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Путин и Памфилова обсудили тему иноагентов | В России | Политика

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Глава ЦИК РФ Элла Памфилова на встрече с Владимиром Путиным заявила, что никто из иностранных агентов, участвовавших в осенних выборах, не был поражён в правах, сообщает РИА Новости.

«Поскольку сейчас на слуху тема иностранных агентов, я хотела бы сказать, что на этих выборах вообще никто из них не был поражён в правах. В том числе у нас был кандидат один на федеральном уровне, который выполняет функции иностранного агента или аффилирован с организацией. В регионах шесть человек участвовали наряду со всеми остальными», – цитирует агентство слова главы Центризбиркома.

В ответ президент подчеркнул, что закон об иноагентах должен отвечать тем целям, ради которых он принят и не нарушать права граждан.

«Я знаю вашу позицию, которая заключается в том, чтобы внимательно посмотреть, проанализировать практику применения этого закона, внести там определённые коррективы», – отметил глава государства.

Памфилова согласилась с ним, отметив, что закон необходимо упорядочить, чтобы «он был более эффективный и точечный, целенаправленный, адресный» и «не ударял незаслуженно по тем, кто не заслуживает».

Также сегодня Памфилова, обсуждая с Путиным прошедшие в сентябре выборы, заявила, что система электронного голосования является очень перспективной.

Ранее пресс-секретарь президента РФ Дмитрий Песков подтвердил приглашение СМИ-иноагентов на пресс-конференцию Путина. Мероприятие состоится в Манеже 23 декабря.

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Full text of Pope Francis' speech at the ceremony with Cypriot authorities

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Mr President of the Republic, Members of Government and of the Diplomatic Corps, Distinguished Religious and Civil Authorities, Illustrious Representatives of Society and the World of Culture, Ladies and Gentlemen, I greet you most cordially and I am most pleased to be present among you. I thank you, Mr President, for the welcome you have offered me in the name of the entire population. I have come as a pilgrim to a country geographically small, but historically great; to an island that down the centuries has not isolated peoples but brought them together; to a land whose borders are the sea; to a place that is the eastern gate of Europe and the western gate of the Middle East. You are an open door, a harbour that unites. Cyprus, as a crossroads of civilizations, has an innate vocation to encounter, favoured by the welcoming character of the Cypriot people.

We have just paid homage to the first President of this Republic, Archbishop Makarios, and by that gesture, I wished to render homage to all its citizens. His name, “Makarios”, reminds us of the opening of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount: the Beatitudes (cf. Mk 5:3-12). Who is makarios, truly blessed, according to the Christian faith to which this land is inseparably bound? Everyone can be blessed, and blessed are above all the poor in spirit, those who have experienced suffered in their lives, those who live in meekness and mercy, all those who without pretense practice justice and are peacemakers. The Beatitudes, dear friends, are the perennial charter of Christianity. When they are lived out, the Gospel becomes youthful and fills society with fresh hope. The Beatitudes are the compass that, in every latitude, indicates the routes that Christians must take in the voyage of life.

Precisely from this place, where Europe and the East meet, there began the first great inculturation of the Gospel on this continent. I am deeply moved to be able to retrace the steps of the great missionaries of the early Church, particularly Saints Paul, Barnabas and Mark. So here I am, a pilgrim in your midst, to walk with you, dear Cypriots, all of you, in the desire that the good news of the Gospel may bring from here to Europe a message of joy, under the banner of the Beatitudes. For what the earliest Christians gave to the world with the gentle power of the Spirit was an unprecedented message of beauty. It was the amazing newness of the Beatitudes, addressed to everyone, that won hearts and bestowed freedom upon many. This country has inherited a particular responsibility in that regard, namely, to be a messenger of beauty among the continents.

Cyprus radiates a natural beauty that must be protected and preserved by suitable environmental policies, adopted in concert with its neighbours. A beauty that is evident as well in its architecture, its art, especially its sacred art, and its religious crafts, and its many archaeological treasures. To draw an image from the sea all around us, I would even say that this island, small in size, represents a pearl of great price in the heart of the Mediterranean.

A pearl in fact becomes what it is, because it takes shape over time. It takes years for its various layers to become compact and give it lustre. So too, the beauty of this land comes from the cultures which over the centuries have met and blended here. Today too, the light of Cyprus is richly variegated. Many peoples and nations have contributed different shades and tints to this people. I think too of the presence of many immigrants: percentagewise, more than any other country of the European Union. To preserve the multicolored and multifaceted beauty of the whole is no easy thing. As in the formation of a pearl, it takes time and patience; it demands a broad vision capable of embracing a variety of cultures and looking to the future with foresight. I think in this regard of the importance of protecting and supporting all the members of society, especially those who are statistically a minority. I think too of the various Catholic agencies that would benefit from a suitable institutional recognition, so that the contribution they make to society through their activities, particularly their educational and charitable works, can be clearly defined from the legal standpoint.

A pearl develops its beauty in situations of difficulty. It is born in obscurity, when the oyster “suffers” after experiencing an unexpected threat to its safety, such as a grain of sand that irritates it. To protect itself, it reacts by assimilating the thing that wounded it: it encloses the foreign body that endangers it and makes it into something beautiful: a pearl. The pearl of Cyprus has been darkened by the pandemic, which has prevented many visitors from visiting it and seeing its beauty; here, as in other places, this has aggravated the effects of the financial and economic crisis. In this period of recovery, however, it will not be anxious efforts to recover what was lost that will ensure and consolidate growth, but the commitment to promote the recovery of society, especially through a decisive fight against corruption and everything that violates the dignity of the person; here I think, for example, of the scourge of human trafficking.

Yet the greatest wound suffered by this land has been the terrible laceration it has endured in recent decades. I think of the deep suffering of all those people unable to return to their homes and their places of worship. I pray for your peace, for the peace of the entire island, and I make it my fervent hope. The way of peace, which reconciles conflicts and regenerates the beauty of fraternity, has a single word as its signpost. That word is dialogue. We ought to help one another to believe in the patient and unassuming power of dialogue, on the basis of the Beatitudes. We know that it is no easy road; it is long and winding, but there is no other way to achieve reconciliation. Let us nurture hope by the power of gestures, rather than by gestures of power. There is a power of gestures, which prepares the way of peace. Not gestures of power, threats of reprisal and shows of force, but gestures of détente and concrete steps towards dialogue. I think, for example, of openness to sincere discussion that would give priority to people’s needs, ever more effective involvement on the part of the international community, the need to protect the religious and cultural heritage, and the restitution of all that people hold most precious in that regard, such as places or at least sacred furnishings. With this in mind, I would like to express my appreciation and encouragement for the Religious Track of the Cyprus Peace Project, promoted by the Embassy of Sweden, for the cultivation of dialogue among religious leaders.

Times that seem least favourable, when dialogue languishes, can be the very times that prepare for peace. The pearl also reminds us of this, for it takes shape in the patient, hidden process of weaving new substances together with the agent that caused the wound. In these circumstances, may hatred not be allowed to prevail, efforts be made to bind up wounds and to keep in mind the situation of those who have disappeared. And when tempted to yield to discouragement, to think of coming generations, who long to inherit a world of peace, cooperation and cohesiveness, not one marred by perennial rivalries and poisoned by unresolved disputes. For this, dialogue is necessary, to avoid the growth of suspicion and resentment. Let us think in this regard of the Mediterranean, now sadly a place of conflicts and humanitarian tragedies; in its profound beauty it is mare nostrum, the sea of all those peoples who border it, in order to be connected, not divided. Cyprus, as a geographic, historical, cultural and religious crossroads, is in a position to be a peacemaker. May it be a workshop of peace in the Mediterranean.

Peace is not often achieved by great personalities, but by the daily determination of ordinary men and women. The European continent needs reconciliation and unity; it needs courage and enthusiasm, if it is to move forward. For it will not be the walls of fear and the vetoes dictated by nationalist interests that ensure its progress, nor will economic recovery alone serve to guarantee its security and stability. May we look to the history of Cyprus to see how encounter and welcome have brought forth good fruits that endure. Not only in the history of Christianity, for which Cyprus was “the springboard” on this continent, but also for the building of a society which found its richness in integration. This spirit of enlargement, this ability to look beyond one’s own borders, brings rejuvenation and makes possible the rediscovery of a brilliance that was lost.

The Acts of the Apostles speak of Cyprus, telling us that Paul and Barnabas “traversed the whole island” in order to reach Paphos (cf. Acts 13:6). I rejoice, in these days, that I can traverse the history and spirit of this land, in the desire that its yearning for unity and its message of beauty will continue to guide its journey towards the future. [In Greek:] May God bless Cyprus!

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Michigan school shooting suspect Ethan Crumbley charged with terrorism, murder: 'Not just an impulsive act'

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Ethan Crumbley, the 15-year-old suspect accused of opening fire at his Michigan high school, pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to one count of terrorism causing death, four counts of first-degree murder, seven counts of assault with intent to murder, and 12 counts of possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony. 

The sophomore, who is being charged as an adult, allegedly fired more than 30 rounds in the hallways of Oxford High School on Tuesday shortly before 1:00 p.m., killing four students and wounding seven others, including a teacher. 

He appeared in Oakland County Court by video on Wednesday, slumped over in a vest, white mask, and glasses. 

Ethan Crumbley is being held without bond on murder, terrorism, and other charges.  (Oakland County Sheriff's Office)

Mark Keast, an assistant prosecuting attorney in Oakland County, told Judge Nancy Carniak that he doesn't "have the words to describe how horrific" the surveillance video of the shooting is. 

"He methodically and deliberately walked down a hallway, aimed the firearm at students and fired it," Keast said. "After children started running away from the defendant, he continued down the hallway, again at a deliberate and methodical pace, pointing and aiming inside classrooms and at students who hadn’t had the opportunity to escape."

Ethan Crumbley allegedly shot and killed four students and wounded seven others at Oxford High School. 

Judge Carniak ordered Crumbley to be held without bond and transferred to Oakland County Jail, where he will be separated from adults. 

MICHIGAN HIGH SCHOOL TEEN KILLED IN SHOOTING WAS 'HERO,' CLASSMATES SAY

Lt. Tim Willis told the judge that Crumbley recorded videos on his phone the night before the incident in which he "talked about shooting and killing students the next day at Oxford High School."

"Further, a journal was recovered from Ethan’s backpack also detailing his desire to shoot up a school to include murdering students," Willis said. 

Crumbley's parents went to Oxford High School about two to three hours before the shooting to meet with their son and school officials over behavioral issues in the classroom. 

"The parents were brought in the morning of the shooting and had a face-to-face meeting with the school," Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said. 

"The content of that meeting obviously is part of the investigation but we did not learn of that meeting, nor of the content of that meeting until after the shooting and during this investigation."

Ethan Crumbley's parents appeared in court by video on Wednesday. 

Crumbley also had to meet with school officials the day before the shooting "over behavior in the classroom that they felt was concerning."

Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald noted that the terrorism count is not a "typical" charge, but she said that it is necessary to get justice for all the victims in this shooting. 

"The children that I have just listed and those that were injured, they’re the victims in the first-degree murder charges and assault with intent to murder," McDonald said. 

"But what about all these other children? What about all the children who ran, screaming, hiding under desks? What about all the children at home right now who can’t eat and can’t sleep and can’t imagine a world where they could ever step foot back in that school. Those are victims too."

GUN USED IN MICHIGAN SCHOOL SHOOTING PURCHASED BY SUSPECT'S FATHER ON BLACK FRIDAY

The suspect used a 9mm Sig Sauer, according to police, which the boy’s father bought on Black Friday, just four days before the shooting. A motive has not been announced. 

McDonald said that her office is looking at charging the parents and "that decision will be made swiftly."

The suspect has declined to speak with authorities following his arrest and his parents have hired an attorney. 

"There is no conversation that’s going on and no cooperation at that level," Bouchard said Tuesday. 

  • Parents wait to be reunited with their kids following an active shooter situation at Oxford High School in Oxford on November 30, 2021.  Mandatory Credit: Eric Seals-USA TODAY NETWORK

  • Dozens of ambulances responded to the scene of the shooting on Tuesday.  (WJBK)

  • Officers apprehended the suspect within five minutes of the first 911 call.  (WJBK)

  • Police cars line up in front of the school following an active shooter situation at Oxford High School in Oxford on November 30, 2021. Police took a suspected shooter into custody and there were multiple victims, . Mandatory Credit: Liz Shepard-USA TODAY NETWORK

At least 30 shell casings were found at the scene and the suspect still had 18 live rounds when deputies apprehended him. 

Crumbley was apprehended by police within five minutes of the first 911 call, Bouchard said. 

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Four students died due to the shooting. Bouchard identified three of the students on Tuesday as 16-year-old Tate Myre, 14-year-old Hana St. Juliana, and 17-year-old Madisyn Baldwin. 

The fourth student died on Wednesday morning and was identified as 15-year-old Justin Shilling. 

Three of the injured victims – a 15-year-old male, a 17-year-old male, and a 47-year-old teacher – have been discharged from the hospital. Four injured victims are still hospitalized. 

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Suspect in Michigan high school shooting charged as an adult with murder and terrorism

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Then frightened students barricaded doors, phoned for help and picked up anything they could grab in case they needed to fight back.

"We grabbed calculators, we grabbed scissors just in case the shooter got in and we had to attack them," he said, describing how a bullet pierced one of the desks they'd used to block the door.

"I started realizing it was real when I began to hear yelling," Kluska told CNN.

Later, someone outside the room who claimed to be with the sheriff's office told Kluska and his classmates that all was safe and they could come out, a video the freshman recorded shows.

"We're not willing to take that risk right now," the teacher replies.

It's not clear who the person at the door was. But the teacher quickly signaled students to scramble out a first-floor window into the snow, Kluska said. From there, they raced across a courtyard to another part of the building, where a law enforcement officer herded them to safety.

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard confirmed during a news conference Wednesday the suspect never knocked on any doors.

More than 100 calls to 911 were made. About two to three minutes after officers arrived, they found a 15-year-old suspect, later identified as Ethan Crumbley, and took him into custody without incident, Bouchard said.

Crumbley has been charged as an adult

with terrorism causing death and four counts of first-degree murder. He also was charged with seven counts of assault with intent to murder and 12 counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, Oakland County Prosecutor Karen D. McDonald said.

Ethan Crumbley

The suspect's lawyer entered a plea of not guilty on his client's behalf at Wednesday's arraignment. The judge scheduled a probable cause hearing for December 13 and a preliminary examination hearing for December 20.

During Crumbley's arraignment Wednesday, Lt. Tim Willis said two separate videos were recovered from the suspected shooter's cellphone in which he talked about shooting and killing students the next day at Oxford High School.

In addition to the cellphone, a journal was recovered from Crumbley's backpack detailing his "desire to shoot up the school," Willis said.

One of the dead was 14 years old

The four students who died

have been identified

as Madisyn Baldwin, 17; Tate Myre, 16; Hana St. Juliana, 14; and Justin Shilling, 17, authorities said.

Justin died Wednesday morning at a hospital; the others died Tuesday, the sheriff's office said. Tate died in a patrol car while a deputy was taking him to a hospital, Bouchard said.

Anita's Kitchen

, where Shilling worked, shared a statement on social media about him.

"Justin was an exemplary employee, a devoted friend and co-worker, co-captain of his bowling team, and simply a pleasure to be around. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time," the statement read.

Seven others -- six students and a teacher -- were shot, Bouchard said.

Among the wounded were a 14-year-old girl who was on a ventilator following surgery, Bouchard said Tuesday night. On Wednesday, it was announced she had been taken off the ventilator and was in stable condition. A 14-year-old boy had a gunshot wound to the jaw and head. The teacher, a 15-year-old boy and a 17-year-old boy were discharged, Bouchard said.

Students in senior Aiden Page's class shoved desks against a door after the shooting started, he said.

Students in senior Aiden Page's class shoved desks against a door after the shooting started, he said.

Parents could face charges

The attack was the deadliest US school shooting since eight students and two teachers were

slain in May 2018 at Texas' Santa Fe High School

, according to a CNN tally. There have been 48 shootings this year on K-12 campuses, 32 of them since August 1.

The suspect was being held at a juvenile detention facility. Bouchard said authorities asked a judge to transfer him from the detention facility to the Oakland County Jail. The judge agreed to the request.

Charges of first-degree murder require allegations of premeditation, and evidence in this case indicates the shooting was planned "well before the incident," McDonald said.

This shooting was "absolutely premeditated," McDonald told reporters, without elaborating.

McDonald's office will consider charges against the suspect's parents, she said.

The weapon authorities said was used in the shooting, a 9mm Sig Sauer SP2022 semiautomatic pistol, was purchased by Crumbley's father on Friday, four days before shots rang out at the school, Bouchard said.

Authorities are considering charges against both parents, with McDonald saying a decision would be made on that "swiftly." The potential charges stem from the parents owning a gun. McDonald said that means securing it properly, ensuring ammunition is kept separate, among other legal responsibilities.

"We have to hold individuals accountable who don't do that," she said.

CNN has pressed the prosecutor to speak on whether evidence was recovered to support potential charges and which charges are being considered. The prosecutor declined to go into detail citing the investigation, but reiterated that an announcement would be made as soon as possible regarding whether charges would be brought.

CNN has attempted to reach the parents of Ethan Crumbley and are attempting to identify an attorney for them.

McDonald told CNN's Erin Burnett on Wednesday she felt it was tragic how desensitized people were to gun violence, but gun owners should be held accountable for their ownership and possession of a firearm.

Suspect and his parents met with school officials hours before shooting

Bouchard said the 15-year-old had not been on law enforcement radar prior to the shooting.

However, authorities did learn after the shooting that the suspect and his parents met with school officials a few hours before the shooting. Officials met with just the suspect the day before and with the suspect and parents the day of the shooting, Bouchard said.

"The day before, it was a meeting with school personnel about some concerning behavior and the meeting the day of was with school personnel and parents about a different issue," Bouchard said.

The sheriff declined to go into issues on either day.

"Prior to those two meetings there was no contact or nothing in his file by either concerning behavior or discipline," he said.

McDonald told CNN she was not able to comment on what, specifically, the gunman, parents and school officials discussed during their meeting.

"There's an additional piece of evidence that hasn't been released yet, but I can assure you it was troubling, it was disturbing, and unfortunately he was allowed to go back to class," she said.

Video shows assailant 'was shooting people at close range,' sheriff says

Investigators recovered more than 30 shell casings, said the sheriff, who'd earlier said at least a dozen rounds were fired.

"We believe he fired at least 30 shots," he said.

Bouchard said two 15-round magazines were recovered by investigators and a third was recovered in the overnight hours. Investigators also learned the suspect had 18 rounds left, with seven in his pocket.

"With this much ammunition still with him ... the quick actions of the school and the lockdown as well as the deputies going to the danger, saved lives," Bouchard said.

Parents walk with their children away from a grocery store parking lot, where many students gathered after the shooting.

Parents walk with their children away from a grocery store parking lot, where many students gathered after the shooting.

Video from the school shows the assailant was "shooting people at close range -- oftentimes toward the head or chest," Bouchard told CNN's "New Day" earlier Wednesday.

"It's chilling. It's absolutely cold-hearted, murderous," Bouchard said.

Prosecutors said during Crumbley's arraignment they've seen video from the school surveillance cameras showing Crumbley "methodically and deliberately" walking the hallways, aiming a gun at students and firing.

"What is depicted on that video, honestly judge, I don't have the words to describe how horrific that was," said prosecutor Marc Keast.

Video showed Crumbley with a backpack, and a minute later exiting the bathroom without the backpack and with a gun in hand, authorities said.

He started firing right outside the bathroom, Keast said, but after children started running away, he continued to go down the hallway at a "methodical pace" and shot inside classrooms and at students who hadn't had the opportunity to escape. This continued for another four or five minutes and he went to another bathroom, Keast said.

When deputies arrived, he set down the gun and surrendered.

"A preliminary review of the defendant's social media accounts, his cellphone, as well as other documented evidence recovered on scene showed that this defendant planned this shooting, he deliberately brought the handgun that day with the intent to murder as many students as he could," Keast said.

Though much of the shooting was at close range, it nevertheless appeared "random," Bouchard told CNN, without elaborating.

The assailant "tried to breach classroom doors," the sheriff said.

"He actually fired through a number of the doors that I looked at last night -- through the barricaded doors. ... Some of those barricades were struck by gunfire," Bouchard said.

Bouchard praised the work of his deputies and other local law enforcement agencies that responded Tuesday, saying their coordination and active shooter training proved invaluable.

Deputies were dispatched to the school at 12:52 p.m., and the suspect was in custody within three minutes of their arrival, Bouchard said.

As deputies made their way through the school, they encountered the suspect, who then put his hands up, Bouchard said. Deputies took the gun and placed the suspect in custody.

"I believe they literally saved lives, having taken down the suspect with a loaded firearm still in the building," the sheriff said.

'We believe we have some writings that contain his thoughts'

As for the investigation into a motive: "We believe we have some writings that contain some of his thoughts," Bouchard said, adding he didn't immediately know whether the writings reveal intent.

Investigators executed a search warrant at the suspect's home and have searched the school, he said. Authorities seized a phone and are examining other seized items.

Michigan law prevents police from talking to a juvenile without parental permission, and the parents have refused that permission and requested a lawyer, Bouchard said.

"So, we can't get the motive from the suspect that we have in custody, but we think we've got a path to get a lot of supportive information as to how and why this occurred. We've recovered some evidence that we're now beginning to pore over," Bouchard said.

Authorities also are investigating pictures of a target and the weapon posted on social media by the suspect, he added.

'I'm going to text my family, say I love them'

"This district has been very good in training their personnel and their students on active shooters," Undersheriff Michael McCabe said.

Kluska's teacher, Moises Cortez, jumped into action after a lockdown was announced over the school's loudspeakers, said the student who recorded video of his classmates escaping through a window.

"He shut the door and put, like, a metal doorstopper so no one would be able to kick in the door." Kluska told CNN. "After he turned off the lights, he told us to get to the corner because this might not be a drill and he wants to be safe."

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People were injured as they rushed out of the school, Bouchard said. Most were treated and released at a nearby staging area.

Zander Cumbey, a junior at the high school, told CNN's Victor Blackwell that he started hearing screams about a minute after he sat down in his classroom.

"I heard screams come from the hallway and then the first gunshot happened, and my teacher, he walked into the classroom, he locked the door and he told us to call 911," Zander said. "And then we heard the rest of the gunshots go off, more screams."

He said as he was on the phone with dispatchers, he didn't really speak to them.

"I just said kind of said 'Oxford High School, shooter', because I couldn't talk," Zander said.

He texted his parents that he loved them, he said, and texted his younger brother who also attends the school to see whether he was safe. Zander told CNN one of the victims -- Tate Myre -- was a close friend who was on the football team with him.

Donna Sanders' youngest grandchild was changing classes when he heard gunshots, she told CNN. He and others ran through an exit door and went to a nearby grocery store to escape, he told her.

"He was able to run to safety with others while his brother was trapped inside," Sanders said.

Students' quick act once shooting started may have saved their lives
Students' quick act once shooting started may have saved their lives

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Sanders' daughter, Vontysha Pittman, said her oldest son sought safety in a classroom with a teacher and other students. He hid under a desk and called his father to tell him what was happening, she said.

"They are both are safe at home, but they are broken. We need prayers and not just for us but all the families at Oxford," Sanders said.

Page's classroom was in lockdown for an hour, the senior told CNN. The entire experience as "insane" as he contemplated whether he would live through the ordeal.

"The very first thing in my head was, 'Is this actually happening? I'm going to text my family, say I love them just in case, if I were to die.' Then when everything calmed down for a second, I was able to catch my breath and rationalize things," he said.

CNN's Adrienne Broaddus and Shimon Prokupecz reported from Oxford. Jason Hanna and Amir Vera wrote in Atlanta. Carolyn Sung, Taylor Romine, Laura Ly, Caroll Alvarado, Kristina Sgueglia and Patrick Cornell contributed to this report.

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Biden admin threatens harsh sanctions against Russia if it invades Ukraine

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The Biden administration warned on Wednesday that a Russian invasion of Ukraine would trigger “high impact” U.S. sanctions that would surpass any previously imposed on Moscow.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, speaking in the Latvian capital of Riga after meeting with his NATO counterparts, said Russia’s large-scale troop buildup on Ukraine’s border and other pressure tactics resembled steps Moscow took before it invaded Ukraine in 2014 and seized the Crimean peninsula.

“Now, we’ve seen this playbook before in 2014, when Russia last invaded Ukraine. Then as now they significantly increased combat forces along the border. Then as now they intensified disinformation to paint Ukraine as the aggressor to justify pre-planned military action,” Blinken said.

But it remained unclear if Russian President Vladimir Putin planned to order an invasion, Blinken told reporters.

“Now, we don’t know whether President Putin has made the decision to invade," he said. "We do know that he’s putting in place the capacity to do so in short order should he so decide. So despite uncertainty about intentions, and time, we must prepare for all contingencies while working to see to it that Russia reverses course."

CIA Director William Burns recently traveled to Moscow to convey Washington’s concerns, to urge a return to diplomacy to resolve the conflict between Russian-backed separatists and the Ukraine government, and to make clear “the severe consequences should Russia follow the path of confrontation in military action,” Blinken said.

“We’ve made it clear to the Kremlin that we will respond resolutely, including with a range of high impact economic measures that we have refrained from pursuing in the past,” Blinken said.

Russia has deployed tens of thousands of combat troops on Ukraine’s border but has denied any aggressive plans toward Ukraine, saying it is only responding to what it calls provocative actions by Ukraine and NATO countries.

Blinken said the U.S. is urging Russia to reverse its troop buildup, pull back heavy weapons and recommit to the diplomatic process set up to resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

“That’s how we can turn back from a crisis that will have far-reaching and long-lasting consequences for our bilateral relations with Moscow, for Russia’s relations with Europe and for international peace and security,” Blinken said.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said earlier that Russia would face serious political and economic consequences if it invades Ukraine. 

The head of Ukraine’s military intelligence said recently that Russia had more than 92,000 troops massed around Ukraine’s borders and was preparing for an attack by the end of January or beginning of February.

Ukraine, which wants to join the NATO military alliance, received deliveries of U.S. ammunition and Javelin missiles earlier this year, prompting criticism from Moscow.

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Dan De Luce is a reporter for the NBC News Investigative Unit. 

Abigail Williams is a producer and reporter for NBC News covering the State Department.

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Ghislaine Maxwell Trial: Accuser Disputes FBI Account of Alleged Abuse

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The trial of Ghislaine Maxwell continued on Wednesday in federal court in downtown Manhattan, where the British socialite is facing sex-trafficking charges for allegedly assisting her late associate, Jeffrey Epstein, in abusing underage girls. In today’s testimony, the defense cross-examined the government’s first alleged-victim witness, who, to protect her privacy, is known simply as “Jane.” (Her testimony began yesterday.) Citing notes from Jane’s previous unrecorded interviews with the government, Maxwell’s attorney Laura Menninger pointed out apparent inconsistencies and implied Jane had changed her story over time. Jane largely refused to engage, repeating “I don’t recall” and suggesting multiple times that the FBI’s notes from her interview could have been wrong. 

The defense questioned inconsistent statements on whether Epstein had approached her alone at Interlochen Performing Arts Camp when she was 14 or if a woman — Maxwell — had been with him. In 2019, the attorney pointed out, Jane told the government that Maxwell had walked by with her dog. On Tuesday, Jane testified that Maxwell and Epstein had approached her together. “The FBI got it wrong again?” Menninger said. “Maybe they typed it up wrong,” Jane said.

During yesterday’s direct examination from the prosecution, Jane said she’d first seen Maxwell naked was on an occasion when Epstein and Maxwell had led her upstairs and began fondling each other and giggling, then told Jane to take her clothes off before Epstein began masturbating. On Wednesday, defense pointed to notes from a 2019 interview where Jane had reportedly said she did not have a specific memory of the first time she saw Maxwell nude. Asked if she remembered saying this in an interview with the government, Jane said, “I don’t recall.”  

Defense brought up more instances where they claimed Jane had changed her story, trying to impeach her credibility as a witness. One was regarding the timing of when the alleged abuse started; whether she’d told the government that she wasn’t sure if Maxwell had touched her; whether she’d told the government she was unsure if Maxwell had ever seen her performing oral sex on Epstein; and whether she’d told the government her first trip to New York with Epstein had been free from abuse. In each instance, she answered “I don’t know” or “I don’t recall.” 

In excruciating back-and-forths, Jane would say she didn’t remember saying something, at which point Menninger would ask her to consult documentation of her conversations with the government. “With all due respect,” Jane said during questioning about the timing of a trip to New York to see The Lion King on Broadway in the late 1990s. “I didn’t write this and I’ve never seen this document before.” 

At one point, Jane seemed to point to the vagaries of remembering traumatic events over time. Menninger pointed to a 2019 interview where she’d supposedly said she was not sure if Maxwell had ever called her house in Florida to arrange meetings with Epstein. This was in contrast to what she’d said on Tuesday — that Maxwell or an assistant had called her house to arrange her visits. “Memory is not linear,” she said.

During the course of the cross-examination, Jane confirmed she had flown on Epstein’s plane with Prince Andrew and celebrity chef Adam Perry Lang, and that Epstein had brought her to Mar-a-Lago, where he introduced her to Donald Trump, whom she did not accuse of any wrongdoing. She was 14 years old at the time. 

The defense homed in on Jane’s acting career and a prior appearance on a reality TV show. Menninger asked if she could cry on command. “That’s not really how it works,” Jane said. She said reality TV doesn’t represent reality and when the prosecution asked she said she understood the difference between acting on tv and testifying in court. “Acting on television is not real, and testifying in court is real — is the truth,” she said during redirect examination from prosecution.

On Tuesday afternoon, a former boyfriend of Jane’s corroborated portions of Jane’s testimony. The witness, whom the court is calling “Matt,” said he dated Jane between 2006 and 2014, that he remains friends with her, and that they work on the same soap opera. He said Jane told him about her family‘s money struggles, and said she had had a “rough, brutal” relationship with her mother. He also said that she had told him about Epstein helping her family pay bills and that she had had to do things she didn’t want to do to get the money. When he had pressed for details, he told the jury she’d said, “Matt, the money wasn’t fucking free.”

A longtime vice president of finance at Interlochen also testified, sharing documentation of a lodge on the arts center property that Epstein had donated money to fund, as well as correspondence with Maxwell expressing gratitude for the donation and discussing plans for a future visit by Epstein to the campus.

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