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Russia builds border fence between Crimea and Ukraine proper | News

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Russia has built a 60km fence on the border with Ukraine on the north of the Russian-annexed Crimea, according to the de facto Crimean authorities.

Yefim Fiks, a spokesman for the de facto Crimean parliament, told the Russian news agency Ria Novosti on Friday that the move was necessary “to protect the local population from the crazy antics of the current Ukrainian government”.

He claimed that “everything can be expected” from the authorities in Kiev.

“Even if these provocations do not come from the authorities, inadequate radicals can do it,” Fiks said.

Andriy Demchenko, the spokesman for Ukraine’s border guard service, told Reuters news agency that the measure was “mere propaganda”.

“It is more likely a propaganda move by Russia to demonstrate strengthening security, separating from Ukraine and to make sure that, as they say, sabotage groups won’t be able to cross the border in future,” he said.

Ukraine divided – personal stories from warring sides

“I hope that neither this fence nor other actions by occupants will lead to limitation of Ukrainian citizens’ right to visit the peninsula.”

The European Union regards Russia’s annexation of Crimea as a violation of international law and insists on the territorial integrity of Ukraine.

The conflict between the Moscow-backed separatists and the Ukrainian army in the east of the country has killed more than 10,000 people since 2014, according to the United Nations.

In the period until shortly before Christmas, 104 dead have been counted so far this year.

Holiday truce

In the area of conflict, a truce has been called for on Saturday starting at 0:01am (22:01 GMT).

Yevgen Marchuk, the Ukrainian ambassador to the peace talks with the rebels, said: “We stressed that this ceasefire must be used as much as possible for the repair of critical infrastructure facilities that are damaged. Unfortunately, there are several such facilities.”






INSIDE STORY: What triggered the military confrontation in Black Sea? (25:31)

The ceasefire does not have a time limit and is not just until Orthodox Christmas on January 7, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said on Friday.

Welcoming the truce deal, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron pressed Russia in a joint statement on Friday to release Ukrainian sailors captured over a month ago in time for the new year and Orthodox Christmas.

They also vowed to keep up pressure to implement a 2015 peace deal for eastern Ukraine.

The long-simmering conflict between Russia and Ukraine that started with Russia’s annexation of Crimea escalated on November 25 when the Russian coastguard fired upon and seized three Ukrainian naval vessels and their crews.

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Ottawa families give mixed reviews for online schooling

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So, how’s it going with online school? Families reached by CBC Ottawa seem to have mixed reviews. 

Masuma Khan is a mother of two. Her seven-year-old, Hana Wyndham in Grade 2, is attending French immersion virtual school. Masuma is grateful it’s an option, but can’t help notice a lot of down time.

“There’s a lot of, ‘are you on mute?’ In terms of the amount of learning that’s actually happening, it does seem to be not that high,” said Masuma.

Parents who kept their children at home this fall are in the minority, but they still form a significant chunk of families in Ottawa.

In the city’s largest school board, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB), about 27 per cent of elementary students and 22 per cent of high school students chose online learning. The Ottawa Catholic School Board says roughly a quarter of its students are online.

For Masuma, the decision to keep her daughter home was complex: extended family members are immunocompromised and she worried the in-person learning environment would be unpleasant because of precautions. She also felt her daughter might benefit from being supported at home.

“She doesn’t necessarily enjoy school. I also found out during the pandemic that she was being bullied [last year],” said Masuma. “So I thought, why not try from home?”

To help her daughter socialize face-to-face with other kids, Masuma enrolled Hana in Baxter Forest School, an alternative education program where kids spend most of their time outside, one day a week. Hana also attends virtual Arabic classes two days a week after school. 

Masuma’s husband and Hana share the living room work space, and Masuma admits he does the lion’s share of helping their daughter stay on task. There is a possibility that he’ll be required to return to his office in the new year.

“When he goes back to work … it’s probably going to be a little bit more difficult.”

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No school closures after Christmas holiday break, says Ontario education minister

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Ontario elementary and secondary schools will not close for an extended winter break, says Education Minister Stephen Lecce.

Closures aren’t needed given Ontario’s “strong safety protocols, low levels of (COVID-19) transmission and safety within our schools,” Lecce announced Wednesday afternoon. He said he had consulted with Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams and the province’s public health measures advisory table.

That ended speculation about school buildings remaining closed in January for a period of time after the Christmas break.

Earlier in the week, Lecce told reporters the government was considering having students spend “some period out of class” in January, perhaps switching to online learning.

In a statement, Lecce said that even though rates of community transmission of COVID-19 are increasing, “schools have been remarkably successful at minimizing outbreaks to ensure that our kids stay safe and learning in their classrooms.”

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Windy start to the week in Ottawa

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OTTAWA — It’s a blustery Monday in the capital with wind gusts of up to 50 km/hour expected throughout the day.

Environment Canada is forecasting a high of 4 C with a 60 per cent chance of showers or flurries before the wind dies down later this evening.

There’s a chance of flurries on Tuesday as well with a high of -1 C. The overnight low will dip to an unseasonal -9 C.  

Wednesday’s high will be just -5 C with lots of sunshine.

Seasonal temperatures return for the rest of the week..

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