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April 18, 2023 – News of Russia and Ukraine



This screenshot shows two Russians claiming to be former Wagner commanders. (Gulag. no)

A Russian who claimed to have killed children and other civilians while serving with Wagner’s private military company in Ukraine appears to have retracted the claim, suggesting he was being blackmailed.

Former convict Azamat Uldarov gave his rebuttal during a video call to the Russian news agency RIA-FAN. It is not clear if there were any conditions for the interview.

He and another ex-prisoner, Aleksey Savichev, previously gave long and rambling interviews with the Russian human rights group, saying they were among the tens of thousands of Wagner fighters recruited from Russian prisons to fight in Ukraine.

In a conversation with Gulag founder Vladimir Osechkin, Uldarov said that he had shot a young girl, calling it “the decision of the leadership.”

“I was not allowed to let anyone out alive, because I ordered to kill everyone in my path,” he said, estimating that the girl was five or six years old.

In an interview with RIA-FAN, linked to Wagner group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, Uldarov said he gave the interview while intoxicated and claimed that Osechkin blackmailed him about being in prison.

To the question of RIA-FAN: “You were forced to say what you said on the video, right?” Uldarov answered: “Not only correctly, but also [expletive] correct. I had to say it because I didn’t have a choice.”

“I said everything I was told,” Uldarov said then.

“Prigozhin is a great guy,” he added with a thumbs up. “He saved our lives.”

But Osechkin, from the Gulag, who is based in France, told CNN he stands by the content of his interviews with the two men, citing Uldarov’s rebuttal as evidence of how quickly dissenting voices are silenced in Russia.

Osechkin also claimed that both interlocutors, Uldarov and Savichev, received death threats if they did not retract their testimony to him. Savichev told the Gulag that his unit was ordered to kill all men 15 and older.

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AFP journalist Arman Soldin was killed in Ukraine.



PARIS. The French international news agency Agence France-Presse reports that on Tuesday during a rocket attack on the city of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, its video coordinator for Ukraine was killed.

The agency said Arman Soldin, 32, was with a group of AFP journalists traveling with Ukrainian soldiers when the group came under fire from Grad rockets. The rest of the AFP team was unharmed.

According to the agency, the attack took place in the late afternoon in the vicinity of the town of Chasov Yar near Bakhmut. Russian troops tried to capture the city for nine months, making Bakhmut the center of the longest battle of the war.

AFP journalist Arman Soldin takes a selfie with a cat on his shoulder while on an AFP assignment in Ukraine.Arman Soldin / AFP – Getty Images

“His death is a terrible reminder of the risks and dangers journalists cover the conflict in Ukraine face every day,” said AFP chairman Fabrice Fries.

Soldin was born in Sarajevo, now the capital of Bosnia, and is a French citizen, according to AFP. He arrived in Ukraine to cover the war the day after the Russian invasion on February 24, 2022, and has traveled regularly to the front lines in recent months.

AFP said it was “devastated” by Soldin’s death and “our thoughts go out to his family and loved ones.”

In May 2022, French journalist Frederic Leclerc-Imhoff, who worked in Ukraine for BFM-TV, was killed near Severodonetsk in the east.

According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Committee to Protect Journalists, at least 10 media workers have been killed while covering the war in Ukraine.

RSF director Christophe Deloar praised the daily courage of those who covered the war and called Soldin’s death “a tragedy for all those who defended the independence and credibility of information”.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, in a speech Tuesday evening in Washington, expressed his condolences to Soldin’s family and loved ones.

“Countless journalists are working to uncover the truth and tell the truth under extremely dangerous conditions,” Blinken said. “Today we were devastated to learn of the death of AFP video journalist Arman Soldin in eastern Ukraine.”

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Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan Arrested, His Party Says



ISLAMABAD (AP) – Pakistani anti-bribery agents arrested former Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday as he appeared in court in the capital Islamabad to face charges in several bribery cases, police and his party officials said.

The arrest, which marks a sharp escalation of the political situation in Pakistan, drew condemnation from supporters of the popular opposition leader and former cricket star across the country.

According to Fawad Chaudhry, a senior official in Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf Party of Pakistan, Khan was dragged from the Islamabad High Court and pushed into a police car by National Accountability Bureau agents.

Chaudhry called the arrest a “kidnapping”. Pakistani independent television GEO aired footage of the 72-year-old Khan being dragged by security forces towards the armored personnel carrier that had taken him away.

Khan was ousted in a vote of no confidence in April 2022. He claimed that his overthrow was illegal and a Western conspiracy, and campaigned against the government of his successor, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, demanding early elections.

After Khan was taken away, a scuffle broke out between Khan’s supporters and the police. Chaudhry said that several of Khan’s lawyers and supporters, as well as several police officers, were injured in the fight. Khan’s side immediately complained to the Islamabad High Court, which requested a police report explaining the allegations of Khan’s arrest.

Officials from the anti-corruption body said Pakistan’s National Accountability Bureau last week issued an arrest warrant for Khan in a separate bribery case in which he received no bail, which would have protected him from arrest under the laws of the country. Officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Khan would appear before an anti-bribery tribunal later Tuesday.

Islamabad police confirmed the arrest. Khan was later transferred to the garrison town of Rawalpindi, near Islamabad, where he was to be interrogated at the office of the National Accountability Bureau. he also had to undergo a medical examination in accordance with the established procedure, the police said.

Khan arrived in Islamabad earlier Tuesday from the nearby city of Lahore, where he lives, to appear before the Islamabad High Court in multiple bribery cases. He said the cases, including the terrorism allegations, are a plot by the Sharif government to discredit the former cricket star-turned-Islamist politician.

As news of the arrest spread, Khan’s supporters began to gather in Lahore chanting anti-government slogans.

The arrest was “flagrant interference in court cases by the authorities,” Raouf Hassan, another leader of Khan’s party, told the English television channel Al Jazeera. “We are completely in the dark. He was actually kidnapped from the court.”

Private security personnel with bulletproof shields escort former Prime Minister Imran Khan as he arrives at court, in Islamabad, Pakistan, Tuesday, May 9, 2023. Former Pakistani Prime Minister Khan’s party officials say he was arrested when he appeared in court in the capital Islamabad to stand trial in several bribery cases.

The arrest came just hours after Khan posted a video message before leaving for Islamabad saying he was “mentally ready” for arrest – a sign he may have known what awaited him in the capital.

Khan was wounded by a gunman during a rally last November in an attack that killed one of his supporters and wounded 13 others. was behind the plot to kill him.

The shooter was immediately arrested, and police later released a video of him in their custody, allegedly saying he acted alone.

On Monday, the military, in a strongly worded statement, criticized Khan for “fabricated and malicious allegations” of his involvement in the November shooting, calling them “grossly unfortunate, deplorable and unacceptable.”

After Khan’s arrest, Sharif, whose government is facing a spiraling economic growth and is struggling to recover from last year’s devastating floods that killed hundreds and caused $30 billion in damage, accused Khan of attacking the military.

Protected by a bulletproof barrier, former Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks during a rally in Lahore, Pakistan, on March 26, 2023.

AP Photo/KM Chaudhry, file

“Let it be perfectly clear that you, as a former prime minister currently on trial for corruption, are claiming legitimacy to overthrow the legal and political system,” Prime Minister Sharif tweeted.

Khan became the seventh former prime minister arrested in Pakistan. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was arrested and hanged in 1979. The brother of the current prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, who also served as prime minister, was arrested several times on corruption charges.

In March, police raided Khan’s residence in Lahore in an attempt to arrest him on the basis of a court order in another case. During the ensuing clashes, people were injured, including policemen. Khan was not arrested at the time, and was later released on bail in the case.

Khan came to power in 2018 after winning parliamentary elections. His initially good relationship with the country’s military gradually deteriorated. The military has ruled Pakistan directly for more than half of the 75 years since the country gained independence from British colonial rule and has wielded significant power over civilian governments.

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New wave of COVID in China raises concerns over slowdown in trading volume



SHANGHAI/SINGAPORE (Reuters) – A new wave of COVID-19 is spreading across China as people return from holiday travel, reach trading floors and raise concerns about the impact on trading volume, though probably not as pronounced as previous disruptions. caused by the pandemic. .

More than half a dozen traders and banking sources told Reuters this week that they or their colleagues had recently contracted the coronavirus or had heard of colleagues testing positive.

“I think about 10% of the people around me got it again,” said a trader at a foreign bank.

COVID-19 swept through the trading floors of the capital city of Beijing and financial hub Shanghai in December, just as China was reopening its economy after three years of strict containment measures, sickness and absence from work reduced trading volume and regulators had to reschedule meetings.

Traders said they expect less impact this time around.

“There are no more quarantine cases and close contacts, so the second wave should just reduce the efficiency of trading,” said a second trader at a foreign bank.

The trader said they had close contact with a COVID-19 patient and decided to work remotely from home as some colleagues tested positive for the virus.

“The impact of the COVID shocks should get smaller and smaller. From reopening in other parts of the world, the same trend is observed,” said Tommy Xie, head of research for Greater China at OCBC Bank.

In the interbank market of China, the average daily trading volume of the US dollar/yuan slowed down only slightly. Monday’s daily trading volume was $35.9 billion, the lowest since April 18, compared to an average of $38.9 billion last month.

While the World Health Organization has declared that COVID-19 is no longer a global health emergency, Chinese health authorities said this week that the number of cases has risen as travel spiked during the Labor Day five-day break to May 3rd However, the number of severe cases in hospitals has not increased significantly.

Transmission of the virus naturally increases as people congregate or due to increased mobility during public holidays, so infection may recover slightly in some areas, said Liu Qing, an official with the National Administration for Disease Prevention and Control.

“However, the likelihood of regional large-scale outbreaks is low, and there will be no obvious impact on medical care and social operations in the short term,” Liu said.

A third person at a foreign bank said he had recently tested positive and rested at home for a week, although their employer did not have any specific protocols.

However, at least two lenders, including a major state-owned bank, conducted rapid antigen tests after employees reported feeling unwell, people familiar with the matter said.

“Sooner or later, the second wave will come. Now I will take extra care of myself,” said a fourth trader who works for a Chinese lender.

(Reporting by Winnie Zhou and Jindong Zhang in Shanghai and Tom Westbrook in Singapore; editing by Vidya Ranganathan and Christopher Cushing)

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