Ex-Trump Adviser Morrison Testifies on Concerns About Ukraine

A former top White House official who raised concerns about President Donald Trump’s efforts to push Ukraine to investigate his political rivals testified behind closed doors Thursday in the House impeachment investigation.

Tim Morrison, the first White House political appointee to testify, was the National Security Council’s top adviser for Russian and European affairs until he stepped down Wednesday. A senior administration official said Morrison had “decided to pursue other opportunities.” The official, who was not authorized to discuss Morrison’s job and spoke only on the condition of anonymity, said Morrison had been considering leaving the administration for “some time.” 

Morrison did not respond to reporters’ questions as he arrived on Capitol Hill. He was expected to be asked by investigators to explain the “sinking feeling” that he reportedly got when Trump demanded that Ukraine’s president investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and interfere in the 2016 election.

FILE – Former national security adviser John Bolton speaks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, Sept. 30, 2019.

Morrison, a national security hawk brought on board by then-national security adviser John Bolton, has been featured prominently in previous testimony from diplomat William Taylor. It was Morrison who first alerted Taylor to concerns about Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

In fact, Morrison’s name appeared more than a dozen times in testimony by Taylor, who told impeachment investigators that Trump was withholding military aid unless Zelenskiy went public with a promise to investigate Trump’s political rival Biden and Biden’s son Hunter. Taylor’s testimony contradicted Trump’s repeated denials that there was any quid pro quo. 

Morrison and Taylor spoke at least five times in the weeks following the July phone call as the defense expert and the diplomat discussed the Trump administration’s actions toward Ukraine, according to Taylor’s testimony. 

As the security funds for Ukraine were being withheld, Morrison told the diplomat, the president  “doesn’t want to provide any assistance at all.” 

FILE – U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, center, arrives for an interview with the House Foreign Affairs, Intelligence and Oversight committees on Capitol Hill in Washington, Oct. 17, 2019.

Their concerns deepened when Morrison relayed on Sept. 7 the conversation he had with Ambassador Gordon Sondland a day earlier that gave him that “sinking feeling.” In it, Sondland explained that Trump said he was not asking for a quid pro quo but insisted that Zelenskiy “go to a microphone and say he is opening investigations of Biden and 2016 election interference,” Taylor testified last week.

Morrison told Bolton and the NSC lawyers of this call between Trump and Sondland, according to Taylor’s testimony.

The spotlight has been on Morrison since August, when a government whistleblower said multiple U.S. officials had said Trump was “using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election.”

Morrison was brought on board to address arms control matters and later shifted into a role as a top Russia and Europe adviser. It was then that he stepped into the thick of an in-house squabble about the activities of Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, who had been conversing with Ukrainian leaders outside traditional U.S. diplomatic circles. 

The impeachment probe has been denounced by the Republican president, who has directed his staff not to testify. 

Regardless of what he says, GOP lawmakers will be hard-pressed to dismiss Morrison, formerly a longtime Republican staffer at the House Armed Services Committee. He’s been bouncing around Washington in Republican positions for two decades, having worked for Representative Mark Kennedy, R-Minn., and Senator Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., and as a GOP senior staffer on the House Armed Services Committee, including nearly four years when it was chaired by Representative Mac Thornberry, R-Texas.

Agreement on Giuliani

Morrison told people after Bolton was forced out of his job that the national security adviser had tried to stop Giuliani’s diplomatic dealings with Ukraine and that Morrison agreed, according to a U.S. official who was not authorized to discuss Morrison’s role in the impeachment inquiry and spoke only on the condition of anonymity. The official said Morrison told people that with the appointment of Robert O’Brien as Bolton’s successor, his own future work at the NSC was in a “holding pattern.”

Bolton brought Morrison into the NSC in July 2018 as senior director for weapons of mass destruction and biodefense. Morrison, who earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota and a law degree from George Washington University, keeps nuclear strategist Herman Kahn’s seminal volume on thermonuclear warfare on a table in his office.

Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, said Bolton and Morrison are like-minded. Kimball said both have been known for calling up GOP congressional offices to warn them against saying anything about arms control that didn’t align with their views.

“Just as John Bolton reportedly did, I would be shocked if Morrison did not regard Giuliani’s activities as being out of bounds,” said Kimball, who has been on opposite sides of arms control debates with Morrison for more than a decade.

Nigeria Non-profits Take Cancer Awareness to the Streets

Nigeria accounts for the highest cancer mortality rate in Africa according to the World Health Organization. Low awareness, late detection and high cost of treatment are major factors contributing to increasing cancer mortality in the west African nation. But in October, also world cancer awareness month, several non-profits in Nigeria are taking information about the disease to the streets and sponsoring underprivileged patients for treatments. Timothy Obiezu reports from Abuja.

Sources: US Envoy Returns to Afghanistan, Discusses Prisoner Swap

Chief U.S. peace negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad is back in Afghanistan and held fresh meetings with Afghan leaders on the fate of two Western hostages held by the Taliban and efforts aimed at restarting stalled peace talks with the insurgent group, sources said.

Insurgent sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, have also confirmed to VOA that “(a) prisoners’ (swap) deal is underway” with Khalilzad’s team and “is in the final stages.”  But when approached for comment, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told VOA, “So far I have no information about this issue.”

An Afghan government source confirmed to VOA Thursday the American envoy met with President Ashraf Ghani after arriving in Kabul the previous day from Pakistan. The discussions between the two, said the source, focused on American Kevin King and Australian Timothy Weeks, the two hostages being held by the Taliban for more than three years.

FILE – A photo combination if images taken from video released June 21, 2017, by Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, shows kidnapped Australian Timothy Weeks, top, and American Kevin King.

U.S. officials have not confirmed or released any details of the Khalilzad-Ghani meeting, but U.S. sources have said, “Getting hostages back is always at the forefront of our policy” of seeking Afghan peace and reconciliation.

King and Weeks were teaching at the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul before they were kidnapped at gunpoint near the campus in August 2016.

Khalilzad also met with Ghani on Sunday in the Afghan capital prior to the brief stop in Pakistan. In a post-meeting news conference, a senior Afghan official confirmed the U.S. envoy sought cooperation in securing the release of the American professor, who is said to be suffering from serious health problems, and his Australian colleague. National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib, however, refused to discuss further details.

The Taliban has long demanded the release of around a dozen high-profile prisoners held in Afghan jails in exchange for freeing King and Weeks. The insurgent detainees include death row prisoner Anas Haqqani, a younger brother of Taliban deputy chief Sirajuddin Haqqani, and their uncle, Mali Khan.

Khalilzad traveled to Pakistan on Monday and discussed “the current status of the Afghan peace process” with leaders in the neighboring country, said the U.S. embassy in Islamabad. He also underscored the importance of reducing violence in Afghanistan, it said.

Afghan officials allege Pakistan shelters Taliban leaders on its soil, charges Islamabad rejects. Pakistani officials maintain their country still hosts around 3 million Afghan refugees and do not rule out the possibility of insurgents hiding among them.

The U.S. Afghan reconciliation envoy’s back-and-forth visits to Afghanistan and Pakistan have fueled speculation a prisoner swap could soon materialize to pave the way for the resumption of peace talks involving the United States and the Taliban.

U.S. President Donald Trump canceled the negotiations, citing continued Taliban attacks in Kabul, including one that killed an American soldier.

 

Польська Gazeta Wyborcza внесла Катерину Гандзюк у список 120 відомих померлих людей

Напередодні Дня всіх святих 1 листопада, який особливо шанують в переважно католицькій Польщі, тамтешнє відоме видання Gazeta Wyborcza внесло вбиту українську активістку Катерину Гандзюк до переліку 120-ти відомих поляків та іноземців, що втратили життя за останні 12 місяців.

Ім’я Катерини Гандзюк згадується у спеціальному додатку, де йдеться про те, ким вона була і як загинула.

«Я знаю, що виглядаю погано, але я виглядаю зараз набагато краще, ніж виглядають зараз в Україні справедливість і правосуддя», – цитує видання слова Катерини Гандзюк, які вона записала у зверненні з лікарняного ліжка.

Чиновниця Херсонської міської ради, активістка Катерина Гандзюк померла 4 листопада 2018 року. Це сталося через три місяці після того, як її облили концентрованою сірчаною кислотою у Херсоні. У справі про замах на Гандзюк були затримані підозрювані у виконанні і організації нападу, але замовників офіційно не встановили.

Згадує Gazeta Wyborcza серед відомих померлих особистостей і мера польського Гданська Павела Адамовіча, який помер 14 січня після нападу на нього чоловіка на доброчинному концерті, про ілюстратора і дитячого письменника Богдан Бутенка, про радянського дисидента Володимира Буковського, про дизайнера і фотографа Карла Лаґерфельда та інших.

Gazeta Wyborcza («Газета Виборча») – одне з найвідоміших сучасних польських видань.

Відомий британський телеканал буде використовувати Kyiv замість Kiev

Один з провідних британських телеканалів ITV буде використовувати Kyiv замість Kiev.

Про це повідомили у посольстві України у Сполученому королівстві 31 жовтня.

 

Раніше аналогічно вчинили британські видання Financial Times та The Telegraph, корпорація ВВС, міжнародне інформаційне агентство Associated Press, американська газета The Washington Post.

 

На початку жовтня 2018 року Міністерство закордонних справ України розпочало онлайн-кампанію #CorrectUA, в рамках якої звертається до іноземних ЗМІ й іноземних аеропортів із метою коригування правопису міста Київ латинкою (#KyivNotKiev). Чимало європейських столиць і міст вже підтримали цю ініціативу.

Під час перебування України в складі СРСР в англомовних засобах інформації закріпилася транслітерація назви української столиці у спосіб, який відповідав російській вимові, тобто Kiev. Українська влада наполягає, що нині правильно передавати назву близько до вимови, властивої українській мові, тобто Kyiv.

Прем’єр Гончарук розповів про готовність доріг України до зими

Прем’єр-міністр Олексій Гончарук заявив, що уряд відповідально готується до зими і для безпеки на дорогах мобілізував всі ресурси.

«Хоч «Укравтодор» і залучає додатково приватні будівельні компанії, проте облавтодори – основні виконавці робіт з утримання доріг. І в них достатньо ресурсів для боротьби зі снігом… Україна до зими готова», – написав Гончарук на сторінці у Facebook.

Він додав, що сьогодні в регіони вирушили 54 нові спеціальні машини, загалом 4641 одиниць техніки готові «оперативно реагувати на складні погодні умови». 

Раніше державне агентство автомобільних доріг («Укравтодор») звернулося з проханням до українських водіїв щодо підготовки своїх транспортних засобів для поїздок у зимову пору.

 

Former Trump Adviser Next in Line to be Asked About Ukraine

President Donald Trump’s top adviser for Russian and European affairs is leaving his job at the White House just as he’s scheduled to testify before the House impeachment investigators, a senior administration official said.
 
Tim Morrison owes his job at the National Security Council to Trump, but his testimony Thursday in the House impeachment inquiry might be central to a push to remove the president from office.
 
A senior administration official said Wednesday that Morrison “has decided to pursue other opportunities.” The official, who was not authorized to discuss Morrison’s job and spoke only on the condition of anonymity, said Morrison has been considering leaving the administration for “some time.”
 
Morrison has been in the spotlight since August when a government whistleblower said multiple U.S. officials had said Trump was “using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election.”
 
Now it’s his turn in the impeachment probe’s hot seat.
 
Morrison, tall and lean with an authoritative voice, will be asked to explain that “sinking feeling” he got when Trump demanded that Ukraine’s president investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and meddling in the 2016 election.
 
Morrison, who is in his 40s, is a political appointee in the Trump White House, brought on board by former national security adviser John Bolton to address arms control matters and later shifted into his current role as a top Russia and Europe adviser. It was there that he stepped into the thick of an in-house squabble about the activities of Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, who had been conversing with Ukrainian leaders outside of traditional U.S. diplomatic circles.
 
Known as a “hawk” in national security circles, Morrison is set to be the first political appointee from the White House to testify before impeachment investigators. The probe has been denounced by the Republican president, who has directed his staff not to testify.
 
Regardless of what he says, GOP lawmakers will be hard-pressed to dismiss Morrison, formerly a longtime Republican staffer at the House Armed Services Committee. He’s been bouncing around Washington in Republican positions for two decades, having worked for Rep. Mark Kennedy, R-Minn., Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., and as a GOP senior staffer on the House Armed Services Committee, including nearly four years when it was chaired by Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas.
 

Morrison’s name appeared more than a dozen times in earlier testimony by William Taylor, the acting U.S. ambassador in Ukraine, who told impeachment investigators that Trump was withholding military aid unless the new Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, went public with a promise to investigate Trump’s political rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Taylor’s testimony contradicts Trump’s repeated denials that there was any quid pro quo.
 
Taylor said Morrison recounted a conversation that Gordon Sondland, America’s ambassador to the European Union, had with a top aide to Zelenskiy named Andriy Yermak. Taylor said Morrison told him security assistance would not materialize until Zelenskiy committed to investigate Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company that once employed Biden’s son. A White House meeting for Zelenskiy also was in play.
 
“I was alarmed by what Mr. Morrison told me about the Sondland-Yermak conversation,” Taylor testified. “This was the first time I had heard that the security assistance – not just the White House meeting – was conditioned on the investigations.”
 
Taylor testified that Morrison told him he had a “sinking feeling” after learning about a Sept. 7 conversation Sondland had with Trump.
 
“According to Mr. Morrison, President Trump told Ambassador Sondland that he was not asking for a quid pro quo,” Taylor testified. “But President Trump did insist that President Zelenskiy go to a microphone and say he is opening investigations of Biden and 2016 election interference, and that President Zelenskiy should want to do this himself.” Mr. Morrison said that he told Ambassador Bolton and the NSC lawyers of this phone call between President Trump and Ambassador Sondland.
 
Morrison told people after Bolton was forced out of his job that the national security adviser had tried to stop Giuliani’s diplomatic dealings with Ukraine and that Morrison agreed, according to a U.S. official, who was not authorized to discuss Morrison’s role in the impeachment inquiry and spoke only on condition of anonymity. The official said Morrison told people that with the appointment of Robert O’Brien as Bolton’s successor, his own future work at the NSC was in a “holding pattern.”
 
Bolton had brought Morrison into the NSC in July 2018 as senior director for weapons of mass destruction and biodefence. He’s known as an arms control expert or an arms treaty saboteur, depending on who you ask.
 

Morrison, who earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota and a law degree from George Washington University, keeps nuclear strategist Herman Kahn’s seminal volume on thermonuclear warfare on a table in his office.
 
Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, said Bolton and Morrison are likeminded. Kimball said both have been known for calling up GOP congressional offices warning them against saying anything about arms control that didn’t align with their views.
 
“Just as John Bolton reportedly did, I would be shocked if Morrison did not regard Giuliani’s activities as being out of bounds,” said Kimball, who has been on opposite sides of arms control debates with Morrison for more than a decade.

 

Ivanka Trump to Promote Women’s Prosperity in Morocco

Ivanka Trump is getting ready to promote her women’s economic development program on an upcoming trip to Morocco.

It will be her third overseas trip this year to promote the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative , which was launched in February to benefit women in developing countries.

President Donald Trump’s daughter and senior adviser will visit the North African country in early November, the White House said. Specific dates for her travel were not released.

In a statement to The Associated Press, Ivanka Trump said the kingdom of Morocco is a valued U.S. ally that has “taken strides” under King Mohammed VI to promote gender equality.

In August, she tweeted her support to the Moroccan government after it began the process of amending its inheritance laws, which say women should receive half as much as men.

Ivanka Trump will travel with Sean Cairncross, CEO of the Millennium Challenge Corp., an independent U.S. foreign aid agency that provides grants to developing countries to help promote economic growth, reduce poverty and strengthen institutions.

They will meet with government officials and local leaders in Morocco’s capital, Rabat, and in Casablanca to discuss how to help women in the region gain a measure of economic independence.

The Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative has a goal of helping 50 million women in developing nations advance economically over the next six years.

It’s a U.S. government-wide effort that involves the State Department, the National Security Council and other agencies. It aims to coordinate existing programs and develop new ones to help women in areas such as job training, financial support and legal or regulatory reforms.

Ivanka Trump traveled to Ethiopia and Ivory Coast , in sub-Saharan Africa, in April and to Argentina, Colombia and Paraguay , in South America, in September to promote the initiative.

House Democrats Set Stage for Public Impeachment Inquiry

Democrats in the US House of Representatives will take a crucial step forward in their impeachment investigation of US President Donald Trump Thursday. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a vote formalizing the inquiry, addressing Republicans’ arguments the process is illegitimate. As VOA’s Congressional correspondent Katherine Gypson reports from Capitol Hill, the vote also sets the stage for the impeachment inquiry to go public.

Dubious Distinction for Pakistan’s Most Populous City

The U.N. General Assembly designated Oct. 31 as World Cities Day.  This year’s theme focuses on innovations and better life for future generations.  Part of that involves ranking cities on their livability.  VOA’s Arash Arabasadi looks at why Karachi, Pakistan,  ranks near the bottom.

Rocket Strikes Baghdad Green Zone as Anti-Government Protesters Mass

A rocket struck near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad’s Green Zone on Wednesday, killing at least one Iraqi guard.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for firing into the heavily fortified area of the Iraqi capital, home to government buildings and Western embassies.

The rocket fire came as tens of thousands of people massed in central Baghdad for another night of anti-government protests that began a week ago.

Students take part in an anti-government protest in Basra, Iraq, Oct. 30, 2019.

Officials said at least two people were killed and more than 100 wounded earlier Wednesday. Doctors said most of those hurt were hit in the head by tear gas canisters fired by security police.

The Iraqi Human Rights Commission said more than 100 people have been killed and thousands have been wounded in cities across the country in the latest round of demonstrations demanding the government resign. Nearly 150 died in marches earlier this month.

Students and other protesters are angry at alleged corruption, a slow economy and poor government services despite Iraq’s oil wealth.

A move in parliament to approve a bill to cancel privileges and bonuses for senior politicians, including the president, prime minister and Cabinet ministers, has done little to calm the marchers.

The United States, the United Nations and Amnesty International have called for restraint by both sides.

Advocates for Students Revive Lawsuit Against New Mexico

School districts and parents revived litigation Wednesday that accuses the state of failing to provide a sound education to vulnerable children from minority communities, non-English speaking households, impoverished families and students with disabilities.

Two groups of plaintiffs filed motions in state district court to ensure compliance with a district judge’s ruling that found lawmakers and state education officials were failing their constitutional obligations to ensure an adequate education.

Since that ruling, the Democrat-led Legislature and first-year Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham have authorized a nearly half-billion dollar increase in annual spending on public education. They raised teacher salaries, channeled money toward at-risk students and extended academic calendars.

Gail Evans, a lead attorney at the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty that represents parents of public-school children and school districts from suburban Rio Rancho to the rural town of Cuba, said much of the new state spending has been soaked up by mandated teacher salary increases, while administrative requirements hobbled efforts to extend the school year at many schools.

The center says the state did not come up with a transformative education plan to truly help vulnerable student groups — and that a court-ordered plan is needed.

“We’re concerned about these ongoing half-measures,” she said. “They are clearly not in compliance with their constitutional obligation.”

In a statement, Public Education Secretary Ryan Stewart said the state is rolling out major investments aimed at “closing the opportunity gap between at-risk students and their peers,” describing extended learning programs that extend the school year and community school programming that can include more school counselors, teaching assistants and after-school programs.

“We recognize the urgency of making sure all students receive he education they deserve,” Stewart said.

New Mexico is one of several states where courts have been called upon to shore up funding for public schools, amid frustration with elected officials over the quality of education and state budget priorities.

Attorneys used several years of data on the educational outcomes of students in New Mexico to build their case. Many of those outcomes — reading and math scores along with graduation rates and the need for remedial courses — were defined as dismal by Judge Sarah Singleton. Singleton, who oversaw a weekslong trial in the case, died in July. The case has been reassigned to district Judge Matthew Wilson.

Attorneys for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, representing additional plaintiffs in the case, said no laws have been passed to improve attention to students with disabilities, another focus of the lawsuit. The group is asking for further court proceedings to assess compliance with Singleton’s ruling. That could include legal discovery and depositions of state officials.

“It’s not clear that the money is going to reach the students it was designed to reach,” MALDEF attorney Ernest Herrera said of new state educational spending.

US Fed Cuts Rates but Signals Pause in Easing Cycle 

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday cut interest rates for the third time this year, as expected, in a move to ensure the U.S. economy weathers a global trade war without slipping into a recession, but it  signaled that its rate-cut cycle might be at a pause. 
 
In lowering its policy rate by a quarter of a percentage point to a target range of between 1.50% and 1.75%, the U.S. central bank dropped a previous reference in its policy statement that it “will act as appropriate” to sustain the economic expansion — language that was considered a sign of future rate cuts. 
 
Instead, the Fed said it would “monitor the implications of incoming information for the economic outlook as it assesses the appropriate path” of its target interest rate, a less decisive phrase. 
 
Kansas City Fed President Esther George and Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren dissented from the decision. They have opposed all three Fed rate cuts this year as unnecessary. 

View of economy changes little
 
The Fed’s description of the U.S. economy on Wednesday remained largely unchanged, with labor markets said to be “strong” and economic activity “rising at a moderate rate.” 
 
As in its previous policy statement, the Fed said it took the action to reduce borrowing costs “in light of the implications of global developments for the economic outlook as well as muted inflation pressures.” 
 
The Fed said business investment and exports remained “weak.” 
 
Expectations for additional cuts after October have diminished significantly in recent weeks. 
 
U.S. stocks, down modestly before the Fed’s statement, pared some of their losses and were little changed on the day. The benchmark S&P 500 Index, which had hit a record high earlier in the week, was down fractionally. 
 
Bond yields also showed little reaction, with the 10-year Treasury note yield at 1.80%, down about 3 basis points on the day. The dollar edged up to the day’s high against a basket of the currencies of top U.S. trading partners. 
 
“It’s pretty much what was expected,” said Jim Powers, director of investment research at Delegate Advisors. “The more important outcome is they removed the phrase ‘act as appropriate.’ It looks like the market is taking that to mean that there will be a pause in the declining rate path they were on beforehand. That’s what was expected, and that’s generally a good thing.” 

Unusual situation
 
The central bank and U.S. economy are at an unusual juncture. 
 
Unemployment is near a 50-year low, inflation is moderate, and data earlier on Wednesday showed gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of 1.9% in the third quarter, a slowdown from the first half of the year but not as sharp a decline as many economists had expected and some Fed officials had feared. 
 
But parts of the economy, particularly manufacturing, have stuttered in recent months as the global economy slowed. 
 
Businesses have pared investment in response to the U.S.-China trade war that both raised tariffs on many goods and made the world a riskier place in which to make long-term commitments. 
 
While that has not had an obvious impact yet on U.S. hiring or consumer spending, Fed officials felt a round of “insurance” rate cuts was appropriate to guard against a worse outcome. The Fed cut rates in July and again in September, and by doing so hoped to encourage businesses and consumers with more affordable borrowing costs. 
 
The approach was successful in the 1990s when risks developed during another prolonged period of economic growth. 

Global Trafficking Networks Behind British Migrant Tragedy

British and Belgian police are continuing to investigate the people-smuggling networks that helped to transport the 39 migrants who were found dead in the back of a refrigerated truck near London last week. It’s believed they suffocated in the sealed container. Henry Ridgwell reports on the growing industry in human cargo that brings tens of thousands of migrants to Europe every year.

Facebook Removes 3 Russian Networks It Says Engaged in Foreign Interference in Africa

Less than a week after the Africa-Russia Summit, Facebook has suspended three networks of Russian accounts it says were engaging in foreign interference in Africa.

Facebook said the accounts targeted Madagascar, the Central African Republic, Mozambique, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire and Cameroon. The accounts supported select political figures and derided pro-democracy activists in the countries.

Russia has had an increasing interest in engaging with African countries on trade and policy as sanctions continue to hurt its economy.

Russian President Vladimir Putin organized the first Russia–Africa Summit and Economic Forum, which promoted increased economic relations between Russia and the continent earlier in October in Sochi, Russia.

According to documents leaked by The Guardian, companies and groups affiliated with the Russian government have been cooperating with African politicians and interfering in elections. According to the documents, Madagascar’s president Andry Rajoelina won the election with Russian support. Rajoelina has denied the allegation.

The Stanford Internet Observatory also reported that Russia was working with local media organizations on the African continent to spread disinformation.

This represents a new tactic compared to what occurred with Russian influence ahead of the U.S. 2016 presidential election.

The three networks are among the first subjects of Facebook’s new policies aimed at curbing “coordinated inauthentic behavior.”

Facebook defined coordinated inauthentic behavior in an October press release as using fake accounts and deceiving people on the origins of pages and groups.

According to The Stanford Internet Observatory, a total of 1.72 million accounts “liked” the now removed Facebook pages. Though some of these “likes” could be from the same account across multiple pages.

The removal of the networks demonstrates Facebook’s commitment to prevent manipulation on its platforms, but it also shows the evolving nature of Russian methods since 2016.

 

У ДБР обіцяють: обшуків у редакції «Схем» не буде

Голова Державного бюро розслідувань Роман Труба запевняє, що слідчі не проводитимуть обшуки в редакції програми журналістських розслідувань «Схеми». Про це він заявив в коментарі Радіо Свобода щодо ймовірності проведення обшуку слідчими ДБР з метою вилучення редакційної комунікації та інших даних журналістів програми, які готували розслідування «Mr. Petro Incognito» – про таємну відпустку Петра Порошенка на Мальдівах, опубліковане у січні 2018 року під авторством Михайла Ткача та Наталки Седлецької.

«(Обшук – ред.) однозначно виключаємо. Я впевнений, що журналісти і слідчі – це партнери, і нададуть ту інформацію, яка потрібна для нас», – зазначив голова ДБР. 

Труба також відзначив, що слідчим «не потрібні джерела інформації «Схем». «Запевняю: слідчий не переслідував мети отримати джерела. Жодних дій по отриманню інформації щодо джерел ми не вживати не будемо», – сказав він.

Однак голова ДБР так і не зміг пояснити причини витребування надмірного обсягу редакційних даних. «Я не знаю, яку основну мету переслідував слідчий. Але якщо слідчий говорив про заробітну плату, я можу припустити про те, що цей працівник – журналіст чи оператор – є працівником саме того журналістського розслідування. Не більше. Для мене як слідчого не потрібно було б детально скільки він отримував заробітньої плати. Сам факт підтвердити, що він дійсно є працівником, достатньо для слідчого», – розповів Радіо Свобода Роман Труба.

У відповідь головна редакторка програми «Схеми» Наталка Седлецька зазначає: досі лишається незрозумілим, для чого слідчий затребував такий широкий масив даних журналістів,ще й застосував «метод примусу, пішовши за судовою ухвалою».

«У даному випадку незрозуміло, навіщо слідчі ДБР пішли таким силовим методом – адже ми з ними вже були на зв’язку та надавали те, що могли. По-друге, обсяг даних до яких вони через суд отримали доступ – абсолютно надмірний. Що стосується внутрішньої комунікації редакції – то можна було легко передбачити, що такі дані ми ніколи не надамо – в тому числі через загрозу розкриття наших джерел», – підкреслила Седлецька.

Раніше Печерський районний суд надав слідчим ДБР дозвіл на тимчасовий доступ до редакційної комунікації та інших даних журналістів програми, які готували розслідування «Mr. Petro Incognito» – про таємну відпустку Петра Порошенка на Мальдівах, опубліковане у січні 2018 року під авторством Михайла Ткача та Наталки Седлецької. Таке рішення суд ухвалив 17 жовтня в рамках досудового розслідування кримінального провадження Державного бюро розслідувань щодо «незаконного переправлення осіб» – зокрема, експрезидента – через державний кордон «з використанням завідомо підроблених документів».

Згідно з ухвалою суду, якщо протягом місяця редакція не надасть правоохоронцям зазначену інформацію, то суд за клопотанням слідчих ДБР «має право постановити ухвалу про дозвіл на проведення обшуку з метою відшукання та вилучення зазначених речей та документів». 

У свою чергу редакція програми «Схеми» заявила, що не бачить необхідності надавати Державному бюро розслідувань весь масив витребуваної через суд внутрішньої інформації редакції, вважаючи такий обсяг надмірним, а запитувану інформацію такою, яка не зможе допомогти слідству, бо не має до нього стосунку. 

Хоч ухвала Печерського суду не підлягає оскарженню, адвокати «Схем» звернулися до Київського апеляційного суду з вимогою її скасувати, оскільки вона надає доступ до документів, що містять охоронювану законом таємницю журналістських джерел. «Журналісти розраховують на судовий контроль за дотримання прав, свобод та інтересів. Особливо, якщо імовірне втручання стосується права на свободу слова та захист джерел інформації журналістів. Нагадаю, що це не перший випадок, коли адвокатам доводиться захищати права журналістів на захист джерел інформації», – відзначила юристка ІРРП Людмила Панкратова. 

У 2018 році журналісти вже створили прецедент оскарження подібної ухвали. Головна редакторка та ведуча «Схем» Наталка Седлецька подала до Київського апеляційного суду скаргу на ухвалу, якою слідчому Генеральної прокуратури надано доступ до даних з її мобільного телефону за 1,5 року. Тоді юристи журналістки також оскаржили ухвалу через порушення конституційних прав і свобод. Аналогічно вчинив і захист журналістки Крістіни Бердинських, доступ до даних з телефону якої також отримали слідчі ГПУ. 

У 2019 році було ще одне рішення апеляційного суду про зупинення надання доступу до електронного листування редактора видання «Новое Время» Івана Верстюка, яке теж винесли на користь журналістів. 

В апеляції юристи «Схем» звертають увагу на відсутність достатнього обгрунтування для доступу до внутрішньоредакційних документів. 

У апеляції також йдеться про те, що ухвалою Печерського суду були порушені права журналістів на захист своїх джерел та їх право як громадян на захист. Також юристи наголошують на тому, що вимога доступу до внутрішньоредакційної інформації може бути намаганням виявити джерела отримання інформації журналістами-розслідувачами і можливого тиску на них у подальшому. 

У 2018-му році журналісти розповіли про неафішований відпочинок Петра Порошенка на Мальдівах, що тривав з 1 по 8 січня і разом з перельотом загалом коштував не менше ніж 500 тисяч доларів, що становило понад 14 мільйонів гривень.

Журналісти програми припустили, що президент України Петро Порошенко зі своїми супутниками міг літати на Мальдівські острови під вигаданими прізвищами і не проходити паспортний і митний контроль.

Водночас Порошенко наголошував, що кордон він перетинав за своїм прізвищем, «по своєму паспорту, з відповідною реєстрацією у прикордонників».

 

 

 

 

У поштових відділеннях України з 1 листопада більше не продаватимуть лотерейні білети – Смілянський

«Укрпошта» з 1 листопада цього року припиняє продаж лотерейних білетів у своїх відділеннях, повідомив керівник підприємства Ігор Смілянський на сторінці у Facebook.

«Укрпошта» з 1 листопада остаточно припинить продавати лотереї. Всі зусилля на ключові бізнес-напрямки та сервіс. Hard core – пошта і платежі», – написав Смілянський.

З 2009 року в Україні заборонений гральний бізнес, однак експерти вказують, що він просто перейшов працювати в «тіні».

18 жовтня цього року Верховна Рада зареєструвала розроблений урядом проєкт закону про державне регулювання діяльності у сфері організації та проведення азартних ігор. Документ передбачає, що азартні ігри будуть проводитися винятково на території готелів і на гральному обладнанні з використанням програмного забезпечення, яке відповідає міжнародним стандартам.

Днями ДБР вкаже, хто зробив смертельний постріл у 5-річного Кирила Тлявова – Труба

Днями слідчі Державного бюро розслідувань назвуть прізвище особи, яка зробила смертельний постріл у Кирила Тлявова, 5-річного хлопчика, який загинув наприкінці травня на Київщині. Про це в інтерв’ю Радіо Свобода заявив директор Державного бюро розслідувань Роман Труба.

«На днях ми отримаємо останню експертизу і слідчі вже зможуть остаточно дати відповідь на питання: чий постріл був смертельний для Кирила Тлявова. Потрібно розуміти, що всі учасники цієї події не розуміли, чий постріл був смертельний. Слідчі похвилинно відтворили всі обставини і найближчим часом ми назвемо прізвище, хто здійснив постріл», – сказав він. 

Також він наголосив, що «найближчими днями» у справі будуть оголошені остаточні підозри.

«Найближчими днями будуть оголошені остаточні підозри і після того ми оголосимо про завершення досудовго розслідування. Потім розпочнеться процес ознайомлення підозрюваних з матеріалами справи. Цей процес може тривати місяць, може, тривати два місяці. Обмеження (в часі – ред.) може бути лише в тому випадку, якщо вони будуть затягувати, суд своїм рішенням встановить своє рішення», – зазначив Труба.

За даними правоохоронців, 31 травня двоє поліцейських відпочивали та вживали алкоголь на подвір’ї приватного сектору у Переяславі-Хмельницькому на Київщині. Під час відпочинку чоловіки домовилися постріляти по металевих банках із вогнепальної зброї. Пізніше виявилося, що куля влучила у 5-річного хлопчика Кирила Тлявова, що був у сусідньому дворі. Дитина згодом померла у лікарні. 5 червня Кирила поховали в його рідному місті. Поліцейські були затримані.