Wide resistance to vaccines plagues Ukraine's COVID-19 fight
The country designated 14,000 doses of its first vaccine shipment for the military, especially those fighting Russia-backed separatists in the east. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)KYIV – After receiving its first shipment of coronavirus vaccine, Ukraine found itself in a new struggle against the pandemic — persuading its widely reluctant people to get the shot. The resistance appears to be rooted in longstanding suspicion of vaccines dating back to the Soviet era, amplified by politicians' allegations about low-quality vaccines, corruption scandals and misinformation spread through social media. Those declining included Olena Obyedko, a 26-year-old nurse who works in the hospital's intensive care ward for COVID-19 patients, where people die every week. The country designated 14,000 doses of its first vaccine shipment for the military, especially those fighting Russia-backed separatists in the east.
Ukraine's local elections test leader and his young party
FILE In this file photo taken on Wednesday, May 20, 2020, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaks to the media during a news conference in Kyiv, Ukraine. Ukrainians are heading to the polls on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020 to cast ballots in local elections seen as a key test for President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. During Ukraine's July 2019 parliamentary election, the party came out on top with 43% support. “The local elections will set the stage for an attack on Zelenskiy from all sides,” said Volodymyr Fesenko, the director of Penta Center, an independent think tank. Karasev observed that recent decentralization efforts that gave broad authority to local mayors and councils would make the outcome of Sunday's local elections particularly significant.
A virus surge in Ukraine puts hospitals under strain again
A nurse checks the temperature of a patient with coronavirus in Stebnyk, western Ukraine, on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020. As coronavirus cases increase, every bed in the hospital in this city in western Ukraine is in use and its chief doctor is watching the surge with alarm and anguish. The World Health Organization warns that the number of infections in Ukraine could continue to grow and reach 7,000-9,000 a day. The government wants to avoid imposing a new lockdown, but officials acknowledge that the rising number of infections could make it necessary. “When I got here I saw that people get sick en masse.”___Karmanau reported from Kyiv, Ukraine.
Biden audio first shared by 'Russian agent' thrives online
The leaked recordings of apparent conversations between Joe Biden and Ukraines then-president largely confirm Bidens account of his dealings in Ukraine. The choppy audio, disclosed by a Ukrainian lawmaker whom U.S. officials described Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020, as an active Russian agent who has sought to spread online misinformation about Biden. And unlike in 2016, when Russia used bogus social media accounts or bots to wage a misinformation campaign, this time they're being spread by legitimate American social media users. There have been more than 117,000 mentions of Biden and the audio on Twitter since May, according to analysis by Zignal Labs, a social media monitoring firm. YouTube, for example, said the audio recordings don’t violate policy because the tech company has been unable to confirm they were obtained through hacking.
Charges, sanctions revive specter of Russian interference
with officials taking aim at Russian interference in the political process even as President Donald Trump expresses doubt about Russian meddling. In the case of the sanctions, officials denounced audio recordings that had been released by the Ukrainian parliamentarian and promoted by Trump on Twitter. The Treasury Department action is the second time in as many months that the administration has called out Derkach by name. Derkach is a graduate of a Russian spy academy who, the Treasury Department says, maintains close ties to Russian intelligence services. Most of the infiltration attempts by Russian, Chinese and Iranian agents were halted by Microsoft security software and the targets notified.
US charges Russian with plot to create election distrust
WASHINGTON The Trump administration has charged a Russian national in a sweeping plot to create distrust in the American political process. The Justice Department charges were announced Thursday along with sanctions against four people, including a Ukraine lawmaker, accused of election interferenceTHIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. WASHINGTON (AP) The Trump administration on Thursday imposed sanctions on a Russian-linked Ukrainian lawmaker for interfering in the U.S. presidential election by releasing edited audio recordings designed to denigrate Democrat Joe Biden. The action by the Treasury Department is the second time in as many months that the administration has called out Andrii Derkach by name. Derkach is a graduate of a Russian spy academy who, the Treasury Department says, maintains close ties to Russian intelligence services.