Ukraine Army Helicopter ‘Shot Down’ Near Sloviansk

Ukraine Army helicopterAs the crisis in Ukraine continues, pro-Russian rebels in the East have shot down a military helicopter near the flashpoint city of Sloviansk killing 14 people.

The aircraft was reportedly hit after offloading soldiers at a military base.

Sloviansk has seen fierce fighting between separatists and government forces in recent weeks.

President-elect, Petro Poroshenko has vowed to tackle the uprising in eastern Ukraine, saying he would deal firmly with “bandits” and “murderers”.

There has been an upsurge in the conflict since Mr Poroshenko’s election on Sunday. The rebels say they lost up to 100 fighters when they tried to seize Donetsk airport on Monday.

Since then further clashes have been reported in several areas – including Sloviansk – where pro-Russia militiamen are holding four international monitors.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said that the missing OSCE members were alive and well and there was hope they would be released soon.

“We have not yet been able to re-establish contact with them; it has now been since Monday. Of course, as the days pass we get more concerned but we are using all of our contacts, all our government contacts, diplomatic contacts, non-state actors on the ground of which there are many, to re-establish contact with them.

“We believe they are fine, they are well but of course one thing we do want is to see them return to their base in Donetsk,” Bociurkiw said.

Earlier on Thursday, the leader of pro-Russian separatists in the area where the monitors were seized said they are likely to be released soon.

Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, whose separatist group controls the town of Slaviansk, said the OSCE had been warned not to travel in the area, but had sent a four-man team out all the same.

The team, which comprises a Dane, a Turk, an Estonian and a Swiss, are among a few hundred monitors sent to monitor compliance with an international accord for de-escalating the crisis in troubled eastern Ukraine, where separatists have seized control of strategic points in several towns.

Egypt Election: Sisi Secures Crushing Win

Abdul-Fattah-al-SisiJust as predicted, Egypt’s former military chief, Abdul Fattah Al-Sisi has won the country’s presidential election by a landslide.

Provisional results show he gained over 93% of the vote with ballots from most polling stations counted.

Egyptians cheered and waved flags on Thursday to celebrate the victory as the General, who toppled Egypt’s first freely elected leader, joins a long line of leaders drawn from the military.

Judicial sources said that Sisi captured 92.2% of votes cast in more than 50% of polling stations. His only rival, leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi, gained 3.8% while 4.2% of votes were declared void.

Newspaper headlines on Friday morning heralded Sisi’s victory, writing “Sisi takes the throne” and “Sisi sweeps to victory.”

Fireworks erupted in Cairo when Sisi’s results began to emerge. His supporters waved Egyptian flags and sounded car horns on the crowded streets of the capital.

Celebrations continued until morning when people gathered and celebrated the apparent victory.

Voter turnout was 44.4% of Egypt’s 54million voters. That would be less than the 40million votes, or 80 percent of the electorate, that Sisi had called for, but for Sisi supporters on the streets of Cairo, his victory still heralds a bright new era.

“It will change 180 degrees in Sisi’s era. We were living in anxiety in our homes and on the street with robberies and carjacking. There was real anxiety. Now God will calm the situation with Sisi in the picture”, said one of the jubilant supporters.

In a country polarized since the revolt against Hosni Mubarak, many Egyptians said voters had stayed at home due to political apathy, opposition to another military man becoming president, discontent at suppression of freedoms among liberal youths, and calls for a boycott by Islamists.