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Russia holds referendum in occupied Ukraine regions

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Russia-backed separatists in Eastern Ukraine have concluded a five-day referendum voting to join Russia.

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In what Ukraine and its allies describe as illegitimate and a sham, voting was hastily arranged in four areas: Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhia and Kherson which make up about 15 per cent of Ukrainian territory.

According to Al Jazeera, Russian authorities incharge of the voting said the majority of the people in the region voted to join Russia. Donetsk, 99.2 per cent; Luhansk, 98.4 per cent; Zaporizhia, 93.1 per cent; Kherson, above 87 per cent.

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Reports noted that ballot boxes were taken from house to house.

The voting exercise creates a legal pretext for Russia to annex parts of Ukraine after seven months of war and counting. Russia deployed the same technique in 2014 when it annexed Crimea.

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Just before launching its attack on Ukraine, Russia recognised separatist Donetsk and Luhansk as independent states. Zaporizhia and Kherson have yet to be recognised as independent states.

After the annexation is formally announced, any attempts by Ukraine to reclaim these regions will be interpreted as an attack on Russia.

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Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, last week said he was willing to use nuclear weapons to defend the “territorial integrity” of Russia.

UN Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo told the Security Council meeting held after the voting was concluded that the body “remains fully committed” to Ukraine’s territorial integrity “within its internationally recognised borders”.

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A Russian legislator, Valentina Matviyenko, said if the vote results were favourable, Russia could consider annexing the four regions on October 4, three days before Putin celebrates his 70th birthday.

Chiamaka Okafor is a reporter at Premium Times in partnership with Report for the World, which matches local newsrooms with talented emerging journalists to report on under-covered issues around the globe.

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Foreign

Mother of 5 who stole £111k from boss forcing her to sell home is ordered to pay back just £1

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A mum-of-five who stole £111,000 from a hotel owne that gave her a job and threatened to take them to an employment tribunal for holiday pay has been jailed and ordered to pay back £1.

Charlotte Lowery, 36, was given the job at the Tankerville Arms Hotel, in Wooler, Northumberland, by Anne Park, 71, in 2016.

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Mrs Park gave the mum a chance to look after the finances, but Lowery betrayed the trust placed in her by stealing huge sums to fund her online gambling habit, Newcastle Crown Court heard.

The hotel owner has been left devastated and is now being forced to sell her home to make up for the missing finances, it was said.

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The court also heard how her hopes of retiring and leaving a thriving business to her sons are in ruins.

Lowery of Lesbury, Alnwick, has been jailed for theft, ChronicleLive reports.

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Mrs Park had previously employed Lowery’s mum and gave the 36-year-old a chance despite having some personal problems.
Lowery’s role initially involved general duties in the hotel but when the manager left Lowery’s responsibilities increased and involved looking after wages and financial matters and she was “highly trusted”.

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Ramaphosa’s Future In Balance Over South Africa ‘Farmgate’ Scandal

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Cyril Ramaphosa’s future as South African president hung in the balance on Thursday, as his office said he was exploring options after a report found evidence he may have committed misconduct over a stash of cash stolen from his game farm.

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The report by a panel of experts appointed by the speaker of parliament centred on allegations that thieves had found millions of dollars of cash stuffed into furniture in the millionaire president’s Phala Phala game farm in 2020 and taken it, a theft which only came to light in June.

A person unwraps the report ahead of handing it over to the speaker of parliament on whether or not South African president Cyril Ramaphosa should face an impeachment inquiry over the Phala Phala saga in Cape Town, South Africa, November 30, 2022

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The theft has raised questions about how Ramaphosa, who came to power on the promise to fight graft, acquired the money and whether he declared it.

The president has said a much smaller amount of money – the proceeds of game sales – was taken and that he reported the crime when he heard about it. He has denied any wrongdoing and has not been charged with any crimes.

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His spokesman said Ramaphosa had “all options on the table” and was still consulting about the report’s recommendations. He apologised for earlier comments that suggested Ramaphosa might make a statement on Thursday.

The rand fell more than 4% against the dollar before paring losses, and South Africa’s sovereign dollar bonds dropped sharply on speculation Ramaphosa would leave his post.

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The country’s biggest opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, has called for an early election and the report has plunged the governing African National Congress (ANC) into crisis.

It also threatens Ramaphosa’s efforts to rekindle investor confidence in Africa’s most industrialised economy, after a decade of corruption scandals under former president Jacob Zuma.

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The ANC said its executive committee would meet to discuss the panel report on Friday morning, delaying an earlier plan to meet on Thursday.

South Africa’s foreign minister Naledi Pandor called the panel’s report “a very troubling moment” in an interview at the Reuters NEXT conference, and two cabinet ministers called for Ramaphosa to resign.

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A spokesperson for elite police unit the Hawks said its investigation into the theft at Ramaphosa’s farm was continuing, while the central bank said it did not comment on exchange control investigations.

The media has dubbed the affair “farmgate”.

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The ANC is set to hold an elective conference later this month that will decide if Ramaphosa gets to run for a second term on the ANC ticket at a 2024 election.

“I think the president has to step aside now and answer to the case,” Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Zuma’s ex-wife, who narrowly lost the ANC’s 2017 leadership contest to Ramaphosa, wrote on Twitter late on Wednesday.

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Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, who has campaigned to be elected ANC leader this month, wrote: “CR MUST RESIGN NOW!”

Ramaphosa delayed a scheduled appearance in parliament to answer questions from lawmakers on Thursday, asking the chairperson of parliament’s upper house for time to “carefully consider … the next course of action to be taken,” a statement from parliament said.

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The panel’s recommendations are not binding on lawmakers who are set to debate the report on December 6. The ANC holds a majority of seats in the assembly.

If lawmakers decide to forge ahead with an impeachment process, the next stage would be the creation of an impeachment committee with far greater powers – including that of subpoena – than the panel of experts appointed by the speaker.

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That committee would have the power to recommend Ramaphosa be removed from office, a decision which parliament would then have to take.

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Married teacher had $ex with former pupil at marital home when his wife was away

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A married teacher had an affair with an ex- pupil and pressured her to ‘get him lots of drugs’.

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Robin Kyne, now 54, was a married drama teacher and later assistant principal, at the then Regent College from 2004 to 2010. During this time he made contact with a pupil he later had a relationship with when she left the school.

When Kyne was working for Leicester City Council in 2019 a pupil came forward about the relationship that took place in 2007.

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After she left college messages between them “very quickly became graphic and sexual in nature”, LeicestershireLive reported.

It became physical in September 2007 and a month later they had sex for the first time.

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As well as that, Kyne ‘asked and/or pressured’ the pupil into buying and transporting drugs for him. He threatened to cancel on her or break up with her if she didn’t.

During his time at the college, when she was a student, the inappropriate behaviour began during drama lessons.

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Kyne took pupils’ phone numbers claiming he wanted to contact them about homework. But she said that whilst he did not text regularly, it was never about homework.

The contact increased when she left college and it was then it became sexually graphic in nature.

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When it became physical, Kyne would have sex with the pupil when his wife was away.

Following the allegations, Kyne’s case was brought before a panel at the Teaching Regulation Agency who made the decision to ban him from teaching for life.

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They received 467 pages of messages between Kyne and the pupil. In one of the messages, Kyne admitted: “You know I’ve always had a bit of a crush on you”.

Other messages include the teacher admitting “there were times when I could have just pulled you behind the curtains in the Studio”, but says he “never would have” as “that would have crossed the line”.

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Mr Kyne then sent her further messages which were sexual in nature before it turned physical after he met up with her in September 2007.

However, the pupil said in her witness statement that the pair had kissed prior to the meeting – but the information on the document was redacted by the TRA. The panel then heard that, in or around October 2007, Mr Kyne had sex with the student.

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The document reads: “When Pupil A came back to [REDACTED], she would visit his house when his wife was away. Pupil A recalled that they first had sexual intercourse in October 2007.”

It was after this that Kyne began pressuring the pupil into buying and moving drugs for him.

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This began as she started university and the panel found Kyne’s behaviour was a “serious departure from the personal and professional conduct elements of the Teachers’ Standards”.

He was also found guilty of misconduct affecting the safeguarding and well-being of pupils.

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They also said his actions were an abuse of trust of his professional position to have a romantic or sexual relationship with a pupil or former pupil, and sexual misconduct involving sexually motivated actions that exploit the trust and influence of his professional position.

The panel added that Mr Kyne’s actions were “deliberate” as well as being “calculated and motivated”.

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As a result of his actions, the panel decided to ban Mr Kyne from teaching indefinitely, stopping him from teaching in any school, sixth form college, youth accommodations, or children’s homes, and will be unable to reapply to teach in the future.

The Wyggeston & Queen Elizabeth I College, which now runs the former Regent College, has been approached for comment.

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