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Huge tomato fight protests Russian EU food embargo

Around 2000 people gathered at the main square in Amsterdam today to join a tomato fight in support of the Dutch farmers affected by a Russian boycott of EU agricultural products.

The popular Spanish La Tomatina festival inspired a few young Dutch entrepreneurs to organise Amsterdam's version of the tomato fight.

Participants used about 10,000 kilos of tomatoes in the one-hour fight.

Organiser Joep Verbunt said: "Our farmers have a big problem because they cannot deliver their products anymore to Russia."

"Everybody who is here pays 15 euros, so the money goes to the farmers that have the problem," Verbunt told Reuters as he got hit by a flying tomato.

More victims identified from MH17 bringing total to 65

A Dutch led forensic team has managed to identify the remains of 42 more victims who perished aboard Malaysia Airlines flight 17, according to the Netherlands' Justice Ministry.

Wreckage from Malaysia Airlines flight 17. Credit: Reuters

Of these victims 21 were Dutch nationals and 21 were other nationalities, they said. A total of 65 victims have now been identified.

They said the relatives of the victims have been notified but at the request of the embassies of the countries concerned, they have not announced the specific nationalities of the non-Dutch victims.

A total of 228 coffins were brought to the Netherlands for analysis but it is not known how many victims that represents.

The forensic experts at a military base in Hilversum are using DNA samples and dental records in a process expected to take months.


Malaysia Airlines gives £2,980 to MH17 families

Malaysia Airlines is offering a payment to the families of each passenger and crew member who died aboard the MH17 flight.

The families of passengers aboard the MH17 will received a payout of around £2980 Credit: Reuters

In a statement the airlines said they were currently supporting the families and that they had assigned caregivers for each family member to "provide emotional support and assistance."

They said: "In addition, the airline is offering financial assistance of $5,000 (£2,980) to the families of each passenger and craw member. To date, a majority of the families have already received such financial assistance, which will not be part of any compensation that may be payable."

They added: "We have also taken steps to arrange for contractual benefits to which our crew are entitled to be explained and paid to their next of kin, together with a further goodwill payment to help meet the current needs of their families."

British MH17 passenger among 23 identified victims

The remains of 23 passengers including one Briton aboard Malaysia Airlines flight 17 have been identified by the Dutch-led forensic team, according to the Netherlands' Justice Ministry.

The interior of the wreckage, which is believed to be part of the economy section of the plane. Credit: Laura Wilshaw/ITV News

Spokesperson Jean Fransman said those identified include 18 Dutch, two Malaysians, a Canadian, a German and a Briton. All of their families have been notified.

In all, 228 coffins have been brought to the Netherlands but it is not known how many victims that represents.

The forensic experts at a military base in Hilversum are using DNA samples and dental records in a process expected to take months.

Pro-Russian rebel leader steps aside for Ukrainian

The head of the self-proclaimed "Donetsk People's Republic" has stepped down in favour of a native Ukraine in a move regarded as an attempt to defuse claims the pro-Russian rebels are being directed by Moscow.

Alexander Borodai (left), the former leader of the self-proclaimed "Donetsk People's Republic", shakes hands with his replacement, Alexander Zakharchenko. Credit: Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters

Aleksander Borodai said he would now serve as deputy leader to Alexander Zakharchenko, who is from Donetsk.

"After all, I am a native of Moscow and I think the DNR [Donetsk People's Republic] should be run by a person who is body and soul of Donbass," Borodai said in a reference to the wider Donetsk region.

Zakharchenko commands a heavily armed rebel unit called Oplot, which has taken part in some of the fiercest battles and has its origins in a martial arts club.

Analysts said the move was unlikely to have a significant influence on the battle for control of eastern Ukraine.

MH17 victims to be honoured at St James' Park

The two Newcastle United fans who died when flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine will be honoured with a minute's silence before the team's first Premier League game this season.

The two Newcastle United fans who died when flight MH17 was shot down will be honoured at St James' Park. Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

John Alder, 63, and Liam Sweeney, 28, were on their way to New Zealand on the Malaysia Airlines flight to watch Newcastle play two friendlies there last month.

Tributes will be paid on Sunday August 17 at St James' Park before Newcastle play Manchester City.

Team captains Fabricio Coloccini and Vincent Kompany will lay wreaths at the centre circle before kick-off, accompanied by representatives of the families of both men.


Russia continues to threaten Ukraine, Nato chief says

The Nato Secretary General has accused Russia of continuing to destabilise Ukraine and called on Moscow to "step back from the brink".

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Nato Secretary-General, meets with Ukraine Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk in Kiev today. Credit: Andrew Kravchenko/Reuters

Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that rather than helping to stabilise the situation, Moscow's support for Ukrainian separatists continued to grow "in scale and sophistication".

Nato has warned that Russia has put 20,000 troops near the border with Ukraine and could be planning a ground invasion.

Fogh Rasmussen added that Moscow "should not use peace-keeping as an excuse for war-making" and that the shooting down of flight MH17 was a tragic consequence of its "reckless" policy of supporting the pro-Russian separatists.

Ukraine: Nato boss discusses possible 'Western alliance'

A protester sits in front of burning barricades during clashes with pro-government forces at Independence Square in Kiev August 7, 2014. Credit: Reuters

Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk have discussed a possible Western alliance support for Ukraine's defence capacity, a Kiev government statement said.

The two men discussed ways in which a proposed NATO trust fund could be used to support Kiev's defence ability in areas including command and control, communications and cyber-defence, the statement also said.

Ukraine government suspends MH17 crash site truce

Forensic experts look at a makeshift marker denoting evidence during recovery work at the site of the downed Malaysian airliner MH17. Credit: Reuters

The Ukrainian government has suspended the ceasefire in the area surrounding the MH17 crash site after the recovery mission was halted yesterday, Reuters have reported.

Operation to recover MH17 victims halted amid fighting

The Netherlands is halting the operation to recover victims and debris of MH17 because of fighting in eastern Ukraine, the Dutch prime minister has said.

Mark Rutte told journalists in The Hague the risk posed to the team of 70 Australian, Dutch and Malaysian experts was too great to continue working in the area.

"The security situation in eastern Ukraine and the MH17 crash site has worsened by the day," Rutte said. "That is making it impossible for experts to do their work."

He said it made no sense to continue the operation under the current conditions.

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