Ukraine Calls for ‘Evidence’ In Iran Plane Crash Probe

An engine lies on the ground after a Ukrainian plane carrying 176 passengers crashed near Imam Khomeini airport in the Iranian capital Tehran early in the morning on January 8, 2020, killing everyone on board. The Boeing 737 had left Tehran’s international airport bound for Kiev, semi-official news agency ISNA said, adding that 10 ambulances were sent to the crash site.
AFP

 

Ukraine asked international partners to provide any evidence they may have to help investigators probing a Ukrainian passenger plane that crashed in Iran, as US media reported it was mistakenly shot down by a missile.

All 176 people on board died when Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) Boeing 737NG went down on Wednesday, shortly after Tehran launched missiles at US forces in Iraq in response to the killing of a top Iranian general in a US drone strike in Baghdad.

“If any country has information that can help conduct a transparent and objective investigation into the tragedy, we are ready to receive it and cooperate in further verification,” the Ukraine presidency said in an English-language statement.

“Ukraine is interested in finding the truth. Therefore, I ask all our international partners: if you have any evidence to assist the investigation, please provide it.”

READ ALSO: UK PM Says Information Suggests Ukraine Jet Hit By Iran Missile

Investigators are pursuing several leads following the crash of the Ukrainian passenger plane in Iran, including a surface-to-air missile strike, an act of terror and engine failure, Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine’s national security and defence council (RNBO), told AFP earlier Thursday.

The council is tasked with coordinating the probe into the disaster, the first fatal crash involving Ukraine’s biggest carrier UIA.

US President Donald Trump said Thursday he had “suspicions” about the crash as unnamed officials told American media that Iranian air defence systems likely accidentally shot down the airliner.

Newsweek, CBS, and CNN said that satellite, radar, and electronic data indicated the tragic error, which followed a ballistic missile barrage by Iran on two military bases in Iraq where US troops work.

Crashed Ukraine Plane Had 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians On Board

Rescue teams work amidst debris after a Ukrainian plane carrying 176 passengers crashed near Imam Khomeini airport in the Iranian capital Tehran early in the morning on January 8, 2020, killing everyone on board. AFP

 

The Ukrainian plane that crashed outside Tehran on Wednesday morning, killing all on board, was carrying 82 Iranian and 63 Canadian nationals, a Ukrainian minister said.

The Boeing 737 was also carrying 11 Ukrainians, 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans, and three Britons, Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko wrote on Twitter.

According to the Ukrainian airline, the crashed Boeing was new, checked two days ago.

“The plane was manufactured in 2016, it was received by the airline directly from the (Boeing) factory. The plane underwent its last planned technical maintenance on January 6, 2020,” Ukraine International Airlines said in a statement.

Lawmaker Takes Lie Detector Test Over Corruption Claims

Davyd Arakhamia (C), leader of the parliamentary faction of the Ukrainian president’s Servant of the People speaks with Ukrainian lawmaker Oleksandr Dubinsky (L) prior to a test with a lie detector in Kiev on October 23, 2019. GENYA SAVILOV / AFP

 

A lawmaker from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s party took a lie detector test on Wednesday after the president called for a group of MPs to be tested over corruption allegations.

Oleksandr Dubinsky, from Zelensky’s Servant of the People party, streamed the test live on the internet.

Earlier, Davyd Arakhamia, leader of the parliamentary faction of the president’s party, had told reporters “we will go on a lie detector”.

All MPs from the president’s party who are also members of a special committee that examines draft legislation will be subjected to the test.

According to reports, MPs on the committee have allegedly taken bribes to block an anti-corruption law aimed at regulating the property market. The bill has not yet gone before parliament.

Zelensky on Wednesday called for the ten MPs involved to take the lie detector test.

READ ALSO: Thai King Sacks Six Palace Officials For ‘Evil Actions’

So far, the lawmakers are not facing any charges but investigators have launched a probe after journalists and bloggers reported a possible crime.

If these checks find “even the slightest possibility that the lawmakers took the money… then the anti-corruption authorities should deal with these lawmakers,” Zelensky wrote on Facebook.

Later Dubinsky, a member of the committee in question, was as good as his word and aired his lie detector test live on the internet.

“Did you personally vote against this bill in exchange for a bribe?” he was asked by an expert carrying out the test.

“Did anyone promise to pay you for a vote against this bill?” the expert continued, after the MP replied “no” to the first question.

It was not clear when all the deputies involved would take the lie detector test.

Zelensky, a former comedian, won presidential elections in spring on a programme promising to eradicate corruption.

According to Transparency International Ukraine is ranked 120th out of 180 on the NGO’s corruption perception index, faring better than Russia (in 138th place) but still falling far behind its European Union neighbours.

Grenade Blast Kills Two Persons In Kiev

Police officers and investigators work at the scene where two men were killed in a suspected hand grenade explosion on Pushkinskaya street in downtown Kiev early on October 23, 2019. GENYA SAVILOV / AFP

 

 

Two men were killed in an apparent hand grenade explosion in downtown Kiev, Ukrainian police said on Wednesday.

The blast that left two men dead and also one woman injured happened late Tuesday at the entrance to an office building in the centre of the capital, police said.

Kiev police spokeswoman Oksana Blyshchyk told AFP that one of the dead was a former soldier who fought against Russian-backed separatists in the country’s east.

READ ALSO: Police Recover 39 Bodies In Container Near London

The second victim was an office guard, she added.

“Fragments found at the scene indicate that it was a hand grenade,” Blyshchyk said.

Police said they were investigating the circumstances of the explosion, adding that the working version of the incident was the careless handling of an explosive device.

Attacks or accidents involving grenades and other weapons are not uncommon in Ukraine, where a large number of arms circulate due to the conflict in the east.

AFP

Chelsea Lodge UEFA Complaint Over Alleged Racist Abuse In Kiev

FIFA Hands Chelsea Two Transfer Windows Ban
file photo / AFP

 

Chelsea said on Monday they have lodged a formal complaint with UEFA over alleged racist abuse aimed at one of their players during the closing stages of the 5-0 Europa League win away to Dynamo Kiev last week.

“We can confirm a report of racist abuse directed at one of our players in the final minutes of the match in Kiev from a small section of home supporters. We wholeheartedly condemn such abhorrent behaviour,” Chelsea said in a statement.

READ ALSO: UEFA Probes Ronaldo For ‘Improper Conduct’

“The matter was reported to the referee at the final whistle and the chairman and club secretary spoke to the UEFA match delegate immediately after the match.

“We expect UEFA to conduct a fulsome investigation and we will provide full cooperation.”

Callum Hudson-Odoi was reportedly the victim of the abuse as the 18-year-old rounded off the scoring after Olivier Giroud’s hat-trick and Marcos Alonso’s strike secured Chelsea’s place in the last eight at a canter in the Ukranian capital on Thursday.

AFP

Real Madrid Set For Hero’s Welcome After European Success

Real Madrid’s French coach Zinedine Zidane gestures the number three and holds the trophy as he celebrates winning the UEFA Champions League final football match between Liverpool and Real Madrid at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine, on May 26, 2018. PHOTO: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

Following a night of celebrations, Madrid prepared Sunday to give Real Madrid players a hero’s welcome after the Spanish giants won their third Champions League title in a row in Kiev.

Thousands of fans are expected to line the streets of the Spanish capital to greet Cristiano Ronaldo and the rest of the Real squad as they parade through the streets of the city on an open-top bus.

The team returned to Spain on Sunday morning and captain Sergio Ramos carried the Champions League trophy in his hands as he descended the steps of the plane that brought the squad back to Madrid’s Barajas airport, images broadcast on Spanish TV showed.

The team is scheduled to arrive at the club’s traditional celebration spot, the Plaza de Cibeles, at 8:15 pm (1815 GMT) and then head to Real’s Santiago Bernabeu stadium where a huge party will be held from 10 pm.

Before hitting Cibeles they will stop at Madrid’s La Almudena cathedral and meet with the city’s mayor, Manuela Carmena, at city hall.

The fountain in the heart of the Plaza de Cibeles was surrounded by a white and blue banner decorated with the Real logo that read “Thanks Real Madrid supporters!”. Four blue police vans were parked around the fountain.

Dozens of fans gathered in plaza, some holding umbrellas to protest themselves from the sun, hours before the players were due to arrive.

“I had to be here and celebrate this win with them,” Ivan Gonzalez, a 23-year-old student who wore a pink Ronaldo jersey and a Real Madrid scarf wrapped around his neck, told AFP as he waited in front of the fountain with a group of friends for the players to arrive.

 ‘So much joy’

Thousands of Real Madrid fans packed Plaza de Cibeles late on Saturday after the club won a record-extending 13th European Cup with a 3-1 victory over Liverpool.

Many headed to the central square after watching the match at the Bernabeu on eight giant screens.

Roughly 80,000 Real Madrid fans at the stadium erupted in delight at the final whistle, breaking out in familiar chants of “Campeones, campeones”.

“This is incredible. Its beautiful belonging to Real Madrid, this is incredible,” said Jose Manuel Rodriguez, a 50-year-old barman who came to Madrid from the northern Basque region to watch the match at the Bernabeu.

“That is what Real Madrid has, it gives so much joy,” he added.

The club’s “decimotercera,” or 13th title in the competition, moved them six  clear of second-placed AC Milan in the all-time honours list, after lifting the trophy for a remarkable fourth time in five seasons.

Frenchman Zinedine Zidane also became the first coach to win three consecutive Champions League crowns, despite having spent less than three years at the helm.

 ‘Legendary team’

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, a die-hard Real fan, sent a telegram to the club’s president, Florentino Perez, to congratulate the team for their victory, which he said had “revalidated” the club’s “continental leadership” and “inscribed it with gold letters in the book of the best football in history”.

“Thank you for this sporting show that filled all sports lovers with emotion and pride, and for once again taking Spain’s name to the highest levels of world sport,” he added in the telegram, his office said in a statement.

Rajoy had planned to watch the match in person in Kiev but he cancelled the trip at the last minute after the main opposition Socialist party filed a no-confidence motion against his government in parliament.

Real’s victory made the front page of all main Spanish newspapers on Sunday.

“Madrid dominates Europe with a legendary team,” headlined top-selling daily El Pais below a photo of Ramos holding up the Champions League trophy surrounded by the ream of his teammates.

“An eternal Real Madrid,” wrote rival daily El Mundo while conservative daily ANC headlined: “A Real Madrid of legend”.

AFP

Liverpool Bid To Get Stranded Fans To Kiev ‘Not Looking Good’

 

Liverpool Bid To Get Stranded Fans To Kiev 'Not Looking Good'
Liverpool FC fans cheer in a restaurant of central Kiev on May 25, 2018, on the eve of the 2018 UEFA Champions League final football match between Real Madrid and Liverpool FC.
Sergei SUPINSKY / AFP

 

Liverpool’s mayor says his bid to get stranded football fans to Kiev for the Champions League final against Real Madrid is “really not looking good” after he was unable to find a crew for a back-up plane.

Hundreds of supporters face missing the showpiece match in Ukraine after operator Worldchoice Sports cancelled three flights because it did not have sufficient landing slots at Boryspil Airport.

Mayor Joe Anderson said he was working with Kiev’s mayor, former world heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko, to find a solution for all those who face missing out.

He posted several messages on Twitter on Thursday and Friday promising he was trying to find a solution to the fiasco by sourcing a carrier to provide flights from John Lennon airport.

But he was later forced to admit that a plan he had hatched with Klitschko looked doomed to failure.

He said: “No final decision yet but really not looking good – unable to resolve flight situation. With support of @Vitaliy_Klychko, #Kievairport & carrier we had plane & landing slot but crew were coming from the USA and crew rest time a huge barrier. Time against us.”

People make selfies with a huge trophy set in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev on May 25, 2018, a day before of the 2018 UEFA Champions League Cup final football match between Real Madrid and Liverpool FC at the Olimpiyskiy Stadium. Sergei SUPINSKY / AFP

 

Liverpool announced on Friday that anyone who had bought match tickets directly from the club who was due to be on one of the cancelled flights would be able to claim a refund.

“Supporters who were booked on flight numbers ET8704 and ET8706, and those who were unable to travel on the rearranged ET8700 flight booked through Worldchoice Sports, will be able to claim the refund,” the club said on their website.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said the club were trying to find a solution and captain Jordan Henderson expressed his disappointment for those stuck back in England.

“Hopefully they can find an alternative route, if they can’t I’m sure they will support us back in Liverpool,” Henderson added.

The company repeated its apology on its Twitter account on Friday.

Financial adviser Jason McGimpsey was told on Thursday his flight was cancelled.

He told Britain’s Press Association: “Worldchoice Sports had been stalling on giving us e-tickets and exact departure times and it’s become clear why that was the case, now finally they’ve said ‘we’ve cancelled it’.”

“I’ve been offered a refund but it doesn’t go anywhere near compensating me for what I’ve lost,” he added.

Chris Bolland, who has supported Liverpool for 50 years, will have to watch the game from home.

“I am gutted, to say the least. I am absolutely disgusted and there is nothing I can do about it,” he told the BBC.

“I will now have to watch it with my dear wife — but that’s not a problem as she’s a big Liverpool fan as well.”

AFP

IAAF Open Bids For Tournaments Stripped From Russia

IAAF-World-RaceFour cities are in the run to host 2016 International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Race Walking Team Championships.

Russia were originally due to stage the event but new hosts were required after the country’s suspension by the IAAF, owing to allegations of state-sponsored doping.

Guayaquil in Ecuador, Monterrey in Mexico, Ukranian capital, Kiev and Rome have all put themselves in the frame for the race walking event.

Meanwhile, Polish city, Bydgoszcz, is the only bidder for the 2016 World Junior Championships, which were initially due to be hosted by Kazan between July 19 and 24.

Syria Conflict: US, Russia Meet

john kerry and Sergei Lavrov on syria conflictAs the West seeks to find a solution to the crisis in Syria, the US Secretary of State, John Kerry has arrived in Moscow for talks to try to bridge gaps with Russia.

He is due to have meetings with President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov on Monday.

The US and Russia have long disagreed on what role Syrian President, Bashar Al-Assad should play in the process.

The US wants Mr Assad to stand down but the Kremlin believes that decision lies with the Syrian people.

As the meeting with Mr Lavrov began, Mr Kerry said: “The world benefits when powerful nations can find common ground and I hope today, we can find some common ground.”

On Islamic State, he said Russia and the US both agreed it was “a threat to every country, these are the worst of terrorists, they leave no choice but for civilised nations to join together and push them back and destroy them”.

Mr Kerry will try to prepare the ground for an international meeting on Syria mooted for later this week. Mr Lavrov said the Islamic State (ISIS) issue was not limited to Syria, as the group was also active in Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen.

He also said that the meeting would cover the matter of Ukraine, with its continued division between the Western-backed government in Kiev and the Russian-backed separatists in its East.

Russia has been carrying out air strikes targeting ISIS positions in Syria, but the US accuses Russia of bombing moderate rebels.

Direct Flights Between Russia And Ukraine Banned

direct flights between Russia and Ukraine Direct flights between Ukraine and Russia will come to a halt on Sunday, as new sanctions initiated by Kiev comes into effect.

While Moscow initially called Kiev’s ban on Russian airlines “madness”, it soon announced it would mirror the move.

Ukraine, however, said that flights would end at midnight on Saturday, after last-minute crisis talks failed.

Up to 70,000 passengers a month would be affected.

The sanctions were intended to punish Russia for annexing Crimea and supporting Armed rebels in Eastern Ukraine.

However, two-thirds of all passengers travel on Russian airlines. Passengers will have to travel by train or via other countries

War With Neighbouring Ukraine Is ‘Unlikely’ – Putin

putinRussian President Vladimir Putin has said war with neighboring Ukraine is “unlikely.”

Vladimir Putin was being interviewed on state television when he was asked if he expected a war between the two countries.

In his interview – his first extended comments since the ceasefire deal was agreed on 12 February – Mr Putin was asked if there was a real threat of war, given the situation in eastern Ukraine.

“I think that such an apocalyptic scenario is unlikely and I hope this will never happen,” he said.

Mr Putin said that if the Minsk agreement was implemented, eastern Ukraine would “gradually stabilise”.

“Europe is just as interested in that as Russia. No-one wants conflict on the edge of Europe, especially armed conflict,” he said.

Ukraine said Russian troops had been fighting in Ukraine, a claim Mr Putin repeated denied.

Mr Putin also said he did not see the need for another meeting with France, Germany and Ukraine on peace in the region and that he hoped the accords agreed to in Minsk would be respected.

He added that the four countries trust each other “on the whole”.

Mr Putin’s words came after Ukraine had halted the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the front line, blaming continuing attacks from pro-Russian rebels.

However, Ukraine claimed there had been attacks against its forces and is now refusing to budge.

Lieutenant Colonel Anatoliy Stelmakh said the retreat would not proceed until rebel attacks stop entirely – something that was supposed to occur from 15 February.

Foreign ministers from Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany are meeting in Paris on Tuesday to discuss the ceasefire.

On Monday, Ukraine’s military said rebel shelling had prevented them withdrawing heavy weapons from the front line.

Putin: Troops To Surrender As Ukraine Ceasefire Unravels

putinRussian President Vladimir Putin, told Kiev to let its soldiers surrender to pro-Russian rebels, who spurned a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine and fought their way on Tuesday into the town of Debaltseve, encircling thousands of government troops.

A peace deal reached at all-night talks in the Belarussian capital, Minsk, last week had all but unravelled, with both sides failing to begin pulling back heavy guns as required after the rebels refused to halt their advance.

Putin, whom Western countries accused of directing the rebel assault with Russian soldiers and weapons, said Kiev should allow its soldiers to surrender to the advancing rebels.

“I hope that the responsible figures in the Ukrainian leadership will not hinder soldiers in the Ukrainian army from putting down their weapons,” Putin said.

“If they aren’t capable of taking that decision themselves and giving that order, then I hope that they won’t prosecute people who want to save their lives and the lives of others.”

He added that he hoped the rebels would allow the Ukrainians to return to their families, once they had surrendered the town.

The US on the other side, had accused Russia of violating the Minsk agreement on Ukraine, as the UN Security Council voted unanimously to approve the ceasefire deal.

Vice-President Joe Biden said “the costs to Russia will rise” if it continued to violate the accord.

Fighting is continuing around the strategic town of Debaltseve, with pro-Russian rebels saying they are in control of most areas.

Although, the Security Council unanimously approved a Russian-drafted resolution to endorse the ceasefire deal agreed in Minsk, last week, angry words were exchanged among ambassadors.

US Ambassador, Samantha Power, said she “wholeheartedly welcomes this agreement” but said that Russia had to prove its commitment to peace.

She said: “Stop arming the separatists. Stop sending hundreds of heavy weapons across the border in addition to your troops. Stop pretending you are not doing what you are doing.”

She added: “Russia signs agreements then does everything within its power to undermine them. Russia champions, the sovereignty of nations and then act as if a neighbour’s borders do not exist.”

Mrs Power said it was “ironic” Russia had drafted the resolution while “backing an all-out assault” in Ukraine.

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, said “Since the very start of the crisis, Russia has actively called for a peaceful settlement through inclusive, transparent dialogue between all sides in the internal Ukrainian conflict.”

After speaking to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Mr Biden said he “strongly condemned the violation of the ceasefire by separatist forces acting in concert with Russian forces, in and around the town of Debaltseve”.