Українських військовополонених, військових моряків Андрія Артеменка, Андрія Ейдера, Василя Сороку та Сергія Чулібу російські слідчі допитали впродовж двох днів, 30 і 31 січня. Про це повідомив адвокат Микола Полозов.

«У ході слідчих дій військовополонені відповіли на запитання слідчих у рамках статті 17-ї третьої Женевської конвенції від 12 серпня 1949 року «Про поводження з військовополоненими». Поранені військовополонені додатково відповіли на запитання адвокатів щодо стану здоров’я. Крім того, щодо поранених військовополонених адвокатами були заявлені клопотання про госпіталізацію в Україні або нейтральній країні (відповідно до положень Конвенції), і проведенні медичного обстеження в лікувальних установах поза системою Федеральної служби виконання покарань», – вказав Полозов.

Він також додав, що відносно решти військовополонених українських моряків слідчі дії будуть проводитися на наступному тижні.

Російські силовики захопили 24 українських моряків і три кораблі поблизу Керченської протоки 25 листопада. Російські слідчі звинувачують українських військових у незаконному перетині кордону Росії.

Україна вважає те, що сталося, актом агресії, а своїх військових, яких утримують у московських слідчих ізоляторах, військовополоненими. За Женевською конвенцією про військовополонених, вони повинні бути негайно звільнені, заявляють у Києві.


Facebook said Thursday it took down hundreds of “inauthentic” accounts from Iran that were part of a vast manipulation campaign operating in more than 20 countries.

The world’s biggest social network said it removed 783 pages, groups and accounts “for engaging in coordinated inauthentic behavior tied to Iran.”

The pages were part of a campaign to promote Iranian interests in various countries by creating fake identities as residents of those nations, according to a statement by Nathaniel Gleicher, head of cybersecurity policy at Facebook.

The announcement was the latest by Facebook as it seeks to stamp out efforts by state actors and others to manipulate the social network using fraudulent accounts.

“We are constantly working to detect and stop this type of activity because we don’t want our services to be used to manipulate people,” Gleicher said.

“We’re taking down these pages, groups and accounts based on their behavior, not the content they post. In this case, the people behind this activity coordinated with one another and used fake accounts to misrepresent themselves, and that was the basis for our action.”

The operators “typically represented themselves as locals, often using fake accounts, and posted news stories on current events,” including “commentary that repurposed Iranian state media’s reporting on topics like Israel-Palestine relations and the conflicts in Syria and Yemen,” Gleicher said.

“Although the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities, our manual review linked these accounts to Iran.”

The operation dating back to as early as 2010 had 262 pages, 356 accounts, and three groups on Facebook, as well as 162 accounts on Instagram and were followed by about two million users.

Facebook said the fake accounts were part of an influence campaign that operated in Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Libya, Mexico, Morocco, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, U.S., and Yemen.

Facebook began looking into these kinds of activities after revelations of Russian influence campaigns during the 2016 U.S. election, aimed at sowing discord.


Apple says Facebook can no longer distribute an app that paid users, including teenagers, to extensively track their phone and web use.

In doing so, Apple closed off Facebook’s efforts to sidestep Apple’s app store and its tighter rules on privacy.

The tech blog TechCrunch reported late Tuesday that Facebook paid people about $20 a month to install and use the Facebook Research app. While Facebook says this was done with permission, the company has a history of defining “permission” loosely and obscuring what data it collects.

“I don’t think they make it very clear to users precisely what level of access they were granting when they gave permission,” mobile app security researcher Will Strafach said Wednesday. “There is simply no way the users understood this.”

He said Facebook’s claim that users understood the scope of data collection was “muddying the waters.”

Facebook says fewer than 5 percent of the app’s users were teens and they had parental permission. Nonetheless, the revelation is yet another blemish on Facebook’s track record on privacy and could invite further regulatory scrutiny.

And it comes less than a week after court documents revealed that Facebook allowed children to rack up huge bills on digital games and that it had rejected recommendations for addressing it for fear of hurting revenue growth.

For now, the app appears to be available for Android phones, though not through Google’s main app store. Google had no comment Wednesday.

Apple said Facebook was distributing Facebook Research through an internal-distribution mechanism meant for company employees, not outsiders. Apple has revoked that capability.

TechCrunch reported separately Wednesday that Google was using the same privileged access to Apple’s mobile operating system for a market-research app, Screenwise Meter. Asked about it by The Associated Press, Google said it had disabled the app on Apple devices and apologized for its “mistake.”

The company said Google had always been “upfront with users” about how it used data collected by the app, which offered users points that could be accrued for gift cards. In contrast to the Facebook Research app, Google said its Screenwise Meter app never asked users to let the company circumvent network encryption, meaning it is far less intrusive.

Facebook is still permitted to distribute apps through Apple’s app store, though such apps are reviewed by Apple ahead of time. And Apple’s move Wednesday restricts Facebook’s ability to test those apps — including core apps such as Facebook and Instagram — before they are released through the app store.

Facebook previously pulled an app called Onavo Protect from Apple’s app store because of its stricter requirements. But Strafach, who dismantled the Facebook Research app on TechCrunch’s behalf, told the AP that it was mostly Onavo repackaged and rebranded, as the two apps shared about 98 percent of their code.

As of Wednesday, a disclosure form on Betabound, one of the services that distributed Facebook Research, informed prospective users that by installing Facebook Research, they are letting Facebook collect a range of data. This includes information on apps users have installed, when they use them and what they do on them. Information is also collected on how other people interact with users and their content within those apps, according to the disclosure.

Betabound warned that Facebook may collect information even when an app or web browser uses encryption.

Strafach said emails, social media activities, private messages and just about anything else could be intercepted. He said the only data absolutely safe from snooping are from services, such as Signal and Apple’s iMessages, that fully encrypt messages prior to transmission, a method known as end-to-end encryption.

Strafach, who is CEO of Guardian Mobile Firewall, said he was aghast to discover Facebook caught red-handed violating Apple’s trust.

He said such traffic-capturing tools are only supposed to be for trusted partners to use internally. Instead, he said Facebook was scooping up all incoming and outgoing data traffic from unwitting members of the public — in an app geared toward teenagers.

“This is very flagrantly not allowed,” Strafach said. “It’s mind-blowing how defiant Facebook was acting.”

 


Державне підприємство «Медичні закупівлі», яке має перебрати на себе повноваження із закупівель ліків та медичних виробів у міжнародних організацій, оголосило перші тендери, повідомляє Міністерство охорони здоров’я на своєму сайті.

За цією інформацією, йдеться про закупівлі ліків від супутніх інфекцій при ВІЛ та побічних реакцій від терапії, а також медичних респіраторів у межах програм Глобального фонду.

«У цілому у 2019 році «Медичні закупівлі України» мають не лише провести десятки тендерів, а й застосувати нові інструменти закупівель. Наприклад, електронні каталоги (е-каталоги), що дозволять замовникам, в першу чергу – невеликим регіональним медичним закладам, – швидко і зручно замовляти типові препарати і вироби за принципом інтернет-магазину», – мовиться у повідомленні.

Міністерство охорони здоров’я України в 2015 році передало міжнародним організаціям ПРООН, ЮНІСЕФ та компанії Crown Agents право проводити державні закупівлі медичних препаратів міжнародним організаціям. Це, насамперед, ліки з онкології, ВІЛ/СНІДу, туберкульозу, гепатиту, дитячої гемофілії і вакцинації.

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Потім цю функцію мала перебрати новостворена держагенція із 2019-го, але врешті було ухвалено рішення відтермінувати її офіційний запуск. МОЗ обіцяє запустити повноцінну роботу національної агенції із закупівель ліків із наступного року, а нинішній рік має стати перехідним.

 


High-stakes political negotiations began Wednesday in Washington that could determine whether the U.S. government will be plunged into another partial shutdown come the middle of February.

A bipartisan group of Senate and House members will try to craft a compromise on funding border security, the issue at the heart of the 35 day government shutdown that ended last week — the longest in U.S. history.

Negotiators have until Feb. 15 to find a solution or risk the prospect of the government being shut down again.

The government reopened after President Donald Trump and opposition Democrats agreed to work toward a compromise on border security. But as the congressional conference committee began its work Wednesday, Trump sent out a tweet warning the group they were “wasting their time” unless there was discussion of a “wall or physical barrier.”

​Another shutdown?

In announcing the end to the shutdown Friday, Trump warned of more trouble ahead unless he got funding for a border wall.

“We really have no choice but to build a powerful wall or steel barrier,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “The government will either shut down on February 15, again, or I will use the powers afforded to me under the laws and the Constitution of the United States to address this emergency.”

But is another government shutdown really politically viable? It seems a lot of Republicans don’t think so, including Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell.

“I don’t like shutdowns. I don’t think they work for anybody, and I think they ought to be avoided,” he said.

​Political fallout

Opinion polls found that the public largely blamed Trump and Republicans for the shutdown, and a new survey from Morning Consult and POLITICO found that they would be held responsible for a second shutdown as well.

According to the poll, 54 percent of voters would blame Trump and congressional Republicans for another shutdown, compared to 33 percent who would point the finger at Democrats.

“I hope this serves as a lesson to President Trump and all of my Republican colleagues — no more shutdowns,” Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said to a gaggle of reporters Tuesday. “President Trump touched a hot, hot stove, and hopefully he won’t do it again.”

Several recent public opinion polls also showed the president’s approval rating dipping below 40 percent in the wake of the shutdown. One survey by the Associated Press found Trump’s approval number had fallen to 34 percent, a big drop from the 42 percent approval it was just the month before.

Turning point?

Several analysts have noted the poll numbers and the fact that Republicans appear to be backing away from the idea of yet another shutdown.

“It looks like we have hit a turning point of sorts. The president severely misjudged the effects of the shutdown on ordinary people,” said Elaine Kamarck, a senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution in Washington. “Nobody in that White House really and truly understood how important federal government functioning was to the whole American economy.”

Some Trump supporters hope the president learned a lesson from the shutdown impasse and they expect him to rebound, including former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

“I mean, he is fearless in a way that I have seen few people in politics be fearless, and so those are all good points,” Christie said in an interview with ABC’s This Week. “But when you act on impulse and you do not have a plan sometimes, as I think what happened with the shutdown, it does not end well.”

Given the unpopularity of the shutdown reflected in the polls, many Trump supporters now expect the president to declare a border emergency to build the wall if Congress fails to find a compromise by next month. That could lead to court challenges that might tie up the funding issue indefinitely.

“To build the wall was core to his worries about immigration. It was a slogan on the campaign trail,” said John Fortier of the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington. “This is something that he does not want to be seen as completely capitulating on and that makes it very tough to compromise.”

Positioning for 2020

On the other hand, Kamarck predicted that Trump could weaken his own re-election hopes by continuing his singular focus on pleasing his core supporters.

“This president only speaks to his base. He has not tried in his two years in office to expand his base. That is a disaster for a president because inevitably some of your base is going to peel away,” she said.

The president’s next best opportunity to make his case on a border wall is Tuesday’s State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress and a national television audience.

Republicans and Democrats alike will be listening to see if the president once again invokes the prospect of a government shutdown if he is denied money for his border wall, or whether he indicates that declaring a national emergency would be his preferred course of action.


Понад 6,5 тисяч виборців на сьогодні скористалися тимчасовою зміною місця голосування. Як повідомляє Центральна виборча комісія, орган ведення реєстру може тимчасово (на період проведення виборів) змінити виборцю місце голосування без зміни його виборчої адреси.

За даними ЦВК, більшість тих, хто подав заяви про зміну місця голосування, – це громадяни, виборча адреса яких перебуває на окупованій території.

У вересні 2018-го ЦВК спростила процедуру голосування для жителів непідконтрольної Україні території.

Українці, які мають прописку в ОРДЛО чи в Криму, можуть не додавати до заяви документи, які підтверджують необхідність тимчасової зміни місця їх голосування.

Їм потрібно буде звернутися до відділу державного реєстру виборців за місцем проживання і написати заяву про тимчасову зміну місця голосування, для цього необхідно мати при собі паспорт.

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Вибори президента України призначені на 31 березня 2019 року. передвиборна кампанія почалася 31 грудня. До 9 лютого буде оголошений остаточний список претендентів на посаду глави держави. Наразі ЦВК зареєструвала 26 кандидатів.


Речник Генерального секретаря ООН Стефан Дюжаррік не має даних про можливу комунікацію між ОБСЄ та ООН щодо впровадження нового плану для врегулювання конфлікту на Донбасі, відмінний від Мінських домовленостей.

Про це він заявив на прес-конференції 30 січня.

«Звісно, ми бачили інформацію про новий план у пресі. Але мені нічого сказати. Я тільки скажу, в принципі, що ми рішуче підтримуємо керівництво Нормандської четвірки, Тристоронньої контактної групи і, звичайно, ОБСЄ у вирішенні українського питання», – сказав Дюжаррік.

24 січня посередник на переговорах від ОБСЄ Мартін Сайдік озвучив пропозицію замінити Мінські угоди новим мирним планом. В інтерв’ю австрійській газеті Kleine Zeitung він заявив, що мова йде про залучення ООН до проведення місцевих виборів і гарантування безпеки.

Читайте більше: Переговори у Мінську: «мирний план Сайдіка» щодо Донбасу офіційно не обговорювали

Сайдік серед іншого сказав, що потрібен інший документ, який буде мати «справжню політичну і правову вагу», оскільки Мінські угоди так і не були ратифіковані російським і українським парламентами. 

Новий план передбачає серед іншого поліцейську місію ООН і діяльність в Донецькій і Луганській областях агентства із відновленню під егідою Євросоюзу. 

Збройний конфлікт на Донбасі триває від 2014 року після російської анексії Криму. Україна і Захід звинувачують Росію у збройній підтримці сепаратистів. Кремль відкидає ці звинувачення і заявляє, що на Донбасі можуть перебувати хіба що російські «добровольці». За даними ООН іще станом на листопад 2017 року, за час конфлікту загинули понад 10 300 людей.


Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido is calling on the international community to back his efforts to force embattled President Nicolas Maduro from power and restore democracy to the South American nation.

Guaido, the president of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, declared himself interim president last week after the Assembly declared that Maduro’s re-election last May was illegitimate, as most either boycotted the race or were prevented from running. The United States has recognized Guaido as the country’s interim leader.

In an opinion piece for The New York Times Thursday, Guaido said over 50 countries have either recognized him as interim president or the National Assembly as the legitimate authority in Venezuela, and has appealed to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for humanitarian assistance. He says he has begun the process of appointing ambassadors and “locating and recovering national assets tied up abroad.”

Guaido claims he has held “clandestine meetings” with members of the military to convince them to withdraw their support for Maduro, which he says is “crucial to enabling a change in government.”

Venezuelans took to the streets of Caracas Wednesday in response to Guaido’s call for a peaceful, two-hour, midday protest “to demand that the armed forces side with the people.” He is offering amnesty to soldiers who back his movement and reject Maduro’s socialist government.

“Mr. Maduro no longer has the support of the people,” Guaido writes.

During an interview with Russia’s RIA news agency Wednesday, President Maduro says he is ready to hold talks with the country’s opposition forces and hold early legislative elections. But he rejected Guaido’s demands to also hold a new presidential election before 2025.

The White House says President Donald Trump expressed his “strong support” for efforts to restore democracy in Venezuela during a conversation Wednesday with Guaido.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Trump and Guaido also committed to maintaining “regular communication to support Venezuela’s path back to stability, and to rebuild the bilateral relationship” between the two countries.

Trump issued a tweet earlier Wednesday acknowledging Maduro’s offer to negotiate with Guaido, but warned Americans not to travel to Venezuela “until further notice.”

Five foreign journalists have been detained by Venezuelan authorities covering the deteriorating political situation.

A Spanish reporter and a Colombian television producer working for the Spanish news agency EFE were detained Wednesday, a day after the arrest of two French television journalists were arrested in Caracas. Two Chilean television journalists were detained for several hours Tuesday before they were expelled from the country.

The collapse of world energy prices, corruption and failed socialist policies have created an economic and humanitarian crisis in oil-rich Venezuela.

Food, fuel and medicine are in extremely short supply. Inflation is out of control. Millions of Venezuelans have fled the country, and Maduro has shown little tolerance for opposition-led protests.

Maduro has blamed his country’s woes on the United States, which he accuses of working with the opposition to topple the government. He has called world leaders who want him gone “Trump sycophants.”

The Trump administration has imposed sanctions on PDVSA, Venezuela’s government-owned oil company. The sanctions announced Monday will freeze any assets the state-owned PDVSA has in the United States, and bars U.S. firms and citizens from doing business with it.

PDVSA’s U.S.-based subsidiary, Citgo, which refines Venezuelan oil and sells Citgo brand gasoline in the U.S., will continue to operate as usual. But any money Citgo earns will be placed in a blocked account.

Maduro said the United States is trying to “steal” Citgo from Venezuela.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Venezuela can get relief from the sanctions when control of the oil company is turned over to Guaido.

 


Russia and the United States failed to bridge their differences over a landmark Cold War-era arms treaty at last-ditch talks in Beijing, Russia’s deputy foreign minister was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies Thursday.

The impasse sets the stage for the United States to begin pulling out of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty (INF) as early as Saturday unless Moscow moves to destroy a missile Washington says is violating the accord.

Moscow has refused to destroy the Novator 9M729 missile, insisting it is fully compliant with the treaty.

“Unfortunately, there is no progress,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted as saying by the RIA news agency. 

“As far as we understand, the next step is coming, the next phase begins, namely the phase of the United States stopping its obligations under the INF, which will evidently happen this coming weekend,” Ryabkov was quoted as saying.

Ryabkov met U.S. Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Andrea Thompson in Beijing on the sidelines of a meeting of the P5 nuclear powers.

Thompson confirmed to Reuters that the U.S. government will likely announce the suspension of its obligations under the INF with Russia soon.

“The Russians still aren’t in acknowledgment that they are in violation of the treaty,” she said in an interview.

Thompson added, however, that “diplomacy is never done” and she anticipated more discussions.


Депутат Верховної Ради Ірина Луценко заявила 30 січня про намір позиватися до суду проти кандидата в президенти України Анатолія Гриценка через його висловлювання, нібито її чоловік, генеральний прокурор Юрій Луценко переховував сина від участі в бойових діях на Донбасі.

«Від імені всіх матерів наших захисників Вітчизни подам на Гриценка до суду. І всі гроші віддам на потреби армії», – написала Ірина Луценко у Facebook.

Раніше 30 січня в цій же соцмережі Юрій Луценко дав «24 години «чесному» полковнику для вибачення». «Мій син пішов у 2014 на фронт добровольцем і служив солдатом 2 гармати 1 вогневого взводу 2 батареї 1 гаубичного дивізіону 55 Запорізької бригади», – вказав очільник ГПУ.

Цього ж дня Гриценко також у Facebook заявив: «Я знаю, що Луценко-син дійсно доброволець, воїн, знаю, що він був в АТО, хоча й далеко не рік, як інші. Але воював, тому честь синові і хвала. Якщо мої слова його якось зачепили, то Луценкові-сину я приношу свої вибачення». Водночас вибачатися перед Юрієм Луценком політик відмовився, назвавши генпрокурора «патологічно брехливим».


Понад 6 300 виборців скористалися тимчасовою зміною місця голосування, свідчить інформація на сайті Державного реєстру виборців Центральної виборчої комісії.

Найбільше тимчасово перереєстрованих виборців – 3 359 – з Донецької області.

У вересні 2018-го ЦВК спростила процедуру голосування для жителів непідконтрольної Україні території.

Українці, які мають прописку в ОРДЛО чи в Криму, можуть не додавати до заяви документи, які підтверджують необхідність тимчасової зміни місця їх голосування.

Їм потрібно буде звернутися до відділу державного реєстру виборців за місцем проживання і написати заяву про тимчасову зміну місця голосування, для цього необхідно мати при собі паспорт.

Вибори президента України відбудуться 31 березня 2019 року.


Attorneys representing bondholders hit by a recent request to dismiss more than $6 billion of Puerto Rico’s debt have demanded more time to fight the proposal during a federal debt restructuring hearing.

The attorneys said Wednesday that all bondholders need to be alerted and had worries that some would be treated more favorably than others. They stressed the need to reach a consensus on how to proceed.

The hearing comes more than two weeks after a federal control board that oversees Puerto Rico’s finances asked Judge Laura Taylor-Swain to invalidate part of the more than $70 billion public debt, including all general obligation bonds issued in 2012 and 2014. The board alleges the issuance violated debt limits established by the island’s constitution.

Swain has not ruled on the issue.


До України намагалися ввезти 250 карабінів Scorpion, повідомило Державне бюро розслідувань.

«Наприкінці січня 2019 року до Одеської митниці з Чехії прибуло 250 одиниць зброї «карабін Scorpion», які не відповідають вимогам державного стандарту (ДЕСТ) та не можуть бути переміщені через державний кордон України», – заявили в ДБР.

У відомстві заявили, що «з метою легалізації» карабінів представник підприємства-замовника за участі інспектора митниці відібрав зразки зброї, які напрпавили до приватної майстерні для переробки та приведення до норм держстандарту.

За даними слідства, після цього впорядковані зразки мали бути скеровані до експертної установи для отримання сертифіката відповідності. Згодом усю зброю мали розмитнити як «карабіни мисливські», що відповідають стандарту і можуть бути реалізовані на території України.

Згідно з повідомленням, під час обшуку автомобіля кур’єра слідчі вилучили зразки зброї, документи та близько 35 тисяч доларів, 1 800 євро та 175 тисяч гривень.

Державне бюро розслідувань – новий правоохоронний орган, створений для розслідування злочинів (у тому числі корупційних, не підслідних НАБУ) високопосадовців, суддів, співробітників Національного антикорупційного бюро і Спеціалізованої антикорупційної прокуратури, екс-президентів та членів уряду.

Орган почав свою роботу 27 листопада 2018 року. 30 січня слідчі Державного бюро розслідувань України розслідують 3 417 кримінальних проваджень.


The White House says President Donald Trump reinforced his “strong support” for efforts to restore democracy in Venezuela during a conversation Wednesday with oppositon leader Juan Guaido, who has proclaimed himself as the country’s president.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Trump and Guaido also committed to maintaining “regular communication to support Venezuela’s path back to stability, and to rebuild the bilateral relationship” between the two countries.

Trump said earlier Wednesday that embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is willing to negotiate with representatives of Guaido’s opposition movement to solve the political crisis in the South American nation, but warned Americans not to travel to Venezuela “until further notice.” 

Trump’s early morning tweet referred to Maduro’s offer to hold talks with the country’s opposition forces and hold early legislative elections.

​He added the threat of U.S. sanctions, including cutting off Venezuelan oil revenues, contributed to the apparent softening of Maduro’s stance.

Maduro made the offer earlier Wednesday during an interview with Russia’s RIA news agency, saying he is willing to sit down at the negotiating table “for the good of Venezuela.” But he said there will not be a new presidential election until 2025, rejecting a demand by Guaido, president of the opposition-controlled National Assembly. 

Guaido declared himself the nation’s interim president last week after the Assembly declared Maduro’s presidency illegitimate, arguing that his re-election in May 2018 was not fair, with most opposition candidates either prevented from running or boycotting the race. The United States has recognized Guaido as the country’s interim leader.

Venezuelans took to the streets of Caracas Wednesday in response to Guaido’s call for a peaceful, two-hour, midday protest “to demand that the armed forces side with the people.” He is offering amnesty to soldiers who back his movement and reject Maduro’s socialist government.

In a CNN interview Tuesday, Guaido said it is possible to have a peaceful transition from Maduro and eventually hold free elections.

President Trump also noted in his tweet that Guaido “is being targeted by Venezuelan Supreme Court,” a reference to a request by the country’s attorney general, Tarek William Saab, for the high court to prevent Guaido from leaving the country and block his financial accounts. Saab announced Tuesday that he was launching a criminal investigation into Guaido’s activities against Maduro’s socialist government, because of the unrest that followed Guaido’s declaring himself the country’s legitimate president.

U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton warned Saab in a Twitter post Tuesday that his request to keep Guaido from leaving Venezuela could lead to “serious consequences.” 

Bolton advised the global business community on Twitter Wednesday not to “deal in” Venezuelan oil or other commodities “being stolen from the Venezuelan people by the Maduro mafia,” and added, “We stand ready to continue to take action.”

To the surprise of many, a large Russian passenger plane arrived Monday night Maiquetia Airport outside Caracas, fueling speculation Maduro’s administration plans to use the plane to transport the remainder of the country’s depleted gold reserves. There has been no response from Maduro’s government, but a representative of Russia’s Norwind Airlines confirmed the plane’s arrival.

Russia is leading a group of U.S. adversaries that are supporting Maduro’s regime. Citing sources, Reuters reported Wednesday that private military contractors who conduct secret mission for Russia were in Venezuela.

The Trump administration has imposed sanctions on PDVSA, Venezuela’s government-owned oil company.  The sanctions announced Monday will freeze any assets the state-owned PDVSA has in the United States, and bars U.S. firms and citizens from doing business with it.

PDVSA’s U.S.-based subsidiary, Citgo, which refines Venezuelan oil and sells Citgo brand gasoline in the U.S., will continue to operate as usual. But any money Citgo earns will be placed in a blocked account.

Maduro said the United States is trying to “steal” Citgo from Venezuela.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Venezuela can get relief from the sanctions when control of the oil company is turned over to Guaido.

The collapse of world energy prices, corruption and failed socialist policies have created an economic and humanitarian crisis in oil-rich Venezuela.

Food, fuel and medicine are in extremely short supply. Inflation is out of control. Millions of Venezuelans have fled the country, and Maduro has shown little tolerance for opposition-led protests.

Maduro has blamed his country’s woes on the United States, which he accuses of working with the opposition to topple the government. During Wednesday’s interview with RIA, Maduro accused Trump of ordering his assassination, saying, “Donald Trump has without doubt given an order to kill me and has told the government of Colombia and the Colombian mafia to kill me.”

He has called world leaders who want him gone “Trump sycophants.”


Whether it’s haggling for a better price or negotiating for a higher salary, there is a skill to getting the most of what you want. Researchers at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies are conducting research on how a virtual negotiator may be able to teach you the art of making a good deal. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee has the details.


U.S. President Donald Trump cautioned congressional negotiators Wednesday they would be “wasting their time” if they don’t consider funding for his proposed border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, an issue that triggered a five-week partial government shutdown.

Trump’s warning came via Twitter as a bipartisan panel of House and Senate lawmakers prepared to meet for the first time since the shutdown ended in an effort to reach a compromise over border security and avoid a second partial government closure.

The White House said Tuesday Trump wants to avert another shutdown but remains committed to erecting new barriers along the border, something most Democratic lawmakers still reject.

Federal agencies reopened this week after the longest shutdown in U.S. history, after Trump signed a stopgap three-week funding bill designed to give congressional negotiators a window to craft a package enhancing border security.

As the committee begins consultations Wednesday, the partisan fault line over border wall funding that sparked the shutdown persists.

“Democrats sharply disagree with the president on the need for an expensive and ineffective border wall,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said Tuesday.

“What I believe is, at any given place along the border, we’ve got to have some combination of three elements: physical barriers, technology, and personnel,” Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn said. “So, we need a complement of each of those things in this border security bill that hopefully we’ll be voting on in the coming weeks.”

Earlier, Trump said he sees less than a 50 percent chance congressional negotiators will put together a deal acceptable to him.

The president told The Wall Street Journal Sunday he doubts he would accept less than the $5.7 billion in wall funding he has been demanding. He also cast doubt on granting permanent legal status to immigrants brought illegally to America as children, calling it a “separate subject to be taken up at a separate time.”

Meanwhile, conference committee members declined to speculate on what negotiations might produce.

“We’re going to try to get something that works,” Missouri Republican Sen. Roy Blunt told VOA. “It’s going to have to be done somewhere other than in public. I’m of the view that we should make it as all-encompassing as we can.”

At the White House Tuesday, Sanders echoed Trump’s threats to declare a national emergency and order wall construction if Congress fails to provide funding.

“If they don’t come back with a deal, it means Democrats get virtually nothing,” the press secretary said. “That will make the president — force him — to take executive action that does not give Democrats the things that they want.”

Such talk is counterproductive, according to Democrats.

“When the president injects maximalist partisan demands into the process, negotiations tend to fall apart,” Schumer said. “The president should allow the conference committee to proceed with good-faith negotiations. I genuinely hope it will produce something that is good for the country and acceptable to both sides.”

The Congressional Budget Office estimated the five-week partial shutdown caused a $3 billion loss to the U.S. economy. The funding lapse caused federal services to be curtailed or paused and created a financial hardship for 800,000 federal workers who were either furloughed or worked without pay.