Europe

  • Russia confirms 57,212 new cases of COVID-19 in past 24 hours
    Moscow [Russia] (ANI/Sputnik): Russia has confirmed a record 57,212 new cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, which brings the cumulative total to 11,044,986, the federal response center said on Saturday. The previous record of 49,513 new cases was recorded on Friday.Moscow logged the highest tally of 16,094 new infections in the past 24 hours, followed by Saint Petersburg with 8,451, and the Moscow region with 6,400 new cases. Over the past 24 hours, 681 deaths of patients with COVID-19 have been confirmed, bringing the country’s total coronavirus death toll to 325,433 . In the same period, 25,525 COVID-19 patients were discharged from hospitals across the country, bringing the total of recoveries to 10,000,577, according to the response center. (ANI/Sputnik-Image)
  • France to ease COVID-19 restrictions in February
    Paris [France] (ANI/Xinhua): French Prime Minister Jean Castex announced on Thursday evening that the government will proceed to ease certain COVID-19 related restrictions in February.During a press conference, Castex stressed that the Omicron variant “is absolutely not just a flu.” He once again recalled the importance of being vaccinated, saying that a fully vaccinated person is 4.5 times more unlikely to be infected than a non-vaccinated, and has 25 times less chance to turn into severe cases.Castex announced that the vaccine pass, replacing the current health pass, will be effective on Jan. 24, subject to the decision of the Constitutional Council on Friday.The vaccine pass enables people to gain access to public venues without the need to present a negative COVID-19 test.As for access to nursing homes and hospitals, the vaccine pass won’t be mandatory. Children between the ages of 12 to 15 can present a health pass and not a vaccine pass, the Prime Minister added.He reminded that, effective from Feb. 15, all persons that haven’t received the booster shot four month following the second dose will not be considered as having a complete vaccination cycle.However, Castex announced that starting from February, certain restriction measures will be eased.From Feb. 2, caps on the number of people allowed in indoor and outdoor events will be lifted. Masks will no longer be required outdoors.Teleworking will also no longer be mandatory, but still encouraged, he added.Starting […]
  • FBI, Europol take down computer servers used in ‘major international cyberattacks’
    Washington [US] (ANI): The FBI, Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency and Canada on Tuesday announced to have taken down 15 computer servers that were used in “major international cyberattacks.”The 10-country sting operation involved police from Germany to the United Kingdom to Ukraine. The crackdown targeted a popular virtual private networking (VPN) service that police say cybercriminals used to cover their tracks while breaching numerous organizations and trying to extort them, said law enforcement agencies said this week, reported CNN. Europol said that after seizing the servers, investigators have identified “more than 100 businesses” that were at risk of being hacked by cybercriminals, including ransomware groups.It’s the latest effort by North American and European police to bust ransomware groups that have threatened critical infrastructure on both continents.US and European enforcement agencies in the fall arrested two people in Ukraine who allegedly made multimillion-dollar ransom demands following hacks of European and US organizations, reported CNN.A note from investigators greeted visitors to the website of VPNLab.net, the targeted VPN service: “THIS DOMAIN HAS BEEN SEIZED.” The note said that law enforcement would continue combing through the VPN data in an effort to track the hackers.“The cybercriminals using this VPN were committing attacks globally,” Europol spokesperson Claire Georges told CNN.The administrator of a popular Russian and English-language cybercrime forum with over 180,000 registered users has advertised the VPN service since 2009, according to Mark Arena, CEO […]
  • EU Commissioner says high inflation drivers to remain strong until second half of 2022
    Brussels [Belgium] (ANI/Sputnik): European Commissioner for the Economy Paolo Gentiloni said on Tuesday that factors contributing to high inflation in the European Union will diminish, but not earlier than in the second half of the year.“It is clear that the factors driving to high inflation in the EU will decline, will fade, but probably not as soon as we expected, so probably in the second part of the year and not before, we will have our forecast in February the 11th, the Commission forecast,” Gentiloni said in a doorstop interview on arriving to the Economic and Financial Affairs Council meeting in Brussels. Earlier in the month, the EU Statistics Office revealed data showing that annual inflation in Euro zone is estimated to reach record 5 per cent in December, hitting its highest level in 13 years, with the prices soaring mainly in Lithuania by 10.7 per cent and Estonia by 12 per cent.As the European Central Bank (ECB) argued, the key drivers of high inflation in the EU include swift reopening of European economy amid slower pace of lifting COVID-19 restrictions and energy prices’ uptick worldwide. The annual inflation rate in the energy sector exceeded 26 per cent last year.The ECB forecast earlier that the inflation will decrease over the course of 2022. (Image source: Instagram)
  • North Macedonia’s Parliament elects new Prime Minister
    Skopje [North Macedonia], January 17 (ANI/Sputnik): Members of North Macedonian Parliament late Sunday voted for a new coalition government, with Dimitar Kovacevski, leader of the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM), elected as a new prime minister, national media reported on Monday.On December 30, North Macedonian President Stevo Pendarovski nominated Kovacevski as a prime minister, giving him a mandate to form a new cabinet. According to Macedonian Information Agency, the new coalition cabinet headed by Kovacevski was supported by 62 lawmakers of the 120-member Macedonian parliament, with 46 lawmakers voting against.Kovacevski previously stated that the key objective of his government will be to achieve “higher and more sustainable economic growth.”He also pledged to address the country’s energy crisis and bring North Macedonia closer to the European Union.Kovacevski, appointed as deputy minister of finance after the 2020 parliamentary elections, succeeded Zoran Zaev, who resigned as prime minister on December 13, following the SDSM party’s defeat in municipal elections. The leadership of the party then passed to 47-year-old Kovacevski. (Image source: Instagram)
  • Kosovar Serbs can vote in Sunday referendum, says REC
    Belgrade [Serbia] (ANI/Sputnik): Serbs from Kosovo can vote in a Sunday referendum on constitutional changes in four cities in the central part of Serbia, the Republic Electoral Commission (REC) said.On January 16, Serbian citizens are voting on the amendments to the country’s basic law related to the judiciary. Proposed changes include the elimination of several offices, expansion of the public prosecutor’s office to become a collective body, and changes regarding the election of judges. Voting in the referendum will take place at 8,029 polling stations throughout Serbia, with the exception of breakaway Kosovo and Metohija. The decision on the results of the referendum will be made by a simple majority of votes. According to REC, voters from Kosovo and Metohija will have to travel to polling stations in four cities of central Serbia, namely Kursumlija, Raska, Novi Pazar and Vranje.A delegation from the European Union and the embassies of France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States welcomed Serbia’s constitutional referendum as a step towards the country’s accession to the EU and the strengthening of the national judiciary. The countries also expressed regret that the Kosovo government has not allowed Serbs living on the territory of the self-proclaimed republic to vote, urging the authorities to change the decision and all sides to refrain from increasing tensions. (Image source: Instagram)
  • Polish Foreign Minister Rau to visit Moscow in mid-February
    Warsaw [Poland] (ANI/Sputnik): Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau, who is concurrently the Chairperson-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), will meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow in mid-February, Polish Foreign Ministry spokesman Lukasz Jasina said on Saturday.“In the middle of the next month – most likely on February 15 – the OSCE chairman will meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov,” Jasina said, as quoted by the Polish Press Agency. He noted that a visit to Moscow is a normal procedure for the OSCE chairman, since Russia is one of the most important members of the organization. (Image source: Instagram)
  • Massive cyberattack hits Ukrainian government websites
    Kyiv [Ukraine] (ANI): A number of Ukrainian government websites have been hit by “a massive cyberattack” warning Ukrainians to “be afraid and wait for the worst” and claiming that all their personal information had been hacked, CNN reported on Friday.“As a result of a massive cyber attack, the websites of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a number of other government agencies are temporarily down. Our specialists have already started restoring the work of IT systems, and the cyberpolice has opened an investigation,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Oleg Nikolenko tweeted. Early Friday morning (local time), Ukrainian government websites, including that of the Foreign Ministry, displayed dark screens with a text that said Ukrainians’ personal information had been hacked.“Ukrainian! All your personal data has been uploaded to the public network. All data on the computer is destroyed, it is impossible to restore them,” CNN quoted the message, published in Ukrainian, Russian and Polish.The web page further read, “All information about you has become public, be afraid and wait for the worst. This is for you for your past, present and future. For Volhynia, for the OUN UIA [Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists Ukrainian Insurgent Army], for Galicia, for Polesie and for historical lands,” CNN reported.The Ministry of Education and Science, whose official website is also down, directed citizens to use the ministry’s official social media channels on Friday while the issue is being resolved, as per CNN. […]
  • First Russian units from CSTO mission board planes in Almaty to return home: Moscow
    Moscow [Russia] (ANI/Sputnik): First Russian military units from the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) mission in Kazakhstan have boarded planes in the Almaty airport to return to their permanent deployment bases, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Thursday.“The first units of Russian Aerospace Forces from the collective peacekeeping forces of the CSTO in Kazakhstan loaded standard equipment and personnel into the aircraft of the military transport aviation of the Russian Aerospace Forces and flew from Almaty airport to the point of permanent deployment,” the ministry said in a statement. (Image source: Instagram)
  • Denmark’s spy chief Lars Findsen imprisoned for allegedly leaking classified information
    Copenhagen [Denmark] (ANI): Denmark’s spy chief Lars Findsen on Tuesday (local time) was imprisoned for allegedly leaking classified information.According to Danish Security and Intelligence Service, also known as PET, “a long investigation of leaks” within intelligence services was being probed and Findsen was arrested on December 9, read a statement from the country’s intelligence unit. The trial is currently ongoing, the statement said, reported CNN.Lars Findsen, the head of Denmark’s foreign intelligence service has been in prison for over a month for allegedly leaking classified information, it was revealed on Monday.Findsen was named as one of four people arrested in December over leaks of classified information. His name was made public after a court in Copenhagen lifted an order that prevented his identity from being revealed, reported CNN.At the time of Findsen’s arrest in December, the intelligence service said that the four arrested people were both current and former PET employees and employees of the Danish Defence Intelligence Service (DDIS). Findsen has been the head of the DDIS since 2015.Before that, he served as the head of the Police Intelligence Service and as a department head at the Danish Ministry of Defense, reported CNN.Little detail is known about the case, including the nature of the alleged leaks. The trial is being held behind closed doors.At the time of the arrests, PET said the four people were charged under section 109(1) of the Danish Criminal […]
  • EU parliament president David Sassoli dies at 65
    Brussels [Belgium] (ANI): The President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, has died in Italy due to a dysfunction of his immune system, according to a tweet from his spokesman early Tuesday (local time), reported CNN.“The @EP_President David Sassoli passed away at 1.15 a.m. on 11 January at the CRO in Aviano (PN), Italy, where he was hospitalized. The date and place of the funeral will be communicated in the next few hours,” spokesman Roberto Cuillo said. Taking to Twitter, Cuillo said that Sassoli, 65, had been in hospital in Italy since December 26 as he was suffering from a serious complication due to a dysfunction of his immune system, reported the news channel.Notably, in 2009, Sassoli joined Italy’s centre-left Democratic Party.The European Parliament is an important forum for political debate and decision-making at the EU level.The Members of the European Parliament are directly elected by voters in all Member States to represent people’s interests with regard to EU law-making and to make sure other EU institutions are working democratically. (Image source: Instagram)
  • Delegations arrive for Russia-US security talks at UN Office in Geneva
    Geneva [Switzerland] (ANI): Delegations have arrived for Russia-US security talks at UN Office in Geneva, Switzerland. The preliminary part of the Russia-US strategic talks in the format of a working dinner took place in Geneva on Sunday evening and lasted for more than two hours, reported Sputnik News.The Russian delegation will be led by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, and his US counterpart Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman will lead the US representatives. In December, Russia released its draft proposals on security guarantees. Negotiations on security guarantees between Moscow and Washington are scheduled for 10 January, followed by a Russia-NATO Council meeting to discuss the issue on 12 January, and a summit between Russia and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) the following day, reported the news agency.The US and NATO have voiced concerns over Russia’s military buildup in Ukraine. Moscow has repeatedly denied the accusations, saying that Russia has the right to relocate the troops within its territory at its own discretion, while NATO’s military activity near Russian borders poses a threat to its security. (Image source: Instagram)