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Belarus journalists face charges for covering protests against PM Lukashenko

Issued on: 03/09/2020 – 06:13

Dozens of journalists gathered Wednesday outside a police station in..

Issued on: 03/09/2020 – 06:13

Dozens of journalists gathered Wednesday outside a police station in the capital of Belarus to protest the detention of colleagues covering a demonstration against the nations authoritarian president and an election the opposition sees as rigged.

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Police detained several journalists from Belarusian news outlets Tuesday on charges of taking part in an unsanctioned demonstration. They could receive fines or jail sentences of up to 15 days, if charged and convicted.

“We are witnessing the lawless action of law enforcement agencies, which are muzzling journalists without bothering about methods,” Olga Loiko, a journalist with Belarus popular online news outlet tut.by.

On Wednesday, police detained her colleague Vadim Zamirovsky, a photographer with tut.by. He told The Associated Press that he was released after police officers threw him into a van, beat him up and checked his ID and press card.

As it tries to quell weeks of anti-government protests prompted by official results that gave President Alexander Lukashenko a sixth term with 80% of the vote, his government also has revoked the accreditation of many Belarusian journalists and deported some foreign journalists.

Two Moscow-based Associated Press journalists who were covering the protests were deported to Russia on Saturday. In addition, the APs Belarusian journalists were told by the government that their press credentials had been revoked.

American and European Union officials have strongly condemned the targeting of media in Belarus.

During Tuesdays protest, hundreds of students marched across the city, chanting for Lukashenko to “Go away!” as they continued a fourth straight week of mass post-election protests.

The Interior Ministry said 128 people were detained across the country Tuesday for taking part in unsanctioned demonstrations, including 95 in the capital, Minsk. It said Wednesday that 39 of the detainees remained in custody pending court hearings.

More than 100 students of the Minsk State Linguistics University formed a human chain to protest Tuesdays detentions of students and professors. By Wednesday evening, similar human chains popped up all over Minsk, with hundreds of people joining in to express solidarity with detained protesters.

Viasna human rights center said police detained 17 participants in Wednesdays protest.

Lukashenko, who has run the ex-Soviet nation of 9.5 million with an iron fist for 26 years, has dismissed protesters as Western puppets.

During the first few days of post-election protests, police detained nearly 7,000 people and beat hundreds, drawing international outrage. The government has since avoided large-scale violence and sought to end the protests with threats, selective detention of protesters and prosecution of activists.

The United States and the European Union have criticized the Aug. 9 presidential election as neither free nor fair and urged Belarusian authorities to engage in a dialogue with the opposition. Lukashenko has dismissed the Wests input.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that the US and its European partners “are together previewing significant targeted sanctions on anyone involved in human rights abuses and oppression”.

“The Belarusians deserve the right to choose their own leaders through a truly free and fair election under independent observation,” Pompeo told reporters in Washington. “We demand an immediate end to the violence against them and the release of all who are unjustly detained.”

Belarusian prosecutors have opened a criminal probe of the Coordination Council that opposition activists set up after the election to try to negotiate a transition of power. Last week, two of its members were given 10-day jail sentences on charges of staging unsanctioned protests, and several others were Read More – Source

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Covid: Thousands protest in France against proposed new vaccine pass

A new draft law would in effect ban unvaccinated people from public life.

Demonstrators in the capital, Paris, held placards emblazoned with phrases like “no to vaccine passes”.

Interior Ministry officials said 34 people were arrested and some 10 police officers were injured after the protests turned violent in some places.

The bill, which passed its first reading in the lower house of France’s parliament on Thursday, would remove the option of showing a negative Covid-19 test to gain access to a host of public venues.

Instead, people would have to be fully vaccinated to visit a range of spaces, including bars and restaurants.

The government says it expects the new rules to come into force on 15 January, although the opposition-dominated Senate could delay the process.

But demonstrators on Saturday accused the government of trampling on their freedoms and treating citizens unequally.

Others targeted their anger at the president, Emmanuel Macron, over comments he made earlier this week in relation to unvaccinated citizens, telling Le Parisian newspaper that he wanted to “piss them off”.

One protester, hospital administrator Virginie Houget, told the Reuters news agency that Mr Macron’s remarks were “the last straw”.

And in Paris, where some 18,000 people marched against the new law, demonstrators responded to his coarse language by chanting: “We’ll piss you off”.

TV images showed altercations between protesters and police turning violent in some places. In Montpellier officers used teargas during clashes with the demonstrators.

Turnout for the protests was estimated to be about four times higher than the last major demonstrations on 18 December, when some 25,500 people marched across the country.

But despite the vocal protests, opposition to the new measures is not widespread and recent polling suggests the vast majority of people back the vaccine pass.

France is one of the most highly vaccinated countries in Europe, with more than 90% of over-12s eligible for the shot fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, new coronavirus infections are rising rapidly across France as the new Omicron variant takes hold.

The country recorded more than 300,000 new cases for the second time in a week on Friday and admissions to intensive care wards are rising steadily, putting healthcare systems under strain.

Some hospitals have reported that some 85% of ICU patients are not vaccinated against Covid-19.

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Covid-19: ‘There is no choice between lives and livelihoods,’ OECD chief Gurría says

Issued on: 13/11/2020 – 17:26

As European countries move into their second Covid-19 lockdowns of t..

Issued on: 13/11/2020 – 17:26

As European countries move into their second Covid-19 lockdowns of the year, the head of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development backs measures seen by many as tough. Ángel Gurría tells FRANCE 24: "If you win the battle against the virus first, you will have less economic consequences." He adds that "there is no choice between lives and livelihoods; it's a false dilemma".

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Mexican economist Ángel Gurría has been Secretary-General of the OECD since 2006 – throughout the global financial crash and subsequent recovery.

With hopes now high for viable vaccines against Covid-19, he's telling world leaders that the solutions to health and economic crises must carry the elements of our solutions to the environmental crisis too: "The single most important inter-generational responsibility is with the planet. That means the recovery, where we are going to make investments that have an impact for the next 30, 40 years, must absolutely have the sustainability of the planet in mind".

On the recently announced Pfizer vaccine, Gurría says: "It is a game changer […] The possibility of a vaccine being close is of enormous consequence. We still have to wait for it to be finalised, approved and distributed in sufficient amounts that it can get everywhere, so we are calculating that we are going to spend most of 2021 still living with the virus. But it changes expectations; the whole mood has improved considerably since the announcement."

On the refusal of Donald Trump, leader of the OECD's biggest single funder, to concede defeat in the US presidential election, Gurría sounds an upbeat note: "I believe that we will have an orderly transition of power in the United States come 20th January 2021. I believe in the institutions in the United States, I believe that the political forces in the United States will eventually align."

Finally, as talks drag on over a new Brexit deal on the future relationship between the EU and the United Kingdom, Gurría says he still expects a deal to be struck: "I believe that the common interest will lead to a deal […] The impact in Europe is going to be limited to the trade with the UK. The impact in the UK is going to be very serious, not only because of the flows of trade and flows of investment, but also because the overall business mood will be affected. So I am still counting on a deal."

Produced by Mathilde Bénézet

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Attacks in France and Austria: Europe’s response to extremism

Issued on: 13/11/2020 – 17:40Modified: 13/11/2020 – 17:42

TALKING EUROPE © FRANCE 24
This Friday..

Issued on: 13/11/2020 – 17:40Modified: 13/11/2020 – 17:42

TALKING EUROPE
TALKING EUROPE © FRANCE 24

This Friday marks the fifth anniversary of the Paris terror attacks, in which 130 people were killed. The last few weeks have seen more bloodshed, with attacks in the Paris region, in Nice and in the Austrian capital Vienna. European leaders are looking for solutions: ways to stop hate being preached, broadcast and acted upon, while defending individual freedoms of speech and of conscience. In our debate we ask two leading members of the European Parliament, from France and from Austria, what they believe should be done.

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Produced by Yi Song and Perrine Desplats

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Our guests

  • Andreas SCHIEDER, Austrian MEP, Socialists & Democrats
  • Nathalie LOISEAU, French MEP, Renew Europe

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