Yearly Archives:2022


‘Impunity Persists’ in Case of Slain Turkish-Armenian Journalist

Thousands gathered in Istanbul this week to demand full justice for high-profile Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, who was killed 15 years ago.

Placards reading “We are all Hrant, We are all Armenian” and “For Hrant, For Justice” were waved as the crowd gathered outside the building where a teenage gunman in 2007 shot Dink.

Candles and red carnations were placed next to a commemorative plaque, and Turkish and Armenian songs played in the background. The facade of the building, which was once home to Dink’s media outlet, was covered with a large poster of the journalist and the words: “15 missing years.”

“The beautiful thing is that after 15 years, so many people do not forget Hrant Dink and the message he gave,” Erol Onderoglu, the Turkey representative for media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF), told VOA.

Peace advocate

As the founder and editor-in-chief of the bilingual Turkish-Armenian weekly Agos, Dink was a leading advocate for peace between the Turkish and Armenian communities. 

But his writing and speeches on Armenian identity and calls for reconciliation made him a target of nationalists in Turkey.

He was prosecuted several times during his journalism career, including a lawsuit in 2005 in which Dink was convicted of “publicly insulting and degrading Turkishness.”

At the time of his death, Dink was awaiting trial as part of a lawsuit over his use of the word “genocide” to describe attacks in 1915 that Armenia says left 1.5 million dead.

The U.S. and some other countries recognize it as a genocide. Turkey acknowledges killings during the Ottoman Empire but denies any genocide.

In early January, special envoys from Turkey and Armenia met in Moscow to try to normalize an otherwise strained relationship.

Search for justice

In 2011, Ogun Samast was sentenced to nearly 23 years in prison by a juvenile court on charges including premeditated murder for shooting Dink.

Since then, 76 other suspects accused of involvement in Dink’s killing have been tried. In March 2021, a court in Istanbul sentenced several former high-ranking public and police officers to life in prison for convictions on several charges, including premeditated murder and violating the constitution.

The Turkish government believes a network linked to Fethullah Gulen was behind the attack and that those involved have been brought to justice. The U.S.-based Gulen, whom Turkey also accuses of being behind a failed attempted coup, denies the accusations.

Omer Celik, spokesperson for the ruling Justice and Development party (AKP), paid tribute to Dink on Twitter, saying: “Hrant defended brotherhood in this country and resisted those who tried to bring hostility to this country from outside.”

Dink’s family and colleagues, however, believe a wider network was involved in the killing and do not believe everyone has been brought to justice. Lawyers for the family appealed the March 2021 court decision and asked for further investigation.

“Impunity still persists,” said RSF’s Onderoglu, who followed the trial closely. “The Hrant Dink case is not out of our agenda, even if it is out of the hands of the court.”

“We will continue our struggle until the end, until those who targeted Hrant Dink, those who incited them, and the structures that killed him are brought to justice,” he added.

‘15 missing years’

In a column published the day he died, Dink said he felt “dovelike disquiet” because of the death threats and legal cases he faced.

“Doves live their lives in the hearts of cities, amid the crowds and human bustle. Yes, they live a little uneasily, a little apprehensively — but they live freely too,” Dink wrote.

Images of doves were projected onto the building facade a night before the commemoration.

The memorial shows Dink’s lasting impact on the Turkish-Armenian community, even on those who were too young at the time to understand what was happening.

Sila Pakyuz, 20, a Turkish-Armenian university student, told VOA she came to the commemoration with her non-Armenian friends.

“Hrant was shot when we came out of kindergarten. I am an Armenian from Turkey, and I was unaware that I was the ‘other’ in Turkey. I was only a child who spoke Armenian,” Pakyuz said.

“When I got home, my grandmother was crying, ‘Hrant was killed.’ As I got older, I understood what it means to be an Armenian in Turkey. I was living in a bubble,” she said.

At the memorial, Dink’s widow, Rakel, addressed the crowd, speaking about the detention of lawyers, journalists and Kurdish politicians in Turkey.

“Let us not dash any hopes,” Rakel Dink said. “The voice of indignation, rebellion and objection that roared up right from here as we buried you has never kept silent, and it shall never remain silent.”

This story originated in VOA’s Turkish Service.

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Little Progress Apparent in Ukraine Standoff, but Talks to Continue

The United States and Russia appeared to make little progress in the increasingly high-stakes standoff over Ukraine, each side leaving the latest round of high-level talks Friday promising only to keep talking.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met for about an hour and a half in Geneva, with both officials refusing to budge on core demands.

Blinken, in particular, described the impasse in stark terms.

“If any of Russia’s military forces move across the Ukrainian border, that’s a renewed invasion. It will be met with a swift, severe and a united response from the United States and our partners and allies,” Blinken told reporters after the meeting.

The West is demanding that Russia pull its troops and weapons away from the Ukraine border while Moscow is pushing for NATO to curtail its operations in eastern and central Europe and insisting that the Western military alliance reject Ukraine’s membership bid.

Blinken said the U.S. and its allies are prepared to address Russia’s concerns, though not without conditions.

“The United States, our allies and partners are prepared to pursue possible means of addressing them in a spirit of reciprocity, which means, simply put, that Russia must also address our concerns,” Blinken said. 

“There are several steps we can take, all of us, Russia included, to increase transparency, to reduce risks, to advance arms control, to build trust,” Blinken added. 

U.S. officials say Russia has amassed nearly 100,000 troops along its border with Ukraine, including in Belarus and in occupied Crimea. Blinken warned earlier this month that Moscow could “mobilize twice that number on very short order.” 

“They have a significant force posture there and that hasn’t decreased. In fact, it has continued to increase. And we remain concerned about that,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters Friday. 

Despite such concerns from the U.S. and its allies, Lavrov on Friday sought to paint Ukraine as the aggressor. 

“No one is hiding the fact that weapons are being handed over to Ukraine; that hundreds of military instructors are flocking to Ukraine right now,” Lavrov said.

Still, the Russian foreign minister called the talks “constructive and useful.”

Lavrov also said talks would continue over the Kremlin’s security demands and that both Russia and the U.S. had committed to put their concerns in writing for further discussion.

Both Lavrov and Blinken said there is a possibility that Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Joe Biden could talk, if both sides feel it might be helpful.

However, some of Russia’s renewed demands drew a sharper response from U.S. allies and partners, including NATO.

“NATO will not renounce our ability to protect and defend each other, including with the presence of troops in the eastern part of the alliance,” spokesperson Oana Lungescu said in a statement Friday, rejecting demands that NATO pull troops from Bulgaria and Romania.

“We will always respond to any deterioration of our security environment, including through strengthening our collective defense,” she said.

The U.S. also sought to reassure allies, including Kyiv.

Blinken “reaffirmed the United States’ unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity” in a phone call Friday with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, the State Department said.

Amid the tensions and political maneuvering, the head of the United Nations appealed for calm.

“It is clear that my message is that there should not be any military intervention in this context,” said Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. “I hope that this, of course, will not happen in the present circumstances. I am convinced it will not happen and I strongly hope to be right.” 

VOA’s Margaret Besheer and Wayne Lee contributed to this report. Some information came from The Associated Press and Reuters.

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US, Russia Agree to Keep Talking as Buildup Along Ukraine Continues

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva amid high tensions over Russian troops and equipment massed along Ukraine’s borders. Blinken told reporters the diplomatic process would continue while warning of a “swift and united” response if Moscow invaded Ukraine. VOA’s Senior Diplomatic Correspondent Cindy Saine reports.

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Болгарія і Румунія виступили із заявами щодо вимоги Росії вивести сили НАТО

Вимоги Росії до НАТО щодо «гарантій безпеки» в МЗС Румунії назвали неприйнятними і такими, що не можуть бути предметом переговорів

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Експартнерові Руді Джуліані у США присудили рік в’язниці

Прокуратура просила для Фрумана три-чотири роки в’язниці

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Блінкен: США після консультацій із союзниками дадуть Росії письмову відповідь

Переговори 21 січня в Женеві тривали близько півтори години, про істотний прогрес за їхніми підсумками не оголошували

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WHO Recommends Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine for 5-11-Year-olds

A World Health Organization ((WHO)) advisory panel Friday recommended extending the use of a smaller dose of the Pfizer – BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to children ages 5 to 11.

The recommendation follows a meeting this week by the WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts ((SAGE)) on immunization to evaluate the company’s vaccine. The WHO had previously recommended the vaccine for use in people ages 12 years and older.

During a virtual briefing Friday, SAGE Chairman Alejandro Cravioto told reporters the committee said the 5-11 age group should be a low priority for vaccination except for those children with underlying medical conditions who are in the high priority group.

The recommended dosage for the younger population is 10 micrograms instead of 30 micrograms.

Cravioto said the panel is also recommending that booster doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine should be administered to adults 4 to 6 months after receiving an original series of shots. He said older adults along with health and other front-line workers should be prioritized for the boosters.

U.S. and European health and drug regulators approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for young children and for boosters late last year.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters. 


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Norway Says Taliban Team Expected in Oslo for Aid Talks

A Taliban delegation is expected to hold talks with Norwegian officials and Afghan civil society representatives in Oslo next week, the Norwegian foreign ministry said Friday.

The visit is scheduled from Sunday to Tuesday, and “the Taliban will meet representatives of the Norwegian authorities and officials from a number of allied countries,” for talks on the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan and human rights, the ministry said.

The ministry did not specify which allies would attend, but Norwegian newspaper VG said they would include Britain, the European Union, France, Germany, Italy and the United States.

“We are extremely concerned about the grave situation in Afghanistan, where millions of people are facing a full-blown humanitarian disaster,” said Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt.

“In order to be able to help the civilian population in Afghanistan, it is essential that both the international community and Afghans from various parts of society engage in dialogue with the Taliban,” Huitfeldt added.

Stressing that Norway would be “clear about our expectations,” particularly on “girls’ education and human rights,” Huitfeldt said the meetings would “not represent a legitimization or recognition of the Taliban.”

“But we must talk to the de facto authorities in the country. We cannot allow the political situation to lead to an even worse humanitarian disaster,” Huitfeldt said.

The Taliban swept back to power in Afghanistan last summer as international troops withdrew after a two-decade presence. A U.S.-led invasion in late 2001 toppled the Taliban in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated drastically since August. International aid came to a sudden halt and the United States has frozen $9.5 billion (8.4 billion euros) in assets in the Afghan central bank.

Famine now threatens 23 million Afghans, or 55% of the population, according to the United Nations, which says it needs $5 billion from donor countries this year to address the humanitarian crisis in the country. 


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TotalEnergies to Leave Myanmar Over Human Rights Abuses

French oil giant TotalEnergies on Friday said it would withdraw from Myanmar over “worsening” human rights abuses committed since the country’s military took power in a February 2021 coup.

“The situation, in terms of human rights and more generally the rule of law, which have kept worsening in Myanmar… has led us to reassess the situation and no longer allows TotalEnergies to make a sufficiently positive contribution in the country,” the company said.

Total will withdraw from its Yadana gas field in the Andaman Sea, which provides electricity to the local Burmese and Thai population, six months at the latest after the expiry of its contractual period.

The company said it had not identified any means to sanction the military junta without avoiding stopping gas production and ensuing payments to the military-controlled Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE).

Around 30% of the gas produced at Yadana is sold to the MOGE for domestic use, providing about half of the largest city Yangon’s electricity supply, according to Total.

International diplomatic pressure and sanctions have been building against Myanmar’s military junta since last year’s coup ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The European Union has imposed targeted sanctions on the Myanmar military, its leaders and entities, while Norwegian telecoms operator Telenor this week sold its stake in a Burmese digital payments service over the coup.

More than 1,400 civilians have been killed as the military cracks down on dissent, according to a local monitoring group, and numerous anti-junta militias have sprung up around the country.

Suu Kyi this month was convicted of three criminal charges and sentenced to four years in prison and now faces five new corruption charges. 


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