New Ukraine President Zelenskiy says dissolving parliament
Robie de Guzman • May 20, 2019 • 1303
Ukraine’s new President Volodymyr Zelenskiy took the oath of office on Monday (May 20) and immediately announced he was dissolving parliament and calling a snap election, aiming to win seats in a legislature still dominated by loyalists of his predecessor.
Zelenskiy, a comedian with no prior political experience, won the presidency by a landslide last month but his new party has no representation in parliament, making it expedient for him to call a snap poll while his popularity remains high.
He said his first task was to achieve a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine, where a five-year-old conflict with Russian-backed separatists has killed 13,000 people. He added that dialogue with Russia could only happen after the return of Ukrainian territory and prisoners of war.
“I am certain that the first step in order to start this dialogue will be the return of all Ukrainian prisoners. Our next challenge is returning of lost territories. Frankly speaking, it seems to me that this expression is not appropriate because it is impossible to lose what belongs to us by law. Both Crimea and Donbass are the Ukrainian land where we lost not only territories, but we also lost the most important which is people,” he said.
“And today, we simply must – I am sure they can hear us – return their consciousness. We lost this consciousness. During these years, authorities did not do anything for them to feel that they are Ukrainians. They are not strangers, they are our (people). They are Ukrainians,” he added.
Working with parliament will be crucial to his ability to meet the expectations of his voters and also pass reforms needed to keep foreign aid flowing.
“In order to prevent more deaths of our heroes, I am ready to do everything. I am definitely not afraid of taking difficult decisions. I am ready to lose my popularity, my rating. And if needed, I am ready, without hesitations, to lose my position so that peace will finally come,” he said.
Zelenskiy called on lawmakers to use the two months until the snap election to pass a law that would strip them of immunity from prosecution and another law that bans officials from illegally enriching themselves. (REUTERS)
The new school year started for 40 inmates from the Kirovskaya prison colony as they gathered on Monday (September 2) for the first school day assembly and returned to the classroom in the rebel-held city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine.
The prisoners who have not completed a school year attended a history lesson in the new prison school. They used workbooks printed by the Ministry of Education of Self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic.
Dmitry Pentugov, one of the inmates at the Kirovskaya prison colony, said his favourite subject was chemistry and that he hoped to pursue a future in this field.
School director Mikhail Petrischev said inmates would be attending classes at three levels – the ninth, tenth and eleventh grades – and would study the same subjects as schoolers in the Donetsk region except industrial arts, physical education and preliminary military training.
Rebellions broke out against Ukrainian government rule and set up two states in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in 2014 shortly after a pro-Russian president was toppled in Kiev in a popular revolt.
Moscow provided military help for the separatists in the east, according to evidence gathered by Reuters, though Russian officials have denied providing material support. (REUTERS)
(Production: Anastasia Adasheva, Alexander Ermochenko)
Embattled Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said she has caused “unforgivable havoc” by igniting the political crisis engulfing the city and would quit if she had a choice, according to an audio recording of remarks she made last week to a group of business people.
At the closed-door meeting, Lam told the group that she now has “very limited” room to resolve the crisis because the unrest has become a national security and sovereignty issue for China amid rising tensions with the United States.
“If I have a choice,” she said, speaking in English, “the first thing is to quit, having made a deep apology.”
Lam’s dramatic and at times anguished remarks offer the clearest view yet into the thinking of the Chinese leadership as it navigates the unrest in Hong Kong, the biggest political crisis to grip the country since the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.
Hong Kong has been convulsed by sometimes violent protests and mass demonstrations since June, in response to a proposed law by Lam’s administration that would allow people suspected of crimes on the mainland to be extradited to face trial in Chinese courts.
The law has been shelved, but Lam has been unable to end the upheaval. Protesters have expanded their demands to include complete withdrawal of the proposal, a concession her administration has so far refused. Large demonstrations wracked the city again over the weekend.
Lam suggested that Beijing had not yet reached a turning point. She said Beijing had not imposed any deadline for ending the crisis ahead of National Day celebrations scheduled for October 1.
And she said China had “absolutely no plan” to deploy People’s Liberation Army troops on Hong Kong streets.
World leaders have been closely watching whether China will send in the military to quell the protests, as it did a generation ago in the bloody Tiananmen crackdown in Beijing.
Lam noted, however, that she had few options once an issue had been elevated “to a national level,” a reference to the leadership in Beijing, “to a sort of sovereignty and security level, let alone in the midst of this sort of unprecedented tension between the two big economies in the world.”
In such a situation, she added, “the room, the political room for the chief executive who, unfortunately, has to serve two masters by constitution, that is the central people’s government and the people of Hong Kong, that political room for maneuvering is very, very, very limited.”
Three people who attended the meeting confirmed that Lam had made the comments in a talk that lasted about half an hour. A 24-minute recording of her remarks was reviewed by Reuters.
The meeting was one of a number of “closed-door sessions” that Lam said she has been doing “with people from all walks of life” in Hong Kong.
China’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, a high-level agency under China’s cabinet, the State Council, did not respond to questions submitted by Reuters. China’s State Council Information Office did not immediately respond to questions from Reuters. (Reuters)
U.S. President Donald Trump warned on Sunday (September 1) that Hurricane Dorian would likely impact the eastern seaboard from Florida to North Carolina.
“It’s one of the largest we’ve ever seen. Its effects will be felt hundreds of miles or more from the eye of the storm and long before it potentially makes landfall,” Trump said during a briefing with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Hurricane Dorian became the strongest storm in modern records to hit the northwestern Bahamas and is expected to pound the islands with up to two days of torrential rain, high waves and damaging winds as parts of Florida evacuated before it took aim at the U.S. mainland.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said Dorian made landfall on Elbow Cay in the Abaco Islands as a Category 5 storm on Sunday with maximum sustained winds of 185 miles per hour (295 km per hour) and gusts of more than 220 mph (354 kph).
“Millions of people from Florida to North Carolina were bracing to see whether Dorian avoids a U.S. landfall and, as predicted, veers north into the Atlantic Ocean after hitting the Bahamas. Even a glancing blow from one of the strongest storms ever to menace Florida could bring torrential rains and damaging winds, and “a Florida landfall is still a distinct possibility,” the Miami-based NHC warned.
FEMA is moving food, water and generators into the southeastern United States, said acting Administrator Peter Gaynor has said. (Reuters)
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