“The Ukrainian government has made clear that this decree is an issue of security, not one of freedom of speech,” NATO said
BRUSSELS, May 16. /TASS/. NATO believes that Ukraine’s decision to block Russian-language internet resources used by the majority of its population is a matter of national security and has nothing to di with freedom of speech, a NATO official told TASS on Tuesday.
“The Ukrainian government has made clear that this decree is an issue of security, not one of freedom of speech. NATO works with Ukraine to strengthen its reforms, including in the fields of democracy, the rule of law and human rights. Freedom of speech is covered by this dialogue. We have trust in Ukraine’s commitment to its international obligations and the system of checks and balances in place in Ukraine,” he said.
Earlier on Tuesday, Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko enforced the decision of the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council on expanding the list of Russian nationals and entities subject to Ukrainian sanctions and extending earlier sanctions. The blacklist includes 1,228 individuals and 468 legal entities. Among the blacklisted entities are Russian social networks Vkontakte (VK) and Odnoklassniki (Classmates), and also e-mail services Mail.ru and Yandex. Internet providers in Ukraine will block access to these websites.
Yandex says it has some 1.1 users in Ukraine. Mail.ru says its platforms are used about 25 million Ukrainian, 16 million use VKontakte networks and Odnoklassniki has about 9.5 million users.
Young Saudi women delegates attending the First Saudi Conference for Smart Cities in Riyadh on Tuesday. (Courtesy: SPA)
Minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs Abdullatief Al-Asheikh on Tuesday unveiled plans to establish 10 smart cities in the Kingdom.
“The ministry will create partnerships to implement smart city project in 10 cities across the Kingdom as part of realizing the goals of the National Transformation Program of 2020. The highest authorities have entrusted the ministry to implement the smart city projects,” he said while inaugurating the First Saudi Conference for Smart Cities at Riyadh InterContinental Hotel organized by the ministry.
The theme of the three-day event is “Smart solutions for a better living.”
Al-Asheikh noted that a study carried out by the ministry in 2015 envisages making available smart facilities in 17 major cities that host around 75 percent of the Saudi population.
US military whistleblower Chelsea Manning is now free after a seven year legal and political fight.
Moon Jae-in © Kim Kyung / Reuters
Recently-elected South Korean President Moon Jae-in has stated that there is a “high possibility” of military conflict with North Korea. The statement follows Pyongyang’s new missile test, which has been strongly condemned by the UN.
“The reality is that there is a high possibility of a military conflict at the NLL [Northern Limit Line] and military demarcation line,” Moon was quoted as saying by Reuters, adding that Seoul is capable of striking back in case of attack.
The disputed NLL lies in the Yellow Sea the between South and North Korea and is considered the de facto maritime boundary between them. The 1953 military demarcation line serves as the land border.
While North Korea claims the latest test launch of missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads was conducted “in consideration of the safety of neighboring countries,” Moon criticized Pyongyang’s actions as a “serious challenge to global peace and stability.”
“We will never tolerate such North Korean provocations and nuclear threats,” he stated during a visit to the Defense Ministry in Seoul Wednesday, as cited by Yonhap news agency.
Moon also said that Seoul will “sternly deal with the North” alongside the international community. The statement comes as the UN Security Council threatened with a new round of sanctions against Pyongyang.
However, North Korea does not seem willing to stop its missile launches, including nuclear ones.
“Until the US and its followers make the right choice, we will further produce sophisticated and diversified nuclear weapons and striking means and push to prepare for necessary tests,” Yonhap cites North Korean diplomat Pak Jong-hak as saying.
The missile launched Saturday reportedly covered a distance of 700km before descending into the Sea of Japan (also known as the East Sea), according to South Korean and Japanese militaries’ data. The projectile landed some 500km from the Russian border, but posed no threat to security, the Russian Defense Ministry stated. The test followed Pyongyang’s two previous failed attempts last month.
Tensions have been rising on the Korean Peninsula, with Washington sending warships to the region and conducting war games with its allies in attempt to deter Pyongyang from conducting more nuclear and missile tests.
Last month, Washington also positioned THAAD anti-ballistic missile systems in South Korea, which is aimed to protect the country from attacks by its communist neighbor. The move sparked protests in South Korea, with some citizens claiming the system could provoke the North to strike.
The US protection may not come for free, however, with US President Donald Trump asking for payment for the missile shield. Seoul has refused to discuss the matter, as it was initially agreed that the US would cover all the costs.
Russia and China have opposed the THAAD deployment, calling on the all parties to find a peaceful solution to the hazardous situation in the region.
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir attends the joint Sudan and Saudi Arabia air force drill in Khartoum, Sudan on April 9, 2017 [Ebrahim Hamid/Anadolu Agency]
The Sudanese president will attend the Islamic-American conference due to be held on Sunday in the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh but may not have talks with US President Donald Trump face to face, an official close to the presidency told MEMO today.
The official from the Sudan Media Centre (SMC) told MEMO that the invitation had been received from Saudi Arabia and that Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir would be joining over 50 Arab and Islamic leaders for the meeting with the American president at the weekend.
The official said:
There’s a strong likelihood that there will be some sort of meeting with the American president and the [Sudanese] president but it is not clear at this moment how that might happen; there is a strong possibility it could be via a third party like the UAE or the Saudi government.
Al-Bashir’s proposed visit has come under sharp criticism from rights groups and from the US State Department.
An unnamed official who spoke to AP said, “The United States opposes governments inviting anyone subject to outstanding ICC arrest warrants, including Al-Bashir, and has made its position clear.”
Last weekend, diplomats from the US and several other western nations reportedly stayed away from or walked out of a major gathering in Doha, Qatar to protest Al-Bashir’s participation.
By Tamar Pileggi
Opposition MKs, interior minister, Jewish groups recall inaction during the Holocaust in demanding military action to stop Assad atrocities
A satellite image of what the US State Department described as a building in a prison complex in Syria that was modified to support a crematorium, January 15, 2015. (State Department/DigitalGlobe via AP)
Opposition lawmakers on Monday called on Israel to destroy the Damascus-area crematorium that Syrian President Bashar Assad is allegedly using to burn the bodies of thousands of executed political prisoners.
Some government ministers also urged action, but said that it was the responsibility of the United States, which made the allegations on Monday.
Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid wrote in a Facebook post that Israel has a “moral responsibility to act when within striking distance of the IDF people are being burnt. We have to wipe that crematorium off the face of the earth.”
Lapid drew parallels between the world’s failure to protect Jews during World War II and the international community’s failure to stop the bloodshed in Syria.
“Why did the world know [what was happening], but not do anything? Well now we know, and we’re not doing anything,” he said.
“Chemical weapons & incinerators – both the crematorium and Assad must go. Echoing past horrors, he cannot be a part of the region’s future,” Zionist Union lawmaker Tzipi Livni tweeted Monday.
Interior Minister and Shas party chairman Aryeh Deri also called for the Assad crematorium to be bombed, but urged the US to carry out the strike.
“Call him Hitler, call him whatever you like, he is doing the same things,” Deri told Army Radio. “He’s a murderer, a child killer.”
Deri said urging US President Donald Trump to take military action against the Assad regime during his trip to Israel next week should top Israel’s list of priorities for the visit.
In the US, The head of the Anti-Defamation League also drew parallels between Syria’s alleged use of a crematorium to dispose of bodies to actions committed by the Nazis during the Holocaust.
Jonathan Greenblatt, the group’s national director, also called on the international community, including Russia, to take action to stop the violence perpetuated by the Syrian government under the leadership of President Bashar Assad.
“As Jews, we are particularly shocked by the extreme brutality of the Syrian regime, which invokes the worst nightmares of Nazi atrocities against the Jewish people,” Greenblatt said Tuesday in a statement. “The world learned from the twentieth century that it did not do enough to stop the crimes of the Nazis which led to the genocide of six million Jews.
Earlier on Tuesday, Housing and Construction Minister Yoav Galant accused Assad of carrying out a “genocide,” and called for the Syrian leader to be assassinated.
“The reality of the situation in Syria is that they are executing people, using directed chemical attacks against them, and the latest extreme — burning their corpses, something we haven’t seen in 70 years,” Galant said, in a reference to the Holocaust.
“In my view, we are crossing a red line. And in my view, the time has come to assassinate Assad. It’s as simple as that,” he said.
The Trump administration on Sunday accused the Syrian government of carrying out mass killings of thousands of prisoners and burning the bodies in a large crematorium outside of the capital.
The State Department said it believed that about 50 detainees a day are being hanged at Saydnaya military prison, about 45 minutes north of Damascus. Many of the bodies, it said, are then burned in the crematorium.
The department released commercial satellite photographs showing what it described as a building in the prison complex that was modified to support the crematorium. The photographs, taken over the course of several years, beginning in 2013, do not definitely prove the building is a crematorium, but they show construction consistent with such use.
It has been argued that bombing the Auschwitz concentration camp — where over 1 million Jews and other victims of Nazi Germany were gassed to death and their bodies cremated — might have slowed the pace of the killings.
But military historians have long asserted that airstrikes on Nazi concentration and extermination camps would have been impossible for the Allied powers before the summer of 1943.