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Thursday May 23rd, 2024

Sri Lanka plans diplomatic mission to rescue ex-soldiers from Russia-Ukraine war

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is planning to send a high-level mission on the instructions of President Ranil Wickremesinghe, to discuss the repatriation of ex-soldiers who have been hired by Russian mercenary companies as well as the injured, a minister said.

“We have already spoken to the Russian Ambassador regarding this,” State Minister for Foreign Affairs Tharaka Balasuriya told reporters in Colombo.

“But we will be asking the Russian ambassador to Sri Lanka to help us with some meetings with high-ranking officials.”

The mission may be headed by the Foreign Minister or himself, and will be made up of a former Ambassador to Russia, the Defence Secretary and the Director General of Consular Affairs, he said.

The delegation will be made up of the former Ambassador to Russia Saman Weerasinghe, Defense secretary Kamal Gunarathne, senior officials of the Foreign Ministry.

Returnees have said hundreds of Sri Lankan ex-soldiers and other are serving in Ukraine-Russia frontlines with most being duped that they were sent for support work as camp helpers.

“It is difficult to say how many people,” Minister Balasuriya said. “Our main problem is some people go with visit visa to Russia and some go to other countries like India and then go to Russia.

“Unofficially it is 600 to 800. It can be lower or higher.”

State Minister for Defence Pramitha Bandara Tennakoon said Wednesday that 16 persons have been confirmed killed and family members have lodged complaints about 280 persons who have gone to Russia.

Sri Lankan ex-soldiers have been recruited by several teams of people on the promise of high salaries for working as camp helpers.

Sri Lanka has already arrested two military officers who were involved in one recruitment team.

Returnees from the frontlines around Donetsk oblast has said over 200 Sri Lankans may have died and more are dying from a sophisticated drone warfare unleashed by Ukraine.

Ukraine has developed so-called Kamikaze drones as well as larger one (Baba Yaga) which can shoot RPGs and other weapons at ground targets.

(Colombo/April16/2024)

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Sri Lanka plans to expand Bingiriya export zone to 1,100 acres

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka is expanding an export processing zone in Bingiriya in Kurunegala and plans to link the area with Puttalam with roads and other infrastructure, Minister Bandula Gunawardana said.

A task force of ministerial secretaries will be appointed to carry out the tasks speedily, following a cabinet paper submitted by President Ranil Wickremesinghe said.

The Bingiriya zone already has 157 acres and another 282 acres is being developed by the Board of Investment, he said.

Steps would also be taken to acquire 666 acres.

There was no information whose lands would be acquired. (Colombo/May23/2024)

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Sri Lanka has power breakdowns amidst extreme weather

ECONOMYNEXT – The state-owned power utility, the Ceylon Electricity Board has reported over 36,900 breakdowns resulting in power interruptions to more than 300,000 consumers in the last three days due to inclement weather in the island, the power minister said.

“Additional service staff has been assigned to attend the breakdowns and the CEB management & service staff are working 24 hours to restore power to the affected consumers,” Minister of Power and Energy, Kanchana Wijesekera said on social media platform X (twitter).

Wijesekera said consumers could report power interruptions through the CEB hotline 1987, via SMS to 1987 with BD and the electricity consumer number to follow, or use the CEB Care app, or through http://cebcare.ceb.lk.

The South-East monsoon has seen floods, landslides and strong winds do damage to the utility provider’s infrastructure in the last week. (Colombo/May23?2024)

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Sri Lanka President calls for unity, sacrificing for a better tomorrow on Vesak day

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe has recalled a sermon from the Buddha about sacrificing for a better tomorrow, and called for unity to heal and rebuild the country, as Buddhists celebrate Vesak.

Buddhists celebrate Vesak as commemorating the birth, enlightenment and passing away of the Buddha.

“At this challenging moment, we as a nation should cultivate the same great zeal for enlightenment that Buddha exemplified, inspired by his sermon, “Maththasukha parichchaga- passé che vipulan sukhan” – to sacrifice today for a better tomorrow,” President Wickremesinghe said in his Vesak day message.

“We must remember the advice of Lord Buddha, “Sabbattha Sammanaso,” to treat everyone equally and ensure we put it into practice as a country. This is the greatest offering we can present to the Buddha on this Vesak day.

“Regardless of race, religion, caste, or political affiliation, we must all unite to heal and rebuild our country. ”

The full statement is reproduced below:

The Vesak festival is a profoundly sacred day for Buddhists worldwide, commemorating the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, and passing. Buddhists in Sri Lanka, along with their brethren around the globe, celebrate Vesak with deep devotion. They spend this period engaging in religious observances and venerating the Buddha with fervent devotion.

At this challenging moment, we as a nation should cultivate the same great zeal for enlightenment that Buddha exemplified, inspired by his sermon, “Maththasukha parichchaga- passé che vipulan sukhan” – to sacrifice today for a better tomorrow.

We must remember the advice of Lord Buddha, “Sabbattha Sammanaso,” to treat everyone equally and ensure we put it into practice as a country. This is the greatest offering we can present to the Buddha on this Vesak day. Regardless of race, religion, caste, or political affiliation, we must all unite to heal and rebuild our country. The principles of Lichchavi Raja Dharmaya will guide us in this endeavour.

Let us keep in mind that the primary aim of the Vesak festival is to foster spiritual growth and character development in a world rapidly advancing physically. I wish everyone a blessed Vesak festival.

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