Tag Archives: Germany

Just in: End provocation against Greece – Germany, U.S asks Turkey.

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“Coercion, threats, intimidation and military activity will not resolve tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean.”

Turkey’s two key Western allies, the United States and Germany, on Tuesday urged it to pull back a ship it has returned to waters contested with Greece, with Washington denouncing the “calculated provocation.”

The Turkish navy said Sunday that the Oruc Reis exploration vessel was heading back to energy-rich eastern Mediterranean waters between the Greek island of Crete and Cyprus, weeks after it left amid an agreement for talks.

In a strongly-worded statement, the State Department said the US “deplores” the decision by Turkey and noted that Greece “asserts jurisdiction” over areas where the ship plans to operate through October 22.

“We urge Turkey to end this calculated provocation and immediately begin exploratory talks with Greece,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.

“Turkey’s announcement unilaterally raises tensions in the region and deliberately complicates the resumption of crucial exploratory talks between our NATO allies Greece and Turkey,” she said.

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Turkey last sent the ship into contested waters in August backed by warships, alarming both Greece and Cyprus, which is partially occupied by Ankara.

Greece responded by staging military exercises but tensions eased when both Ankara and Athens agreed to talk through the crisis.

Greece said Tuesday there could be no diplomatic solution until the ship is withdrawn.

Greece “will not sit at the table for exploratory talks while the Oruc Reis and escorting warships are out there,” Minister of State George Gerapetritis told Parapolitika radio.

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He said Athens would “emphatically” raise the dispute at a European council meeting starting Thursday.

Germany steps up tone
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last month said that the withdrawal of the ship was a chance to give diplomacy a chance.

But Turkish officials also insisted the ship was only undergoing planned maintenance and would return to the eastern Mediterranean to continue its work.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, speaking ahead of a trip to Cyprus and Greece, said that Turkey “must end the cycle of detente and provocation if the government is interested in talks.”

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“If there should be renewed Turkish gas exploration in the more controversial sea areas in the eastern Mediterranean, this would be a serious setback for efforts to de-escalate,” Maas said.

While France has staunchly backed Greece throughout the standoff with Turkey, Germany had irked many Greeks in August with what they perceived as a low-key response by Europe’s largest economic power.

Erdogan has a cordial relationship with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has worked with Turkey both on stemming the flow of Syrian and other refugees into Europe and over the crisis in Libya.

Erdogan has also cultivated close ties with US President Donald Trump, who said of the Turkish leader in an interview for investigative journalist Bob Woodward’s latest book: “The tougher and meaner they are, the better I get along with them.”

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The US relationship has nonetheless been expanding quickly with Athens, in part over its growing embrace of US ally Israel.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last month visited Greece in a show of support in which he voiced hope over then easing tensions with Turkey.

Under Erdogan, Turkey has been newly assertive on multiple fronts, not just against historic rival Greece.

Erdogan in recent weeks has encouraged Azerbaijan in its campaign to end “occupation” of the Nagorno-Karabakh area by Armenia as the neighbours engage in their most serious fighting since 1994.


#Newsworthy…

[Russia] Navalny’s treatment in Germany could last weeks – Aide.

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Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny is likely to remain in Germany for weeks as he still requires lengthy treatment to help him recover from poisoning, his spokeswoman has said.

The 44-year-old Kremlin critic was discharged on Wednesday from a Berlin hospital after he fell violently ill in Siberia and tests found he was poisoned with Novichok nerve agent.

“Navalny’s recovery process will naturally take a long time,” his spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh said in an online broadcast late Thursday.

“He is staying in Germany for now, he will undergo rehabilitation there. It’s clearly not a question of a few days and probably not a couple of weeks,” she said.

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Navalny wrote in a post on Instagram on Wednesday about the after-effects of poisoning, saying he cannot throw a ball with his left hand and is struggling to write.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny gestures during his trial at a Moscow courthouse on August 27, 2018. A Moscow court on August 27, 2018 gave a 30-day jail sentence to Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny over an unsanctioned protest earlier this year, just days before another planned political rally. / AFP PHOTO / Vasily MAXIMOV

He said he was seeing a physiotherapist every day, working to regain balance and control of his fingers, and may attend a rehabilitation centre.

He said he had asked a neuropsychologist how to “get back not only from the physical point of view but in my head too,” and was advised to read a lot, write on social media and play video games.

Yarmysh said Thursday that Russian bailiffs had frozen Navalny’s flat in Moscow and bank accounts over a court judgement ordering him and his allies to pay almost 88 million rubles ($1.1 million at the current exchange rate) to a company they targeted in an investigation.


#Newsworthy…

Debate opens in Germany over Navalny’s poisoning. [Russia]

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German foreign minister’s comments on Russia-backed Nord Stream 2 pipeline suggest divisions in Berlin over project.

Germany’s support for the Russian-led Nord Stream 2 pipeline is developing a few cracks.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas over the weekend became the first member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet to link the natural-gas conduit’s fate to Russian cooperation with an inquiry into the poisoning of dissident Alexey Navalny. A lawmaker from Merkel’s party suggested suspending the project.

While there’s no sign that Merkel is about to pull the plug, the comments amplify the latest flare-up of exasperation about President Vladimir Putin in Berlin and suggest an emerging debate in Merkel’s governing coalition. The German leader has consistently backed the pipeline in the face of opposition by the U.S. and some European Union allies.

“I certainly hope that the Russians don’t force us to change our stance,” Maas told the Sunday newspaper Bild am Sonntag. If Russia doesn’t start helping clear up what happened to Navalny “in the next few days,” Germany will “have to consult with our partners about a response,” he said.

Pressure on the Gazprom-led project increased after the German military said last week that Navalny was attacked with novichok, a Russian-developed nerve agent. The chancellery in Berlin didn’t respond to a request for comment on Sunday.

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Coalition officials have signaled that there is still little appetite to abandon the pipeline.

“Already raising or publicly invoking individual measures doesn’t help us,” said Rolf Muetzenich, caucus leader of the Social Democrats in the German parliament, in an apparent rebuttal to Maas, a fellow Social Democrat. Germany must discuss a joint response with allies, depending on Russia’s contribution, he said.

Merkel issued an uncharacteristically sharp rebuke over the novichok finding and pledged a coordinated response among NATO and EU members. At a news conference on Thursday, she didn’t repeat her demand made days earlier that the project should be finished.

German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the party chairwoman of Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, also said any response hinges on “the behavior of the Russian side,” according to Reuters. She didn’t rule out a response involving Nord Stream.

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Roderich Kiesewetter, a senior CDU lawmaker on the lower house’s foreign affairs committee, said on Twitter that short of scrapping the project, Germany could impose a moratorium on completing the pipeline, or back the completion but halt gas transit.

Norbert Roettgen, a CDU member who chairs the committee and is running for the CDU chairmanship, said last week that Germany should drop its support.

Global Pressure
U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told the BBC on Sunday that Russia has a “case to answer” over the alleged poisoning given its “track record.” While it’s too early to attribute blame, “it’s very difficult to come up with a plausible alternative explanation” other than Russia’s involvement, he said.

Russia has been linked to two previous poisonings in the U.K., with novichok suspected in the attempted murder in 2018 of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter on British soil.


#Newsworthy….

“Victim of a crime” Navalny out of coma. [Russia]

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Russian opposition figure is responding to verbal stimuli and his condition has improved, German hospital says.

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny, who Germany says was poisoned by a weapons-grade Novichok nerve agent, is now out of a medically induced coma and being weaned off mechanical ventilation.

The 44-year-old anti-corruption campaigner and one of President Vladimir Putin’s fiercest critics, fell ill on a domestic flight last month and was treated in a Siberian hospital before being evacuated to Berlin.

“He is responding to verbal stimuli,” Charite hospital, where he is being treated in Berlin, said in a statement on Monday, adding that the 44-year old’s condition “has improved”.

However, the hospital said it was too early to determine the long-term effect of the poisoning.

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Germany said last week toxicology tests conducted by its armed forces found “unequivocal evidence” that Navalny was poisoned with Novichok – the substance used in a 2018 attack on a former Russian double agent and his daughter in the English city of Salisbury.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas then summoned Russian Ambassador Sergey Nechayev in protest and called for a full and transparent investigation.

Navalny’s associates say the use of Novichok, a Soviet-era military-grade nerve agent, shows only the Russian state could be responsible, but the Kremlin fiercely denies any involvement.

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“Attempts to somehow associate Russia with what happened are unacceptable to us, they are absurd,” Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists on Monday.

Russian officials have accused Germany of being slow to share the findings of its investigation, despite a request from prosecutors.

“We expect information [from Germany] to be provided in the coming days,” Peskov said. “We are looking forward to it.”

Western leaders have expressed concern at what Navalny’s allies say is the first known use of chemical weapons against a high-profile opposition leader on Russian soil.

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The United Kingdom’s foreign office summoned the Russian ambassador on Monday, a spokesperson said in a statement.

Russian opposition politician Alexey Navalny is seen at a rally in Moscow in February marking the fifth anniversary of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov’s murder [File: Shamil Zhumatov/Reuters]

“The foreign secretary has made it clear that it is absolutely unacceptable that a banned chemical weapon has been used, and that violence has again been directed against a leading Russian opposition figure,” it said.

“There is a case here for Russia to answer. This took place on Russian soil, against a Russian citizen. They have international obligations to uphold. This is nothing short of an attack against the rules based international system which keeps our societies safe.

“Russia needs to conduct a full, transparent criminal investigation into Mr Navalny’s poisoning. We will work with our partners … to hold the perpetrators to account.”

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Pipeline in crosshairs
Germany has warned a failure by Moscow to thoroughly investigate the incident could have serious consequences.

Maas said on Sunday Germany, which holds the rotating EU presidency, will discuss possible sanctions against Russia if the Kremlin does not soon provide an explanation for what happened to Navalny.

Otherwise, Germany will be compelled to “discuss a response with our allies” including “targeted” sanctions, Maas said.

He did not rule out action relating to Nord Stream 2, a 10 billion euro ($11bn) Russian-German gas pipeline nearing completion.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman said on Monday she was in agreement with Maas, who is a member of the junior coalition partner Social Democrats.

She too would not rule out consequences for the pipeline beneath the Baltic Sea, which is set to double Russian natural gas shipments to Germany, Europe’s largest economy.

The Navalny poisoning is the latest in a long series of assassination attempts against Kremlin critics. Navalny’s aides have said they suspect he drank a cup of spiked tea at the airport.

The charismatic Yale-educated lawyer was initially treated at a Russian hospital, where doctors said they were unable to find any toxic substances in his blood, before he was flown to Berlin for specialised treatment on August 22.


#Newsworthy…

Spain Vs Germany lineups confirmed

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The line-ups of Germany vs Spain have been announced.

Germany XI: Kroos, Trapp, Gundogan, Emre Can, Draxler, Rudiger, Sule, Werner, Kehrer, Sane, Gosens

Subs: O. Baumann, Leno, Ginter, Brandt, Tah, Waldschmidt, Serdar, Koch, Neuhaus, Havertz

Spain XI: Ramos, J. Navas, Busquets, De Gea, Thiago, Rodrigo, Carvajal, Gaya, Fabian Ruiz, Ferran Torres, P. Torres

Subs: G. Moreno, Kepa, D.Llorente, Merino, Unai Simón, Reguilon, Olmo, Rodri, Eric Garcia, Rodriguez, Fati.

Just Click

‘Respect me, I’m old enough to be your father’ – Modric to Rodrygo


#NobleSports

Alexey Navalny: World leaders react to alleged poisoning in Russia

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Germany says lab test showed ‘proof without doubt’ that Russian opposition leader Navalny poisoned.


Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny was poisoned with the same type of Soviet-era nerve agent that British authorities identified in a 2018 attack on a former Russian spy, Germany has said.

The German government said testing by a German military laboratory showed “proof without doubt of a chemical nerve agent from the Novichok group”.

The Berlin hospital treating Navalny said he remains in a serious condition though he is improving.

The findings – which experts say point strongly to Russian state involvement – are likely to increase tensions between Russia and the West.

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It said it expects a long recovery, and it still cannot rule out long-term consequences from the poisoning.

Here is how world leaders and organisations reacted to the news:

Russia
The Kremlin said Russia was ready to cooperate fully with Germany.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists: “In general, we confirm that we are ready and have an interest in full cooperation and exchange of data on this topic with Germany.”

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Peskov complained that Russia had not received an answer to its request for German doctors to share their findings.

He insisted that before Navalny was evacuated to Berlin on August 22, Russia had not found traces of poisoning, reflecting earlier statements by doctors.

France
France said the use of Novichok against Russia’s Navalny was “shocking and irresponsible”.

“I want to condemn in the strongest terms the shocking and irresponsible use of such an agent,” Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a statement.

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Calling on Russia to explain what had happened, he added: “Given Mr Navalny’s political status in Russia, the attack against him raises serious questions. It is the responsibility of the Russian authorities to respond to them.”

United Kingdom
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the news was “outrageous” and urged Moscow to “explain” what had happened.

“We have seen first-hand the deadly consequences of Novichok in the UK,” Johnson said on Twitter.

“The Russian government must now explain what happened to Mr Navalny – we will work with international partners to ensure justice is done,” Johnson said.

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The UK’s Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said in a separate statement that Russia “must tell the truth” about what had occurred.

It’s outrageous that a chemical weapon was used against Alexey Navalny. We have seen first-hand the deadly consequences of Novichok in the UK. The Russian government must now explain what happened to Mr Navalny – we will work with international partners to ensure justice is done.

Germany
Chancellor Merkel said she strongly condemned the poisoning, saying he is the “victim of a crime”.

“The aim was to silence him and I strongly condemn this [crime] in the name of the German government,” Merkel said during a news conference.

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Merkel announced that Germany was notifying its EU and NATO partners about the test results in order to decide on “an appropriate, joint reaction”.

United States
The White House said it is “deeply troubled” by confirmation in Germany.

“Alexei Navalny’s poisoning is completely reprehensible,” National Security Council spokesman John Ullyot said on Twitter.

“We will work with allies and the international community to hold those in Russia accountable, wherever the evidence leads, and restrict funds for their malign activities.

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“The Russian people have a right to express their views peacefully without fear of retribution of any kind, and certainly not with chemical agents.”

European Union
The EU chief Ursula von der Leyen denounced what she called the “despicable and cowardly” poisoning of Navalny.

Those responsible should be brought to justice, she said.

“This is a despicable and cowardly act – once again. Perpetrators need to be brought to justice,” she added.


#Newsworthy…


News+: Russia rejects Navalny accusations after German poisoning finding.

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Moscow’s denial comes after Germany says Navalny had been poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent in a bid to murder him.


Russia has rejected accusations that Moscow was to blame for the poisoning of opposition leader Alexey Navalny, saying it saw no grounds for sanctions to be imposed against it over the case.

The Kremlin denial came on Thursday, a day after German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Navalny had been poisoned with a Soviet-style Novichok nerve agent in an attempt to murder him.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow rejected any suggestion that Russia was responsible and warned other countries against jumping to hasty conclusions.

He said there was no reason to discuss measures against Moscow after Merkel said Germany would consult its NATO allies about how to respond to the poisoning.

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The Charite hospital in Berlin, where Navalny is being treated, has reported “some improvement” in his condition, but he remains in a medically induced coma and on a ventilator.

In a statement on Wednesday, Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said testing by a special German military laboratory had shown “proof without doubt of a chemical nerve agent from the Novichok group”.

“It is a dismaying event that Alexey Navalny was the victim of an attack with a chemical nerve agent in Russia,” Seibert said.

Merkel later told a news conference: “This is disturbing information about the attempted murder through poisoning against a leading Russian opposition figure.”

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German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas urged Moscow to investigate the poisoning, and said the Russian ambassador had been summoned to explain the evidence.

“This makes it all the more urgent that those responsible in Russia be identified and held accountable,” Maas told reporters. “We condemn this attack in the strongest terms.”

Novichok – a military-grade nerve agent – was used to poison former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the United Kingdom.

Navalny’s condition
Navalny, 44, a politician and anti-corruption crusader who is one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s fiercest critics, fell ill on a flight back to Moscow from Siberia on August 20 and was taken to a hospital in the Siberian city of Omsk after the plane made an emergency landing.

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He was later transferred to Charite hospital, where doctors last week said there were indications he had been poisoned.

The Russian doctors who treated Navalny in Siberia have repeatedly contested the German hospital’s conclusion, saying they ruled out poisoning as a diagnosis and their tests for poisonous substances came back negative.

Reporting from Moscow, Noble Reporters Media said Russia’s response was so far “cautious and restrained”.

“The Russian doctors released Navalny with a ‘metabolic disorder’ diagnosis. Two labs in Russia didn’t find anything suspicious and a pre-investigation didn’t find anything leading to foul play,” she said.

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“On the other hand, the opposition is saying, ‘We knew [it was Novichok] – all the symptoms are there.'”

Novichok is a cholinesterase inhibitor, part of the class of substances that doctors at the Charite initially identified in Navalny.

Navalny is one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s fiercest critics [File:Sefa Karacan/Anadolu]

Navalny’s allies said the German government’s identification of the poison used against him suggested the Russian state had been behind the attack.

“Only the state [FSB, GRU] can use Novichok. This is beyond any reasonable doubt,” Ivan Zhdanov, director of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, said on Twitter, referring to the FSB internal security and GRU military intelligence services.


SOURCE: NOBLE REPORTERS MEDIA, NEWS AGENCIES


#Newsworthy…

Nerve Agent Found in Russia’s Navalny: Germany

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Novichok, a Soviet-era chemical weapon, was used to poison former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in the United Kingdom.


Tests performed on samples taken from prominent Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny showed the presence of the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok, the German government said.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said in a statement on Wednesday testing by a special German military laboratory had shown “proof without doubt of a chemical nerve agent from the Novichok group”.

“It is a dismaying event that Alexey Navalny was the victim of an attack with a chemical nerve agent in Russia,” Seibert said. “The German government condemns this attack in the strongest terms. The Russian government is urgently requested to provide clarifications over the incident.”

Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia was not informed of the German findings and had no such data, Noble Reporters Media gathered

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas urged Moscow to investigate the poisoning, and said the Russian ambassador had been summoned to explain the evidence.

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“This makes it all the more urgent that those responsible in Russia be identified and held accountable,” Maas told reporters. “We condemn this attack in the strongest terms.”

Novichok – a military grade nerve agent – was used to poison former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the United Kingdom.

The Charite hospital in Berlin, where Navalny is being treated, has reported “some improvement” in his condition, but he remains in a medically induced coma and on a ventilator.

Russian opposition politician Alexey Navalny takes part in a rally in Moscow, Russia, in February [Shamil Zhumatov/Reuters]

‘Joint response’

Navalny, 44, a politician and corruption investigator who is one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s fiercest critics, fell ill on a flight back to Moscow from Siberia on August 20 and was taken to a hospital in the Siberian city of Omsk after the plane made an emergency landing.

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He was later transferred to Charite hospital, where doctors last week said there were indications he had been poisoned.

Seibert said the German government would inform its partners in the European Union and NATO about the Novichok test results. He said it would consult with its partners in light of the Russian response “on an appropriate joint response”.

Navalny’s allies in Russia have insisted he was deliberately poisoned by the country’s authorities, accusations the Kremlin rejected as “empty noise”.

“To poison Navalny with Novichok in 2020 would be exactly the same as leaving an autograph at a crime scene, like this one,” Navalny’s longtime ally and strategist Leonid Volkov said in a tweet that featured a photo of Putin’s name and a signature next to it.

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The Russian doctors who treated Navalny in Siberia have repeatedly contested the German hospital’s conclusion, saying they ruled out poisoning as a diagnosis and their tests for poisonous substances came back negative.

German hospital: Clinical findings point to Navalny’s poisoning (4:07)

Reporting from Moscow, Noble Reporters Media learnt Russia’s response was so far “cautious and restrained”.

“The Russian doctors released Navalny with a ‘metabolic disorder’ diagnosis. Two labs in Russia didn’t find anything suspicious and a pre-investigation didn’t find anything leading to foul play,” she said. “On the other hand, the opposition is saying, ‘We knew [it was Novichok] – all the symptoms are there.'”

Is the Russian opposition finished?
Novichok is a deadly group of nerve agents developed by the Soviet military in the 1970s and ’80s. It is a cholinesterase inhibitor, part of the class of substances that doctors at the Charite initially identified in Navalny.

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“Only the state [FSB, GRU] can use Novichok. This is beyond any reasonable doubt,” Ivan Zhdanov, director of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, said on Twitter, referring to the FSB internal security and GRU military intelligence services.

READ MORE: In: Russian medics accept Nalvany evacuation.

The Navalny case has drawn parallels with two suspected Kremlin-linked poisonings in the UK.

British authorities identified Novichok as the poison used in 2018 on former Russian spy Skripal and his daughter in Salsbury, England.

In 2006, Putin was blamed for the radiation poisoning death of former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko in the British capital.


#Newsworthy…

Turkey, Greece Tensions Call For Dialogue | Video

Watch video here – Germany – Noble Reporters tv

Just in: Germany police interrupt mass anti corona protest.

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German police Saturday halted a march by some 18,000 coronavirus sceptics in Berlin because many were not respecting social distancing measures.

The mass protest against pandemic restrictions had been allowed to go ahead after a bitter legal battle.

But it had barely begun at 0900 GMT at the city’s iconic Brandenburg Gate, when it was forced to stop due to a police injunction.

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“The minimum distancing is not being respected by most (of the demonstrators) despite repeated requests,” the police said. “There is no other option than to break up the gathering.”

After the announcement, the demonstrators shouted “Resistance” and “We are the people,” a slogan often used by the far-right, and sang the German national anthem.

Police had vowed to turn out in force and strictly monitor compliance with mask-wearing and social distancing at the protest.

Berlin police chief Barbara Slowik had warned that if the demonstrators did not adhere to virus safety rules, police would clear the area “very quickly”.

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“We will not be able or willing to watch tens of thousands assemble and create infection risks,” she added.

Protesters hold a banner in front of a policeman during a counter demonstration near the Humboldt university on August 29, 2020 in Berlin, in opposition to a rally called by far-right and COVID-19 deniers against restrictions related to the new coronavirus pandemic.
John MACDOUGALL / AFP

Berlin city authorities had previously decided not to allow the Saturday demonstration to go ahead, fearing that the estimated 22,000 protesters would not keep a distance of 1.5 metres (five feet) apart or comply with face mask requirements.

The ban sparked outrage from organisers and their supporters who flooded social media with angry messages vowing to protest anyway, with some even calling for violence.

But on the eve of the demo, Berlin’s administrative court sided with the demonstrators, saying there was no indication that organisers would “deliberately ignore” social distancing rules and endanger public health.

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‘We Must Defend Freedoms’
A crowd, including people of all ages and families with children, had gathered Saturday morning at the Brandeburg Gate, the starting point for the march.

The protesters waved German flags and shouted “Merkel must go!”, a chant often used by the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party against Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“I’m not an extreme right-wing sympathiser, I’m here to defend our fundamental freedoms,” said Stefan, a 43-year-old Berlin resident with a shaved head and a T-shirt with the words “Thinking helps” written in large print.

“We’re here to say: we have to be careful! Coronavirus crisis or not, we must defend our freedoms,” Christina Holz, a 22-year-old student, told AFP.

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Around 3,000 police officers, including 1,000 federal police, were scheduled to be deployed for the demonstration, alongside specialist equipment including water cannon, Slowik said.

The rally came as coronavirus cases continue to rise in Germany, with daily new infection numbers reaching highs not seen since April.

At a press conference on Friday, Merkel said confronting the virus will become more challenging in the coming autumn and winter months.

Merkel and the leaders of Germany’s 16 federal states on Thursday introduced tougher coronavirus restrictions to curb the pandemic, including a minimum 50 euro ($59) fine for people caught not wearing face masks where one is compulsory.

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“We will have to live with this virus for a long time to come. It is still serious. Please continue to take it seriously,” Merkel warned.

Counter Demos
The court decision to allow the protest shines a light on the battle lines being drawn up between those who are content to follow government-mandated protection measures and those who believe that governments shouldn’t be able to dictate how people live.

At the start of August, a similar “anti-corona” march in Berlin took place with 20,000 protesters, a mixture of the hard left and right, anti-vaccination campaigners, conspiracy theorists and self-described “free thinkers”.

Police broke up the protest early after participants repeatedly flouted Covid-19 safety regulations.

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The far-right welcomed Friday’s court ruling allowing the latest demo to go ahead, with Leif-Erik Holm, a lawmaker for the anti-migrant AfD party, calling it “a victory for freedom”.

But several groups intend to stage counter-demonstrations to the main protest.

Anne Helm from the left-wing party Die Linke and an MP in Berlin’s parliament, said: “There must be no tolerance towards racists, anti-Semites, right-wing extremists, and Nazis. That is why I call on all Berliners to take part in the counter-events.”

Several countries around the world have seen protests against coronavirus restrictions and lockdown measures in recent months.


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: France, Germany tightens their controls

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Germany and France drew up tougher rules on Thursday in line with a growing number of countries battling a resurgence in coronavirus infections with Paris making masks obligatory in all public places in a bid to curb a rise of new cases in the city.

European countries are seeing an increase in infections even as they struggle to balance new restrictions against the need for their economies to recover from the devastating impact of the first round of lockdowns.

Britain, South Korea and Rwanda are also tightening their restrictions as fears rise of a return to the draconian anti-virus curbs put in place earlier in the year.

The pandemic has killed more than 826,000 people worldwide since surfacing in China late last year and more than 24 million infections have been recorded.

Germany, the European Union’s biggest economy, will impose tougher rules on mask wearing and keep football fans out of stadiums until at the least the end of the year, under a draft proposal seen by AFP.

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The measures — such as a minimum fine of 50 euros ($59) for flouting requirements on mask wearing — are likely to be officially agreed later Thursday.

As in other countries, Germany’s surge in coronavirus cases in recent weeks has been mainly blamed on summer travel and friends and family gatherings.

French Prime Minister Jean Castex announced on Thursday masks will be compulsory in all public places in the capital Paris, one of the hardest hit regions in France.

Official figures released in France on Wednesday showed more than 5,400 confirmed new cases in just 24 hours, with admissions to hospital and intensive care units on the rise.

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Castex has warned a new lockdown cannot be ruled out even if the government will try to do everything to avoid one.

European government officials are also trying to instill discipline in their ranks to retain public trust in measures that restrict freedoms.

European Union trade boss Phil Hogan was forced to step down over a breach of guidelines in his home country of Ireland.

– ‘Highly uncertain’ –

Britain, which left the EU in January, meanwhile reversed course and has called on students to wear masks when they return to class from next week.

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Keeping mask wearing and other restrictions in place, Rwanda has lengthened its evening curfew and prevented movement in and out of the western area of Rusizi after a recent infections surge.

Rwanda on Tuesday hit a record 217 cases in one day and has recorded a third of its 3,625 cases in the past 10 days, with authorities blaming the spike on complacency and fatigue with social distancing measures.

In South Korea, the parliament was shut down on Thursday and a group of lawmakers were in self-quarantine as the country recorded more than 400 new coronavirus infections.

The country endured one of the worst early outbreaks of Covid-19 outside mainland China before bringing it broadly under control with extensive tracing and testing.

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The United States, however, broke with the toughening trend even though it leads the world in virus deaths and infections.

US authorities now say asymptomatic people don’t need to test for Covid-19 if they have been exposed to someone diagnosed with the virus.

They had previously encouraged such people to get tested, but US media reported political interference from the White House.

– ‘Historic’ Swiss plunge –

President Donald Trump has long been accused by critics of trying to play down the scale of the pandemic and focus on economic recovery ahead of his re-election bid in November.

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The US recovery from the coronavirus economic downturn is “highly uncertain” and many businesses will continue to struggle, a top Federal Reserve official said Wednesday.

Switzerland was the latest example to show how the pandemic has brought the global economy to its knees.

Switzerland, official figures showed, has plunged into recession after the coronavirus pandemic caused a “historic” 8.2-percent slump in economic activity in the second quarter.

Economies have picked up generally since then though there are concerns that the recovery appears to be slowing as coronavirus cases mount again, stoking fears of a repeat of the economically damaging lockdowns seen earlier this year.

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In the growing toll on the air transport sector that has seen aircraft grounded worldwide, British aerospace giant Rolls-Royce on Thursday logged a £5.4 billion ($7.1 billion) net loss for the first half of 2020.

And flag carrier Air New Zealand announced a roughly US$300 million annual net loss after demand plummeted due to the pandemic.

Hopes for economic revival are partly pinned on the development of a vaccine, which companies and governments worldwide are racing to develop.

Peru on Wednesday began registering volunteers for clinical trials of a Chinese vaccine against the coronavirus.


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: Single day cases in Germany over 2,000.

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The number of new coronavirus infections in Germany topped 2,000 in the past 24 hours, a high not seen since the end of April, health authorities said Saturday.

The RKI disease control institute said it registered 2,034 new cases and seven more deaths, taking the total fatalities to 9,267 and confirmed cases to 232,082.

Daily infection counts have increased sharply in recent days, with authorities suggesting large numbers of returning tourists — some coming from regions with elevated risk of transmission — may be bringing the virus with them.

Other experts have highlighted a big increase in the number of tests being carried out.

“The growth we’re presently seeing in the number of cases is troubling,” Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said Friday.

“We should be worried,” Seibert added, urging the public to act “responsibly” by sticking to infection control measures like social distancing and mask-wearing.


#Newsworthy…

Update: Plane conveying Russian Navalny lands Germany

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Prominent Kremlin critic, who is in coma after a suspected poisoning, is evacuated to Berlin for medical care.


A plane carrying prominent Russian politician Alexei Navalny who is in a coma after a suspected poisoning has arrived in Berlin from the Siberian city of Omsk, according to Kira Yarmysh, Navalny’s spokeswoman.

The plane with German doctors took off just after 8am local time (02:00 GMT) on Saturday, after more than 24 hours of wrangling over Alexei Navalny’s condition and treatment, with the opposition leader’s allies accusing Russian authorities of trying to stop his evacuation.

Kira Yarmysh said the politician was transferred to an ambulance early on Saturday and driven to the airport.

“The plane carrying Alexei is flying to Berlin,” she said on Twitter.

“Many thanks to everyone for their support. The fight for Alexei’s life and health is just beginning and there is a long way to go, but at least the first step has been taken.”

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Navalny’s wife, Yulia, was also on board the flight, Yarmysh said.

One of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s fiercest critics, Navalny was admitted to an intensive care unit in Omsk on Thursday. His supporters believe that tea he drank was laced with poison – and that the Kremlin is behind both his illness and the delay in transferring him to a top German hospital.

Russian doctors say there is no evidence of poisoning, and the Kremlin denied the authorities tried to prevent the transfer from happening.

Even after German specialists arrived on a plane equipped with advanced medical equipment on Friday morning at his family’s behest, Navalny’s physicians in Omsk said he was too unstable to move.

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Navalny’s supporters denounced that as a ploy by authorities to stall until any poison in his system would no longer be traceable. The Omsk medical team relented only after a charity that had organised the medevac plane revealed that the German doctors examined the politician and said he was fit to be transported.

Deputy chief doctor of the Omsk hospital Anatoly Kalinichenko then told reporters that Navalny’s condition had stabilised and that physicians “didn’t mind” transferring the politician, given that his relatives were willing “to take on the risks”.

Medical specialists carry Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny on a stretcher into an ambulance on their way to an airport before his medical evacuation to Germany [Alexey Malgavko/ Reuters]

The Kremlin denied resistance to the transfer was political, with spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying that it was purely a medical decision. However, the reversal came as international pressure on Russia’s leadership mounted.

On Thursday, leaders of France and Germany said the two countries were ready to offer Navalny and his family any and all assistance and insisted on an investigation into what happened. On Friday, European Union spokeswoman Nabila Massrali added that the bloc was urging Russian authorities to allow him to be taken abroad.

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Also on Friday, the European Court of Human Rights said it was considering a request from Navalny’s supporters that it urge the Russian government to let the politician be moved.

The most prominent member of Russia’s opposition, Navalny campaigned to challenge Putin in the 2018 presidential election but was barred from running. Since then, he has been promoting opposition candidates in regional elections, challenging members of the ruling party, United Russia.

His Anti-Corruption Foundation has been exposing graft among government officials, including some at the highest level. But he had to shut the foundation last month after a financially devastating lawsuit from a businessman with close ties to the Kremlin.

Ariel Cohen, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, told Media (known to Noble Reporters Media) the suspected poisoning of Navalny was not the first time that critics of the Kremlin have been targeted in such a way.

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He noted the assassination of Russian politician Boris Nemstov in 2015, the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB agent who died in 2006 after drinking a cup of tea laced with radioactive plutonium, as well as the case of Sergei Skripal, a Russian spy who spent weeks in critical condition after being poisoned with the military-grade nerve agent Novichok in the British city of Salisbury.

“So clearly, being an outspoken opposition leader or being a corruption fighter or a whistle-blower in Russia is a dangerous business indeed,” Cohen said.

“Navalny was doing a lot of work exposing corruption, including at the highest level … and this is what they do to retaliate against their critics.”

Navalny fell ill while flying back to Moscow from the Siberian city of Tomsk, where had met allies ahead of regional elections next month. His plane made an emergency landing in Omsk, and he was taken on a stretcher, motionless, from the plane and rushed to the hospital.

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His team made arrangements to transfer him to Charite, a clinic in Berlin that has a history of treating famous foreign leaders and dissidents.

While his supporters and family members continue to insist that Navalny was poisoned, doctors in Omsk denied that and put forth another theory.

The hospital’s chief doctor, Alexander Murakhovsky, said in a video published by Omsk news outlet NGS55 that a metabolic disorder was the most likely diagnosis and that a drop in blood sugar may have caused Navalny to lose consciousness.

But Dr Anastasia Vasilyeva, who has ties to Navalny, said that diagnosing the politician with a “metabolic disorder” says nothing about what may have caused it – and it could have been the result of a poisoning.


#Newsworthy..

Germany’s offer to Namibia for Genocide amendment “rejected”

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Namibia’s President Hage Geingob on Tuesday said reparations offered by Germany for mass killings in its then colony at the start of the twentieth century were “not acceptable” and needed to be “revised”.

German occupiers in Namibia killed tens of thousands of indigenous Herero and Nama people in 1904-1908 massacres, which historians have called the first genocide of the 20th century.

In 2015, the two countries started negotiating an agreement that would combine an official apology by Germany as well as development aid.

Geingob on Tuesday was briefed by his government’s special envoy Zed Ngavirue on the status of negotiations.

The briefing took place ahead of a final round of talks for which a date has yet to be set.

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“The current offer for reparations made by the German government remains an outstanding issue and is not acceptable to the Namibian government,” Geingob said in a statement after the briefing, adding that Ngavirue had been asked to “continue with negotiations for a revised offer”.

No details were provided on the offer.

The president also noted that Germany had declined to accept the term “reparations”, as that word was also avoided during the country’s negotiations with Israel after the Holocaust.

Ngavirue rejected Germany’s reference to reparations as “healing the wounds” and said the terminology would be subject to further debate, according to the statement.

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Berlin was not immediately available for comment on the claims.

Germany has acknowledged that atrocities occurred at the hands of its colonial authorities and some officials have even recognised it as a genocide.

But the country has repeatedly refused to pay direct reparations, citing millions of euros in development aid to the Namibian government.

Namibia was called German South West Africa during Germany’s 1884-1915 rule, and then passed under South African rule for 75 years, finally gaining independence in 1990.

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Tensions boiled over in 1904 when the Herero rose up, followed by the Nama, in an insurrection crushed by German imperial troops.

In the Battle of Waterberg in August 1904, around 80,000 Herero fled including women and children.

German troops went after them across what is now known as the Kalahari Desert. Only 15,000 Herero survived.

The German government has so far refused to apologise for the killings.


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: Germany trolls Russian vaccine

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Germany on Tuesday raised doubts over the quality and safety of Russia’s coronavirus vaccine, stressing that drug approval is granted in the European Union only after full clinical trials.

“Patient safety is of the highest priority,” a health ministry spokeswoman told German newspaper network RND. “There is no known data on the quality, efficacy and safety of the Russian vaccine.”

Russia claimed Tuesday it has developed the world’s first vaccine offering “sustainable immunity” against the coronavirus, despite mounting scepticism about its effectiveness as fears grow over a second wave of infections across the globe.

President Vladimir Putin said the vaccine was safe and that one of his own daughters had received the inoculation, dubbed “Sputnik” after the pioneering 1950s Soviet satellite.

“I know that it is quite effective, that it gives sustainable immunity,” Putin said of the vaccine developed by the Gamaleya research institute in coordination with Moscow’s defence ministry.

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Russia’s health ministry said though clinical trials were not yet complete and final stage testing involving more than 2,000 people was to start only on Wednesday.

Western scientists have previously raised concerns about the speed of development of Russian vaccines, suggesting that researchers might be cutting corners.

The World Health Organization’s spokesman in Geneva Tarik Jasarevic said it was in “close contact” with Russian health authorities but that it was too soon for any WHO stamp of approval.

“Pre-qualification of any vaccine includes the rigorous review and assessment of all the required safety and efficacy data,” he said.


#Newsworthy…

3 German ‘Audi ex-board members’ charged with fraud over dieselgate

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German prosecutors said Thursday they have filed fraud charges against three former board members at Audi and a retired senior employee from the automobile company over the “dieselgate” scam.

“The four defendants are accused of fraud, indirect false certification and criminal advertising,” Munich prosecutors said in a statement.

Former Audi boss Rupert Stadler had been charged separately and is due to appear in court from September 30.


#Newsworthy…