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Protests After Mayor of Occupied Ukrainian City Is ‘kidnapped’ by Russian Forces




Thousands of Ukrainians have protested in the streets of the occupied city of Melitopol after Russian troops were accused of kidnapping its mayor.

Ukraine’s parliament claims that Ivan Fedorov has been kidnapped by armed men acting on behalf of the Kremlin.

At least 2,000 people have taken to the streets of the city to protest against his alleged abduction.

The deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential office, Kirill Timoshenko, shared a video on the social media site Telegram that appears to show the moment Mr Fedorov was captured and escorted across a square in the city centre.

Melitopol, about 120 miles (190km) west of Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine, has a population of 150,000 and fell under Russian control on 26 February.

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The Ukrainian MP Mariia Ionova posted on Twitter: “Kidnapped Melitopol city mayor Ivan Fedorov is being forced to break his oath of allegiance to Ukrainian people and join invaders’ side or resign.”

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In an earlier tweet she said Mr Fedorov was “staying in the besieged city to secure the essential needs of the citizens”.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the abduction was equivalent to so-called Islamic State terrorists.

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Melitopol residents took the streets after the city’s mayor Ivan Fedorov was allegedly kidnapped by Russian forces.

“They have transitioned into a new stage of terror, in which they try to physically liquidate representatives of Ukraine’s lawful local authorities,” Mr Zelenskyy said in a video address.

The detention of Mr Fedorov was an attempt to “bring the city to its knees”, he added.

Key developments:

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Ukraine expects “the leaders of the world to show how they can influence the liberation [of] a man who personifies Ukrainians who do not give up”, he said.

Fedorov faces ‘false’ terrorism allegations

The prosecutor’s office of the Luhansk People’s Republic – a Russian-backed rebel region in eastern Ukraine – claims there is a criminal case against the Melitopol mayor for alleged terrorist activities.

Mr Fedorov is also accused of financing nationalist militia Right Sector to “commit terrorist crimes against civilians” in the Donbas region.

Officials said they were searching for Mr Fedorov and have asked anyone with information about his whereabouts to get in contact.

Ivan Fedorov has been accused of terrorist activities by separatists in Luhansk

But Ukraine’s foreign ministry said the terrorism allegations against Mr Fedorov were “false” and that Russian forces had violated international law.

It said: “The abduction of the mayor of Melitopol is classified as a war crime under the Geneva Conventions and the Additional Protocol, which prohibit the taking of civilian hostages during the war.”

President Zelenskyy has urged Ukrainians to keep fighting

President Zelenskyy has urged Ukrainians to keep fighting, saying it was “impossible to say how many days we will still need to free our land, but it is possible to say that we will do it.”

He earlier warned millions of people will die if the world does not act now to stop the bombing – telling Sky News’ Alex Crawford how Mr Putin was going “directly to hell”.

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WHO Estimates 15m People Have Died Directly or Indirectly From COVID – More Than Double Official Death Toll




The World Health Organisation estimates that 15 million people worldwide have now died of coronavirus – or as a result of its impact on health services.

WHO data shows the number of excess COVID mortalities to be somewhere between 13.3 million and 16.6 million people from 1 January 2020 to 31 December 2021. This is more than double the official death toll of around six million.

Excess mortality refers to the number of people who have died of the virus either directly or indirectly by being unable to access health services for other conditions.

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The figures were compiled using country-reported data and statistical modelling, the WHO said.


There were 14.9 million excess deaths associated with COVID-19 by the end of 2021, the UN body said on Thursday.

Most excess COVID deaths (86%) happened in Asia, Europe and the Americas, according to the figures.

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Middle-income countries accounted for 81% of deaths, with 28% occurring in upper-middle-income countries and 4% in low-income ones.

Some 68% of all excess deaths worldwide happened in just 10 countries.

There was a higher rate for men (57%) than there was for women (43%), with more excess deaths among the elderly than younger generations.

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WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus commented: “These sobering data not only point to the impact of the pandemic but also to the need for all countries to invest in more resilient health systems that can sustain essential health services during crises, including stronger health information systems.

“WHO is committed to working with all countries to strengthen their health information systems to generate better data for better decisions and better outcomes.”

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Pope Francis Seen Using Wheelchair for the First Time for Mobility Reasons




The Pope has been pictured using a wheelchair – the first time he’s used one in public due to the knee pain that’s made it hard for him to walk and stand.

Francis, 85, was wheeled on stage and helped into a seat during an audience with a group of nuns and religious superiors from around the world at the Vatican.

He appears to be having a flare-up of sciatica, a nerve condition he suffers with that he’s called his “troublesome guest”.

The Pope has had to cancel or cut short activities several times in the last month because of pain in his right knee.

He was pictured in a wheelchair last July after major intestinal surgery, but this is believed to be the first time he’s used one in public due to his mobility problems.


Before Thursday’s event, he was able to walk the roughly 10 metres or so from the side entrance of the stage to his seat with some help.

He recently received some injections to try to relieve the pain but has continued to struggle.

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His impaired movement was apparent over Easter when he attended but did not take charge of masses at St Peter’s Basilica, instead delegating a cardinal or archbishop to preside.

During a trip to Malta in April he was also pictured using an elevator platform to get on and off the plane.

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Woman Pulled Alive From Rubble Six Days After Building Collapsed




A woman has been found alive in the rubble of a building that partially collapsed almost six days earlier, Chinese state media has said.

At least five people are confirmed to have died and possibly dozens are still missing following the disaster in the city of Changsha, in central China‘s Hunan Province, on 29 April.

The unidentified woman has become the 10th survivor and was rescued shortly after midnight today, about 132 hours after the rear of the six-storey building suddenly caved in, the official Xinhua News Agency has reported.

The woman was conscious and told rescuers how to pull her out without causing further injury, Xinhua added.

Teams had used dogs and hand tools as well as drones and electronic life detectors in the search.


All the survivors were reportedly in good condition after being treated in a hospital and it is thought intermittent rain showers over the last few days may have helped their chances of survival without food or water.

At least nine people have been arrested in relation to the collapse of what Xinhua has described as a “self-built building”.

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This includes its owner, on suspicion of ignoring building codes or committing other violations.

Three people in charge of design and construction were also held, along with five others who allegedly gave a false safety assessment for a guest house on the building’s fourth to sixth floors.

The building also housed residences, a cafe and shops.

An aerial photo shows the site of the collapsed residential building in Changsha, central China’s Hunan Province

There has been increase in the number of collapses of self-built buildings in recent years.

Last month, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for additional checks to uncover structural weaknesses.

Following the building collapse at the weekend, he urged for more victims to be found in the rubble “at all costs”.

Poor adherence to safety standards, including the illegal addition of extra floors and failure to use reinforcing iron bars, is often blamed for similar disasters.

China also suffers from decaying infrastructure such as gas pipes that has led to explosions and collapses.

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