Agencies: Belarus and Russia Will Respond to External Threats, Lukashenko Tells Pompeo

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko told U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a phone call on Saturday that Belarus and Russia were ready to respond jointly to external threats, Russian agencies quoted Belarus state media as saying.Lukashenko, who is holding on to power despite major protests in recent weeks calling for him to resign, is facing the prospect of a national strike that could begin on Monday following an ultimatum set by opposition leaders.Lukashenko has shown no sign he will heed the ultimatum and step down. Protests against his 26-year rule began following an Aug. 9 election victory his opponents say was rigged.Lukashenko had sought to mend fences with the West in recent years and Pompeo had traveled to Belarus in February in a bid to “normalize” ties. But the crisis after the disputed election pushed Lukashenko back closer to traditional ally Russia.A U.S. State Department spokesperson confirmed Pompeo’s call on Saturday. “The Secretary called for the full release and immediate departure from Belarus of wrongfully detained U.S. citizen Vitali Shkliarov and reaffirmed U.S. support for the democratic aspirations of the people of Belarus,” the spokesperson said in a statement.Washington has imposed sanctions on Belarus officials following violent crackdowns at demonstrations in Minsk and across the country.Protesters shouting slogans and waving red-and-white opposition flags marched through the streets of Minsk on Saturday, footage taken by local media showed.”Russia does not interfere in the internal affairs of Belarus. At the same time, the countries are ready to jointly respond to emerging external threats,” Russia’s Interfax news agency cited Belarus state television as saying, describing the call.”By mutual opinion, after Pompeo’s February visit to Minsk, the situation has changed dramatically, new challenges have arisen and are emerging,” Interfax cited Belarusian state television as saying.

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Europe, US Watch COVID Case Totals Grow, Debate New Restrictions

Confirmed coronavirus infections continued to soar Saturday in many parts of the U.S. and Europe. In some cases, so did anger over the restrictions governments put in place to try to stem the tide.Oklahoma, Illinois, New Mexico and Michigan were among states announcing new record highs in daily confirmed cases Saturday, a day after a nationwide daily record of more than 83,000 reported infections, according to Johns Hopkins University.Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan’s chief medical executive, said it’s “now more important than ever that people take this seriously.” The 3,338 new COVID-19 cases in her state topped the old record by more than 1,300.German authorities reported a record one-day total of new coronavirus cases this weekend while leaders in Spain and Italy debated how to control the resurgent virus amid public pushback to curfews despite a global death toll topping 1.1 million.In Italy, officials huddled with regional authorities on Saturday to determine what new restrictions could be imposed as confirmed cases surpassed half a million.Premier Giuseppe Conte has said he doesn’t want to put Italy under severe lockdown again, as he did at the pandemic’s start. In past days, several governors ordered overnight curfews in their regions to stop people from congregating at night outside bars and other venues.One such curfew fueled anger in Naples, triggering a violent clash by protesters with police. Italian media said protesters hurled rocks, pieces of broken ceramic tiles and smoke bombs at police while they battled back with tear gas. Elsewhere in Europe, police in Warsaw, Poland, used tear gas and pepper spray to disperse protesters angry over new virus restrictions, and anti-lockdown demonstrators gathered in London’s Trafalgar Square.Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese on Saturday branded the Naples protests “unacceptable” and said prosecutors were investigating.According to Health Ministry figures, Italy’s one-day new caseload of confirmed infections crept closer to 20,000 on Saturday, a slightly bigger daily increase than Friday. The nation’s confirmed death toll, second-highest in Europe after Britain’s, rose to 37,210 after 151 more deaths.Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez plans to meet with his Cabinet on Sunday morning in Madrid to prepare a new state of emergency, a strategy used twice since the start of the pandemic.The first in March ordered strict home confinement across the nation, closed stores, and recruited private industry for the national public health fight. The second went into effect two weeks ago, focused on transit limits in the Madrid area.In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel urged citizens again to reduce their number of social contacts as the nation recorded a new daily high for infections.The 14,714 cases reported on Saturday includes cases from both Friday and Thursday because of a three-hour data outage at the country’s disease control agency Thursday. Forty-nine more people died, bringing the overall death toll past 10,000.The chancellor said in her weekly podcast “if we all obey (to social distancing) we will all together survive this enormous challenge posed by the virus.”Other European countries have tightened restrictions hoping to cope with their own rising case counts.Slovenia closed down hotels, shopping malls and other nonessential shops as authorities reported a record high of both new daily infections and deaths in the small country of 2 million people. Greece unveiled a mask requirement and a mandatory nightly curfew for Athens and other areas deemed high risk.In South America, Colombia became the eighth country to reach 1 million confirmed coronavirus cases on Saturday, according to the Colombian Ministry of Health. Two of the others are also in Latin America: Argentina, which hit that mark on Monday, and Brazil, which has more than 5 million confirmed cases.In the U.S., the virus has claimed about 240,000 lives, according to the COVID-19 Dashboard published by Johns Hopkins. The total U.S. caseload reported Friday was 83,757, topping the 77,362 cases reported on July 16.Many rural communities are bearing the brunt. In Columbia, Tennessee, Maury Regional Medical Center said Friday it was suspending elective surgical procedures that require an overnight stay for two weeks, beginning on Monday. The Daily Herald reported that it was treating 50 COVID-19 inpatients, 20 of whom were in the medical center’s 26-bed intensive care unit.Martin Chaney, Maury Regional’s chief medical officer, said small home gatherings have become the emerging threat through which the disease is being spread in the six-county region the medical center covers.”In our homes, we all let our guard down,” Chaney said. “You think it is safe to not socially distance, and you take your masks off. That is spreading the disease very rapidly.”

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US Mission in Turkey Warns Americans of Possible Terrorist Attacks

U.S. officials in Turkey have warned Americans in the country of possible terror attacks in Istanbul and other areas within the country.
In a security alert issued Friday, the mission said it received “credible reports of potential terrorist attacks and kidnappings against U.S. citizens and foreign nationals in Istanbul, including against the U.S. Consulate General, as well as potentially other locations in Turkey.”
The mission warned U.S. citizens to exercise extra caution in large office buildings, shopping malls and in other places where Americans and other foreigners may gather.
Visa and other services for Americans provided at the mission’s facilities in Turkey have been suspended, the mission said.
The U.S. State Department said Saturday the alert was issued “as a result of ongoing assessments of security conditions” in the country but did not disclose specifics about what prompted the alert.
The alert followed recent U.S. air strikes against al-Qaida forces in Syria, including a strike on Thursday where senior leaders of the terrorist group were said to be meeting.
“[Al-Qaida in Syria] takes advantage of the instability in northwest Syria to establish and maintain safe havens to coordinate activities,” the U.S. military’s Central Command warned in a statement.
Syria’s Idlib province is the last rebel stronghold in the country after a decade of war. Opposition forces that include jihadist fighters continue to repel attacks by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad with assistance from Turkey’s military.

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IOC Chief Bach Says Olympics Cannot Be ‘Marketplace of Demonstrations’

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach said the Olympic Games are not about politics and must guard against becoming a “marketplace of demonstrations.”
Against the backdrop of the Black Lives Matter movement to protest racial injustice, calls have increased this year for a change to Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter, which bans any form political protest during the Games.
World Athletics chief Sebastian Coe said earlier this month he believes athletes should have the right to make gestures of political protest during the Games, contrary to official IOC policy.
“The Olympic Games are firstly about sport. The athletes personify the values of excellence, solidarity and peace,” Bach wrote in The Guardian.
“They express this inclusiveness and mutual respect also by being politically neutral on the field of play and during the ceremonies. At times this focus on sport needs to be reconciled with the freedom of speech all athletes also enjoy at the Games.
“The unifying power of the Games can only unfold if everyone shows respect for and solidarity to one another. Otherwise, the Games will descend into a marketplace of demonstrations of all kinds, dividing and not uniting the world.”
Bach said he experienced the “political impotence” of sport when West Germany was among several countries to boycott the 1980 Moscow Games.
“As chair of the West German athletes’ commission I strongly opposed this boycott because it punished us for something we had nothing to do with – the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet army,” Bach, the winner of team fencing gold at Montreal 1976, wrote.
“It’s no consolation that we were ultimately proven right that this boycott not only punished the wrong ones, but that it also had no political effect… the Soviet army stayed nine more years in Afghanistan.
“The Olympic Games are not about politics. The IOC, as a civil non-governmental organization, is strictly politically neutral at all times.”
The COVID-19 pandemic forced the IOC to delay this year’s Tokyo Games until 2021. 

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«Вимога російського суду притягнути кримську адвокатку Гемеджі до відповідальності є черговим проявом тиску на правозахисників» – Джапарова

Перша заступниця міністра закордонних справ України Еміне Джапарова повідомила, що окрема ухвала Південного окружного військового суду в російському Ростові-на-Дону про притягнення до відповідальності кримської адвокатки Лілі Гемеджі є «проявом тиску на правозахисників».

«Вимога російського суду притягнути кримську адвокатку Лілю Гемеджі до відповідальності є черговим проявом тиску на правозахисників, які захищають від свавілля окупантів. Лілю хочуть покарати за її боротьбу за свободу правозахисника Сервера Мустафаєва, якого Росія засудили до 14 років колонії», – підкреслила 24 жовтня Джапарова у твітері. 

Військовий апеляційний суд в міському окрузі Власиха Московської області 26 жовтня розгляне апеляційну скаргу адвоката Лілі Гемеджі і її захисника Едема Семедляєва на окрему ухвалу російського Південного окружного військового суду на її адресу.

Гемеджі вважає, що ця скарга – це форма тиску на неї як захисниці, яка активно відстоювала позицію свого підзахисного у кримінальній справі. Вона представляла в суді інтереси кримського правозахисника і координатора громадського руху «Кримська солідарність» Сервера Мустафаєва, засудженого 16 вересня 2020 року на 14 років позбавлення волі в колонії суворого режиму. Активіст визнаний Amnesty International в’язнем сумління.

16 вересня Південний окружний військовий суд у російському Ростові-на-Дону оголосив вирок фігурантам другої бахчисарайської «справи Хізб ут-Тахрір». Так, Марлену Асанову присудили 19 років колонії суворого режиму, Мемету Бєлялову – 18, Тимуру Ібрагімову – 17 років, Сейрану Салієву – 16, Серверу Мустафаєву – 14, Серверу Зекір’яєву – 13, Едему Смаїлову – 13. Ернес Аметов був визнаний невинним і звільнений в залі суду.


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Арахамія виявив під колесом автомобіля згорток. Каже: за попередніми даними, пристрій стеження

Лідер фракції «Слуга народу» Давид Арахамія написав у фейсбуці, що виявив під колесом свого автомобіля невеликий згорток – за попередніми даними, пристрій стеження.

«Сьогодні о 13:25 приїхав на роботу, спрацював датчик тиску шин, вийшов з автомобіля і оглянув колеса, під заднім правим колесом виявив невеликий згорток. Викликав поліцію, працює бригада вибухотехніків. За попередніми даними, пристрій стеження», – йдеться у його дописі.

Арахамія повідомив, що на місці працює поліція. Самі ж правоохоронці поки що ситуацію не коментували.




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Меджліс не запросили до обговорення «Кримської платформи» – Чийгоз

Офіс президента України поки не запросив до обговорення міжнародної платформи з деокупацію Криму Меджліс кримськотатарського народу. Про це в ефірі Радіо Крим.Реалії заявив заступник голови Меджлісу Ахтем Чийгоз.

«Ми взагалі не знаємо, про що ця платформа. А ми – це єдиний представницький орган з Криму, який має мандат. Ми не в курсі, і це нас дуже сильно турбує», – зазначив Чийгоз.

На його думку, в завдання «Кримської платформи» має входити широке коло проблем, крім звільнення кримчан з російських в’язниць.

«Кримська платформа» не повинна вирішувати тільки питання обміну кількох людей, щоб віддавати Росії натомість скандальних персонажів. Це має бути лише одним із напрямків роботи «Кримської платформи». Основне її завдання – загнати (президента Росії Володимира – ред.) Путіна в кут і змусити його капітулювати з Криму», – зауважив заступник голови Меджлісу.

Президент України Володимир Зеленський 20 жовтня заявив, що мир на Донбасі та деокупація Криму є його пріоритетами. Він нагадав про створення «Кримської платформи», яка працюватиме щодо питання деокупації півострова. На думку голови держави, «поки Крим залишається окупованим, а українці і кримські татари регулярно там переслідуються, світ не повинен забувати про Крим».

Раніше президент України Володимир Зеленський повідомив, що отримав запевнення лідерів Європейського союзу в тому, що ЄС готовий приєднатися до платформи з деокупації Криму.

У жовтні 2020 року про свою зацікавленість в цьому переговорному процесі заявила Польща. Офіційний Київ також очікує приєднання до платформи з деокупації Криму Туреччини, Малайзії, Словаччини, Великої Британії та інших країн.

У Кремлі не раз вказували на те, що питання Криму закрито і Росія не має наміру включати його в міжнародні переговори.


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Heavy Fighting Continues Over Nagorno-Karabakh

Heavy fighting continues over the Nagorno-Karabakh region as Armenia and Azerbaijan accuse each other of shelling residential areas.Nagorno-Karabakh authorities said Azerbaijani rockets hit the town of Martakert and several villages in the Martuni region overnight.Nagorno-Karabakh officials say 927 of their troops have been killed, and more than 30 civilians have died.Azerbaijan has not disclosed its military losses but has said 63 civilians have been killed and 292 wounded.While the fighting continued in the breakaway mountain enclave, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan to “end the violence and protect civilians” after nearly a month of intense fighting.In a statement issued Friday after Pompeo met separately with Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov and Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan in Washington the state department said, “The secretary also stressed the importance of the sides entering substantive negotiations under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs to resolve the conflict based on the Helsinki Final Act principles of the non-use or threat of force, territorial integrity, and the equal rights and self-determination of peoples.”Pompeo said in a tweet after his talks that he and both foreign ministers discussed “critical steps” to halt the violence. “Both must implement a ceasefire and return to substantive negotiations,” he said.Mnatsakanyan told VOA the talks were “very good” on Friday as he left the State Department, where about two dozen demonstrators, mostly Armenians, were gathered outside. When asked about a timeline for a cease-fire, he said “we [will] keep working on that.” The meeting in Washington was arranged after two failed Russian attempts to broker a cease-fire in the worst outbreak of fighting over the region in more than a quarter-century.Pompeo has joined other global leaders in pushing for an end to the fighting over the disputed territory. But Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said Wednesday he sees no possibility of a diplomatic solution at this stage of the conflict.For his part, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has said Armenian forces must withdraw from Nagorno-Karabakh to end the fighting, which Russian President Vladimir said may have killed about 5,000 people since the violence erupted.Turkey said Wednesday it will not hesitate to send troops and provide military support to help Azerbaijan if such a request is made. Pompeo has called on other countries not to provide “fuel” for the conflict.Shortly before the meetings in Washington began, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he hoped to collaborate with Russia to resolve the conflict.Aram Avetisyan of VOA’s Armenian Service contributed reporting.  

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