Navalny Associate: Kremlin Involved in Opposition Leader’s Poisoning

A close ally of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny says authorities in Moscow are reluctant to investigate Navalny’s alleged poisoning, because the Kremlin was behind it, despite its denials.
 
Lyubov Sobol, a lawyer at Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation and a prominent opposition activist, said in an interview that all the existing evidence points to the Kremlin.
 
“For me, it’s absolutely obvious, I’m not afraid to speak it out loud, that behind the poisoning is exactly the Kremlin,” said Sobol. Simply, nobody else could do it. Again, the method of the poisoning is the sign of that. Neuroparalytic poison is something that you can’t buy at a pharmacy. It’s a combat substance. And because of that, they will not investigate it,” Sobol said.FILE – Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, center, his wife Yulia, right of him, and opposition activist Lyubov Sobol, second from left, take part in a march in Moscow, Russia, Feb. 29, 2020.Navalny’s associates made a request to Russia’s Investigative Committee for authorities to launch a criminal investigation that could lead to charges of an attempted assassination of a public figure, but say they got no response.
 
“They understand that any investigation will lead to the Kremlin,” Sobol said. “They’re not launching a criminal probe because they will have to answer at some point what the results of the investigation of this criminal case are.”
 
Russia’s Prosecutor General office said Thursday the inquiry launched last week did not find any indication of “deliberate criminal acts committed against” Navalny.
 
The Kremlin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said last week he saw no grounds for a criminal investigation before the cause of Navalny’s condition was fully established.  
 
Navalny, a well-known critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and a corruption investigator, fell ill August 20 while flying to Moscow from Siberia, prompting an emergency landing in Omsk.
 
His personal doctor and aide said Navalny had drunk black tea at an airport café, which she believed was laced with poison.Last weekend, Navalny was transferred to the Charité Hospital in Berlin, Germany, for an “extensive medical diagnosis.” Doctors there found traces of “cholinesterase inhibitors,” a neuroparalytic substance, in his system. He reportedly remains on a ventilator in a medically-induced coma.  German doctors describe his condition as serious but not life-threatening. 

Belarus Revokes Accreditation of at Least 17 Journalists Covering Post-Election Turmoil

Belarusian authorities stripped accreditation from at least 17 journalists from major foreign news organizations who have been covering the country’s turmoil following the disputed presidential election.
 
The move, taken on August 29 by a commission of the national Security Council, was a major escalation by President Alexander Lukashenko’s government as it continues to face popular protest and international condemnation for the August 9 election, and for the harsh police crackdown on opposition protesters.
 
The journalists targeted include employees of major Western news organizations including RFE/RL, the BBC, the Associated Press, Reuters, Agence-France Presse, Germany’s ARD television, Deutsche Welle, and Radio France. Without accreditations, journalists are not legally permitted to gather news within the country.
 
No reason for the government’s decision was provided.
 
It was not immediately clear if journalists from Russian state-run and state-funded news media, such as the TASS news agency, Vesti TV, or the RT channel, faced a similar loss of accreditation.
 ‘Desperate, ominous move’
 
At least 17 journalists had their accreditations canceled, the Belarus Association of Journalists reported.
 
“Stripping our journalists of accreditation on grounds of ‘extremism’ is a desperate and ominous move by an authoritarian government to stifle the independent media and ruthlessly control the availability of credible information inside Belarus,” acting RFE/RL President Daisy Sindelar said in a statement. “It’s a violation of international standards and an assault on the Belarusian people who rely on us.”
 
Four journalists from RFE/RL’s Belarus Service were hit by the move, and one from Current Time, the Russian-language TV network run by RFE/RL in cooperation with VOA.
 
Others include two from the BBC, two from AP, two from AFP, two from ARD, and two from Reuters.
 
Many of those affected are Belarusian citizens.
 
Reuters journalist Tatyana Melnichuk told RFE/RL that she had been informed that her accreditation had been revoked via a telephone call from the Foreign Ministry.
 
“They told us that our accreditation, like the accreditations of the BBC journalists, had been revoked and that we had to return them today or on Monday,” Melnichuk said. “They didn’t give any reason.”Detained Journalists in Belarus Face Charges for Covering Post-Election ProtestsAt least 35 journalists, and more than 260 people overall were detained during Aug. 27 protests in Minsk, according to a list compiled by the human rights center Vyasna US calls for ‘restraint’
 
The U.S. Embassy in Minsk called on Belarusian authorities to “demonstrate restraint.”
 
“We stand by our long-term commitment to support Belarus’ sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as the aspirations of the Belarusian people to choose their leaders and to choose their own path, free from external intervention,” the statement said.
 
Two days earlier, around 50 journalists were detained while covering postelection protests in Minsk; the group included employees from Belarusian outlets such as TUT.BY, BelaPAN, and Belsat.
 
In all, more than 260 people were detained during at the time, according to the human rights center Vyasna.
 
The Belarusian Association of Journalists said most of the journalists detained at the time were released after police checked their documents.
 
Four journalists who refused to hand over their smartphones for police to check were charged with participating in an unauthorized protest, the association said. A Swedish journalist will also be deported, it added.
 
The detentions came after nearly three weeks of protests against the official results of the election, which gave Lukashenko a landslide victory.
 
Demonstrators and opposition leaders are contesting those results, charging that the vote was rigged in Lukashenko’s favor.
 
During their detention on August 27, RFE/RL journalists were searched by police, who appeared to be looking for recording equipment. Their laptops and cameras were seized, and they were ordered to open the photo galleries and other information on their mobile phones. In at least one case, a journalist was told to delete images of riot police.
 
One RFE/RL photographer was threatened with misdemeanor charges if he refused to comply with police orders.
 
Meanwhile, many websites of news organizations have seen curtailed access within Belarus amid reports that of sporadic Internet access.
 
Several bloggers also remain in prison, including a consultant for RFE/RL’s Belarus Service on digital strategy. His detention in Zhodzina prison outside of Minsk has been extended to October 25.
 
Protesters, who are planning another demonstration in Minsk on August 30, have been largely defiant despite a brutal police crackdown, and widespread evidence of beatings and torture of detained protesters.
 
The leading opposition candidate, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, told the European Parliament this week that at least six people have been killed in the crackdown and dozens of protesters have gone missing after being detained by authorities.
 With reporting by Current Time. 

Belarusian President Threatens to Cut European Transit Routes if Sanctions Imposed

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on Friday threatened to cut European transit routes through Belarusian territory if sanctions are imposed on his country.Speaking while visiting a dairy factory, Lukashenko said he would block neighboring European countries from shipping goods to Russia over Belarusian territory and divert Belarusian exports now shipped through ports in neighboring EU member Lithuania to other outlets.”If they, Poles and Lithuanians, used to fly through us to China and Russia, now they will fly through the Baltic or through the Black Sea to trade with Russia, and so on, and they can only dream of sanctioned products, those products on which Russia has imposed an embargo,” he said.Lukashenko also said he had ordered half the country’s army to be at combat preparedness and had agreed with Russian President Vladimir Putin that troops of both countries could unite against a potential Western threat.A woman carries a historical white-red-white flag of Belarus during an opposition demonstration against presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Aug. 28, 2020.“If they (NATO troops) don’t hold still, it’s necessary to use a joint grouping of armed forces, the basis of which is the Belarusian army,” Lukashenko said. “The Russians must support us and follow us.”Lithuania, Poland and Latvia have called for Europe to take stronger action against Lukashenko, in face of a nearly three-week popular uprising since the August 9 election, which the opposition maintains he rigged to prolong his 26-year rule. Lukashenko has denied the accusations.Since the Monday after the election, when Belarusian Central Election Commission declared Lukashenko received over 80% of the votes and opposition candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya about 10%, thousands have taken to the streets demanding Lukashenko’s resignation. Lukashenko has said the protests are encouraged and supported by the West and accused NATO of moving forces near Belarusian borders. The alliance has denied the accusations.  
 

‘Black Panther’ Star Chadwick Boseman, 43, Dies from Colon Cancer

Chadwick Boseman, the star of the ground-breaking superhero movie “Black Panther,” has died from colon cancer, his publicist told AFP on Friday.Boseman, who was in his 40s, had not publicly discussed his condition — which was first diagnosed in 2016 — and continued to work on major Hollywood films.”It was the honor of his career to bring King T’Challa to life in Black Panther,” said a statement posted to Boseman’s social media accounts.”He died in his home, with his wife and family by his side.”Boseman became the first black superhero to get his own standalone film in the record-breaking Marvel franchise with 2018’s “Black Panther.”The movie, set in the fictional African kingdom of Wakanda, was adored by critics and audiences, becoming the first comic book film to be nominated for best picture at the Oscars and grossing over $1 billion worldwide.Earlier in his career, Boseman played black icons Jackie Robinson in “42” and James Brown in “Get on Up.”He recently appeared in Spike Lee’s “Da 5 Bloods” and was set to appear in a sequel to “Black Panther” due in 2022.”A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all” and filmed projects “during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy,” the family’s statement said. 

Hospital: Russia’s Navalny Still in Coma But Improving

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is still in an induced coma from a suspected poisoning but his condition is stable and his symptoms are improving, the German doctors treating him said Friday. Navalny, a politician and corruption investigator  who is one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s fiercest critics, fell ill on a flight back to Moscow from Siberia on Aug 20 and was taken to a hospital in the Siberian city of Omsk after the plane made an emergency landing.  Last weekend, he was transferred to the Charité hospital in Berlin, where doctors found indications of “cholinesterase inhibitors” in his system.  FILE – German army emergency personnel load into their ambulance the stretcher that was used to transport Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny on at Berlin’s Charite hospital, Aug. 22, 2020.Found in some drugs, pesticides and chemical nerve agents, cholinesterase inhibitors block the breakdown of a key chemical in the body, acetycholine, that transmits signals between nerve cells. Navalny, 44, is being treated with the antidote atropine. Charité said “there has been some improvement in the symptoms caused by the inhibition of cholinesterase activity.” “While his condition remains serious, there is no immediate danger to his life,” the hospital said. “However, due to the severity of the patient’s poisoning, it remains too early to gauge potential long-term effects.” FILE – Yulia Navalnaya, wife of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, speaks with the media outside a hospital, where her husband is receiving medical treatment, in Omsk, Russia, Aug. 21, 2020.Navalny’s wife Yulia has been visiting him regularly at the hospital and Charité said physicians remain in close contact with her. Navalny’s allies insist he was deliberately poisoned and say the Kremlin was behind it, accusations that Russian officials rejected as “empty noise.”  Western experts have cautioned that it is far too early to draw any conclusions about what may have caused Navalny’s condition, but note that Novichok, the Soviet-era nerve agent used to poison former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Britain, was a cholinesterase inhibitor.  The Russian doctors who treated Navalny in Siberia have repeatedly contested the German hospital’s conclusion, saying they had ruled out poisoning as a diagnosis and that their tests for cholinesterase inhibitors came back negative.  Help from GermanyNavalny was brought to Germany for treatment after Chancellor Angela Merkel personally offered the possibility of him being treated in Berlin. “We have an obligation to do everything so that this can be cleared up,” Merkel told reporters at her annual summer news conference on Friday. “It was right and good that Germany said we were prepared … to take in Mr. Navalny. And now we will try to get this cleared up with the possibilities we have, which are indeed limited.” When there is more clarity about what happened, Germany will try to ensure a “European reaction” to the case, Merkel said. She cited the poisonings of Skripal and his daughter two years ago, which prompted many European countries to expel Russian diplomats and vice-versa. Calls to investigateFollowing a meeting in Berlin with his counterparts from 26 European Union countries, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said forcefully that Russia had an obligation to carry out a thorough investigation, something many countries have called for. FILE – Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny takes part in a rally, in Moscow, Feb. 29, 2020.”Russia must contribute more to clearing up the Navalny case, and the investigations that we expect must not remain a fig leaf,” Maas told reporters. “The background to this act must be investigated comprehensively and transparently, and those responsible — directly and indirectly —brought to account.” So far, Russian authorities appear reluctant to investigate the politician’s condition. Navalny’s team submitted a request last week to Russia’s Investigative Committee, demanding authorities launch a criminal probe on charges of an attempt on the life of a public figure and attempted murder, but said there was no reaction.  Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he saw no grounds for a criminal case until the cause of the politician’s condition was fully established. Russia’s Prosecutor General’s office said Thursday that a preliminary inquiry launched last week hasn’t found any indication of “deliberate criminal acts committed against” Navalny. Growing supportThe dissident’s supporters are not surprised at the Kremlin’s reaction. “They understand that any investigation will lead to the Kremlin,” Lyubov Sobol, a prominent opposition politician and one of Navalny’s closest allies, told The Associated Press on Friday. “They’re not launching a criminal probe … because they will have to answer at some point what the results of the investigation are.”FILE – Russian opposition activist Lyubov Sobol speaks during an interview with the Associated Press in Moscow, Russia, Aug. 15, 2019.Sobol says while Navalny’s condition hasn’t prompted big protests in Russia, it has stirred the outrage brewing there. “I saw a lot of comments from well-known public figures in Russia who have never spoken out for Alexei Navalny before, (but now) spoke their minds and said that this was outrageous, it shouldn’t be this way,” Sobol said. “It’s a turning point.” Even with their leader in the hospital, Navalny’s team continues its work on corruption investigations and regional election campaigns in Moscow and dozens of other regions. Navalny’s most recent project, Smart Voting, identifies candidates that are most likely to beat those from Putin’s United Russia party and his supporters actively campaign for them.  According to Sobol, the team is used to working in his absence — frequently arrested, Navalny has spent more than a year in jail in recent years.  “So we know how to work without direct orders from Navalny. We understand what we need to do,” Sobol said.  
 

NBA Games Set to Resume Saturday After Player Protests

The National Basketball Association playoffs are set to resume Saturday after players reached a deal with the league that includes increased access to voting in the U.S. presidential election.The deal follows a player-led protest sparked by the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man in Kenosha, Wisconsin. NBA games were postponed beginning Wednesday as players protested what they see as police violence and injustice against Blacks.In addition to the NBA games, several Major League Baseball contests, Major League Soccer matches, Women’s National Basketball Association games and National Hockey League playoff games also were postponed.Additionally, play was halted at the Western and Southern Open tennis tournament in New York, while a number of National Football League teams refused to hold practices Thursday.Social justice coalitionNBA players and league officials reached their agreement to resume games following a Thursday meeting.The deal includes a plan to set up a social justice coalition, made up of players, coaches and owners, which would focus on a range of issues, including voting access and advocating for police and criminal justice reform.Under the terms of the agreement, team owners who control their arena property will work with local officials to allow their buildings to be used for voting stations during the 2020 general election.The players and the league also agreed to work with TV networks to create advertisements during the remaining playoff games that would encourage people to vote.”These commitments follow months of close collaboration around designing a safe and healthy environment to restart the NBA season, providing a platform to promote social justice, as well as creating an NBA Foundation focused on economic empowerment in the Black community,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and Michele Roberts, executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, the players’ union, said in a joint statement.FILE – Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James sits on the bench during the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors, Oct. 14, 2019, in Los Angeles.Los Angeles Lakers basketball superstar LeBron James tweeted Thursday, “We Demand Change. Sick of It.”Change is the theme of what is being called a sports boycott, not a strike.The NBA season is already abbreviated because of the coronavirus. Games are being played in a single arena in Orlando without fans.President Donald Trump criticized the NBA walkout Thursday:”They’ve become like a political organization, and that’s not a good thing. I don’t think that’s a good thing for sports or for the country.”Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, told CNN the boycott was “absurd and silly.”But Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said athletes must not keep quiet.”This moment demands moral leadership. And these players answered by standing up, speaking out and using their platform for good. Now is not the time for silence,” Biden tweeted.His running mate, California Senator Kamala Harris, added in her own tweet, “It takes monumental courage to stand up for what you believe in. NBA and WNBA players, keep standing up and demanding change.”Began with Kaepernick The latest campaign of athletes speaking out against racial injustice began four years ago this week when quarterback Colin Kaepernick of the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers refused to stand during the playing of the national anthem before a preseason game.There has been sharp criticism, including from Trump, from those who say the protests taking place during the anthem are disrespectful to the country and the military.

UK to Revise Laws to Allow Use of COVID Vaccines Before Licensing

The British government announced Friday plans to fast-track any viable COVID-19 vaccine, allowing the emergency use of the drug before it goes through the formal licensing process, if it meets certain safety and quality standards.In a statement the British government, said if a viable vaccine is discovered before the end of the year, the proposals will bolster existing powers that allow the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency to consider approving its use, before a full product license is granted, provided it is proven to be safe and effective.The measures are necessary because during the transition period, a new potential COVID-19 vaccine must be granted a license after a review by the European Medicines Agency a process than can often take months.A handout image released by 10 Downing Street, shows Britain’s new Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England Jonathan Van-Tam speaking at a remote press conference, May 30, 2020.Britain’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said in the statement, “If we develop effective vaccines, it’s important we make them available to patients as quickly as possible but only once strict safety standards have been met.”The new guidelines also call for expanding the number of trained health care workers who can administer any potential COVID-19 vaccines as well as flu vaccines.The government said a three-week “consultation” is being launched immediately for health experts and key stakeholder groups to consider the new proposals. If approved they could be in place as early as October.Britain has had the worst COVID-19 death toll of any European country.

Russian Navy Conducts Major Maneuvers Near Alaska

The Russian navy conducted major war games near Alaska involving dozens of ships and aircraft, the military said Friday, the biggest such drills in the area since Soviet times.  
 
Russia’s navy chief, Adm. Nikolai Yevmenov, said that more than 50 warships and about 40 aircraft were taking part in the exercise in the Bering Sea, which involved multiple practice missile launches.  
 
“We are holding such massive drills there for the first time ever,” Yevmenov said in a statement released by the Russian Defense Ministry.
 
It wasn’t immediately clear when the exercises began or if they had finished.
 
Yevmenov emphasized that the war games are part of Russia’s efforts to boost its presence in the Arctic region and protect its resources.
 
“We are building up our forces to ensure the economic development of the region,” he said. “We are getting used to the Arctic spaces.”
 
The Russian military has rebuilt and expanded numerous facilities across the polar region in recent years, revamping runways and deploying additional air defense assets.
 
Russia has prioritized boosting its military presence in the Arctic region, which is believed to hold up to one-quarter of the Earth’s undiscovered oil and gas. Russian President Vladimir Putin has cited estimates that put the value of Arctic mineral riches at $30 trillion.
 
Russia’s Pacific Fleet, whose assets were taking part in the maneuvers, said the Omsk nuclear submarine and the Varyag missile cruiser launched cruise missiles at a practice target in the Bering Sea as part of the exercise.
 
The maneuvers also saw Onyx cruise missiles being fired at a practice target in the Gulf of Anadyr from the coast of the Chukchi Peninsula, it added.
 
As the exercise was ongoing, U.S. military spotted a Russian submarine surfacing near Alaska on Thursday. U.S. Northern Command spokesman Bill Lewis noted that the Russian military exercise is taking place in international waters, well outside U.S. territory.
 
Lewis said the North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command were closely monitoring the submarine. He added that they haven’t received any requests for assistance from the Russian navy but stand ready to assist those in distress.
 
Russian state RIA Novosti news agency quoted Russia’s Pacific Fleet sources as saying that the surfacing of the Omsk nuclear submarine was routine.
 
It cited former Russian navy’s chief of staff, retired Adm. Viktor Kravchenko, as saying that by having the submarine surface in the area the navy may have wanted to send a deliberate signal.
 
“It’s a signal that we aren’t asleep and we are wherever we want,” RIA Novosti quoted Kravchenko as saying.
 
The presence of Russian military assets in the area caused a stir for U.S. commercial fishing vessels in the Bering Sea on Wednesday.
 
“We were notified by multiple fishing vessels that were operating out the Bering Sea that they had come across these vessels and were concerned,” U.S. Coast Guard spokesman Kip Wadlow said Thursday.
 
The Coast Guard contacted the Alaskan Command at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, which confirmed the ships were there as part of a pre-planned Russian military exercise that was known to some U.S. military officials, he said.
 
The Russian military has expanded the number and the scope of its war games in recent years as Russia-West relations have sunk to their lowest level since the Cold War after Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, and other crises.
 
  

Germany’s Merkel Expects More Difficult COVID-19 Fight

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Friday she expects managing the COVOD-19 pandemic will become more difficult as the year progresses. Speaking to reporters in Berlin at her annual summer news conference, Merkel said dealing with the coronavirus has dominated her work as chancellor and will continue to do so in the months ahead. She said coping with the pandemic is easier in the summer when people can be outdoors.German Chancellor Angela Merkel holds her annual summer news conference in Berlin, Germany, Aug. 28, 2020.She anticipated it would be more difficult when people must be indoors.”I’m thinking of older people, those who need care and their relatives, families with children in cramped living conditions, students who have lost their part-time jobs, the unemployed — of whom there are now more and for whom it’s now harder,” Merkel said Friday, noting the plight of the unemployed and small-business owners must be addressed.The German leader also said there are many unknown aspects of the coronavirus, marking the coming months with uncertainty.”In such an unprecedented challenge we can only make decisions based on what we know today,” she said.Merkel called for continuing to build on what researchers already know, for example, taking measures such as increasing ventilation to keep fresh air circulating, as the cooler months approach.Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, wearing a face mask,walks after his press conference in Tokyo, Aug. 28, 2020.The chancellor also expressed regret about Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who announced his resignation Friday due to health concerns. She said she had not had a chance to speak with him personally but has always worked well with him. She said Germany-Japan relations have developed very well during his tenure.She wished him all the best from her heart and thanked him “for his good cooperation.”During the wide-ranging news conference, Merkel also commented on the unstable political situation in Belarus and the need for ongoing communication with Russia, as well as climate change action goals ahead of next year’s U.N.-sponsored climate conference in Glasgow. 
 

САП закрила частину «справи «Роттердам +», НАБУ протестує

Спеціалізована антикорупційна прокуратура повідомила, що закрила кримінальне провадження в одній із частин так званої «справи «Роттердам +», у Національному антикорупційному бюро України заявили, що оскаржать це рішення як таке, що «суперечить засадам верховенства права».

Як повідомили в САП, експерти призначеної комісійної судово-економічної експертизи у своєму висновку від 11.08.2020 не змогли підтвердити заподіяння збитків, зазнаних покупцями (споживачами) електричної енергії станом на 01.06.2019 року внаслідок завищення фактичної вартості відпущеної (проданої) ДП «Енергоринок» електричної енергії з Оптового ринку електричної енергії України, яка відповідно до постанови НКРЕКП від 03.03.2016 № 289 про порядок формування прогнозованої оптової ринкової ціни електричної енергії за так званою формулою «Роттердам +» діяла від травня 2016-го до кінця 2-го кварталу 2019 року.

«У ході досудового розслідування не здобуто належних, допустимих, достовірних і достатніх доказів, які б беззаперечно вказували на те, що у результаті розробки, прийняття і застосування постанови НКРЕКП № 289 від 03.03.2016 «Про затвердження Порядку формування прогнозованої оптової ринкової ціни електричної енергії» будь-кому завдані тяжкі наслідки, тобто завдана пряма шкода або збитки. Усі сумніви щодо доведеності вини особи тлумачаться на її користь», – наголосили в САП.

«На теперішній час, у зв’язку з тривалістю досудового розслідування, фактичним обмеженням строків досудового розслідування, визначених п. 3 ч. 4 ст. 219 КПК України, і відсутністю інших процесуальних джерел доказів, вичерпано можливості отримати достатні докази для доведення винуватості підозрюваних та інших осіб у суді. З огляду на викладене, складено постанову, відповідно до якої 27.08.2020 кримінальне провадження закрито в частині щодо підозрюваних у зв’язку з невстановленням достатніх доказів для доведення винуватості особи в суді і вичерпанням можливості їх отримати, а також у зв’язку з відсутністю складу кримінального правопорушення. Проте в повному обсязі кримінальне провадження не закрито, в ньому триває досудове розслідування», – повідомили в САП.

Менш ніж через годину після публікації цього повідомлення в НАБУ відповіли, що оскаржать це закриття в генерального прокурора і в. о. керівника САП як таке, що, на думку бюро, «суперечить засадам верховенства права».

При цьому в НАБУ теж заявили, посилаючись на результати експертизи, цілком інші дані: «Розслідування цієї справи перебувало на завершальній стадії, детективи зібрали всі необхідні і переконливі докази для скерування її до суду і доведення винуватості підозрюваних осіб. Про підозру повідомили 6 особам, внаслідок дій яких споживачам електроенергії завдано 18,87 мільярда гривень збитків, що підтверджено відповідною експертизою».

«НАБУ категорично не згодне з таким рішенням. Ми переконані, що вирішення долі цього провадження поза межами судового процесу не відповідатиме законним інтересам громадянського суспільства і держави. Адже справа «Роттердам +» є знаковою для України, і про необхідність її завершення неодноразово заявляли найвищі посадовці. Ми робитимемо все можливе у законний спосіб, щоб відновити розслідування і передати цю справу до суду для її оцінки як неупередженим судом, так і громадянським суспільством», – заявили в НАБУ.

У березні 2016 року Національна комісія, що здійснює державне регулювання у сфері енергетики та комунальних послуг, запровадила нову формулу розрахунку гуртової ринкової ціни на електроенергію, одним із елементів якої була й вартість вугілля для ТЕС у вугільних хабах у портах Роттердам, Амстердам і Антверпен у Нідерландах і його доставки в Україну; цю формулу неформально охрестили «Роттердам +». За повідомленнями, ця формула була вигідною для енергогенерувальних підприємств (значною частиною яких володіють компанії Ріната Ахметова) і невигідною для підприємств із великим енергоспоживанням (яких багато серед активів Ігоря Коломойського і Віктора Пінчука). Споживання населенням ця формула не стосувалася. Ця формула перестала діяти з липня 2019 року, коли в Україні запрацював новий ринок електроенергії.

Критики стверджували, що ця формула завищує кінцеву ціну електроенергії, й ініціювали судові позови проти неї ще з 2016 року, невдовзі після початку її застосування. Кілька судів визнали цю формулу законною.

Крім того, критику формули активно використовували супротивники п’ятого президента України Петра Порошенка, звинувачуючи його нібито в причетності до заподіяних нею збитків. Порошенко відкидає звинувачення і, вже втративши президентську посаду, закликав неупереджено розслідувати справу «формули «Роттердам +».

У НАБУ почали розслідування в справі цієї формули 2017 року. Після приходу до влади в Україні президента Володимира Зеленського він у травні 2019 року вимагав від НАБУ і САП протягом трьох місяців показати «відчутні результати в розслідуванні резонансних корупційних злочинів». Відтак у серпні 2019-го детективи НАБУ за процесуального керівництва САП повідомили шістьом особам, причетним до запровадження так званої формули «Роттердам +», про підозру у вчиненні дій, у результаті яких, за твердженням бюро, споживачам електроенергії було завдано 18,87 мільярда гривень збитків. Уже на початку серпня 2020 року в НАБУ навіть стверджували, що розмір шкоди від цієї формули, «встановлений на підставі низки науково-економічних досліджень і судових експертиз», становить уже 39 мільярдів гривень.

Тим часом наприкінці червня 2020 року голова САП Назар Холодницький заявив, що на той час не існувало висновків експертів про можливі збитки від застосування цієї формули і що з цього питання тільки призначені експертизи.

А в липні 2020 року державне підприємство «Центренерго» фактично повернулося до застосування формули «Роттердам +» при закупівлі вугілля українського видобутку від компанії «ДТЕК Енерго» Ріната Ахметова – його купують за ціною, прив’язаною до імпортного паритету, а саме до біржових котирувань вугілля на європейському хабі в порту Роттердам.

Detained Journalists in Belarus Face Charges for Covering Post-Election Protests

One of six RFE/RL journalists detained while covering post-election protests in Minsk on Aug. 27 is facing a charge of being a participant in an unauthorized mass demonstration.
 
He is among at least 35 journalists, and more than 260 people overall, who were detained during Aug. 27 protests in Minsk, according to a list compiled by the human rights center Vyasna.
 
The charge filed against Andrey Yaroshevich, a freelance camera operator working for Current Time, is an administrative offense that can result in a fine or a jail sentence. His case was being heard at a Minsk court on Aug. 28.
 
A total of six journalists working either for RFE/RL’s Belarus Service or Current Time — the Russian-language network led by RFE/RL in cooperation with VOA — were detained while covering demonstrations in two different Minsk locations on Aug. 27.
 
The Belarus Service’s Aleh Hruzdzilovich, Andrey Rabchyk, and Ales Dashchynski were detained on Independence Square. Uladzimer Hrydzin, a correspondent for RFE/RL’s Belarus Service, was detained during a demonstration on Freedom Square in Minsk.
 
All but Yaroshevich were later released.
 
In addition to Yaroshevich, three journalists who work for other media outlets also remained in the custody of Belarusian authorities on Aug. 28.
 
They also face charges of participating in an unauthorized mass rally — a violation of Article 23.34 of Belarus’s Administrative Offenses Code.Protesters rally against elections results they say were rigged, in Independence Square in Minsk, Belarus, Aug. 27, 2020.The detentions came after nearly three weeks of protests against the official results of the August 9 election — which gave President Alexander Lukashenko a landslide victory. Demonstrators and opposition leaders are contesting those results, charging that the vote was rigged in Lukashenko’s favor.
 
The demonstrations have been met with a brutal police crackdown, with widespread evidence of beatings and torture of detained protesters.
 
The leading opposition candidate, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, told the European Parliament this week that at least six people have been killed in the crackdown and dozens of protesters have gone missing after being detained by authorities.
 
But the roundup of journalists who are covering the crisis appears to signal a new strategy by Belarusian authorities.
 
Demonstrators on Aug. 27 first assembled in the capital’s Freedom Square to continue their calls for Lukashenko’s resignation and fresh elections. Vyasna says 17 journalists working for Belarusian and foreign media were detained there.
 
Another 18 journalists were detained after the demonstration moved to Independence Square, where police dispersed a crowd of about 1,000 and detained more than 260 people.
 
The Interior Ministry says detained journalists were put on a minibus and transported to a police station where officers checked whether they had valid accreditation to work legally in the country.
 
All but four were reportedly released the same evening.
 
Belarus has received international criticism for the way its Aug. 9 election was conducted, and for the harsh treatment of post-election demonstrators.
 
The official vote tally showed that Tsikhanouskaya finished a distant second to Lukashenko, but she says she is the rightful winner of the vote.
 
Belarusian prosecutors have jailed two leading members of Tsikhanouskaya’s recently formed Coordination Council.
 
Other leading opposition figures also have been summoned for questioning as part of what authorities in Minsk have called a “criminal investigation.”
 
The Coordination Council’s stated aim is to negotiate with Lukashenko’s government for new elections, the release of political prisoners, and a peaceful transition of power.
 With reporting by Current Time and RFE/RL’s Belarus Service.
 

НБУ незначно послабив гривню щодо долара

Міжбанківський валютний ринок 28 серпня балансує на межі психологічно важливої позначки 27,5 гривні за долар США. Національний банк України, відбиваючи тенденції міжбанку, встановив опівдні довідкове значення курсу 27 гривень 47 копійок за долар, це на одну копійку менше за офіційний курс на сьогодні.

За даними Finance.ua, станом на 12:30 котирування становили 27 гривень 47–49 копійок за долар, це нижче від рівня відкриття торгів (27 гривень 49,5–52 копійки за долар).

«Торги по долару проходять при перевищенні пропозиції. На торги вже вийшов НБУ з покупкою долара по 27,45», – відзначали станом на 11:00 фахівці сайту «Мінфін».

Опівдні, за їхніми даними, торги вийшли на пік активності.

New Films Explore New Orleans Post-Katrina Cycle of Trauma

Two films explore the cycle of violence, trauma and incarceration in the Black community of post Hurricane Katrina New Orleans. VOA’s Penelope Poulou spoke with filmmakers and community organizers of the documentary “Freedia Got a Gun” and of the drama feature “RZA’s Cutthroat City.” They chronicle causes of systemic violence in the Big Easy which was devastated 15 years ago by a Category 5 hurricane.

Ambassador from Riga: Without an Independent Latvia, His Job Wouldn’t Exist

Maris Selga has served as Latvia’s ambassador to the United States since September 2019.He began his diplomatic career in 1994. Prior to Washington, Selga served in various diplomatic posts, including in Denmark and Egypt, most recently as Latvia’s top diplomat stationed in the People’s Republic of China.He discussed the situation in Belarus in a recent written interview with VOA.VOA: How do Latvians feel about what’s happening in Belarus?Selga: Latvians are deeply concerned about the situation in Belarus. The government has called for a peaceful and lawful resolution of the current crisis while emphasizing that the use of force against peaceful protesters is unacceptable. The leadership of Latvia and members of Saeima (parliament) have joined their counterparts in other European countries to call for a peaceful resolution and condemn violence against peaceful demonstrators. Additionally, the government has agreed to strengthen Belarusian civil society by allocating 150,000 euros ($174,000) to it.The “Latvian Platform for Development Cooperation” along with the civil society organization “MARTA Center” in cooperation with NGOs working in Belarus, will provide legal, psychological [counseling], other medical and practical assistance to victims of human rights abuse that occurred after the August 9 election, as well as assist with documenting the abuse. Additionally, “MARTA Center” will provide qualification-enhancing training to Belarusian psychologists. Meanwhile the “Baltic Centre for Media Excellence” will implement projects that support independent media in Belarus.Latvian society has been following the crisis closely. Many have expressed support for the people of Belarus, including by organizing various peaceful protests.Belarus is and will remain an important neighbor and Latvia will continue to maintain friendly neighborly relations with the people of Belarus.VOA: Is Belarus facing an entirely different set of challenges than Latvia due to its geographic position?Selga: It is difficult to speculate about the role of our geographic position. Achieving independence was not easy and many Latvian’s sacrificed their lives for Latvia to be the free and democratic country it is today.Watching the situation unfold in Belarus, Latvians can once again feel reassured and grateful to live in a free and democratic country, where the elections are fair and free. This unfortunate crisis highlights the importance of human rights, including the freedom of expression, and the rule of law. It is a reminder to all Latvians about how fortunate we are to not have to face the challenges Belarusian society is currently dealing with.VOA: Why does Belarus matter?Selga: Like all people, the people of Belarus deserve to live in a democratic country, with fair elections, where human rights are respected. It is vital to support people striving for democracy and condemn the use of force and violence against peaceful demonstrators.A positive development of relations between the EU and Belarus is only possible through observing fundamental democratic rights and freedoms. Latvia, being a neighbor to Belarus, is interested in such a development.VOA: What would it take for Belarus to join the “western,” democratic camp – what will it take for the “Baltic Way” to work its miracles in Belarus?Selga: It’s important to note that the tools to achieve such a “miracle” are already available to Belarus. International norms and regulations serve as an important guide for such processes to take place. For example, Belarus is a member of the OSCE [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe], and the OSCE’s principles, if implemented, provide support for democratization. Also, the OSCE provides election observation, which Belarus should utilize in the current situation.Right now, it is vital that the Belarusian Government and law enforcement authorities respect civil liberties of Belarusian people and their right to freely express their political opinion. The use of force against peaceful protesters is unacceptable.The elections of 9 August 2020 were neither free nor fair. To resolve the situation, new presidential elections should be held, organized by a new Belarusian election commission and in the presence of international observers.VOA: What prevented Belarus from joining the democratic camp at the time Latvia did?Selga: This is a difficult question that is better posed to Belarus. Of course, we wish that Belarus would have followed Latvia down the road to democracy. There are some historical and cultural differences between our countries that may have played a role. Latvia was a free and democratic country from its conception in 1918 and, unlike Belarus, had the fortune to remain free and independent for more than twenty years. Latvia also continued to exist de jure throughout the Soviet occupation. Once independence was restored, Latvia reinstated its constitution of 1922, which upheld the values of Western democracy and the rule of law. Further, throughout history in terms of culture and cooperation, Latvians have been more aligned with Europe than with Russia. Additionally, soon after independence was restored, Latvia strived to join the European Union and NATO, which further motivated society and government to fully implement the values of democracy and human rights.VOA: What are the potential scenarios out of the current situation? The best, the worst, the so-so? And what does each scenario/potential outcome mean for Latvia?Selga: I would like to focus on the best scenario and not speculate on other outcomes – right now, we wish to see a new presidential election in Belarus, organized by a new Belarusian election commission and in the presence of international observers.VOA: What is the Ambassador’s relationship with his counterparts from Belarus and Russia like, compared to ambassadors from other Baltic and European countries?Selga: As an ambassador, I try to keep an open dialogue with all of my colleagues. Of course, it is very easy to work with colleagues who share the same priorities and have many of the same positions. In the case of the European Union, we prioritize having unified positions whenever possible and we share the same fundamental values, most of which are also enshrined in our respective national legislation. With both my Belarusian and Russian colleagues, I aim to keep an open dialogue and am always open to meet and discuss matters. I make it clear when our views and values don’t align, but I am always open to having conversations, even if they are difficult.VOA: How influential are EU sanctions?Selga: The targeted individual sanctions are against Belarusian officials responsible for falsifying presidential elections in Belarus and exerting excessive force against peaceful protesters in the streets of Belarusian cities.It is important to hold these officials responsible and sanctions are a tool through which we can do so.It is too early to judge how influential they will be, but I am hopeful they will motivate these and other officials to uphold human rights and the principles of democracy.VOA: What more can the EU and the US do?Selga: It is important that we continue to follow [monitor] the crisis, pressure the authorities to uphold human rights, including through the use of targeted sanctions, and express support to the people of Belarus as they strive towards freedom and democracy. Further, it is vital to expand support to civil society in Belarus.VOA: Can the Ambassador share with us where he was at the time of the Baltic Way? How did events then influence the Ambassador’s life and career choices? Is the Baltic Way still much talked about in Latvia, say in textbooks/at schools, also by parents to their kids?Selga: The time of the Baltic Way and the entire independence movement in Latvia laid the cornerstone for the country we have today. My family, friends and I were involved, but so was the majority of Latvian society.The movement was fueled by Latvians from all regions of Latvia, everyone came together for the same goal – a free and independent Latvia. Latvians continue to remember this and learn about it from family and in school.We are also grateful to the efforts of our Latvian diaspora abroad who advocated for Latvia’s independence all throughout the Soviet occupation and helped fuel the independence movement from abroad.In the United States, the Sumner Welles declaration of 1940, which condemned the forced annexation and occupation of the Baltics, was especially monumental in acknowledging the Soviet Union’s forced incorporation of the Baltic States and their legitimate strive for independence.Undoubtedly, if not for the independence movement as a whole, not only would I not be an ambassador, there perhaps would be no Latvia and no Latvian ambassadors. We all serve our country, whether as ambassadors or through other vocations. Above all, I am grateful that I can serve an independent and free Latvia.

In Belarus Crisis, Latvians See Echos of Their Own Independence Struggle

The people in Latvia have been closely following the crisis in Belarus, their neighboring country to the southeast, and “are deeply concerned about the situation,” Maris Selga, Latvia’s ambassador to the United States, said in an Maris Selga has served as Latvia’s ambassador to the United States since September 2019. (Photo courtesy Latvia Embassy)Latvia, along with its Baltic Sea neighbors Estonia and Lithuania, regained its independence with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, and the memory of that time remains strong in families and in schools.“The time of the Baltic Way and the entire independence movement in Latvia laid the cornerstone for the country we have today,” Selga said. The Baltic Way refers to the peaceful united front put up by the people of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia to successfully demand a restoration of their sovereignty.Recalling that critical time, Selga said, “Everyone came together for the same goal — a free and independent Latvia.”He added that the support of the international community — including support from the overseas Latvian community — was also critical to his nation’s regaining its freedom.“We are also grateful for the efforts of our Latvian diaspora abroad who advocated for Latvia’s independence all throughout the Soviet occupation and helped fuel the independence movement from abroad.”One action taken by the American government in 1940 stood out, Selga said. “The Sumner Welles Declaration of 1940, which condemned the forced annexation and occupation of the Baltics, was monumental.”The declaration, initially a one-page press statement issued by then-Acting Secretary of State Benjamin Sumner Welles, rejected the legitimacy of the Soviet Union’s annexation of the three Baltic states and laid a foundation of moral support for the Latvians and their neighbors.The nation’s appreciation was formalized in 2012 when the street that runs by the American embassy in Latvia’s capital city was named after Sumner Welles.“Watching the situation unfold in Belarus, Latvians can once again feel reassured and grateful to be living in a free and democratic country,” Selga said, adding that the unrest now unfolding in Belarus “highlights the importance of human rights, including the freedom of expression, and the rule of law.”Selga says his country’s leadership and members of its parliament, known as the Saeima, have joined their counterparts in other European countries to call for a peaceful resolution of the Belarus protests and to condemn violence against peaceful demonstrators. Many citizens have expressed support for the people of Belarus, including by organizing various peaceful protests.Latvia has also gathered and allocated resources to help the people of Belarus.Expanding support to civil society in Belarus “is vital,” the ambassador said. To that end, Latvia has put aside more than $175,000 for legal, medical, counseling and other practical assistance to “victims of human rights abuse that occurred after the August 9 election, as well as assisting with documenting the abuse.”Belarus “is and will remain an important neighbor” and Latvia will continue to maintain friendly neighborly relations with the people of Belarus, Selga said.“If not for the independence movement as a whole, not only would I not be an ambassador, there perhaps would be no Latvia and no Latvian ambassadors” anywhere, he reckoned.“We all serve our country, whether as ambassadors or through other vocations. Above all, I am grateful that I can serve an independent and free Latvia.”Selga was appointed Latvia’s ambassador to the United States in August 2019. He began his diplomatic career in 1994. Previously, Selga served in various diplomatic posts, including in Denmark and Egypt, most recently as Latvia’s top diplomat stationed in the People’s Republic of China. 

Arson, Apparent Surveillance Send Chilling Message to Ukraine’s Investigative Journalists

Grainy surveillance video shows a person walking toward a car belonging to Ukrainian investigative news team Schemes moments before the vehicle ignites.Police on Wednesday arrested two suspects in connection with the August 17 fire in Brovary, a city near the capital, Kyiv, and continue to investigate, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov FILE – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy IS pictured during a news conference in Kyiv.President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called on law enforcement to find the attackers quickly. He added that journalists, including his critics, should be protected.An Interior Ministry spokesperson told RFE/RL’s Radio Svoboda that police were looking for at least two other suspects in connection with the arson.In the alleged wiretap incident, police carried out a basic search but left without securing the scene, Natalie Sedletska, editor in chief of Schemes, said in a Facebook post.The post added that to prevent evidence from being damaged or tampered with, members of the news team kept vigil until police could return. Ukraine’s national police did not reply to VOA’s email requesting updates in the two investigations.Schemes showed video of the holes to independent experts who agreed they were evidence of an attempt to install a recording device. The experts differed on whether the device had been installed and later removed, or whether these marks were signs of preparation.In a statement, RFE/RL’s acting president, Daisy Sindelar, said she was distressed by the attacks.“We are relieved that no one was hurt but concerned that this incident appears aimed at intimidating RFE/RL’s reporters and contributing to a threatening environment for journalists across Ukraine,” Sindelar said, and she called for a speedy investigation.Other incidentsSchemes journalists have been targeted previously. They have been attacked, harassed and followed, and they have had personal information shared online.Local and international journalism rights groups said they thought the latest attack was an attempt to silence investigative outlets.Scott Griffen, deputy director of the International Press Institute (IPI), a global network of journalists, said investigative journalists are at risk of physical attack and intimidation through legal pressure.“The attacks and surveillance witnessed by Schemes are reflective of a wider environment in which journalists are not sufficiently protected,” he said.Describing the incidents as “blatant acts of intimidation” aimed at watchdog journalism, Griffen told VOA via email, “Unfortunately, all too often these kinds of attacks go unpunished in Ukraine, resulting in a lingering climate of impunity for attacks on the press.”The Ukrainian journalism coalition, Media for Conscious Choice, also condemned the attack in a statement, saying it was “unacceptable to monitor and interrogate journalists,” especially those reporting on high-level government corruption.Ukraine Media Leaders Sound Alarm on Oligarchical Control at Virtual VOA Town HallJournalists, media experts say Kyiv’s improved global media ratings don’t tell whole storyAttacks and pressure on journalists, particularly those investigating endemic corruption in Ukraine, is common, U.S. based research group Freedom House said. The nonprofit, which ranks Ukraine only “partly free” on its Freedom in the World Index, noted a failure by police to investigate and bring to justice those who attack or kill reporters.A fatal attack on an investigative journalist in the city of Cherkasy last year remains unsolved. Vadym Komarov, a reporter for a local publication, died from head injuries a few weeks after being found unconscious on a street. He was attacked the day after announcing on social media that he planned to publish an article on local graft, IPI reported.The press freedom group said impunity in these cases sends a signal to attackers that they will get away with their actions, which further endangers reporter safety.

Europe Races to Reopen Schools Amid COVID-19 Resurgence

European governments are preparing to reopen schools in the coming days for the new academic year, as health experts say it’s vital for children to resume education. Most students have not attended school for six months after lockdowns were imposed in March to contain the coronavirus pandemic. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, some teachers unions have voiced concerns for the safety of staff as infection rates continue to rise on the continent.
 

NATO Chief Calls on Belarus President to ‘Respect Fundamental Rights’

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday the alliance is “watching developments in Belarus closely,” and that NATO supports “a sovereign and independent Belarus.” Stoltenberg made the comments to reporters after meeting in Berlin with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The two leaders met to discuss pressing European diplomatic issues ahead of meetings with European Union defense ministers in Berlin.
 
In their bilateral talks, the two leaders also discussed the territorial dispute between Greece and Turkey, and the situation in Afghanistan.
 
Additionally, Stoltenberg mentioned the U.S. decision to pull troops out of Germany earlier this year and put additional personnel in Poland. The NATO chief said, “It is important that allies continue to consult closely because the U.S. presence in Europe is important both for the security of Europe and for the security of the United States.”
 
Ahead of the meeting with EU defense ministers, Stoltenberg added his voice to growing calls for a “transparent” investigation into the case of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Stoltenberg said there was “no reason to doubt” German doctors’ conclusions that the Kremlin critic was poisoned.  
 
Navalny’s supporters say he was poisoned by a cup of tea at a Siberian airport. Navalny later became ill on a flight to Moscow. The plane made an emergency landing in the Siberian city of Omsk, where he was hospitalized before he was airlifted to Germany for treatment last Saturday.
 
Russia has not opened an investigation into the incident and a Kremlin spokesman said there was “no pretext” to do so. The EU leaders are meeting in Berlin because Germany currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Union Council.