Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said the situation in Mariupol is “inhuman” and called on the West to immediately provide heavy weapons, as Russia claimed it was in control of almost all of the strategic port city and urged its last defenders to surrender.
Moscow said Ukrainian forces in the city must lay down their arms by Sunday, after weeks of relative calm in the capital Kyiv were brought to an end by renewed Russian airstrikes.
Austria’s chancellor, the first European leader to meet with Vladimir Putin in person since the invasion began, said he thought the Russian president “believes he is winning the war” in Ukraine.
But in the south, the devastated city of Mariupol has become a symbol of Ukraine’s unexpectedly fierce resistance since Russian troops invaded the former Soviet state on February 24.
Moscow officials now say they are in full control there, though Ukrainian fighters remain holed up in the city’s fortress-like steelworks.
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“The situation in Mariupol remains as severe as possible. Just inhuman,” President Zelensky said in a video address.
“Russia is deliberately trying to destroy everyone who is there.”
Ukraine’s Minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov said the city was on “the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe” and warned the country was compiling evidence of alleged Russian atrocities there.
“We will hand everything over to The Hague. There will be no impunity,” he said.
Moscow Saturday issued an ultimatum to the fighters, urging them to lay down their arms by 6:00 am Moscow time (0300 GMT) and to evacuate the premises before 13:00 pm.
But with the Russian forces closing in, Zelensky issued his own warning.
“The elimination of our troops, of our men (in Mariupol) will put an end to any negotiations,” Zelensky told the Ukrainska Pravda news website.
“We don’t negotiate neither our territories nor our people.”
‘Insidious and ruthless’
In the capital, smoke rose from the Darnyrsky district in the southeast of the capital after what Moscow said were “high-precision long-range” strikes on an armaments plant, killing one person and wounding several others.
A heavy police and military presence was deployed around the factory, which was badly damaged.
“Our forces are doing everything possible to protect us, but the enemy is insidious and ruthless,” Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said.
The strike came a day after a similar attack on a plant that produced Neptune missiles — the type which, according to Kyiv and Washington, sank Russia’s Black Sea flagship Moskva on Thursday.
23 years old Nigerian accused of raping Australian tourist in Indonesia
A 23-year-old Nigerian tourist risks 12 years in prison after an alleged sexual crime against a 31-year-old tourist in Kuta, Indonesia.
A report by Daily Mail revealed that the woman, who is an Australian, was raped after she met up with the Nigerian man on Friday, December 2.
The report also noted that the duo met on a dating app on December 1 and agreed to meet at a bar in Kuta the following day.
Although the Indonesian police are still searching for the Nigerian man, they alleged that he hurriedly took the woman to his hotel after drinking at the bar.
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The woman was sexually abused at the hotel and had cuts and bruises to her arms, hands and waist.
Witnesses said they saw the Australian staggering after drinking at the bar in Kuta.
FIJ gathered online that the Indonesian law provides a maximum of 12-year sentence for anyone convicted of physical sexual abuse.
Comoros ex-president Sambi jailed for life for ‘high treason’
A court in the Comoros on Monday handed down a life sentence for high treason to ex-president Ahmed Abdallah Sambi, who was convicted of selling passports to stateless people living in the Gulf.
Sambi, 64, an arch-rival of President Azali Assoumani, was sentenced by the State Security Court, a special judicial body whose rulings cannot be appealed.
“He betrayed the mission entrusted to him by the Comorians,” public prosecutor Ali Mohamed Djounaid told the court last week as he requested a life sentence.
Sambi, who led the small Indian Ocean archipelago between 2006 and 2011, pushed through a law in 2008 allowing the sale of passports for high fees.
The scheme aimed at the so-called bidoon — an Arab minority numbering in the tens of thousands who cannot obtain citizenship.
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The former president was accused of embezzling millions of dollars under the scheme.
The prosecution said the cost was more than $1.8 billion — more than the impoverished nation’s GDP.
“They gave thugs the right to sell Comorian nationality as if they were selling peanuts,” said Eric Emmanuel Sossa, a lawyer for civilian plaintiffs.
But Sambi’s French lawyer Jean-Gilles Halimi said “no evidence” of missing money or bank accounts had been put forward to suggest a crime.
Sambi refused to attend the trial after a brief appearance at the first hearing, as his lawyers said there were no guarantees he would be judged fairly.
He was originally prosecuted for corruption, but the charges were reclassified as high treason, a crime that “does not exist in Comorian law,” Halimi said.
Sambi had already spent four years behind bars before he faced trial, far exceeding the maximum eight months. He was originally placed under house arrest for disturbing public order.
UK university workers begin strike over ‘falling pay, brutal workloads’
Thousands of university and college staff in the United Kingdom, including lecturers, librarians and researchers, have declared a strike to demand pay increase and improved working conditions.
The University and College Union (UCU), the UK trade union for university staff, said the strike, referred to as the biggest in decades, is to improve quality in the education sector.
The UCU “represents over 120,000 academics, lecturers, trainers, instructors, researchers, managers, administrators, computer staff, librarians, technicians, professional staff and postgraduates in universities, colleges, prisons, adult education and training organisations across the UK”.
“This is the biggest week in our history. Every single university takes strike action on Thursday and Friday. We need every member, student and supporter on our picket lines on Thursday to show the employers that this time is different,” the union said in a statement.
Announcing the strike on Wednesday, Jo Grady, UCU’s general secretary, warned of a “bigger action” unless employers improved their offers.
“Staff are burnt out but they are fighting back and they will bring the whole sector to a standstill,” she said.
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“Vice-chancellors only have themselves to blame. Their woeful leadership has led to the biggest vote for strike action ever in our sector. Students are standing with staff because they know this can’t go on.”
The strike, which began on Thursday, will also hold on November 25 and November 30.
Commenting on the development on Thursday, Grady expressed satisfaction with the turnout of university staff.
“Today’s picket lines are huge. 70,000 university staff have turned out like never before, defying bullying tactics from management to show they will no longer accept falling pay, pension cuts, brutal workloads and gig-economy working conditions,” she was quoted as saying, according to UCL.
“If vice-chancellors doubted the determination of university staff to save our sector, then today has been a rude awakening for them.”
The strike has affected over 2.5 million students, some of who are standing in solidarity with their lecturers.
Lawyers, nurses, postal workers and many others have also protested to seek pay rises that match the soaring inflation in the country.
The latest protests come after the UK’s National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers announced on Tuesday that more than 40,000 rail workers will stage strikes in December and January, disrupting travel for scores of people during the festive season.
The union said members will have demonstrations for four days from December 13 and in the first week of January.
The UK has been battling difficult economic situations due to surging energy costs arising from the Russia-Ukraine war.
Earlier in August, the Bank of England warned that inflation would climb to just over 13 percent in 2022.
It also projected that the country would enter a recession from the fourth quarter of 2022 until late 2023.
In November, the country’s inflation rate jumped in the last 12 months to 11.1 percent in October — up by one percent from August’s inflation rate.
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