У Міноборони Росії назвали попередню причину вибухів на військовому складі

Причиною пожежі і вибухів на складі боєприпасів в Ачинському районі Красноярського краю Росії міг бути людський фактор, заявив заступник міністра оборони Росії Дмитро Булгаков.

Генерал, який прибув у Красноярський край із експертами, заявив, що арсенал буде розформований, а остаточну причину інциденту встановить слідство.

За останніми даними, внаслідок пожежі і вибухів на складі військової частини в селі Кам’янка постраждали 12 людей.

Пожежа на складі артилерійських боєприпасів почалася вдень 5 серпня. Особовий склад військової частини і кілька тисяч жителів довколишніх населених пунктів евакуювали.

У ніч на 6 серпня влада повідомила про припинення вибухів. Водночас, за словами військових, все ще зберігається загроза підриву окремих боєприпасів.

Держслужбовці в Туркменистані зможуть отримувати зарплату тільки після оплати комунальних послуг

Влада Туркменистану виявляє боржників і знаходить різні способи змусити населення оплачувати комунальні послуги. Зокрема, держслужбовці країни зможуть отримати зарплату тільки після того, як на роботі покажуть довідки про відсутність заборгованості з оплати за світло, газ і воду.

Як стало відомо кореспонденту туркменської служби Радіо Свобода, чиновникам-боржникам не видадуть зарплату за липень і серпень. Для отримання довідки про відсутність заборгованості йде щонайменше місяць.

В установах з електроенергії – величезні черги, які доходять до тисячі осіб. Тому, щоб отримати довідки, крім оплати наданої електроенергії, доводиться платити зверху хабар у 50 манатів, повідомляє сайт Радіо Азатлик.

Раніше керівництво деяких місцевих організацій пояснило свої дії вимогами прокуратури.

У квітні цього року держустанови Ашгабату, зокрема підприємство водоканалу, відмовилися виплатити зарплату співробітникам до внесення коштів за користування водою.

У громадському транспорті міста Туркменабада з’явилися оголошення з попередженням про вимкнення світла через заборгованість із квартплати. Раніше попередження про вимкнення електрики через заборгованість публікували в національній пресі.

У Дашогузькому регіоні Туркменистану у співробітників бюджетних організацій, в тому числі шкіл, вимагають попередньо оплатити комунальні послуги. Там спочатку вимагають принести квитанції про оплату електроенергії, води і газу, а потім здати гроші за користування комунальними послугами на кілька місяців вперед.

Росія: влада Москви погодила мітинг 10 серпня на проспекті Сахарова

Незареєстрована московською міською виборчою комісією кандидат від партії «Яблуко» Олена Русакова повідомила, що московська влада дозволила опозиційний мітинг на проспекті Сахарова в столиці Росії 10 серпня.

Про це Русакова повідомила 5 серпня за підсумками зустрічі з представниками влади Москви.

Мітинг, за її словами, розпочнеться о 14:00, його заявлена чисельність – до 100 тисяч людей. Учасники висловлять підтримку кандидатам від російської опозиції, не допущеним до виборів у Москві.

«Мітинг узгодили. Це об’єднана заявка – моя, а також Дениса Шендеровича і Ельвіри Віхаревої», – сказала Русакова. Ще один заявник мітингу на Сахарова, кандидат від команди Дмитра Гудкова Дмитро Клочков, за її словами, свою заявку відкликав.

У Москві з середини липня тривають протести, пов’язані з тим, що московський виборчком не допустив до виборів у міську думу більше ніж 20 незалежних кандидатів, які не пов’язані з партією влади, в тому числі Дмитра Гудкова, Іллю Яшина, співробітників Фонду боротьби з корупцією Любов Соболь, Івана Жданова, Костянтина Янкаускаса.

Виборча комісія посилається на графологічну експертизу підписів, яка нібито визнала багато з поданих кандидатами підписів фальшивими, й інші порушення. Кандидати пояснюють свій недопуск фальсифікаціями з боку московського виборчкому.

Після відмови в реєстрації політики провели кілька акцій протесту, а їхні прихильники 14, 20 і 27 липня і 3 серпня виходили на вулиці Москви. На всі ці акції московська влада дозволу не давала.

Протести 27 липня і 3 серпня поліція і Росгвардія жорстоко розігнали. У ці два дні були затримані понад 1300 і 1000 людей. Кілька сотень людей отримали арешти за адміністративними статтями, ще більше ніж сотня – штрафи за участь в несанкціонованому мітингу.

Московська влада заявляла, що була готова узгодити мітинг на проспекті Сахарова, коли заявку подавали представники Лібертаріанської партії. Але лідер партії Михайло Свєтов відмовився від цього місця, після чого його заарештували прямо на виході з мерії.

Uruguay Issues Travel Warning for US After Weekend Mass Shootings

Uruguay on Monday issued a warning to its citizens traveling to the United States after two mass shootings over the weekend that killed 31 people in Texas and Ohio.

In a press release, the Foreign Ministry advised avoiding cities such as Detroit, Baltimore and Albuquerque, which it said are among the 20 most dangerous in the world, citing an index by CEOWORLD magazine.

Travelers are urged to take precautions “in the face of growing indiscriminate violence, mostly for hate crimes, including racism and discrimination, which cost the lives of more than 250 people in the first seven months of this year,” it said in the release also posted on President Tabare Vazquez’s website.

The U.S. State Department had issued its own travel advisory for Uruguay on Aug. 2 due to an increase in violent crime, including homicides, armed robberies and carjacking.

On Saturday, several Mexican citizens were among the 21 people killed at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas authorities said. Hours later, another gunman killed nine people in downtown Dayton, Ohio.

Amnesty: Freed Mauritanian Blogger Arrives in Europe

VOA’s Esha Sarai contributed to this report from Mauritania. 

A Mauritanian blogger, jailed for nearly six years in Mauritania, has said he only “saw the sun six times” during his incarceration. 

Citizen journalist Mohamed Ould Cheikh Mkhaitir has arrived in Europe after being freed last week, Amnesty International said in a release Monday. 

“Mkhaitir’s long-awaited release is a welcome development. He spent more than five years behind bars, mostly in solitary confinement. Mkhaitir should never have been arrested in the first place. He will now be able to resume his education and enjoy his human rights,” Amnesty’s Kine Fatim Diop said. 

Mkhaitir was arrested in 2013 and sentenced to death for what the state called blasphemy after he wrote a blog post condemning the use of religion to justify racial discrimination. 

In 2017, a Mauritanian court commuted Mkhaitir’s sentence to two years, which he had already served, legally liberating him. However, he remained detained in an undisclosed location.

Numerous human rights organizations had called on Mauritania President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, who stepped down last week, to release Mkhaitir. Arnaud Froger, head of the Africa desk at Reporters Without Borders, called the case indicative of declining press freedom in the Sahara desert country.

FILE – Mauritania’s then-President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz speaks at the United Nations headquarters, Sept. 26, 2015.

Mkhaitir’s first trial sparked protests by Islamists in the capital calling for his death. The post for which he was arrested criticized the use of religion to defend a rigid caste system in Mauritania.

Mkhaitir is of the Haratin ethnicity, sometimes referred to as black Maurs. The Haratin face systematic discrimination as severe as modern slavery, a problem the Mauritanian government asserts no longer exists.

Amnesty on Monday called on Mauritania’s new president, Mohamed Ould Ghazouani, to ensure what happened to Mkhaitir “will never happen to anyone else in the country.”

“His government should immediately initiate a process to get laws criminalizing apostasy repealed. No one should be arbitrarily detained and charged, let alone sentenced to death simply for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression,” Amnesty’s Diop said. 

US, Taliban Say They’re Nearing Deal to End Afghanistan War

The United States and Taliban teams in Doha negotiating an initial deal to end the war in Afghanistan seem to have agreed on the main agenda items and are now finalizing the details of implementing them.

“We have made excellent progress,” tweeted Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation. He added that his team was now discussing with the Taliban the “technical details as well as steps and mechanisms required for a successful implementation.” 

FILE – Suhail Shaheen, spokesman for the Taliban’s political office in Doha, speaks to the media in Moscow, Russia, May 28, 2019.

Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen agreed that they had made headway but was vague on details.

“We affirm that there is progress in talks, but discussions continue to finalize everything,” he told VOA. 

Khalilzad left Doha for New Delhi Monday night for what he said was a pre-scheduled meeting in support of the Afghan peace process. But part of his team stayed behind to continue the discussions with the Taliban.

The two sides started their eighth round of negotiations Saturday on a hopeful note, both indicating they were close to the finish line. They continue to sound hopeful, but also emphasize that the few remaining steps are critical and require serious deliberations.

“Agreement on these details is essential,” Khalilzad said on Twitter.

FILE – U.S. troops wait for their helicopter flight at an Afghan National Army (ANA) base in Logar province, Afghanistan, Aug. 7, 2018.

The four-part agenda included an agreement on the U.S. withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan in return for the Taliban ensuring Afghanistan does not become a haven of terrorist groups; negotiations with other Afghans, including the government in Kabul on the future form of governance; and the announcement of a comprehensive, nationwide cease-fire.

How these items are timed and linked to each other is likely the focus of negotiation. Some of the remaining differences are evident from the tweets from the two sides.

Khalilzad insisted the U.S. troop withdrawal will be “conditions-based,” whereas the Taliban negotiation team spokesman Shaheen said it will be “based on a timetable.”  

If they reach an agreement, it could end the longest U.S. military engagement in America history.

A breakthrough in what U.S. generals called a “stalemate” occurred last year when American officials fulfilled a long-standing Taliban demand to talk to them directly, without the Kabul government, which they call a “puppet” regime.

President Donald Trump appointed Khalilzad last September to help fulfill one of his campaign promises — bring home the U.S. troops. Since then, the Afghan-born American diplomat has been almost constantly on the road, trying to develop an international, regional and national consensus on the way forward.

He has also been negotiating, along with his team, with a Taliban political team in Doha.

Last July saw another breakthrough in the process when the Taliban, who had insisted on excluding the Afghan government, agreed to meet members of the Kabul administration, albeit in their personal capacity, as part of a larger Afghan delegation. 

The war in Afghanistan started in 2001, after a U.S.-led coalition attacked the country and ousted the Taliban from power for their support of al-Qaida. The militants regrouped in neighboring Pakistan and waged a bloody insurgency, slowly gaining ground on their technically superior adversaries. Today, the Taliban control more Afghan territory than they did at any time since their ouster. 

US Designates China as Currency Manipulator

The U.S. government has determined that China is manipulating its currency, and will engage with the International Monetary Fund to eliminate unfair competition from Beijing, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement on Monday.

China let the yuan weaken past the key 7-per-dollar level on Monday for the first time in more than a decade and later said it would stop buying U.S. agricultural products, inflaming a worsening trade war with the United States.

The sharp 1.4% drop in the yuan comes days after U.S. President Donald Trump stunned financial markets by vowing to impose 10% tariffs on the remaining $300 billion of Chinese imports from Sept. 1, abruptly breaking a brief ceasefire in a bruising trade war that has disrupted global supply chains and slowed growth.

FILE – U.S. Dollar and China Yuan notes are seen in this picture illustration, June 2, 2017.

The last time the United States named China a currency manipulator was in 1994. The U.S. Treasury had designated Taiwan and South Korea as currency manipulators in 1988, the year that Congress enacted the currency review law. China was the last country to get the designation, in 1994.

The dollar fell to a two-week low against the euro after the Treasury statement.

Filing Details Services for Ukrainian President in Runup to Election

This story originated in VOA’s Ukrainian Service

WASHINGTON — Washington-based lobbying firm Signal Group Consulting has filed documentation of services it provided to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Washington between April 3, 2019, and May 21, 2019, contradicting his claim that his campaign never employed foreign lobbyists. 

According to documents presented to the Justice Department as part of mandatory annual Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) filings, Signal received a fee of $60,000 for its services and $9,371 in compensation for expenses, including a $1,900 steak dinner, a guided White House tour and staff meetings with members of the National Security Council, State Department officials, members of Congress, and visits to think tanks and major national news outlets such as The Washington Post.

As initially reported by Radio Free Europe and other news outlets, a portion of the FARA documents made public in April appeared to show that Signal was hired on behalf of the candidate by Marcus Cohen, whose business address is listed as a room on the second floor of a Kyiv shopping center, “to elevate the profile of Volodymyr Zelensky  Servant of the People.” 

At the time, Voice of America’s Ukrainian Service followed up with a series of questions about the Signal contract as Zelensky’s campaign had criticized  his opponent, then-incumbent Petro Poroshenko, for engaging in exactly this type of international public relations work — a fairly normal and legal part of modern European politics. 

“Due to another tide of disinformation, shared in the media on the eve of the runoff, we must officially state that our team did not engage the services of any lobbyists or agencies in the United States,” Zelensky’s campaign said in a prepared statement posted to its official Facebook page on April 17, some four days before the final election. 

“We don’t have a contract with any company called ‘Signal Group,'” the post continued. “This position is what separates us from representatives of the ‘old’ political elite.”

The contract was officially terminated on May 21, 2019, one day after Zelensky’s inauguration.

According the FARA documents, the Ukrainian delegation arrived in Washington on or before April 16, though it does not state how many people were in the the delegation.

The documents verify reports on the meetings at the Cato Institute, State Department, CSIS, Carnegie Center, the office of Congressman Brandon Boyle, former Sen. Norm Coleman, and the National Security Council.

A guided White House excursion is reported on April 17, the same day Zelensky’s campaign issued an official statement denying they’d engaged in foreign lobbying efforts.

Signal Group also contacted the Post and CNN, but there were no reports of interviews.

This weekend, Zelensky again denied having any personal contact with the Signal Group

“I’ve never used nobody. I don’t need a lobby,” he told a reporter who pressed him with questions in Kyiv.  “You know this perfectly well how many people support me. I’ve never had a meeting with any lobbyist, any intermediary, and have never asked nobody about it.”

Asked whether campaign operatives could have been acting on his behalf, he denied any knowledge of it.

“I don’t know. I didn’t do this,” he said. “I do not need it.  I never paid a penny for it, and this can’t be.”

An email sent to VOA on Aug. 3 from John Proctor, executive vice president of Signal Group, however, confirmed the business contract with Zelensky and his party.

“Signal Group’s work for Mr. Zelensky and the Servant of the People party through Marcus Cohen concluded on May 21 and is detailed in our FARA filings with the US Department of Justice,” Proctor wrote. “I would direct you to the details of those documents for your reporting. The firm does not have anything additional to add.”

Upon entering the race for president as a political novice, Zelensky had been best known for his role in a TV series about a schoolteacher who vaults to his country’s presidency on the wave of anti-corruption disgust.

“I’m not a politician,” Zelensky, 41, told former president Poroshenko in their only debate before Sunday’s runoff election. “I’m just an ordinary person who has come to break the system. I’m the result of your mistakes and promises.”

“I promise I will never let any of you down,” he said in his final statement to the audience.