Friday, 23 October 2020: EU sanctions Russian officials, Belarus opposition wins EU Parliament’s human rights award, EU urges WHO to change handling of pandemics

⊂ EUROPE ⊃

EU sanctions Russian officials over 2015 Bundestag breach: The European Union imposed sanctions on the head of Russia’s military intelligence, Igor Kostyukov, and one other official on Thursday over a cyberattack that saw data stolen from Germany’s parliament. Brussels imposed travel bans and asset freezes on Kostyukov and Dmitry Badin, a military intelligence officer. The EU says Badin was part of a team that initiated the hacks on the German Bundestag. The EU also slapped sanctions on the GRU’s Unit 26165, better known as hacker group “Fancy Bear” or Advanced Persistent Threat 28.
dw.com, politico.eu

Belarus opposition wins EU Parliament’s human rights award: The European Parliament awarded its annual Sakharov Prize for human rights on Thursday to the democratic opposition movement in Belarus led by the exiled Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who stood up to strongman Alexander Lukashenko. “They have stood and still stay strong in the face of a much stronger adversary. But they have on their side something that brute force can never defeat – and this is the truth,” the Parliament’s President, David Sassoli, told European lawmakers. “My message for you, dear laureates, is to stay strong and not to give up on your fight. Know that we are by your side,” he added. Meanwhile, Belarus’s interior ministry said on Thursday that opposition protests were developing into a terrorist threat.
euractiv.com, reuters.com

EU urges WHO to change handling of pandemics: The EU wants the World Health Organisation (WHO) to become more transparent about how states report emerging health crises, a draft proposal on reforming the UN agency says. The paper, drawn up by the German government after discussions with other member states, is the latest to outline the EU’s months-long plans to address the WHO’s shortcomings on funding, governance and legal powers.
reuters.com

Turkey extends exploration in disputed Mediterranean waters: Turkey said on Wednesday it extended the stay of its “Oruc Reis” survey vessel and two other ships in a disputed area of the eastern Mediterranean until 27 October. Turkey and Greece are at odds over conflicting claims to hydrocarbon resources in the eastern Mediterranean and overlapping views on the extent of their continental shelves. The EU summit last week said it would punish Turkey if it continued its operations in the region.
ca.reuters.com

Donors pledge millions for Rohingya: International donors pledged nearly 600 million dollars to support displaced Rohingya on Thursday, succeeding in bridging a huge gap in funding for hundreds of thousands of refugees. The EU, Britain and the US organised the virtual conference along with the United Nations Refugee Agency, aiming to meet a target of 1 billion dollars in funding for 2020, less than half of which had been raised. More than 730,000 Rohingya, members of a persecuted Muslim minority, fled Myanmar in 2017 for neighbouring Bangladesh following a military crackdown the United Nations has said was carried out with genocidal intent.
uk.reuters.com

EU Parliament calls for stronger EU commitment to nuclear non-proliferation: European lawmakers have called for a stronger European commitment to nuclear non-proliferation, including support for a key UN treaty, amid global uncertainty over nuclear arms control. The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), which the United Nations is preparing to review, has been delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
euractiv.com

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Russia: Putin says he helped Navalny leave Russia to be treated abroad reuters.com
Lebanon: In his comeback as prime minister, Hariri vows to halt collapse reuters.com
Egypt: 49 executions in 10 days hrw.org
US whistleblower Russia reportedly grants Edward Snowden permanent residency nbcnews.com
NATO to set up new space centre in Germany euractiv.com

⊂ QUOTE OF THE DAY ⊃

It is now becoming very apparent that we are in a really serious, dramatic situation.
German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer is alarmed by the rising number of Covid-19 infections.
rnd.de

⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃

Poland’s top court rules against abortions due to fetal defects: Poland’s Constitutional Court on Thursday ruled that a law allowing abortion due to fetal defects is unconstitutional. Chief justice Julia Przylebska said in the ruling that existing legislation allowing the abortion of malformed fetuses was incompatible with the constitution. The Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovic warned that removing the basis for almost all legal abortions in Poland amounted to a ban and violated human rights. Mijatovic said the ruling meant underground and abroad abortions for those who could afford them and an even greater ordeal for all others.
dw.com

Far-right’s no-confidence vote on Spanish Prime Minister Sanchez rejected: Spain’s centre-right opposition rejected a far-right proposal for a vote of no-confidence in the Socialist government on Thursday. The no-confidence motion over the minority leftist government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic was easily defeated when ultranationalist party Vox was the only party to back it. The motion was rejected by 298-52 votes.
reuters.com

Curfews in France and Greece, Portugal and Slovakia impose partial lockdown: France has put at least 46 million of its residents under curfew in 54 departments and one overseas territory, government officials said. Some 38 departments were added to the curfew from 9:00 pm to 6:00 am in order to curb the spread of Covid-19. Greece has also imposed a curfew as Covid cases soar. Portugal has imposed a partial lockdown on three northern municipalities, while Slovakia will shut most of its schools and require the population to stay home apart from work, essential shopping and nature trips, in a partial lockdown.
euronews.com (France), politico.eu (Greece), theguardian.com (Portugal), uk.reuters.com (Slovakia)

Austria to ban coronavirus face shields: Austria wants to encourage people to wear close-fitting masks instead of plastic face shields because authorities believe they do not offer enough protection.
thelocal.at

Sweden tells elderly to end isolation even as new virus cases rise: Swedish senior citizens no longer need to isolate themselves, the government said on Thursday, pointing to lower Covid infection rates than in spring and a growing toll on the mental health of its elderly.
reuters.com

Belgian foreign minister in ICU for Covid: Belgian Foreign Minister Sophie Wilmès is being treated in an intensive care unit for Covid-19, her spokesperson confirmed on Thursday. Wilmès, who served as Belgium’s prime minister until recently, tested positive for the coronavirus last week.
politico.eu

Germany under pressure to take sides in Nagorno-Karabakh conflict dw.com
Bulgaria: Eastern Europe’s transition to clean energy is painful for some euronews.com

⊂ POLITJOBS ⊃

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⊂ MALFUNCTION ⊃

Ashton Kutcher contacts German politicians: The well-known US actor Ashton Kutcher has publicly contacted the two SPD chairmen Saskia Esken and Norbert Walter-Borjans, as well as SPD MP Birgit Sippel. Kutcher wrote on Twitter that he would like to speak to the politicians about the implications of their position on the EU Electronic Communications Code relative to the privacy of abused children. Esken thanked the actor for reaching out and asked him to send her a private message. The actor is apparently interested in a draft from the EU Commission, according to which investigators will soon be able to secure digital evidence across borders in order to combat child abuse and child pornography.
welt.de, twitter.com

 

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