Deadly new strike as Ukraine mourns dozens killed at wake

Rescues remove debris at a site of buildings of a local cafe and a grocery store, where at least 52 people were killed by a Russian missile strike, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in the village of Hroza, in Kharkiv region, on Oct. 6, 2023. (Reuters)
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Updated 06 October 2023
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Deadly new strike as Ukraine mourns dozens killed at wake

  • Multiple-story buildings surrounding the debris-strewn blast site were scarred by the impact of two cruise missiles
  • President Volodymyr Zelensky said the attack had killed a 10-year-old boy and described the strikes as another example of “Russian terror”

KHARKIV, Ukraine: A 10-year-old and his grandmother were killed on Friday when Russian missiles smashed into Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine, just hours after another attack left dozens dead at a wake in a nearby village.
Rescue workers in Kharkiv were extinguishing fires next to charred vehicles, and twisted missile fragments lay in a deep crater in the center of the city, an AFP journalist at the scene said.
Multiple-story buildings surrounding the debris-strewn blast site were scarred by the impact of two cruise missiles, with dozens of windows blown out. Dazed residents walked beneath the skeletal housing blocks.
President Volodymyr Zelensky said the attack had killed a 10-year-old boy and described the strikes as another example of “Russian terror” in a statement offering condolences to the child’s family.
Kharkiv regional governor Oleg Synegubov said later that municipal workers had retrieved another body.
“Rescue workers found the body of a 68-year-old woman — the grandmother of the killed 10-year-old boy and his injured 11-month-old brother,” he said.
Another 28 people had been wounded, he added.
In an earlier statement, Synegubov described how two Russian missiles had landed in the city. One hit a road in the center of the city; the other slammed into a three-story building, causing a fire that sent plumes of black smoke into the sky.
Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city that lies in a region bordering Russia, has been under persistent Russian shelling since Moscow’s forces invaded in February last year.
The strikes there came as Synegubov updated the death toll from Thursday’s missile strike on a village in the Kharkiv region that had killed dozens of people less than 24 hours earlier.
“Fifty-two people have died as a result of this missile attack because one more person died in a medical facility,” Synegubov told state-run television, raising the toll by one.
The Kremlin, responding to questions from reporters on the village strike, again insisted that Russian forces do not target civilians in Ukraine.
“Strikes are carried out on military targets, on places where military personnel are concentrated,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists.
Those killed in the village of Groza had gathered at a cafe for the wake for a fallen Ukrainian soldier.
The strike provoked outrage from Western leaders while the United Nations said the attack could amount to war crime.
The soldier being commemorated was killed a month after Russia invaded in February last year. He had been buried in the central city of Dnipro — away from his home village, which was then under Russian occupation.
He was reburied in Groza on Thursday morning. His wife and son, also a soldier, were both killed in the strike, officials said.
Around 20 rescuers from Kharkiv city were cleaning the rubble from the destroyed cafe and nearby shop on Friday morning.
Oleksiy and some of his family came to the cemetery to mark out graves for his sister and brother-in-law killed in the attack — their bodies had been taken by police to Kharkiv.
“I don’t know when we will be able to bury them,” he told AFP. “My brother’s body was preserved, but his wife’s head was missing.”
Nearby in the cemetery, a recently dug grave was covered with fresh flowers and a Ukrainian flag. It was the grave of 49-year-old Andriy Kozir, the soldier that villagers had gathered to pay hommage to when a missile hit their cafe.
“Everyone at the wake died,” said 73-year-old Valentyna Koziyenko, who lived opposite the destroyed cafe.
“The strike happened just after people went in,” she told AFP, adding that the blast from the strike had torn the roof off her building.
“How did the Russians know that so many people were in there?” said Koziyenko. “Maybe someone told them.”
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Friday described the Kharkiv attacks as “atrocities” that “prove that global support for Ukraine must be sustained and increased.”
Swathes of the Kharkiv region were captured by Russian forces in the early days of their invasion, launched in late February 2022.
Ukrainian forces clawed back much of that territory in a lightning offensive late last year.


US ‘incredibly’ concerned by Putin threat to send N.Korea weapons

Updated 4 sec ago
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US ‘incredibly’ concerned by Putin threat to send N.Korea weapons

  • The threat “is incredibly concerning,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters

WASHINGTON: The United States expressed deep concern Thursday over Russian President Vladimir Putin’s threat to supply North Korea with weapons, warning such a move would “destabilize” the Korean peninsula.
Putin, during a rare visit to Pyongyang, signed a mutual defense pact on Wednesday with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who pledged his country’s “full support” for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Speaking on Thursday in Vietnam, Putin said Moscow would not rule out sending weapons to Pyongyang, calling it repercussions for the West supplying Ukraine.
The threat “is incredibly concerning,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters.
“It would destabilize the Korean peninsula, potentially, depending on the type of weapons, and might violate UN Security Council resolutions that Russia itself has supported,” Miller said.
Washington and its allies have previously accused North Korea of supplying Russia with missiles and artillery that it has used to attack Ukraine.
Putin warned Seoul on Thursday not to supply Ukraine with weapons, after South Korea said it was reconsidering its current ban.
Seoul has a longstanding policy that bars it from selling weapons into active conflict zones, which it has stuck to despite calls from Washington and Kyiv to reconsider.
Miller said such a decision was “for every country to make in terms of whether they’re going to supply weapons to Ukraine.”
“We welcome any support for Ukraine in its fight against Russian aggression,” he added.
 

 


Death of Indian laborer highlights plight of farm workers in Italy

Young Sikh migrant workers walk on a street in the Agro Pontino area, south of Rome. Picture taken May 19, 2019 (REUTERS)
Updated 42 sec ago
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Death of Indian laborer highlights plight of farm workers in Italy

  • “These are inhumane acts that do not belong to the Italian people, and I hope that this barbarity will be punished harshly,” Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said, in comments relayed by her office

ROME: The death of an Indian farm laborer in a gruesome accident in which his right arm was severed by machinery has put a spotlight the conditions of migrant agricultural workers in Italy, whom trade unions say are often employed illegally and exploited.
Satnam Singh, 31, died in a hospital in Rome on Wednesday, two days after being injured while working in a melon greenhouse in the Agro Pontino, a rural area south of the capital.
According to media reports, Singh was left outside his home after suffering injuries to his arm and legs, with his severed limb placed in a fruit crate.
“We heard shouting outside, the guy’s wife threw herself at me saying, ‘call an ambulance, call an ambulance’,” a neighbor told RAI public television.
Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni deplored the tragedy as she chaired a cabinet meeting on Thursday.
“These are inhumane acts that do not belong to the Italian people, and I hope that this barbarity will be punished harshly,” she said, in comments relayed by her office.
The owner of the farm, Renzo Lovato, expressed his sorrow over the accident, but said Singh had been warned not to get close to the machine that injured him.
“The worker did it his own way. It was carelessness, unfortunately,” Lovato told RAI.
An investigation into Lovato’s son, who allegedly left Singh outside his home, has been opened over potential charges of manslaughter and failure to assist a person in danger, the lead prosecutor in the case, Giuseppe De Falco, said in an email.
“He spontaneously went to the judicial police an hour after the events, as any decent person would do,” Lovato’s family lawyer told Reuters. He added that his client was waiting for the charges to be formalized to defend himself.
Responding to the allegation that Singh had been abandoned without calling an ambulance, the lawyer, Valerio Righi, said: “You will see during the proceedings that maybe help was called sooner than people think.”
Some politicians and trade unions said the tragedy highlighted the broader issue of “caporalato,” the illegal gangmaster system of hiring migrant workers common in the Agro Pontino and other parts of Italy.
Righi declined to comment on reports that Singh and his wife were employed illegally. Other details of the conditions in which he worked were unclear.
Maria Grazia Gabrielli, from Italy’s largest trade union Cgil, decried an “event of unprecedented brutality,” linking it to what she said were slave-like conditions endured by many farm hands.
“Exploitation in the fields very often results in starvation wages, unsafe and inhuman working rhythms and conditions, psychological and physical violence,” she said in a statement.
According to 2021 data from national statistics office Istat, about 11 percent of Italian workers were employed illegally, rising to more than 23 percent in agriculture.
The Lazio region, which includes the Agro Pontino, offered to cover Singh’s funeral costs.
Agriculture Minister Francesco Lollobrigida, responding to the furor over Singh’s death, said the government was “first in line on all fronts to counter any form of exploitation at work.” 

 


Russia fires deputy defense minister jailed on bribery charges and extends his arrest

Updated 29 min 32 sec ago
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Russia fires deputy defense minister jailed on bribery charges and extends his arrest

  • Timur Ivanov, 48, is one of several senior military officers arrested on corruption charges in recent months
  • Ivanov, arrested in April, was charged with taking an especially large bribe

MOSCOW: Russian authorities have formally dismissed a deputy defense minister jailed on bribery charges and accused by Kremlin critics of living a lavish lifestyle, Russian media reported Thursday. A court ordered that his pre-trial detention be extended for three more months.
Timur Ivanov, 48, is one of several senior military officers arrested on corruption charges in recent months. He was a close associate of Sergei Shoigu, whom President Vladimir Putin replaced as defense minister last month.
Ivanov, arrested in April, was charged with taking an especially large bribe. His lawyers said he maintains his innocence. The Basmanny District Court in Moscow on Thursday extended his detention pending investigation and trial until at least Sept. 23. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison.
Russian media, citing an online registry of government officials, said Thursday that Ivanov was dismissed from his post. His lawyer Denis Baluyev confirmed the dismissal in comments to Russian business news site RBK. It wasn’t immediately clear from the reports when exactly Ivanov was fired.
Other top military officials arrested in recent months include deputy chief of the Russian military general staff Lt. Gen. Vadim Shamarin; Gen. Ivan Popov, a former top commander in Russia’s offensive in Ukraine; and Lt. Gen. Yury Kuznetsov, head of the Defense Ministry’s personnel directorate. All three have been accused of bribery.
According to the Defense Ministry’s website, Ivanov was appointed in 2016 by a presidential decree. He oversaw property management, housing and medical support for the military, as well as construction projects.
Ivanov’s arrest came nearly a month after Putin called on the Federal Security Service to “keep up a systemic anti-corruption effort” and pay special attention to state defense procurement.
Russian media reported that Ivanov oversaw some of the construction in Mariupol — a Ukrainian port city that was devastated by bombardment and occupied by Russian forces early in the war. Ivanov has been sanctioned by both the United States and European Union.
Zvezda, the official TV channel of the Russian military, reported in summer 2022 that the ministry was building an entire residential block in Mariupol and showed Ivanov inspecting construction sites and newly erected residential buildings.
That same year, the team of the late Alexei Navalny, Russia’s most prominent opposition leader and anti-corruption campaigner, alleged Ivanov and his family had been enjoying luxurious trips abroad, lavish parties and owning elite real estate.
The activists also alleged that Ivanov’s wife, Svetlana, divorced him in 2022 to avoid sanctions and continued living a lavish lifestyle.


Italian coast guard recovers 12 more bodies of shipwreck victims in the Ionian Sea

Updated 20 June 2024
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Italian coast guard recovers 12 more bodies of shipwreck victims in the Ionian Sea

  • The deaths bring to more than 800 people who have died or went missing and are presumed dead crossing the central Mediterranean so far this year

MILAN: The Italian coast guard on Thursday recovered 12 more bodies from a weekend shipwreck in the Ionian Sea off the southern Italian coastline, bringing to 20 the number of known victims from the sinking. Dozens more are missing and presumed dead.
The bodies, including women and children, were being transferred to a port in Calabria. Two more coast guard ships were on their way to join the air-and-sea search, some 190 kilometers (120 miles) from shore.
Survivors reported that the boat motor had caught fire, causing it to capsize off the Italian coast overnight Sunday about eight days after departing from Turkiye with about 75 people from Iran, Syria and Iraq on board, according to the UN refugee agency and other UN organizations. Eleven survivors were being treated on shore.
The deaths bring to more than 800 people who have died or went missing and are presumed dead crossing the central Mediterranean so far this year, an average of five dead a day, the UN agencies said.
Humanitarian groups have decried the deaths as evidence of the failure of European migration policy.


Zelensky calls for measures to preserve Ukraine’s energy system

Updated 20 June 2024
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Zelensky calls for measures to preserve Ukraine’s energy system

  • “Life in Ukraine must be preserved and that includes in particular energy security,” Zelensky said
  • Drone and missile strikes have knocked out half of energy generating capacity since March

KYIV: President Volodymyr Zelensky announced on Thursday a set of measures to protect Ukraine’s energy system, including protection for plants coming under Russian fire and the development of alternative renewable energy sources.
“Life in Ukraine must be preserved and that includes in particular energy security,” Zelensky said in his nightly video address.
Russia pounded Ukraine’s energy system in the first winter of the war, launched in February 2022, and renewed its assault on energy targets last March as Ukraine was running low on stocks of Western air defense missiles.
Drone and missile strikes have knocked out half of energy generating capacity since March, according to official accounts.
Attacks overnight on Thursday hit four regions and cut power to more than 218,000 consumers, the Energy Ministry said.
Zelensky outlined plans to minimize the effects of such attacks, including a program of developing solar energy and energy storage facilities and a schedule for critical infrastructure sites to come up with alternative energy sources.
The work, he said, must be completed before winter and the increased energy demand associated with the change in seasons.
Zelensky said the government would “continue to work on creating new energy generation and new decentralized energy capacities.” Also planned was “the construction of new balanced and manoeuvrable capacities for energy.”
“This process is quite challenging in wartime conditions, but we must implement it just as we have already implemented many difficulty projects,” he said.
And work was proceeding, Zelensky said, on measures to protect existing energy sites.
Russia says energy infrastructure is a legitimate military target and denies targeting civilians or civilian infrastructure.