Moscow and the West since the Cold War.

Ukraine’s security council ordered the general staff to immediately put all armed forces on highest alert, the council’s secretary Andriy Parubiy announced. The Defense Ministry was ordered to conduct the call-up, potentially of all men up to 40 in a country that still has universal male conscription.

Russian forces who have already bloodlessly seized Crimea – an isolated Black Sea peninsula where most of the population are ethnic Russian and Moscow has a naval base – tried to disarm the small Ukrainian contingents there on Sunday. Some Ukrainian commanders refused to give up weapons and bases were surrounded.

Of potentially even greater concern are eastern swathes of the country, where most of the ethnic Ukrainians speak Russian as a native language. Those areas saw violent protests on Saturday, with pro-Moscow demonstrators hoisting flags at government buildings and calling for Russia to defend them.

Putin’s declaration that he has the right to invade his neighbor – for which he quickly received the unanimous approval of his parliament – brought the prospect of war to a country of 46 million people on the ramparts of central Europe.

“President Obama expressed his deep concern over Russia’s clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity, which is a breach of international law,” the White House said after the leaders spoke for 90 minutes on Saturday.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk, leading a pro-European government that took power after Moscow ally Viktor Yanukovich fled a week ago, said Russian armed action “would be the beginning of war and the end of any relations between Ukraine and Russia”.

Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsya said he sent a request to NATO to “examine all possibilities to protect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine”. Ukraine also appealed for help to Britain and the United States, as co-signatories with Moscow to a 1994 accord guaranteeing Ukraine’s security after the breakup of the Soviet Union.

NATO ambassadors were due to meet in Brussels on Sunday. Washington has proposed sending monitors to Ukraine under the flags of the United Nations or Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, bodies where Moscow would have a veto.

Washington and its allies have suspended plans to attend a G8 summit in Sochi, where Putin had just finished staging his $50 billion winter Olympic games.

“This is probably the most dangerous situation in Europe since the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968,” said a Western official on condition of anonymity. “Realistically, we have to assume the Crimea is in Russian hands. The challenge now is to deter Russia from taking over the Russian-speaking east of Ukraine.”

POWERLESS

In Crimea, Ukraine‘s tiny military contingent was powerless to oppose Russian forces, who bore no insignia on their uniforms but drove vehicles with Russian plates and seized government buildings, airports and other locations in the past three days.

Troops stand guard in Balaklava, Crimea, on Saturday, March 1.

Russian news agencies reported that Moscow’s troops had disarmed Ukrainians at several small bases.

Igor Mamchev, a Ukrainian navy colonel at a small base near the regional capital Simferopol, told Ukraine’s Channel 5 television he had refused to surrender.

“A truck with troops of the Russian Federation, armed with rifles, helmets and bullet-proof vests arrived at our checkpoint and suggested we give up our weapons and accept the protection of the armed forces of the Russian Federation,” he said.

“I replied that, as I am a member of the armed forces of Ukraine, under orders of the Ukrainian navy, there could be no discussion of disarmament. In case of any attempt to enter the military base, we will use all means, up to lethal force.

“We are military people, who have given our oath to the people of Ukraine and will carry out our duty until the end.”

Ukrainian marines were barricaded into a base in Feodosia, a Crimean port. Russia appealed for them to back the “legitimate” – pro-Russian – regional leadership.

Their commander, Dmytro Delyatytskiy, told Ukraine’s Channel 5 by telephone Russian troops had demanded they give up their weapons by 10 a.m. and they refused.

“We have orders,” he said. “We are preparing our defenses.”

Elsewhere on the occupied peninsula, the Russian forces appeared to be assuming a lower profile on Sunday after the pro-Moscow Crimean leader announced overnight that the situation was now “normalized”. Russians had vanished from outside a small Ukrainian guard post in the port of Balaclava that they had surrounded with armored vehicles on Saturday.

The Russian forces had been greeted cheerfully by many, with a wedding party honking its horns and people snapping photos. But there were also some voices of worry.

“No one is attacking us, so why do we need protection – much less armed protection? They are filling up Balaclava with troops,” said Olga Karpova, 32.

A barricade in front of the Crimean regional parliament, which the Russians seized on Thursday, had been dismantled. A single armored vehicle with two soldiers drove through the main square, where people were snapping photos.

Putin asked parliament on Saturday to approve force “in connection with the extraordinary situation in Ukraine, the threat to the lives of citizens of the Russian Federation, our compatriots” and to protect the Black Sea Fleet in Crimea.

Federation Council meeting

Putin said his request for authorization to use force in Ukraine would last “until the normalization of the socio-political situation in that country”.

His justification – the need to protect Russian citizens – was the same as he used to launch a 2008 invasion of Georgia, where Russian forces seized two breakaway regions.

In Russia, state controlled media have portrayed Yanukovich’s removal as a coup by dangerous terrorists and extremists, funded by the West.

Russian officials have repeatedly described Ukraine’s Russian speakers – some of whom have Russian passports – as facing urgent danger. Itar-Tass quoted Russian border guards as saying 675,000 people had fled Ukraine for Russia in the past two months and there were signs of a “humanitarian catastrophe”.

In a statement posted online, the Kremlin said that Putin had told Obama “there are real threats to the life and health of Russian citizens and compatriots on Ukrainian territory”. Moscow reserved the right to intervene on behalf of Russian speakers anywhere they were threatened, Putin added.

FLAGS TORN DOWN

So far there has been no sign of Russian military action in Ukraine outside Crimea, the only part of the country with a majority that is ethnically Russian and which has often voiced separatist aims at times of tension between Moscow and Kiev.

A bigger risk would be conflict spreading to the rest of Ukraine, where the sides could not be easily kept apart. Demonstrations turned violent in eastern cities on Saturday.

Demonstrators flew Russian flags at government buildings in the cities of Kharkiv, Donetsk, Odessa and Dnipropetrovsk.

The worst violence took place in Kharkiv, where scores of people were wounded when thousands of pro-Russian activists, some brandishing axe handles and chains, stormed the regional government headquarters and fought pitched battles with a smaller number of supporters of Ukraine’s new authorities.

In Donetsk, Yanukovich’s home city, the local government has called for a referendum on the region’s status, a move Kiev says is illegal. A pro-Russian “self-Defense” unit, which staged a big protest on Saturday, scheduled another for Sunday.

Pro-Russian activists hold Russian flags during a rally in the center of Donetsk, Ukraine, on March 1.

Pro-Russian activists hold Russian flags during a rally in the center of Donetsk, Ukraine, on March 1.

“We do not recognize the authorities in Kiev, they are not legitimate,” protest leader Pavel Guberev thundered from a podium in Donetsk on Saturday.

Thousands of followers, holding a giant Russian flag and chanting “Russia, Russia” marched to the government headquarters and replaced the Ukrainian flag with Russia’s.

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Hundreds Of Russian Troops Seen On Road To Simferopol

An image provided to CNN by a local resident shows Russian tanks on the move in Sevastopol, Ukraine.

An image provided to CNN by a local resident shows Russian tanks on the move in Sevastopol, Ukraine – March 1- 2014 .

By Bill Neely, Ed Flanagan, Jim Maceda and Alastair Jamieson

SIMFEROPOL – A convoy of hundreds of Russian troops was reported to be heading towards the regional capital of Ukraine’s Crimea early Sunday, but there were no signs of Kremlin forces in the city.

Twelve military trucks carrying troops, a Tiger vehicle armed with a machine gun and two ambulances were seen by Associated Press journalists on the road heading from Sevastopol – the Crimean port where Russia has its naval base – to Simferopol.

Outside #Crimea parliament this morning, gone are the barricades, masked gunmen and crowds. pic.twitter.com/zEV5aqHjC4

– Ed Flanagan (@edmundflanagan) March 2, 2014

No Russian troops to be seen in #Crimea’s capital. No barricades at Parliament. Point made. Crimea is safe for #Russia.

– Bill Neely (@BillNeelyNBC) March 2, 2014

However, there were no signs of any troops in Simferopol, or any crowds in the squares where masked gunmen were seen on Saturday.

That appeared to underline reports that Russia has secured control of Crimea without any signs of military engagement. The Russian move was condemned by Secretary of State John Kerry as an “invasion.”

An expert said Russian troop movements in the region were “not unusual.”

“There’s nothing to stop Russia from moving troops around,” said Mark Galeotti, author of “Russian Security and paramilitary Forces Since 1991”. “You have slosh back and forth twice a year because of conscription. The sight of military personnel on the road is not unusual as they move between bases. And obviously they move back and forth to Russia.”

Russian news agency RIA Novosti report that Ukrainian servicemen stationed in Crimea were deserting, handing over weaponry and arsenals to local pro-Russia authorities and militia. That report could not be verified.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has defied calls from the West to pull back his troops, insisting that Russia has a right to protect its interests and the Russian-speaking population in Crimea and elsewhere in Ukraine.

NBC News.com.

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Ukrainian Navy flagship takes Russia’s side – report

The Ukrainian Krivak class frigate Hetman Sahaydachny

Ukraine’s Navy flagship, the Hetman Sahaidachny frigate, has reportedly refused to follow orders from Kiev, and come over to Russia’s side and is returning home after taking part in NATO operation in the Gulf of Aden flying the Russian naval flag.

There has been conflicting information on where exactly the vessel is, but a Russian senator has confirmed to Izvestia daily that the frigate defected to the Russian side.

“Ukraine’s Navy flagship the Hetman Sahaidachny has come over to our side today. It has hung out the St Andrew’s flag,” Senator Igor Morozov, a member of the committee on the international affairs, told Izvestia daily.

He said the flagship is on its way back to the Black Sea after drills in the Mediterranean. “The crew has fulfilled the order by the chief commander of Ukraine’s armed forces Viktor Yanukovich,” he added.

The move comes after the Navy command resigned Friday. Self-appointed President Aleksandr Turchinov made Rear Admiral Denis Berezovsky the new Navy Chief, a statement published on the President’s website Saturday said.

Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the Prime Minister of Ukraine had earlier asked his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan not to let the frigate through the Bosporus strait, according to the Kiev Times. The ship captain and the head of Ukraine’s contingent in the operation, Rear Admiral Andrey Tarasov disobeyed orders from Kiev.

The Hetman Sahaidachny returns to Sevastopol, Crimea after taking part in a joint counter-piracy operation with NATO and the EU off the Horn of Africa, reported UNN on Friday, citing Ukraine’s Defense Ministry. On February 26, after crossing the Suez Canal, the ship entered the Mediterranean Sea and was expected to be in Sevastopol in early March.

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Breaking news – Ukrainian military resigning en masse in Crimea – reports

Ukrainian armed forces dispatched to Crimea have started resigning on a massive scale, Russia news agencies reported.

Living quarters, weapons and ammunition have all been left under the protection of the so-called ‘self-defense forces.’

Letters of resignation have been coming in since early morning, as the self-defense forces continue to preserve order on the streets of Simferopol, RIA Novosti said citing own reporters on the ground.

Since Thursday, the city’s Supreme Council and a number of other buildings have been occupied and guarded by the self-defense forces run by the local population.

Crimea’s deputy prime minister, Rustam Temirgaliev, announced earlier that the Ukrainian armed forces have all but surrendered their military capabilities and that no active units remain in the Crimea.

“The entire Ukrainian armed forces stationed on the Crimean territory have been blocked – a number have been disarmed, while another big portion is switching to the Crimean side,” Interfax reported him as saying.

“The self-defense forces have taken control of the landing strips of all the Crimean airports and airfields,” Temirgaliev added.

 

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Syrian rebel forces reportedly looking for protection money in the form of gold from Christian population

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Radical Muslim rebel groups in Syria reportedly are shaking down the Christian population for protection money in the form of gold.

In a document released by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, the groups stated that a “protection pact” or “Aqed al-Thima” was coordinated and reached in a meeting last Thursday with 20 Christian leaders from the northern province of Raqqa.

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The authenticity of the two-page document, which has been circulating online this week, has not been independently verified, but could stoke fears among Syria’s Christian minority population that they are becoming targets by extremists looking to overthrow President Bashar Assad.

“It underscores that fact that as a Christian you are left with the choice between siding with a dictator or siding with the rebels,” Jordan Sekulow, Executive Director of the American Center for Law and Justice, which advocates for Christians in the States and in the Middle East, said to FoxNews.com. “If the Civil War ends, what will stop them from being in danger from extremists?”

“This is the difficult choice that they [Christians in Syria] face—try to survive or lose your faith and die or side with a dictator whose crimes have repulsed the world?”

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Syria’s minorities, mostly Christians, have sided with Assad or remained neutral in the three-year-old civil war. Some fear for their fate if the rebels, increasingly dominated by Islamic extremists, come to power and some have stopped supporting Assad altogether.

Under the strict Islamic Sharia doctrine, non-Muslims living under their sovereignty must pay a special tax — known as the “Jizyah” — in return for the ruler’s protection, or “Thima.”

The document stated that the tax could be paid in two annual installments by all “adult” Christians.

The amount was set at “four golden dinars,” saying each is worth 4.25 grams (0.15 ounce). It

said the middle class would pay half the rich, while the poor would pay only “one golden dinar.

In addition to agreeing on payment for protection, the Christian leaders in Raqqa reportedly agreed to refrain from refurbishing churches or monasteries in Raqqa, to hold back all religious symbols, such as displaying crosses in public or using loudspeakers in prayer, adhering to a “modest” dress code and refraining from trading in pork meat and alcohol and drinking it in public.

“If they adhere to these conditions, they will be close to God and receive the protection of Muhammad, his prophet,” the document allegedly said.

Christians as well as human rights groups have accused radicals among the rebels of abusing residents and vandalizing churches after taking Christian towns.

Al-Qaeda-linked militants seized control of Raqqa last March and set fires to churches before knocking crosses off them and replacing them with the group’s black Islamic banner.

Twelve nuns, two bishops and a priest were also abducted by Islamic extremists.

Before the Islamic takeover, the Raqqa province made up about 10 percent of the areas half-million inhabitants.

 Fox News.

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USA wants to send international forces to Ukraine

United States U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power speaks during an U.N. Security Council meeting on the Ukraine, Saturday, March 1, 2014, at United Nations headquarters

United States U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power speaks during an U.N. Security Council meeting on the Ukraine, Saturday, March 1, 2014, at United Nations headquarters

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Security Council, Samantha Power, in her speech at a meeting convened at the request of Kiev, offered to immediately send international observers into the country. Representatives of 15 countries took part in the closed meeting. Vitaly Churkin represented the Russian Federation.

Power stated that Russia must come into direct contact with the Ukrainian authorities. She also said that one should put an end to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. For this purpose, the U.S. ambassador offers to send international observers from the UN and the OSCE to the troubled country. According to the U.S. official, it will reduce tension.

UK Ambassador Lyall Grant, in turn expressed concerns about the most recent move of the Russian parliament to authorized military action on the territory of Ukraine, and stressed that the United Kingdom supported the current government of Ukraine. The British side also acceded to the request for immediate consultations under the Budapest Treaty between the United States, Britain, Russia and Ukraine.

pravda.ru.

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Egypt police detain Morsy’s son

The youngest son of ousted President Mohamed Morsy has been detained by police on suspicion of drug possession, Egypt’s state news agency reported.

The MENA news agency said police detained son Abdullah Morsy, a university freshman, on Saturday after a police patrol found a suspicious car parked on the side of the road in el-Obour city, east of Cairo. The agency said officers found two rolled hashish cigarettes in the car.

A security official said the car’s passengers were Morsy’s youngest son and a friend. He said prosecutors are questioning the two men.

via Report: Egypt police detain Morsy’s son – The Hindu.

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تأجيل محاكمة مرسي الى الثلاثاء بعد تعذر نقله الى المحكمة بسبب سوء الأحوال الجوية

قررت محكمة جنايات القاهرة اليوم الأحد 2 مارس/آذر تأجيل محاكمة الرئيس المعزول محمد مرسى و14 آخرين من قيادات الإخوان، في قضية الإتحادية إلى جلسة بعد غد الثلاثاء، لتعذر نقله لمقر محاكمته بأكاديمة الشرطة بسبب سوء الأحوال الجوية

وكانت المحكمة قد قررت أمس تأجيل الفصل في دعوى تنحية هيئة المحكمة التي تحاكم مرسي وكبار قيادات في جماعة الاخوان المسلمين إلى يوم الاثنين

ويواجه مرسي تهما بالقتل والترويع في حق المواطنين من المحتجين على الإعلان الدستوري الذي أصدره في نوفمبر عام 2012. في محيط قصر الاتحادية

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الناتو يناقش تطورات الأزمة الأوكرانية

أعلن الأمين العام لحلف شمال الأطلسي أندرس فوغ راسموسن أن سفراء الحلف سيعقدون اجتماعا اليوم في بروكسل لبحث الوضع في أوكرانيا

وأشار راسموسن إلى أن اجتماع مجلس الحلف على مستوى السفراء سيتبعه مباشرة اجتماع لمجلس “أوكرانيا – الناتو”

يأتي ذلك بعد أن طلبت السلطات الجديدة في أوكرانيا من الحلف الأطلسي بحث استخدام “جميع الآليات الممكنة” لحماية وحدة أراضيها. وكان الأمين العام للحلف دعا روسيا إلى احترام سيادة الدولة الأوكرانية ووحدتها وسلامة أراضيها