Donald Trump confirmed he will appeal against his historic conviction in his New York trial in remarks at Trump Tower. Trump falsely repeated claims his prosecution was politically orchestrated and that his trial was "rigged.” The ex-president was convicted on all 34 counts of falsifying business records in his trial on Thursday. His campaign says it raised $35m in online donations following his conviction. This is the first time a former or serving US president has been found guilty of a crime. Trump can still run for president. He could be sent to prison when he's sentenced on 11 July - but legal experts say a fine is more likely - BBC

A high-speed railway line connecting the Baltic states to Poland and the rest of Europe has started construction. The $4 billion Rail Baltica project aims to connect the capitals of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania with Warsaw, a physical and symbolic move to bring those former Soviet states closer to the European Union at a time of high tension between Western Europe and Russia. Russia's actions in Ukraine have heightened the Baltic states' sense of urgency to reduce their dependency on Russian infrastructure and energy supplies. Historically, the Baltic countries have relied on railway systems that use the Russian gauge, a remnant of their time under Soviet influence, but Rail Baltica will adopt the European standard gauge. The project is a massive undertaking, both in scope and in financial terms. With an estimated cost of €5.8 billion, Rail Baltica is one of the most significant infrastructure projects in the region. The European Union has shown strong support for the project, funding up to 85% of the costs through the Connecting Europe Facility. - Newsweek

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Belarus Sentences German Man to Death for 'Mercenary Activity'
Other Topics of Interest

Belarus Sentences German Man to Death for 'Mercenary Activity'

Belarus remains one of the few European countries to have death penalties, and a human rights group said this was the first time someone has been tried for mercenary activity in Belarus.

Russia has accused Nato and the US of "provoking a new level of tension" after the US and Germany became the latest allies to let Ukraine's military to use Western-supplied weapons to strike targets inside Russia. A Berlin spokesman said Germany was convinced Ukraine had the right to defend itself from Russia, especially from cross-border attacks on its second largest city Kharkiv. US officials said American-supplied weapons could be used to counter Russian fire near the Kharkiv region, either where Russian forces were "hitting them or preparing to hit them". Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky said the decision would help protect civilians living in villages close to the Russian border. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Nato countries, especially the US and several European countries, had "entered a new round of escalating tension and they are doing this deliberately", in remarks quoted by the Tass news agency. “They are in every possible way provoking Ukraine to continue this senseless war." - BBC

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Ukraine has brought 75 soldiers home from Russia in the war’s latest prisoner swap, as senior Ukrainian officials welcomed them on Friday. "After a long break, another prisoner swap occurred: 75 defenders and civilians were released from the enemy's captivity," Ukraine's Coordinating Committee on Dealing with Prisoners of War said. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed the deal on Friday - Euronews

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A court in Russia on May 31 extended the pretrial detention of Alsu Kurmasheva, a Prague-based journalist with RFE/RL who holds dual U.S. and Russian citizenships, until August 5. The Sovetsky District Court of Kazan also rejected another request by Kurmasheva's lawyers to have her detention switched to house arrest. While deliberations were held behind closed doors, representatives from the Australian and Czech embassies, along with reporters, were allowed into the courtroom for other parts of the hearing. - RFE/RL

Snack maker Mondelez resumed its production of Oreo cookies in Ukraine, after its plant in a small city in the eastern part of the country was badly damaged during Russia’s invasion roughly two years ago. Mondelez’s plant in Trostyanets is now fully rebuilt after opening partially last year to make chocolates, according to a company statement. The company said the Oreo cookies and other chocolates produced at the Ukrainian factory are not being exported to neighboring Russia. Mondelez has three factories in Russia and sells its cookies and snacks there despite boycotts and calls for it to stop from employees, activists and investors. Mondelez said it was making its business in Russia “stand-alone” with a self-sufficient supply chain by the end of 2023. It appointed new leadership in Europe including Russia earlier this year. - CNN

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In huge departure from the passive China policy of his predecessor, Philippines President Ferdinand ‘Bong Bong’ Marcos Jr. has decided to get tough on Beijing for its reckless actions in the West Philippine Sea. Manila is now planning to pursue international arbitration, saying the diplomatic approach has all but failed. Land reclamation, over fishing, “massive coral harvesting,” oil spills are among many claims. “For the last nine years, China continues to encroach on our exclusive economic zone. In doing so, this hegemon has acted with impunity, destroying thousands of hectares of irreplaceable marine life which took nature eons to create - thereby depriving many of our fishermen and their families of their livelihoods” - former Supreme Court Justice Francis Jardeleza

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