Morocco, Spain Trade Accusations of Violating Good ‘Neighborliness’

Morocco and Spain traded new accusations on Monday in a diplomatic row triggered by the Western Sahara territorial issue that led this month to a migration crisis in Spain’s enclave in northern Morocco.Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez described Morocco’s actions in appearing to relax border controls with the enclave of Ceuta as unacceptable and an assault on national borders.Morocco’s Foreign Ministry meanwhile blamed Spain for breaking “mutual trust and respect,” drawing parallels between the issues of Western Sahara and Spain’s Catalonia region, where there is an independence movement.The dispute was sparked by Spain admitting Western Sahara independence movement leader Brahim Ghali for medical treatment without informing Rabat.”It is not acceptable for a government to say that we will attack the borders, that we will open up the borders to let …

In Post-Pandemic Europe, Migrants Will Face Digital Fortress

As the world begins to travel again, Europe is sending migrants a loud message: Stay away!Greek border police are firing bursts of deafening noise from an armored truck over the frontier into Turkey. Mounted on the vehicle, the long-range acoustic device, or “sound cannon,” is the size of a small TV set but can match the volume of a jet engine.It’s part of a vast array of physical and experimental new digital barriers being installed and tested during the quiet months of the coronavirus pandemic at the 200-kilometer (125-mile) Greek border with Turkey to stop people entering the European Union illegally.A new steel wall, similar to recent construction on the U.S.-Mexico border, blocks commonly used crossing points along the Evros River, which separates the two countries.Police officers patrol alongside a …

Russia’s Navalny Asks Court to End Prison Security Checks

Imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny asked a court Monday to halt the hourly nighttime checks he has been subjected to in his penal colony.  Speaking to the court in a video link from prison, Navalny charged that he has done nothing that would warrant the authorities’ decision to designate him as a flight risk, which has resulted in the checks.  “I just want them to stop coming to me and waking me up at nighttime,” he told the judge in remarks that were broadcast by the independent Dozhd TV. “What did I do: Did I climb the fence? Did I dig up an underpass? Or was I wringing a pistol from someone? Just explain why they named me a flight risk!”He argued that the hourly nighttime checks “effectively amount …

Turkish Agents Capture Nephew of US-Based Cleric Overseas

Turkish agents have captured a nephew of U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen in an overseas operation and have brought him to Turkey where he faces prosecution, Turkey’s state-run news agency said Monday.Selahaddin Gulen, who was wanted in Turkey on charges of membership in a terror organization, was seized in an operation by Turkey’s national spy agency MIT, the Anadolu agency reported.  The report did not say where he was seized or when he was returned to Turkey. Gulen’s nephew, however, was believed to be residing in Kenya.His case is the latest in a series of forced repatriation of people affiliated with Gulen’s movement, which the Turkish government blames for a failed coup attempt in 2016.  Gulen, a former ally of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who now lives in exile …

Turkey’s Erdogan Under Renewed Pressure Following Mafia Boss Accusations

The Turkish government is facing accusations of arming and funding jihadists in Syria. The allegations are just the latest by an exiled mafia boss in a weekly YouTube broadcast that are putting the Turkish president in an increasingly tight spot.     Among the many allegations being spread by Sedat Peker on YouTube is one that allegedly implicates the Turkish government of arming and buying oil from Syrian jihadists. In one of his broadcasts Peker explains in detail how key aides of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ran the scheme.     Peker, who analysts say once enjoyed close ties to Turkey’s rulers, started broadcasting weekly Sunday videos on a YouTube channel, alleging government misdeeds after he was forced to flee the country.     Analyst Atilla Yesilada says the …

Russia’s Newsru Media Outlet Announces Closure, Blames Political Situation

Russian online news site Newsru announced on Monday it was closing for economic reasons, saying that advertisers were steering clear of it because its story selection did not follow pro-Kremlin state media.   Russia’s TV media landscape is dominated by pro-Kremlin state outlets. There’s a bit more variety online and in print, though moves are afoot to label outlets critical of the Kremlin with foreign funding as “foreign agents,” a step that deters advertisers and readers alike.   Newsru, which has functioned primarily as a news aggregator in recent years, said it was not economical for it to continue. “We are stopping work for economic reasons, but they are provoked by the political situation in the country,” Newsru said in a farewell note to its readers on its website.   …

US Spied on Merkel, Other Europeans Through Danish Cables, Broadcaster DR Alleges

The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) used a partnership with Denmark’s foreign intelligence unit to spy on senior officials of neighboring countries, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Danish state broadcaster DR said.   The findings are the result of a 2015 internal investigation in the Danish Defense Intelligence Service into NSA’s role in the partnership, DR said, citing nine unnamed sources with access to the investigation.   According to the investigation, which covered the period from 2012 to 2014, the NSA used Danish information cables to spy on senior officials in Sweden, Norway, France and Germany, including former German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and former German opposition leader Peer Steinbruck.   Asked for comment on the DR report, a spokesperson for the German chancellery said it only became aware of …

Georgia Opposition Ends Parliamentary Boycott

Georgia’s main opposition party on Sunday announced the end of a months-long parliamentary boycott that has plunged the Caucasus nation into a spiraling political crisis, following disputed elections last year.Georgia’s opposition parties have denounced massive fraud in the October 31 parliamentary elections, which were won narrowly by the ruling Georgian Dream party.In the months since, they have staged numerous mass protests, demanding snap polls and refused to assume their seats in the newly elected parliament.The boycott that has left around 40 seats vacant in the 150-seat legislature weighed heavily on Georgian Dream’s political legitimacy.On Sunday, Georgia’s main opposition force — the United National Movement (UNM) founded by exiled ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili — said it had taken the decision to end the boycott.”We will enter parliament to liberate the Georgian state …

Far-Right Party, Centrist Group Gain Big in Cyprus Poll

The far-right ELAM party and a centrist splinter group made big gains in Cyprus’ parliamentary election on Sunday as a sizeable chunk of supporters appeared to have turned their back on the top three parties amid voter disenchantment with traditional power centers.With 100% of votes counted, ELAM garnered 6.78% of the vote — a 3% increase from the previous election in 2016 — to edge out the socialist EDEK party by the razor-thin margin of around 200 votes.The centrist DIPA — made up of key figures from the center-right DIKO party which has traditionally been the third biggest party — gained 6.1% of the vote.The center-right DISY emerged in first place with 27.77% of the vote, 5.4% more than second-place, communist-rooted AKEL. But the parties respectively lost 2.9% and 3.3% …

Belarus News Site Editor Arrested Over Extremism Suspicions 

The chief editor of a popular internet news site in one of Belarus’ largest cities was detained Sunday on suspicion of extremism. The arrest Sunday of Hrodna.life editor Aliaksei Shota comes amid a crackdown on independent journalists and opponents of authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko. The publication focuses on Belarus’ fifth-largest city, Grodno. City police said the website “posted information products that were duly recognized as extremist,” but didn’t give details. It wasn’t immediately clear if Shota had been formally charged with extremism, which can carry a prison sentence of up to 10 years. Shota had collaborated with the country’s most popular internet portal Tut.by, which authorities closed this month after arresting 15 employees. Belarusian journalist Raman Pratasevich stands in an airport bus in the international airport outside Minsk, Belarus, May 23, 2021, in this …

Ukrainian Ambassador in Thailand Dies on Resort Island

The Ukrainian ambassador to Thailand collapsed and died on Sunday while on a resort island with his family, authorities said.Andrii Beshta, 44, was declared dead on Lipe Island in southern Satun province, Gov. Ekkarat Leesen told The Associated Press.Police quoted his teenage son, who was staying in the same hotel room, as saying his father vomited and fainted early Sunday. He said he was feeling fine before. Police said they suspect he may have suffered a heart failure.Leesen said the body was sent to the police hospital for an autopsy.Beshta had assumed the post of ambassador in January 2016. He is survived by his wife, daughter and two sons, according to a bio on the embassy’s website. …

British Prime Minister Weds Fiancee in Secret, Reports Say 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson married his fiancee, Carrie Symonds, in a secret ceremony at Westminster Cathedral on Saturday, The Sun and Mail on Sunday newspapers reported.A spokeswoman for Johnson’s Downing Street office declined to comment on the reports.Both newspapers said that guests were invited at the last minute to the central London ceremony, and that even senior members of Johnson’s office were unaware of the wedding plans.Weddings in England are currently limited to 30 people because of COVID-19 restrictions.The Catholic cathedral was suddenly locked down at 1:30 p.m. (1230 GMT) and Symonds, 33, arrived 30 minutes later in a limo, in a long white dress with no veil, both reports said.Johnson, 56, and Symonds, 33, have been living together in Downing Street since Johnson became prime minister in 2019.Last …

Medics March to WHO Headquarters in Climate Campaign

Medics concerned about the effects on public health of environmental degradation marched Saturday on the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, demanding health authorities make climate change and biodiversity loss their top priorities.White-clad activists from the group Doctors for Extinction Rebellion marched from Geneva’s Place des Nations to WHO headquarters where they were met by Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus, and Maria Neira, director of environment, climate change and health.”The pandemic will end, but there is no vaccine for climate change,” Tedros said as he welcomed the activists outside the building. “We have to act now, in solidarity, to prevent and prepare before it is too late.”   Professor Valerie D’Acremont, an infectious disease specialist and co-founder of Doctors For Extinction Rebellion, called on the WHO “to be the driving force …

France Reports Drop in COVID Hospitalizations

France reported Saturday that the number of people in intensive care units with COVID-19 had fallen by 76 to 3,028, while the overall number of people in hospital with the disease had fallen by 425 to 16,847.Both numbers have been on a downward trend in recent weeks.While reporting 10,675 new cases, the health ministry also announced 68 new coronavirus deaths in hospitals and said there had been 487,309 COVID-19 vaccine injections over the past 24 hours. …

Talks Between Russian, Belarusian Leaders Continue Into Second Day: TASS

Talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko in the southern Russian town of Sochi continued into a second day on Saturday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.   Lukashenko flew into Russia on Friday for talks with Putin amid an uproar in Europe over the grounding of a passenger plane in Minsk and the arrest of a dissident blogger.   “Discussion between the two presidents continue today,” Peskov was quoted as saying by TASS news agency.  …

Young Adolescents in Europe to Get Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine

Britain has confirmed yet another spike in new COVID-19 infections, with close to 4,200 cases identified across the country Friday, the highest daily number in two months. Seventy five percent of the new cases in Britain are believed to be infections with the so-called Indian variant, first detected in India, which is more transmissible than the previously dominant variant.Also Friday, Britain approved a single-shot COVID-19 vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson. It is the fourth COVID-19 vaccine approved in the country, after inoculations made by Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and Moderna.The European Commission has authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use in children as young as 12, widening the pool of those eligible to be inoculated, following similar approvals in the United States and Canada.Pfizer-BioNTech Pledges 2 Billion Doses to Poor Nations US, …

New Paris Museum Offers Dazzling Display of Contemporary Art

As French cultural institutions reopen after months of coronavirus restrictions, a spectacular new museum has made its debut in Paris, housing the contemporary art collection of French billionaire Francois Pinault, including a number of prominent Black artists.A wax replica of The Rape of the Sabine Women by 16th century artist Giambologna at the Pinault Collection. (L. Bryant/VOA)A chandelier shaped like a basketball net, by American artist David Hammons, a slow-burning wax replica of a 16th century sculpture aimed to melt completely in six months, the works of Chinese-born painter Xinyi Cheng and British artist Lynette Yiadom-Boakye — the Pinault Collection is an eclectic mix of contemporary art.A crystal chandelier shaped as a basketball net by Black American artist David Hammons. (L. Bryant/VOA)”It’s giving different kind of offers to a general …

US Targets Belarus with Sanctions Amid Western Outcry Over Plane

The United States on Friday announced punitive measures against Belarus targeting the regime of strongman President Alexander Lukashenko, who met with Russian leader Vladimir Putin amid a global outcry over the forced diversion of a European plane.White House press secretary Jen Psaki called for “a credible international investigation into the events of May 23,” which she called “a direct affront to international norms.”Belarus scrambled a military jet to divert a Ryanair plane and arrested 26-year-old opposition blogger and activist Roman Protasevich who was onboard, triggering a global outcry.The White House announced it was working with the European Union on a list of targeted sanctions against key members of Lukashenko’s regime.Meanwhile, economic sanctions against nine Belarusian state-owned enterprises, reimposed by Washington in April following a crackdown on pro-democracy protests, will come …

EU Authorizes Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for Young Adolescents

The European Commission has authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use in children as young as 12, widening the pool of those eligible to be inoculated, following similar approvals in the United States and Canada.The commission made the announcement Friday after the European Union’s medical regulator, the European Medicines Agency, recommended Friday the use of the vaccine in children ages 12-15, saying that data show it is safe and effective.”Extending the protection of a safe and effective vaccine in this younger population is an important step forward in the fight against this pandemic,” said Marco Cavaleri, the EMA’s head of health threats and vaccines strategy.It is now up to individual EU states to decide whether and when to offer the vaccine to young adolescents.Germany and Italy have already said they …

Warsaw University Aims to Shape Future Conservative Lawyers

An increasingly influential Polish Catholic legal institute on Friday inaugurated a university in Warsaw that aims to educate a new generation of conservative lawyers in central Europe who it hopes will also shape wider European culture.The institute, Ordo Iuris, works to promote conservative causes, including restrictions on abortion and opposition to same-sex legal unions as it seeks to support traditional family structures. It successfully lobbied for the recent restriction of abortion rights in Poland and is spearheading efforts aimed at persuading countries not to ratify the Istanbul Convention, an international treaty against domestic violence, due to objections over how the treaty depicts gender relations in the family.Jerzy Kwasniewski, a Warsaw lawyer who heads Ordo Iuris, said that the university, Collegium Intermarium, is meant to be a space of free academic …