Russian troops on Saturday seized a Ukrainian airbase in Crimea, a day after the completion of the region's annexation, while Russia's state media explained the basis for sanctions against "anti-Russian" U.S. congressmen and senators, including John McCain and John Boehner.
Ukrainian forces were forced to vacate a naval base and surrender two flagship vessels to Russian forces Saturday. Six Russian armored vehicles broke through the gates of Belbek Airbase even as troops fired warning shots into the air, CNN reported, quoting a spokesman for Ukraine's Ministry of Defense in Crimea. A journalist was injured in the attack.
In addition, pro-Russian self-defense forces stormed and captured the Novofederoskoe military base in Crimea. more >>
Roman Catholic, Anglican and Muslim representatives came together on Monday at the Vatican to launch together the Global Freedom Network, with a mission to put an end to human trafficking and slavery by the end of the decade.
"It's not politically correct to call this modern slavery a crime against humanity but we want to arrive at that in national and international law," said Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo on behalf of Pope Francis, who signed the new initiative.
Sorondo was joined by New Zealand Archbishop David Moxon, director of the Anglican Centre in Rome, as well as Dr. Mahmoud Azab, representing the Grand Imam of Egypt's Al-Azhar Sunni Islam center. more >>
A British pop star indicated she was surprised when the BBC network reportedly requested she change the lyrics to one of her songs to omit a reference to "Jesus."
Eliza Doolittle, the 25-year-old London-born singer, says that when she recently appeared on BBC's "The Chris Evans Breakfast Show" on Radio 2, she was asked to change the lyrics to her song "Walking on Water." The original lyrics tell of a woman's yearning love, with her dedication to her significant other being so intense that she would run across water to meet them, just as Jesus walked on water in Matthew 14: 22-33.
Doolittle had to change her lyrics from "Sometimes I wish I was Jesus, I'd get my Air Max on and run across the sea for you" to 'Sometimes I wish it was easy to get my Air Max on and run across the sea for you." more >>
U.S. and German representatives drew attention to the plight of American pastor Saeed Abedini at the United Nations Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, saying his human rights are being violated as he remains imprisoned in Iran.
"We take this opportunity to call once again for the release of dual U.S.-Iranian citizen Saeed Abedini, who is currently being held in Iran on charges related to his religious beliefs," said Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs Paula Schriefer, who led the U.S. delegation, on Monday.
Schriefer noted that religious minorities in Iran, including non-Shia Muslims and Baha'is, are subject to harsh treatments. And despite Iran's change in administration, with the election of President Hassan Rouhani, there has been no significant improvement to the country's human rights situation, she added. more >>
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed on Tuesday a treaty making Crimea part of Russia. The move comes after his deputy prime minister, Dmitry Rogozin, dismissed U.S. sanctions meant to freeze the financial assets of 11 Russian and Ukrainian officials as a joke.
In a step reflecting the rising tensions in what Reuters describes as the "most serious East-West crisis since the end of the Cold War," Putin moved forward with the annexation of Crimea despite strong Ukrainian protests and Western sanctions.
The treaty follows a controversial referendum in Crimea on Sunday, which took place under Russian military occupation, in which 97 percent of voters reportedly declared their support for Russian rule, after being a part of the Ukraine for 60 years, according to Reuters. more >>
President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday Crimea is part of Russia in people's hearts and minds after signing a treaty recognizing the Ukraine's region as an independent state, despite the United States and Europe imposing new sanctions on Russia's senior political and military leaders.
"In the hearts and minds of people, Crimea has always been and remains an inseparable part of Russia. This commitment, based on truth and justice, was firm, was passed from generation to generation," said Putin, in an address to a joint session of parliament Tuesday after approving a draft treaty to make Crimea part of Russia, Reuters reported.
"Crimea is our common property and a very important factor in the stability of the region," Putin said, according to The Wall Street Journal. "This strategic territory should be under a strong, sovereign state and that in fact can only be Russia." more >>