Nation and world news in brief for June 18

Russia set to begin trial of WSJ reporter Evan Gershkovich on June 26

(TNS) — Russia set June 26 for the opening of an espionage trial against imprisoned Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, a step that may hasten negotiations for a possible swap deal.


The trial behind closed doors will take place at the Sverdlovsk Regional Court in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg, the court’s press service said in a statement Monday. Gershkovich, 32, and the newspaper have denied Russia’s accusations that he was spying when he was detained by Federal Security Service agents in the city in March last year.

The State Department has formally determined that he’s “wrongfully detained,” allowing the U.S. to negotiate on his behalf. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told the state-run Tass news service shortly after Gershkovich’s arrest that talks on a possible exchange “could only be considered after a court verdict.”

S. Korean military fires warning shots after N. Korean soldiers cross demarcation line

SEOUL (Reuters) -South Korea’s military fired warning shots after North Korean soldiers crossed the Military Demarcation Line near the border on Tuesday, according to the country’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).

Some 20 to 30 soldiers breached the line by 20 metres (65 feet) inside the demilitarised zone on Tuesday morning and briefly moved back north after warning shots were fired by the South, according to a JCS official.

The JCS does not think the breach was intentional, the Yonhap news agency reported.

North Korean soldiers also suffered multiple casualties while working due to the explosion of landmines in the demilitarised zone, the JCS official told the press.

North Korea’s military has been conducting various activities along the frontline including deploying soldiers and planting landmines, the JCS official added.

Such activities appeared to be part of efforts to tighten border control and prevent North Koreans from defecting to the South, the official said.

Kansas accuses Pfizer of misleading public about COVID vaccine in lawsuit

(Reuters) — The state of Kansas on Monday sued Pfizer, accusing the company of misleading the public about its COVID-19 vaccine by hiding risks while making false claims about its effectiveness.

In a lawsuit filed in the District Court of Thomas County, the state said the New York-based drugmaker’s alleged false statements violated the Kansas Consumer Protection Act. It is seeking unspecified money damages.

The lawsuit claims that, beginning shortly after the vaccine’s rollout in early 2021, Pfizer concealed evidence that the shot was linked to pregnancy complications, including miscarriage, as well as inflammation in and around the heart, known as myocarditis and pericarditis.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in June 2021 added a warning about myocarditis and pericarditis to the vaccine’s label. The side effects are rare and most often occur in adolescent boys and young men.

Canada defends sending ship to Cuba as vital to deterring Russia

OTTAWA (Reuters) — The Canadian Liberal government, criticized by opposition legislators for sending a patrol ship to Havana while Russian vessels were there, on Monday said the visit was meant to send a message of deterrence to Moscow.

The Canadian navy patrol ship sailed into the harbor early on Friday, two days after the arrival of a Russian nuclear-powered submarine and a frigate. Canada and the United States said they were closely monitoring the vessels.

“The deployment … sends a very clear message that Canada has a capable and deployable military and we will not hesitate to do what is required to protect our national interest,” Defence Minister Bill Blair told reporters.

“Canadian Armed Forces will continue to track the movements and activities of the Russian ships,” he added.

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