#AceWorldNews UKRAINE (Donetsk) September 14 The much-anticipated prisoner swap between Ukrainian security forces and militia in the breakaway republic of Donetsk is under-way 30 kilometres to the north of the region’s capital city Donetsk, a RIA Novosti correspondent reports.
The swap follows a ground-breaking ceasefire agreement in Belarus’ capital Minsk on September 5 where Ukraine, Russia and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) agreed to exchange all captives held by Kiev and militias in the breakaway eastern regions, in what they described as an “all-for-all” prisoner exchange.
Negotiators were building on Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s peace plan for resolving the conflict in eastern Ukraine, as well as on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s proposals.
Earlier in the day, Kiev confirmed that the parties were to exchange a total of 146 captives on Sunday, following a similar swap on Friday when self-defence forces in the Donetsk People’s Republic handed over 36 Ukrainian personnel that had been apprehended in their territory during Kiev’s military operation in eastern Ukraine. In its turn, the Ukrainian government freed 31 hostages.
On Friday, the Donetsk republic’s Deputy Prime Minister, Andrei Purgin, said a total of 1,500 people could eventually be swapped.
Ukraine has been engulfed in violent internal conflict since mid-April, when Kiev began its military operation against independence supporters in the south-eastern regions of the country.
According to United Nations’ estimates, some 3,000 people have been killed and more than 6,000 wounded since the start of the offensive.
#AceWorldNews – CHISINAU – May 01 – Moldovans celebrated May Day with rallies in support of accession to the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia.
The opposition communist and socialist parties took thousands of people to streets in Chisinau, the capital of the country, under this motto. “We are for integration with Russia and see the future of our country in the Customs Union, because the agreements imposed upon Chisinau by Brussels are disadvantageous,” former Deputy Prime Minister Igor Dodon said.
He believes that this question has been raised now because Moldova is at a crossroads and should make its choice that will be critical for its future. “We can’t sit in two chairs at once. Look at what is happening in neighbouring Ukraine.
If the authorities keep dividing the country into ‘us’ and ‘them’, and limit the use of the Russian language, we will face the same plight,” Dodon said and urged all left-wing parties to unite under these ideas.
#AceWorldNews – BELARUS – April 04 – Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko has described Western sanctions against Russia as “nonsense” and “twaddle.” The West “is fit for nothing now,” RIA Novosti quoted him as saying on Friday.
The president added that Belarus itself has been under Western sanctions for two decades.
They could bring benefits for Russia, as sanctions mobilize the nation, and the people to solve domestic problems, he said.
#AceWorldNews A Russian A-50 AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) aircraft has been redeployed to the Belarusian airfield Baranovichi (western Brest region) to take part in the second stage of the exercise aimed at evaluating the combat readiness of the joint Belarusian-Russian regional air defence system, the Belarusian Defence Ministry said on Saturday, March 15.
The ministry said that Air Force and air defence troops involved in the exercise had gone on combat duty as scheduled. “The air defence forces on duty were tested by control target flights performed by Belarusian Air Force and air defence aircraft,” the ministry said.
Earlier this week, six Russian SU-27 aircraft and three military transport planes were redeployed to Belarus.
Also, a squadron of Russian jet fighters has been on combat duty in Belarus since December 2013.
At a meeting of the Belarusian Security Council on March 12, President Alexander Lukashenko offered to host an additional 15 Russian planes in the country in response to stepped up NATO activities on the Belarusian border.
#AceWorldNews says that Moscow calls on Ukraine’s authorities and forces attempting to control Kiev and western Ukrainian regions to ensure safety for Russians and compatriots, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s commissioner for human rights, democracy and the rule of law, Konstantin Dolgov, told Itar-Tass on Saturday, commenting on the attack on a bus, which carried Belarusian tourists, in Ukraine’s Rovno region on February.
The bus driver, a citizen of the Russian Federation, was seriously wounded in the attack.
Moscow believes it is an absolute necessity and duty of Ukraine’s law-enforcement authorities and all the forces that are controlling or trying to control Kiev and the Ukrainian regions, first of all in the west, which have been swept by the wave of disorders and disturbances, to strictly comply with the international obligations to ensure protection and safety for civilian people, including Russian citizens and compatriots, Dolgov stressed.
It is of principle importance also to prevent potentially extremely dangerous increase of inter-ethnic tension in the country, he noted.
#AceNewsServices says `More than 50,000 People Worshipped `Gifts of Magi’ in Russia‘s Volgograd’
More than 50,000 people have so far worshipped the Gifts of the Magi – a Christian relic taken out of Greece for the first time since the 15th century – in the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan in the southern Russian city of Volgograd.
“The box with the relic will be open for visitors until 10 a.m. Moscow Time February 5, after midnight February 4,” Sergei Ivanov, a spokesman for the regional diocese, said Tuesday.
“On Wednesday morning, the relic will be taken from Volgograd’s Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan to the airport and then it will head for home, to the Agiou Pavlou (St. Paul’s) monastery on Mount Athos,” Ivanov told Itar-Tass.
According to the Gospel of Matthew, Biblical Magi, or Wise Men, were led by the Star of Bethlehem to the place where the baby Jesus was born. They brought Christ gold, which was a gift to kings, frankincense, a sign of veneration, and myrrh, used to anoint the deceased, thus venerating Jesus as King, God and Man.
Warming centers and feeding stations have been opened for believers, with temperatures in the city reaching minus 20 degrees Celsius.
The relic was brought to Volgograd on Monday.
The event is important for the city, where two suicide bombings killed 34 people and injured more than 70 others in attacks on a railway terminal and a trolleybus on December 29 and 30, 2013.
The Gifts, kept in the Agiou Pavlou monastery on Mount Athos in Greece since the 15th century, were displayed in Russia on January 7-17, then traveled to Belarus, and were later taken to Ukraine for display in the world-famous Kiev-Pechersk Lavra, or Monastery of the Caves, in Kiev. Over 1.6 million of pilgrims have worshipped the relic in the three countries by now.
The box with the relic has part of the original Gifts: three gold plates with a thin filigree ornament with beads from a mix of frankincense and myrrh attached to it on a silver thread.
Volgograd was a special point in the Gifts’ travel from Greece due to the recent terrorist attacks on the city, Konstantin Malofeyev, the head of the St. Basil the Great Charitable Foundation, which organized and funded the Gifts’ travel to Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, said at an Itar-Tass news conference.
“There was a permit to take the relic [out of Greece] for one month, but it was impossible to say no to believers in Volgograd. The Gifts of the Magi were brought here by Patriarch Kirill [of Moscow and All Russia] himself, who arrived in Volgograd to speak to those who came through the tragedy and tell them words of consolation,” Malofeyev said.
Legend has it that shortly before her Dormition, or Assumption, the Mother of God passed the relics to two pious women. Later on, the Gifts were brought to Byzantium, and, after the Turkish conquest of Constantinople in 1453, they were taken to Mount Athos in Greece by Serb Princess Mary.
Voice of Russia, TASS