Supporters carry a huge flag of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic during a ceremony in Donetsk. (AFP/Dominique Faget)

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Supporters carry a huge flag of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic during a ceremony in Donetsk. (AFP/Dominique Faget)

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Summary executions but no mass graves found in Ukraine, report finds | Al Jazeera America

Summary executions have been carried out by both sides of the conflict in Ukraine but the scale of the killings appear to have been “hugely exaggerated,” a report by Amnesty International said Monday.

Based on interviews with victims of human rights abuses, relatives, eyewitnesses and officials, researchers found that some the more shocking Russian media articles relating to “mass graves” were overblown, but the report added that it was difficult to get accurate information from eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian forces have been battling for control since April.

Meanwhile, a Der Spiegel report on Monday said an official German enquiry into the downing of a Malaysian airlines flight in July had found that pro-Russian rebels were behind the attack. If accurate, it would mark the first time a European intelligence agency had presented evidence on what caused the incident.

“There is no doubt that summary killings and atrocities are being committed by both pro-Russian separatists and pro-Kiev forces in eastern Ukraine, but it is difficult to get an accurate sense of the scale of these abuses,” John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Director at Amnesty International, said in a press release.

“It is likely that many have not yet been exposed and that others have been deliberately misrecorded. It is also clear that some of the more shocking cases that have been reported, particularly by Russian media, have been hugely exaggerated.”

Albanian Premier Postpones Serbia Trip After Episode at Soccer Match

A visit that would have been the first by an Albanian prime minister to Belgrade, the Serbian capital, in nearly 70 years has been postponed after a provocative stunt at a soccer match in Belgrade that fanned ethnic tensions, spurred violence and provoked apparent cyberattacks.

Prime Minister Edi Rama was scheduled to visit Belgrade on Wednesday, the first trip there by an Albanian leader since 1946. The meeting, heralded by Albania and Serbia as a seminal moment for regional reconciliation after a bloody ethnic war in Kosovo in the 1990s, has now been set for Nov. 10.

Both sides said over the weekend that Mr. Rama’s trip to Belgrade would be delayed to allow tensions to subside.

Serbian officials have accused Mr. Rama’s brother, Olsi Rama, of releasing a small drone carrying a nationalist Albanian flag during a qualifying match last week between the two countries for the 2016 European Championship.

Olsi Rama has denied launching the drone, which touched off a violent brawl. Some Serbs took to the field and attacked Albanian team members, some of them with chairs, and the players were forced to escape through a tunnel at the end of the field.

Conflict Uncovers a Ukrainian Identity Crisis Over Deep Russian Roots

…“I considered myself part of the Russian culture — my mother is Russian, my father is Ukrainian,” said Aleksey Ryabchyn, a young economist and journalist from Donetsk who is running for Parliament. “I have lots of Russian friends; I like books in Russian; I speak Russian at home. So I am asking myself, ‘Who am I?’ ”

For many, a mental switch was flipped six months ago when the Federation Council in Moscow voted to give President Vladimir V. Putin an open mandate to invade Russia’s smaller neighbor.

“The Russian part of me died on March 1 when I saw the Russian senate allowed Putin to send troops into Ukraine,” Mr. Ryabchyn said. “It was the biggest shock in my life.”

The ties binding the two countries form a complex weave — personal, historical, religious, geographical — that stretches back more than a millennium. Timothy Snyder, a professor of history at Yale University, argues that much of the history was manipulated in modern times to create links where none existed. But myths endure.


The Russian defence ministry has denied reports that one of its submarines got into trouble in the waters off Sweden.
The Swedish military has been searching the sea since Friday, following what the military said was foreign underwater activity.
It has denied looking for a submarine, and said that it was conducting an intelligence operation.
However, a local newspaper said Sweden had intercepted a distress signal in Russian.
Swedish Rear Admiral Anders Grenstad said the military based its judgement on “not only on current observations, but also on many previous ones from this very area… this is an area of interest to foreign powers”.
Soviet submarine sightings during the Cold War caused security alerts in Sweden in the 1980s.

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The Russian defence ministry has denied reports that one of its submarines got into trouble in the waters off Sweden.

The Swedish military has been searching the sea since Friday, following what the military said was foreign underwater activity.

It has denied looking for a submarine, and said that it was conducting an intelligence operation.

However, a local newspaper said Sweden had intercepted a distress signal in Russian.

Swedish Rear Admiral Anders Grenstad said the military based its judgement on “not only on current observations, but also on many previous ones from this very area… this is an area of interest to foreign powers”.

Soviet submarine sightings during the Cold War caused security alerts in Sweden in the 1980s.

(Source.)

Havoc At Serbia-Albania As Match Interrupted By Flag-Carrying Drone

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Thousands of people marched in Moscow on September 21 to call for peace in eastern Ukraine. Other antiwar protests were taking place simultaneously in St. Petersburg and in Ukrainian cities. Moscow police reported that some 5,000 people turned out for the demonstration, but organizers put the number as high as 40,000.

I know this happened last week, but I missed it then. 

The banner in the bottom picture says “No War With Ukraine!”.

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Serbia’s first Gay Pride march for four years has been held in the capital Belgrade, amid huge security, including special forces and armoured vehicles.

Waving rainbow flags, hundreds took the short march through empty streets.

Authorities had cancelled the event every year since marchers were attacked in 2010 - nine years after Gay Pride was first held in Belgrade.

Serbia is keen to show increasing tolerance as it seeks to join the EU, the BBC’s Guy De Launey says.

Keeping Brussels happy is undoubtedly the motivation for allowing the Gay Pride march to go ahead, our correspondent in Belgrade says.

Participants marched through the centre of the city to the National Assembly, where ambassadors from numerous European countries addressed the crowd.

"I feel phenomenal. Our efforts of the past three years have borne fruit," organiser Boban Stojanovic told Reuters news agency.

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I really cannot march, I have other things to do instead of marching. Even, if I didn’t have things to do, I wouldn’t march. That is my choice. It is my choice if I go out with my kids on Sunday, or to go… to work. My obligation is to guarantee safety to my people. However it is my democratic choice not to take part in the Parade and it doesn’t come to my mind to go there.
Lithuania Feels Squeeze in Sanctions War With Russia

In the sanctions war between Russia and the West, Kasia Jankun’s 80 dairy cows seem to be losing.

The sanctions, which are taking a toll on Russia’s economy, cut both ways. And Ms. Jankun and other small farmers in this Baltic nation of three million people are bearing an overwhelming share of the pain from a Russian ban on European dairy products.

Former Soviet bloc countries that, like Lithuania, are part of the European Union and the NATO military alliance might seem safe from the Russian strong-arming that made Ukraine so vulnerable. But in economic standoffs, it is often the most vulnerable that suffer most.

The loss of the Russian market created an oversupply of milk, which pushed prices in Europe well below the break-even point for farmers like Ms. Jankun, whose 250-acre farm in eastern Lithuania lies at the end of a dirt road in rolling country dappled by groves of pine and alder.

“If nothing changes by spring, at these prices, it’s bankruptcy, ” Ms. Jankun, 50, said recently, as she served visitors thick slices of homemade cheese that she sells at outdoor markets to make up for lost income.