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TELESUR(Venezuela), CNN(USA), BBC NEWS(UK)

Worldcrunch

HAVANA - According to a top official, Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez is battling a "severe" lung infection that has caused respiratory failure, reports state-funded media TeleSur.

Fifty-eight-year Chavez underwent cancer surgery for the fourth time in Cuba on Dec. 11 and then developed a respiratory infection, according to BBC News.

He is following a strict treatment regimen for "respiratory insufficiency" caused by an infection, Venezuelan Information Minister Ernesto Villegas told TeleSur Thursday night.

The information minister did not provide details about the treatment or prognosis, adds CNN.

The president has not been seen in public since having cancer surgery in Havana three weeks ago. This has sparked rumors that his health was quickly deteriorating.

The Venezuelan authorities have urged people not to believe "the lies" being told about Chavez's health.

Mr Villegas warned the people of Venezuela not to get caught into a "psychological war" being fought in the media which had the "ultimate aim of destabilising the Bolivarian republic", reports TeleSur.

Hugo Chavez came into power in 1999 and was elected for a fourth term in office in October 2012.

It is not known whether Chavez will be able to be inaugurated for another term as planned on Jan. 10.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Ukraine Is Turning Into A "New Israel" — Where Everyone Is A Soldier

From businessmen to farmers, Ukrainian society has been militarizing for the past six months to defend its sovereignty. In the future it may find itself like Israel, permanently armed to protect its sovereignty.

Ukrainian civilians learn how to shoot and other military skills at a shooting range in Lviv on July 30, 2022.

Guillaume Ptak

KYIV — The war in Ukraine has reached a turning point. Vladimir Putin's army has suffered its worst setback since the beginning of the invasion. The Russian army has experienced a counter-offensive that many experts consider masterful, so it must retreat and cede vast territories to its opponent.

The lightning victory that the head of the Kremlin had dreamed of never took place. The losses are considerable — Ukrainian troops on the battlefield now outnumber the Russians.

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On April 5, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky predicted that at the end of the conflict, Ukraine would become a "big Israel". In an interview with Ukrainian media, he said then, "In all the institutions, supermarkets, cinemas, there will be people with weapons."

The problem of national security will be the country's most important one in the next decade. An "absolutely liberal, and European" society would therefore no longer be on the agenda, according to the Ukrainian president.

Having long since swapped his suit and tie for a jacket or a khaki T-shirt during his public appearances, Zelensky has undeniably become one of the symbols of this growing militarization of Ukrainian society. However, the president claimed that Ukraine would not become an "authoritarian" regime: "An authoritarian state would lose to Russia. Ukrainians know what they are fighting for."

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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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