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Phuket Gazette World News: Ukraine accuses ex-president over sniper deaths

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Phuket Gazette World News: Ukraine accuses ex-president over sniper deaths | Thaiger

PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

– World news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Ukraine accuses ex-president over sniper deaths
Reuters / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Ukraine’s prime minister on Thursday blamed ousted President Viktor Yanukovich for the deaths of dozens of anti-government protesters shot by police snipers and urged Russia to hand him over to face charges.

Arseny Yatseniuk made his comments to Reuters after Ukraine’s security service (SBU) blamed the killing of more than 100 protesters in mid-February on the Berkut riot police but said Yanukovich had been involved in planning the operation.

The SBU also said representatives of Russia’s FSB security force had been at the SBU headquarters in Kiev – under the previous government – during three months of protests, and that Russia had flown explosives into Ukraine as they worsened.

The hints of Russian involvement could further strain ties with Ukraine’s former Soviet master, which annexed the Crimea region after Yanukovich’s removal from power in what has become the worst East-West standoff since the Cold War.

Yanukovich has taken refuge in Russia and denied ordering the shootings. Asked in an interview whether he held the deposed president responsible for the protesters’ deaths, Yatseniuk said it was a matter for the prosecutor general to decide.

“But as a politician I can state that the former president is personally responsible and we would like to bring … (him) to justice,” he said. “It is unacceptable when the Russian Federation covers for a man who is under investigation for the charges of mass murder and crimes against humanity.”

The new government has faced pressure to identify and punish the killers in an event which was a turning point in the Moscow-backed Yanukovich’s ultimately doomed struggle to retain power.

“The former government of the country gave criminal orders and a huge number of people suffered in the ‘mincer’,” Interior Minister Arsen Avakov told a news conference that announced the initial findings of an investigation into the shooting.

Rooftop snipers picked off protesters and medical workers on February 20. Many died on the spot from shots to the neck and scores of bodies were left strewn on the ground in central Kiev.

One day after the killings, which followed three months of mainly peaceful protests over Yanukovich’s decision to spurn closer trade and political ties with the European Union, the president fled Kiev. He was deposed by parliament on February 22.

The prosecutor general said 12 members of the Berkut had been detained on suspicion of shooting peaceful participants in the protests.

Acting Attorney General Oleh Makhnitsky said the detainees were members of a special force in the Berkut called the ‘Black Unit’ and the head of the SBU said members of a special unit within SBU had also been involved.

In late February the Interior Ministry disbanded the Berkut, whose name means golden eagle.

Russian explosives

The presence of members of Russia’s FSB, a successor of the KGB, at the SBU’s headquarters in Kiev implied there had been active Russian involvement in events in Ukraine, SBU chief Valentyn Nalyvaichenko said.

“We have reasonable grounds to believe that these groups … participated in the planning and implementation of the so-called anti-terrorist operation,” he said.

The FSB denied any involvement. Russia’s RIA news agency quoted it as saying: “Let these statements be on the conscience of the Ukrainian Security Services.”

Nalyvaichenko also said that planes loaded with 5,100 kilograms of Russian-made explosives and other materials had landed at an aerodrome near Kiev from the Russian city of Chkalovsk in January.

“They brought the means of organising the shooting and destruction of our protesters on Maidan,” he said, referring to the central Kiev square which became the heart of the protests.

Russia has denied any involvement in Kiev’s unrest, suggesting that the protests were partly funded by the West.

Konstantin Dolgov, a Russian Foreign Ministry official responsible for human rights issues, said on Twitter it would be wrong to draw “hasty and politicised conclusions based on material and hypotheses that have ‘suddenly’ surfaced'”.

The findings of Ukrainian security chiefs’ investigation and the Berkut arrests go some way towards meeting demands for justice over the killings. But many Ukrainians, disillusioned with what they see as a corrupt and mismanaged political system, want more dramatic change.

“The authorities want to appease us with these arrests. They’ve not done enough and we see only cosmetic changes and we want radical reforms,” said Ivan Kochmar, a 37-year-old resident of Kiev.

Anatoly Dekin, from Crimea, welcomed the moves, saying it would be “nonsense” if the killers were not convicted as they were “monsters who killed ordinary people”.

Another Kiev resident, who gave his name only as Sergei, said the blame must be placed elsewhere: “The main people who gave the orders are from the Kremlin.”

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Tourism

World’s most travel-friendly passport list – 2021

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World’s most travel-friendly passport list – 2021 | Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: Japan tops the list of most travel-friendly passports.

The Henley Passport Index, which rates which passports are the most travel-friendly, has just released the list for 2021, with Japan once again at the top of the list.

But the Index noted that this international travel freedom comparison is mostly theoretical at the moment since Covid-19 continues to limit most travel worldwide. With a Japanese passport, travellers can enter 193 countries without a visa or with a visa-on-arrival. On the other end of the list, an Afghanistan passport can only get into 26 countries. The gap of 167 countries is the widest gap since the Henley Passport Index began tracking this data 15 years ago in 2006.

Singapore kept its second-place this year standing with just one less destination than Japan, followed by Germany and South Korea tied for 3rd place with 191 destinations. The rest of the top 10 are mainly European countries, with the exception of New Zealand and the US as part of the 5-way tie for 7th place with 187 destinations, and Australia and Canada tied for 9th place with 185 destinations.

The US and UK passports took a tumble, once tied for the most travel-friendly passport back in 2014, now losing ground slipping to 7th place. On the other hand, United Arab Emirates strengthened diplomatic ties worldwide and jumped 50 spots this year from 65th all the way to 15th. Over the decade, the climb is even more dramatic, with the Emirates exploding from 67 destinations 10 years ago up 107 destinations to 174 this year. China did well also, climbing 22 places since 2011, up to number 68 on the list.

Thailand’s passport is tied with Saudi Arabia at 66th with 79 destinations available without an advance visa.

The full list of most travel-friendly passports…
1. Japan (193 destinations)
2. Singapore (192)
3. Germany, South Korea (191)
4. Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain (190)
5. Austria, Denmark (189)
6. France, Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden (188)
7. Belgium, New Zealand, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States (187)
8. Czech Republic, Greece, Malta, Norway (186)
9. Australia, Canada (185)
10. Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia (183)

Henley and Partners predict that the spread in passport access will mirror Covid-19 affected travel. Rich and mobile regions like the US, UK, EU and UAE are getting access to vaccination, hastening their ability to travel, while poorer and developing economies are experiencing a much slower vaccine roll-out.

Experts from Syracuse University, the University of Pittsburgh, and the Migration Policy Centre predict this trend will continue with potentially devastating long-term effects.

Countries that can afford and facilitate vaccination for their citizens quickly will be able to welcome travellers in for tourism and business and be able to travel more themselves. Conversely, countries that can’t afford the storage and distribution of vaccines will be less able to travel or welcome tourism income, widening a global wealth gap.

Remote working and the digital nomad lifestyle has been booming in recent years and with Covid-19 forcing businesses to adapt to telecommuting, the post-pandemic world will see more remote working, and countries falling behind with vaccinations will suffer the long-term loss in tourism dollars too.

SOURCE: CNN

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World

The Queen sits as a lonely figure as she bids farewell to her husband Prince Philip

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The Queen sits as a lonely figure as she bids farewell to her husband Prince Philip | Thaiger
PHOTO: VOA news

Prince Philip was laid to rest Saturday afternoon, UK time, in a simple but soulful funeral ceremony honouring his lifetime of service to the UK, the Commonwealth and his wife of 73 years, Queen Elizabeth II.

Clad in black, her head bowed in prayer, the elderly monarch set an example for the UK community during the Covid pandemic, socially distancing herself from the rest of her family.

Prince Philip died just 2 months short of his 100th birthday – some reflected that he was just 2 months away from receiving a telegram from his wife.

The service at Windsor Castle was light on pageantry but steeped in military and royal traditions. The whole pre-funeral procession and service was held away from the public eye, entirely within the grounds of Windsor Castle, but a full live stream of the proceedings was shown on UK TV and internet services.

Instead of the expected nearly 1,000 mourners, there was a mere 30 allowed inside the grounds of the castle to take part in the procession and service, although there was a larger entourage of socially-distanced musicians, camera-people, guards and organisers on site.

Attending were Prince Charles his wife Camilla, Prince Andrew, Prince William and his wife Kate, and Prince Harry, who had returned from the US without his pregnant wife Meghan. The Queen and Prince Philip’s other children, and grandchildren, were also in attendance.

The most poignant image from the entire ceremony was the lone figure of Queen Elizabeth, entirely in black with a black face mask and hat, a very human and frail figure who spent the entire service buried in deep contemplation, rarely raising her head to watch the proceedings. Whilst the service was all about remembering the service and duty of her consort, Prince Philip, there were few who wouldn’t have been thinking of the 94 year old woman sitting all alone, grieving the loss of her husband.

Britain officially observed 1 minute of silence in honour of Prince Philip just before the funeral started.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s coffin arrived at the chapel in a modified Land Rover conceived by the prince. Known for his sense of humour and off-the-cuff one-liners (that often got him into hot water), the arrival of his own coffin in an army-green pick-up truck was his final poke at the outrageous pageantry he often shied away from.

His coffin was draped in his personal standard with his Royal Navy cap, sword and a wreath of flowers sitting atop.

Prince Philip was placed in the vault along with the remains of 24 other royals, including 3 kings of England. But following the Queen’s death, the pair are expected to be buried in the Royal Burial Ground on the Frogmore Estate close to Windsor Castle.

Along with Philip’s children and grandchildren, the 30 funeral guests included other senior royals and several of his German relatives. Philip was born a prince of Greece and Denmark and, like the queen, is related to mash-up of European royal families.

The two sons of Price Charles and Princess Diana, William and Harry, were seen walking together after the service and chatting as mourners were leaving the chapel.

The Queen sits as a lonely figure as she bids farewell to her husband Prince Philip | News by Thaiger

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Grim milestone: 3 million Covid-19 deaths worldwide

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Grim milestone: 3 million Covid-19 deaths worldwide | Thaiger
PHOTO: 3 million Covid-19 deaths recorded around the world.

Today marks a grim milestone as the Covid-19 pandemic officially crosses 3 million deaths around the world, with outbreaks still surging in various parts of the world. Over a year into the pandemic, and we are currently seeing over 700,000 new infections and 12,000 deaths per day, with Brazil, India, and France facing growing crises.

The 3 million figure reflects official numbers, though many suspect that real totals could be much higher, pointing at government conspiracies and early deaths that were not attributed to Covid-19 when little was known about the novel coronavirus in the early days.

Still, the official number is overwhelming enough – equal to the population of Kyiv, Ukraine, or the state of Arkansas in the US, and larger than world cities like Lisbon, Caracas, Dubai, Manchester or Chicago. Imagine nearly one-third of the people in Bangkok wiped out, or the entire nation of Armenia or Jamaica.

Following a steep decline in both new infections and deaths at the start of this year, the graph is again in an upward trajectory, both in terms of new cases and deaths from Covid.

Grim milestone: 3 million Covid-19 deaths worldwide | News by ThaigerThe World Health Organisation laments the dire condition of the world dealing with the pandemic after 16 months and so many opportunities to prevent the spread with basic safety precautions. Brazil has spiralled out of control, racking up 3,000 deaths a day, nearly 25% of all the Covid-19 deaths in the world in the past few weeks. New variants have been spreading like wildfire throughout Brazil as more dangerous strains have wriggled their way into countries around the world.

In India, the distribution of vaccines has been thwarted by swelling Covid-19 outbreaks and deaths. In New Dehli, 13,000 infections were reported in a day amongst the 29 million residents, but the city only has 178 ventilators available as of Wednesday.

Only 1.1% of the Indian populations has been vaccinated, and officials faced criticism of their vaccine exports while so many need jabs domestically. In Thailand, the percentage of people vaccinated is even lower.

700 million vaccines have been distributed worldwide, but they have been shipped disproportionately to the wealthier populations throughout the world. In rich countries, 1 in 4 people have been vaccinated, while in poor countries that number is less than 1 in 500. In fact, 87% of the vaccines distributed worldwide have been to wealthy nations, and the delays in India due to increasing Covid-19 deaths will not help close that gap for many months to come.

SOURCE: Sky

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