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    Ukraine's Tymoshenko Urges Strong European Action Against Secession Try

    Pro-Western Ukrainian opposition icon Yulia Tymoshenko has urged Europe to take strong action to prevent Ukraine's Crimean peninsula from joining Russia, saying such a move will destabilize the entire continent.

    Ms. Tymoshenko, twice Ukraine's prime minister, spoke to European politicians Thursday in Dublin, Ireland, just hours after pro-Russian lawmakers in Crimea voted to join Russia. The parliamentary vote sets the stage for a March 16 Crimean referendum on the region's future that U.S. and European leaders are calling illegal.

    Tymoshenko told a session of the European People's Party -- the largest bloc in the European parliament -- that democracy will suffer "if we allow Russia to hold a referendum at gunpoint."

    Witnesses and Western analysts say thousands of Russian military personnel have crossed into Crimea since last week, setting off a groundswell of Western condemnation against Russian President Vladimir Putin, and warnings of stiff penalties if Moscow fails to withdraw.



    Thursday's vote by the Crimean parliament triggered a flurry of political reaction in Kyiv, European capitals and Washington.

    In Brussels, interim Ukrainian prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk called the Crimean parliament's vote to leave Ukraine "an illegal decision." But he told European Union lawmakers his government remains open to crisis talks with Moscow.

    The EU froze the assets in Europe held by 18 Ukrainians, including ousted president Viktor Yanukovych, former prime minister Mykola Azarov and 16 former ministers, business people and security chiefs.

    In Washington, President Barack Obama authorized sanctions, including visa restrictions, against those found to have violated Ukraine's territorial integrity. Separately, the U.S. House of Representatives approved loan guarantees of about $1 billion to the Kyiv government.

    Earlier Thursday, monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe were stopped at the border and not allowed into the region. They later returned to Kyiv, where they described the situation in Crimea as tense, and questioned the legality of the upcoming referendum.

    Separately, the international police agency Interpol said it had received an international wanted persons alert for the arrest of the fugitive former president Yanukovych. The ex-president fled Kyiv in late February, under intense pressure from anti-government protesters demanding his resignation. Interpol says the charges include abuse of power and murder.

    Ukraine's crisis began when protests erupted in late November after Mr. Yanukovych rejected an economic deal with the European Union in favor of closer ties with Russia. What began as peaceful protests quickly turned violent, leading to the deaths of more than 80 protesters and charges that the Yanukovych government ordered snipers to shoot protesters.

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    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
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    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
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    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
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    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
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    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
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    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
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    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
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    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

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    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

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    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
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    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

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    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
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    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
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    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
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    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.