Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Belarus election: Police beat protesters as EU condemns vote

August 12, 2020 (BBC Europe) Protesters set up barricades in the Belarus capital Minsk and clashes were reported in several cities on Tuesday night after main opposition figure Svetlana Tikhanovskaya fled. A BBC team in Minsk was attacked by police, who were accused by protesters of brutality. Protests erupted hours after Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko was awarded victory in Sunday's presidential vote. The EU said the election was "neither free nor fair". Sweden's foreign minister said EU foreign ministers would meet on Friday to discuss imposing sanctions on Belarus. Mr. Lukashenko won 80% of Sunday's vote, according to election officials, but there were widespread allegations of vote rigging and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Belarusians had shown "the desire for democratic change" in the election campaign. 
Riot police were seen beating protesters in several areas of Minsk

When Ms. Tikhanovskaya went to the electoral committee to complain about the results that gave her just 10% of the vote, she was detained for seven hours. By Tuesday morning she had left Belarus for neighboring Lithuania. Mr Borrell accused authorities of using "disproportionate and unacceptable violence causing at least one death and many injuries". Websites, which have been jammed in Belarus for days, were widely reported to be back online on Wednesday morning. State TV has said little about the protests and two presenters have announced their resignations. There have been numerous reports of police violence, with people seen being pulled out of cars on the third night of unrest. One protester has died and 200 others have been wounded, some seriously. Two thousand more have been detained. 
Protesters have accused riot police of brutality

The brutality of the crackdown has shocked observers. However, official newspaper Belarus Segodnya, said the protest "co-ordinators" had been detained, including one Minsk resident said to have organized the "mass disturbances" from a hotel room.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Ukraine, Georgia issue joint statement to condemn Russian aggression

August 9, 2020 (UkrInform) The Permanent Missions of Georgia and Ukraine to the United Nations issued a joint statement on the 12th year anniversary of the Russia-Georgia August 2008 war. Oleg Nikolenko, the spokesman for the Permanent Mission of Ukraine to the United Nations, posted the text of the statement on Facebook. “We condemn the continued occupation and steps towards de-facto annexation of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions of Georgia and call upon Russia to immediately start the implementation of its obligations under UN Charter, the Helsinki Final Act, the fundamental norms and principles of international law and the EU-brokered Ceasefire Agreement of 12 August 2008, including the full withdrawal of its forces from the internationally recognized territory of Georgia and to reverse its illegal decision on the recognition of the so-called independence of Georgia’s Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions,” reads the statement.
The diplomats welcomed Georgia’s compliance with the 2008 Ceasefire Agreement and Georgia’s unilateral reiteration and implementation of the non-use of force commitment and called on Russia to reciprocate. “We are deeply concerned over the deteriorating security, human rights and humanitarian situation in Georgia’s occupied regions, including increased Russian military exercises and intensified military buildup, the process of intensified so-called borderisation, illegal installation of barbed wire fences and other artificial barriers along the occupation line, ethnic discrimination against Georgians and grave human rights abuses, among them a violation of the right to life, restriction of freedom of movement, illegal detentions and kidnappings, and lengthy closures of so-called crossing points that have further destabilized the situation on the ground and severely impacted the security and humanitarian conditions of conflict-affected people,” the statement underscores. Ukraine and Georgia called on Russia “as the power exercising effective control to enable full and unfettered access by international human rights monitoring organizations to the Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions of Georgia.” “We deplore the hybrid warfare tools intensified by the Russian Federation against Georgia and fabricated propaganda myths constantly attacking one of the laboratories of Georgia's National Center for Disease Control and Public Health - the Richard Lugar Center, which plays a crucial role in the fight against the spread of Coronavirus (Covid-19) in Georgia,” the diplomats noted. Permanent Missions of Georgia and Ukraine to the United Nations reaffirmed their full support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.

Malyshev Plant handed over renovated "Bulat" tanks to the military

August 9, 2020 (Malyshevplant.com) State Enterprise "Malyshev Plant" has shipped another batch of two repaired and upgraded tanks BM "Bulat" to the customer. Thus, as of July 2020, 50% of the state contract was fulfilled by the enterprise in compliance with the agreed time limits. “We not only carried out factory repairs of machines according to their technical condition but also installed modern equipment with improved characteristics. Thanks to the new radio station and modern means of navigation, our military will be able to more conveniently and efficiently coordinate actions and communication between the crew and the command. Modern aiming and surveillance devices will provide better control of the situation, in particular, at night, "- said the Director-General of State Enterprise "Malyshev Plant” Vasyl Krylas.
The restored "Bulats" successfully passed all the necessary field tests. In particular, the combat vehicles covered a distance of 100 kilometers, demonstrated excellent performance while driving, showed great results of firing and other field tests. After acceptance tests, the upgraded vehicles were handed over to the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine. State Enterprise "Malyshev Plant” specializes in the production and modernization of heavy and light armored vehicles for the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine and foreign customers. Among the main products and services of the enterprise are BM "Oplot", modernization of the T-64 tank to the type of BM "Bulat", armored personnel carriers BTR-3, BTR-4, modernization of armored personnel carriers BTR-50.
BM "Bulat" - the main battle tank used in the tank troops of the Armed Forces. This combat vehicle is an in-depth modernization of the T-64B tank. During the last four years "Malyshev Plant" has repaired more than fifty BM "Bulat" tanks after damage in the war zone in the east of the country and handed them over to the Ukrainian Army. Not only have "Malyshev Plant" specialists repaired the vehicles, but also modernized them to improve their tactical and technical characteristics. In particular, the machines have been equipped with new modern means of communication and navigation, as well as aiming and night vision devices.

Friday, August 7, 2020

Russia spends billions of dollars on propaganda conferences in occupied Crimea – Dzheppar

August 7, 2029 (UkrInform) Russia spends billions of dollars on international conferences in the occupied Crimea, trying to attract foreigners to tell about a "good life" on the peninsula. First Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine Emine Dzheppar said this in an interview with Turkey’s Demirören News Agency. “The Russian Federation, having occupied Crimea, seeks to legitimize its crimes with hybrid war tools. It spends billions of dollars on international conferences in the occupied Crimea, inviting people from different countries to the peninsula, forcing them to tell abouthow good life is in Crimea to create an illusion,” Dzheppar said.

She pointed out that Russia is trying to destroy the heritage of Crimean Tatars, as it has done historically. Dzheppar, on behalf of Ukraine and herself, thanked the Turkish state for supporting the territorial integrity of Ukraine, Crimea and Crimean Tatars, and the President of Turkey for assisting in the release of political prisoners. She recalled Turkey's intention to build 500 apartments for Crimean Tatars in the Kherson region and added that these initiatives could be extended to other regions of Ukraine. As reported, Russia's planned armed aggression against Ukraine began on February 20, 2014 with a military operation by the Russian armed forces to seize part of Ukraine's territory - the Crimean Peninsula. On March 16, 2014, a "referendum on the status of Crimea" was held on the territory of Crimea and Sevastopol, as a result of which Russia annexed Crimea. At the same time, Ukraine, the European Union, the United States and other countries did not recognize the results of the voting in the "referendum" and imposed sanctions against Russia.

Friday, July 31, 2020

NATO: Russia has significantly increased number of frigates and submarines in Black Sea

July 31, 2020 (UKRINFORM) Commodore Jeanette Morang, Commander Surface Forces NATO made this statement on the air of Ukrainian DOM TV channel. According to her, the Black Sea is of great value for international trade and, therefore, freedom of navigation and access to trade routes and coastal infrastructure remains an urgent need of the Black Sea countries and a necessary condition for their economic well-being. "As you probably know, about 80% of all trade operations are carried out by sea, and our goal is to ensure that every nation has a right to free access to the sea," Morang added. 
At the same time, she noted, the Black Sea has its own peculiarities. "First of all, it should be mentioned that the passage of vessels is regulated by the Montreux Convention. Pursuant to the Convention, the countries lacking access to the Black Sea cannot remain in it for more than 21 consecutive days. Another feature is Russia's desire to change existing borders and rapidly build up its military presence in the region. The Russian Federation has lately significantly increased the number of its frigates and newest submarines in the Black Sea. This activity came as no surprise to the Alliance. We are convinced that it is important to strengthen our presence in the region as well," Commander Surface Forces NATO said. She added that the Alliance stood for stability in the region and the economic well-being of the countries bordering the Black Sea. NATO is convinced that all countries of the Black Sea region share these views, Morang stressed.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

From Chornobyl to Mars: Radiation-absorbing fungus tested as space station shield

July 29, 2020 (www.newscientist.com) Cladosporium sphaerospermum, a radiation-absorbing fungus first found thriving within the highly radioactive cooling pools of the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant, has undergone trials onboard the International Space Station (ISS) for use as a radiation-resistant barrier for space exploration. In a recently published paper, researchers hypothesize that this fungus could be used as a biological radiation shield, allowing mankind to establish a permanent presence on the Moon or even Mars. In 1991, researchers from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine found three types of fungi thriving in the cooling water at the Chornobyl power plant. These fungi survived in the coolant, despite the fact that its radiation level was 500 times higher than in the surrounding environment. Now, the fungi could provide a novel solution to one of the greatest challenges of space exploration: hazardous levels of radiation.
The International Space Station
NASA Archive / Alamy
According to the research paper, astronauts studied a sample of radiation-absorbing fungus onboard the ISS over a time frame of 30 days in an environment intended to replicate the radioactive conditions on Mars. The findings suggested that a layer of the fungus 21 centimeters thick would successfully protect against an annual dose of radiation on Mars, whereas just a 9-centimeter layer would be required when mixed with melanin and Martian soil. Weighing less than the heavy alloys that would normally protect from radiation, the fungal shield could help lower the overall weight of cargo blasted into space for settlements on other planets. What makes the fungus great is that you only need a few grams to start out…It self-replicates and self-heals, so even if there’s a solar flare that damages the radiation shield significantly, it will be able to grow back in a few days,” researcher Nills Averesch said in a comment to the New ScientistThe paper is awaiting peer-review, but the initial results of the trials of the fungus have been promising. The paper concludes with an optimistic affirmation: Often nature has already developed blindly obvious yet surprisingly effective solutions to engineering and design problems faced as humankind evolves – C. sphaerospermum and melanin could thus prove to be invaluable in providing adequate protection of explorers on future missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Unique amateur footage of the British evacuation of Dunkirk, hidden in a family archive for over 70 years

July 28, 2020 (BBC) The Battle of Dunkirk was fought in Dunkirk, France, during the Second World War, between the Allies and Nazi Germany. As the Allies were losing the Battle of France on the Western Front, the Battle of Dunkirk was the defense and evacuation to Britain of British and other Allied forces in Europe from 27 May to 4 June 1940. During these nine days 338,226 men escaped, including 139,997 French, Polish, and Belgian troops, together with a small number of Dutch soldiers, aboard 861 vessels (of which 243 were sunk during the operation).
Despite wartime censorship, the Dunkirk evacuation was recorded by a naval Lieutenant with his own personal camera. This film lay hidden in a family archive for over 70 years.