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What you need to know now by Reuters

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© Reuters. Ukrainian soldiers drive near Bakhmut, as the Russian offensive in Ukraine continues, in the Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, September 7, 2022. REUTERS/Ammar Awad

(Reuters) – Russia launched referendums on Friday aimed at annexing four occupied regions of Ukraine, drawing condemnation from Kyiv and Western countries that called the elections a sham and vowed not to recognize their results.

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* Ukrainian officials said people were prevented from leaving some occupied areas until the end of the four-day vote, armed groups were moving into homes to force people to vote, and employees were threatened with dismissal if they did not participate.

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* Reuters was not able to immediately verify reports of coercion.

Votes in Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhya provinces were hastily organized after Ukraine regained control of large swathes of the northeast in a counterattack.

Ukraine, Western leaders and the United Nations condemned the vote as an illegal prelude to illegal annexation. There are no independent monitors, and much of the population had fled before the war.

The White House said on Friday that the United States is prepared to impose additional economic costs on Russia in conjunction with US allies if Moscow goes ahead with the annexation of parts of Ukrainian territory.

– NATO Secretary General said on Friday that NATO will step up aid to Kiev in response to “sham” referendums.

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* Russia confirms that referendums provide an opportunity for the peoples of the region to express their views.

Russian crowd

* In Buryatia, a rural area of ​​Siberia, the Russian mobilization has seen some men recruit regardless of age, military record or medical history, according to interviews with local residents, rights activists, and local officials. Activists suspect that the burden of the war itself falls on impoverished ethnic minority areas to avoid provoking popular anger in the capital, Moscow, 6,000 km away.

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* Ukraine’s Ministry of Infrastructure said a total of 211 ships carrying 4.7 million tons of agricultural products on board have so far left Ukraine under an agreement brokered by the United Nations and Turkey to open Ukrainian seaports.

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Fighting and violations

– British military intelligence said on Saturday that Russia attacked a dam on the Seversky Donets River with a suspected short-range ballistic missile, the second attack on a dam since September 15, apparently with the aim of flooding Ukrainian military crossing points.

– The acting mayor of the town told the media that a Russian missile hit a residential building in Zaporizhia, causing casualties.

* A UN commission of inquiry said on Friday it had found evidence of war crimes including executions, rape, torture and imprisonment of children in Russia-occupied areas of Ukraine, after visits in 27 regions and interviews with more than 150 victims and witnesses.

* Russia denies deliberately attacking civilians in the conflict and says the accusations of violations are a smear campaign. It did not immediately comment on the report.

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* Ukraine said on Friday it would downgrade diplomatic ties with Iran over its decision to supply drones to Russian forces. Iran said it regretted Ukraine’s move to downgrade relations.

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MicroStrategy is at its lowest level since 2020 after the sales were revealed

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(Bloomberg) — Shares of MicroStrategy touched their lowest level since August 2020 after the enterprise software company, which in recent years has been known as the largest buyer of bitcoin, revealed its first sale of the token.

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The stock fell 1.1 percent to $136.63 on Thursday, down 75 percent this year. Bitcoin rose less than 1% to around $16,590 and is believed to have fallen 64% since the start of the year.

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In a filing on Wednesday, MicroStrategy said it acquired approximately 2,395 Bitcoin between the beginning of November and December 21 through its subsidiary MacroStrategy, and paid out approximately $42.8 million in cash. It then sold 704 of the tokens on Dec. 22 for a total of about $11.8 million, citing tax purposes, before buying another 810 of them two days later.

Matt Malley, chief market strategist for Miller Tabak + Co. Step down as CEO. This news means they don’t seem to want to do that anytime soon.”

Overall, MicroStrategy held about 132,500 bitcoins worth over $4 billion USD as of December 27th. The company paid an average purchase price of $30,397 per bitcoin.

“Given MicroStrategy’s $2.4 billion in leverage, we believe the company may have a lot of leverage over Bitcoin, and may face some liquidity risk,” Jefferies analyst Brent Thiel wrote in a note on Wednesday. Thill has an “underperform” rating on the stock and a price target of $110.

Over the years of the pandemic, MicroStrategy has become well known for its Bitcoin takeovers, largely led by Saylor. Earlier this year, Saylor stepped down from that role and now serves as CEO at the company and continues to lead its bitcoin strategy.

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MicroStrategy was trading around $120 before Saylor first announced the company’s Bitcoin purchases in 2020. The stock reached an all-time high of $1,315 in February 2021.

(Updates to include the stock’s closing price in the second paragraph.)

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Bankman-Fried May File Petition in New York Federal Court Next Week Before Judge Louis Kaplan By Cointelegraph

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Former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried is set to appear in court on the afternoon of January 3 to enter a lawsuit over two counts of wire fraud and six counts of conspiracy against him related to the collapse of cryptocurrency exchange FTX, according to Reuters. mentioned on December 28, citing court records. Bankman-Fried will appear before District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan.

Judge Kaplan was appointed to hear the case on December 27 after the original judge in the case, Ronnie Abrams, Resigned herself because of connections between FTX and the law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell, where her husband is a partner. The company provided advisory services to FTX in 2021.