RUSSIAN PRIME MINISTER VISITS CRIMEA
In the highest-level visit from Moscow since Crimea joined the Russian Federation, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev arrived in the region this morning, Ria Novosti reports. He announced that pensions and wages for public workers would be increased and that all residents would benefit from health insurance. Medvedev also explained that Crimea would become a “special economic zone” to attract more investors. Read more from RT.
This comes after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov failed to reach a deal on the Ukrainian crisis during a four-hour-long meeting in Paris, The New York Times reports. But the two leaders agreed that a political solution was the right way out and said they would continue to discuss it. Moscow believes, however, that Ukraine can no longer function as a “unified state” and should instead become a loose federation, The Guardian quotes Lavrov as saying. According to state broadcaster France Info, Lavrov will meet with his French counterpart Laurent Fabius today. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry told AFP that Russian troops have been ”gradually withdrawing” from the border over the past few days, with a senior military analyst saying that about 10,000 Russian soldiers were stationed there.
Presidential hopefuls had until midnight last night to declare their candidacies for the May 25 election. Opposition leader Vitali Klitschko announced Saturday that he would not run, instead opting to compete for the post of Kiev mayor. The former heavyweight boxing champion endorsed billionaire Petro Poroshenko, nicknamed “the Willy Wonka of Ukraine” and characterized by The New York Times as the candidate on whom “the hopes of many Ukrainians and their Western supporters are now riding.” Among the other candidates are Yulia Tymoshenko, and the leaders of far-right organizations Svoboda and Right Sector, Oleg Tyagnibok and Dmitry Yarosh.
ERDOGAN CLAIMS VICTORY IN TURKISH LOCAL ELECTIONS
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has claimed victory for his AKP party in yesterday’s local elections, with preliminary results suggesting Erdogan’s remains the biggest party with almost 45% of the vote, Hurriyet reports. Dogan News Agency, however, published reports of alleged fraud in several polling stations. Erdogan’s victory comes despite the PM’s alleged involvement in an ongoing corruption scandal and last week’s leaked recording suggesting the government was preparing a “false-flag” operation in Syria, which led to the blocking of YouTube. Erdogan, who has blamed the leaks on “enemies,” said: "We will enter their lair. They will pay the price. They will be brought to account.”
MAJOR — AND GRIM — CLIMATE REPORT
A new United Nations report that is considered the most far-reaching study ever on climate change was released today in Japan, and it issued a series of dire warnings. The impacts of global warming are likely to be “severe, pervasive and irreversible,” the report warns.
TWO KOREAS EXCHANGE FIRE
South Korea returned fire after some 500 rounds of North Korea shells landed in disputed waters, Yonhap news agency reports. The live fire drill prompted Seoul to order the evacuation of the two islands located near the fire zone, in the Yellow Sea. According to Reuters, “the military exercise appeared to be yet more saber rattling from Pyongyang rather than a prelude to a sharp rise in tensions.”
PAKISTAN EX-PRESIDENT CHARGED WITH TREASON
Former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has been charged with treason and could face the death penalty if found guilty, the BBC reports. The country’s ex-military ruler is accused of unlawfully suspending the constitution and imposing emergency rule in 2007. Last year, Musharraf was already charged with the murder of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
EHUD OLMERT CONVICTED OF CORRUPTION
Israel’s former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was found guilty of corruption in the two-year-long Holyland case, “one of the largest corruption scandals ever exposed in Israel,” Haaretz reports. He was accused of taking bribes when he was mayor of Jerusalem between 1993 and 2003, in exchange for facilitating the construction of the Holyland luxury complex. The owner of the residence, Hillel Cherney, was convicted of bribing town hall officials.
MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD
Eighty years after it was written, Samuel Beckett’s short short “Echo's Bones” will finally be available to readers.
Jeremiah Denton, the Navy pilot and prisoner of war who confirmed U.S. suspicions of prisoner maltreatment by the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War by blinking out the word T-O-R-T-U-R-E in Morse code, has died.
A man in China holds the Guinness World Record for being able to balance eggs on a needle point. Watch how he does it with an ostrich egg here.