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Pro-Russians storm Odessa police station, free activists

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Pro-Russians storm Odessa police station, free activists
Reuters / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Pro-Russian militants stormed a Ukrainian police station in Odessa on Sunday and freed 30 fellow activists as the prime minister blamed police corruption there for dozens of deaths in rioting on Friday.

“Russians won’t abandon their own!” militants chanted as they smashed windows and broke down the gate at the compound, where comrades had been held since Friday’s mayhem. Others shouted “Russia! Russia!” and “we will not forgive!”

Odessa police said 30 activists had been released.

Some police officers were offered the black and orange St. George’s ribbon, a Russian military insignia that has become a symbol of the revolt, and were cheered when they accepted it.

As rebellion simmered, questions were raised about the ability of the army as well as police to confront an uprising Kiev says is backed by Moscow and led in the field by Russian special forces – an accusation the Kremlin denies.

Police in the eastern port of Mariupol said pro-Russian rebels had tricked soldiers at a checkpoint into eating food laced with a sleeping potion. The soldiers were then bundled off along with their weapons, prompting long talks to free them.

Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk, speaking in Odessa on the western, Black Sea stretch of Ukraine’s coast, accused Russia of engineering Friday’s clashes there that led to the deaths of more than 40 pro-Russian activists in a blazing building.

But he was pointedly critical of the police.

“If the law enforcement system in Odessa had worked not exclusively on the ‘Seventh Kilometre’ and had protected people, then these terrorist organisations would have been foiled.”

The Seventh Kilometre is an open market on the edge of Odessa, associated in the popular consciousness with the corruption and black market business that have marked Ukraine’s 23 years of post-Soviet independence. He said changes were being made in the leadership of the police in Odessa.

Friday’s clashes were the deadliest since Moscow-oriented president Viktor Yanukovich was forced to flee in February and pro-Russian militants launched uprisings in the industrial east. They also marked the first serious disorder beyond eastern areas since Yanukovich fell, heralding possible trouble for Kiev.

Outright civil war in Ukraine and the division of a country the size of France would have serious implications for countries around, not least for Russia and for NATO states bordering it.

“There were dozens of casualties resulting from a well prepared and organised action against people, against Ukraine and against Odessa,” said Yatseniuk, whose Western-backed government took power after Yanukovich fled and aims to hold a presidential election to replace him in three weeks time.

ODESSA TENSION

Friday’s deaths occurred after running clashes, involving petrol bombs and gunfire, between supporters and opponents of Moscow on the streets of Odessa, where the majority of people speak Russian. The pro-Russian activists were trapped in a building as it burned down.

It was not clear who had thrown the petrol bombs that started the fire but pro-Russian demonstrators at the police station on Sunday blamed pro-Kiev activists.

About 300 pro-Russian activists forced their way into the Odessa police station, gathering in the courtyard, while about a thousand more surrounded the modern complex.

Several police officers stood at the front of the building talking to demonstrators.

Yatseniuk dismissed Russian accusations that his government was provoking bloodshed in the east with an operation to restore Kiev’s authority in a series of cities under rebel control.

“The process of dialogue had begun, only it was drowned out by the sound of shooting from automatic rifles of Russian production,” he said.

Ukraine is divided between a largely Russian-speaking population in the industrial east and Ukrainian-speaking west, where more pro-European Union views prevail. Moscow says Russian-speakers face threats from Ukrainian nationalist militants, an accusation Kiev denies.

Focus of tension on Sunday remained Odessa, traditionally a melting pot of cultures, with pro-Russians accusing Kiev of engineering events that led to the deaths on Friday.

“They are just standing there and shouting for us to release the detainees,” a spokesman for the regional police said.

He said about 170 people were initially detained on Friday, but since then about 50 had been released.

The army suffered an embarrassing upset near the eastern town of Mariupol when soldiers at a checkpoint accepted food offered to them by a group presenting themselves as public spirited citizens. Such donations have been common in recent weeks, as Ukraine’s forces suffer a serious lack of resources.

“It turned out that the food contained a substance that induced sleep among the servicemen,” the acting head of Mariupol criminal police department, Alexei Paniotov, said.

“After about half an hour, about 20 unidentified people arrived in three cars and, taking advantage of their helpless state, took them prisoner along with four automatic rifles, a grenade launcher, a machinegun and ammunition.”

The five soldiers, taken prisoner on Saturday, were released on Sunday after negotiations between police and pro-Russian militants. In the course of the wrangling, pro-Russian activists built barricades through the centre of Mariupol.

There were no signs of Ukrainian forces pushing their declared campaign to remove separatists from eastern cities including Kramatorsk, Donetsk and the rebel stronghold of Slaviansk.

Kiev is organising a presidential election for May 25. However, as things stand, it would have trouble conducting the vote in many parts of the east, a circumstance that would allow Russia to declare any government emerging as bereft of legitimacy.

Russia denies ambitions to seize eastern Ukraine as it has annexed the Crimea peninsula but reserves the right to send troops to defend Russian-speakers if it deems necessary.

Separatists who have declared a “People’s Republic of Donetsk” are planning a referendum on secession next Sunday.

The capital Kiev has remained quiet since the protests that forced Yanukovich to flee to Russia. But celebrations this week marking the anniversary of the Soviet victory in World War Two could be a source of tension.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Condolences from Thailand to UK on Prince Philip’s death

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Condolences from Thailand to UK on Prince Philip’s death | Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: The King and Queen of Thailand greet the King and Queen of England

The leaders of Thailand have sent messages of condolences to their British counterparts following the death of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh on Friday. His Majesty King Vajiralongkorn of Thailand has sent a message of condolence to Prince Philip’s widow, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, released by the Thai Royal Household Bureau, stating that the King and Queen are deeply saddened by Prince Philip’s death.

“We all in Thailand join the people of Great Britain in mourning this great loss, a sense of loss being shared by peoples around the world, whose lives have been touched and enriched by His Royal Highness’ enduring legacies in their diversity.

We still recall, with much pride and warmth, the two historic state visits made by Your Majesty in 1972 and 1996, with His Royal Highness at your side, as guests of my beloved father, His late Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Just as important to the people of Thailand was how His Royal Highness wished, during his later visits on behalf of the World Wildlife Fund, to share with them his love of nature and passion for the environment, thus inspiring a number of essential projects of conservation.

May I, on behalf of the people of Thailand, express to Your Majesty, the Royal Family and the British people our heartfelt sympathy and condolences for this truly grievous loss.”

Meanwhile, PM Prayut Chan-o-cha released a statement on behalf of the people of Thailand, saying their thoughts and prayers were with the people of Britain. PM Prayut sent a message to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson praising Prince Philip’s “exceptional leadership”.

“On behalf of the Royal Thai Government and the people of Thailand, I wish to extend to Your Right Honourable and the British people our deepest condolences and sympathy for this irreparable loss. We join the British people in mourning the loss of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Our thoughts and prayers are with the British people in this time of sadness”

Prince Philip, who was married to Queen Elizabeth II for 73 years, died Friday at the age of 99 after recently being released from King Edward VII Hospital recovering from a February surgery for a heart condition. He was the longest-serving consort in British history. The Duke of Edinburgh had visited Thailand twice, escorting the Queen for state visits with King Bhumibol Adulyadej in 1972 and 1996.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World & Thai Examiner

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Buckingham Palace announces the death of Prince Philip

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Buckingham Palace announces the death of Prince Philip | Thaiger

Prince Philip, the husband and consort to Queen Elizabeth II, has died at the age of 99. The Duke of Edinburgh was the longest-serving consort in the history of the United Kingdom, retiring in 2017 after more than 20,000 public engagements. Born on the Greek island of Corfu, Philip had 4 children, 8 grandchildren, and 9 great-grandchildren with the Queen. Buckingham Palace released a statement mourning the loss.

Prince Philip was born on June 10, 1921 on the island of Corfu, Greece. He married Princess Elizabeth on November 20, 1947.

“It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle. Further announcements will be made in due course. The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss.”

Buckingham Palace announces the death of Prince Philip | News by Thaiger

Buckingham Palace announces the death of Prince Philip | News by Thaiger

 

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Prince Philip dies at the age of 99 – Buckingham Palace

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Prince Philip dies at the age of 99 – Buckingham Palace | Thaiger

The husband of Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, has died at the age of 99. Buckingham Palace announced his death in the last hour.

Princess Elizabeth married Prince Philip in 1947, 5 years before she became Queen. He was the longest-serving royal consort in British history.

The couple had 4 children, 8 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

SOURCE: BBC

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