Passport

On Your Knees! Violent Clashes in Donetsk Leave Casualties (Videos)

As the standoff between Russia and Ukraine continues, supporters of both sides violently clashed in the eastern city of Donetsk late into the night on Thursday, March 13. In what resembled the front line of a battle, two rallies -- one pro-Russian, one pro-Ukrainian -- faced off with eggs, stun grenades, and firecrackers. According to the BBC, the violence was instigated by pro-Russian activists who attacked a pro-Ukrainian rally. Despite police efforts to cordon off the battling sides, the clashes left at least one person dead.

Meanwhile, thousands of Russian troops are gathering on the border with Ukraine, with the Kremlin apparently flexing its muscles before the referendum in Crimea this Sunday. The region's residents are to decide whether they prefer to stay within Ukrainian borders, or join the Russian Federation.  

Authorities from both Russia and Ukraine issued statements condemning the events in Donetsk, accusing each other of instigating the clashes.

Acting President of Ukraine, Oleksandr Turchynov did not hold back. "Dreadful things happened in Donetsk yesterday evening. As a result mothers again have to bury their children. Hospitals are again full of injured. It is a terrible tragedy.... The most cynical thing is that the victims were Ukrainian citizens who came to the rally in their hometown to support the integrity of our country. This is the true face of double agents-separatists who provoked the fight. They and their masters in Kremlin are indifferent to the lives of people whom they supposedly were willing to defend. Every Ukrainian has to understand that," Turchynov said Friday.

The Russian Foreign Ministry's (MFA) statement, translated by The Guardian is a mirror image of Turchynov's.

"Radical far-right gangs armed with traumatic firearms and clubs, who began to arrive in the city yesterday from other regions of the country, attacked peaceful protesters who came out on the streets to express their attitude toward the destructive position of the people who call themselves the Ukrainian government."

The MFA claimed that the government in Kiev had lost control of the country.

"Russia recognizes its responsibility for the lives of countrymen and fellow citizens in Ukraine and reserves the right to take people under its protection," the Foreign Ministry ominously warned.

Euromaidan PR, the information outlet of the Maidan opposition movement posted online raw footage featuring the violent melee.

Several buses and a cordon of riot police were unable to stop protesters from clashing.

 



Here, a group of pro-Ukrainian protesters, huddled together, are forced to kneel. Others are chanting "On your knees!"

 



What started with pro-Russia chants on one side, and waving Ukrainian flags on the other, ended in brutal beatings, shown here in a Vice News report.

Alexander KHUDOTEPLY/AFP/Getty Images

National Security

How To Set a Honeytrap: U.S. Defense Contractor Pleads Guilty to Sharing State Secrets with His Chinese Girlfriend

Theirs was an unconventional love story. He was a 59-year-old, married defense contractor with a Top Secret security clearance. She was a 27-year-old Chinese national with a student visa. They met at a defense conference in Hawaii, where he lived, and began an illicit, long-distance romance that lasted nearly three years and saw him give her reams of classified U.S. military secrets.

But like all good love stories, this one ends unhappily. On Thursday, Benjamin Bishop pled guilty in federal court to charges of unlawfully transmitting and retaining classified national defense information.

No charges have been brought against his girlfriend, whose identity has not been made public.

When the couple began the ill-fated love affair, Bishop was working in cyber defense at the U.S. Pacific Command, and the young woman was attending graduate school in the United States on a J-1 visa. Their courtship was unusual from the beginning: According to an FBI affidavit, she repeatedly asked Bishop not to give her classified information, but nevertheless persisted in asking him questions about his work at Pacific Command. At one point, she even asked him to conduct research for her on "what Western nation's [sic] know about the operation of a particular naval asset of the People's Republic of China," according to the affidavit. Bishop, who is a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve, managed to obtain the information she wanted by misrepresenting himself as an active-duty officer to U.S. government personnel.

For obvious reasons, various media have branded her a Chinese "honeytrap," fueling speculation that she's actually a spy who seduced Bishop in order to gain access to sensitive military information. Who needs sophisticated hacker groups, after all, when you have 27-year-old co-eds? FBI Special Agent Scott Freeman acknowledged in an affidavit that that the young woman may have attended the conference in Hawaii "in order to target individuals such as Bishop."

But in court, Bishop's attorney, Birney Bervar, characterized the couple's exchange of secret information as an act of love, not espionage.

Let's hope that's true. Because it seems that Bishop just can't quit this woman. After being arrested and jailed last year, U.S. District Court Judge Leslie Kobayashi released him to a residential halfway house on the condition that he not contact his girlfriend. So, naturally, he wrote her some love letters, sending them by email and post including, according to a court document, the ominous warning, "I take a risk in sending mail to you. Please do not reveal it to anyone." He was soon remanded back to prison.

If Bishop is convicted, he faces up to 10 years in prison. As for his mysterious girlfriend, no charges have been filed against her, and court records indicate that she's cooperating with authorities. No word yet on why she asked her beau to collect classified information for her.

But the romantic in us really wants to believe it's just research for her dissertation.

Ian Waldie/Getty Images