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Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas in the shadow of the Ukraine-Russia War
Orthodox Christians all over the world on Saturday (7 January) celebrate Christmas in accordance with the Julian Calander. On the eve, Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill delivered a Christmas service in the Christ the Saviour Cathedral in Moscow, and the scene was repeated in Christian Orthodox Churches across Eastern Europe and the Middle East and world wide. This Christmas however sees the Orthodox world in conflict with itself as the Ukraine-Russia War rages on. In the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, Ukrainians ventured out into a light dusting of snow to buy gifts, cakes and groceries for Christmas Eve family celebrations.  In a video message, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy praised Ukrainians as “united as never before” and lamented that the conflict has forced many to abandon Christmas folk traditions that prohibit sewing and hunting. “It is forbidden to sew and knit, but we weave camouflage nets and sew bulletproof vests, overcoming evil. Our ancestors did not go hunting in these days, but we fight so that we do not become prey and to defeat the beast,” he said. Putin attended services at the Annunciation Cathedral, one of several churches on the grounds of the Kremlin.
dennis2020 Sat, 01/07/2023 - 07:06
Kazakh aviation sees increased passenger numbers and more international destinations in 2022

Kazakhstan saw a steady increase in both domestic and international air travel in 2022.

patrickn97 Fri, 01/06/2023 - 19:02
Commentary: War between Armenia and Azerbaijan in 2023 is unlikely, but peace is elusive

This is a commentary prepared by the editorial team of It was first published in the electronic newsletter Karabakh Concise on 5 January 2023.

For Armenia and Azerbaijan 2023 has started pretty much as 2022 ended. The two countries remain at odds with each other, and a peace process between them appears stalled. On the ground the continued stand-off on the Lachin corridor, where Azerbaijani activists block the free flow of traffic between Armenians in Karabakh and Armenia, shows no sign of easing.

dennis2020 Fri, 01/06/2023 - 07:32
Opinion: EU mediation between Armenia and Azerbaijan is needed now more than ever
The stalemate in the process of normalising relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan has created new risks. Writing for in this op-ed, Vasif Huseynov says that "there is widespread concern in the region that the sides might end up in a violent military escalation this year if they fail to sign a peace treaty and agree on a roadmap for the resolution of the remaining disputes concerning the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan and the re-opening of regional transportation links. Under these circumstances, there is a great need for the constructive intervention and active mediation of the EU, without which Baku and Yerevan are unlikely to be able to overcome the difficulties created by the Russian side", he argues.
dennis2020 Fri, 01/06/2023 - 07:17
Putin orders Orthodox Christmas ceasefire, rejected by Ukraine
Following an appeal from Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered a 36-hour ceasefire along the front line in Ukraine over Orthodox Christmas. Scheduled to begin on Friday at 12pm Moscow time, the ceasefire ordered by Putin was quickly rejected by the Ukrainians. The Ukrainian presidential advisor Mikhailo Podolyak responded by saying that "[The Russian Federation] must leave the occupied territories - only then will it have a 'temporary truce'". He added that Russia should "keep hypocrisy to yourself". Over the New Year celebrations, Russia launched one of its biggest drone attacks on critical infrastructure and main population centres in Ukraine since the start of its full-scale war. Ukraine says that it successfully destroyed all 84 of the drones that Russia launched over the New Year period. Patriarch Kirill had asked "all the parties involved" in the conflict to "cease fire and establish a Christmas truce". A subsequent statement by the Kremlin read: "Taking into consideration the appeal by [Kirill], the president hereby instructs the minister of defence of the Russian Federation to impose a ceasefire regime along the entire line of contact in Ukraine", ending at midnight on Sunday.
patrickn97 Thu, 01/05/2023 - 18:13
Ilia II, Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia celebrates his 90th birthday

The Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia, Ilia II is today celebrating his 90th birthday.

dennis2020 Wed, 01/04/2023 - 10:20
Houthis in Yemen abduct social media influencers in a crackdown on dissent
Stories continue to emerge of ongoing gross abuses by the Yemeni Houthi movement against Yemeni civil society activists in the capital Sanaa, and in other areas under their control. This week, three well-known Yemeni YouTubers have been kidnapped by Houthis in Sanaa, as the militia steps up its crackdown on online influencers who expose its leaders’ flaws, according to the newspaper Arab News, published on Wednesday,(4 January). Activists reported that Houthis abducted Mustafa Al-Mumari, Hamoud Al-Mesbahi, and Ahmed Elaw for posting videos on social media which support prominent YouTuber Ahmed Hajar, who was seized from a Sanaa street more than 10 days ago. The social media posts also criticized widespread corruption and the failure to address famine. Al-Mumari is a popular social media personality in Yemen with more than 2 million YouTube subscribers and tens of thousands of Facebook fans. The Houthi's, a militant group supported by Iran, seized control of the Yemeni capital Sanaa, and large swaths of the country's territory in 2014 and unseated the legitimate government, resulting in a civil war that neither side appears able to win.
dennis2020 Wed, 01/04/2023 - 06:03
Ukraine shoots down almost 500 Iranian drones since September amid warnings of further attacks

The Ukrainian Armed Forces have shot down almost 500 Iranian drones since September, the spokesman of the Ukrainian Air Force announced on Tuesday (3 January).

Speaking during a television interview, Yurii Ihnat added that the Ukrainian Armed Forces had also destroyed all 84 drones launched by Russia during the massive drone attack over the New Year holidays.

patrickn97 Tue, 01/03/2023 - 14:37
Blinken emphasises continued U.S. commitment to a two-state solution and opposition to policies that endanger its viability during phone call with new Israeli counterpart
Benyamin Netanyahu is back in office as prime minister of Israel, at the head of a coalition that has been described as the most right wing in the history of the Jewish state. Changes are expected in policy on a number of issues, including a hardening of foreign policy positions and support for new settlements in the Palestinian territories. The United States, whist remaining Israel's staunchest supporter, is concerned about what the new policies may lead to. In a short statement on Monday (2 January) , the State Department said that "Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke today with Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen to congratulate him on his appointment and underscore the United States’ abiding commitment to the U.S.-Israel partnership and to Israel’s security."  The statement added that Blinken "emphasized the continued U.S. commitment to a two-state solution and opposition to policies that endanger its viability."
dennis2020 Tue, 01/03/2023 - 05:56