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Ukraine calls for more sanctions, weapons to stop Russia’s ‘catastrophe’

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Russia’s aggression was never limited to just Ukraine and the whole of Europe was a target as he urged the West to impose a complete embargo on Russian energy products and to supply Ukraine with more weapons.

Ukraine said it was ready for a tough battle with Russian forces massing in the east where the Ukrainian military says Russia is seeking to establish a land corridor from Crimea, which it annexed in 2014, and the eastern Donbas region, which is partly held by Moscow-backed separatists.

Zelenskiy, in an address late on Saturday, said Russia’s use of force was “a catastrophe that will inevitably hit everyone”.

“Russian aggression was not intended to be limited to Ukraine alone … the whole European project is a target for Russia,” he said.

Russia has failed to take one major city since the start of the invasion on Feb. 24 and has retreated from near the capital Kyiv and was instead building up forces in the east.

“Russia can still afford to live in illusions and bring new military forces and new equipment to our land,” Zelenskiy said.

“And that means we need even more sanctions and even more weapons for our state.”

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Some cities in the east are under heavy shelling with tens of thousands of people unable to evacuate.

“This will be a hard battle, we believe in this fight and our victory. We are ready to simultaneously fight and look for diplomatic ways to put an end to this war,” Zelenskiy said.

Ukrainian negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak said Zelenskiy and Russian President Vladimir Putin would not meet until after the Russia was defeated in the east.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson met Zelenskiy in Kyiv on Saturday and pledged armoured vehicles and anti-ship missile systems, along with additional support for World Bank loans.

Britain will also ratchet up its sanctions on Russia and move away from using Russian hydrocarbons.

“Other democratic Western states should follow the example of Great Britain,” Zelenskiy said as he met reporters with Johnson.

“It’s time to impose a complete ban on Russian energy supplies, and increase the delivery of weapons to us.”

Johnson said support for Ukraine aimed to ensure it “can never be bullied again, never will be blackmailed again, never will be threatened in the same way again”.

Johnson was the latest foreign leader to visit Kyiv after Russian forces pulled back from the area.

The visits are a sign that Kyiv is returning to some degree of normality.

Some residents are coming back and cafes and restaurants are reopening. Italy said it planned to re-open its embassy this month.

‘NEVER FORGET’

But in the east, Ukrainian officials have urged civilians to flee after a missile attack on Friday on a train station crowded with women, children and the elderly.

Ukrainian officials said more than 50 people were killed in the strike in the city of Kramatorsk in the Donetsk region, where thousands of people had gathered to evacuate.

Russia has denied responsibility, saying the missiles used in the attack were only used by Ukraine’s military. The United States says it believes Russian forces were responsible.

Reuters was unable to verify the details of attack.

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Russia’s invasion has forced about a quarter of Ukraine’s 44 million people out of their homes, turned cities into rubble and killed or injured thousands.

Kramatorsk Mayor Oleksander Honcharenko said he expected just 50,000 to 60,000 of the city’s population of 220,000 to remain as people flee.

Ukraine said 4,532 people were evacuated from its cities on Saturday, down from 6,665 the day before.

The civilian casualties have triggered a wave of international condemnation, in particular over hundreds of deaths in the town of Bucha, a town to the northwest of Kyiv that until last week was occupied by Russian forces.

“We will never forget everything we saw here, this will stay with us for our whole lives,” said Bohdan Zubchuk, a community policeman in the town.

British military intelligence said that Russia’s retreat from the capital region revealed “disproportionate” targeting of civilians.

Russia has denied targeting civilians in what it calls a “special operation” to demilitarize and “denazify” its southern neighbour. Ukraine and Western nations have dismissed this as a baseless pretext for war.

The European Union on Friday adopted new sanctions against Russia, including bans on the import of coal, wood, chemicals and other products. Oil and gas imports from Russia remain untouched.

Ukraine on Saturday banned all imports from Russia, a key trading partners before the war with annual imports valued at about $6 billion.

“The enemy’s budget will not receive these funds, which will reduce its potential to finance the war,” Economy Minister Yulia Svyrydenko wrote on her Facebook page.

Reuters

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23 years old Nigerian accused of raping Australian tourist in Indonesia

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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.

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.

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Comoros ex-president Sambi jailed for life for ‘high treason’

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Former Comorian President Ahmed Abdallah Sambi (2nd R), escorted by Gendarmes, arrives at the courthouse in Moroni on November 21, 2022. – Sambi, who served as president from 2006-2011 and is the main opponent of current leader Azali Assoumani, has been held under house arrest since May 2018.
Sambi was originally placed under house arrest for disturbing public order.
Three months later he was placed under pre-trial detention for embezzlement, corruption and forgery, over a scandal involving the sale of Comorian passports to stateless people living in Gulf nations. (Photo by Ibrahim YOUSSOUF / AFP)

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.

Guardian

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UK university workers begin strike over ‘falling pay, brutal workloads’

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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.

The Cable

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