Thousands protest in Belarus as another key opposition figure leaves



Thousands protest in Belarus as another key opposition figure leaves (dpa photo)Protest

Moscow, 5, 2020  Thousands of protesters took to the streets of the Belarusian capital, Minsk and other cities on Saturday in a further challenge to the rule of long-time President Alexander Lukashenko.

The crowds of female demonstrators, who had responded to an opposition call for a “women’s march”, included many holding up the white-red-white flag of the opposition and others carrying flowers.

The march comes after the authoritarian regime toughened its line on dissent despite growing international pressure following elections in August that have been criticised as neither free not fair.

German Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas, warned on Saturday that unless Lukashenko responded to the European Union’s concerns, more sanctions could follow those already agreed by the bloc.

Lukashenko needed to talk to the opposition and agree to rerun the election, Maas told the Bild newspaper.

The crackdown on protests in Belarus appeared to show no sign of letting up, however.

Charges are expected against protesters who were arrested on Friday, the country’s Interior Ministry said.

About 40 demonstrators were detained, but only about half of them will face charges, the ministry said.

Belarusian human rights group Viasna confirmed the detentions, noting that many of those taken into custody had been demonstrating peacefully.

Some of those taken at a university were brutalised while being detained, it said.

Lukashenko claims to have won the Aug. 9 elections by a margin of more than 80 per cent.

He has already ruled for a quarter century.

But many Belarusians believe the results were fixed and have come out for regular protests since the vote.

Students have led many of the recent protests, now that many of them are back on campus with the resumption of the university school year.

The Education Ministry has vowed to crack down harder on universities in light of their role in the protests.

Protesters have called for another major demonstration on Sunday.

The pressure on the opposition has led to several key figures leaving the country, including Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who fled to Lithuania soon after losing to Lukashenko in the elections.

In a video broadcast, Tikhanovskaya emphasized that she did not want to close herself off from contact with Russia, but Moscow had thus far not gotten in touch.

“I call on everyone, including Russia and neighbouring countries, to respect the sovereignty of our people,’’ she said, adding that Belarus’ independence was not for sale.

Russian Prime Minister, Mikhail Mishustin travelled to Belarus this week to meet with Lukashenko in a show of support.

Russia remains Lukashenko’s strongest ally despite the long-time Belarusian leader’s allegations ahead of last month’s disputed presidential election that Russian paramilitary forces had been seeking to destabilise Belarus.

It was also revealed on Saturday that another prominent opposition politician, Olga Kovalkova, had left Belarus for neighbouring Poland.

She told internet news site that she had been pressured into leaving by authorities and that she wants to return to Minsk soon.

The 36-year-old Kovalkova, a confidante of Tikhanovskaya’s, was arrested in August and spent several days in detention before being released on Thursday.


Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde
Source: NAN


Russia says COVID-19 vaccination for pregnant women requires separate study 



A separate clinical study would be needed to include pregnant women in the COVID-19 vaccination campaign, Alexander Gintsburg, the Head of the Moscow-based Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, said on Tuesday.

“Certainly, it is necessary to conduct a separate clinical study, which has not been carried out yet,” Gintsburg said at a roundtable on COVID-19, hosted by the Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency.

On Aug. 11, Russia became the first country in the world to register a coronavirus vaccine, named Sputnik V and developed by the Gamaleya Institute.

However, the number of coronavirus cases worldwide passed 30 million on Friday, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker, as the World Health Organisation ( WHO)  said daily case numbers were growing at an “alarming rate” in Europe.

The global death toll stands at 943,203 people and is expected to pass 1 million by Oct.1.

The United States accounts for than 22 per cent of global cases, at 6.67m, and nearly 200,000 fatalities.

Meanwhile, the WHO warned of “alarming rates of transmission” of Covid-19 across Europe and cautioned countries against shortening quarantine periods.

The WHO said the number of coronavirus cases in September “should serve as a wake-up call for all of us”.

Edited By: Fatima Sule/Peter Dada
Source: NAN
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Russia’s institute recommends people over 80 vaccinate against COVID-19



Alexander Gintsburg, the Director of Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, said on Tuesday those over 80 years are recommended to receive a vaccine against COVID-19.

During a roundtable on COVID-19, hosted by the Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency, renowned doctor Leonid Roshal, Head of the National Medical Chamber, recounted previously asking Gintsburg about the possibility of vaccination for seniors.

“I have asked what should people over 80 do if the instruction says vaccination is for those who are only up to 60 years old, and heard back- get vaccinated anyway,” Roshal said.

The head of the Gamaleya Institute confirmed that account.

“Absolutely right,” Gintsburg said.

On Aug.11, Russia became the first country in the world to register a coronavirus vaccine named Sputnik V and developed by the Gamaleya Institute.

Similarly, Russian COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers are so confident about its safety that they will not seek full legal protection from potential liability claims, an official says.

Kirill Dmitriev, the CEO of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), said this on Tuesday.

“The approach is different from many other vaccine developers, who seek indemnity if unexpected adverse effects occur.

“Russia is not asking for full legal indemnity because of the confidence in its human adenoviral vector platform proven to be safe over decades.

“At the same time, Western vaccine makers insist on full indemnity – putting all legal risks of their unproven vaccines on the countries that buy vaccines.

Western vaccine makers have to do this because they understand well that monkey adenovirus and RNA vaccines have never been studied for long term negative effects and vaccine makers do not want to bear risks of their own vaccines,” Dmitriev said in a statement.

In August, Russia registered the world’s first COVID-19 vaccine, named Sputnik V and developed by the Gamaleya Scientific Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology.

According to the health ministry, Sputnik V is safe and has proven to be capable of building immunity against the virus.

The vaccine is yet to complete the required Phase lll of clinical trials.

According to WHO protocols, a candidate vaccine has to complete three phases of clinical trials to be approved for industrial production.

Edited By: Fatima Sule/Grace Yussuf
Source: NAN
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Oil steady as United States storm eases but demand recovery fears persist



Oil futures were little changed on Tuesday after sharp overnight losses, as the latest tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico lost strength.

But worries about fuel demand persisted with flare-ups around the globe in coronavirus cases.

Brent crude futures edged three cents 0.1 per cent, lower to $41.41 a barrel at 0637 GMT thus, reversing earlier small gains.

United States West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures for October, due to expire on Tuesday, slipped four cents or 0.1 per cent to $39.27 a barrel.

The more active November contract shed three cents or 0.1 per cent to $39.51.

Crude prices, which fell about four per cent on Monday, won some respite as Texas refineries stayed after a tropical storm was expected to keep losing strength, allaying worries about United States refinery demand for feedstock.

However, concerns about global demand held sway.

“The recovery in sentiment after the rout in risk assets seen a fortnight ago was clearly fragile,’’ said Vandana Hari, an energy analyst at Singapore-based Vanda Insights.

“This week, the market is recalibrating to a likely stalling of the economic recovery in Europe as several countries in the region impose fresh restrictions to contain a surge in the coronavirus.’’

Monday’s price slump was spurred by concerns that an increase in coronavirus cases in major markets could lead to fresh lockdowns and hurt demand.

That raised the possibility that a return of Libyan oil could come when it isn’t needed, as the country looks to ramp up exports.

“We had a pretty punchy risk-off session (overnight) … on fears around the risk that a COVID-19 resurgence starts to have negative impacts on demand again,’’ said Lachlan Shaw, National Australia Bank’s head of commodity research.

Markets are nervous about demand in places like the United Kingdom, where fresh restrictions are being imposed.

United States health officials are also warning of a new wave in the coming winter.

“When the virus resurges, governments lockdown, impose restrictions and individuals and businesses start to retreat.

It’s all bad for demand,’’ Shaw said.

Traders will be watching out for the American Petroleum Institute’s data on United States oil inventories due later on Tuesday.

United States crude oil and gasoline stockpiles likely fell last week, while inventories of distillates, including diesel, were seen climbing, a preliminary Reuters poll showed.


Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde
Source: NAN
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East Mediterranean states formally establish Egypt-based gas forum



Six states signed a charter on Tuesday for an Egypt-based forum to promote natural gas exports from the eastern Mediterranean.

Egypt, Israel, Greece, Cyprus, Italy and Jordan signed the statute in a virtual ceremony to establish the East Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF) as an intergovernmental organisation.

According to a joint declaration, the forum “will contribute to advancing regional stability and prosperity’’ through cooperation in the energy field.

It said the forum would be open to any East Mediterranean country applying to join.

Members of the forum have already held several meetings in Cairo since early last year.

Other states or organisations could join as observers.


Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde
Source: NAN
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