Category: Europe

Lukashenko faces challenge in Belarus presidential vote, opposition figures detained
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Lukashenko faces challenge in Belarus presidential vote, opposition figures detained

Issued on: 09/08/2020 – 09:55

Belarus began voting in an election on Sunday pitting President Alexander Lukashenko against a former teacher who emerged from obscurity to lead the biggest challenge in years against the man once dubbed "Europe's last dictator" by Washington.

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The 65-year-old Lukashenko is almost certain to win a sixth consecutive term but could face a new wave of protests amid anger over his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, the economy and his human rights record.

An ongoing crackdown on the opposition could hurt Lukashenko's attempts to mend fences with the West amid fraying ties with traditional ally Russia, which has tried to press Belarus into closer economic and political union.

A former Soviet collective farm manager, Lukashenko has ruled since 1994.

International election observers 'haven't even been invited' for Belarus vote

He faces a surprise rival in Svetlana Tikhanouskaya, a former English teacher ..

Europe swelters under a heatwave complicated by Covid-19 restrictions
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Europe swelters under a heatwave complicated by Covid-19 restrictions

Issued on: 09/08/2020 – 13:10

Sun-seekers flocked to beaches over the weekend as parts of Western Europe sweltered in a heatwave, but authorities urged people to avoid crowded areas and keep wearing masks despite the heat over concern for the rising numbers of coronavirus cases across the continent.

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A day after Britain recorded its hottest August day in 17 years at 36.4° Celsius (97.5° Fahrenheit) much of its southern coastline was packed with visitors, many of whom had been forced to abandon more exciting foreign holidays because of Covid-19 travel restrictions.

Authorities in Bournemouth, home to a seven-mile golden stretch of beach, warned that most of the beach was so busy that "safe social distancing is not possible" and urged people to stay away.

There was a similar story across other parts of Europe, where many residents endured weeks of lockdown earlier this year.

Crowds of Germans also headed for the coast on Saturday, but local authorities w..

Belarus opposition candidate’s campaign manager detained before presidential vote
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Belarus opposition candidate’s campaign manager detained before presidential vote

Issued on: 08/08/2020 – 18:09

The campaign manager of Belarus's leading opposition candidate was detained on Saturday on the eve of a tense presidential vote, her office said.

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A spokeswoman for presidential hopeful Svetlana Tikhanovskaya told AFP that Maria Moroz had been detained and was expected to be held until Monday.

It was not immediately clear on what grounds she had been detained, said spokeswoman Anna Krasulina.

"She probably won't be released before Monday," Krasulina said.

Moroz was also detained by the interior ministry on Thursday after visiting the Lithuanian embassy in Minsk. She was later released.

Belarus holds the presidential election on Sunday with Tikhanovskaya posing the greatest challenge in years to long-ruling strongman Alexander Lukashenko.

The 65-year-old leader has headed the ex-Soviet country bordering Russia since 1994 and Sunday's polls are expected to hand him his sixth term.

Lukashenko has presided ov..

UK calls on France to intercept migrants crossing Channel as numbers rise
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UK calls on France to intercept migrants crossing Channel as numbers rise

Issued on: 08/08/2020 – 13:59Modified: 08/08/2020 – 14:02

British interior minister Priti Patel on Friday described the volume of migrants crossing the Channel as "appalling and unacceptably high" and called on France to help keep numbers down.

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Patel made her comments on social media the day after British border officials detained 235 migrants as they tried to cross the narrow stretch of water between the UK and France — a daily record high.

The government has come under increasing political pressure from critics to tackle the issue and has floated the idea of using the Royal Navy to patrol the Channel.

"The number of illegal small boat crossings is appalling and unacceptably high. The figures are shameful," Patel said in a series of messages on Twitter.

We also need the cooperation of the French to intercept boats and return migrants back to France.

I know that when the British people say they want to take back control of our borders – this is exact..

Forced evacuations as glacier the size of a football pitch threatens Italian valley
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Forced evacuations as glacier the size of a football pitch threatens Italian valley

Issued on: 07/08/2020 – 22:05Modified: 07/08/2020 – 22:07

Experts were closely monitoring a Mont Blanc glacier on Friday, a day after they evacuated 75 tourists and residents amid fears the glacier could soon break apart and crash into a popular Italian Alpine valley.

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Valerio Segor, a glacier expert in Valle dAosta, a region in northwestern Italy, told reporters on Friday that the next 72 hours were critical for the Planpincieux Glacier, which lies under a massif on the Italian side of Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps.

Those forced to evacuate came from homes and holiday lodgings in the Ferret Valley in the shadow of the glacier. Tourists on Friday were barred from entering the scenic valley.

The glaciers size has been likened to that of a soccer field under a 80-meter (265-foot) high mass of ice. Abrupt shifts in temperature from hot to cold to hot again are being blamed for the precarious state of the glacier, which Segor says has a strea..

Belarus opposition candidate predicts rigged vote as president seeks to prolong 26-year rule
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Belarus opposition candidate predicts rigged vote as president seeks to prolong 26-year rule

Issued on: 08/08/2020 – 08:47

The surprise opposition candidate mounting the most serious challenge in years to Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said Friday that her country was waking up, but warned that the strongman planned to rig the vote.

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Political novice Svetlana Tikhanovskaya has emerged as the rising star of the opposition in her ex-Soviet nation, ruled by Lukashenko since 1994 and sometimes described as Europe's last dictatorship.

Speaking to AFP in central Minsk after a gruelling campaign that has seen her attract big crowds of supporters, Tikhanovskaya said it seemed something in her country had changed ahead of Sunday's election.

"People are waking up, rediscovering their self-respect," the 37-year-old said, wearing the white bracelet that has become the symbol of Belarus's opposition.

Tikhanovskaya decided to run after her 41-year-old blogger husband, Sergei Tikhanovsky, ended up in jail and could not submit his o..

Italy threatens Ryanair with flight ban over COVID-19 safety rules
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Italy threatens Ryanair with flight ban over COVID-19 safety rules

Italy’s civil aviation authority ENAC threatened to suspend Ryanair’s permit to fly to the country citing non-compliance with COVID-19 safety rules.

ENAC said in a statement that “Ryanair systematically does not comply” with national regulations to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission when flying to and from Italian airports.

“Not only is the obligation of distancing between passengers not observed, but also the conditions that allow derogation from this distancing are not met,” it added.

It warned that if the Irish airline persists in flouting the rules, it could require Ryanair to only fly planes at half capacity or worse, “suspend all air transport activities at national airports, requiring the carrier to re-route all passengers already in possession of tickets”.

Ryanair rejected ENAC’s accusations as “factually incorrect” in a statement to Euronews.

“Ryanair complies fully with the measures set out by the Italian government and our customers can rest assured that we are do..

Ukraines prisons go up for sale
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Ukraines prisons go up for sale

Issued on: 07/08/2020 – 17:03Modified: 07/08/2020 – 17:05

The Irpin Penal Centre, a vast prison complex outside of Kiev, has been empty since inmates were moved out last year. Now, according to the Ukrainian government, it could represent a prime opportunity for one lucky investor.

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The jail will be the first to go under the hammer in a major sell-off of the countrys penitentiaries as part of plans to fund a much-needed overhaul of the ageing prison system.

"We want to sell about a hundred facilities. The first ones will be those already closed. The second stage is the sale of pre-trial detention centres in the city centre. With the money received from the sale, we will build new pre-trial detention centres,” Said Ukrainian justice minister Denys Maliuska.

Irpin was built in 1944 and spans some eight hectares. Its surrounds include a railway and a nature area, making it an attractive proposition for potential buyers, said Maliuska.

"It's a huge ar..

Belarus police arrest Deutsche Welle correspondent before vote
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Belarus police arrest Deutsche Welle correspondent before vote

Issued on: 07/08/2020 – 14:04

Authorities in Belarus are targeting independent journalists ahead of Sunday's presidential election. A reporter for German media outlet Deutsche Welle (DW) has been arrested.

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Freelance journalist Alexander Burakov, who reports from Belarus for DW's Russian-language service, was preparing to celebrate his 46th birthday with his family on Thursday. Instead, he ended up in a temporary detention cell after being arrested twice by the police in his hometown, Mogilyov, about 200 kilometres (120 miles) east of the capital, Minsk.

Burakov was stopped by the police Wednesday evening on suspicion of "transporting counterfeit alcohol", he told the non-governmental human rights centre Viasna. After police inspected Burakov's car without finding anything, officers suggested that the vehicle, which he has owned since 2013, had been stolen and the car's identification number might have been faked. As a result, the jou..

Belarus presidential election: Rising opposition star Svetlana Tikhanovskaya speaks to Euronews
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Belarus presidential election: Rising opposition star Svetlana Tikhanovskaya speaks to Euronews

Svetlana Tikhanovskaya has leapt from being a stay-at-home mum to being dubbed one of the most powerful women in Belarus.

Her rise to prominence has been as quick as it has been unlikely.

[contfnewc]
The 37-year-old was unknown at the end of May. But that all changed when she entered the race to be the country’s next president.

She was pushed to act after her husband Sergei Tikhanovsky — a popular blogger — was jailed and disqualified from running.

Tikhanovskaya is challenging Belarus’ long-time incumbent, Alexander Lukashenko, who has been the only president the country has ever known.

In power for 26 years, he has been dubbed Europe’s last dictator. Since 1994, elections have tended to be a formality, actively controlled and suppressed, according to human rights organisations.

[contfnewc]
Lukashenko has always been credited with more than 70 per cent of the votes in presidential elections, but this year could be different.

Tikhanovskaya, a former translator and a stay-at-home ..