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EU States Agree Migrant Quotas By ‘Large Majority’

Migrants and refugees wearing raincoats queue at a camp to register after crossing the Greek-Macedonian border near Gevgelija, Macedonia.

European Union interior ministers have voted by majority to adopt a resolution on distributing migrants among the bloc’s member states.

The EU's Luxembourg Presidency said in a tweet on September 22, "Decision on relocation for 120,000 persons adopted today, by large majority of member states."

The plan, which is to take effect over the next two years, was approved after overriding opposition from Central and Eastern European countries.

Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec said the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia voted against the plan, while Finland abstained.

After the vote, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said he would not implement the quotas as long as he was in office.

"Very soon we will realize the emperor has no clothes,” Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec tweeted. “Today was a defeat for common sense."

Europe is facing its biggest influx of migrants and asylum seekers since World War II.

More than 500,000 migrants have entered EU member states this year, many of them escaping conflicts in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

EU leaders are set to hold an emergency summit on the migrant crisis on September 23.

Meanwhile, scuffles have broken out in Croatia between police and migrants.

Truck Traffic Stopped Dead At Serbian-Croatian Border
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WATCH: Hundreds of trucks were stopped for two days at the Bajakovo border checkpoint after Croatia closed the crossing at midnight on September 20. The move was a protest against Serbia's decision to channel refugee and migrant traffic toward Croatia. Local media reported that the border crossing had been opened to trucks with perishable goods on the evening of September 22. (RFE/RL's Balkan Service)

The trouble started early on September 22 at a new transit camp in the eastern village of Opatovac, where migrants streamed to the gates in great numbers, overwhelming authorities.

Adding to the chaos, people inside the camp mobbed the gates and demanded to leave, since they had been promised they would stay only 24 hours before being allowed to continue their journeys.

Police pushed people back from both sides of the gate, but tensions remained high.

Croatia's Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic urged Serbia to restart directing migrants to Hungary and Romania to help ease the burden on his country.

Milanovic's call on September 22 comes after Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic urged the European Commission to respond to Croatia's closure of its border with Serbia, threatening unspecified "countermeasures."

Hungary sealed its border with Serbia on September 15 to stem the massive influx of refugees. After that, Belgrade started directing migrants to Croatia, which shut down all but one of its border crossings with Serbia last week.

Later on September 22, the Croatian government said it had lifted the ban for trucks carrying perishable goods, state radio reported.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AFP, dpa, and AP

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Former Chief Of Navalny's Team In Bashkortostan Calls Her Trial Politically Motivated

Russian activist Lilia Chanysheva (left) in court last year.

UFA, Russia -- Lilia Chanysheva, the former leader of jailed opposition politician Aleksei Navalny's team in the Republic of Bashkortostan, has told a court that her trial on charges of extremism is politically motivated.

In her final statement, published online by Navalny's team on May 29, Chanysheva said that she does not consider herself a defendant because she is a politician and the case against her is political.

"I am a politician, a woman who is being persecuted by male opponents, whose names are [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and [Head of Bashkortostan] Radiy Khabirov. Politics is a profession as well. Therefore to plead guilty for me is the same as for a teacher to plead guilty to being a teacher or for a physician to plead guilty to being a physician," Chanysheva said.

"Putin has been eradicating dissent for a long time, creating hatred among people and the government with a single goal -- to stay in power after the 2024 [presidential election]. But Putin means corruption, low salaries, and pensions, a falling economy and price hikes. Putin means war! It has affected each and every one now," Chanysheva stated, adding that many opposition politicians and rights defenders have been jailed since her arrest.

Chanysheva, 41, was arrested in November 2021 and later charged with the organization of an extremist community, public calls for extremist activities, and propagating the activities of a noncommercial organization that encroaches on citizens' privacy and rights.

Chanysheva's trial, which started on March 1, is being held behind closed doors.

She headed the local unit of Navalny's network of regional campaign groups until his team disbanded them after a Moscow prosecutor went to court to have them branded "extremist."

The request was accepted, effectively outlawing the group.

Chanysheva's defense team said at the time that her arrest was the first since the movement was banned. The charges appear to be retroactive since the organization she worked for disbanded before it had been legally classified as extremist.

Amnesty International has urged Russian authorities to release Chanysheva "immediately," insisting that the extremism charges are "false" and should be dropped.

Navalny himself has been in prison since February 2021, after he was arrested the month prior upon returning to Russia from Germany, where he had been undergoing treatment for a near-fatal poisoning with a Novichok-type nerve agent that he says was ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Kremlin has denied any role in Navalny's poisoning.

Several of the opposition leader and Kremlin critic's allies have been charged with establishing an extremist group. Many of Navalny's close associates have fled the country amid pressure from the Russian authorities.

Ukrainian Forces Shell Settlements In Russia's Belgorod Border Region, Says Governor

Belgorod, which borders Ukraine's Kharkiv region, has repeatedly come under attack from Kyiv's forces since the beginning of the full-scale conflict. (file photo)

The governor of Russia's Belgorod region, which borders Ukraine, said on May 29 that several frontier settlements were being shelled simultaneously by Ukrainian forces. In a statement published on the Telegram messaging app, Vyacheslav Gladkov said two industrial facilities in the border town of Shebekino had been shelled and four employees had been wounded. Several settlements were left without electricity, he added. Belgorod, which borders Ukraine's Kharkiv region, has repeatedly come under attack from Kyiv's forces since the beginning of the full-scale conflict in Ukraine in February 2022. To read the original story by Reuters, click here.

Kazakh Journalist Launches Hunger Strike Protesting Second 25-Day Jail Term

Kazakh journalist Duman Mukhammedkarim

Kazakh journalist Duman Mukhammedkarim has launched a hunger strike to protest against a 25-day jail term he was handed on May 28, two days after he had finished serving a similar sentence. Mukhammedkarim’s lawyer told RFE/RL that a court in the southern town of Qonaev sentenced his client on a charge of violating regulations for public gatherings because of a video on Mukhammedkarim's YouTube channel that called on Kazakhs to defend their rights. His previous 25-day sentence was on the same charge over his online calls for Almaty residents to rally against the government's move to introduce visa-free entry to Kazakhstan for Chinese citizens. To read the original story by RFE/RL's Kazakh Service, click here.

Russia Puts U.S. Senator Graham On Wanted List; Remarks Taken Out Of Context

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy welcomes U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (right) before their meeting in Kyiv on May 26.

Russia's Interior Ministry has put U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (Republican-South Carolina) on a wanted list, Russian media reported on May 29. In an edited video released by the Ukrainian president's office of Graham's meeting with Volodymyr Zelenskiy on May 26, Graham was shown saying "the Russians are dying" and then saying U.S. support was the "best money we've ever spent." After Russia criticized the remarks, Ukraine released a full video of the meeting that showed the two remarks were not linked. Graham disputed Russian criticism of his support for Ukraine, saying he had simply praised the spirit of Ukrainians in resisting a Russian invasion with assistance provided by Washington. To read the original story by Reuters, click here.

Kosovar Serbs Thwarted From Taking Over Municipality Buildings In The North

Kosovar police and the NATO-led Kosovo Force were seen protecting the municipality building in Zvecan.

Ethnic Serbs in northern Kosovo on May 29 tried to take over the local government buildings where ethnic Albanian mayors entered last week with the help of police. Kosovar police and members of the NATO-led KFOR protection force were seen protecting the municipality building in Zvecan, one of the four communes to hold snap elections last month that were largely boycotted by ethnic Serbs. Only ethnic Albanian or other smaller minority representatives were elected in the mayoral posts and assemblies. To read the original story by AP, click here.

Belarus's Lukashenka Says There Can Be 'Nuclear Weapons For Everyone'

Belarusian ruler Alyaksandr Lukashenka

Belarus’s authoritarian ruler Alyaksandr Lukashenka said that if any other country wanted to join a Russia-Belarus union there could be "nuclear weapons for everyone." Russia moved ahead last week with a plan to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, in the Kremlin's first deployment of such warheads outside Russia since 1991, spurring concerns in the West. In an interview published on Russia's state television late on May 28, Lukashenka, President Vladimir Putin's staunchest ally among Russia's neighbors, said that it must be "strategically understood" that Minsk and Moscow have a unique chance to unite.

Ukrainian Capital Repels Another Wave Of Russian Air Strikes, One Day After 'Largest' Drone Attack

An explosion is seen in the sky over Kyiv during a Russian drone and missile strike on May 29.

Kyiv repelled another wave of overnight air raids by Russian forces, officials said on May 29, a day after the Ukrainian capital came under what the authorities described as the largest drone attack on the city since the start of the war.

Live Briefing: Russia's Invasion Of Ukraine

RFE/RL's Live Briefing gives you all of the latest developments on Russia's full-scale invasion, Kyiv's counteroffensives, Western military aid, global reaction, and the plight of civilians. For all of RFE/RL's coverage of the war in Ukraine, click here.

"Only 18 hours have passed since the largest attack by [unmanned aerial vehicles] on Kyiv, and the enemy attacked the capital again," the city’s military administration said, adding that it was the 15th air attack on Kyiv since the beginning of May.

Ukraine’s defense systems shot down more than 40 drones and cruise missiles, according to the Kyiv military authorities.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said it was "another difficult night” for the city, but he said there were no casualties or destruction reported in the aftermath of the latest air raids.

"Thanks to the professionalism of our defenders, as a result of the barbarians' air attack on Kyiv, there was no damage or destruction of infrastructure and other objects or apartment buildings," Klitschko wrote on Telegram. "There are no injured or dead."

At least two people were killed and three others were wounded in the previous day’s attack on Kyiv, which also damaged several buildings.

That attack was “carried out in several waves, and the air alert lasted more than five hours,” according to Serhiy Popko, the head of Kyiv's military administration.

The strikes came on the last Sunday of May, when the Ukrainian capital celebrates Kyiv Day, the anniversary of the city’s official founding 1,541 years ago.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on May 28 hailed his country's air-defense forces and rescue services, calling them “heroes.”

"You look up to destroy enemy missiles, aircraft, helicopters, and drones. Every time you shoot down enemy drones and missiles, lives are saved.... You are heroes!" Zelenskiy said, also thanking rescuers.

Russia has intensified missile and drone strikes on Ukraine after a lull of nearly two months, targeting military facilities and supplies with waves of attacks several times a week.

Bolstered by sophisticated Western-supplied equipment, Ukrainian air defenses have been adept at thwarting Russian air attacks -- both drones and aircraft missiles.

With reporting by AFP and Reuters

Hundreds Demonstrate In Sarajevo To Demand Better Street Safety

"The streets of Sarajevo are not safe. The existing legal regulations are not adequate," organizers of the protest said on May 28. "The institutions must take responsibility and offer solutions."

Hundreds of people gathered in central Sarajevo to demand improved street safety after a man was killed by a drunk driver while walking in the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina. "The streets of Sarajevo are not safe. The existing legal regulations are not adequate," organizers of the protest said on May 28. "The institutions must take responsibility and offer solutions." The protests came after a 25-year-old man was killed and two other pedestrians were seriously injured when they were struck by a speeding vehicle driven by an intoxicated driver as they crossed a street. To read the original story by RFE/RL's Balkan Service, click here.

Iranian Official Says Conflict With Afghanistan Detrimental To Both Sides

The Taliban maintains that low water levels on the Helmand River -- which feeds lakes and wetlands in Iran's southeastern Sistan-Baluchistan Province -- preclude releasing more water.

An Iranian Foreign Ministry official has said following the outbreak of border clashes between Iranian border guards and Taliban fighters that any conflict between the two countries is detrimental to both of them.

The May 28 comments on Twitter by Seyyed Rasool Musavi, director of the Iranian Foreign Ministry's South Asia Department, came a day after deadly gunfire was exchanged along the countries' mutual border.

Abdul Nafee Takour, spokesman for the Taliban-led government's Interior Ministry, told RFE/RL's Radio Azadi that one Taliban fighter and one Iranian border guard were killed in the incident.

Iran's official IRNA news agency has said two border guards were killed and two civilians injured.

Each side has accused the other of shooting first.

Tensions over water rights have risen between Iran and Afghanistan in recent weeks. Drought-stricken southeastern Iran is heavily dependent on upriver water flows from Afghanistan, leading to calls for Afghanistan to release more water and accusations that Kabul is not honoring a bilateral water treaty signed in 1973.

The Taliban has denied it is in violation of the agreement, and said low water levels on the Helmand River -- which feeds lakes and wetlands in Iran's southeastern Sistan-Baluchistan Province -- preclude releasing more water.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian earlier this month demanded in a call with his Taliban counterpart, Amir Khan Muttaqi, that Afghan authorities open the gates of the inland Kajaki Dam on the Helmand River "so both the people of Afghanistan and Iran can be hydrated."

During a visit to Sistan-Baluchistan on May 18, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi warned "the rulers of Afghanistan to immediately give the people of Sistan-Baluchistan their water rights," adding that the Taliban should take his words "seriously."

The region is one of the most arid areas of Iran, which has seen multiple public protests over water scarcity in recent years.

Shortly after Raisi's comment, Taliban officials announced the construction of a new dam on the Farah River, which feeds agricultural land in southwestern Afghanistan and also drains into southeastern Iran.

In 2021, prior to the Taliban's seizure of power, Afghanistan completed work on the Kamal Khan Dam, which also sits on the Helmand River.

Zelenskiy Seeks Sanctions On Iran As Ukraine War Rages On

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy films a video address near a downed Iranian-made Shahed-136 kamikaze drone used by Russia to attack Ukraine, in Kyiv on October 27, 2022.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy initiated sanctions against Iran for a period of 50 years, according to state news agency Unian, referring to a presidential legislative initiative received by the Ukrainian parliament. The bill would ban trade in military equipment and dual-use goods. In addition, Ukraine would also halt its economic and financial obligations to Tehran and prevent the export of capital to Iran. The bill also proposes a ban on technology transfers and investment in Iran. The Ukrainian parliament is expected to back the decision, which has already been approved by the National Security Council.

Iranian Student Suspended From University For Refusing To Wear Hijab Summoned In New Case

Sepideh Rashno, pictured with her brother and lawyer, wrote on her Instagram account earlier this month that she had been banned from studying at Al-Zahra University in Tehran for two semesters for "not observing the Islamic dress code."

Sepideh Rashno, a 28-year-old Iranian writer and student arrested last year for refusing to wear the mandatory hijab, has said she has been summoned to appear before the Tehran Prosecutor's Office in relation to a supposed new case against her.

Rashno announced the development by publishing a photograph of the official judicial notice on her Instagram page.

"A new case has been created and today I was notified that I have to go to the Evin courthouse to explain the charge or imputed charge,"
Rashno said, adding that she believed the summons was related to several Instagram posts that she has published in recent weeks.

Earlier this month, Rashno wrote on her Instagram account that she had been banned from studying at Al-Zahra University in Tehran for two semesters for "not observing the Islamic dress code."

She was arrested in June after a video of her arguing with another woman who was enforcing rules on wearing a head scarf on a bus in Tehran went viral.

Rashno was handed a five-year suspended prison sentence in December after being found guilty of "gathering and colluding against the country's security," "propaganda activity against the government," and "appearing without a hijab in public."

Just weeks after Rashno's arrest, mass protests erupted around the country after 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died in September while in police custody after being arrested by morality police in Tehran for "improperly" wearing a hijab.

Hundreds of Iranian students are reportedly facing disciplinary committees and possible suspensions at Al-Zahra University over issues related to the mandatory hijab on campus.

According to the Telegram channel Voice of Al-Zahra Students, since the beginning of the Persian New Year in late March, at least 35 students have been suspended from studying for one to two semesters due to issues related to the mandatory hijab and have been deprived of dormitory access until the end of their studies.

Take A Stand On War, Ukraine's Kostyuk Tells Belarus's Sabalenka At French Open

Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine

Marta Kostyuk refused to shake hands with Aryna Sabalenka after their first-round match at the French Open and the Ukrainian says the Belarusian should take a stronger, more personal stand against Russia's war against Ukraine. Booing and jeering could be heard from the crowd as Kostyuk left the court after a 6-3 6-2 loss to world No. 2 Sabalenka on May 28. Kostyuk has said she would not shake hands with tour rivals from Russia and Belarus -- a staging ground for Russia's invasion -- if she feels they have not done enough to speak out against the war. To read the original story by Reuters, click here.

NATO Head Urges Kosovo To Ease Tensions With Serbia

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Pristina and Belgrade must engage in EU-led dialogue. (file photo)

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg on May 28 called on Kosovo to tone down tensions with Serbia, two days after violent clashes between Kosovar police and protesters opposed to Albanian mayors taking office in ethnic Serbian areas. Stoltenberg, the transatlantic military alliance's Norwegian secretary-general, said he had spoken to European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell about Kosovo. He said Pristina and Belgrade must engage in the EU-led dialogue. Serbs, who form the majority of the population in Kosovo's northern region, do not accept Kosovo's 2008 declaration of independence from Serbia. To read the original story by Reuters, click here.

Wagner Chief Prigozhin Says Kremlin Blanking Him On State Media Will Provoke Backlash

Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin poses with two of his mercenaries as he makes a statement about withdrawing his forces from the embattled Ukrainian city of Bakhmut on May 25.

Russia's most powerful mercenary said on May 28 he was convinced that senior Kremlin officials had banned reporting about him on state media, cautioning that such a misleading approach would lead to a backlash from the Russian people within months. Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of the private Wagner Group, is the most striking member of President Vladimir Putin's circle to gain widespread notoriety in the 15-month war in Ukraine. Prigozhin claimed that his mercenary forces gained control of the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut earlier this month -- something Ukraine has denied -- but Russian state television gave him little coverage. To read the original story by Reuters, click here.

Russia Thwarts Drone Attack On Krasnodar Oil Refinery, Officials Say

Smoke rises from a fire at the Ilsky oil refinery in Krasnodar, Russia, on May 4. Local authorities said the fire was caused by a drone attack.

Russia's air-defense systems destroyed several drones as they approached the Ilsky oil refinery in the Krasnodar region near the Black Sea, local officials said on May 28. "Several unmanned aerial vehicles tried to approach the territory of the Ilsky oil refinery in the Krasnodar Krai," the region's emergency officials said on Telegram. "All of them were neutralized, the infrastructure of the plant was not damaged." The officials did not say who launched the attack. Reuters was not able to independently verify the report. To read the original story by Reuters, click here.

Updated

Russia Targets Ukrainian Capital With 'Largest' Drone Attack As City Marks Kyiv Day

Rescuers work at the site of a building damaged during a Russian suicide drone strike in Kyiv on May 28.

Russian forces targeted Kyiv with multiple waves of air strikes early on May 28, Ukrainian officials said, describing the air raid as the "largest" drone attack on the city since the start of the war.

The strikes came on the last Sunday of May when the Ukrainian capital celebrates Kyiv Day, the anniversary of the city's official founding 1,541 years ago.

The Tavberidze Interviews

Since the beginning of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Vazha Tavberidze of RFE/RL's Georgian Service has been interviewing diplomats, military experts, and academics who hold a wide spectrum of opinions about the war's course, causes, and effects. To read all of his interviews, click here.

Ukrainian military officials said 58 out of 59 drones used in the attack were shot down by Ukraine’s defense systems.

Falling debris killed at least one person and wounded two others in Kyiv, according to the city authorities.

Serhiy Popko, the head of Kyiv's military administration, said Russia used the Iranian-made Shahed drones in the pre-dawn attacks on Kyiv, the largest Ukrainian city with a population of around 3 million.

"Today, the enemy decided to 'congratulate' the people of Kyiv on Kyiv Day with the help of their deadly [unmanned aerial vehicles]," Popko wrote on Telegram.

"The attack was carried out in several waves, and the air alert lasted more than five hours," he added.

Several buildings were damaged, and fires broke out, city officials said.

Falling debris set a three-story warehouse on fire in the Holosiyivskiy district in the southwestern part of Kyiv, destroying 1,000 square meters of building structures, according to Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko.

Falling drone debris also caused a fire in the Solomyanskiy district, a busy rail and air transport hub in the city's west.

The roof of a nine-story building was set on fire by debris in the Pecherskiy district, and a shop was damaged in the Darnytskiy district, military administration officials said on Telegram early on May 28.

Russia has intensified missile and drone strikes on Ukraine after a lull of nearly two months, targeting military facilities and supplies with waves of attacks several times a week.

Bolstered by sophisticated Western-supplied equipment, Ukrainian air defenses have been adept at thwarting Russian air attacks -- both drones and aircraft missiles.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy hailed his country's air-defense forces and rescue services, calling them "heroes."

"You look up to destroy enemy missiles, aircraft, helicopters, and drones. Every time you shoot down enemy drones and missiles, lives are saved.... You are heroes!" Zelensky said on May 28, also thanking rescuers.

Drone strikes and artillery fire were also reported from other parts of Ukraine, including the northeastern province of Sumy on the border with Russia and the town of Nikopol in the southeastern Dnipropetrovsk region.

In the northeastern Kharkiv Province, regional authorities said two people were killed in two separate shelling attacks on May 28.

Also on May 28, the death toll from a missile attack two days earlier on the city of Dnipro, the provincial capital of Dnipropetrovsk, rose to four.

Dnipropetrovsk Governor Serhiy Lysak said three people who were considered missing were confirmed dead. At least 32 people, including two children, were wounded in the May 26 attack.

With reporting by Reuters and AFP

Tens Of Thousands Take To The Streets Of Belgrade To Protest Mass Shootings, Government Response

Serbian Post-Shooting Protests Shift Focus To Media
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Tens of thousands of Serbian citizens took to the streets of the capital, Belgrade, on May 27 to protest against the government’s response to two mass shootings earlier in the month that killed 18. Protesters called on President Aleksandar Vucic, Interior Minister Bratislav Gasic, and Aleksandar Vulin, the director of Serbia's security agency, to resign. Many opponents blame Vucic for creating an atmosphere of hopelessness and division in the country that they say indirectly led to the mass shootings. The demonstration was the fourth such protest in recent weeks. To read the original story by RFE/RL’s Balkan Service, click here.

Ukraine Claims Russia Plotting 'Provocation' At Nuclear Plant, Offers No Evidence

Russian forces currently occupy the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, the biggest in Europe, in southeast Ukraine.

Ukraine’s military intelligence has claimed, without offering evidence, that Russia is plotting a "large-scale provocation" at a nuclear power plant it occupies in the southeast of the country with the aim of disrupting a looming Ukrainian counteroffensive. A statement released on May 26 by the intelligence directorate of Ukraine's Defense Ministry claimed that Russian forces would strike the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, the biggest in Europe, and then report a radioactive leak in order to trigger an international probe that would pause the hostilities and give the Russian forces the respite they need to regroup ahead of the counteroffensive. To read the original story by AP, click here.

Russian Orthodox Church Fires Archpriest For 'Obstruction' Of Trinity Icon Transfer

Believers pray in front of Andrei Rublev's 15th-century Trinity icon.

Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, on May 27 fired archpriest Leonid Kalinin, head of the Moscow Patriarchate’s expert council on church art, architecture, and restoration for "obstructing" the transfer of the historic 15th-century Trinity icon to the church from a museum in Moscow. Kalinin was also banned from the priesthood, according to a statement published by the Russian Orthodox Church. "I apparently made a mistake," Kalinin was quoted as saying by the Tass news agency, adding that he accepted the decision "calmly." To read the original story by Current Time, click here.

Germany Says Russia Set To Expel German Diplomats, Teachers, Cultural Staff

The German Embassy in Moscow (file photo)

Russia will start expelling German diplomats, teachers and employees of German cultural institutions next month, the German Foreign Office said on May 27 -- a move that will further enhance tensions between the two countries that have already had very fraught ties since Russia invaded Ukraine early last year. The German Foreign Ministry sharply criticized Russia’s move, calling the upcoming expulsions a "unilateral, unjustified and incomprehensible decision." To read the original story by AP, click here.

Tehran Police Issue Warning As Drivers Cover Up License Plates

To avoid fines now that compliance is being monitored through CCTV, many drivers in Iran are covering their license plates.

Police in Tehran issued a stern warning to road users amid an increase in the number of people covering up the license plates of mopeds with face masks, plastic covers, and badges. It is a criminal offense to cover a registration that can carry a penalty of six months to a year in prison, according to a senior police officer in Tehran on May 27, state news agency IRNA reported. Locals in Tehran say people are covering up their license plates for several reasons. As ever, road users are keen to avoid fines for infractions. In addition, many women who ride small mopeds are no longer wearing head scarves, as in the past, in a continued protest at the requirement. To avoid fines now that compliance is being monitored through CCTV, many cover their license plates.

Updated

Three Killed In Border Clashes Between Iranian Forces And The Taliban

A general view of the hydroelectric Kajaki Dam, northeast of Helmand Province, Afghanistan

Two Iranian border guards and one Taliban fighter were killed after the two sides exchange gunfire on the Islamic republic's border with Afghanistan.

The incident on May 27 came amid tensions between the two countries over water rights.

Both sides accused each other of starting the shooting.

The official government news agency IRNA quoted Brigadier General Qasem Rezaei, deputy commander of the national police as saying that a border outpost in southeastern Iran had come under "heavy attack" by the Taliban, prompting a "a decisive and courageous counteraction" from Iranian border guards.

"The Taliban forces initiated the assault in contravention of international law and principles of good neighborliness," Rezai said.

IRNA said that following the border skirmishes, Brigadier General Ahmadreza Radan, chief commander of the national police, issued a directive to the border guards, asking them to "defend the borders bravely and decisively and not allow any trespassing or encroachment."

A Taliban spokesman said two people were killed in the clashes while accusing Iranian forces of shooting first.

"Today, in Nimroz Province, Iranian border forces fired toward Afghanistan, which was met with a counter-reaction," a spokesman for the Taliban-run Interior Ministry, Abdul Nafi Takor, said in a statement. "During the battle, one person was killed on each side and many were injured."

"The situation is under control now. The Islamic Emirate does not want to fight with its neighbors," Takor added.

Taliban Defense Ministry spokesman Enayatullah Khowarazmi confirmed the clashes in the Kang district of Nimroz Province while calling for "dialogue and negotiations."

"The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan considers dialogue and negotiation to be a reasonable way for any problem. Making excuses for war and negative actions is not in the interest of any of the parties," Khowarazmi said.

Iranian news agencies confirmed the death of two Iranian border guards. IRNA said two civilians had been injured in the incident. The semiofficial Mehr news agency reported that a main border crossing with Afghanistan had been closed following the exchange of fire.

Earlier, the hard-line Fars news agency, affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), said the clashes ended after "a short time." Fars said the two sides had convened a meeting to investigate the cause of "the tensions."

It wasn't clear what provoked the incident.

HalVash, a Baluch rights group, posted a video and photos that it said were from the area where Iranian forces and the Taliban engaged in "heavy" clashes and exchange of fire.

RFE/RL could not independently verify the footage.

The clashes follow a warning by Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi who on May 18 called the de facto Taliban regime in Afghanistan not to violate Iran’s water rights to the Helmand River.

According to the 1973 agreement, Afghanistan is obligated to provide Iran with 850 million cubic meters of water annually from the Helmand River. Iran has accused Afghanistan of not complying with the accord, an allegation that Kabul rejects. Disputes over the distribution of cross-border water supplies have plagued relations between the two neighbors for decades.

Taliban officials have repeatedly claimed that due to low water levels, even if they opened the Kajaki Dam, nothing would reach Iran.

Water from the 1,150-kilometer (690-mile) Helmand River, Afghanistan’s longest, feeds the Hamun Lake in Iran’s Sistan-Baluchistan Province. The region relies heavily on the lake, and officials say it has suffered major issues because of a persistent lack of water.

With reporting by AP and Reuters

At Least Nine People Killed In Avalanche In Northern Pakistan

At least nine people were killed in an avalanche that occurred in northern Pakistan close to the border with China, officials said on May 27. The avalanche occurred early in the morning in the Astore district of the Gilgit-Baltistan region and involved a family from Pakistan-administered Kashmir, officials said. Khalid Khurshid, the chief minister of Gilgit-Baltistan ordered a search-and-rescue mission to go to the scene as soon as possible despite the bad weather. To read the original story by RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal, click here.

Ukraine Asks Germany To Provide Taurus Long-Range Missiles

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz pose on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan, on May 20.

Ukraine has asked Germany to supply it with Taurus cruise missiles, an air-launched weapon with a range of some 500 kilometers, a spokeswoman for the Defense Ministry in Berlin said on May 27. Germany received the request several days ago, the spokeswoman said, confirming a report by Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. She declined to provide further details or say how likely it was that Germany would supply the missiles to Ukraine. Britain earlier in May became the first country to publicly provide Kyiv with Storm Shadow long-range cruise missiles. To read the original story by Reuters, click here.

Suicide Attack Wounds 23 Pakistani Troops In Tribal Area, Officials Say

A convoy of Pakistan security forces was hit by a suicide bomber in the South Waziristan tribal ditrict of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province on May 27. 

A suicide attacker slammed his explosives-laden motorcycle into a convoy of military vehicles in Pakistan's South Waziristan tribal region that borders Afghanistan on June 27, wounding 23 troops, security officials told Radio Mashaal on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media. "The military convoy was traveling from Dera Ismail Khan to South Waziristan tribal district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province," one security official said. The wounded have been shifted to the military hospital in Dera Ismail where two of them are in critical condition. No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack. To read the original story by RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal, click here.



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