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August 28, 2014

US says Egypt and UAE responsible for air attacks on Tripoli

US says Egypt and UAE responsible for air attacks on Tripoli

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

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On Tuesday, officials of the US military said they believed recent airstrikes in Tripoli, Libya last week were the responsibility of Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The announcement follows claims of responsibility from forces loyal to Libyan General Khalifa Haftar, who has been moving in support of militias involved in the widespread conflict within the country. Egypt has denied responsibility, with sources reporting the government of the UAE has thus far declined to comment.

There had already been evidence suggesting foreign involvement, with reports of US-made bomb fragments found in wreckage in Tripoli. Previous attacks by General Haftar’s forces have reportedly struck Benghazi, with Libyan planes said to lack the range or capabilities for a night time attack on a target as distant as Tripoli.

US officials reportedly have been aware of the possibility of involvement from other regional countries, with Egypt, UAE and Saudi Arabia supporting secular militias, while Qatar support more Islamist forces, who are locked in violence as they contest the future of their country. Rulers within the region are also reported to be alarmed by the recent gains from Islamist factions.

Cquote1.svg “[they] are now stronger than the government itself, and [they] do now possess arms even more sophisticated than the government itself” Cquote2.svg

—Mohamed Abdel Aziz, Libyan Foreign minister

Libya’s foreign minister, Mohamed Abdel Aziz, told The Guardian the government was no longer able to defend the country’s assets, and while they did not want any outside intervention, they were in need of support and supplies. He stated the government were struggling to secure national assets against those “who are now stronger than the government itself, and who do now possess arms even more sophisticated than the government itself”.



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  • “Renegade General’s forces claim responsibility for aerial attacks on Tripoli” — Wikinews, August 24, 2014

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Candidates walk out of Afghan election audit

Candidates walk out of Afghan election audit

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Afghanistan
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Afghanistan’s two presidential candidates, Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, withdrew their observers from the ongoing audit of votes yesterday, following the June presidential election.

Abdullah Abdullah
Image: US Department of State.

Abdullah’s observers declined to participate, claiming fraudulent ballots were not being thrown out and questioning the legitimacy of the process. Ghani’s observers were later asked to withdraw by the United Nations monitors overseeing the process. They agreed, describing the decision as prudent.

The audit was continued in the afternoon.

The process of checking each of the eight million votes is part of a deal brokered by the US. The recount started a month ago. A spokesman for President Hamid Karzai has said the delay is affecting the country’s security, as the Taliban continue to launch attacks across the country. Analysts suggest it is also affecting the Afghan economy.

Both candidates have previously agreed to form a unity government involving the other. Abdullah’s side, trailing before the recount, is looking for more powers and responsibilities for the losing side, while their opposition apparently don’t want to weaken presidential power. Both candidates also agree US forces should stay in the country after 2014.



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  • “Taliban attacks in numbers amidst Afghani political stalemate” — Wikinews, August 22, 2014

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August 27, 2014

Wikinews wanders the Referendum-year Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Wikinews wanders the Referendum-year Edinburgh Festival Fringe

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

With many venues reporting sell-out shows, the 68th year of the Edinburgh Festival attracted visitors from around the globe. Wikinews‘ Brian McNeil roamed the city for the four weeks of the event, capturing the colour, spectacle, and comedy, in photos.

The image gallery below may take some time to load on slower connections. You may click on the first image to view the images with the new Mediawiki Media Viewer; again, full-size/full-screen images may take time to load.

Visitors crowd onto Edinburgh’s High Street, adjacent to the Tron Kirk, for the first day of the 2014 Festival Fringe.
Image: Brian McNeil.

A street performer sets up in Hunter Square, next to one of the city’s golden postboxes, unpacking paraffin for his act.
Image: Brian McNeil.

View across Edinburgh’s High Street (Royal Mile) onto the top of Cockburn Street.
Image: Brian McNeil.

A musician prepared for Scotland’s unpredictable weather at the side of the Tron Kirk.
Image: Brian McNeil.

The Tron pub, next to the top of Blair Street, advertises live comedy in the basement, along with their 3am license.
Image: Brian McNeil.

A performer balances on top of a bollard just inside the pedestrianised part of the High Street.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Tourists on the High Street for the 2014 fringe.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Tourists mingle with performers handing out fliers on the Edinburgh High Street.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Track-suited performers wait to go onstage in the High Street.
Image: Brian McNeil.

A troupe performs for the crowd in traditional dress.
Image: Brian McNeil.

A troupe performs for the crowd in traditional dress.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Performers on Edinburgh’s High Street for the Festival Fringe 2014. In the distance, the Firth of Forth.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Crowd looks on as performer spins disk on a stick before throwing it high into the air.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Performer throwing spinning disk from stick into the air.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Performer throws spinning disk high overhead.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Fliers and posters advertise a few of the shows on-offer at this year’s Fringe.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Stall selling tied-balloon creations with Fringe show fliers as backdrop.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Edinburgh’s ‘Auld Reekie Tours’ (Venue 129) advertising their underground and graveyard tours of the city.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Food stall situated at the side of the Tron Kirk.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Blackboards list the day’s, and tommorrow’s, performances on the doors of the Tron Kirk in Edinburgh’s High Street.
Image: Brian McNeil.

The bar, with stained-glass window backdrop, inside the Tron Kirk.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Susana Silva, more-used to busking, performs inside the Tron Kirk on the Fringe’s opening day.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Susana Silva performing in the Tron Kirk, Edinburgh fringe 2014.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Susana Silva performing in the Tron Kirk, Edinburgh fringe 2014.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Pat Dennis, Sean O’Malley with Michael Dodds on Cajon.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Pat Dennis, Sean O’Malley and Michael Dodds performing in the Tron Kirk.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Pat Dennis, Sean O’Malley and Michael Dodds performing in the Tron Kirk.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Pat Dennis, Sean O’Malley and Michael Dodds performing in the Tron Kirk.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Crowds in Edinburgh’s Grassmarket for the 2014 Festival.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Street performers in the Grassmarket.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Bruce Fummey performing his 2014 Fringe show, “Aaah’m Votin YES” in The Beehive.
Image: Brian McNeil.

A few minutes walk from The Beehive, a busker plays with an array of effects pedals.
Image: Brian McNeil.

View down the Grassmarket from the West Bow end.
Image: Brian McNeil.

View of St John’s at the west end of Princes Street.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Some people at the art & craft fair, in the grounds of St John’s, enjoying themselves despite a downpour
Image: Brian McNeil.

One of the city’s tour buses, at the west-end of Princes Street.
Image: Brian McNeil.

View of the Festival Wheel, situated in Princes Street Gardens.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Various festivals take place in Edinburgh throughout the summer, including the The Guardian-sponsored Book Festival.
Image: Brian McNeil.

View of the castle, with posters for Festival shows on the railings of Princes Street Gardens.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Chalk art outisde the Scottish National Archives at the East-End of Princes Street.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Banner for The Caves, just off the Cowgate.
Image: Brian McNeil.

The Cowshed in Edinburgh’s Cowgate; a venue well-liked by performers, apart from the beer prices.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Musician walking up Niddry Street, with guitar in hard case.
Image: Brian McNeil.

The Blind Poet, in Edinburgh’s West Nicholson Street.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Bar staff, working in The Blind Poet on Nicholson Street.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Baz Simpson, who organised The Wolf Sessions at The Blind Poet; before, and during, The Festival.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Baz Simpson, who organised The Wolf Sessions at The Blind Poet; before, and during, The Festival.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Performers in the Blind Poet, West Nicholson Street, last Saturday of the Festival Fringe.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Performers in the Blind Poet, West Nicholson Street, last Saturday of the Festival Fringe.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Performers in the Blind Poet, West Nicholson Street, last Saturday of the Festival Fringe.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Performers in the Blind Poet, West Nicholson Street, last Saturday of the Festival Fringe.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Aaron Robbie Wright, performing in The Blind Poet on the last Sunday of the 2014 Festival Fringe.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Aaron Robbie Wright, performing in The Blind Poet on the last Sunday of the 2014 Festival Fringe.
Image: Brian McNeil.

The High Street’s taxi rank stretches from the top of Niddry Street halfway to the Scottish Parliament.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Unfortunately, trouble at the High Street taxi rank is not uncommon – regardless of the festival being on, or not.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Unfortunately, trouble at the High Street taxi rank is not uncommon – regardless of the festival being on, or not.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Unfortunately, trouble at the High Street taxi rank is not uncommon – regardless of the festival being on, or not.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Fringe performers, and flier distributors, come in all shapes and sizes.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Some artists continued distributing fliers right up until the last couple of days of the Festival Fringe.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Age is no barrier to busking during the Festival.
Image: Brian McNeil.

With so many visitors, rubbish (garbage) is somewhat of an issue during the Festival.
Image: Brian McNeil.


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August 24, 2014

University, Noosa play for home Sunshine Coast rugby major semi in 2014

University, Noosa play for home Sunshine Coast rugby major semi in 2014

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Sunday, August 24, 2014

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Noosa and University had to play on Noosa’s second field to preserve the main field. The main field seen here on game day.
Image: Patrick Gillett.

This season’s Sunshine Coast Rugby Union semi finals are now scheduled to take place at Sunshine Beach and Caloundra, Australia. The venues were settled upon in the final round of play yesterday, incidentally at the same venues and teams.

In Sunshine Beach Noosa defeated University 17–8 in a closer match than the final score suggested. Noosa took an early lead after eleven minutes through an unconverted try.

University took the score to 5–3 seven minutes later. They would take the lead seventeen minutes into the second half and would not relinquish until three minutes left in the game. At this point Noosa rumbled over through a series of about ten rucks.

In their round five clash at Sunshine Beach, University won 15 points to 13. Noosa won the round ten match at the University of the Sunshine Coast by nine points – 24 points to 15.

In the other A-grade game at Caloundra, the hosts defeated Toads 37–8 to host the minor semi final. In round five Caloundra won by eight points, while in round ten the teams played a 14-all draw.

The winner of the major semi goes straight trough to the grand final. The loser plays in the preliminary final against the winner of the minor semi final at a yet-unknown venue.



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US government to investigate paramilitary policing

Filed under: Archived,United States — admin @ 5:00 am

US government to investigate paramilitary policing

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Sunday, August 24, 2014

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Yesterday, the US‘s Obama administration said it has ordered an investigation into the appropriateness of military hardware being sold to and deployed by police forces in the United States. This investigation comes after the killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager shot by police in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9.

A spokesman for the administration said Obama “has directed a review of federal programs and funding that enable state and local law enforcement to purchase military equipment”. The review is to consider issues around training and federal oversight.

Official protrait of Barack Obama, 2009.
Image: Pete Souza.

Obama said on Monday: “There is a big difference between our military and our local law enforcement, and we don’t want those lines blurred[…] That would be contrary to our traditions.”

Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri, announced earlier last week the US Department of Homeland Security‘s Financial and Contracting Oversight Subcommittee will have a hearing in September on demilitarization of police forces. McCaskill said of the events in Ferguson: “We need to demilitarize this situation — this kind of response by the police has become the problem instead of the solution”.

Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, wrote an op-ed for Time arguing militarization of the police needed to be ended: “There is a legitimate role for the police to keep the peace, but there should be a difference between a police response and a military response. The images and scenes we continue to see in Ferguson resemble war more than traditional police action.”

Paul continued: “Washington has incentivized the militarization of local police precincts by using federal dollars to help municipal governments build what are essentially small armies — where police departments compete to acquire military gear that goes far beyond what most of Americans think of as law enforcement.”

Paul also argued race played a part in the provision of justice in the United States: “Anyone who thinks that race does not still, even if inadvertently, skew the application of criminal justice in this country is just not paying close enough attention. Our prisons are full of black and brown men and women who are serving inappropriately long and harsh sentences for non-violent mistakes in their youth.”



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Renegade General\’s forces claim responsibility for aerial attacks on Tripoli

Renegade General’s forces claim responsibility for aerial attacks on Tripoli

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Sunday, August 24, 2014

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Air forces loyal to Khalifa Haftar attacked positions in Tripoli, Libya controlled by a faction of the Islamist-leaning militia known as Operation Dawn for the second time within a week yesterday, members of his group said.

Operation Dawn is comprised of fighters, mostly from Misrata, who have been fighting a militia group from Zintan. The two groups, former allies during the 2011 Libyan Civil War, have battled this year over parts of Tripoli, with fighting reportedly centered around the airport for several weeks now.

Yesterday’s attack follows a similar one reported to have occurred on the night of August 17–18, arousing speculation as to the origin of the planes. Countries including Egypt, France, and the United States have denied any involvement in either attack, with the Libyan Government opening an investigation into the source.

Cquote1.svg Escalation by the militias in Tripoli will be met with escalation from our side until we restore security and stability to the country Cquote2.svg

—Mohamed Buisier, political adviser to General Haftar’s forces

After the attack on Monday, a spokesman for the militia group said they were not abandoning their positions and that militia fighters from other areas were joining their forces from Mosrata. A political adviser of General Haftar’s forces, speaking to Sky News, said, “Escalation by the militias in Tripoli will be met with escalation from our side until we restore security and stability to the country”. The forces are reported to have also attacked militias in Benghazi.

General Haftar threw his weight behind the forces from Zintan in May, with the central Government losing control of much of the country, now working from Tobruk away from the fighting. With no national army, they are forced to rely on militia groups, who, while paid by the state, and wearing uniforms, are reported by Reuters to answer to their own commanders and towns.



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Islamic State capture Syrian airbase

Islamic State capture Syrian airbase – Wikinews, the free news source

Islamic State capture Syrian airbase

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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Syria
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Islamic State fighters are reported to have taken control of Tabqa airbase, the last government stronghold in the northern Syrian province of Raqqa, today after several days of fighting.

Map of Syria with Raqqa province in light green
Image: KureCewlik81.

The loss was confirmed by Syrian state television, who reported a “successful evacuation of the airport” and that the government forces were continuing local operations against “terrorist groups”. This is the third military base in the province to fall to the extremist group in recent weeks, after reports of them seizing weapons during their advances in neighboring Iraq.

Monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported over 300 Islamic State fighters were killed in the fighting since Tuesday, with over 150 government soldiers killed in the same time frame. Clashes reportedly continue in the area around the base.

The airbase reportedly contained several squadrons of warplanes, tanks, and artillery.

Elsewhere, Islamic State fighters were reported to have withdrawn from the area around Homs and to have retreated east, giving up the area to fighters of the al-Nusra Front. Other rebel groups backed by Western countries have also been fighting the Islamic State, but tend to lose those confrontations.

The ongoing fighting is a continuation of the Syrian Civil War, which started in 2011 as protest groups confronted forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad. Fighters of the Islamic State had previously fought alongside other opposition groups, but its treatment of individuals led to fighting between them.



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August 23, 2014

SpaceX test rocket crashes in Texas

SpaceX test rocket crashes in Texas – Wikinews, the free news source

SpaceX test rocket crashes in Texas

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Saturday, August 23, 2014

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The crashed rocket is a test unit for a reusable version of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 v1.1 launch vehicle. Pictured is the first flight of the V1.1, which launched Canada’s CASSIOPE spacecraft into a polar orbit in September 2013.
Image: U.S. Air Force/Michael Peterson.

SpaceX’s F9R test vehicle self-destructed yesterday during a test flight at their McGregor, Texas test facility. There were no injuries. According to a witness, “there is a big grass fire from falling debris.”

According to a statement issued by SpaceX, “Throughout the test and subsequent flight termination, the vehicle remained in the designated flight area. There were no injuries or near injuries. An FAA representative was present at all times.”

John Taylor, a SpaceX spokesman, said that “[d]uring the flight, an anomaly was detected in the vehicle and the flight termination system automatically terminated the mission.” SpaceX has said that more information will be forthcoming once they’ve analyzed the flight data.



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August 22, 2014

Taliban attacks in numbers amidst Afghani political stalemate

Taliban attacks in numbers amidst Afghani political stalemate

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Friday, August 22, 2014

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As a recount of the Afghan June run of presidential election continues, the Taliban have been launching attacks in greater numbers in an attempt to gain and hold territory.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai
Image: Staff Sgt Keith Thompson.

On Tuesday President Hamid Karzai called for an end of a two month election dispute that has seen the two candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, both claim to have won the election. Inter Press Service reported the turn out of eight million was at odds with the widespread lack of activity reported in polling stations during the vote. Each of these votes is now being individually checked in a process involving international observers in a full audit of the ballot papers. This process started in mid-July, with a target late this month for completion, allowing time for the new president to attend security talks with NATO.

A spokesman for President Karzai indicated, according to Reuters, the political stalemate has had a detrimental effect on the security situation in the country, with a corresponding increase in Taliban activity. NATO forces are expected to leave the country, subject to the security talks, and outgoing President Karzai has declined to sign a security deal with the United States which would keep a small number of US troops in the country until 2016, leaving the Afghan forces without support in their struggle against the Taliban.

The spokesman said the Taliban were acting more as a battalion, citing foreign reinforcements as the source of their apparent new-found strength. The militants are reported to be attempting to take and hold ground, targeting key areas to secure opium export, the source of much of the insurgency’s funding.

Recent examples of the Taliban’s new tactics include an attack from a group of 700 Taliban, in Logar Province near the capital, Kabul, the governor of the province told Reuters. An Afghan general, quoted by Reuters, said, “Airpower by the foreign troops is the key component to this battle and we have lost many men simply because we couldn’t ask our foreign partners for air strikes”. In the past similar group attacks have been fended off with the support of air power provided by the International Security Assistance Force, with minimal casualties to Afghan security forces.



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Four arrested after building spire in Moscow painted in Ukrainian colors

Four arrested after building spire in Moscow painted in Ukrainian colors

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Friday, August 22, 2014

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Russian authorities have detained four people on Wednesday on suspicion of vandalism, following an incident where the spire of the iconic Kotelnicheskaya Embankment Building in Moscow was painted in the colors of the Ukrainian flag. The suspects, reportedly consisting of two men and two women, allegedly ascended the building by stairs to reach its top floor, before using climbing equipment to complete the ascent, according to Moscow police.

File photo of the Kotelnicheskaya Embankment Building in 2009.
Image: SphinxTheGeek.

Over the course of the previous night, the suspects proceeded to paint the top half of the building’s star-shaped spire blue and erected a Ukrainian flag atop at about 7:15 am local time, reports the Interfax news agency, with information corroborated by Moscow’s municipal emergency services. The alterations to the building made by the suspects remained for several hours, before workers removed the flag and repainted the spire to its normal color. Containing 32 floors and standing at a height of 176 m (577 ft), the Kotelnicheskaya Embankment Building is one of the Seven Sisters, skyscrapers constructed between 1947 and 1953 in Moscow under the direction of Joseph Stalin.

Following the act, at least one of the suspects then reportedly descended from the building by parachute, reported state news channel Rossiya 24, and captured on a video published by Lifenews, reportedly filmed by a local resident. Additional video broadcast by Rossiya 24, taken from a window, captured a parachuting suspect landing in a nearby playground. Among the suspects was Alexander Pogrebov, who has denied the charges brought forth by authorities. “I was detained for parachuting off the skyscraper. I chose that place because it’s beautiful. […] It just so happened that at the time of the jump, someone else committed an act of vandalism — they destroyed the spire with paint, and raised the Ukrainian flag.” said Pogrebov in an interview to LifeNews.

Pogrebov’s comments were supported by a police official, who stated to the Itar-Tass agency: “The two young men and two girls say they jumped from a high building with parachutes. They say they didn’t hoist any flag and didn’t paint the flag.” If convicted of vandalism, Pogrebov and the other suspects may be sentenced to a maximum of three years imprisonment. Over the phone to Bloomberg, an unidentified duty press official stated the suspects were previously arrested over other charges. According to reports from Russian state television, all four suspects were Russian citizens.

Other acts by Russian protestors to show support and solidarity with Ukraine, contrasting the approval which came following the Russian annexation of Crimea, included the singing of the Ukrainian national anthem by protestors while being arrested. Russian musician Andrey Makarevich, who fronts the band Mashina Vremeni, which translates to “Time Machine”, was labelled as a “traitor” by Russian lawmakers and musicians who supported Russian interests, after he traveled to eastern Ukraine last week to perform for displaced children in regions held by the Ukrainian army.

On a post on Twitter, Russian opposition leader Gennady Gudkov stated “I don’t justify youngsters who painted a star on the skyscraper, but this is an administrative offense, not criminal”. In 2011 and 2012, following accusations of electoral fraud during the parliamentary elections at the time, Gudkov supported protestors who took to the streets of Moscow in opposition to Russian president Vladimir Putin.

The act comes just days prior to Ukraine’s Day of the National Flag on August 23 and Independence Day on August 24. The country’s president, Petro Poroshenko, expressed his approval from Kiev of the act and praise for the suspects in a written post on Facebook. “On the eve of Independence Day we are starting an initiative called ‘Our Colours,’ which is devoted to the Ukrainian flag”((uk)), wrote Poroshenko. “And it is symbolic that, on this day, our colours have been painted on what is perhaps the greatest skyscraper in Moscow. I urge Ukrainians throughout the world, wherever they are, on the eve of the anniversary of our independence, to decorate their homes, offices, and cars in our national colours.”((uk))

“I like very much the fact that, on the eve of celebrating the Ukrainian flag, one of Moscow’s highest buildings was painted in our colors,” Poroshenko said in a video posted on Facebook. “I congratulate these Ukrainians.” Following the deaths of more than 2,000 people and the displacement of 300,000 from their homes amid fighting in eastern Ukraine between the Ukrainian armed forced and pro-Russian separatists, Poroshenko is scheduled to discuss the crisis with Putin next week, the first such meeting in two months.



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