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Entries in Ukraine (14)

Wednesday
Mar132013

‘Killer’ Military Dolphins Go AWOL for Love? Maybe Not

U.S. Navy(NEW YORK) -- Ukrainian officials are reportedly denying a Russian state news story that alleges three of its military-trained dolphins went AWOL during a training exercise in Crimea earlier this month.

Russia’s RIA Novosti reported on Tuesday that the rogue pod simply never returned from a training exercise and said an expert speculated the underwater mammals probably went in search of mates.  The report cited Ukrainian media as the basis for the story, but also noted that Ukraine’s Defense Ministry denied the incident.

After the RIA Novosti story was picked up by international outlets, including several in the U.S., Ukrainian media reported that officials there said the story was “absolutely fabricated.”  One Russian news report said that the document upon which the original stories were based was a low-quality forgery, as The Week pointed out.

That isn’t to say that some militaries do not use the adorable marine animals for life-and-death military matters.  As ABC News has reported, the U.S. Navy has used bottle-nosed dolphins to detect mines and enemy divers.

In his memoir The Red Circle, former Navy SEAL Brandon Webb described killer dolphin-evasion as part of his diver training.

“They train these animals to track down enemy divers, outfitting them with a device strapped to onto the head that contains a compressed gas needle.  Once the dolphin has tracked you down, it butts you; the needle shoots out and pokes you, creating an embolism.  Within moments, you’re dead,” Webb wrote.  “We could tell when those little b******s were approaching because we could hear their sonar clicking -- but that didn’t make it any easier to escape them… [they're] way too fast for us or any other human being to outrun them.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Jan202013

Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko Suspected in Murder Case

SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/GettyImages(NEW YORK) -- Former Ukrainan Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, a galvanizing figure in the Orange Revolution of 2004, has been named a suspect in the murder of a powerful businessman and lawmaker and three others in 1996.

Supporters of Tymoshenko, who is serving a seven-year sentence in a separate case, say the accusations are just the latest in an attempt by President Viktor Yanukovich to keep his rival behind bars.

The prosecutor's announcement comes as the European Court of Human Rights is expected to rule that Tymoshenko's current imprisonment is illegal. The fiery opposition leader's party said the new case is just a way for the government to keep her in jail when that happens.

"Understanding that the European Court of Human Rights will put an end to the dirty and empty tricks against Yulia Tymoshenko in the near future, Yanukovich's associates have resorted to a desperately brazen and mendacious step," the Fatherland party said in a statement.

"They are no longer hiding that they want to hold not only the opposition leader but all of Ukraine behind bars for life," it said.

The European Union has called her jailing "selective justice."

The 52-year-old is suspected of "ordering and organizing" a hit on the life of Yevhen Scherban and three others, who were shot to death as they stepped off an airplane, the Prosecutor General's Office said on its website.

Scherban was a member of Parliament and one of Ukraine's richest men. At the time of the killing, Tymoshenko was a prominent gas trader. Prosecutors said the alleged hit appeared to stem from a business rivalry.

Tymoshenko has not yet been formally charged, but the announcement of her status as a suspect paves the way for prosecutors to pursue charges.

The latest allegations come just weeks before the European Court of Human Rights is expected to issue a ruling on the detention of Tymoshenko.

She is serving a seven-year sentence for abuse of power for ordering a gas deal with Russia in 2009. Prosecutors claimed she did not have cabinet approval to proceed with the deal and that it is was detrimental to Ukraine's economy. She denied the charges.

Tymoshenko said she believes her prosecution and detention are politically motivated and that she has not been granted judicial review, the court said in a news release. She also complained about inadequate jail conditions, according to the release, and said she has not been afforded proper medical care for her health issues, which reportedly include a debilitating back condition.

Tymoshenko co-led the Orange Revolution in 2004, when hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians protested in response to allegations of widespread fraud in the election of Viktor Yanukovich over rival Viktor Yushchenko.

Thousands of Ukrainians occupied the center of Kyiv, insprired by the fiery speeches of Tymoshenko, and the movement only grew until the election results were voided and Yushchenko was elected president in a new vote.

Tymoshenko briefly served as acting prime minister in 2005. She was elected in December 2007 and served until March 2010.

She was convicted on the abuse of power charges in October 2011 and was banned from holding public office for three years.

The imprisonment of Tymoshenko has contributed to unrest in the country.

The Oct. 28, 2012 election was marred by claims of stuffing the ballot box.

That anger boiled over in December when a brawl erupted in the newly elected Parliament.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug272012

Ukrainian Art Exhibit Offers Real-Life 'Sleeping Beauty' Fairy Tale

National Art Museum of Ukraine(KIEV, Ukraine) -- Naysayers who believe fairy-tale dreams don't come true should take a look at a new art installation in the Ukraine that features sleeping beauties.

They should, however, think twice before actually entering the exhibit. Any man who enters the exhibit and kisses one of the rotating sleeping beauties on the lips and sees her eyes open is required to marry her.

"Everybody, any viewer, will have to sign the contract, which says -- this is very important, because nobody has to -- 'if I kiss the beauty and she opens her eyes while being kissed, I marry her,'" Taras Polataiko, the Ukrainian-Canadian artist behind the exhibit, told the U.K.'s The Telegraph.

In the modern take on the classic fairy tale popularized by Disney, each "sleeping beauty" lies on an elevated bed in the exhibit, housed at the National Art Museum of Ukraine, in Kiev. Five women have so far signed up to be beauties and will rotate "sleeping," dressed in an all-white gown, in the museum for two hours at a time daily through the exhibit's end Sept. 9.

Like their potential Prince Charmings, the beauties also had to sign contracts, putting in writing that, "If I open my eyes while being kissed, I agree to marry the kisser."

Besides being willing to commit their lives, the men and women who participate also have to be older than 18 and, importantly, not married.

"I hope they [men] come, so it will be more interesting for the beauties," Polataiko said. "But I really don't know. It's a really serious thing. It's marriage."

The exhibit opened Aug. 22 but, so far, has not resulted in a love match, contractual or otherwise.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
May252012

Ukraine Parliament Skirmish Breaks Out Over Official Language Debate

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(KIEV, Ukraine) -- A brawl broke out in the Ukraine parliament late this week over a bill that seeks to establish Russian as an official language.
 
The scuffle broke out as opposition and pro-president deputies debated the use of Russian as an official language in certain parts of the country.

The pro-Western opposition believes in the cultural and political independence from Russia and do not want the language to become official. The law up for debate would allow Russian to be spoken as an official language in parts of the country where Russian speakers are in the majority, according to The Telegraph. Ukraine has a Russian minority, mainly in the eastern part of the country, centered around the city of Donetsk. Before the fight erupted, deputies argued that the decision would split the country.

One opposition party member was taken to the hospital with a bloody head, while opposition deputy, Mykola Petruk was taken to the hospital with blood -- apparently from a head wound -- covering his clothing -- reports The Telegraph.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
May142012

Mixing Sport and Politics? Countries Threaten to Boycott Euro Cup

SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/GettyImages(BRUSSELS, Belgium) -- Outrage over Ukraine’s treatment of an opposition leader has sparked calls in Europe to do the unthinkable: boycott Europe’s biggest soccer tournament. What was supposed to be Ukraine’s coming-out party may now turn into its biggest embarrassment.
 
European leaders met in Brussels Monday to debate whether to shun this year’s Euro Cup, which Ukraine and Poland will jointly host in less than a month, over Kiev’s mistreatment of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
 
Tymoshenko, the photogenic blonde opposition leader who helped spark the 2004 Orange Revolution, was convicted last year of abusing her office and sentenced to seven years in jail. Many in the West decried the trial as politically motivated. Authorities responded by doubling down with more charges. Though Tymoshenko is popular in the West and has a significant following in Ukraine, it has been said that the jailed political leader is no angel and has been accused of questionable practices and dealings before.
 
Tymoshenko went on a long hunger strike after she said prison guards beat her in jail last month. Her daughter Eugenia said she was very ill and had been denied proper medical care.
 
As a result, several countries have already threatened to pull out. Some have said they just won’t send any political leaders to attend the matches. Others are suggesting they not send their national teams. Even the opposition in co-host Poland have suggested Ukraine isn’t fit to host the games. From jail, Tymoshenko has asked that political leaders not attend, but she very much would like the teams to come and the games go on as planned.
 
The growing diplomatic row has already stung. Ukraine had to cancel plans for a regional summit last this week after a number of leaders said they wouldn’t attend in protest.
 
Organizers had hoped these games would showcase progress in eastern Europe since the end of the Cold War, but they may instead be shedding light on the fact that old school strongman politics are alive and well in this part of the world. Some have worried, however, that such a move will only drive Ukraine closer to Moscow.
 
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Sunday
May062012

Alleged Abuse of Former Ukrainian PM Causes Euro 2012 Boycott

STR/AFP/GettyImages(NEW YORK) -- The Euro 2012 soccer tournament is helping bring to light the controversy surrounding former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s imprisonment on what her supporters say are trumped up charges.

Tymoshenko, 51, was sentenced to seven years in prison in October 2011 for allegedly abusing her power and is currently serving her sentence. The European Union condemned the conviction, calling it “selective justice.”

Tymoshenko claimed she was severely beaten by prison guards, and has been on a hunger strike since April 20 in protest of her alleged mistreatment.

Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Pshonka said Friday that there are no grounds for Tymoshenko’s claims.

Pshonka denied Tymoshenko’s request to launch a criminal investigation against those who allegedly mistreated her.

Tymoshenko, who has a herniated disc, refused to be treated by Ukrainian doctors, but agreed to begin medical treatment Tuesday at a hospital near the prison under the supervision of a German doctor.

German and Russian officials have offered to treat Tymoshenko in their respective countries, but Ukrianian law does not allow prisoners to leave the country for medical treatment.

Ukraine is scheduled to co-host the Euro 2012 Championship with Poland beginning in June, but European officials are now talking about boycotting the games Ukraine is hosting.

Austrian and Belgian officials have said they will not attend the games held in Ukraine. Officials in Germany, the Netherlands, the UK and other countries are also considering boycotting the month-long event in protest against Tymoshenko’s alleged mistreatment.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar192012

Video of Teen Rape Victim from Hospital Bed Posted Online

LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images(MYKOLAYIV, Ukraine) -- A hospital-bed video of a Ukrainian teen recounting under her mother’s prodding how she was gang-raped, nearly strangled, dumped in a ditch and set afire by three men has been posted online, raising new outrage in a case that already sparked protests over the way it was handled by police and prosecutors.

In the video, Oksana Makar, 18, clearly in pain and distraught, tries to cover herself but her mother, Tetyana Surovitska, tells her not to and asks her repeatedly to “say a couple words to Ukraine.” Makar starts to describe her ordeal, but then breaks off and says she can’t.

Asked how her attackers should be punished, she says their testicles should be cut off and fed to dogs.

Finally asked how she wills herself to live, the young woman says, “How I will live, I will live. That’s all.”

The video, which has been posted in several places on YouTube, has drawn outraged responses, with many commenters asking how a mother could do such a thing to her daughter, and some saying that the video amounted to a second rape of the teen.

Surovitska defended herself Monday against accusations that she has been spending money raised for her daughter’s care on herself and that she was taking money from reporters in exchange for interviews.

“Look at me. Do I look like a rich woman?” she said in an interview with a Ukrainian website, Gazeta.ua.

Makar told police that on March 9, two young men she met in a bar invited her to their friend’s apartment, where all three men allegedly raped her, tried to choke her to death, wrapped her in a sheet, took her to a construction site, dumped her in a pit and set her on fire, according to the Kyiv Post.

The next day a man heard moaning coming from the construction site. He saw something moving under a charred sheet, and found Makar barely alive. He called the police, and Makar was rushed to the hospital. Fifty-five percent of her skin is gone, her kidneys were completely burned, and one of her arms and both her feet had to be amputated, according to the Kyiv Post.

She regained consciousness after surgery, but on Friday doctors induced a coma and moved her from a hospital in Mykolayiv to a burn treatment center in Donetsk, where doctors Monday said her condition was improving and they believed she now has a better chance of survival.

The case sparked demonstrations across Ukraine after police released two of the suspects shortly after their arrest. A spokeswoman for the Mykolayiv prosecutor’s office said local officials did not have enough evidence to hold them, according to the Kyiv Post, so they were classified as witnesses.

Ukraine’s chief police officer, Vitaly Zakharchenko confirmed reports that the two men who were released are the sons of former government officials. A video of one of the suspects calmly describing the attack was posted to YouTube, where it was viewed 100,000 times in the first day.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych ordered General Prosecutor Viktor Pshonka to take charge of the case, and on March 13, the two men who had been released were re-arrested.  All three suspects are charged with attempted murder.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Mar182012

Young Woman Raped, Burned, Left for Dead Improving, Doctors Say

iStockphoto/Thinkstock (KYIV, Ukraine) -- The condition of a young woman who was gang-raped, burned and left for dead in a Mykolayiv, Ukraine, construction-site ditch seems to be improving after she was put in an induced coma and moved to a new hospital, doctors say.

She regained consciousness after surgery, but on Friday doctors induced a coma and moved her from a hospital in Mykolayiv to a burn treatment center in Donetsk. Doctors there told the Kviv Post on Sunday her condition has stabilized, but her outlook is still uncertain.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Mar182012

Topless Women Protest Rampant Sex Trade and Violence Against Women in Ukraine

Stefania D'Alessandro/Getty Images(KYIV, Ukraine) -- A group of bare-breasted young women scaled the front of the General Prosecutor's Office of Ukraine this week, carrying signs saying "Death to Rapists" and "The Country Wants Vengeance," protesting the handling of the case of a young woman who was raped, dumped in a ditch and set on fire.

The demonstration in support of Oksana Makar, whose case has horrified Ukraine, is just the latest for the topless activists from the women's group Femen, which protests against prostitution, sex trafficking and violence against women.

"We want to scare men who think they can treat women like animals. We want to bring attention to this problem -- to let the world know what is happening in this country and to stop it," said Inna Shevchenko, one of the participants in the protest.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Mar172012

Girl Raped, Set Afire and Left for Dead, but Survives

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(MYKOLAYIY, Ukraine ) -- The lenient treatment of two sons of ex-government officials accused of gang-raping a young woman and dumping her body in a construction site ditch, where they allegedly set her on fire and left her for dead has drawn protests across Ukraine about the seemingly slipshod investigation of the case, as doctors desperately try to keep her alive.

The horror of the incident, which occurred earlier this month in Mykolayiv, Ukraine, shocked the country; members of parliament have called for Ukraine to institute the death penalty for the three accused men, and one suggested that the alleged rapists be castrated.

Oksana Makar, 18, said that on March 9, she was invited by two young men, ages 21 and 23, to their friend’s apartment, where the three men allegedly gang-raped her, tried to choke her to death, wrapped her in a sheet, took her to a construction site, dumped her in a pit and set her on fire, according to the Kyiv Post.

The next day a man heard moaning coming from the construction site. He saw something moving under a charred sheet, and found Makar barely alive. He called the police, and Makar was rushed to the hospital. Fifty-five percent of her skin is gone, her kidneys were completely burned, and one of her arms and both her feet had to be amputated, according to the Kyiv Post.

After undergoing surgery, Makar recounted what she could remember to the police. The suspects were arrested that day, but two of them were released soon after. A spokeswoman for the Mykolayiv prosecutor’s office said local officials did not have enough evidence to hold them, according to the Kyiv Post, so they were classified as witnesses. The third man, who is 23, was named a suspect.

No one from the prosecutor’s office questioned Makar, saying that she was not conscious, despite the fact that her mother insisted she was awake and able to talk, according to the Kyiv Post.

The young woman gave an interview to Gazeta.ua, in which she discussed the attack and how investigators from the prosecutor’s office finally came to talk to her.

“I remember the bar and how we went to visit. Then I lost consciousness,” Makar said in an interview with Gazeta.ua. “There was a gap…I remember when I was choked. And when I regained consciousness, I remember myself lying during the night. I thought I would not survive. I could not feel my body. At first, I was screaming for help. But there was nobody there, I began to pray. I thought I had died. I remember it all as if in a fog.”

After Ukraine’s chief police officer, Vitaly Zakharchenko confirmed reports that the two men who were released are the sons of former government officials and a video of one of the suspects calmly describing the attack was posted to YouTube, where it was viewed 100,000 times in the first day, there were protests across the country.

The public outcry reached Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who ordered General Prosecutor Viktor Pshonka to take charge of the case. On March 13, the two men were arrested, and all three suspects are charged with attempted murder.

The women’s rights group Femen, who stage topless protests against prostitution and sex trafficking, organized a demonstration in front of the General Prosecutors Office of Ukraine in the capital, Kyiv. They chanted “Death to the Sadists!” and “Execute the bastards!”

“My child has survived. And this is important. Everybody counted on her dying. And that she wouldn’t give evidence. But she survived,” Makar’s mother, Tetyana Surovitska, said in an interview with Gazeta.ua.

“My daughter is only 18. She hasn’t done anything in her life and has already lost everything,” Surovitska told the Kyiv Post. “Now my main aim is to make sure the bastards that hurt her are punished.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio