Sergei Skripal 'improving rapidly'; US sanctions Russian oligarchs

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  • U.S. issues sanctions on Russia oligarchs – Seven Russian oligarchs, 12 companies, 17 senior Russian officials, a Russian state weapons trading company and its bank have had their assets frozen. U.S. citizens are also prohibited from dealing with them. All this by way of new sanctions from the U.S. Department of the Treasury. The list includes Oleg Deripaska, who reportedly had past business dealings with Paul Manafort, Donald J. Trump’s former campaign chairman. Manafort has been indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in his investigation of Russia and the Trump campaign. See WikiTribune’s coverage for more. 
  • Sergei Skripal’s health “improving rapidly” – Former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal’s health is no longer in a critical condition and he is “improving rapidly,” according to Salisbury District Hospital staff. Skripal had been poisoned by the nerve agent novichok on March 4. Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, have been in hospital since being found unconscious on a bench in Salisbury. Yulia Skripal woke up over a week ago. The UK government claims Russia is behind the attack but Moscow denies all involvement. See WikiTribune’s main story here.
  • Two Palestinians killed in second week of Gaza protest – Israeli forces shot Palestinian protesters on Friday, killing two and wounding at least 150, according to Palestinian medics. Thousands of protesters had gathered on Gaza’s border during the second week of a six-week demonstration against Israel. The protesters are demanding that refugees be allowed to return to ancestral lands they fled or were forced to leave in 1948, lands that are now part of Israel. Refugees make up most of the 2 million population of Gaza, which is governed by the Islamist militant movement Hamas. Israel says Hamas is staging the rallies in order to launch attacks against it. Israel has maintained orders for soldiers to open fire, despite international condemnation. Twenty-two Palestinians have died since the protest began on March 30.


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  • Since Russia has been blamed for an attack on a former double agent and his daughter in Britain, dozens of alternative theories have been proposed by figures linked to the Kremlin. Experts told WikiTribune the allegations fit an established pattern of Russian disinformation campaigns that should be countered with the transparent use of facts.

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  • Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is expected to win a third term in office on Sunday. The authoritarian leader advocates what he has described as an “illiberal state” and his critics view him as a racist and an autocrat. In “The man who thinks Europe has been invaded,” the BBC’s Nick Thorpe profiles the PM himself, Hungarian history, and what it will it mean for Europe if Orban wins another four years in power. – Ed Upright
  • Thousands of internal documents help explain how the Islamic State stayed in power for so long. This report by the New York Times’  outlines the the way Isis built their state on the back of the one that existed before, absorbing the administrative know-how of its hundreds of government cadres. An examination of how the group governed reveals a pattern of collaboration between the militants and the civilians under their yoke. – Charles Anderson

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