Belarus holds Victory Day parade despite coronavirus threat | AFP

Thousands of troops parade before crowds of spectators in Minsk to mark 75 years since the defeat of Nazi Germany as Belarus holds Victory Day celebrations despite the coronavirus pandemic. Neighbouring Russia cancelled its Victory Day parade over the pandemic and Belarus is the only ex-Soviet country with reported cases to hold the annual event.

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Pompeo pledges US support during Minsk visit

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Saturday the US was seeking to further strengthen relations with Belarus, as ties between the former Soviet republic and Russia become increasingly strained. (Feb. 1)

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After spending winter in a fridge, Minsk bats return to the wild

In a rescue centre in ex-Soviet Belarus, a group of bats wake up and are released into the wild after spending the winter months hibernating inside a fridge. Volunteers at the centre tuck the bats up inside cloth bags in an ordinary domestic fridge — which gives them just the right amount of moisture and cold for a good winter’s sleep. The Kozhanopolis centre in the capital Minsk takes in bats that are found by members of the public after struggling to find a safe place to hibernate.

‘One of a kind’: Soviet WWII war machines restored by Belarusian ‘tank-hunters’

The Yakushev family from Belarus is in the business of restoring decade-old Soviet and German tanks, footage filmed in Minsk on Saturday shows. According to Vladimir Yakushev, 20 years ago he was working as a collective farm engineer and was asked to find and lift up a tank that had been stuck in the swamp since 1942.

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Belarusian Men Race Half-Naked in Frigid Temps

Shirtless men participated in the so called ‘Real Man Race’ in freezing temperatures in Minsk on Friday. The men chose to compete in either a 1K or 3K course as temperatures dipped to below 14 degrees Fahrenheit in the Belarusian capital. (Feb. 24)

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Belarus ‘real men’ run shirtless in sub-zero temperatures

Belarus celebrates its ‘Day of the Defender of the Fatherland’ with nearly 1,000 men taking part in the ‘Real Man Race’ in the center of Minsk. The participants run shirtless in temperatures of minus 10 Celsius, with a choice between 1km and 3km courses, and at the end of the race they all receive medals from the Belarusian Athletics Federation.

RAW: Putin arrives at Zapad 2017 war games, watches joint exercises

Russian President Putin is touring a Leningrad region military range where Belarusian troops are being hosted for the Zapad 2017 drills – criticized by some neighboring countries despite Moscow and Minsk’s transparency and invitations given to observers.

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Emmanuel Macron meets Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko

French President Emmanuel Macron met his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko on Monday at the Elysée Palace in Paris, to discuss the 2015 Minsk peace agreements between Kiev and the pro-Russian rebels. IMAGES

Mad Max-style? Cars meet in mortal combat during Minsk survival race

A survival car race dubbed ‘Battle of Cars 2017’ took place in Minsk, Belarus. More than 30 crews from Belarus, Russia, and Norway took part in the competition.

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Moo-ving too fast? Cow falls from truck on city road in Belarus

Dashcam footage captured the moment an unfortunate cow fell off the back of a truck being driven down a highway in Minsk on Wednesday. After cow calmly got back on its feet as traffic passed it. According to local reports, the driver of the truck had even worse luck attempting to re-capture the runaway cow and the Ministry of Emergency Situations was called in to provide assistance. Eventually the animal was tied to a tree and returned to the vehicle.

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Belarus opposition protest: Several dozen detained at unauthorized ‘Freedom Day’ rally in Minsk

Dozens of protesters have been detained following an unauthorized opposition protest, dubbed ‘Freedom Day,’ in Belarus’ capital, Minsk.
About 500 people attempted to reach the gathering point – the Belarus Academy of Sciences – but were blocked by police.

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Hapless Robber: Cashier’s ‘stern reprimand’ drives off would-be theif in Belarus

A 24-year-old cashier said she was too shocked to think clearly when she was held at gunpoint by a drunk man who tried to rob the pawn shop where she works in Minsk, Belarus.

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Ukraine’s brutal war is still raging on after a failed ceasefire

At the top of the agenda during last week’s NATO Summit in Warsaw was Russian aggression against the West. In response to the ongoing conflict between Russian-backed separatists and the Ukrainian Armed Forces, NATO reiterated their support of Ukraine’s fight against Russian advancement in the east, and committed to a comprehensive assistance package.

But on the ground, the conflict rages on. Despite a Minsk ceasefire agreement, signed in 2014, and again in 2015, fighting continues to intensify along the contact line.

A recent spike in violence that included heavy shelling, mortaring, and small arms has made the past few months particularly bloody, with casualties becoming an almost daily occurrence. Despite a complete failure to implement any ceasefire, NATO insisted the Minsk agreement was still the way to go.

VICE News traveled to Avdiivka, the hottest point of contact in the conflict, where Ukrainian military and civilians have both lost faith in the so-called ceasefire and remain trapped in a brutal war.

Watch “Shell-Shocked: Ukraine’s Trauma” – http://bit.ly/1XiydJd

Read “NATO is having an existential crisis” – http://bit.ly/29QKmCJ

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The War May Be Over: Russian Roulette (Dispatch 110)

It’s been a few months since VICE News has been in eastern Ukraine, and violence in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions has died down — suggesting that the Minsk ceasefire deal is finally sticking.

VICE News correspondent Simon Ostrovsky travels from what was once the front line in Luhansk to surrounding towns that were once under constant bombardment to speak with soldiers, government officials, and residents about their hopes for the future.

Watch: Rebel Soldiers Hold the Buffer Zone: Russian Roulette (Dispatch 109) – http://bit.ly/1iPdgWm

Watch: On The DNR Frontline: Ukraine’s Failed Ceasefire (Part 1) – http://bit.ly/1h5LkMI

Read: Ukraine’s President Bans Journalists From The Country — Then Changes His Mind – http://bit.ly/1jg9Qf0

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The Aftermath of the Battle for Marinka (Extra Scene from ‘Ukraine’s Failed Ceasefire’)

On June 3, forces of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) attacked the Ukrainian-controlled town of Marinka, around half a mile west of the rebel stronghold of Donetsk. The assault came three months after the signing of the second ceasefire, agreed in Minsk between the DNR and the Ukrainian government after the collapse of the first truce in early January.

This ceasefire though, much like the first, failed to bring an end to the fighting. The attack on Marinka was the first large-scale assault on a Ukrainian-held town since February, and led many to believe a feared DNR summer offensive had begun. The assault failed, however, after the Ukrainian forces swiftly counter-attacked and forced the DNR to retreat — with both sides blaming each other for the escalation.

In this extra scene from ‘Ukraine’s Failed Ceasefire,’ VICE News met DNR soldiers in the trenches and talked to Ukrainian forces to find out more about the attack on Marinka.

Watch “On The DNR Frontline: Ukraine’s Failed Ceasefire (Part 1)” – http://bit.ly/1JbwDhf

Watch “Holding the Line for Another DNR Assault: Ukraine’s Failed Ceasefire (Part 2)” – http://bit.ly/1TLM0D7

Read “In Photos: On the Frontlines of Ukraine’s Failed Ceasefire” – http://bit.ly/1HRglJD

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Inspecting the Ceasefire in Shyrokyne: Russian Roulette (Dispatch 105)

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OCSE) Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine has been in Shyrokyne, in the Donetsk region, observing the state of the current ceasefire between the government in Kiev and eastern separatists.

The fighting in Shyrokyne, located between pro-Russia and Ukrainian forces, is ongoing, despite the signing of the Minsk ceasefire agreement by both sides in February.

In this dispatch, VICE News correspondent Simon Ostrovsky follows the OCSE as it monitors the ceasefire in the contested area.

Watch “Easter Artillery Fire: Russian Roulette (Dispatch 104)” – http://bit.ly/1OfpfES

Watch “Should the US Send Lethal Aid to Ukraine?” – http://bit.ly/1CxBCJ5

In Photos: One Year Later, a Look at the Forming of the Donetsk People’s Republic – http://bit.ly/1CGzmwP

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Inside Rebel-Held Uglegorsk: Russian Roulette (Dispatch 94)

Despite the recent Minsk peace agreement, fighting is continuing in eastern Ukraine, with pro-Russia separatists (DNR) and Ukrainian forces engaging in combat around the town of Debaltseve, which was encircled by the DNR. The nearby town of Uglegorsk, which was captured by the rebels during their push towards Debaltseve last week, has been battered by artillery shelling, with the nearly deserted streets bearing the scars of fierce fighting.

VICE News crossed into the DNR-held territory of Uglegorsk on the eve of the February 15 ceasefire to speak with soldiers and residents about the prospect of a truce.

Watch: “Flying Drones with the Dnipro Battalion: Russian Roulette (Dispatch 93)” – http://bit.ly/17f4FWp

Read: “Escape from Debaltseve: How One Convoy Made It Out of Ukraine’s Besieged City” – http://bit.ly/1FoOcO9

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Flying Drones with the Dnipro Battalion: Russian Roulette (Dispatch 93)

Prior to the ceasefire agreement reached in Minsk on Thursday, the winter offensive launched by the Russian backed separatists of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) had claimed the lives of at least 220 soldiers and civilians.

As ceasefire talks were being discussed, there were reports of the DNR reinforcing their positions around the Ukrainian-controlled city of Mariupol. The capture of Mariupol is vital to the DNR’s dreams of achieving statehood, with its port providing a link to the outside world.

In this dispatch, VICE News travels to the village of Chermalyk, located 20 miles north of Mariupol, where Ukrainian forces are preparing the defense of the city and using volunteer-made drones to gather intelligence on separatist positions.

Watch “Running Supplies With the Dudayev Battalion: Russian Roulette (Dispatch 92)“ – http://bit.ly/1Dv7HSR

Read “Ukraine Ceasefire Ignored as Fierce Battle for Debaltseve Continues to Rage” – http://bit.ly/1DVed5M

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Kiev & Eastern Ukrainian Militias Carry Out ‘All For All’ POW Exchange

The largest prisoner exchange since the start of the Ukraine conflict has been carried out in the Donbass region. It was agreed by Kiev and eastern Ukrainian militias during a Minsk meeting on Wednesday.

Full story: http://fedgeno.com/links/kiev-eastern-ukrainian-militias-carry-out-all-for-all-pow-exchange

Elections Held in Separatist-Controlled Ukraine: Russian Roulette (Dispatch 83)

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On Sunday, rebels in eastern Ukraine held their first ever elections, voting for the incumbent leader Alexander Zakharchenko to continue to run the territory under separatist control.

With few observers present to verify the fairness of the voting, which itself was hastily organized, the election wasn’t widely recognized. Russia was the only major power to recognize the vote as legitimate, while Ukraine and its allies in the West declared the poll to be a violation of a negotiated agreement reached in Minsk.

VICE News correspondent Simon Ostrovsky spoke with the rebel leader Zakharchenko as he cast his vote in Donetsk, and visited polling stations across the country’s war-torn east to find out what elections look like in a breakaway republic.

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Click to watch “Tensions Surround Ukrainian Parliamentary Elections: Russian Roulette (Dispatch 82)” – http://bit.ly/1x3ALwG

Check out “Ukrainian President Threatens to Scrap Special Status for Eastern Regions After Rebel ‘Elections'” – http://bit.ly/13EoBAE

Click to watch “The Donetsk People’s Republic” – http://bit.ly/1wLO6vN

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Residents at Risk as Ceasefire Crumbles: Russian Roulette (Dispatch 78)

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On September 5, the Ukrainian government and the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) came to a ceasefire agreement after talks were held in Minsk, Belarus. But before the ceasefire went into effect that evening, both sides launched attacks on each other. The DNR assaulted Ukrainian positions in the city of Mariupol, while the Ukrainians attacked DNR checkpoints on the road leading from Mariupol to Donetsk.

VICE News headed north of Donetsk to the town of Yasynuvata to check on reports that the town had come under fresh artillery fire that left residents living in their basements and without basic amenities.

As the ceasefire held the next day, civilians in the village of Telmenovo were picking through the ruins of their homes, which were hit by shelling in the hours before the ceasefire began. We also traveled to Novoazovsk to speak with a local DNR commander who had little faith the ceasefire would hold for long.

War in Peace: Divided East Ukraine Braces As Ceasefire Crumbles: http://bit.ly/1xzUpnc

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Check out “Crimea: A Look Inside the New Russian Territory” – http://bit.ly/1mjdFuH

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