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Who are the four men charged with downing of MH17?

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International investigators have charged three Russians and one Ukrainian with murder over the 2014 shooting down of flight MH17 above rebel-held eastern Ukraine in which 298 people were killed.

Here are the four suspects named by the Dutch-led team on Wednesday.

– Igor Girkin –

Igor Girkin — also known by his pseudonym “Strelkov” — is the most high-profile suspect.

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The former Russian intelligence agent with fighting experience from Chechnya to Yugoslavia claims to kick started the war in East Ukraine as the commander of pro-Moscow fighters that captured key locations around the region.

In 2014 Girkin ruled the then rebel stronghold of Slavyansk with an iron fist, with executions for petty theft reportedly carried out under his rule.

But he was squeezed out of the separatist leadership later that year under mysterious conditions and returned to Russia, where he lost all influence and reportedly had financial difficulties.

On Wednesday, the historical re-enactment fan denied pro-Russian separatists were behind the missile attack.

“I can only say that rebels did not shoot down the Boeing,” he told the Interfax news agency.

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He is thought to be living in Moscow.

– Sergei Dubinsky –

Sergei Dubinsky, nicknamed “Khmury”, reportedly met Girkin when he fought in the First Chechen War in the mid-1990s. He is also a veteran of the 1980s Soviet war in Afghanistan.

At the time of the downing of the plane, Dubinsky was allegedly serving as the military intelligence chief of the separatists in eastern Ukraine.

He has also been linked to Russia’s GRU intelligence service.

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According to the independent Bellingcat website, Dubinsky had “requested the delivery of a battle-ready BUK missile launcher” — the type of missile investigators said downed the plane.

The website also said Dubinky was “involved in the removal of the BUK back to Russia after the downing of MH17.”

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He reportedly resides in Rostov-on-Don, his native city in southern Russia near the border with Ukraine.

– Oleg Pulatov –

Nicknamed “Gyurza”, after a viper snake, Oleg Pulatov is a former Russian army officer.

In the summer of 2014 he was one of Dubinsky’s deputies at the heart of the separatist military leadership.

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He allegedly helped transport the BUK system to Ukraine and, after the downing of the plane, helped ensure the safety of the area where the MH17 debris fell.

– Leonid Kharchenko –

Ukrainian citizen Leonid Kharchenko, nicknamed “Krot”, was also linked to the separatist leadership when the plane was downed.

According to Bellingcat, he was involved in “securing the BUK missile launcher near the launch site.” The website also reported that Kharchenko could have coordinated the transport of the missile launcher from the main city in separatist eastern Ukraine, Donetsk.

According to Ukrainian media, Kharchenko is wanted by Kiev for the siege of government buildings and his role in helping the rebels.

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In an interview published in 2015 by a separatist news agency, he called authorities in Kiev a “fascist regime” that is built on a “Nazi” ideology.

Ukrainian security services told AFP Wednesday that they had “no information” on Kharchenko’s whereabouts or whether he was still alive.

 

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‘I think I made a mistake’: Patient who thought pandemic was a ‘hoax’ dies after going to ‘COVID party’

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According to WOAI, a patient in San Antonio, Texas in their 30s has died after going to a "COVID party" — a gathering of people who intentionally expose themselves to coronavirus to see for themselves whether the virus is real.

Per Methodist Healthcare Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jane Appleby, the patient's final words to the nurse were, "I think I made a mistake, I thought this was a hoax, but it’s not."

“It doesn’t discriminate and none of us are invincible,” warned Appleby. “I don’t want to be an alarmist and we’re just trying to share some real-world examples to help our community realize that this virus is very serious and can spread easily.”

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2020 Election

Election experts warn of November disaster

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After a presidential primary season plagued by long lines, confusion over mail-in voting and malfunctioning equipment, election experts are increasingly concerned about the resiliency of American democracy in the face of a global pandemic.

With four months until the presidential election, the litany of unresolved issues could block some voters from casting ballots and lead many citizens to distrust the outcome of one of the most pivotal races of their lifetimes.

There is widespread concern among voting activists, experts and elections officials that it will take further federal investment in local election systems, massive voter education campaigns and election administrators’ ingenuity to prevent a disaster come November.

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Trump balked at full pardon for Roger Stone over fears of Justice Department ‘backlash’: CNN legal analyst

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President Donald Trump's former political strategist Roger Stone claims that he asked for a commutation of his prison sentence, rather than a full pardon, because a pardon would have implied an acknowledgement of guilt whereas a commutation would still allow him to seek for the original conviction to be thrown out.

But on CNN Saturday, criminal defense attorney Page Pate suggested it may have played out differently: Stone may have actually wanted a full pardon, but Trump was spooked out of offering one.

"Page, this situation, I guess, is not entirely surprising. It's been signaled for some time," said correspondent Abby Phillip. "But what is different about this, I think a lot of people were expecting a pardon here. Roger Stone said he wanted his sentence commuted because he didn't want to admit guilt. What is the significance of that?"

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