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Thailand charges reporters over Pulitzer-winning article

Two journalists, including an Australian editor, were ordered Thursday to stand trial in Thailand on defamation charges linked to a Pulitzer Prize-winning article alleging Thai military involvement in people smuggling. Alan Morison and his Thai colleague Chutima Sidasathian could face up to two years' imprisonment for defamation and five years for breaching the Computer Crimes Act if the court in Phuket finds them guilty.

Putin says Kiev's use of army against separatists a 'grave crime'

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that Ukraine's decision to send armed forces into the east of the country instead of trying to establish a dialogue with the Russian-speaking population there was a "grave crime." In a televised call-in with the nation, Putin also dismissed allegations that Russian forces were present in east Ukraine and emphasized the importance of international talks on the crisis taking place in Geneva.

High-stakes Ukraine talks open as Putin warns of 'abyss'

Russia and Ukraine sat down Thursday for Western-backed talks on the escalating crisis in the former Soviet republic as Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the authorities in Kiev of dragging the country towards the abyss. In a dramatic worsening of tensions in the restive east, three pro-Moscow separatists were killed in an overnight gunbattle with Ukrainian troops in the southeastern port city of Mariupol.

Russia says Kiev's claims special forces in east Ukraine 'resemble paranoia'

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu on Thursday dismissed claims by Ukrainian authorities that Moscow has dispatched elite special forces to east Ukraine to stir unrest, saying the allegations resemble paranoia. "These statements resemble paranoia," Shoigu was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies. "Instead of always looking for Moscow's hand (behind events), Kiev should stop calling residents of Ukraine's southeast 'separatists' and 'terrorists' and start constructive dialogue with them," he said. ma/sjw/ric

N. Korea slams S. Korea, U.S. over air exercise

SEOUL, April 17 (Yonhap) -- North Korea lashed out at South Korea and the United States on Thursday over their largest-ever air exercise, calling it a grave provocation against Pyongyang. The North has frequently denounced South Korea-U.S. joint military exercises as a rehearsal for invasion. Seoul and Washington say their annual exercises are defensive in nature.

Entertainment, sports circles suspend, tone down events over ferry sinking

SEOUL, April 17 (Yonhap) -- In an expression of condolences to the victims of a ferry that sank off South Korea's southern coast, entertainment and sports circles on Thursday canceled or toned down most of their promotional activities scheduled for later in the week. K-pop artists, major television networks and film agencies postponed their promotional events for new songs, TV shows and films, saying it would not be proper to hold these events at a time when the entire nation is in grief.

NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 309 (April 17, 2014)

FOREIGN TIPS Russia's deputy PM to visit N. Korea soon: report SEOUL (Yonhap) -- Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Trutnev plans to visit North Korea soon, a U.S. radio report said on April 16. The trip by Trutnev, who is also President Vladimir Putin's envoy to Russia's Far East, is the latest in a series of exchange visits of high-level officials between the two countries, the Washington-based Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported, citing Russian media.

C.Africa crisis risk to global security: UN refugee chief

UN refugee chief Antonio Guterres warned Wednesday that the conflict in Central African Republic could embroil the whole region and threaten global security. "It's not easy to put Central African Republic on the map of concerns of public opinion in general and governments in particular," Guterres told AFP. "But the truth is that Central African Republic has the potential of generating levels of insecurity at regional level that can bind with other crises," he said in an interview.

Journalists face jail in Thailand for people-smuggler report

Two journalists face jail if found guilty of defamation after citing a Pulitzer-prize winning report alleging Thai military links to people-smuggling, one of them said Wednesday, raising fears for media freedom in the kingdom. Australian editor Alan Morison and his Thai colleague Chutima Sidasathian are due Thursday to hear the criminal charges brought by the Thai navy at a court in the southern island of Phuket. They could face up to two years' imprisonment for defamation and five years for breaching the Computer Crimes Act, as well as a $3,100 fine.

Rivals flex muscles on streets of east Ukraine

Ukrainian and pro-Russian forces flexed their military muscles in the restive east of the country on Wednesday, a day ahead of high-level diplomatic talks on the escalating crisis. Armoured vehicles from the rival sides appeared on the streets of two neighbouring towns after Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that Kiev's decision to send in troops to put down a separatist uprising in its industrial heartland had dragged the country to the brink of civil war.
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