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Kyiv urged to evacuate passport holders

Human Rights Watch (HRW) is calling on Ukraine’s government to evacuate Ukrainian passport holders from Afghanistan as soon as flights from Kabul resume. In a statement on October 5, the New York-based human rights watchdog noted that Kyiv rescued almost 250 Ukrainians, Afghans and citizens of other countries, some of whom have sought asylum in Ukraine, following the Taliban takeover of the country in August. However, it added that dozens of Ukrainian citizens, mostly Afghans with Ukrainian passports, and their relatives remain stranded in the capital.

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Hungary summons Ukrainian envoy

Hungarian Foreign Affairs Minister Péter Szíjjártó has summoned Ukraine’s ambassador over what he said was Kyiv’s attempts to block Budapest’s new long-term gas supply deal with Russia, which was signed on September 27. In a September 28 post on Facebook, Mr. Szíjjártó denounced Ukraine’s criticism of the new 15-year natural-gas supply deal with Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom as a “serious violation of Hungary’s sovereignty.” Executives of Hungarian energy group MVM signed the gas deal with Gazprom CEO Aleksei Miller on September 27 at the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Budapest.

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Parliament passes bill banning anti-Semitism

Ukraine’s parliament has passed a law defining anti-Semitism and banning it in the country. The Verkhovna Rada on September 22 approved a second reading of the bill by 283 votes with the required minimum of 226, sending it to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for his signature to become law. Mr. Zelenskyy, who is Jewish, has said he lost relatives in the Holocaust. An estimated 0.2 percent of Ukraine’s population of 41 million is Jewish. The legislation defines anti-Semitism as hatred of Jews, calling for or justifying attacks on the minority, making false or hateful statements about Jews and denying the mass extermination of Jews during the Holocaust.

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Lawmakers try to reverse NS2 waiver

A group of bipartisan lawmakers is seeking to undo U.S. President Joe Biden’s decision to waive sanctions on the Russian-owned operator of the Nord Stream 2 (NS2) pipeline in a last-ditch effort to stop it from pumping gas to Europe. An amendment introduced on September 14 by Reps. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), and about eight other lawmakers orders the president to impose sanctions on any entity responsible for the planning, construction or operation of the NS2 pipeline. It also authorizes new mandatory sanctions to foreign entities and individuals responsible for the planning, construction and operation of NS2.

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NS2 critic appointed to State Department

U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration has appointed an outspoken critic of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 (NS2) pipeline to oversee policy for Central and Eastern Europe at the State Department following backlash over its decision to allow the project to move ahead. Robin Dunnigan, who served as deputy assistant secretary for energy diplomacy in the State Department’s Bureau of Energy Resources from 2014 to 2017, will help craft policy toward Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova, as well as Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, a spokesperson told RFE/RL.

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Zelenskyy and Biden summit ‘productive’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that his meeting on September 1 with U.S. President Joseph Biden took place in a productive and constructive atmosphere, and that both parties are interested in a fruitful dialogue. “I don’t know if there was ‘chemistry,’ but the fact that the meeting lasted two hours instead of an hour shows that the parties are interested in the dialogue and the outcome of this dialogue. I believe that the meeting was held in a normal, productive, not in a constantly sunny atmosphere, but in a direct conversation,” Mr. Zelenskyy said during a conversation with the media in Washington after the talks with Mr. Biden. Mr. Zelenskyy said Mr. Biden gave him a positive assessment of the reforms being implemented in Ukraine.

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Merkel in Kyiv discusses geopolitics
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said natural gas should never be used as a geopolitical weapon and backed extending an energy partnership deal with Ukraine once it expires in 2024. Ms. Merkel made the remarks in Kyiv on August 22 at a press conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

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Biden-Zelenskyy delayed to August 31
Talks between U.S. President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy have been moved back to August 31 from August 30. Ukrainian Foreign Affairs Minister Dmytro Kuleba told reporters on August 19 that the decision was made due to an expansion of Mr. Zelens­kyy’s program during his visit to Washington in late August.

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U.S. appoints NS2 energy adviser
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has appointed former diplomat Amos Hochstein as senior adviser on energy security with a focus on measures to “reduce the risks” posed by the German-Russian Nord Stream 2 pipeline and support energy security in Eastern Europe.

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Announcer calls Ukrainian medalists ‘Russian’
The organizers of the Tokyo Olympics have apologized after an announcer misidentified Ukraine’s artistic swimming medalists as being Russian. The Ukrainian pair of Marta Fedina and Anastasiya Savchuk won bronze in their duet free routine event on August 4, finishing behind pairs from the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) and China. However, Fedina and Savchuk were named as ROC competitors by a French-language announcer, causing embarrassment for the organizers.