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  • In Bosnia, You Can Buy Anything Online, Even Votes (They're 25 Euros)
    RADIO FREE EUROPE Ron Synovitz October 01, 2016

    International election observers agree that vote buying is a historical problem that plagues elections around the world.

    But the practice recently has become so blatant in Bosnia-Herzegovina that voters have been advertising online to sell their votes.

    Such advertisements turned up on olx.ba -- one of Bosnia's most popular websites for buying and selling goods and services -- during the final two weeks before local elections on October 2.

    RFE/RL contacted one Bosnian man who was selling his vote through the website for 50 Bosnian convertible marks -- the equivalent of 25 euros.

    "Politicians don't care about the people anyway," said the man, who wished to remain anonymous. "If we sell our vote, at least we get something for ourselves."

    "A vote goes for 50 convertible marks," the vote seller told RFE/RL. "Some ask for more. One person called me and told me he'd give me 100 marks if I would take a photo of the [marked] ballot and send it to a certain phone number."

    Another self-declared vote seller in Bosnia who wanted to remain anonymous, rather than face a possible five-year prison sentence for the illegal activity, told RFE/RL he was approached by a candidate from eastern Sarajevo who offered him 25 euros for his vote.

    "I also know that in rural areas people will sell their votes for a bag of flour, 10 liters of cooking oil, or 10 kilos of sugar," he said. "I've seen it with my own eyes."

    More than 3.3 million voters are eligible to cast ballots in the two constituent states that comprise Bosnia-Herzegovina.

    There are races for 74 municipal councils, four city councils, and 131 mayoral offices in the Bosniak-Croatia federation.

    In the Serb entity, Republika Srpska, there are 10 mayoral races, as well as elections for 57 municipal councils and six city councils. Locals and outsiders alike will be watching for signs there of whether an erosion of popularity that began in municipal elections four years ago continues for that republic's Serb nationalist president, Milorad Dodik.

    Thomas Rymer, a spokesman for the OSCE's election monitoring division (ODIHR), says his organization has heard allegations and collected evidence on vote buying in many of the OSCE's 57 participant countries.

    "Vote buying is a problem that actually reinforces itself in some places," Rymer told RFE/RL. "Where this is more prevalent as a practice, you generally have a combination of factors -- economic, as well as a lack of trust in the electoral system -- so that what [voters] feel they are giving up is worth less than what they're being paid for it."

    "If people are aware that votes are being bought and sold, then it again lowers people's trust in their electoral system and then makes them question even more the value of their vote," he said.

    OSCE monitoring missions are not tasked with preventing election irregularities.

    Rather, observers document complaints and violations -- reporting them to relevant local authorities responsible for enforcing the given country’s election laws.

    Further, due to what Rymer described as operational priorities in the OSCE area and limited budget resources, ODIHR has opted not to send a monitoring mission to observe the October 2 voting.

    The OSCE division's latest report on Bosnia was about the October 2014 general elections, when ODIHR monitors documented multiple complaints about vote buying and voters going into polling booths with premarked ballots -- one of the methods used by vote buyers to ensure vote sellers cast their ballots the way they have promised.

    Other complaints in 2014 documented by the OSCE included "campaign activity" outside polling stations, denial of access to polling stations for accredited observers, proxy voting, ballot-box stuffing, and vote counting discrepancies.

    "What the report from 2014 states is that these complaints about vote buying, as well as the other irregularities, were filed with the relevant authorities," Ryman said. "There didn’t appear to have been a real serious investigation into the allegations that were made. It seems like there wasn’t enough due attention paid by the relevant authorities -- the [Central] Election Commission in this case -- to the nature of those complaints and whether they were valid."

    RFE/RL has spoken with voters who admitted taking payments in 2014 equivalent to 50 euros for supporting a whole list of candidates from one political party.

    None of the parties allegedly involved in vote buying would comment to RFE/RL about the practice.

    One Sarajevo man said he discovered from "a distant relative" how to contact a vote buyer from one of the political parties offering cash for votes.

    After registering and agreeing to sell his vote, he said he was met on election day by a woman in front of the polling station in Sarajevo's Novi Grad municipality.

    "She gave me instructions on how to vote and said that I'd get the money seven days after the elections," he told RFE/RL. "She gave me a piece of paper with the names I needed to circle on my ballot, in case I forgot."

    The vote seller said he only received his illegal payment after spending two months "going after the money they promised me."

    "I have no idea how they confirmed that I voted for them," he said. "After the elections, when I first went to ask for the money at their party headquarters, they took out a list of about 150 people from my district and they found my name."

    "I had been labeled with a green marker," he said. "Those who had registered but did not vote were labeled with a red marker."

    Rymer said different "confirmation" systems have been worked out by those who illegally buy votes.

    "You have [some cases] where the ballot is premarked for them, so just the very act of trying to change the vote that's already been marked would invalidate the ballot," he explained.

    Another confirmation method vote buyers use is to require a person to photograph their ballot in the voting booth before they drop it into the ballot box.

    "In a number of participating states in the OSCE where we have observed elections, this has led to the actual prohibition of cameras in the polling booth," Rymer said.

    Another technique is used in districts where support for the opponent of a vote buyer’s party or candidate is strong.

    "It’s not vote buying but registration renting," Ryman explained. "They pay the voters to give them their voter registration for a day -- on election day. So what they do is actually subtract a vote that they’re fairly sure will be for another candidate."

    Self-declared vote sellers told RFE/RL they only feared prosecution if they publicly discussed the illegal practice in the media.

    One man told RFE/RL: "I never had any fears [about the scheme itself], and neither did the politician who is the head of the party [that paid for votes]." In Bosnia, You Can Buy Anything Online, Even Votes (They're 25 Euros)

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    • Dozens of Ukrainians died due to poisoned alcohol imported by Russian supplier
      UAWIRE ORG October 2, 2016 4:15:34 PM

      A Russian alcohol supplier has been implicated in the alcohol-poisoning deaths of 38 Ukrainian citizens, as the First Deputy Head of the State Fiscal Service of Ukraine, Sergey Bilan, wrote on his Facebook page.

      “We have identified the supplier of the methyl alcohol to the Kharkiv region which has killed 38 people. It was supplied from an enterprise in the Luhansk region, located in Severodonetsk. The enterprise also officially sells methanol and imports the products from the Russian Federation,” he stated.

      According to Bilan, an employee of the company illegally sold, through an intermediary, over five tons of methanol which was later used to produce alcoholic drinks. It is alleged that the intermediary confessed.

      The Deputy Head of the State Fiscal Service of Ukraine has not provided any further details on the Russian supplier. It was also not reported whether there are plans to coordinate a criminal investigation with Russian law enforcement agencies.

      Three people are in pre-trial detention and another one is under house arrest. The newspaper Segodnya indicated that during the arrest more than four tons of methyl alcohol as well as production equipment were seized. Law enforcement officers are trying to prevent the alcohol from being sold to more people.

      Since the 21st of September, 25 people have died in the Kharkiv region, and five more in both the Donetsk and Mykolaiv regions.
      UAWire - Dozens of Ukrainians died due to poisoned alcohol imported by Russian supplier

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      • Russia to conduct civil defense training for 40 million people
        UAWIRE ORG October 3, 2016 1:33:00 PM

        The Ministry of Emergency Situations (EMERCOM) of Russia will carry out civil defense exercises, which will involve more than 40 million people across Russia. Interfax news agency reports that this was announced by the director of Civil Defense and Population Protection Department of the Ministry, Oleg Manuilo.

        "The training will be held from October 4-7. It will involve more than 40 million people, more than 200,000 professionals from search-and-rescue units and about 50,000 thousand units of equipment," he said. It was also reported that federal executive authorities, heads of regions, local authorities and organizations will also be involved.

        In addition, search-and-rescue groups will participate in practicing civil defense measures. During the exercises, the readiness and ability of all the units and components to meet the tasks set before them in a predefined time period will be tested.

        "The notification and assembly of the governing federal departments and agencies, executive bodies of the Russian Federation and of local government bodies will be practiced," Manuilo said. According to him, evacuation maneuvers, distribution of personal protective equipment, deployment of sanitary and washing stations will be worked out as well.

        "In addition, civil defense construction facilities will be brought into a state of readiness. Emergency warning systems will be checked upon coordination with the regional and municipal authorities," Manuilo said.

        It is expected that in the course of training, certain subordinate medical institutions will be inspected for the quality of medical assistance.
        http://uawire.org/news/russia-to-con...-40-million-pe

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        • Week’milestones. Alarming Donbas, judicial vicissitudes, and restless Saakashvili The situation in Donbas remains an important factor affecting Ukraine’s internal policy. The judicial reform was launched against the backdrop of an ugly vote in the Rada for the dismissal of "anti-Maidan judges". The prosecutor general tried himself in a role of an anti-monopoly watchdog.
          UNIAN Yevgeny Magda 03 Oct 2016

          Preliminary results of the international investigation into the crash of flight MH17 became another serious argument for Ukraine in its struggle to refute Russia’s hybrid aggression. It is also able to affect the situation in the country’s east. The official Kyiv was handed additional arguments to counter the pressure coming from the West, which is trying to resolve the Donbas conflict at the expense of Ukraine’s national interests. The past week has convincingly proved that the militants are not going to fulfill the agreement on disengagement of forces and hardware in three areas along the contact line. Contrary to the deal, they have pumped up the use of heavy weapons.

          One of the consequences of the ongoing hostilities has become an increase in the number of unregistered weapons across Ukraine. The experts estimate that there are virtually millions of guns in the black market, which means that legalization of arms is an important political issue. Interior Minister Arsen Avakov stresses his categorical stance against such legalization, at the same time insisting on the adoption of a presumption of regulation for the Ukrainian police. Too bad that such an experienced politician does not realize that these processes are interconnected closely and can only move forward along parallel lines.

          Prosecutor General Yury Lutsenko took advantage of the current situation and proposed to deprive the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of an exclusive mandate to probe corruption cases. For obvious reasons, the NABU, as well as the agency’s high-level supporters who claim tackling corruption to be their top priority, met the initiative with no enthusiasm. Lutsenko also offers to reduce the period of stripping MPs of their immunity. This initiative can actually get a positive response, even more so on the background of the PGO’s plans to bring to justice the representatives of the Opposition Bloc Vadym Novinsky and Mykola Skoryk. Meanwhile, the PGO retains its status of a major newsmaker.

          Judicial reform late September entered into force against the background of evident problems with the dismissal of the so-called “anti-Maidan judges" by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. It took the legislators a record number of attempts to lay off 29 judges during an extraordinary session. Besides, it was not only the president’s allies who boycotted the move but also the acclaimed anti-corruption fighters, who opted for an overseas trip instead of voting for the long-awaited resolutions. Therefore it is no surprise that the level of respect to the Rada and Ukraine’s political elite in general has been dropping, as the authorities fail to show political will to take unpopular, though necessary, decisions.

          Odesa Governor Mikheil Saakashvili confirmed a long-evident duality of his political image. Being also a leader of the Georgian political party called United National Movement, Saakashvili has vowed to return to his homeland (it seems, he aims for a prime minister’s post) and even to appoint Khatiya Dekanoidze (a Georgia-born chief of Ukraine’s National Police) Minister of Internal Affairs of Georgia. It should be noted to those preparing to say goodbye to Mr Saakashvili, who has over the past 1.5 years failed to show a once promised new quality politics in Ukraine, that the parliamentary election campaign is getting to its close in Georgia, and Saakashvili's statements are more likely to be aimed at that very campaign.

          Week’milestones. Alarming Donbas, judicial vicissitudes, and restless Saakashvili

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          • REUTERS Dmitry Solovyov and Christian Lowe | MOSCOW Oct 3, 2016
            Putin suspends nuclear pact, raising stakes in row with Washington

            Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday suspended a treaty with Washington on cleaning up weapons-grade plutonium, signaling he is willing to use nuclear disarmament as a new bargaining chip in disputes with the United States over Ukraine and Syria.

            Starting in the last years of the Cold War, Russia and the United States signed a series of accords to reduce the size of their nuclear arsenals, agreements that have so far survived intact despite a souring of U.S.-Russian relations under Putin.

            But on Monday, Putin issued a decree suspending an agreement, concluded in 2000, which bound the two sides to dispose of surplus plutonium originally intended for use in nuclear weapons.

            The Kremlin said it was taking that action in response to unfriendly acts by Washington.

            The plutonium accord is not the cornerstone of post Cold War U.S.-Russia disarmament, and the practical implications from the suspension will be limited. But the suspension, and the linkage to disagreements on other issues, carries powerful symbolism.

            "Putin's decree could signal that other nuclear disarmament cooperation deals between the United States and Russia are at risk of being undermined," Stratfor, a U.S.-based consultancy, said in a commentary.

            "The decision is likely an attempt to convey to Washington the price of cutting off dialogue on Syria and other issues."

            U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry last week warned that Washington could halt diplomacy with Russia over the conflict in Syria unless Russia took immediate steps to stop the violence there.

            Western diplomats say an end to the Syria talks would leave Moscow without a way to disentangle itself from its military operation in Syria. The operation was intended to last a few months but has now just entered its second year.

            LIST OF GRIEVANCES

            As well as issuing the decree ordering the suspension of the plutonium cleanup deal, Putin submitted a draft law on the suspension to parliament.

            That draft linked the suspension to a laundry list of Russian grievances toward the United States.

            It said conditions for resuming work under the plutonium deal included Washington lifting sanctions imposed on Russia over its role in the Ukraine conflict, paying compensation to Moscow for the sanctions, and reducing the U.S. military presence in eastern Europe to the levels they were 16 years ago.

            Any of those steps would involve a complete U-turn in long-standing U.S. policy.

            "The Obama administration has done everything in its power to destroy the atmosphere of trust which could have encouraged cooperation," the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement on the treaty's suspension.

            "The step Russia has been forced to take is not intended to worsen relations with the United States. We want Washington to understand that you cannot, with one hand, introduce sanctions against us where it can be done fairly painlessly for the Americans, and with the other hand continue selective cooperation in areas where it suits them."

            The 2010 agreement, signed by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and then-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, called on each side to dispose of 34 tonnes of plutonium by burning it in nuclear reactors.

            Clinton said at the time that there was enough of the material to make almost 17,000 nuclear weapons. Both sides back then viewed the deal as a sign of increased cooperation between the two former Cold War adversaries.

            Russian officials alleged on Monday that Washington had failed to honor its side of the agreement. The Kremlin decree stated that, despite the suspension, Russia's surplus weapons-grade plutonium would not be put to military use. Putin suspends nuclear pact, raising stakes in row with Washington | Reuters

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            • REUTERS Denis Pinchuk | MOSCOW Sept 22, 2016 | 10:05am EDT
              Putin's close friend: Donald Trump will be next U.S. president

              One of Vladimir Putin's closest friends said on Thursday he believed Donald Trump would be the next president of the United States and that Western leaders were no match for the Russian president.

              Sergei Roldugin, a childhood friend of Putin's and godfather to his eldest daughter, made international headlines earlier this year after his name featured in the leaked Panama Papers as the owner of a sprawling network of offshore accounts.

              Some Western media said the papers suggested Roldugin, 64, was looking after Putin's money. Putin called such reports "a provocation" and said Roldugin, a famous cellist, had done nothing wrong and spent the money he earned from business on buying expensive musical instruments.

              Speaking to reporters in the Kremlin on Thursday before Putin bestowed a state award on him, Roldugin said:

              "I know who will win in America. You may check it later. Trump will win." He went on to say that politicians changed their behavior once they were in power.

              "I can't say I feel euphoria about Trump winning because he said he was with Putin and Hillary (Clinton) hasn't said that. Putin has said he will work with either and he's right."

              Trump, the Republican candidate, has been criticized by Clinton, his Democratic Party rival, for praising Putin as a strong leader and saying ties with Moscow should be improved at a time when Moscow and Washington are at odds over Syria and Ukraine.

              The Kremlin has tried to take a neutral stance on the U.S. election, saying it will respect the choice of the American people, though Kremlin-backed TV channels have tilted their coverage in favor of Trump, whom Putin called "very talented."

              Roldugin told reporters Putin was a more impressive leader than his various Western counterparts.

              "The one thing I've always admired about him is that he is not afraid to assume responsibility. He often comes under heavy criticism, but he is not afraid (of that) and says: 'Yes that's what we decided, that's what I decided.'"

              "He is not afraid of taking responsibility, unlike many Western politicians and American politicians who, as far as I understand, can't bring themselves to say 'That's what I decided and that's how it will be.'"

              Roldugin listed German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, and U.S. President Barack Obama as being guilty of not taking responsibility and of concealing the true nature of agreements they had struck. Putin's close friend: Donald Trump will be next U.S. president | Reuters

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              • Human rights group: 4,000 Crimean orphans have been taken to Russia
                UAWIRE ORG October 3, 2016 2:26:00 PM

                Russia has taken no fewer than 4,000 Ukrainian children fromthe annexed Crimea, and many have already been taken to regions of neighboring Russia and given to Russian families, said the representative of the commissioner for the Observance of Rights of Children of Ukraine, Aksana Filipishina, in an interview with Hromadske Radio.

                According to her, after the annexation the so-called trains of happiness were organized with “echelons” of candidates of potential adoptive parents, but later it was discovered that they were candidates only for foster care.

                That is why children were placed in foster families, where care is temporary. “Even notes from the Ukrainian government are just in the air as no one responds to them. And, of course, we receive explanations that because the Crimea is the territory of Russia, these children are already ours and their placement in various families is Russia’s business.” Filipishina is outraged.

                In addition, the documents of the orphaned children and children deprived from parental care from the Crimea were forcibly exchanged with Russian documents, and their education will be organized fully in accordance with Russian standards.

                Meanwhile, Ukraine demands that access be granted to the United Nations Children’s Fund in the occupied territories of the Donbas so that they can monitor the children’s rights situation. UAWire - Human rights group: 4,000 Crimean orphans have been taken to Russia

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                • US Suspends Talks with Russia Over Syria
                  VOICE OF AMERICA October 03, 2016 2:15 PM

                  The U.S. is suspending Syria cease-fire talks with Russia, citing Moscow's and Damascus' continued military attacks against civilian targets.

                  "This is not a decision that was taken lightly," U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement. Though Washington "spared no effort" in trying to implement the cessation of hostilities, Russia "failed to live up to its own commitments," Kirby said.

                  "(Russia) was also either unwilling or unable to ensure Syrian regime adherence to which Moscow had agreed," the statement said. "Rather, Russia and the Syrian regime have chosen to pursue a military course."

                  Though the talks are suspended, the U.S. will continue to utilize a channel of communications established with Russia to reduce the possibility of conflicting counterterrorism operations in Syria, the statement said.

                  Russia has provided military support to the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while Washington has supported some of the rebel groups fighting to oust the Syrian president.

                  Failed cease-fire

                  The two sides agreed to a cease-fire in last month to help reduce violence, provide humanitarian access, and degrade terrorist groups, but the deal quickly broke down, with each side blaming the other.

                  Last week, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry threatened to end talks with Russia over Syria because of its continued bombing of the city of Aleppo.

                  The U.S. move to pull out of the talks came hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree Monday to suspend an agreement with the U.S. on disposing of weapons-grade plutonium, citing Washington's "unfriendly actions".

                  It also claimed the United States was unable "to ensure the implementation of its obligations to utilize surplus weapons-grade plutonium".

                  The deal, initially signed in 2000 and renewed in 2010, called for both nuclear powers to dispose of weapons-grade plutonium from their defense programs.

                  Based on the 2010 agreement, signed by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and then U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, each side would dispose of 34 metric tons of plutonium by burning it in nuclear reactors.

                  Clinton said that was a quantity large enough to make almost 17,000 nuclear weapons.

                  US-Russia ties plunging

                  Russia and the United States viewed that deal as a sign of increased cooperation between them toward nuclear non-proliferation.

                  But ties between Moscow and Washington plunged to the lowest point since the Cold War when Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and has supported pro-Moscow separatists in eastern Ukraine.

                  Washington has been instrumental in imposing Western economic sanctions on Russia for its role in the Ukraine crisis. US Suspends Talks with Russia Over Syria

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                  • 'Slave labour' in the prisons of eastern Ukraine
                    BBC Patrick Evans Kiev 3 October 2016

                    Human rights activists in eastern Ukraine say they have evidence that slave labour camps reminiscent of Soviet gulags are operating in rebel-controlled areas. A newly published report alleges that 5,000 people in the self-declared Luhansk People's Republic are held in solitary confinement, beaten, starved or tortured if they refuse to carry out unpaid work.

                    Alexander Efreshin had a good job and a steady girlfriend when one night, five years ago, he was out drinking beer with friends and came across a parked minibus with an open door. He climbed in, started the engine and drove a short distance. A friend then poured lighter fluid on the passenger seat and set it on fire.

                    Both were arrested, and at the age of 24 Efreshin was shattered to receive an eight-and-a-half year sentence for robbery and arson.

                    In Ukrainian prisons people who work in the prison factory have their sentence reduced by a third, so Efreshin agreed to work, sustained by the thought that he would be out in less than six years. He received a small payment in return, which he spent on improving his food ration.

                    Then in 2014 conflict broke out in eastern Ukraine, and everything changed.

                    The prison, near the town of Krasny Luch, ended up under the control of the self-declared Luhansk People's Republic (LPR). Immediately, the conditions worsened drastically. The small payment Efreshin received in return for his labour came to a halt, anyone who refused to work was harshly punished, and the food sharply deteriorated.

                    http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/news/624/cps...016_624map.png

                    Worst of all, he was told he would not be released until September 2019, after he had served the full eight-and-a-half-year sentence.

                    "I don't think I will survive another year in here, let alone three," says Efreshin, now 29.

                    "Each day they make us work for 12 hours fabricating concrete blocks. It's very heavy work.

                    "We have no access to medicine, no doctors or dentists, I have lost a lot of my teeth, we can't even get painkillers. We are fed only porridge. We have no option but to work. If you refuse, they throw you in the punishment cell. It's inhuman."

                    According to a new Russian-language report by the Eastern Human Rights Group, Efreshin is one of thousands of prisoners used as "slave labour" in 15 "correctional colonies" on the territory of the LPR.

                    Some make furniture, coffins, board games or barbed wire, others grind flour or work in rudimentary and unsafe coal mines known as "kopanki", the report says. The authors say they carried out 74 interviews with inmates, relatives and witnesses of abuses.

                    "It is impossible for an inmate to refuse to work," the report says, listing three stages of punishment for those who try it:

                    15 days in solitary confinement
                    Cancellation of visits and parcels from relatives
                    Beating and torture

                    Profits from the sale of goods made by the inmates - which came to 34m hryvnias in 2012 (£1m at current exchange rates) - are distributed among the LPR leadership, the report alleges.

                    "About 5,000 people work without payment every day in order to preserve their life and health, to receive visits from relatives and not to die of hunger," it goes on. "All this takes place for the purpose of enriching a certain group of people in the so-called LPR."

                    One man quoted anonymously in the report says that to deter prisoners from rebelling, those regarded as potential troublemakers are occasionally beaten up by masked police. On one occasion, he says, an inmate was badly hurt but refused medical help and died as a result.

                    Another un-named inmate is said to have been denied any food and water for three days, in order to force him to return to work. One talks about being forced to stand for eight to 10 hours per day in a courtyard that is hot in summer and cold in winter.

                    Efreshin's sister Irina, who lives in Kiev, talks with her brother most days on a telephone he shares with 80 other inmates. There have been occasions, however, when he has gone silent for up to a fortnight - a sign that he is being held in an underground punishment cell. Efreshin does not talk about what goes on there.

                    "When I don't hear from him, I sleep badly. I look at photographs of him - he's lost around 20kg," she says.

                    "Several times we've been told we could pay a bribe to get him released, but I'm sure it's just a scam and anyway, we couldn't raise the money. They ask for $50,000, $70,000 - it's just unreal."

                    To ensure that her brother is allowed to continue working, and is not thrown into the underground cell indefinitely, Irina pays 200 hryvnias per month (about £6.50) to the LPR authorities, she says, adding that other prisoners' relatives do the same.

                    The director of the Eastern Human Rights Group, Pavel Lisyansky, says he has evidence that a similar forced labour system is employed in prisons in the neighbouring Donetsk People's Republic (DPR), another rebel-held region, affecting a further 5,000 prisoners. A report on conditions in the DPR will be published next month.

                    "It's hard to believe that we are witnessing slave labour in the middle of Europe in the 21st Century. But this is happening, and something needs to be done," Lisyansky says.

                    "These people feel like they have been abandoned, and are without hope.

                    "The prisons are closed to visits from anyone except relatives. The Red Cross and other humanitarian agencies have no way of helping."

                    The ranks of the slave labourers are increasing with the addition of new prisoners jailed since 2014, sometimes for minor offences, Lisyansky says.

                    He criticises the Ukrainian government for failing to ensure that people imprisoned by Ukrainian courts are transferred out of the rebel-held areas to finish their sentences in Ukrainian prisons - as Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko ordered in a decree issued in November 2014.

                    A separate amnesty ruled that the sentences of prisoners convicted of non-violent offences would be halved. In Efreshin's case, a Ukrainian court issued a ruling in April 2015 to say that he had served out his sentence and should be freed. Efreshin forwarded this to the LPR authorities appealing for his release, but they replied saying it needed to be sent to them by the "competent organs" of the Ukrainian state.

                    However, the Ukrainian penitentiary service refused to do this, on the grounds that the Ukrainian government does not recognise the LPR.

                    Attempts to reach an LPR official prepared to respond to the allegations in the Eastern Human Rights Group's report were unsuccessful, while officials in the DPR refused to comment. An article by the editor of Novorossiya Today, Georgy Morozov, described the report as "unimpressive".

                    Efreshin says he risks violent retribution from the authorities for speaking out, but feels he has nothing to lose.

                    His sister, Irina, agrees.

                    "I'm worried about how they might treat him for telling the truth about this place. But if we don't fight, nothing will change," she says.

                    "He's a good person, he deserves another chance at normal life."
                    'Slave labour' in the prisons of eastern Ukraine - BBC News

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                    • Proof of Putin’s ‘crime within a crime’ has far-reaching consequences, Eidman says
                      EUROMAIDAN PRESS Paul A. Goble 2016/10/04

                      Proof that Moscow was behind the shooting down of the Malaysian airliner MH17 has far larger and more explosive consequences than many now think because unlike the Soviet Union’s shooting down of the KAL jet, this latest action was “a crime within the crime” of invading Ukraine, according to Russian commentator Igor Eidman.

                      That fact makes Vladimir Putin, now “an unmasked but not yet disarmed criminal” even “more dangerous” because he is likely to conclude that he has “nothing to lose” by acting ever more aggressively at home and abroad and every reason to do so in order to delay any day of reckoning for his crimes.

                      Some analysts have suggested that neither the USSR nor the US suffered “any particular consequences” when the first by intention shot down the Korean jetliner and the latter accidentally shot the Iranian one. But that was the case, Eidman says, only because these actions, unlike the shooting down of MH17 didn’t occur in the course of a larger crime.

                      He suggests that the following analogy helps to understand why the current case is different: If gangsters kill an innocent bystander while robbing a bank, “in recognizing that these gangsters killed someone, one cannot fail to recognize that they also robbed the bank and shot at policemen.”

                      In the current case, if one has the kind of proof that the international commission has now provided that Russia shot down the MH17, “one must automatically recognize Russian aggression” because the Russian forces which did this were illegally on the territory of a foreign state – Ukraine – and were firing from positions acquired by aggression.

                      That puts the final nail in the coffin of Putin’s insistence that “’there is no evidence’ of the participation of the Russian army in the war against Ukraine,” Eidman points out. Now , it has been demonstrated that “the Russian president began a secret war against a neighboring European state as a result of which tens of thousands of people have died.”

                      http://euromaidanpress.com/wp-conten...1708052011.jpg

                      The Russian commentator continues:

                      “The entire world not only knows but has legal evidence that the blood of these victims is on [Putin] and his subordinates, and this means that they de facto have already been recognized as international military criminals.”

                      Those who suggest that Putin will now back down in some way do not understand him or his position. The Kremlin leader “cannot but understand that only remaining in office will defend him from a reckoning for his crimes.” He will thus hold onto the presidency ever more tightly, Eidman argues, and won’t even consider a 2008 arrangement in which he allows someone else to function under his control.

                      Putin will certainly continue to suggest that the conclusions about MH17 are evidence of “a conspiracy against Russia,” which may win him some support at home for a time. And he is likely to continue to try to present himself to the West as its ally against Islamist terrorism, although that too will be ever less successful given what he says at home and does in Aleppo.

                      The Kremlin leader’s next moves, Eidman argues, are likely to include both the imposition of “a chauvinist and xenophobic ideology” on the Russian people and more actions in foreign affairs based on the proposition that “’the best defense is a good offense’” with “ever more new military adventures” to follow.

                      As Putin himself has observed, “a rat finds himself cornered will lash out at those around him until he falls under the irreversible wheel of history.” Proof of Putin’s ‘crime within a crime’ has far-reaching consequences, Eidman says | EUROMAIDAN PRESSEuromaidan Press |

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                      • Survey: Most Russians say they want a democracy but don’t support democratic values
                        EUROMAIDAN PRESS Paul A. Goble 2016/10/04

                        A majority of Russians – 57 percent – say they want to live in a democratic state, according to a new survey conducted by Germany’s Friedrich-Nauman Foundation; but an equal or even larger number of them support government actions that undermine any chance of Russia becoming a liberal democracy.

                        Among the key findings of this telephone poll of 1653 Russian citizens (as reported by DW and Shipilov) are the following:

                        ---70 percent say that there is no need for freedom of speech or independent media outlets.
                        ---65.9 percent say that the state should track the actions of its citizens and collect their personal data.
                        ---60 percent say they favor a planned economy.
                        ---60 percent say that government policies should correspond to the positions of the Russian Orthodox Church.
                        ---53.6 percent say that Russia’s security agencies must have the right to violate the law in defense of the country. Only 42.2 percent oppose that idea.

                        In reporting these findings, some of the German foundation’s experts said that the contradiction between support for democracy as a general proposition and the absence of support for democracy in particular cases may reflect a lack of understanding of just what democracy in fact is.

                        The survey found that 34.1 percent of the Russian sample said they had difficulty in answering that question, while 39.1 percent said that “democracy is democratic rights and freedoms, 10 percent that it is the rule of the people, and 2.4 percent that it is anarchy.”

                        But Dmitry Rogozin, the director of research at the Russian Academy of Economics and State Service who oversaw this research, told Deutsche Welle that the divide between support for democracy and the lack of support for certain aspects of it does not in fact reflect ignorance on the part of Russians as to what democracy in fact is.

                        Instead, he said, it reflects something that many will see as even more disturbing: the fact that many Russians do not see democracy as having much to do with their lives and therefore do not place it at the center of their discussions about what the state is doing and what their role in the state actually is.
                        Survey: Most Russians say they want a democracy but don’t support democratic values | EUROMAIDAN PRESSEuromaidan Press |

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                        • Australian Foreign Ministry proposes creating MH17 tribunal outside the UN to circumvent Russia's veto power
                          UAWIRE ORG October 3, 2016 7:17:00 PM

                          The Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop believes that another International Tribunal in the style of Lockerbie should try those guilty in the case of the crash of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine. It would bypass the United Nations Security Council where Russia has the veto rights, Deutsche Welle reported.

                          “The judicial process in the style of Lockerbie—the Tribunal that will be established by the international community can be organized,” Bishop noted. “It would probably be easier to create such a Tribunal in the Netherlands. However, we need to ensure that it will be granted all the necessary powers,” he added.

                          The first results of the investigation of the MH17 crash were made public on the 28th of September. The investigators concluded that the passenger plane was shot down in the Donbas by a surface-to-air missile, launched from a Buk missile system from the area controlled by pro-Russian militants. The Buk missile system was brought to the Donbas from Russia.

                          It was reported that at least 100 people can press charges based on the investigation. However, the investigators refused to give their surnames, claiming that the purpose of investigation at this stage was to determine the missile’s trajectory and its launch site.

                          The Lockerbie case was the name given to the investigation of a Pan American air crash over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in December, 1988. The crash resulted in the death of 270 people, mainly U.S. citizens. The investigation found that citizens of Libya, headed then by Muammar Gadaffi, were responsible for that terrorist act.

                          Only in 1999, after long negotiations did Gadaffi agree to extradite suspects under the condition that trial would take place in a neutral territory. In April 1999, suspects were transferred to Scottish police. In 2001, the court sentenced the defendants.The Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop believes that another International Tribunal in the style of Lockerbie should try those guilty in the case of the crash of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine. It would bypass the United Nations Security Council where Russia has the veto rights, Deutsche Welle reported.

                          “The judicial process in the style of Lockerbie—the Tribunal that will be established by the international community can be organized,” Bishop noted. “It would probably be easier to create such a Tribunal in the Netherlands. However, we need to ensure that it will be granted all the necessary powers,” he added.

                          The first results of the investigation of the MH17 crash were made public on the 28th of September. The investigators concluded that the passenger plane was shot down in the Donbas by a surface-to-air missile, launched from a Buk missile system from the area controlled by pro-Russian militants. The Buk missile system was brought to the Donbas from Russia.

                          It was reported that at least 100 people can press charges based on the investigation. However, the investigators refused to give their surnames, claiming that the purpose of investigation at this stage was to determine the missile’s trajectory and its launch site.

                          The Lockerbie case was the name given to the investigation of a Pan American air crash over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in December, 1988. The crash resulted in the death of 270 people, mainly U.S. citizens. The investigation found that citizens of Libya, headed then by Muammar Gadaffi, were responsible for that terrorist act.

                          Only in 1999, after long negotiations did Gadaffi agree to extradite suspects under the condition that trial would take place in a neutral territory. In April 1999, suspects were transferred to Scottish police. In 2001, the court sentenced the defendants.UAWire - Australian Foreign Ministry proposes creating MH17 tribunal outside the UN to circumvent Russia's veto power

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                          • Medvedev admits that sanctions have negatively affected Russia's economy
                            UAWIRE ORG October 3, 2016 4:34:00 PM

                            The Prime Minister of Russia, Dmitry Medvedev, stated in an interview with First Channel that sanctions and external pressure have affected the Russian economy. According to Medvedev, economic growth depends on many internal and external conditions. The Russian Prime Minister said that a very serious slowdown of economic growth has been observed all over the world.

                            “We understand the conditions under which our economy is developing. Unfortunately, it was cut off from foreign sources of funding as well as from all foreign suppliers who were giving orders to our producers,” the transcription on the government’s website quoted him as saying. Medvedev explained that the matter hinged on sanctions and so-called external pressure on the country.

                            “I will tell you straight. Sanctions… it is bad but it isn’t the main thing. As is known, structural problems have accumulated in our economy over decades. This means that deformations are in the economic system itself,” Medvedev said. Earlier, he wrote an article on the state of the Russian economy in which he stated the need for complete renovation of economic system.

                            “We have to create a new model of economic development that is able to ensure our country a significant place in the modern world. This isn’t a trivial task, although Russia faces this task not for the first time. In the past, the country managed to find answers to global challenges. There is no reason to believe that the situation will be different this time,” the Prime Minister wrote.

                            Medvedev also promised that Russia will continue to move towards external economic openness through the creation of free trade areas with separate countries and groups of countries and the conclusion of preferential trade agreements. UAWire - Medvedev admits that sanctions have negatively affected Russia's economy

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                            • European Alliance of News agencies urges Russia to provide details explaining arrest of Sushchenko
                              UKRINFORM 3.10.2016

                              The Board of the European Alliance of News Agencies (EANA) has urged the Russian authorities to provide more details explaining the arrest of Ukrinform correspondent Roman Sushchenko in Moscow.

                              This has been stated in a statement made by the Board of the European Alliance of News Agencies, which was signed by EANA President Jonas Eriksson and Secretary General Erik Nylen.

                              "Russian authorities must release more details explaining the arrest of Roman Sushchenko and he must get guaranteed qualified, fast and fair legal assistance and the right to contact his family. If trustworthy evidence against him cannot be immediately presented, he should be released and allowed to return to his home country," reads a statement.

                              The European Alliance of News Agencies (EANA) was founded in 1956, and today it includes more than 30 leading agencies in Europe. Ukrinform represents Ukraine in the Alliance since 1995.

                              As reported, Roman Sushchenko was detained on Friday, September 30, in Moscow following Russian media reports accusing him of ‘espionage’. Roman at the time of arrest was on vacation and arrived in Moscow for private purposes. Ukrinform and Sushchenko’s wife concluded an agreement with lawyer Mark Feygin who will defend Roman Sushchenko. Roman Suchshenko is being kept in Moscow's Lefortovo prison. European Alliance of News Agencies urges Russia to provide details explaining arrest of Sushchenko - 03.10.2016 22:30 — Ukrinform News

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                              • Ukraine hopes to receive $1 billion tranche from IMF
                                UAWIRE ORG October 4, 2016 3:33:00 PM

                                Ukraine hopes to receive the fourth part of funds, in the amount of $1 billion under the guarantee of the U.S Government, Interfax-Ukraine reported, citing the Ministry of Finance of Ukraine.

                                “In addition to the continuation of technical assistance, we look forward to further cooperation in an effort the get $1 billion under the guarantee of the U.S. Government. The loan guarantees will provide for urgent budget needs at low interest rates based on the results of the implementation of reforms,” the Agency reported.

                                Ukraine has already received $3 billion under the guarantee of the U.S. Government in parts, receiving $1 billion annually. On the 29th of September 2016, the funds were allocated at the lowest Eurobond rate in Ukrainian history (1.471%).

                                The Ministry of Finance also reported that budget processes, reforms to the State Fiscal and Customs Service of Ukraine, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) program, further technical assistance to the Ministry of Finance, as well as the visit of the Minister of Finance to Washington, were all discussed last week in Kyiv during the meeting of the Minister of Finance of Ukraine, Oleksandr Danylyuk, with the Deputy Assistant Secretaries of the U.S. Treasury Department, Clay Berry and Larry McDonald.

                                The Ministry of Finance also indicated that the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank will take place on the 7-9th of October.
                                UAWire - Ukraine hopes to receive $1 billion tranche from IMF

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