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Ihor Kolomoisky, one of the richest individuals in the nation, is among the high-profile targets of a new wave of anti-corruption operations by the Ukrainian government. As part of the sweep, the residence of the former interior minister Arsen Avakov was also searched.

Officials in Ukraine announced that the heads of the customs agency had been sacked as part of an anti-corruption campaign. Ukraine would change during the war, according to the leader of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s party in parliament.

Ukraine is under increased pressure to fight corruption from its Western allies, particularly the EU. In 2019, Mr. Zelensky declared the battle against corruption to be one of his top goals.

This week, Kyiv will host a conference with top EU officials. Ukraine views this meeting as crucial to its efforts to join the 27-member union. Four months after Russia’s invasion, Kyiv was given EU candidate status; nonetheless, it was pushed to do more to combat corruption.

As part of the purge last week, ten prominent Ukrainian leaders, including Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of office for Mr. Zelensky, resigned.

Regional governors and a number of deputy ministers were also forced out. Mr Zelensky said at the time that any internal problems that hindered the state would be cleaned up to help Ukraine’s “rapprochement with European institutions”.

In 2014, the businessman assumed control of the larger Dnipropetrovsk area and was instrumental in providing funds for volunteer battalions in response to Russia’s initial annexation of eastern Ukraine.

However, the US imposed sanctions on him because to allegations of “serious corruption” committed while he was governor. He has said he did nothing wrong.

Mr. Kolomoisky is a successful businessman who works in the banking, energy, and media industries in Ukraine. Before endorsing the former actor’s presidential campaign, his TV network gave Mr. Zelensky his big break with the comedy series Servant of the People.

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News Trending War

The president of France, Emmanuel Macron, is facing a second wave of strikes and protests over his proposals to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64.

The strike, which has affected schools, public transportation, and oil refineries, is being participated in by eight major unions.  Hundreds of thousands of people are participating in marches around France after the first day of protests drew more than a million participants.

There have been more people in several cities than on January 19. Despite polls showing that two-thirds of French oppose the reforms, which start their journey through the National Assembly next week, the Macron administration is moving on with them.

Without a majority in the legislature, the administration will be forced to rely on the right-wing Republicans just as much as its own legislators from the ruling parties.

Thousands more marchers gathered in Toulouse, Marseille, and Nice in the south, Saint Nazaire, Nantes, and Rennes in the west, hours before the main demonstration in downtown Paris’ Place d’Italie. An estimated 11,000 police officers were stationed to monitor the protests occurring in 200 towns and cities.

Only two of Paris’s driverless metro lines were operating normally, and only one in three high-speed trains were operating. On one of the main overground lines in the capital, there were reportedly large crowds.

The CGT union said at least three-quarters of workers had walked out at the big TotalEnergies oil refineries and fuel depots, although the company said the number was far lower. Power plants reported reduced production after workers went on strike at the main electricity company EDF.

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News Trending War

Poland has promised a significant increase in defence budget, citing the conflict in Ukraine as justification. It is the most recent nation in Europe to announce an increase in military spending due to the conflict.

Just under 2.5% of Poland’s GDP is allocated to the military, but the prime minister intends to raise that percentage to 4% this year. Mateusz Morawiecki pleaded with Germany last week to permit the export of Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine.

In addition, he noted that increasing defence spending to 4% “could mean that this will be the highest percentage… among all Nato countries.” Poland, which shares a border with the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, previously announced that it would purchase 116 US-made Abrams tanks, with the first deliveries scheduled to begin this spring.

Numerous Western nations have reviewed and, in many cases, increased their military spending as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Beginning in 2024, members of the Nato Western military alliance will spend at least 2% of their GDP, a measure of a nation’s economic output, on defence. The alliance has long sought to achieve the percentage of 2%.

Recently, France announced plans for a significant expansion of its armed forces, partially in response to the conflict in Ukraine. France said the next seven-year budget will rise from €295 billion to €413 billion (£360 billion) from 2024 to 2030.

As part of their efforts to join NATO, Sweden and Finland have pledged significant increases in their military spending.

Germany committed an additional €100 billion of the budget to the military forces in the days following the invasion in February 2022.

Additionally, the UK committed to raising spending to 2.5% of GDP in June under former prime minister Boris Johnson.

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Dame Esther Rantzen disclosed that she has lung cancer but expressed optimism about her prognosis. The 82-year-old broadcaster and charity founder stated in a statement that she was undergoing testing to determine the best course of action for her ailment.

During her time at the BBC, Dame Esther established herself as a household figure and a trailblazer for female journalists. She stated that after hearing the news, she wanted to give “deep appreciation” to everyone who had contributed to her joyous life.

Dame Esther said in her statement that the cancer had spread and that she had only recently received the diagnosis.

She said, “I would prefer you heard the truth from me” and “because I find it difficult to sneak about numerous clinics wearing an implausible disguise,” explaining why she had chosen to disclose her ailment.

Dame Esther thanked her loved ones, friends, and coworkers and stated that she would be unable to respond to inquiries while awaiting test results.

From 1973 through 1994, the BBC’s consumer rights programme That’s Life included Dame Esther as a presenter. The show typically drew 20 million people because it mixed serious investigations with humorous content.

She started ChildLine, a counselling and support organisation for kids and teens, in 1986.

She also contributed to the establishment of The Silver Line, a nonprofit that supports elderly individuals in the UK who are struggling with loneliness, in 2013. She received a DBE in 2015 in recognition of her work with children and senior citizens.

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Petr Pavel, a retired NATO commander, defeated populist Andrej Babis to become the new president of the Czech Republic. According to preliminary data made available by the state statistic office, the 61-year-old received 57.6% of the vote.

Shortly after the results were released, Mr. Babis—who was prime minister from 2017 to 2021—admitted defeat in a speech to his supporters. The second term of Milos Zeman, who will be replaced by the ex-general, expires in March.

Mr. Babis and Mr. Pavel’s second-round runoff was presented as a conflict between populist oligarchy and liberal democracy. The results of the elections come after a divisive campaign marked by alleged threats to kill and false information.

Earlier this week, Mr. Pavel was compelled to use Twitter to refute rumours that he had passed away that had been spread via a phoney website and emails that were stored on a Yandex server in Russia.

Mr. Babis, who recently cancelled all of his remaining in-person campaign appearances out of concern for his safety after receiving an anonymous death threat, denounced the misinformation. After the results were made public on Saturday, Mr. Pavel stated that qualities like honesty, decency, respect, and humility had triumphed.

A deliberate echo of the cries of “Havel na Hrad” that filled the streets and squares of Czechoslovakia in November 1989, there were thunderous chanting of “Pavel na Hrad” (Pavel to the Castle). Indeed Mr Pavel, a firm advocate of Czech membership of Nato and the EU, has often invoked the spirit of Vaclav Havel.

And his victory will be interpreted as a confirmation of the nation’s growing Westernization.

Mr. Pavel has come out strongly in favour of more military assistance for Ukraine in its fight against Russian aggression and has favoured keeping the Czech Republic firmly rooted in the European Union and NATO.

In contrast, Mr. Babis was compelled to retract earlier this week after he implied that he would not uphold the nation’s duty to defend a fellow Nato member in the event of an assault.

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Authorities claim that a guy who is accused of killing a church caretaker and injuring a priest in southern Spain was going to be deported.

The event took place on Wednesday when a man in the city of Algeciras invaded two churches while carrying a machete.

A 25-year-old Moroccan male was quickly taken into custody after being disarmed. The suspect, who is believed to have acted alone, was scheduled to be taken to the Spanish capital of Madrid to face terrorism-related accusations before the High Court.

The suspect, who was in the country illegally, was reportedly scheduled for deportation in June, according to the authorities. He was not under surveillance and had no criminal or terrorism-related convictions in Spain or any of its allies.

However, according to the Gibraltar authorities, he was expelled from the island in 2019 for violating immigration laws.

For migrants crossing the Strait of Gibraltar from Morocco, Algeciras serves as the main transit centre.

Outside the church where Diego Valencia, the verger, was assassinated, hundreds of people observed a moment of silence. Many people sobbed as mourners lighted candles and left flowers in his honour.

The victim, who made it outside the church, was mortally wounded after being attacked again, according to the interior ministry.

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Technology Trending War

A day after the US and Germany promised to provide tanks to support Kyiv in its fight against the invasion, Russia unleashed a barrage of missiles at Ukraine on Thursday.

According to the state’s emergency agency, 35 structures were hit across multiple locations, resulting in 11 fatalities and 11 injuries. It was noted that the Kyiv region had sustained the worst damage to residential buildings.

Additionally, two energy facilities in the Odesa region were struck, according to officials. Following the UK’s promise to send Challenger 2 battle tanks, the barrage occurred as Russia claimed it perceived the new military support as “direct” Western involvement in the conflict.

According to the commander of the Ukrainian army, Moscow launched 55 air and sea-based missiles in what was a protracted and extensive attack.

Following weeks of international pressure, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz committed to give Ukraine 14 Leopard 2 tanks the day before. They are frequently regarded as some of the best battle tanks on the market.

It’s anticipated that the heavy weapons will show up in late March or early April. Following this announcement, President Joe Biden overturned long-standing Pentagon claims that the US would not send 31 M1 Abrams battle tanks to the Ukrainian battlefield.

Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, welcomed the action but urged for the tanks to arrive quickly. He also urged the West to send fighter jets and long-range missiles.

But for tanks to be “game-changer”, 300 to 400 of them would be needed, an adviser to Ukraine’s defence minister told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

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The oldest human rights organisation in Russia has been told by a court to shut down. The Moscow Helsinki Group (MHG), which was established in 1976, publishes a yearly report on the state of human rights in Russia.

The authorities have recently stated that it does not possess the proper registration. It is the most recent in a string of closures aimed at opposition and human rights organisations across Russia.

The justice ministry sued to dissolve the organisation in December, claiming that it was only registered to protect human rights in Moscow and not elsewhere in the nation. The decision follows the filing of that complaint. Despite the MHG always working with a wider scope, this is the case.

At the time, the group referred to the action as “disproportionate” and asserted that it would go on operating “regardless of the preferences of the authorities.” According to a statement released by MHG on Wednesday, the organization’s co-chair warned the judge and justice ministry representatives that by shutting it down, they were “committing a major sin.”

Valery Borshov remarked, “You are ruining the human rights movement, you are destroying it. “The group’s dissolution is a significant blow to the human rights movement everywhere, not only in Russia,” The group claimed that the ad hoc inspections of the MHG by the justice ministry were unlawful, which was the basis for the case. It has stated that it will challenge the ruling.

It was founded by a group of well-known Soviet dissidents and named for the Helsinki Accords, a comprehensive international pact that the USSR signed and supported fundamental freedoms and human rights. After the Soviet Union’s fall, the group was reactivated in the early 1990s.

MHG has compared the treatment it has received from the Russian government to that of Memorial, a well-known human rights organisation that was shut down in 2021. The Journalists and Media Workers’ Union was among the numerous rights organisations that Moscow courts disbanded last year.

International human rights groups have sharply criticised the Russian government for what they see as a widespread crackdown on independent journalism and dissenting voices that has gotten worse since its invasion of Ukraine.

That includes top opposition figures, the majority of whom are now either in prison or exiled.

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Entertainment News Trending

Doja Cat, a pop diva, attracted attention in Paris when she walked in Schiaparelli’s Haute Couture presentation while decked out in 30,000 crystals and complete red body paint.

It took her team five hours to finish the daring look, called Doja’s Inferno. Daniel Roseberry, the creative director of Schiaparelli, and Dame Pat McGrath, a British makeup artist, designed it.

She called the finished product “a stunning, mesmerising masterwork of glittering brilliance” and credited Doja Cat with having “sublime patience.”

Hand application of the Swarovski crystals was used. The singer wore a red silk bustier, a lavishly beaded tulip skirt, and a matching pair of red knee-high boots in addition to the body paint.

In a behind-the-scenes time-lapse film, Dame Pat’s team can be seen painting the star’s skin and scattering hundreds of crystals.

When Roseberry assumed control of Schiaparelli in 2019, he made history by becoming the first American to head a French couture house. Elsa Schiaparelli launched the fashion house in 1927.

Among the celebrities that have lately sported the brand on the red carpet are Rihanna, Kendall Jenner, and Julia Roberts.

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News Trending War

According to Anna Baerbock, the foreign minister of Germany, if Poland decided to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, she “would not stand in their way.” Ukraine has requested German-made tanks from the West, claiming that doing so will help them beat Russia.

However, Germany has not yet sent the armoured vehicles, and other nations are unable to send their own due to its export regulations. On Sunday, Ms. Baerbock stated that Poland had not yet requested authorization for exports.

She said on Sunday to France’s LCI TV, “For the time being, the question has not been raised, but if we were asked, we would not stand in the way. Mateusz Morawiecki, the prime minister of Poland, announced on Monday that Berlin would be asked for permission. But he said Poland would send the tanks to Ukraine, even if it was not granted.

“Even if, ultimately we did not get this consent, within the framework of a small coalition….we will still hand over our tanks, together with others, to Ukraine,” Mr Morawiecki said.

A representative for the German government stated that no requests to authorise the delivery of the Leopard 2 tanks on Monday had yet been received. Mr. Morawiecki declared last week that his nation was prepared to send 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Kiev.

Marcin Przydacz, the foreign policy adviser to the Polish president, stated on Monday that while he welcomed Ms. Baerbock’s remarks, he would prefer to hear Chancellor Olaf Scholz reaffirm Germany’s position. Warsaw, however, ultimately desires that Berlin and NATO partners also send their own Leopard tanks, as government officials acknowledge that 14 tanks will only make a minor effect on Ukraine’s ability to fight.

The Russian T-90 tanks that are being utilised in the invasion were targeted for competition by the Leopard 2 tanks. There are believed to be more than 2,000 of them worldwide and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky said about 300 of them would help ensure a Russian defeat.

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