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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Ukrainian President Warns West to Keep Out

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich said on Thursday that foreign politicians should stop encouraging further pro-EU protests in the country, warning that no other government should attempt to meddle in Ukrainian affairs. “It is very important. This is our international matter. And let some countries not meddle in our international affairs and not believe that they can be bosses here — whether on the Maidan or not. I am categorically against having someone come here and teach us how to live”, said the president during his first live interview on television since the protests began. His opponents see the recent economic deal with Russia, where Ukraine’s neighbours will buy some of her debt and supply gas at a heavily discounted price, as a sellout to the Kremlin. “Here in the signed documents there is no contradiction between Ukraine’s course and whatever kind of integration”, said Yanukovich.

South Sudanese Rebels Take Over Town

Anti-government soldiers that have refused to accept President Salva Kiir’s calls for peace talks with African Union mediation have taken control of the South Sudanese town of Bor. “Our soldiers have lost control of Bor to the force of Riek Machar late on Wednesday. There was shooting last night. We don’t have information on casualties or the displaced in the town, as operations are ongoing”, said army spokesman Philip Aguer, referring to soldiers loyal to former vice president Machar. The situation in the capital, Juba, is said to be tense but calm. “Most people are scared they might be confronted with a mob or see dead bodies”, said an aid worker in the city.

Putin Reveals Khodorkovsky Pardon

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that he will soon pardon jailed former tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, former owner of the Yukos oil conglomerate. While Putin suggested that Khodorkovsky had sought his clemency, his team of lawyers were reportedly stunned by the revelation made during a four-hour press conference at the Kremlin. “[Khodorkovsky] cites humanitarian reasons”. I have already spoken about this. Mikhail Borisovich [Khodorkovsky] should in line with the law have written the necessary document, which he didn’t do, but just recently he wrote this document and addressed me with an appeal for clemency”, said the Russian president. He said his pardon would be expedited in light of Khodorkovsky’s mother’s illness. The former oil tycoon always maintained that his convictions for tax fraud and evasion were retribution for his support of parties opposed to the government.

UK ‘Inappropriately Involved’ in Renditions

Retired judge Sir Peter Gibson has told the BBC, after reviewing 20,000 top secret documents, that “the United Kingdom may have been inappropriately involved in some renditions” in the wake of 9/11. Sir Peter’s report on the matter, a preparatory document for a full inquiry on the detentions made by MI5 and MI6 after the attacks on the US in 2011, details 27 issues he feels should be examined further, including whether UK officers knew that “inappropriate interrogation techniques or detention conditions” were applied to detainees or if there was “sufficient consideration given to the legality of detainees’ detention”. Minister without portfolio Ken Clark said an investigation would be held on the questions highlighted by Sir Peter, but also stressed that “the period of time was one in which we and our international partners were suddenly adapting to a completely new scale and type of threat from fundamentalist, religious extremists”.

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