Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny should give testimony, related to the probe into his alleged poisoning, in Germany, since the country should do everything to assist Russia’s investigation, a top German lawmaker has said.
Klaus Ernst, the head of the German parliament’s energy and economy committee, said this in an interview with Sputnik.
The New York Times has reported that Navalny, who is now undergoing treatment in Berlin, has told a German prosecutor he would not cooperate with Russia in the Moscow-proposed joint investigation.
“Germany should do everything to support the investigation that Russia must conduct.
“In my opinion, Navalny’s testimony is also part of this probe,” Ernst, who is also a member of The Left party, said.
He said Germany’s rejection of a derogation request by Russia over the Nord Stream 2 project for carrying Russian gas to Europe would change the quality of the Russian-German partnership.
Germany’s regulator BNetzA intends to reject a derogation request that would allow Russian Gazprom full access to Nord Stream 2 – an offshore pipeline that will double Russia’s direct pipeline capacity to Germany to 110 billion cubic meters (bcm) per year.
According to Ernst, the bilateral energy cooperation should not be used as a pressure instrument in the situation with Russian opposition figure Navalny.
“I certainly believe it would be a wrong move by the federal document to implement measures to stop the project.
“Energy partnership with Russia was established in the days when Germany’s relations with Russia — the Soviet Union back then — were much worse than now.
“These were the Cold War days. Our energy partnership has successfully overcome all the crises, as it serves the interests of both sides.
“By the way, neither Russia nor Germany have ever used gas export as a pressure instrument.
“If it is done today, the quality (of relations) will change dramatically.
“I can only warn the sides against it,” Ernst said.
Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim
Russia to allocate $13bn for environment protection over 3yrs – Putin
Russia is going to spend for the first time a whopping 13 billion dollars (1 trillion rubles) on environmental protection, President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday.
“Another factor that directly affects the health of our citizens is environmental well-being. In 2021, the spending as part of the national project on ecology will almost double.
“In total, over the three years, for the first time, 1 trillion rubles will be allocated from the federal budget for environmental protection,” Putin told Russian upper house lawmakers.
These funds will be used to develop infrastructure, manage solid household waste, reduce air pollution, rehabilitate rivers and lakes, as well as protect and restore forests, according to the president.
Edited By: Fatima Sule/Emmanuel Yashim
Lukashenko sworn into office; Belarusian opposition cries foul
Alexander Lukashenko was sworn in for his sixth consecutive term as president of Belarus on Wednesday, state media reported.
This came in a surprise ceremony that comes on the heels of a disputed election that sparked mass protests in the country.
“Placing his right hand on the constitution, Lukashenko took the oath in the Belarusian language,’’ state news agency BelTA reported.
It said that several hundred people had been invited to the ceremony in Minsk’s Palace of Independence.
The event’s date had not been previously announced to the public.
Electoral authorities say that Lukashenko received more than 80 per cent of the votes in the Aug. 9 election.
Opposition supporters allege that the election was rigged.
The EU has declared the election “neither free nor fair’’.
Lukashenko, 66, has been the leader of Belarus, a former Soviet republic in Eastern Europe between Russia and EU member state Poland, for more than a quarter-century, tolerating little dissent.
There have been protests in Belarus against Lukashenko’s leadership every day since the election, with such events regularly broken up by police.
Weekend rallies in the capital Minsk have repeatedly been estimated to have drawn more than 100,000 people.
Lukashenko, a former collective farm director, has presented himself as a guarantor of stability and socialist policy in the state.
Belarus is one of the poorest countries in Europe.
“The strength of the Belarusian government … lies in the fact that even in the most difficult times we have not abandoned our policy of a socially-oriented state,’’ Lukashenko said at the inauguration ceremony.
“The support of pensioners, large families, socially vulnerable strata of society will remain a tenet of Belarus’ course under any circumstances,’’ Lukashenko said, according to speech excerpts carried by state media.
The team of opposition leader, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who claims that she was the actual winner of the election in spite coming in second according to the disputed official tally, denounced Lukashenko’s inauguration as illegitimate.
Anyone can be president, Tikhanovskaya’s team said in a statement.
“Take the constitution, put your hand on it, say a couple times ‘I swear’, sign a paper saying ‘I am president’ and put it in your pocket.’’
Edited By: Fatima Sule/Abdulfatah Babatunde
German government urges greater use of COVID App after 100 days
The public should make greater use of Germany’s coronavirus track-and-trace app as the winter months approach, Health Minister Jens Spahn urged on Wednesday, 100 days after the “Corona Warn App” was released.
“Please make use of this tool during the pandemic,” Spahn said.
The app anonymously informs users if they have come into contact with another user who has registered a positive coronavirus test result.
To date, this was occurring in only around a half of cases, Spahn said.
Thus far, almost 5,000 app users have alerted their contacts regarding a positive test.
Assuming they each have 10 to 20 contacts, several thousand people have been warned.
Government officials described the app as “a major success story.”
It has been downloaded around 18 million times, more than any other in Europe, said Helge Braun, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff.
Spahn stressed that the app was not a panacea but served to supplement the work of health authorities.
Social distancing and handwashing rules still needed to be observed and masks worn, he said.
The app is able to ascertain whether its user has been closer than two metres to another infected user over a lengthy period. In the event of an alert, the user is eligible for a free test.
Also on Wednesday, an opinion poll revealed that 61 per cent of those surveyed would find “appropriate” a rule making masks mandatory on public squares and in inner cities.
Older people tended to be more in favour than younger people.
Edited By: Fatima Sule/Silas Nwoha
Egyptian president warns forces loyal to GNA against crossing ‘Red Line’ in Libya
“Egypt is bent on supporting Libyans to rid their country of armed militias and terrorist organisations and putting an end to the blatant interference of some regional parties (in Libya).
“As we have declared before and reiterate today, any breach to the line extending between the towns of Sirte and Jufra, previously demarcated as a red line, will be furiously faced by Egypt in defense of its people and its national security,” Sisi said in his address late on Tuesday to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations.
The president has renewed the call on Libya’s warring parties to find a comprehensive political solution to the fatal armed confrontation in the North African country under UN auspices.
According to the president, the settlement should be based on the 2015 Skhirat Agreement, the results of the Berlin conference, held in January of this year, and the Cairo Declaration, also known as the Cairo initiative.
The Cairo initiative was presented by Egypt in early summer of 2020 and, among other matters, includes a complete ceasefire in Libya starting on June 8, and the terms for a political solution.
The initiative was supported by Russia, the United States and several Arab countries, but rejected by Turkey and its ally, the GNA.
Sisi had previously claimed that Cairo would not stand idle if the GNA’s forces crossed the “red line” — by entering the city of Sirte — and would not allow destabilization in eastern Libya, which is under the control of the Tobruk-based parliament and the LNA.
On July 20, the Egyptian parliament unanimously approved the possible dispatch of troops to carry out military operations outside the country.
It came after Sisi stated that his country had an internationally legitimate right to intervene in Libya and come to the aid of the eastern administration.
Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim