Ukraine takes more territory in region Vladimir Putin incorporates into Russia

Ukraine takes more territory in region Vladimir Putin incorporates into Russia
Ukrainian forces have recaptured thousands of square miles of territory since the beginning of September, including dozens of settlements in the past few days. (Reuters)
Short Url
Updated 06 October 2022

Ukraine takes more territory in region Vladimir Putin incorporates into Russia

Ukraine takes more territory in region Vladimir Putin incorporates into Russia
  • Volodymyr Zelensky: Novovoskresenske, Novohryhorivka and Petropavlivka had been ‘liberated’
  • Ukraine has said it will not be cowed by any nuclear threats

KYIV: Ukraine said its forces have retaken more settlements in Kherson, one of four partially Russian-occupied regions that President Vladimir Putin formally incorporated into Russia in Europe’s biggest annexation since World War Two.
With Russian forces retreating from front lines in the south and east, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a late Wednesday address that Novovoskresenske, Novohryhorivka and Petropavlivka to the northeast of Kherson city had been “liberated.”
At the United Nations, Russia is lobbying for a secret ballot instead of a public vote next week when the 193-member UN General Assembly considers whether to condemn its annexation of Donetsk and Luhansk in the east and Kherson and Zaporizhzhia in the south after staging referendums there.
Putin signed a law on Wednesday to incorporate the regions into Russia. Ukraine says it will never accept an illegal seizure of its territory by force. Kyiv and the West said the referendums were rigged votes held at gunpoint.
The new law would incorporate about 18 percent of Ukraine’s territory into Russia. Putin says he wants to ensure Russia’s security and protect Russian-speakers in Ukraine. Kyiv accuses Moscow of a land grab.
Russia’s move to annex the regions raises the possibility of an escalation in the war, as Putin and other officials have said they could use nuclear weapons to protect Russian territory including the annexed provinces.
Ukraine has said it will not be cowed by any nuclear threats and Zelensky said in his address he and his senior military officials met to discuss recovering all lands occupied by Russia.
Switching from Ukrainian to Russian, Zelensky addressed pro-Moscow forces, telling them they had already lost.
“Ukrainians know what they are fighting for. And more and more citizens of Russia are realizing that they must die simply because one person does not want to end the war,” he said in a reference to Putin.
Moscow’s map of Ukraine appears to show shrinking areas it controls. A map of “new regions” published by state news agency RIA included the full territory of the Ukrainian provinces, but some parts were labelled as being under Ukrainian military control.
Ukraine’s military in the south said its forces had killed at least 58 Russian fighters, destroyed nine tanks, 17 armored vehicles and four howitzers.
Overnight, seven Russian missiles hit the city of Zaporizhzhia, damaging or destroying several buildings and causing fires and injuries, regional governor Oleksandr Starukh said. “Rescuers are already pulling people out from under the rubble,” he said.
Reuters could not immediately verify the reports.
Ukrainian forces have recaptured thousands of square miles of territory since the beginning of September, including dozens of settlements in the past few days.
Thousands of Russian troops retreated after the front line crumbled, first in the northeast, and, since the beginning of this week, also in the south.
Putin celebrated the annexations in a ceremony in the Kremlin followed by a concert on Red Square last week, only hours before Ukrainian forces captured Lyman, Russia’s main bastion in the northern part of Donetsk.
In one of his first moves to assert his rule over the four annexed provinces, Putin ordered the Russian state to seize control of the Zaporizhzhia power station, Europe’s biggest, still run by Ukrainian engineers despite being captured early in the war by Russian forces.
The UN nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, said it had learned of plans to restart one reactor at the plant, where all six reactors have been shut down for weeks.
The power station is right on the front line, on a Russian-controlled bank of a reservoir with Ukrainian forces on the opposite bank, and both sides have warned of the danger of a nuclear disaster.


Trump Organization convicted of tax fraud in New York

Trump Organization convicted of tax fraud in New York
Updated 7 sec ago

Trump Organization convicted of tax fraud in New York

Trump Organization convicted of tax fraud in New York
  • Trump and his three eldest children face a trial late next year in a civil lawsuit by New York’s attorney general that accuses them of misstating the value of properties to enrich themselves

NEW YORK: Donald Trump’s family business was found guilty of tax fraud by a New York jury Tuesday, dealing a blow to the ex-president as he eyes the White House again.
The Trump Organization and separate entity the Trump Payroll Corp. were found guilty on all counts, marking the first time the companies had ever been convicted of crimes.
“This was a case about greed and cheating,” said Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who prosecuted the case.
Trump himself was not charged but the fact the sprawling real-estate, hotel and golf business that bears his name is now a convicted felon is likely to inflict damage to his reputation as he seeks the Republican nomination for the presidency in 2024.
The two entities were convicted of running a 13-year-scheme to defraud and evade taxes by falsifying business records. In all, they were found guilty on 17 counts.
Jurors agreed with prosecutors that the Trump Organization — currently run by Trump’s two adult sons, Donald Jr and Eric Trump — hid compensation it paid to top executives between 2005 and 2021.
Longtime CFO Allen Weisselberg, had already pleaded guilty to 15 counts of tax fraud, and testified against his former company as part of a plea bargain. He did not implicate Trump during the trial.
A close friend of the Trump family, the 75-year-old Weisselberg admitted he schemed with the company to receive undeclared benefits such as a rent-free apartment in a posh Manhattan neighborhood, luxury cars for him and his wife and private school tuition for his grandchildren.
According to his plea deal, Weisselberg agreed to pay nearly $2 million in fines and penalties and complete a five-month prison sentence in exchange for testimony during the trial, which started in October.
Trump, posting on his social media platform, said the Trump Organization bore no responsibility for “Weisselberg committing tax fraud on his personal tax returns.”
Under the headline “Manhattan Witch Hunt!” Trump said no benefit accrued to the company from Weisselberg’s actions, and that neither he nor any employees were “allowed to legally view” the CFO’s returns.
Trump said he was “disappointed with the verdict” and will appeal.

Trump’s company faces a fine of around $1.5 million, a paltry sum to the billionaire real estate developer.
It’s symbolic though as he battles a host of legal and congressional probes that will likely complicate his run for a second presidential term, announced in Florida last month.
Trump and his three eldest children face a trial late next year in a civil lawsuit by New York’s attorney general that accuses them of misstating the value of properties to enrich themselves.
Prosecutor Letitia James has requested that Trump pay at least $250 million in penalties — a sum she says he made from the fraud — and that his family be banned from running businesses in the state.
James, a Democrat, hailed Tuesday’s verdict.
“We can have no tolerance for individuals or organizations that violate our laws to line their pockets,” she said.
Trump has been ordered to testify in April 2023 as part of a defamation lawsuit brought by a woman who says he raped her in the 1990s.
He is also facing legal scrutiny for his efforts to overturn the results of the November 2020 election and over the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol by his supporters.
 

 


India, Central Asian countries discuss concerns over ‘terrorist acts’ in Afghanistan

Ajit Doval. (AFP)
Ajit Doval. (AFP)
Updated 06 December 2022

India, Central Asian countries discuss concerns over ‘terrorist acts’ in Afghanistan

Ajit Doval. (AFP)
  • Security chiefs say ‘collective response’ essential
  • Afghanistan an ‘important issue,’ India’s national security adviser says

NEW DELHI: India and four Central Asian nations said on Tuesday that Afghanistan should not be used for “any terrorist acts," following an inaugural security meeting focused on countering terrorism and maintaining stability in the region.

India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval hosted his counterparts from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan in New Delhi, which followed an India-Central Asia leadership summit led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in January.

Afghanistan was top of the agenda on Tuesday — similar to the summit focus earlier this year — as officials raised concerns about the developing situation in the crisis-torn nation.

“Afghanistan is an important issue concerning us all,” Doval said. “We meet at a time when great churns in international relations and uncertainty about the future.”

India has no diplomatic ties with Afghanistan and closed its embassy in Kabul in August last year after US-led forces left the country and the Taliban took over.

New Delhi had spent billions of dollars on infrastructure and humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan after the previous Taliban regime was toppled in a US-led invasion in 2001.

A joint declaration issued after Tuesday’s talks “emphasized that the territory of Afghanistan should not be used for sheltering, training, planning or financing any terrorist acts.”

India and the Central Asian countries, which in this meeting had not included Turkmenistan, also pointed to the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Afghanistan and called for action to provide humanitarian assistance for its people.

Their security chiefs also discussed connectivity to enhance trade and improve closer interaction. In addition, a “collective and coordinated response” to address the issue of “terrorist propaganda, recruitment and fundraising efforts” was essential, the statement reads.

The United Nations said last month that organized crime and terrorist organizations “are thriving once again” in Afghanistan. There have been several high-profile attacks in Kabul in recent months claimed by the regional branch of Daesh, including a suicide blast outside the Russian embassy in September and an attack on the Pakistan embassy last week.

The regional meeting was an opportunity for India to “work together and engage” with the Central Asian nations to ensure that “sources of financing groups are curtailed and that “the Taliban government in Kabul is under pressure to perform on this issue,” Harsh V. Pant, head of strategic studies at the New Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation, told Arab News.

“What is happening in Afghanistan and the persistence of terrorism, terror groups there pose a long-term challenge to the region and India therefore is trying to work out modus vivendi for Central Asian countries to see if a common policy response can be initiated.”

 

 


Regime in Tehran ‘terrified’ of opposition figures inside Iran, abroad: PMOI spokesperson

Regime in Tehran ‘terrified’ of opposition figures inside Iran, abroad: PMOI spokesperson
Updated 06 December 2022

Regime in Tehran ‘terrified’ of opposition figures inside Iran, abroad: PMOI spokesperson

Regime in Tehran ‘terrified’ of opposition figures inside Iran, abroad: PMOI spokesperson
  • Regime in Tehran “from Ali Khamenei down, top to bottom” wants to “scare and silence” PMOI operatives behind ongoing protests rocking the country

LONDON: A fire at the London office of an Iranian opposition group is proof the regime in Iran is “terrified” of its opponents both inside and outside the country, according to a spokesperson for the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran Organization.

The blaze started in a shed next to the PMOI offices in Cricklewood, northwest London, during the early hours of Monday morning, police confirmed.

The London Fire Brigade also said it sent three engines after being called to a fire at 2:15 a.m. with firefighters finding the ground-floor bin room destroyed. The service said that no injuries were reported.

Metropolitan Police Detective Superintendent Tony Bellis ruled out the fire being a targeted attack or caused by terror-related motives, but did say the incident was being investigated with the help of the Met’s Counter-Terrorism Command “due to the location of the incident and the organization based at the adjacent premises.”

However, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, of which the PMOI is a member, issued a statement accusing the Iranian regime of being behind the attack.

Hossein Abedini, the deputy director of the UK office of the Parliament in exile of the NCRI, said: “State terrorism is in the DNA of the clerical regime.”

He added: “With the rise and continuation of the nationwide uprising of the Iranian people to overthrow the mullahs, which has continued for 80 days despite brutal repression, the clerical regime has resorted to more terrorism and threats against the Iranian opposition to compensate for its critical situation and to boost the morale to its demoralized forces.”

Aware that the PMOI is the most organized and efficient opposition force within Iran and runs highly effective campaigns abroad, the regime in Tehran “from Ali Khamenei down, top to bottom” wants to “scare and silence” PMOI operatives behind ongoing protests rocking the country, spokeswoman Laila Jazaeri told Arab News.

“They are definitely terrified, because Khamenei has no solutions (to the unrest) inside Iran,” she said. “They are using live ammunition, (we’ve seen) 700 deaths, 30,000 arrests, only in the past five days 13 people were executed including a woman.”

She added that the regime also fears a new generation of Iranian protesters active in this year’s unrest who have “no fear” and are “not going to go back home until the regime is gone.”

The fire comes shortly after the head of MI5, Britain’s domestic intelligence agency, recently said security services had foiled more than a dozen planned attacks by Tehran on people who are considered “enemies of the regime” based in the UK.

“The (Iranian) regime hasn’t been able to suppress the protests inside the country, and now it is exporting its terrorism and suppression outside Iranian borders,” Jazaeri said, adding that she had been warned by police about threats to her own safety.

The NCRI’s Abedini said it was time that governments and authorities pushed for Iranian embassies to be shut down.

“The time has come for a decisive response. It is time for the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps to be proscribed as a terrorist entity in its entirety and the embassies of the clerical regime, which are the centers of terror and espionage, be closed immediately,” he added.

Jazaeri, echoing Abedini’s statement, told Arab News that the PMOI in the UK had been pushing for the closure of Tehran’s embassy in London.

“We’ve been putting pressure on (authorities) for the shutting down of the Iranian Embassy, trying to tell them that it is merely an espionage house, where they recruit terrorists and carry out money-laundering. It should be closed down,” she said.

The London-based Persian-language TV channel Iran International is also under increased police protection after receiving threats, which it blames on Tehran, for its coverage of the protests sparked by the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini.

* With AFP


Indonesia’s new criminal code raises concerns

Indonesia’s new criminal code raises concerns
Updated 06 December 2022

Indonesia’s new criminal code raises concerns

Indonesia’s new criminal code raises concerns
  • New criminal code was approved unanimously by Indonesian lawmakers
  • It replaces a framework that stretches back to the Dutch colonial era

JAKARTA: Indonesian lawmakers passed on Tuesday a long-awaited revision of the country’s criminal code, a sweeping overhaul that critics say is a huge setback to human rights and freedom of expression in the Southeast Asian nation. 

The new rules were approved unanimously by Indonesia’s House of Representatives, three years after a similar draft law was shelved by President Joko Widodo following large-scale protests involving tens of thousands of young people, who had argued that the law threatened their civil liberties. 

The new penal code, which also applies to foreigners in the country, restores a ban on insulting the president, state institutions or Indonesia’s national ideology known as Pancasila. 

“We have tried our best to accommodate the important issues and different opinions which were debated,” Yasonna Laoly, the minister of law and human rights, told parliament. “However, it is time for us to make a historical decision on the penal code amendment and to leave the colonial criminal code we inherited behind.”

A revision to the criminal code, which stretches back to the Dutch colonial area, had languished for decades as lawmakers in the world’s biggest Muslim-majority nation struggled to adapt its native culture and norms to the penal code. 

The new criminal code must be signed by the president after ratification and will not apply immediately to allow for the drafting of implementing regulations, with a transition period set for a maximum of three years. It can also be challenged in the Constitutional Court. 

The new laws, critics say, will curb free speech, including mandatory police permit for public protests, without which protesters can be punished for up to six months in jail. 

“This criminal code is still thick with colonial aroma, and there are many articles threatening civil liberties and limiting democratic spaces,” Tunggal Pawestri, gender rights activist and executive director of Hivos Foundation, told Arab News. 

Pawestri acknowledged that there has been some progress since the nationwide protests in 2019, when opponents of the bill said the law-making process had lacked transparency and contained articles that discriminated against minorities. 

“Even though they said they were open and tried to include input from the larger civil society, we think this was not their best attempt,” Pawestri added. “We have been shouting and giving our input, but it’s almost as if they didn’t listen to us.” 

Editorials in national newspapers decried the new laws, including daily newspaper Koran Tempo, saying the code has “authoritarian” tones and could be a “disaster” in the future. 

Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia Division, said the new legal provisions were “oppressive,” as they open doors to “invasions of privacy and selective enforcement that will enable police to extort bribes and officials to harass and jail political opponents. 

“In one fell swoop, Indonesia’s human rights situation has taken a drastic turn for the worse,” Robertson told Arab News. 

“Make no mistake, passage of this criminal code is the beginning of an unmitigated disaster for human rights in Indonesia. Lawmakers and the government should immediately reconsider this move, repeal this law and send it back to the drawing board.”


Zelensky visits Donbas near ‘difficult’ Ukraine front

Zelensky visits Donbas near ‘difficult’ Ukraine front
Updated 06 December 2022

Zelensky visits Donbas near ‘difficult’ Ukraine front

Zelensky visits Donbas near ‘difficult’ Ukraine front
  • The focus of fighting in Ukraine has shifted to Donbas after Kyiv's forces recaptured the southern city of Kherson
  • Zelensky appeared in a video wearing a heavy winter coat, standing next to a large sign in Ukraine's blue and yellow colours bearing the city name Sloviansk

KYIV: President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday visited the frontline region of Donetsk in east Ukraine, describing fighting in the area as “difficult” with Russian forces pushing to capture the industrial city of Bakhmut.
The visit came as Russian President Vladimir Putin convened his security council in the wake of the latest spate of drone attacks on military-linked facilities inside Russian territory.
The focus of fighting in Ukraine has shifted to Donbas after Kyiv’s forces recaptured the southern city of Kherson last month following a Russian retreat from the regional capital.
Zelensky appeared in a video wearing a heavy winter coat, standing next to a large sign in Ukraine’s blue and yellow colors bearing the city name Sloviansk and calling for a moment of silence to commemorate killed Ukrainian soldiers.
“The east of Ukraine today is the most difficult front. And I am honored to be here now with our defending troops in Donbas. I believe that next time we will meet in our Ukrainian Donetsk and Lugansk and in Crimea as well,” Zelensky said.
Russian forces and their proxies have controlled parts of Donetsk and Lugansk since 2014, when fighting with separatists broke out and the Kremlin annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine.
“From the bottom of my heart, I congratulate you on this great holiday, the Day of the Armed Forces,” said Zelensky, who was later shown meeting soldiers and distributing awards.
In the nearby Russian-controlled city of Donetsk, its Moscow-appointed mayor said that Ukrainian shelling had killed six civilians and injured others.
The Ukrainian leader has visited several frontline regions after more than nine months of fighting, including Kherson in the south recently recaptured by Ukrainian forces, calling its recapture “the beginning of the end of the war.”
Sloviansk, which was among regions in Donetsk briefly held by Russian-backed separatists, lies some 45 kilometers (28 miles) north of Bakhmut, which has become the center of fighting since Kherson’s fall.
The Kremlin said Putin met senior officials to discuss issues related to the country’s “domestic security” and that Russia was taking “necessary” measures to fend off more of what it said were Ukrainian attacks.
Officials in Russia’s Kursk region near the border with Ukraine said earlier Tuesday that a drone attack near an airfield had caused a fire at an oil storage unit.
That attack came after the defense ministry said a day earlier that Ukraine had tried to attack another airfield in Ryazan region and also the key Engels airfield in the Saratov region.
Engels is a base for the country’s strategic aircraft that Kyiv says have been used to strike Ukraine, and both sites are hundreds of kilometers away from Ukraine’s border.
The British defense ministry said that if Russia deems Ukraine to have been responsible then Moscow will “probably consider them as some of the most strategically significant failures of force protection since its invasion of Ukraine.”
The drone attacks come on the back of weeks of systematic Russian attacks that have crippled Ukrainian critical infrastructure like water, electricity and heating ahead of winter.
Russia on Monday fired another barrage of dozens of missiles that knocked out power and water in cities across Ukraine, the latest wave of attacks that Moscow has said Kyiv was responsible for because it refused Russian demands.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Tuesday said that Russian forces were using long-range, precision weapons to target military-linked facilities and “crush the military potential of Ukraine.”
The defense ministry also announced Tuesday it had received back from Ukraine captivity 60 Russian servicemen in their most recent exchange.
Russia’s invasion and its decision to conscript hundreds of thousands of men has set off an exodus of Russians from the country, including critical politicians and journalists.
However, neighboring Latvia announced Tuesday it was revoking the license for exiled independent TV channel Dozhd for multiple violations that included showing the Crimea peninsula annexed from Ukraine as part of Russia.
“The laws of Latvia must be respected by everyone,” Ivars Abolins, head of the Latvian National Electronic Mass Media Council, said on Twitter.