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Love, Pain And Loss at Ukraine’s Lychakiv Cemetery

At a historic military cemetery in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, Valeriy Pushko lights up two cigarettes. One is for himself, the other for his son whose portrait is fixed to a cross planted in the ground.

“I smoke with my son,” the gray-haired man said.

“We used to take cigarette breaks together. It’s a bad habit but it makes things easier. I talk to him, think about him and that makes me feel better.”

Pushko said many others come here to smoke with their fallen husbands or sons.

In southeastern Lviv, the Lychakiv cemetery is one of the oldest in Europe and is often compared to the historic Pere Lachaise in Paris, where dozens of celebrities are buried.

It is the resting place of prominent figures including the poet Ivan Franko and thousands of soldiers who perished in World War I and II.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine over a year ago, rows of new graves have appeared. A sea of blue-and-yellow Ukrainian flags and red-and-black nationalist banners mark them.

Some mourners leave stuffed animals, cigarettes, and cups of coffee at the graves of their loved ones.

More unusual symbols of love and sorrow included children’s drawings, vinyl records, a golf ball, and a bottle of beer.

A funeral nearly every day

Shortly after the Russian invasion in February 2022, authorities began burying soldiers killed in the fighting at the Lychakiv cemetery.

But the area initially designated for military burials quickly filled up, said city official Oleg Pidpysetsky.

The authorities then began laying Ukrainian servicemen to rest at a new site bordering Lychakiv.

Funerals are held nearly every day in the new burial ground. Called the Field of Mars, it now contains about 350 graves.

“No one knew how critical the situation was,” Pidpysetsky told AFP.

“Someone thought it would end in a month, two, three, six months. But, unfortunately, the war has only gotten bigger.”

Oleg, one of the mourners who came to visit a friend’s grave, called the losses irreparable.

“We will have our victory, of course, but this is the price we pay. And that is not the end,” said the 55-year-old. “These people gave their lives for us.”

Oleg mourns the loss of his 45-year-old friend also called Oleg.

He said the father of two volunteered to go to the front.

“Unfortunately, nothing can be done now. Thousands of Russians will not replace my Oleg,” he said, bitterly.

‘The only connection with their heroes’

Kyiv does not reveal the number of its military casualties, but Western officials say more than 100,000 Ukrainians have been killed or wounded.

Olga, who came to visit her brother-in-law’s grave, says the mementos people leave “is all that’s left, the only connection with their heroes.”

Her sister comes to the cemetery every day, she added.

“That’s her second home now,” Olga said.

Vyacheslav Sabelnikov, who served in the infantry before receiving a serious injury, says several men he fought with are now buried at the cemetery.

“I came to visit a friend whose birthday is today,” said Sabelnikov, placing a candle in front of his portrait.

Sabelnikov said he lights candles to remember his friends, saying it was important to honor their memory.

Anna Mikheyeva, a 44-year-old social worker, came to visit her son Mykhailo’s grave. He served in the 80th Parachute Brigade and was killed last year at the age of 25.

Mikheyeva said she often brings her son things he liked including Coca-Cola, sweets, and cigarettes.

“If I come in the morning, I buy a coffee for myself and also for him,” added the dark-haired woman.

She said she felt calm at the Field of Mars.

“There are only young people here. They are like sons and brothers to me,” she said. “When I come I always say ‘Hi guys.’ And I always, always thank them.”

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Intel Co-Founder, Philanthropist Gordon Moore Dies at 94

Gordon Moore, the Intel Corp. co-founder who set the breakneck pace of progress in the digital age with a simple 1965 prediction of how quickly engineers would boost the capacity of computer chips, has died. He was 94.

Moore died Friday at his home in Hawaii, according to Intel and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

Moore, who held a Ph.D. in chemistry and physics, made his famous observation — now known as “Moore’s Law” — three years before he helped start Intel in 1968. It appeared among several articles about the future written for the now-defunct Electronics magazine by experts in various fields.

The prediction, which Moore said he plotted out on graph paper based on what had been happening with chips at the time, said the capacity and complexity of integrated circuits would double every year.

Strictly speaking, Moore’s observation referred to the doubling of transistors on a semiconductor. But over the years, it has been applied to hard drives, computer monitors and other electronic devices, holding that roughly every 18 months a new generation of products makes their predecessors obsolete.

It became a standard for the tech industry’s progress and innovation.

“It’s the human spirit. It’s what made Silicon Valley,” Carver Mead, a retired California Institute of Technology computer scientist who coined the term “Moore’s Law” in the early 1970s, said in 2005. “It’s the real thing.”

‘Wisdom, humility and generosity’

Moore later became known for his philanthropy when he and his wife established the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, which focuses on environmental conservation, science, patient care and projects in the San Francisco Bay area. It has donated more than $5.1 billion to charitable causes since its founding in 2000.

“Those of us who have met and worked with Gordon will forever be inspired by his wisdom, humility and generosity,” foundation president Harvey Fineberg said in a statement.

Intel Chairman Frank Yeary called Moore a brilliant scientist and a leading American entrepreneur.

“It is impossible to imagine the world we live in today, with computing so essential to our lives, without the contributions of Gordon Moore,” he said.

In his book “Moore’s Law: The Life of Gordon Moore, Silicon Valley’s Quiet Revolutionary,” author David Brock called him “the most important thinker and doer in the story of silicon electronics.”

Helped plant seed for renegade culture

Moore was born in San Francisco on Jan. 3, 1929, and grew up in the tiny nearby coastal town of Pescadero. As a boy, he took a liking to chemistry sets. He attended San Jose State University, then transferred to the University of California, Berkeley, where he graduated with a degree in chemistry.

After getting his Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology in 1954, he worked briefly as a researcher at Johns Hopkins University.

His entry into microchips began when he went to work for William Shockley, who in 1956 shared the Nobel Prize for physics for his work inventing the transistor. Less than two years later, Moore and seven colleagues left Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory after growing tired of its namesake’s management practices.

The defection by the “traitorous eight,” as the group came to be called, planted the seeds for Silicon Valley’s renegade culture, in which engineers who disagreed with their colleagues didn’t hesitate to become competitors.

The Shockley defectors in 1957 created Fairchild Semiconductor, which became one of the first companies to manufacture the integrated circuit, a refinement of the transistor.

Fairchild supplied the chips that went into the first computers that astronauts used aboard spacecraft.

Called Moore’s Law as ‘a lucky guess’

In 1968, Moore and Robert Noyce, one of the eight engineers who left Shockley, again struck out on their own. With $500,000 of their own money and the backing of venture capitalist Arthur Rock, they founded Intel, a name based on joining the words “integrated” and “electronics.”

Moore became Intel’s chief executive in 1975. His tenure as CEO ended in 1987, thought he remained chairman for another 10 years. He was chairman emeritus from 1997 to 2006.

He received the National Medal of Technology from President George H.W. Bush in 1990 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush in 2002.

Despite his wealth and acclaim, Moore remained known for his modesty. In 2005, he referred to Moore’s Law as “a lucky guess that got a lot more publicity than it deserved.”

He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Betty, sons Kenneth and Steven, and four grandchildren.

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Putin: Moscow Makes Deal With Belarus to Host Nuclear Weapons

Russia has struck a deal with neighboring Belarus to station tactical nuclear weapons on its territory but will not violate nonproliferation agreements, President Vladimir Putin said Saturday.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko had long raised the issue of stationing tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, which borders Poland, Putin told state television.

“There is nothing unusual here either, firstly, the United States has been doing this for decades. They have long deployed their tactical nuclear weapons on the territory of their allied countries,” he said.

“We agreed that we will do the same — without violating our obligations, I emphasize, without violating our international obligations on the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons.”

Russia will have completed the construction of a storage facility for tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus by July 1, Putin said, adding that Moscow would not actually be transferring control of the arms to Minsk.

Russia has stationed 10 aircraft in Belarus capable of carrying tactical nuclear weapons, he said, adding that Moscow had already transferred to Belarus several Iskander tactical missile systems that can be used to launch nuclear weapons.

In addition to Russia, Belarus borders Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia.

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Jehovah’s Witnesses Mourn Victims of Hamburg Shooting

Members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Germany held a memorial service Saturday for the six people killed during a mass shooting at a religious service in Hamburg this month.

A 35-year-old German man who opened fire during the March 9 service killed himself as police arrived at a Jehovah’s Witnesses hall where the service was taking place. The attack wounded nine people, including a pregnant woman who lost her unborn child.

“We are speechless in the face of the violence and brutality. There’s no word for this,” Dirk Ciupek, a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, said in his sermon. “This was an attack not just on a few of us, but an attack on all of us.”

Ciupek expressed gratitude to the police officers who he said prevented more deaths and to the medical personnel who tended to the wounded with dedication and empathy.

“Do not let evil defeat you,” he said, addressing the family members of those who died. He spoke about each victim individually, including the unborn baby.

“We miss them, their love, their smiles, everything,” Ciupek said.

All the victims were German citizens apart from two wounded women, one with Ugandan citizenship and one with Ukrainian.

The gunman, identified by authorities only as Philipp F. due to German privacy laws, was a former member who left the Jehovah’s Witnesses two years ago. Investigators have said his departure was “apparently not on good terms.”

German prosecutors said they were investigating whether there was a religious motive for the crime, but that there were no indications he was involved in any network or had far-right views.

The Hamburg congregation that was holding the service has about 60 members and is one of 47 in the port city, which is home to almost 4,000 denomination members, according to the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

About 3,300 people attended Saturday’s memorial service, which took place in a gymnasium in Hamburg, German news agency dpa said. The event also was livestreamed for Jehovah’s Witnesses who couldn’t be there in person.

Mark Sanderson, a member of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses, traveled to Hamburg from the United States and addressed the mourners.

“Our hope, our faith, our love, can survive tragedy, they can overcome hatred and violence,” he said. “If we show our love to those around us, we reflect our faith to God.”

Jehovah’s Witnesses are part of an international church founded in the United States in the 19th century and headquartered in Warwick, New York. The church claims a worldwide membership of about 8.7 million, with about 170,000 in Germany.

Members are known for their evangelistic efforts that include knocking on doors and distributing literature in public squares. The denomination’s practices include a refusal to bear arms, receive blood transfusions, salute a national flag, or participate in secular government.

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West Regains ‘Unity, Purpose’ in Light of Russian Ukraine War, Poll Indicates 

A poll of global attitudes toward Russia’s Ukraine war suggests the West has regained its “unity and sense of purpose” following the invasion, according to the European Council on Foreign Relations.

The survey, conducted in nine EU countries, Britain, China, India, Turkey, Russia, and the United States in December and January, portrays markedly different attitudes in non-Western nations.

“We asked the question whether they agree strongly with the idea that the conflict between Russia and Ukraine needs to stop as soon as possible, even if that means giving Russia control of some areas of Ukraine,” Susi Dennison, an analyst at the council, which commissioned the poll, told VOA earlier this week.

“What we found was that within the EU, but also in Great Britain and the United States — so what you might refer to as the West — there is a general agreement with the idea that Ukraine needs to regain all of its territory. And that has grown in the European countries that we looked at since we asked a similar question last summer,” Dennison said.

The report says Americans and Europeans are united in believing that Russia is an adversary or a rival. Seventy-one percent of U.S. respondents, 77% in Great Britain, and 65% in the EU countries “regard the future of relations with Russia as one of confrontation,” according to the report.

Non-Westerners gave very different answers.

In China, 42% of those asked are said to agree that the conflict between Russia and Ukraine must stop as soon as possible, even if it means Ukraine giving control of parts of its territory to Russia. The desire to quickly end the war is stronger in Turkey, with 48% and India, with 54%, the report said.

“It is worth noting, however, that almost a third of people in both these countries would prefer Ukraine to regain all of its territory, even if it means a longer war or more Ukrainians being killed and displaced,” the report added.

The authors say three factors have driven Western unity: Ukrainian battlefield success, the way the war has united the political left and right, and the perceived return of a strong West led by the United States.

Europeans also feel they have survived a difficult winter, despite high energy prices caused by Russia’s invasion, Dennison said.

“There is a certain sense among Europeans that we weathered that particular storm, we can sustain economically the position that we’re taking against Russia and that we need to do so because of the nature of the war that Russia is fighting — that it threatens the fundamental rules on which the international order is based.”

As Russia tries to take more territory in a spring offensive, the report authors say Western leaders should exploit the public support for arming Ukraine.

“Military aid and support in dealing with that is needed now, because if it starts to look like actually this is not something that the Ukrainians could push back against, then we could see the support among Europeans begin to dissipate,” Dennison added.

The survey also asked citizens about their expectations of the likely global geopolitical order, a decade from now.

Most respondents in Europe and America expect a bipolar world, dominated by the U.S. and China. Most of those outside the West, though, expect a fragmented global order, with several competing powers making up a multipolar world.

“You have strong majorities that say Russia is either an ally or a necessary partner. They see a world of multipolarity in which they are going to have to form pragmatic, relatively interest-based alliances. And so to a certain extent, most global players are seen as necessary partners within that picture. What was quite striking is that Russia is no exception,” Dennison told VOA.

The report concludes that Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine has “confirmed the renewed centrality of American power to Europe — with billions of dollars spent maintaining the war effort, which has sustained unity across the Atlantic on sanctions and diplomatic positions towards Russia and given a new lease on life for Western-led institutions such as NATO and the G-7. This reality has not gone unnoticed by global publics.”

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Pope Expands Sex Abuse Law, Reaffirms Adults Can Be Victims 

Pope Francis on Saturday updated a 2019 church law aimed at holding senior churchmen accountable for covering up cases of sex abuse, expanding it to cover lay Catholic leaders and reaffirming that vulnerable adults can also be victims of abuse when they are unable to consent.

Francis reaffirmed and made permanent the temporary provisions of the 2019 law that were passed in a moment of crisis for the Vatican and Catholic hierarchy. That law had been praised at the time for laying out precise mechanisms to investigate complicit bishops and religious superiors, but its implementation has been uneven, and the Vatican has been criticized by abuse survivors for continued lack of transparency about the cases.

The new rules conform to other changes in the Catholic Church’s handling of abuse that have been issued since then. Most significantly, they are expanded to cover leaders of Vatican-approved associations headed by lay leaders, not just clerics. That is a response to the many cases that have come to light in recent years of lay leaders abusing their authority to sexually exploit people under their spiritual care or authority.

They also reaffirm that even adults can be victims of predator priests, such as nuns or seminarians who are dependent on their bishops or superiors. Church law previously considered that only adults who “habitually” lack the use of reason can be considered victims alongside minors.

The new law makes clear that adults can be rendered vulnerable to abuse even occasionally, as situations present themselves. That is significant given resistance in the Vatican to expanding its abuse rules to cover adults.

It states that a vulnerable person is “any person in a state of infirmity, physical or mental deficiency, or deprivation of personal liberty which, in fact, even occasionally, limits their ability to understand or to want or otherwise resist the offense.”

Francis originally set out the norms in 2019 as a response to the latest chapter in the decades-long crisis, focused on a cover-up exposed by a Pennsylvania grand jury report and the scandal over then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. Francis himself was implicated in that wave of the scandal, after he dismissed claims by victims of a notorious predator in Chile.

After realizing he had erred, Francis ordered up a wholescale review of the Chilean abuse dossier, summoned the presidents of all the world’s bishops conferences to Rome for a four-day summit on safeguarding and set in motion plans for a new law to hold senior churchmen to account for abuse and coverup, and to mandate that all cases be reported in-house.

The law and its update Saturday contain explicit norms for investigating bishops accused of abuse or cover-up — a direct response to the McCarrick case, given it was well-known in Vatican circles and in some U.S. church circles that he slept with his seminarians. The law contained precise timelines to initiate investigations if allegations were well-founded, and that has been retained with some modifications.

The law also mandates all church personnel to report allegations of clergy abuse in-house, though it refrains from mandating reporting to the police. The new law expands whistleblower protections and reaffirms the need to protect the reputation of those accused.

Survivors have long complained that the Vatican for decades turned a blind eye to bishops and religious superiors who covered up cases of abuse, moving predator priests around from parish to parish rather than reporting them to police. The 2019 law attempted to respond to those complaints, but victims have faulted the Holy See for continued secrecy about the investigations and outcomes.

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Latest in Ukraine: UK Says Russia Likely Conducting ‘More Defensive Operational Design’

New developments:

Transcript of Ukrainian president’s daily address: "The enemy must know: Ukraine won't forgive offenses against our people, won't forgive these deaths and injuries." – President Volodymyr Zelenskyy

The British Defense Ministry said Saturday in its daily intelligence report on Ukraine that Russia is likely conducting “a more defensive operational design after inconclusive results from its attempts to conduct a general offensive since January 2023” in its campaign in Ukraine.

Ukrainian troops have dug in at Bakhmut instead of pulling back. Some Western military experts said this tactic might be risky because the Ukrainians need to conserve forces for a counterattack.

However, according to the British ministry, the Russian assault in Bakhmut has “largely stalled … a result of extreme attrition of the Russian force.”

Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross says some 10,000 Ukrainian civilians, many who are older or have disabilities, were clinging on in grisly circumstances in Bakhmut and surrounding settlements.

“They are living in very dire conditions, spending almost the entire days in intense shelling in the [underground] shelters,” said Umar Khan of the ICRC, speaking to a news briefing via video link from Dnipro, Ukraine.

“All you see is people pushed to the very limits of their existence and survival and resilience.”

In its latest report on human rights abuses in the war, the United Nations confirmed thousands of civilian deaths as well as disappearances, torture and rape, mostly of Ukrainians in Russian-occupied areas. Russia denies carrying out atrocities in what it calls a “special military operation.”

U.S. senators from both parties urged the Biden administration Friday to share information that could assist the International Criminal Court as it pursues war crimes charges against Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The letter to President Joe Biden from Democrats Dick Durbin, Bob Menendez, Richard Blumenthal and Sheldon Whitehouse and Republicans Lindsey Graham and Thom Tillis noted that Congress passed legislation to give the administration more flexibility in assisting the ICC.

“Knowing of your support for the important cause of accountability in Ukraine we urge you to move forward expeditiously with support to the ICC’s work so that Putin and others around him know in no uncertain terms that accountability and justice for their crimes are forthcoming,” the letter said.

Although the United States is not a party to the ICC, Biden said last week that Putin has clearly committed war crimes, adding that the ICC warrant was justified.

Last week, the court issued an arrest warrant for Putin, accusing him of the war crime of illegally deporting hundreds of children from Ukraine. The legal move will obligate the court’s 123 member states to arrest Putin and transfer him to The Hague for trial if he sets foot in their territory.

Firing on Donbas

Russian forces fired a barrage of missile strikes Friday on northern and southern sections of the front line in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region.

At least 10 civilians were killed and 20 were wounded in several parts of Ukraine by Russian missile strikes, according to regional officials. Five people died in Kostiantynivka, in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk province, when a Russian missile hit an aid station.

In his nightly video address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy mentioned these attacks, saying, “The enemy must know: Ukraine won’t forgive offenses against our people, won’t forgive these deaths and injuries. All Russian terrorists will be defeated.”

Officials in Kyiv said the Russians used S-300 anti-aircraft missiles in the attacks. According to Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko, the Russians targeted the Center for the Registration of Homeless Persons, which recently served as an “invincibility point” where war-stricken residents could warm up, recharge their cellphones, and get food. Five refugees lived in the destroyed wing at the time of the attack.

Russian forces also used air-launched missiles, exploding drones and gliding bombs to attack several regions, Ukraine air force spokesperson Yurii Ihnat said.

Airstrikes and rocket and artillery attacks killed two civilians and wounded nine overnight in the town of Bilopillia in Sumy province, according to officials in the northeastern region. In southern Ukraine, Russian shelling killed one person in the city of Kherson.

Ukrainian forces are poised for a spring counteroffensive to dislodge Russian troops from occupied areas as warmer weather sets in and new weapons, including tanks, come in from the West.

Nuclear warning

Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s former president and now deputy head of the country’s Security Council, said its forces were ready to repel a counterattack.

“Our General Staff is assessing all that,” he said. Medvedev asserted that any Ukrainian attempt to take Crimea, which Russia illegally annexed in 2014, could trigger a nuclear response from Moscow.

“An attempt to split part of the state away means an encroachment at the very existence of the state,” he said. “Quite obviously, it warrants the use of any weapons. I hope our ‘friends’ across the ocean realize that.”

Medvedev’s warning echoes Russia’s security doctrine on the use of nuclear weapons in response to a nuclear attack or one with conventional weapons that threatens “the very existence of the Russian state.”

Additionally, Medvedev said Western weapons, such as the U.S.-made Patriot air defense missile systems supplied to Ukraine, could be targeted. Russian officials claim that foreign instructors stationed in Ukraine to train Ukrainian soldiers would also be targeted.

“If Patriot or other weapons are delivered to the territory of Ukraine along with foreign experts, they certainly make legitimate targets, which must be destroyed,” Medvedev said in a video posted to his messaging app channel. “They are combatants, they are the enemies of our state, and they must be destroyed.”

Kyiv denies this assertion and says soldiers are receiving their training in the U.S.

Medvedev disclosed that the Kremlin wants to create a “sanitary cordon” of up to 100 kilometers around Russian-held areas, so that short- and medium-range weapons can’t hit them.

He asserted that Moscow may even try to grab a chunk of Ukrainian territory stretching all the way to the Polish border.

Nordic air defense

To counter the rising threat from Russia, air force commanders from Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark said Friday they have signed a letter of intent to create a unified Nordic air defense.

Their aim is to operate jointly based on known ways of operating under NATO, according to statements by the four countries’ armed forces.

The move to integrate the air forces was triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February last year, commander of the Danish air force, Major General Jan Dam, told Reuters.

Some material in this report came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

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Unrest in France Prompts Postponement of King Charles III Visit

Violent pension reform protests in France led to the postponement Friday of British King Charles III’s trip to the country, highlighting the growing security and political problems faced by President Emmanuel Macron.

The French president condemned the latest burst of violence overnight, while a human rights watchdog criticized the “excessive use of force” by police during recent demonstrations.

King Charles’ first foreign trip as monarch had been intended to highlight warming Franco-British relations. Instead, it has underlined the severity of demonstrations engulfing Britain’s neighbor just 10 months into Macron’s second term.

Uproar over legislation to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 years of age was enflamed when Macron exercised a controversial executive power to push the plan through parliament without a vote last week.

With fresh strikes expected Tuesday on what would have been the second day of the king’s tour, Macron asked for the postponement of the royal visit, a British government spokesperson said.

The decision was made “to welcome His Majesty King Charles III in conditions which reflect our friendly relations,” Macron’s office said.

Police arrested more than 450 people Thursday, according to interior ministry figures.

In addition, 441 members of the security forces were injured on the most violent day of protests since the start of the year.

More than 900 fires were lit around Paris, with anarchist groups blamed for setting uncollected rubbish ablaze and smashing shop windows, leading to frequent clashes with riot police.

But rights groups, magistrates and left-wing politicians have also denounced alleged police brutality in recent days.

The Council of Europe — the continent’s leading human rights watchdog — warned that sporadic acts of violence “cannot justify excessive use of force by agents of the state” or “deprive peaceful protesters of their right to freedom of assembly.”

More than a million

More than a million people marched in France on Thursday, according to official estimates, as the protest movement was reinvigorated by Macron’s refusal to back down over the past week.

In the northeast city of Rennes, regional officials denied claims by union leaders that police had deliberately targeted them with tear gas and a water cannon during Thursday’s protests.

In Bordeaux, protesters set fire to the ancient wooden entrance to the city hall Thursday. King Charles had been set to visit the southwestern city Tuesday, after a day in Paris.

With protesters threatening to disrupt the royal visit and the streets of the capital strewn with rubbish because of a strike by waste collectors, some feel the trip’s postponement will avoid further embarrassment for France.

Speaking to reporters during a trip to Brussels on Friday, Macron said discussions over rescheduling the visit could take place in the coming months.

“We have proposed that at the beginning of the summer, depending on our respective agendas, we can arrange a new state visit,” he said.

He also insisted that Paris “would not give in to the violence.”

“I condemn the violence and offer my full support to the security forces who worked in an exemplary manner.”

Way out?

It remains unclear how the government will defuse a crisis that comes just four years after the “Yellow Vest” demonstrations rocked the country.

“Everything depends on one man who is a prisoner of the political situation,” political scientist Bastien Francois from the Sorbonne University in Paris told AFP.

The leader of the moderate CFDT union, Laurent Berger, said Friday he had spoken to an aide to the president and suggested a pause on implementing the pensions law for six months while opening a channel for negotiations.

“It’s the moment to say, ‘Listen, let’s put things on pause, let’s wait six months,'” Berger told RTL radio. “It would calm things down.”

While France’s Constitutional Court still needs to give the final word on the reform, Macron said in a televised interview Wednesday that the changes needed to “come into force by the end of the year.”

Blockades of oil refineries by striking workers continued on Friday, but the energy transition ministry said it had requisitioned enough workers to restart production at one of these and resume fuel supply to the capital.

About 15% of gas stations were still out of at least one fuel by Friday morning, according to an analysis of public data by AFP.

Some flights have been canceled until at least Wednesday at airports around the country due to a strike by air traffic controllers.

Police and protesters will face off again Saturday, and not just at demonstrations over the pension reform.

At Saint Solines, central France, thousands of people are expected at a protest against the deployment of new water-storage infrastructure for agricultural irrigation, despite an official ban on the gathering.

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Ukrainian Mother Faces Worst Fear: Child Deported to Russia

According to Ukrainian officials, more than 16,000 Ukrainian children have been forcibly deported to Russia or Russian-controlled Ukrainian territories. As of March 24, only 324 have been returned, including Olena Dudnik’s son, Andriy. Lesia Bakalets reports on one mother’s ordeal.

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