Friday, 31 July 2020: EU sanctions hackers from Russia and China, EU Commission president backs LGBT rights, Doctors Without Borders forced to close coronavirus centre on Lesbos


EU sanctions hackers from Russia and China: The EU has imposed its first ever sanctions for alleged cyberattacks. The measures involve financial and travel restrictions against officials from Russian military intelligence, as well as firms from North Korea and China. According to the EU, the six people and three groups hit with sanctions include Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency, which the EU blames for the 2017 “WannaCry” ransomware and “NotPetya” malware attacks and the “Cloud Hopper” cyberespionage campaign. The EU also accuses four Russians identified as GRU members of trying to hack the WiFi network of the Netherlands-based Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague. The 2018 attack was foiled by Dutch authorities.,,

EU Commission president backs LGBT rights: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has spoken out for the rights of the LGBTI community in the dispute over so-called LGBT-free zones in Poland. Von der Leyen reiterated that the EU treaties ensured that everyone in Europe had the freedom to be who they were, to live where they wanted and to love who they wanted. She wrote on Twitter that she would continue to fight for a union of equality. Meanwhile, Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced Thursday that Poland’s highest court will evaluate the Istanbul Convention, a European treaty aimed at combating violence against women. (Leyen), (Morawiecki)

EU extends North Korea nuclear sanctions: The EU has prolonged sanctions against dozens of North Korean officials and agencies for a year over Pyongyang’s continued efforts to develop nuclear missiles and other weapons of mass destruction. The 57 listed individuals and nine listed entities are subject to the sanctions for contributing to North Korea’s nuclear-related, ballistic-missile-related or other weapons of mass destruction-related programmes or for sanctions evasion.,

Hong Kong bars opposition candidates from election: Hong Kong authorities have disqualified twelve pro-democracy candidates from upcoming elections, including high-profile activist Joshua Wong. Hong Kong has disqualified candidates before but not on this scale. Those that were barred from the elections had in the past campaigned for democratic self-determination in Hong Kong or criticised the state and party leadership in Beijing.,

Belarus accuses Russian mercenaries of election plot: Authorities in Belarus have announced the arrest of 33 Russian mercenaries on suspicion of terrorism, accused of trying to destabilise the country ahead of August’s presidential election, the state-run news agency Belta reported. Belarusian law enforcement agencies said Wednesday they had received information about more than 200 militants arriving in Belarus and detained over 33 people identified as fighters from the Wagner Group, a Kremlin-backed private security company. The state TV channel Belarus 1 said the group had raised suspicions because they behaved uncharacteristically for Russian tourists, wore military-style clothing and didn’t drink alcohol.,

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Doctors Without Borders forced to close coronavirus centre on Lesbos: The medical humanitarian organisation has been forced to close its coronavirus isolation centre on the Greek island of Lesbos after local authorities imposed fines with potential criminal charges related to urban planning regulations. Doctors Without Borders said the centre was the only place on Lesbos providing a safe space in which people from Moria with coronavirus symptoms could be isolated and offered medical care. In the meantime, Germany has taken in 85 sick underage refugees and their family members from Greek refugee camps. The Italian government has sent the army to guard refugees in reception centres and quarantine stations after migrants fled an overcrowded quarantine tent. (Greece), (Germany), (Italy)

Italian senate lifts Salvini’s immunity: Italy’s senate voted Thursday to lift the immunity of former Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, paving the way for him to be tried over his handling of ships carrying migrants rescued at sea. Magistrates in Sicily want to try Salvini for alleged abuse of office and illegally detaining the migrants, saying he acted independently of the government. While he was interior minister, Salvini refused to let 164 migrants disembark in Italy, keeping them aboard the Spanish rescue ship „Open Arms“ for 20 days.,

Masks mandatory in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and several French cities: The Dutch cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam will require from Wednesday onward masks in designated busy places. Amsterdam said people will need to wear a mask in all busy shopping streets in the city centre. Several French cities have also announced face mask requirements and other measures to contain the coronavirus as the number of new cases continued to increase. (Netherlands), (France)

Coronavirus restrictions in Barcelona and Lleida eased: Catalan authorities have eased coronavirus containment measures in and around Lleida as authorities believe to have the situation under control. Bars and restaurants in the region can now reopen their terraces until midnight and shops can welcome customers again, provided they halve their numbers. Spain recorded 1,229 new cases on Thursday, the most since 30 April, according to health ministry data.,

Bulgaria: Tent camp and protests in Sofia
Germany: Second company of the Special Forces Command disbanded after far-right scandals
France: Jailed Basque leader swaps prison for house arrest
Austria: Economy suffers historic slump in second quarter


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Switzerland launches investigation against Fifa president Infantino: The president of the world football federation Fifa, Gianni Infantino, faces charges over his dealings with Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber, authorities said Thursday. Swiss prosecutors found indications of criminal conduct related to the meetings between the two men. The allegations made against Infantino concern abuse of public office, breach of official secrecy, assisting offenders and incitement to these acts.,


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