Kiev must stop provoking Donbas detachment – Russian FM
Russia’s foreign minister urged Kiev to refrain from taking steps that would provoke the detachment of the southeastern Donetsk and Lugansk regions from Ukraine. In an interview with Interfax, the FM expressed the hope that Ukraine’s leadership will “switch its course to dialogue with Donbass and the achievement of agreements that will ensure equality and respectful living for all citizens and all regions of Ukraine.” This can only be accomplished through comprehensive and transparent constitutional reform involving all regions and all political forces, he added. According to the UN, the death toll in the Ukrainian conflict that started in April is over 4,700.
At least 44 people dead in Brazilian bus crash
At least 44 people are feared dead after a passenger bus collided with a tanker truck carrying a flammable liquid in Brazil’s northeastern state of Piaui. The accident reportedly occurred when the bus attempted to overtake another vehicle. Police say both vehicles were already engulfed in flames by the time they arrived on the scene. The bus driver and a five-year-old are the only known survivors of the crash, a police officer told the local news portal Globo. It is possible that the number of causalities could rise.
Judiciary, other Turkey state bodies must be ‘cleansed of traitors’ – Erdogan
The judiciary and some other state institutions, including the state scientific agency Tubitak, must still be “cleansed of traitors” following the detention of two dozen opposition journalists and others, Reuters quoted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as saying on Monday. Erdogan earlier accused followers of the US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen of trying to topple the government. Hundreds of police officers, prosecutors and Tubitak scientists have been purged.
New Russian submarines to ‘have underwater drones, keep double-hull design’
Russia’s next-generation nuclear-powered attack submarines will be armed with torpedoes, missiles and underwater drones, Malakhit design bureau’s Deputy General Director Nikolay Novoselov told RIA Novosti on Monday. The drones will be able to detach from the submarine while switched off and power up on command. “The displacement will be roughly similar to that of the Yasen-class subs – some 12,000 tons or even slightly less,” Novoselov said, adding that a double-hull structure will remain.
Turkish President defends raids on media
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday defended weekend raids on media outlets closely linked to a US-based Muslim cleric. Sunday’s raids on the Zaman daily and Samanyolu television marked an escalation in Erdogan’s battle with former ally Fethullah Gulen, Reuters said. The president described them as a necessary response to “dirty operations” by the government’s political enemies. “They cry press freedom, but [the raids] have nothing to do with it,” Erdogan said, speaking at the opening of an extension to an oil refinery near Istanbul. “We have no concern about what the EU might say, whether the EU accepts us as members or not, we have no such concern.”
Belgian police storm apartment in Ghent, ‘hostage safe’
Belgian police stormed an apartment in the western city of Ghent on Monday to end a siege and free a hostage, Reuters said. Three other men have been detained, and the victim is safe and well and, a spokeswoman for state prosecutors said. “There were no weapons found. The earlier reports were of four men with Kalashnikovs (assault rifles),” she said, adding that it was not entirely clear “whether someone was in fact taken hostage.” There was no indication of a link in the Ghent case to terrorism, and neighbors say the flat had been used by drug dealers.
Sweden, Denmark summon Russian envoys over air incident
Sweden and Denmark summoned Russia’s ambassadors on Monday over an air incident last week, AFP reported. Sweden said the Russian plane came dangerously close to an SAS jet (less than 9km), and that it was flying invisible to commercial jets. Both Swedish and Danish jet fighters were scrambled in response to the incident. A Russian military spokesman said on Sunday that the plane was “more than 70km” away from the passenger jet and that a NATO reconnaissance plane was also in the area at the time.
Italian PM vows strong campaign to win 2024 Olympics
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on Monday vowed a strong campaign to win the 2024 Olympic Games, saying that Rome will spearhead the bid. Italy became the first to announce a bid, as new International Olympic Committee rules allow events to be staged in more than one city, AFP reported. “In September 2015 we will officially present our candidature to host the 2024 Olympic Games,” Renzi said. “All the cities, from Florence and Naples to Sardinia, could be involved,” according to the PM.
Al-Qaeda seizes key army base in northwest Syria
Syria’s Al-Qaeda affiliate on Monday seized the key army base of Wadi al-Deif in the northwestern province of Idlib from government forces, AFP reported, citing a monitoring group. The Al-Nusra Front, backed by Islamist group Jund al-Aqsa, “seized control of the Wadi al-Deif military base, after a fierce offensive that began yesterday morning,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. The move leaves most of Idlib province, which borders Turkey, under Al-Nusra Front’s control. In November, the Al-Qaeda branch drove out mainstream rebels who had Wadi al-Deif under siege for around two years.
4 armed men take hostage in Belgium
Belgian police surrounded an apartment in the city of Ghent on Monday after four armed men were believed to have taken a hostage, AFP said. One person was reportedly held in the incident in a working-class area of the northwestern city. There were no immediate indications of terrorism, according to prosecutors.
300 Chinese fighting for Islamic State in Middle East
About 300 Chinese people are fighting alongside the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in Iraq and Syria, Reuters said, citing a state-run newspaper’s report. Around 300 Chinese extremists are fighting with the IS in Iraq and Syria, the Global Times said, citing sources that include security officers from Iraq’s Kurdish region, Syria and Lebanon. Chinese members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement are traveling to Syria via Turkey to join the IS, the paper said.
France dismantles network sending fighters to Syria
French police dismantled a network sending jihadist fighters to Syria in raids across the country early on Monday, AFP reported. Police units descended on around a dozen targets, mostly in the southern region of Toulouse, but also around Paris and in the northern region of Normandy, a source said. It was not immediately reported how many people were arrested. Almost 1,000 French nationals are estimated to have left to join jihadists in Iraq and Syria.
Ukraine closes 3 major airports ‘for security reasons’
Three major airports in Ukraine – Kharkov, Dnepropetrovsk and Zaporozhye – have been closed indefinitely, Ukraine’s State Air Traffic Service said on Monday. Flights are banned “for security reasons,” TASS reported, citing the statement. The service’s chief Denis Antonyuk earlier said the airports would be closed till Tuesday morning.
France to ban UberPop service next year
The UberPop transport service will be forbidden in France beginning January 1, the Interior Ministry said on Monday. Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet told iTELE: “Not only is it illegal to offer this service, but additionally for the consumer there is a real danger.” Taxi unions called a one-day action to protest San Francisco-based Uber, vowing to block 260km of roads around Paris with slowly moving taxi motorcades during the morning rush hour, Reuters reported.
Philippines prosecutors charge US Marine with murder of transgender
Philippine government prosecutors charged a US Marine with murder Monday in the killing of a Filipino transgender person, AP said. There was “probable cause” that Marine Pfc. Joseph Scott Pemberton killed Jennifer Laude, whose former name was Jeffrey, in October in Olongapo city, northwest of Manila, according to Prosecutor Emily de los Santos. The prosecutor had filed the non-bailable charge against the 19-year-old Pemberton before a regional court, saying that “it was aggravated by treachery, abuse of superior strength and cruelty.”
Netanyahu vows to fight Palestinian UN bid
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to “fend off any attempts to dictate unilateral moves,” referring to a Palestinian UN proposal that sets a timetable for an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines, Haaretz daily said. The Palestinian leadership on Sunday said it planned to submit a resolution to the UN Security Council setting a two-year deadline for Israel to end its occupation, AFP reported. A draft UN resolution will be presented Wednesday on ending the Israeli occupation by late 2016, senior Palestine Liberation Organization member Wassel Abu Yussef said.
Russian Proton-M rocket blasts off from Baikonur
Russia’s Proton-M rocket with a Yamal-401 satellite of JSC Gazprom Space Systems on board has been launched from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome. The rocket was successfully launched at 3:16am Monday as scheduled, Roscosmos space agency told TASS. The satellite will allow for the incessant retransmission of telecommunications from Russia, covering Europe and Asia. Media reports