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A Cruel Summer For Ukrainian Kids

And see the contrast with kids in Russia...

A Cruel Summer For Ukrainian Kids

Ukrainian children play territorial defense fighters patrolling in the village of Stoyanka, Kyiv region.

Bertrand Hauger, Anna Akage, Lisa Berdet and Emma Albright

With the summer break around the corner and heat taking over most of Europe, Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza is running, as part of its “photo of the day” section, a picture of children splashing about with their parents in a river. A refreshing photo, in stark contrast with the caption chosen by the Warsaw-based newspaper: “These children don’t have to be afraid of bombs.” The river in question is the Moskva, and these are Russian kids cooling off near the Kremlin.

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The same Gazeta Wyborcza has also reported on a Poland-based hotline, open to Ukrainian children (an estimated 500,000 of whom have found refuge in Poland) to be able to talk to a psychologist about their traumatic experiences — or simply looking for a chat in their native tongue.

The same need for psychological support for Ukrainian youth is echoed in Kyiv daily Ukraïna Moloda which reports on a very different kind of “summer camp,” specifically designed to welcome children affected by the war. For 12 days, educators who received training from a psychologist are trying to give traumatized children some semblance of normal childhood again.

An Eye On September

Russian children playing in the water

Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza

Come September 1, all 422 schools in Ukraine's capital are expected to re-open, the city's authorities said Friday, having gone online immediately after the Russian invasion on Feb. 24.

But it won’t be school as usual: As announced by the director of the Department of Education and Science, Olena Fidanyan, quoted by Kyiv city’s portal, "The most important task for the new academic year is the safety of students and teachers. [...] For those schools where there is no shelter, a storage facility within walking distance has been prepared and will be tested. At the beginning of the school year, all schools will conduct the necessary training with teachers and children on actions during an air raid."

Russia Continues Assault In East, Shells Kharkiv

Shelling in Sumy

Michal Burza/ZUMA

Russian troops continue massive artillery shelling of eastern Ukraine. Overnight, seven rockets were fired in the Dnipropetrovsk region, artillery fire was directed at Sumy and neighboring villages, and an improvised explosive device was dropped on one of the region's cities, writesLivy Bereg.

The number of dead and injured from the explosions is not yet known with certainty. Shelling also continues in Kharkiv and throughout Donbas. However, the most difficult situation remains around Kherson, where Russian troops are hitting with low-accuracy cassette shells, causing heavy casualties among the civilian population.

Putin Praises Russian Forces For Taking Full Control Of Luhansk Region

Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a face-to-face meeting with Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu following the capture of the key city of Lysychansk

Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin Pool/Planet Pix/Zuma

A meeting between Vladimir Putin and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu was broadcast on Channel One, where the Russian president congratulated his defense chief on the liberation of the Luhansk People's Republic and asked him to reward the troops' command.

"My congratulations and words of gratitude also apply in full to the fighters of the second army corps of the LNR People's Militia,” Putin said, according to Russian public news agency TASS. “I also know that they acted decisively, competently, showing courage and heroism in the truest sense of the word, showed heroism in liberating their native land."

Earlier, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Lieutenant General Igor Konashenkov said that the town of Lysychansk had been encircled, and that Russian troops seized Verkhnekamenka, Zolotarevka, and Belogorivka settlements and reached the Seversky Donets River.

Le Monde (French Daily)

Russia takes over the Donbas region

Le Monde front page

Ukraine To Hold Talks With Turkey And UN For Secure Grain Exports

An employee is seen at the Melitopol Elevator grain storage.

Alexei Konovalov/TASS/Zuma

Ukraine is holding talks with Turkey and the United Nations to secure guarantees for grain exports from Ukrainian ports. President Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed the talks, which news reports say are likely to take place in Turkey.

Up to 60 million tons of grain could be stuck in Ukraine by the fall if the country continues to face blocked exports, Zelensky said. The President also said he was working with the United Nations to try to open a safe corridor that would allow Ukraine to export grain from its Black Sea ports, “from our side, the Ukrainian state is not wasting time and we are working on various ways of railway and river ports for the export of our grain, and we are increasing this export every day.”

This comes as Ukraine also repeatedly accuses Russia of stealing grain from its warehouses and exporting it out of the country to Russian occupied areas or Russia itself as well as other potential countries. A Turkish official was quoted by Reuters on Monday, saying that Turkey had halted a Russian-flagged cargo ship off its Black Sea coast and was currently investigating a Ukrainian claim that it was carrying stolen grain.

In Donbas, Many Locals Remain But Face Limited Access To Basic Goods

A view of a building destroyed by shelling in the embattled city of Mariupol.

Vladimir Gerdo/TASS/Zuma

French daily Les Échos published a reportage from the Donbas region, where many Ukrainian residents have chosen to stay put despite the Russian army progressing in the region.

According to the UN refugee agency, nearly 7 million civilians have fled within the country, and 13 million are stranded to their homes because of the bombings and infrastructures destroyed, among other things.

For those who have decided or are forced to stay in their besieged towns in the contested Donbas region in eastern Ukraine, they have to deal with limited access to basic products as only 20% of grocery stores and 10% of drugstores are still open. A Ukrainian civilian declared, “The major problem is gasoline: just a few stations are still open, and those that are quickly run out of fuel.”

Bulgaria: Spreading Russian Propaganda For Money

Lena Borislavova during interview with Darik Radio

Screenshot of interview with Darik Radio

In Bulgaria, Russian propaganda is spread in exchange for money, reports spoke with Darik Radio. Lena Borislavova, head of the cabinet of the outgoing Prime Minister, Kiril Petkov, and spokesperson for the government, spoke with the Bulgarian radio station about how some politicians, journalists, and “opinion makers” spread propaganda in exchange for financial reward.

Minimum wage is around $300 per month but public figures and influencers can earn up to around $2,000 just for defending Russia in the context of the war in Ukraine, French weekly Courrier International reports.

Borislavova also added that the “secret services have not been very reliable" for the work of the government, alluding to the fact that their erroneous predictions regarding the war in Ukraine were probably dictated by the Kremlin.

On July 3, Bulgaria expelled 70 Russian diplomats and consular employees accused of espionage. The Russian ambassador, Eleonora Mitrofanova, threatened the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, with the closure of the embassies and, eventually, a break in diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Georgia To Belarus To Kazakhstan: How Ex-Soviet Republics See Putin’s Plans

Moldovan President Maia Sandu with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in January 2021

President office of Ukraine

Vladimir Putin has been upfront about his desire to rebuild Russia’s influence in the region. Former Soviet states are watching developments in Ukraine closely, with many trying to ensure futures free of interference by Moscow.

Anna Akage looks back, and forward, to see how the former republics are reacting to Putin’s ambitions, in a country by country analysis.

Ukrainian Prime Minister: Russia Billionaires Should Pay To Rebuild Ukraine

Ukrainian prime minister, Denys Shmyhal, stated during the two-day conference happening in Lugano, Switzerland that rebuilding his war-ravaged country would cost around $750 billion, and that Russian billionaires should pick up the bill

During the opening of the Ukraine recovery conference, he said that the confiscated assets of Russia and Russian oligarchs should be used to help Ukraine rebuild, “we believe that the key source of recovery should be the confiscated assets of Russia and Russian oligarchs,” Shmyhal said. “The Russian authorities unleashed this bloody war, they caused this massive destruction, and they should be held accountable for it.” Shmyhal estimated that Russia’s frozen assets amount to between $300 and $500 billion.

Leaders at the conference said the recovery plan had three phases: one focused on fixing things that matter for people’s daily lives like water supply, second is called “fast recovery” which includes temporary housing, hospital and school projects. It will launch as soon as fighting ends. And the third phase aims at rebuilding the country over the long term.

Representatives of over 40 countries along with organizations such as the European Investment Bank and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) signed onto the Lugano Declaration outlining a roadmap for Ukraine's recovery.

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How Airbnb Created A Homeless Crisis In An Idyllic Australian Town

In the bohemian Australian seaside town of Byron Bay, rents are now higher than Sydney or Melbourne. And as Airbnb takes its toll, this small town has almost as many homeless people as Sydney.

Byron Bay became a tourist attraction at the turn of the 1970s

Grégory Plesse

BYRON BAY — It's a scene that is repeated almost every evening. Small groups form on the seafront, some take out a guitar around an improvised campfire among the rocks, a few acrobats hypnotize passers-by by twirling fiery bolas, and most clink glasses over a few beers, modestly covered by paper bags. They are all there to admire the sun setting behind the mountains bordering the northern tip of the beach, which stretches for about 30 kilometers, tinting the sky with shades ranging from pale pink to scarlet red.

Located at the eastern tip of Australia, an ideal geographical position where very beautiful waves are formed, Byron Bay, in New South Wales, is one of the most popular destinations for surfers. It is also home to one of the oldest surf clubs in the country, created more than a century ago, in 1907.

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Writing contest - My pandemic story

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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