Wednesday, 12 August 2020: International criticism of Russian coronavirus vaccine, Iran sentences two men over spying for Germany and the UK, Shots fired at boat off the Greek island of Rhodes


International criticism of Russian coronavirus vaccine: A vaccine for Covid-19 has been approved for use in Russia. The announcement of the new vaccine was met with initial skepticism, as it has yet to complete Phase III trials in which large numbers of people are given doses to determine whether it is safe and effective in a general population. The Moscow-based Association of Clinical Trials Organisations (ACTO) has asked the Russian health ministry to delay the vaccine’s registration until after Phase III trials were completed. The World Health Organisation urged Russia last week to follow international guidelines for producing vaccines. A spokesman for the German health ministry said on Tuesday there was no known data on the quality, efficacy and safety of the Russian vaccine, adding that patient safety was of the highest priority to the EU.,,

EU considers new sanctions against Belarus: The EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has condemned disproportionate violence by authorities in Belarus and said the EU was considering sanctions against those responsible. “The elections were neither free nor fair,” Borrell said in a statement. He cited “credible reports” from domestic observers that showed the election did not conform to international standards. “State authorities deployed disproportionate and unacceptable violence… Thousands of people were detained and the crackdown on freedoms of assembly, media and expression intensified,” he said. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Monday said the EU needed to consider sanctions on Belarus that were lifted in 2016 on the basis of apparent progress in the rule of law there. Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya has fled to Lithuania. (EU), (Tikhanovskaya)

EU supports Greece and Cyprus in gas dispute with Turkey: Turkey vowed Tuesday to press ahead with searching for oil and gas in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, saying it plans to issue new exploration licenses for the area despite an escalating dispute with Greece over drilling rights. Greece called for an emergency meeting of the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council on the subject of the growing Turkish provocation. The two Nato allies, who hold fundamentally different views on where their continental shelves begin and end, are at odds over overlapping claims for hydrocarbon resources in the region. A spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the situation was extremely worrying and needed to be solved in a dialogue.,,

Iran sentences two men over spying for Germany and the UK: Two of five Iranians arrested in Iran in recent months for spying for foreign nations have been convicted and handed prison sentences, a spokesman for the Iranian judiciary said on Tuesday. He added that one of those sentenced had been spying for the Israeli spy agency Mossad and Germany. The second man had been working for British intelligence, the spokesman said.

Research projects to receive 128 million euros: The EU Commission has announced that it will support 23 new research projects with 128 million euros in response to the continuing coronavirus pandemic. The funding under Horizon 2020, the EU’s research and innovation programme, is part of the Commission’s €1.4 billion pledge to the Coronavirus Global Response initiative.

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Germany will create an agency to protect the country’s cybersecurity. Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer called the creation of the agency a “milestone in the protection of our IT systems.”


Shots fired at boat off the Greek island of Rhodes: The Greek Coast Guard said on Tuesday it had fired warning shots at a boat which it said was carrying migrants from Turkey to Greece. Officers had fired warning shots at a safe section of the migrant boat, the coast guard said. The Turkish Coast Guard said when it arrived at the scene of the incident, the Greek Coast Guard vessels had left and the rubber bullets had injured three passengers – two Turkish nationals and one Syrian. Meanwhile, German soldiers in the Aegean have observed how boats carrying migrants are pushed back into Turkish waters on their way to Greece. (Rhodes), (Aegean)

Germany warns Russia of consequences over Berlin Chechen murder: German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Tuesday warned Russia that Germany would take further action against the Russian government in relation to last year’s murder of a Chechen man with Georgian citizenship in Berlin. Speaking at a news conference following talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, Maas told his Russian counterpart there would be consequences if a court coincided with the prosecutors’ conclusion that the murder had been ordered by a Russian state body. Maas also hit back at the US denouncement over Germany’s natural gas pipeline extension to Russia, saying it was his country’s sovereign right to decide on its energy sources.

French privacy watchdog opens preliminary investigation into TikTok: France’s data privacy watchdog CNIL said on Tuesday that it has opened a preliminary investigation into Chinese-owned video-sharing app TikTok after it received a complaint. TikTok is already under investigation over privacy concerns by US, EU and Dutch authorities.

French and Dutch on alert over rise in cases: New daily coronavirus infections in the Netherlands are back to roughly half their level at the peak of the pandemic. The number of infections was up 55% last week from the 2,588 cases reported over the previous week, Dutch health authorities said on Tuesday. Meanwhile, French Prime Minister Jean Castex warned that the renewed spread of coronavirus in France could become harder to control without a collective effort to stop a rise in the infection rate., (Netherlands); (France)

Germany: Travel warning for Madrid and Basque region
Slovakia expels three Russian diplomats
Italy: Former Prime Minister Renzi calls for mandatory vaccine


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Portugal ready for Champions League after subduing virus: Portugal has successfully controlled the coronavirus pandemic and earned the right to host the Champions League tournament. The country was chosen by UEFA to stage the mini tournament in two Lisbon stadiums over the next two weeks amid strict health protocols. Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa said all security measures had been guaranteed for players, coaches, journalists, visitors and the Portuguese community in general.


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