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Salvini Takes on France, Germany as Coalition Hangs in Balance

22.07.2019 3:07

(Bloomberg) -- Matteo Salvini accused France and Germany of snubbing the European nation most exposed to migration, highlighting divisions within the EU and returning to an issue popular with his supporters as he weighs whether to seek a snap election in Italy.Governments in Paris and Berlin “cannot decide migration policies and ignore the demands of the most-exposed countries like us and Malta,” Salvini said in his capacity as Italian interior minister in a statement released by his office on Sunday.“Italy is no longer willing to welcome all immigrants arriving in Europe,” his rightist League added, criticizing a draft paper drawn up for a meeting of European interior ministers in Paris on Monday on how to handle the flood of migrants from Africa that primarily arrive by boat to Italy and Malta.Salvini will skip the meeting at a time when tensions with his coalition partner, the Five Star Movement, are coming to a head. He’s been weighing pulling out of the government in a bid to prompt a new election to capitalize on a surge in popularity partly driven by his hard-line stance on immigration. Hundreds of thousands of immigrants have flooded Italy in recent years and the government estimates it spent 4.3 billion euros ($5 billion) aiding migrants in 2017, while receiving only 77 million euros in EU aid.Interior ministers gathering in Paris will offer to set up a voluntary mechanism to swiftly relocate asylum seekers that are disembarked in Italian and Maltese ports, according to a draft of their communique obtained by Bloomberg. They will also pledge financial and technical assistance to facilitate the swift return of migrants not entitled to asylum protection, according to the statement.On the sidelines of that meeting, French President Emmanuel Macron will hold talks Monday with the heads of the United Nations agencies dealing with migration and with refugees.The pledges failed to satisfy Salvini, who is demanding a more equitable distribution of incoming migrants. Italy and Malta argue that international law, which dictates that those saved at sea should be taken to the nearest safe port, was intended to deal with shipwrecks and other emergencies, and not mass migration, according to a policy paper distributed last week to other EU members and obtained by Bloomberg. Most arriving migrants do not qualify for asylum protection, so won’t be eligible for relocation under the plan proposed by some EU countries.The League leader has long denounced EU partners for abandoning Italy to bear the brunt of migrant arrivals from across the Mediterranean, and Salvini’s decision to close Italian ports to migrant ships has fueled tensions with his coalition partner, the anti-establishment Five Star led by fellow deputy premier Luigi Di Maio.Russiagate ScandalSalvini and Di Maio may meet on Tuesday in an attempt to avoid the collapse of the government, following clashes over immigration and other issues, including Five Star’s backing of Ursula von der Leyen as the new European Commission president, Corriere della Sera reported.The possible meeting increasingly looks like an opportunity to pacify rather than dissolve the ruling coalition, though Salvini insists he will only keep the coalition going if he obtains Five Star’s backing for the League’s flagship reforms, including tax cuts and stronger powers for regions in his northern stronghold.The two leaders will probably hold talks a day before Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte addresses parliament over reports that a close associate of Salvini’s allegedly sought illegal party funding in Moscow. Voting-intention polls show that the League is still the most powerful party in Italy, with little effect so far from the the so-called Russiagate scandal.The League’s support was at 35.9% in an Ipsos poll conducted July 16-18, more than twice what the party won in the March 2018 general elections and up from 33.3% in a survey by the same pollster last month. Support for Five Star was little changed from the previous poll at 17.4% and down from 32.7% in last year’s elections.(Adds Macron meeting UN agency heads in sixth paragrpah.)--With assistance from Gregory Viscusi and Lars Paulsson.To contact the reporters on this story: Lorenzo Totaro in Rome at [email protected];Nikos Chrysoloras in Brussels at [email protected];John Follain in Rome at [email protected] contact the editors responsible for this story: Fergal O'Brien at [email protected], Andrew Davis, Raymond ColittFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

Schiff, House Intelligence chair, says he first learned of Russian attacks on Senate campaigns at a security forum

21.07.2019 21:19

The California Democrat recalled his surprise when a Microsoft representative said at a conference last year that three Senate campaigns had been attacked by what seemed like the same Russian government-linked group that interfered in the 2016 election. “That should not be the first time the Intelligence chair is hearing that,” he said.


Russia gears up for Navy Day

21.07.2019 17:00

July 22, 2019 5:00 AM
The Russian Navy's small missile corvettes (from far right) Serpukhov, Passat and Mytishchi as well as sailboat Poltava taking part in a rehearsal for Russia's Navy Day parade in St Petersburg yesterday.


Borussia Dortmund and Seattle Sounders Show Support for Boy Battling Leukemia (Video)

21.07.2019 16:47

As part of their preparations for the upcoming seasons, like many other clubs, Borussia Dortmund traveled to America. A few days ago they played against Seattle Sounders and the CenturyLink Stadium in Seattle, and they took part in a gesture which expressed support to Bheem Goyal, an eight-year-old boy who is battling against leukemia.

Tags: UK, EU, Russia, PC, Seat

Schiff, House Intelligence chair, says he first learned of Russian attacks on Senate campaigns at a security forum - The Washington Post

21.07.2019 16:47

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) said Saturday that he and his contacts at top intelligence agencies were unaware of Russian ...


At least 11 killed in Syrian government attack on Idlib province

21.07.2019 16:19

Air raids by Syrian army and Russian ally kill at least 11, including three children and White Helmets volunteer.


Hackers reportedly breach contractor for Russian intelligence, exposing secret projects

21.07.2019 16:01

Stolen documents reveal a plan to de-anonymize Tor traffic, according to news reports.


Volodymyr Zelensky Ukrainian comedian-turned-president on course for election win

21.07.2019 15:42

Ukrainians gave their comedian-turned-president Volodymyr Zelensky a mandate to reboot the country’s politics on Sunday by handing his party a record score in parliamentary elections, exit polls showed. Zelensky’s Servant of the People party – named after the sitcom he starred in before his shock presidential win in April – took 43.9 percent of the vote in Sunday’s election, according to combined figures from three pollsters. It was the highest score in a parliamentary election for any party since Ukraine gained its independence with the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. The pro-Moscow Opposition Platform-For Life came second with 11.5 percent, the polls said. The exit polls only showed results for the half of seats assigned by party lists. The rest, in which members are directly elected in their districts, will be crucial in determining how Zelensky will try to form a government. Full, official results will be announced Monday. Without a majority, he will need to form a coalition and has indicated a preference for another new political force, the Golos (Voice) party of rock star Svyatoslav Vakarchuk. It took 6.3 percent, crossing the five percent threshold needed to enter parliament. The result is the culmination of a stunning turnaround in Ukrainian politics and will bring a host of newcomers into parliament and government. They will face a long list of challenges in a country heavily dependent on foreign aid and scarred by years of war with Russia-backed separatists. Speaking shortly after the exit polls were released, the 41-year-old Zelensky said his primary goals were to bring peace and tackle corruption. "Our main priorities – and I repeat this for every Ukrainian – are to end the war, return our prisoners and defeat the corruption that persists in Ukraine," he said at his party’s election headquarters. Zelensky’s victory in April was seen as a rejection of the country’s traditional elite for failing to end the separatist conflict, revive the economy or tackle widespread graft. Former president Petro Poroshenko’s European Solidarity party and former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s party Batkivshyna ("Fatherland") also entered parliament with 8.9 and 7.6 percent of the vote, according to the exit polls. Faced with a hostile parliament after his win, Zelensky quickly called snap elections and vowed to bring in a new generation of politicians to lead the country. Zelensky said after the exit polls that he would "be pleased to invite Mr. Vakarchuk for talks" on forming a coalition. He also said he was looking for a "new face and a specialist in the economy" to become the next prime minister. Vakarchuk, the 44-year-old lead vocalist of one of Ukraine’s most successful rock bands, Okean Elzy, only founded his party in May. He said after the exit polls that it was "too early" to talk about the specifics of a coalition but that he was "ready for talks with other political forces that have the same principles as us". Zinaida Kaplynenko reads her ballot paper before casting it in a mobile ballot box during Ukraine's parliamentary elections, Credit: Zenkovich/Tatania Both Zelensky and Vakarchuk packed their parties with young people new to politics and banned candidates who had previously served as lawmakers. Many voters seemed excited by the prospect of new political forces coming to power. Kateryna, a 31-year-old Kiev woman on maternity leave, said she cast her vote for Vakarchuk because she "believes in his young intelligent team". "It is the first time I am voting for someone because I like them, not because I have to choose the lesser evil," she said. More than 20 parties fielded candidates. The strong score for the Opposition Platform-For Life was expected as opinion polls had consistently shown the party in second place. One of the party’s top candidates, Viktor Medvedchuk, is close to Vladimir Putin, claiming the Russian president is his daughter’s godfather. The two met for talks in Russia just days before the vote. More than 13,000 people have been killed since the conflict with Moscow-backed separatists erupted in eastern Ukraine in 2014. Sporadic fighting continues along the frontlines, with four Ukrainian soldiers killed by sniper fire and mine blasts since Friday. Only 424 of the 450 seats in Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, will be filled this election, as the rest represent Crimea, annexed by Russia in 2014, or territories controlled by separatists. Of the seats being filled, 225 members are elected from nationwide party lists, while the rest are directly elected in their districts.

Ex-Comic President Clinches Political Sweep in Ukraine Election

21.07.2019 14:39

(Bloomberg) -- Comedian-turned President Volodymyr Zelenskiy dominated Ukraine’s parliamentary ballot, capitalizing on pledges to crack down on corruption, fix the economy and end the conflict with Russian-backed separatists.Zelenskiy’s party rode a wave of public anger over the lack of progress flushing dirty officials from state institutions. His Servant of the People party -- named after the television show that propelled him to fame -- won a record 44% of the vote, according to an exit poll published after balloting ended Sunday.Like the main character of his show, a teacher who's thrust into the position of head of state, Zelenskiy had no political experience before scoring a landslide win in April’s presidential vote. Since then, support for his party has tripled after he vowed to sweep out a political establishment that has failed to convincingly bring progress to the country of 42 million people since it ousted a Kremlin-backed leader five years ago.“We will not let Ukrainians down,” Zelenskiy, 41, said after declaring victory. “For us, the main things are to end the war, to secure the return of prisoners and to win the fight against corruption.”Zelenskiy invited the two-month-old Holos party led by Svyatoslav Vakarchuk, the country’s most popular rock singer, to join him in coalition talks. Holos got 6.3%, according to the exit poll, which covered results for the party lists that will fill half of the assembly’s 450 seats.“People voted for changes and we are glad to be part of those changes,” Vakarchuk said. “Our red lines are very clear: We won’t speak to those who are against a course toward Europe, it’s key that the law is the same for everyone, and third is a free economy without oligarchs -- the authorities should be accountable to the people.”Voters punished more traditional parties, including that of former President Petro Poroshenko and ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who got 8.9% and 7.6%, according to the survey by three polling agencies. More than two thirds of the vote went to forces that support closer ties with the European Union and NATO.The former Soviet republic also cast ballots for individual candidates -- some backed by parties, some independent -- in single-seat constituencies that are being contested by oligarchs, sports stars, and showbiz celebrities, potentially complicating Zelenskiy’s promise to overhaul Ukraine. Partial results are expected starting early on Monday, with full data to be released later this week.“The way Zelenskiy has behaved in recent month inspires trust,” 39-year-old Oleksiy Voitsekhivskyi, a doctor in Kiev, said after voting. “I have only bad words to describe how the old parliament worked. That’s why I want new faces to adopt anti-corruption laws so that finally corrupt people will be in jail.”Zelenskiy said that, for f prime minister, he wanted to appoint a “professional economist” respected in Ukraine and in the West who hasn’t held that job or led a party. That fits the description of former Finance Minister Oleksandr Danylyuk, who has expressed interest, and former Economy Minister Aivaras Abromavicius.After the outgoing parliament blocked Zelenskiy’s efforts to pass anti-corruption laws, the president has rejected the idea of a tie-up with Poroshenko’s party. Support for political forces sympathetic to Russia was 11.5%, slightly more than five years ago. For his part, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the two countries will mend ties despite the conflict, according to the transcript of a June 19 interview with American film director Oliver Stone.“Rapprochement is inevitable,” Putin said.Some concerns remain over how successful Zelenskiy will be in affecting change. Most candidates in Servant of the People are political neophytes and some of his appointments, as well as business links to billionaire Igor Kolomoisky, whose television channel airs his shows, have drawn criticism that he won’t be able to escape the orbit of the all-powerful oligarchs.Zelenskiy has pledged to revoke automatic immunity from prosecution for lawmakers and to step up anti-corruption efforts after the previous administration adopted laws only under intense pressure from voters and foreign creditors.He has also promised to renew cooperation with the International Monetary Fund. The Washington-based lender repeatedly held back financial assistance from Poroshenko’s administration due to its failure to push measures through the assembly, known as the Rada, to restructure the economy and fight graft.“I see the political will, but there are many obstacles,” said Balazs Jarabik, a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “Much will depend how Zelenskiy and his team can manage the state and the Rada differently than Poroshenko did.”(Updates with Zelenskiy’s comment in third paragraph, Vakarchuk in sixth.)--With assistance from Yulia Surkova and Kateryna Choursina.To contact the reporters on this story: Volodymyr Verbyany in Kiev at [email protected];Daryna Krasnolutska in Kiev at [email protected] contact the editors responsible for this story: Andrea Dudik at [email protected], Michael WinfreyFor more articles like this, please visit us at©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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