Originally published on Mon March 10, 2014 1:11 pm
Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who has leaked large amounts of classified information about the agency's electronic surveillance programs, spoke via video to a sympathetic audience at South By Southwest Interactive on Monday.
Vladimir Konstantinov (in purple tie) is the speaker of Crimea's parliament. He was welcomed with flowers Friday during his meeting with Valentina Matviyenko, speaker of Russia's upper house of parliament. She is at the far right of this photo.
Senior U.S. officials were warned of imminent Russian military action in Crimea about a week before the troop movements that have sparked a major international crisis over Ukraine, the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency tells NPR.
Many countries in the European Union are drawn to the benefits of fracking: cheap energy and energy independence. But many Europeans, including these protesters standing outside EU headquarters in Brussels, object to the practice on environmental grounds.
While watching the turmoil in Ukraine unfold, you may feel as though it has little to do with the United States, but the conflict is stirring a contentious debate in Europe over a topic familiar to many Americans: fracking.
Much of the continent depends on Russian natural gas that flows through pipelines in Ukraine. European countries are asking themselves whether to follow the U.S. example and drill for shale gas.
President Barack Obama delivered a statement about Ukraine from the White House on Thursday, condemning the possibility that international law would be violated in Crimea. Earlier in the day, it was announced the European Union suspended talks on some of the agreements with Russia over the Ukraine crisis, and threatened further sanctions.
Ukrainians line up to get money from a bank machine in the western city of Lviv on Feb. 20. The country's political crisis has also created economic turmoil. The international community is expected to pump billions of dollars into Ukraine's struggling economy.
Credit Yuriy Dyachyshyn / AFP/Getty Images
The ousted Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych, had dozens of luxury cars at his country estate outside the capital, Kiev. Ukraine has been plagued by widespread corruption and an economy that is near bankruptcy.
Ukraine was known as the breadbasket of the Soviet Union for its fertile fields of wheat. Now it's just a basket case. The outgoing finance minister said the country needed $35 billion to stave off bankruptcy over the next couple years.
Some analysts say that figure may be on the high side. Still, such admissions usually send potential donors dashing for the exits. Yet one thing Ukraine has in abundance these days, in addition to political turmoil, is a long line of financial suitors.
Update at 12:45 p.m. ET: "Total Nonsense," Russian Official Reportedly Says:
Any claims that the Russian military has warned Ukraine to surrender in Crimea or face an assault on Tuesday are "total nonsense," a Russian Defense Ministry official says, according to The Voice of Russia.
Secretary of State John Kerry, who has described Moscow's military intervention in the Crimea an "incredible act of aggression," will travel to Ukraine's capital on Tuesday to meet with the country's embattled government.
U.S. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a statement late Sunday that Kerry "will meet with senior representatives of Ukraine's new government, leaders of the Rada [Ukraine's parliament], and members of the civil society."
Young people look at pro-Russian armed men blocking access to the Ukrainian frontier guard base in Balaklava, a small city not far from Sevastopol, on Saturday.
Credit Viktor Drachev / AFP/Getty Images
Armed men take up positions around the regional parliament building in the Crimean city of Simferopol on Saturday. Ukraine's defense minister said on Saturday Russia had "recently" brought 6,000 additional personnel into Ukraine.
Russia's parliament has unanimously approved a request by President Vladimir Putin to authorize the intervention of Moscow's forces in Ukraine until "the normalization of the political situation" there. In response, Ukraine put its own forces on alert and warned that a Russian invasion would spark war between the two countries.
President Obama spoke about the Ukraine crisis Friday afternoon, saying, "The United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine."
Originally published on Fri February 28, 2014 10:46 pm
Saying that the United States is "deeply concerned" by reports that Russia is taking military action in Ukraine, President Obama urged Russia not to intervene in the destabilized country, where tensions have reached new highs this week.
Obama said that he had spoken to Russia's President Putin in recent days, to foster cooperation in coping with the situation.
On the NPR Newscast: Peter Kenyon reports from Kiev
We're adding updates throughout this post as the day continues.
Tensions continue to rise in Ukraine, where months of public protests led last week to the downfall of President Viktor Yanukovych's government. His opponents are now installing pro-Western ministers to replace the pro-Russian leaders who worked for Yanukovych. The interim government is expected to be in charge at least until new elections can be held, perhaps in late May.
Originally published on Fri February 21, 2014 6:52 pm
We're updating this post as the day continues.
In what could be a major move toward ending the violence in the streets of his capital, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and leaders of the anti-government opposition reached agreement Friday on a deal to hold new elections, form a unity government and restore a constitution drafted in 2004.
A wax sculpture of Stalin sits behind the desk he used at the dacha. From the time he first began to visit the villa, Stalin was signing death warrants for his rivals — and living in fear of retribution.
Credit Natalia Kolesnikova / AFP/Getty Images
Soviet dictator Josef Stalin's dacha, or summer villa, was built in Sochi, Russia, in 1934. Stalin used the villa — which was painted green to camouflage it from prying eyes — until 1945. The bucolic setting belies the violence of Stalin's rule.
Credit Alexander Demianchuk / Reuters/Landov
Two items in the conference room at the villa were not there during Stalin's time: the portrait over the fireplace (he claimed he didn't like portraits of himself) and the carpet (because he preferred to be able to hear approaching footsteps on wooden floors).
An injured man is carried away Thursday after more clashes between anti-government protesters and police in Kiev.
Credit Yannis Behrakis / Reuters/Landov
Fires burn in Independence Square on Wednesday.
Credit Liu Hongxia / Xinhua/Landov
Anti-government protesters throw Molotov cocktails in Kiev's Independence Square during clashes with police. Streets and squares in Ukraine's capital are littered with rocks, bricks, spent stun grenades and tear gas canisters, rubber bullets and burning tires, the BBC's David Stern said on <em>Morning Edition</em>.
Credit Yevgeny Maloletka / ITAR-TASS/Landov
Anti-government demonstrators rest at a barricade near the site of clashes with Interior Ministry members and riot police in Kiev.
Credit Konstantin Grishin / Reuters/Landov
An anti-government protester throws a stone during clashes in Kiev. At least 26 people were killed Tuesday and an additional 241 were injured on Tuesday, according to The Associated Press.
Credit Efrem Lukatsky / AP
Armed with a large slingshot, anti-government demonstrators fire objects toward Interior Ministry members and riot police in Kiev.
Credit Vasily Fedosenko / Reuters/Landov
People carry a wounded anti-government protester to a waiting ambulance in Kiev. The international community on Wednesday urged restraint and threatened sanctions against those responsible for the violence.
Credit Brendan Hoffman / Getty Images
Riot police face anti-government protesters during clashes in Kiev. Police there attacked an opposition camp at the center of the massive anti-government protests that began in November.
Credit Sergey Gapon / AFP/Getty Images
A protester stands behind barricades during clashes with police in Kiev. NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reported on <em>Morning Edition</em> that it's "absolute chaos" in the area.
Credit Bulent Kilic / AFP/Getty Images
Night falls as anti-government protesters rebuild barricades following continued clashes with police in Independence Square in Kiev. "Interior ministry says 67 police captured by protesters in Kiev," the AP reports.
Credit Jeff J. Mitchell / Getty Images
Protesters rest near burning barricades in Kiev. The protesters say police forces and "thugs" who support President Viktor Yanukovych never observed the truce that was announced Wednesday night, according to NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson.
Credit Efrem Lukatsky / AP
Prayers are held Thursday for victims of clashes between anti-government demonstrators and police in Kiev. Hours after a truce was declared, deadly clashes broke out again in Ukraine's capital.
Credit Jeff J. Mitchell / Getty Images
An anti-government protester holds a crucifix in Independence Square in Kiev. Late last year, President Viktor Yanukovych rejected a trade deal with the European Union in favor of closer ties with Moscow, leading to protests against his government.
The U.S. Olympic ice hockey team beat Russia 3-2 on the ice at the Sochi Games in a heart-stopping sudden-death shootout.
Although only a preliminary round, the contest was reminiscent of the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" at the Lake Placid Games when a group of American college players beat the formidable Soviet team in what became a touchstone of Cold War Olympic rivalry.
T.J. Oshie of the St. Louis Blues scored the game-winning point in the eighth round of the shootout that ended the clash among some of international hockey's best players.
Evgeni Plushenko of Russia withdraws from the competition after warming up during the Men's Figure Skating Short Program on day 6 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at the at Iceberg Skating Palace on February 13, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by (Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)
Evgeni Plushenko’s Olympics are over. His competitive career, too. The Russian star retired Thursday just after he withdrew from the men’s event at the Sochi Olympics for medical reasons.
The 31-year-old Plushenko is the only modern-era figure skater to win medals in four Olympics. He helped Russia win the team gold over the weekend.
“I think it’s God saying, `Evgeni, enough, enough with skating,”‘ said Plushenko, who originally was hurt in a training session Wednesday. “Age, it’s OK. But I have 12 surgeries. I’d like to be healthy.”
Originally published on Mon February 10, 2014 4:26 pm
Leading up to the Olympics in Sochi, a dominant storyline was Russia's anti-gay propaganda law and what it might mean for athletes and other visitors. Would athletes protest in any way? Would Russian LGBT activists try to demonstrate against the propaganda law at the Olympics?
The answers (so far, at least) are: barely, and not really.
Police in St. Petersburg, Russia, arrested four gay activists who unfurled a banner quoting the Olympic Charter's ban on discrimination, the Associated Press is reporting.
The protesters, reports the wire service, "gathered on St. Petersburg's Vasilyevsky Island, [and] were quickly rounded up by police, according to Natalia Tsymbalova, a local lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activist."
Olympic volunteers pet a stray dog in downtown Sochi, Russia, on Tuesday. The city's long-standing contract with a pest control company has animal right groups concerned about the fate of the many strays roaming the area.
Credit Kevin Dietsch / UPI /Landov
The Center to Protect Animals, an animal rights organization, operates a makeshift shelter on Sochi's outskirts. The group's volunteers are finding and housing as many strays here as they can, including Simba, the dog at front.
It's after dark in Sochi, and a pack of stray dogs is hogging the sidewalk like they own the place. There are a dachshund mix, several random mutts and one dog that looks like it may be part chow. They're cute and look like pets; seemingly well-fed and with decent pedigrees.
That is, until a fight breaks out. It's loud but ultimately more dog park than street fight, and the dogs quickly get back to prancing around and eating abandoned leftovers.
Originally published on Thu January 23, 2014 8:24 pm
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has less than 24 hours to agree to hold early elections and lift anti-protest laws or the tens of thousands of demonstrators who have been in the streets of Kiev for days will go "on the attack," a leader of the opposition says.