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Post-Soviet strongmen prescribe vodka, hockey and folk medicine against coronavirus

Take, for instance, Belarus, a small country sandwiched between Russia and European Union member Pol..

Take, for instance, Belarus, a small country sandwiched between Russia and European Union member Poland: President Alexander Lukashenko has shrugged off concerns about Covid-19, telling his people that hockey, vodka, and banya — a traditional sauna — are the best cures.Lukashenko, who has ruled the country of 9.5 million people for more than a quarter of a century, has imposed few restrictions to prevent coronavirus from spreading further.Restaurants, parks and bars remain open. Mass sporting events go on as scheduled and attract hundreds of spectators, in defiance of the World Health Organization's social distancing recommendations. The Belarussian Premier League is now the only soccer competition on the continent. And Lukashenko himself hasn't limited public appearances, opting to play in a hockey match on Saturday. "It's better to die standing than to live on your knees," he said, rinkside in full hockey gear, in an interview with state television. "This is a fridge, this is healthy, there is nothing better than sport, especially ice which is the real anti-viral medicine." Belarus has officially reported 94 cases of coronavirus — and no deaths — but Lukashenko's critics have cast doubt on those statistics, warning that authorities there could be downplaying the numbers as the country gears up for a presidential election later this year. Lukashenko has made his own recommendations to combat the virus, suggesting that Belarusians should drink vodka to "poison the virus," or attend a banya. "I once mentioned that people need to go to banya to fight different viruses, this one included, since Covid-19 doesn't like high temperatures and dies at +60 C, as the experts informed me," Lukashenko said, adding that if you don't have hand sanitizer, drink vodka. "When you get out of sauna you shouldn't just wash your hands — down a shot of vodka," he said. "I don't drink myself, and I don't advocate for it, but I'll be okay with, it's tolerable at least until Victory Day on May 9."There is no clear evidence to indicate that the coronavirus can be controlled by high temperatures, experts say.

Business as usual

Belarus has yet to close its borders — its response so far has been limited to a two-week quarantine order for all those arriving in the country. But all of its neighbors — Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia — have shut theirs. Work hasn't stopped either, as Lukashenko is concerned at how the coronavirus response is hurting the global economy. He says he found inspiration in US President Donald Trump's suggestion that the cure for Covid-19 should not be worse than the virus itself. "I liked his recent statements very much," Lukashenko said of Trump, during a visit to a plaster plant last week, according to an official transcript. "He said, 'If we do not immediately return to enterprises and start working, then much more Americans will die from unemployment than from coronavirus.' Now you understand why I didn't close the factories."In post-Soviet Central Asia, some local strongmen have also taken the path of coronavirus denial.In Tajikistan, a remote nation bordering Afghanistan, President Emomali Rahmon has continued a schedule of public appearances and plans to convene parliament in mid-April.'Better to die standing than to live on your knees,' says Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko at ice hockey matchLast week, Rahmon — who is referred to in government news releases as the "Founder of Peace and National Unity and Leader of the Nation" — paid visits to cities taking part in a nationwide beautification project, the Republic Flower Contest, and handed out gifts to orphans."This humane initiative of the Head of State caused great joy," the government news release stated.Rahmon also went ahead with massive celebrations for Nowruz, the Persian New Year, taking part in festivities at the central stadium in the city of Khujand on March 22. The government news release featured crowds of spectators in national dress watching a colorful, choreographed spectacle and a speech by theRead More – Source

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Kosovo highest court rules new government can be formed without snap elections

Issued on: 29/05/2020 – 03:25Modified: 29/05/2020 – 03:29

Kosovo's Constitutional Court ruled..

Issued on: Modified:

Kosovo's Constitutional Court ruled late on Thursday that a new government can be formed without holding a snap election, a decision opposed by the caretaker prime minister's party, which has vowed street protests.

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Albin Kurti's government was dismissed on March 25 after less than two months in office, following disagreements with its main partner, the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic and removal of tariffs on Serbian goods.

"The biggest political party does not have the exclusivity to propose the candidate of the prime minister to form the government," the court said in its verdict.

Kurti backed a snap election after seeing that other parties rallied together with his former coalition partner the LDK to form a new government. His party said it will organise protests in coming days.

The task to form the government is now given to LDK nominee Avdullah Hoti, former deputy prime minister and a past finance minister.

Hoti has promised he will return to negotiations with Serbia to normalise ties under EU and United States mediation. Such talks were halted in 2018 when a previous government introduced a 100% tariffs on goods produced in Serbia.

The move has angered the European Union and the United States, which backed Read More – Source

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The ICC says ex-Ivory Coast president Gbagbo can leave Belgium under conditions

Issued on: 28/05/2020 – 22:03Modified: 28/05/2020 – 22:03

The International Criminal Court on Thur..

Issued on: 28/05/2020 – 22:03Modified: 28/05/2020 – 22:03

The International Criminal Court on Thursday said former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo can leave Belgium under certain conditions following his acquittal last year over post-electoral violence that killed 3,000 people.

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Gbagbo and his deputy Charles Ble Goude were both cleared of crimes against humanity a year ago, eight years after the former West African strongmans arrest and transfer to the Hague-based court.

Belgium agreed to host Gbagbo, 73, after he was released in February under strict conditions including that he would return to court for a prosecution appeal against his acquittal.

However, Gbagbo and Ble Goude cannot “travel beyond the territorial limits of the municipality of the receiving State without the explicit and prior authorisation of the Court,” an ICC statement said Thursday.

Ble Goude, who lives in The Hague, was released under similar conditions as Gbagbo.

Gbagbos lawyers had in February appealed for his unRead More – Source

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Nissan to shut factory in Barcelona, thousands of workers affected

Issued on: 28/05/2020 – 21:53Modified: 28/05/2020 – 21:56

Japanese carmaker Nissan has decided to ..

Issued on: Modified:

Japanese carmaker Nissan has decided to shut its factory in Barcelona where 3,000 people are employed after four decades of operations, the Spanish government said on Thursday.

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The decision came despite government efforts to keep the plant open, Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya told the national radio station.

“We regret this decision by Nissan to leave not just Spain but Europe… to concentrate its business in Asia, despite the enormous efforts by the government to keep the business going,” she said.

Spain is one of the countries worst hit by the coronavirus fallout, a context that particularly stoked anger among workers at the Barcelona plant.

Shameful

“Its shameful that a multinational company like this one would drop us in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said 54-year old Jordi Carbonell who has been with Nissan for 32 years.

Carbonell said he had felt “cheated” by management in recent years. “No production site is profitable without a sufficient production volume and here they just let it die,” he said.

Spains car industry is the European Unions second-biggest after that of Germany, accounting for 10 percent of the countrys gross domestic product.

With Brexit, the Barcelona site became Nissans main one in the European Union. The Japanese company runs a bigger production facility in Sunderland in Britain.

In addition to 3,000 direct jobs, some 22,000 more depend indirectly on the site, according to unions.

The industry ministry confirmed to AFP that Nissans chief executive had informed it of plans to stop operations at the Barcelona site, which groups several production facilities.

Safeguard employment

Production there had already ground to a halt at the start of the month when some staff went on strike demanding an investment strategy for the site after plans were announced to cut 20 percent of the workforce.

Foreign Minister Gonzalez Laya said “all kinds of help” had been proposed to Nissan in the run-up to Thursdays decision and that the government would “not throw in the towel”.

The head of Nissans European operations, Gianluca de Ficchy, said “all that support was taken into account in order to have an overall economic equation going forward”.

Nevertheless, “weve reached the conclusion that the overall economic equation for the plant was not sustainable going forward,” he added.

But Gonzalez Laya said Spain would “explore all solutions, because our concern is to safeguard employment”.

She did not rule out the possibility of finding a buyer for the plant.

Economy Minister Nadia Calvino meanwhile said the government had invited Nissan to start talks “to see how this process could be managed”, to no avail.

The Madrid government has argued that the cost of closing Nissans Barcelona operation, which it put at more than one billion euros ($1.1 billion), was higher than the investmRead More – Source

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