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News Wrap: Russia calls for Ukraine ceasefire at UN Security Council

June 2, 2014 at 6:02 PM EST
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GWEN IFILL: Russia convened an emergency session of the U.N. Security Council today to press for an immediate cease-fire in Ukraine. The draft proposal also demands a start to peace talks and the creation of humanitarian corridors so civilians can safely flee.

Hours before the U.N. gathering, hundreds of pro-Russian rebels attacked a border guard camp in Eastern Ukraine. Amateur video showed flames and heavy black smoke rising from the base at Luhansk. At least five rebels were reported killed, but one of their commanders said the battle would continue.

OLEG, Pro-Russian commander (through interpreter): Valery Bolotov, the people’s governor of Luhansk, gave the government troops an ultimatum. They have time to surrender their weapons and go home from the Luhansk People’s Republic. They refused to do that. That is why we launched special operations against them.

GWEN IFILL: Later, the separatists said a government airstrike killed two people. The military denied it, and blamed the explosion on a rebel rocket that misfired.

In Libya, at least 20 people were killed in the latest fighting between Islamist militants and forces of a renegade general. Almost 70 others were wounded in battles in Benghazi, as helicopter gunships attacked the militants’ camps.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas swore in a new unity government today. The new cabinet was — has the support of both Fatah from the West Bank and the Islamist militant group Hamas, which controls Gaza. The two factions have been divided for nearly seven years. Israel considers Hamas a terrorist organization and has condemned the unity move.

The king of Spain, Juan Carlos, has announced he’s abdicating after nearly 40 years in power. He’s credited with leading the country from dictatorship to democracy.

Matt Frei of Independent Television News has our report.

MATT FREI: “I come to you this morning,” he declared, his face bloated by medication, his voice frail beyond his 76 years, “with profound emotion and after deep thought to tell you that it is time for me to step down.”

The son of Spain’s last monarch deposed before the Spanish Civil War, Juan Carlos was raised in exile in Italy. Tall, handsome and obedient to a fault, he owed his return to Spain to General Franco, the fascist dictator who became his political godfather and groomed him to become a successor.

But once installed on the throne, a young and nervous-looking Juan Carlos decided to take Spain in a very different direction, to democracy. Not everyone agreed. In 1981, remnants of the Franco regime stormed Parliament and tried to strangle democracy at birth. It didn’t work.

The king stepped in and stopped the coup. It was his finest hour, the one that the cold eye of history will remember, whatever happened later, much later, until 2012 when a lot of things went wrong all at the same time. The king was caught in flagrante delicto on an elephant hunt in Botswana with a German mistress. He had to be flown home after breaking his hip, all this while Spain was mired in the deepest recession in living memory.

They never really forgave him. His approval ratings plummeted and today’s abdication seemed like the honorable way out. What has rescued the monarchy is the man who takes over, Crown Prince Felipe, tall, handsome, competent and married to a journalist. His job will be to preserve Spain’s brittle unity and heal the wounds of recession.

GWEN IFILL: The king said he wants the handover to take place early next year. First, the Spanish Parliament has to pass a law setting up the legal mechanism for abdication and royal succession.

A brutal rape-murder in India sparked new protests by women today in Uttar Pradesh state. But police blasted the women with water cannons in a bid to disperse the crowd. The protesters were demanding the state government be dismissed. Five suspects have been arrested in the attack and killing of two teenage girls. Their bodies were found hanging from a tree.

The Justice Department today charged a Russian man in a hacking operation that stole more than $100 million worldwide. Evgeniy Bogachev allegedly orchestrated a ring that infected thousands of computers with malware to get passwords and account numbers. Bogachev is described as one of the world’s leading cyber-criminals. He remains at large.

The government may be able to force a New York Times reporter to reveal his sources in a CIA leak case. The Supreme Court declined today to hear James Risen’s appeal of a lower court order. His reporting is at the center of criminal charges against Jeffrey Sterling. The former CIA officer is accused of leaking classified information.

On Wall Street today, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 26 points to close at 16,743. The Nasdaq fell five points to close at 4,237. And the S&P 500 added a point, to finish just under 1,925.