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Russia frees 215 Ukrainians, more in exchange – The Denver Post

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Russia Frees 215 Ukrainians, More In Exchange - The Denver Post
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By KARL RITTER

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Thursday morning that 215 Ukrainian and foreign citizens had been freed by Russia in a prisoner exchange.

In his overnight address, Zelenskyy said 200 of the prisoners had been returned in exchange for Viktor Medvedchuk, the former leader of a pro-Russian Ukrainian opposition party and close associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s previous story follows below.

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a partial mobilization of reservists to bolster his forces in Ukraine, a deeply unpopular move that has sparked rare protests across the country and led to nearly 1,200 arrests.

The risky order follows humiliating setbacks for Putin’s troops nearly seven months after invading Ukraine. Russia’s first such call since World War II has heightened tensions with Western supporters of Ukraine, who have called it an act of weakness and desperation.

The move also prompted some Russians to rush to buy plane tickets to flee the country.

In his 14-minute nationally televised address, Putin also warned the West that he was not bluffing by using everything at his disposal to protect Russia – an apparent reference to its nuclear arsenal. He has already blamed NATO countries for supplying arms to Ukraine.

Faced with heavy battlefield casualties, expanding front lines and a conflict that has raged longer than expected, the Kremlin has struggled to replenish its troops in Ukraine, reportedly even resorting to widespread recruitment in prisons.

The total number of reservists to be called up could reach 300,000, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said. However, Putin’s decree authorizing the partial mobilization, which took effect immediately, provided few details, raising suspicions that the project could be expanded at any time. In particular, one clause was kept secret.

Despite Russia’s tough laws against criticism of the military and war, protesters outraged by the mobilization overcame their fear of arrest to stage demonstrations in cities across the country. Nearly 1,200 Russians have been arrested during anti-war protests in cities including Moscow and St. Petersburg, according to independent Russian human rights group OVD-Info.

Associated Press reporters in Moscow witnessed at least a dozen arrests in the first 15 minutes of an overnight protest in the capital, with police in heavy armor attacking protesters outside shops, taking some as they chanted “No to war!”

“I’m not afraid of anything. The most precious thing they can take from us is the lives of our children. I will not give them the life of my child,” said a Muscovite, who refused to give her name.

When asked if protesting would help, she replied, “It won’t help, but it’s my civic duty to express my position. No to war!”

In Yekaterinburg, Russia’s fourth-largest city, police transported some of the 40 protesters arrested at an anti-war rally on buses. A woman in a wheelchair shouted, referring to the Russian president: “Fuck ‘crazy crackpot’. He’s gonna drop a bomb on us, and we’re still protecting him. Enough said.

The opposition movement Vesna called for demonstrations: “Thousands of Russian men – our fathers, brothers and husbands – will be thrown into the meat grinder of war. What are they going to die for? Why will mothers and children cry?

The Moscow prosecutor’s office has warned that organizing or participating in protests could result in up to 15 years in prison. Authorities issued similar warnings ahead of other protests. Wednesday’s protests were the first nationwide anti-war demonstrations since fighting began in late February.

Other Russians responded by trying to leave the country and flights were quickly booked.

In Armenia, Sergey arrived with his 17-year-old son, saying they had prepared for such a scenario. Another Russian, Valery, said his wife’s family lives in Kyiv and mobilization is out of the question for him “just for the moral aspect alone”. Both men declined to give their surnames.

The state communications watchdog, Roskomnadzor, warned media outlets that access to their websites would be blocked if “false information” about the mobilization was transmitted.

Residents of Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, appeared disheartened by the mobilization as they watched rescuers clear debris from Russian rocket attacks on two apartment buildings.

“You just don’t know what to expect from him,” said Kharkiv resident Olena Milevska, 66. “But you understand it’s something personal for him.”

In calling for mobilization, Putin cited the length of the front line, which he says exceeds 1,000 kilometers (more than 620 miles). He also said that Russia is effectively fighting the combined military power of Western countries.

Western leaders said the mobilization was a response to Russia’s recent battlefield losses.

President Joe Biden has told the United Nations General Assembly that Putin’s new nuclear threats show “reckless disregard” for Russia’s responsibilities as a signatory to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

Hours later, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged world leaders at the rally to strip Russia of its vote in international institutions and its veto in the UN Security Council, saying the aggressors must be punished and isolated.

Speaking via video, Zelenskyy said his forces “can return the Ukrainian flag to our entire territory. We can do it by force of arms. But we need time.

Putin did not attend the meeting.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny said the mobilization means the war is “getting worse, getting deeper, and Putin is trying to involve as many people as possible. … It’s done just to let one person keep his grip on personal power.

The partial mobilization order came two days before Russian-held regions in eastern and southern Ukraine are due to hold referendums on integration with Russia – a move that could allow Moscow to escalate the war. Voting begins Friday in the Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions, partly controlled by Russia.

Foreign leaders are already calling the votes illegitimate and non-binding. Zelenskyy said it was a “sham” and “noise” to distract the public.

Michael Kofman, head of Russian studies at the CNA think tank in Washington, said Putin had bet his regime on war and that annexation “is a point of no return”, as is mobilization “to some extent “.

“The partial mobilization affects everyone. And everyone in Russia understands … that they could be the next wave, and this is just the first wave,” Kofman said.

Shoigu, Russia’s defense minister, said only some of those with relevant combat and service experience will be called up. He said that about 25 million people meet these criteria, but only 1% of them will be mobilized.

It was not clear how many years of combat experience or what level of training the soldiers needed to muster. Another clause of the decree prohibits most military professionals from terminating their contract before partial mobilization.

Putin’s mobilization ploy could backfire by making the war unpopular in his country and damaging his own reputation. He also admits Russia’s underlying military shortcomings.

A Ukrainian counteroffensive this month seized Russia’s military initiative and captured large areas in Ukraine from Russian forces.

Russian mobilization is unlikely to produce battlefield consequences for months due to a lack of facilities and training equipment.

Russian political analyst Dmitry Oreshkin said it looked like “an act of desperation”.

“People are going to escape this mobilization in any way possible, bribe them out of this mobilization, leave the country,” he said.

He described the announcement as “a huge personal blow to Russian citizens, who until recently (were taking part in hostilities) happily sitting on their sofas, (watching) television. And now the war has entered their house.

In his address, Putin accused the West of engaging in “nuclear blackmail” and cited “alleged statements by some high-ranking representatives of key NATO states on the possibility of using nuclear weapons of destruction massive action against Russia”.

He did not specify.

“When the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, to protect Russia and our people, we will certainly use all means at our disposal,” Putin said.

In other developments, relatives of two US military veterans who disappeared while fighting Russia with Ukrainian forces said they were released after about three months in captivity. They were part of a Saudi-organized exchange of 10 prisoners from the United States, Morocco, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Croatia.

—-

Yesica Fisch in Kharkiv contributed to this story.

___

Follow AP coverage of the war at

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Vikings bring back linebacker Ryan Connelly on practice squad

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Vikings Bring Back Linebacker Ryan Connelly On Practice Squad
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It was an eventful week for Ryan Connelly.

The Vikings on Thursday signed the linebacker to the practice squad. That came after Connelly, an Eden Prairie native, was activated off the physical unable to perform list Tuesday and then waived Wednesday. He rejoined the Vikings immediately after clearing waivers.

Connelly, in his fourth NFL season, first joined the Vikings in 2020 after being waived by the New York Giants. He got into 14 games in 2020 and 12 in 2021 for Minnesota before suffering a torn ACL last December.

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Youth is served: Heat’s Nikola Jovic still awaiting his . . . high school final exam

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Youth Is Served: Heat’s Nikola Jovic Still Awaiting His . . . High School Final Exam
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Nikola Jovic had the Miami Heat locker room abuzz after Thursday night’s 109-80 exhibition victory over the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center, and for more than the first-round pick out of Serbia closing with 10 rebounds and five assists.

Instead, it was the reaction to what coach Erik Spoelstra had revealed moments earlier about the skilled 6-foot-10 19-year-old.

“He’s extremely unique,” Spoelstra said, before turning his attention to Friday night’s exhibition against the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum. “And he’s so young. To put it in perspective, he’s still waiting to do his final exam to graduate from high school, and doing that over Zoom.”

Wait? What?

That essentially was the reaction from teammates, once Spoelstra’s revelation circulated.

Backup center Dewayne Dedmon was taken aback, with the 33-year-old big man incredulous about a teammate young enough to have yet to complete high school.

Jovic: “I was supposed to finish it this summer.”

Dedmon: “Supposed to?”

Jovic: “I’m finishing.”

Dedmon: “So you not even graduated high school?”

Jovic: “I’m finishing it right now.”

Dedmon: “And you in the NBA?”

Jovic: “Yeah.”

Dedmon: “You know you can’t go from high school to the pros?”

Jovic: “You can do it from Europe.”

Dedmon: “Apparently.”

With that, head shaking, Dedmon headed for the team bus, leaving his Serbian teammate to explain.

“They were doing it when I was doing the draft workouts,” he said of his high-school finals while he was working in Miami ahead of the June draft, “so I didn’t have time, especially because of the time difference.”

There will, Jovic said, be a diploma.

“It’s not that hard,” he said of his lone remaining test. “I need to take it. I don’t have time to take it right now.”

But he has reason to make sure it is completed sooner rather than later.

“My mom,” he said, “she wants me to finish school.”

While the NBA draft rule is written with high school in mind, it actually requires a player to be at least 19 in his draft year. Jovic was born June 9, 2003.

“As soon as I get some time, I’ll do it,” he said, having been in Miami since August preparing for his inaugural NBA season after playing professionally in Europe, “as soon as I get in contact with my teachers and stuff. Like I said, the time difference.”

And there will be more.

“I”m really glad I’m finishing it now,” he said. “I’m looking forward to doing something else after this, some college or something.”

All of which made his comments about his first NBA road game all the more fascinating.

“In high school, I used to go home and watch some of those guys on TV or on YouTube,” he said, “and to play against them is different.”

As in this year in high school.

To Spoelstra, it is a whole new world with the lithe 205-pound No. 27 pick.

“We’ve had a lot of different developmental projects over the years,” he said. “He’s a little bit of a unique one. We haven’t had a European so young. But his skill set is unique. Because of his size, he’s really just starting his weight lifting program with us for the last six weeks. So we won’t even see the benefit of that until next summer.

“But his ability to handle, to shoot, to put the ball on the floor, he’s a really good passer. That’s probably, at this point, his best skill. And he’s developing all the rest of it.”

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N.D. man pleads guilty to murder charges in deliberate Minnesota crash that killed 2 teens

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N.d. Man Pleads Guilty To Murder Charges In Deliberate Minnesota Crash That Killed 2 Teens
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A Grand Forks, N.D., man pleaded guilty to two counts of third-degree murder for the deaths of two teenagers in a head-on crash that occurred last year in northeastern Minnesota.

Valentin Mendoza IV, 21, pleaded guilty to two counts of murder in the third degree — perpetrating eminently dangerous act and evincing depraved mind. He used the Norgaard plea, which is used when the defendant has no recollection of the event.

Mendoza maintained not-guilty pleas for the four other charges: two counts of second-degree murder — with intent (not premediated), and two counts of criminal vehicular homicide — operating a motor vehicle in a grossly negligent manner.

If the plea agreement is accepted by the court, Mendoza will be sentenced to 180 months for one charge and 150 months for the other. He will serve the sentences consecutively, for a total of 330 months, or 27.5 years.

According to an affidavit in the case, around 3:08 p.m. June 17, 2021, the East Grand Forks Police Department was dispatched to a two-vehicle head-on collision. The crash occurred on Highway 220, about a mile north of Polk County Road 19 in Polk County, Minn.

Mendoza was located in a red 2004 Ford Ranger pickup with severe damage on the front driver’s side; the vehicle was tipped over onto the passenger’s side. Police noted the speedometer was locked at 75 miles per hour and the posted speed limit for that location is 45 miles per hour. Mendoza was transported to Altru Hospital in Grand Forks.

The other vehicle was a white 2007 GMC Envoy, which also had severe damage to the front driver’s side. The speedometer was locked at 65 miles per hour. Two male juveniles were identified; both were unresponsive and severely injured, according to the affidavit. The two boys were removed from the vehicle and transported to Altru Hospital in Grand Forks.

At the hospital, the Minnesota State Police spoke to Mendoza’s mother, who said Mendoza was bipolar and had a history of making “suicidal comments.” According to the affidavit, Mendoza’s mother received a call from his girlfriend that day, stating Mendoza sent her a Snapchat video at 3:05 p.m. In the video, Mendoza was driving and said he was going to take his own life.

After analyzing the scene of the collision, Minnesota state trooper Adam Rochlin determined the Envoy had been traveling southbound on Highway 220 and the pickup was traveling northbound at the time of the crash. The roadway was noted as straight and flat, marked with a yellow center line, dry and clear of defects or damage.

“There were no tire or brake marks near the point of impact of the collision,” the affidavit says. The pickup crossed the center line and struck the Envoy head-on.

On June 23, 2021, one of the juveniles died from his injuries after being removed from life support. On June 29, 2021, the other juvenile died from his injuries.

Mendoza’s sentencing is scheduled to take place at 1:30 p.m. Dec. 14.

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Amy Klobuchar confirms she’ll see fourth Senate term in 2024

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Amy Klobuchar Confirms She’ll See Fourth Senate Term In 2024
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U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota’s senior senator, says she plans to seek a fourth term in two years.

A Klobuchar spokeswoman confirmed the Democrat’s intentions in a statement to the Star Tribune, the Minneapolis-based newspaper reported on Thursday.

“As the Senator has made clear, she loves her job serving the people of Minnesota and is planning on running for re-election,” spokeswoman Jane Meyer said in a statement, which followed a recent Politico article noting the large number of Democratic-held Senate seats on the ballot in 2024.

Klobuchar ran an unsuccessful campaign for president in 2020. With President Joe Biden planning to seek re-election in 2024, Klobuchar will back him, Meyer confirmed to the Minneapolis newspaper.

The 62-year-old senator was first elected to the Senate in 2006. A graduate of Yale University and the University of Chicago Law School, she previously served as the Hennepin County attorney.

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‘I’m coming back. Give me some time’: Ben Simmons, Nets preach patience after ugly loss to Heat

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‘I’m Coming Back. Give Me Some Time’: Ben Simmons, Nets Preach Patience After Ugly Loss To Heat
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As fans slowly filed out of the Barclays Center after the Nets’ second consecutive preseason blowout loss to an Eastern Conference playoff opponent — this time a 109-80 defeat to the Miami Heat after Monday’s 19-point thumping from the shorthanded Philadelphia 76ers — the in-arena DJ played an all-too familiar tune.

“Don’t worry. Be happy.”

It’s easy to worry after Thursday’s poor performance, a game two-time NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant said he “didn’t like anything” about except the team leaving with no injured players. Poor defense and offensive miscues aside, Ben Simmons’ unwillingness to attack the basket underscored the Nets’ inability to take care of the basketball or generate quality offense against one of the NBA’s premier defenses.

Especially in a game both Kyrie Irving (paternity leave) and Joe Harris (sore ankle) watched from the sidelines.

Simmons, however, said there are some things he isn’t yet comfortable doing — like “getting to the rim, getting hit and hitting” other players — because he’s only a few months removed from offseason back surgery. He is confident, and so are his teammates and his head coach, about a  return to a more aggressive version of himself as he shakes off the rust associated with 480 days away from NBA basketball and works to get into a better place after getting a microdiscectomy to alleviate the pain stemming from the herniated disk he suffered after the trade to Brooklyn.

“It’s been a year,” Simmons said after posting four points, four assists and 10 rebounds to go with six turnovers on the night. “I’m coming back. Give me some time.”

Still, there were some plays that raised eyebrows more than others.

Simmons, for example, had a 10-inch height advantage on Heat guard Kyle Lowry and had the mismatch with a one-on-one on the high post. Instead of looking to power to the rim against the smaller opponent, he threw the ball back out to Durant on the perimeter.

When Durant immediately gave the ball back to Simmons — a sign for Simmons to take advantage of the mismatch and get to the rim — Simmons took one dribble towards the paint and shoveled a pass to Royce O’Neale on the opposite wing.

O’Neale, a capable marksman, missed the lightly contested three.

Then there were the back-to-back turnovers with just over two minutes to go in the first quarter.

Reserve lead guard Edmond Sumner threw an entry pass to Simmons, who posted up Heat All-Star Jimmy Butler on the baseline. Sumner then cut along the baseline behind Simmons to the rim, and Simmons floated a pass over his head under the basket.

The pass was tipped away and intercepted, leading to a Miami fast break.

On the very next possession, Simmons advanced the ball up the floor against second-year two-way signing Marcus Garrett. Markieff Morris screened Garrett at the three-point line and Simmons pushed within two feet of the foul line.

And then he flung a pass to O’Neale in the left wing. This time, Garrett was in position and made a play to get possession of the ball.

Some of Simmons’ passes were predictable because Simmons didn’t — and doesn’t — look to score often. Durant said the team “definitely” wants Simmons “to be more aggressive and look to score, especially if he’s got a small wing in the post,” and when he “has an advantage going downhill in transition.”

But he also knows how long of a layoff it’s been for Simmons and that Thursday only marked his second game back.

“I think he’s just finding his rhythm again. He hasn’t played in a long time, and to throw you back up in there with the game going fast?” Durant said. “You can play pickup all you want, but once you put someone in the game, all that stuff goes out the window.

“So, he’s getting his legs, (a) quick move here and he’s figuring it out. It’s only going to get better from here.”

Simmons admitted there needs to be more of a balance for when he looks to set his teammates up for shots versus when he looks to score on his own.

“Looking at the box score, I took three shots, which is definitely not enough,” he said. “Obviously offensively, I want to get to the post more, get some more touches down low, be more aggressive, get to the rim, get to the free throw line, which I didn’t do tonight.”

Nets head coach Steve Nash said he expects Simmons to grow in his aggression putting pressure on the rim. He also, rightfully, noted Irving and Harris’ absences put more pressure on Simmons to create by taking two floor spacers off the court.

“He’s gonna get more attempts. Right now obviously it’s a little clunky for us,” Nash said. “Ben will be fine. He’ll improve, he’s gonna get better every night, and he’s gonna be an engine for us and a big part of what we do. So I’m not really worried about him, but it is a process.

“He hasn’t played for a long time and he’s also assimilating to a new group. That takes time, it’s not gonna be perfect, and it probably won’t be any time soon. But if we can keep improving every day that’s all we ask for.”

Two preseason games isn’t full cause to be worried, but the Nets — other than glimpses of unrealized potential — haven’t given fans much to be happy about, either.

Durant finished with 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the floor but showed some frustration when he accidentally threw the ball away attempting to get the ball to O’Neale, kicking off a Heat fast break and putting them on the line.

Nash warned things would look ugly early as the Nets adjust to both new rotations and new schemes, and ugly described their loss to the Heat on Thursday. It’s only preseason, but the same can be said for the two other Eastern Conference contenders who have blown the cap off the Barclays Center.

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JKSSB Final Selection List-cum-Allocation of Cadres & Departments for remaining Class-IV Posts

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JKSSB Final Selection List-cum-Allocation of Cadres & Departments for remaining Class-IV Posts

JKSSB Final Selection List-cum-Allocation of Cadres & Departments for remaining Class-IV Posts under the provisions of the Jammu & Kashmir Appointment to Class-IV (Special Recruitment) Rules, 2020, advertised vide Notification No. 01 of 2020 dated 26.06.2020.

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