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#COVID19: Russian military medics support Italy

The Russian Aerospace Forces are ready to fly teams of virologists and medical equipment to coronavirus – plagued Italy starting Sunday March 22, the Defense Ministry said.

Following President Putin’s instruction, Defense Minister Shoigu (pictured) gave orders to set up an air group “for urgent aid deliveries to the Italian Republic for anti-coronavirus efforts, starting on March 22,” the Defense Ministry said.
As soon as Italy is ready, the Russian Aerospace Forces’ military transport aircraft will fly eight mobile teams of Russian military virologists and doctors, vehicles for aerosol disinfection of transport and territories, as well as medical equipment to the Republic,” the defense ministry said.
Italy has confirmed its readiness to accept Russian Aerospace Forces’ planes.

On March 21, Russian Defense Minister discussed aid delivery in a phone call with his Italian counterpart Lorenzo Guerini. “During the call, the Italian defense chief confirmed readiness to accept Russian planes with specialists, vehicles and equipment, starting March 22,” the Ministry said.
Guerini also expressed gratitude to Russia for promptly providing aid to fight the pandemic in accordance with an agreement between Vladimir Putin and Giuseppe Conte.

Upon his initiative President Putin phoned the Italian premier. The Kremlin’s press office said that the Russian president reassured him of Moscow’s readiness to promptly provide all necessary help and furnished information on its practical parameters. In particular, the supplies of protective means and mobile vehicles mounted on Kamaz trucks for spraying disinfectants over transport and in the areas as well as medical and other equipment are to be delivered. In addition, Russian specialists are going to be dispatched to the country’s worst-hit regions for practical assistance.

According to the latest reports, the death toll from the novel coronavirus has jumped to 793 in Italy in last 24 hours. The country has reported that 42,681 people have been infected with the novel virus, leading 4,871 victims, however over 6,000 people have recovered from the deadly disease.

Putin arrives to Crimea

President Vladimir Putin arrived to Crimea for a working visit, which will last two days, Russian media reports.

Russian President has a meeting with representatives of the public of the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol.

The head of state also awarded to the builders of the Crimean bridge with distinctions and medals.

There are also scheduled working meetings with the head of the Republic of Crimea Sergey Aksenov and interim governor of Sevastopol Mikhail Razvozhaev.

March 18, Crimea marks the sixth anniversary of reunification with Russia, which is regarded as “annexation” by the European Union, supporting the territorial integrity of Ukraine after Maidan Revolution, ousting President Yankovich.

In March 2014, a referendum was held in the Republic of Crimea, following which the peninsula became a territorial part of Russia, and Sevastopol became a city of federal significance.

Catherine the Great invested a year GDP of Russia to conquer the peninsula responding to complaints of her subjects against Crimea Khanate kidnapping people and slave trafficing to Ottoman Empire. The successful military campagne ended with Crimea joining Russian Empire under name of Tavria in 1783, and closure of all slave markets on the peninsula. Traditionally this historic day of issuing the Manifest of Catherine II is celebrated on April 19.

Crimea anniversary EU declaration

Today the Declaration was issued by the High Representative Josep Borrell-Fontelles, on behalf of the European Union, on the Autonomous Republic of Crimea (pictured) and the city of Sevastopol.
Six years on from the illegal annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol by the Russian Federation, the European Union remains steadfast in its commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

The European Union reiterates that it does not recognise and continues to condemn this violation of international law. It remains a direct challenge to international security, with grave implications for the international legal order that protects the territorial integrity, unity and sovereignty of all States.

“The European Union remains committed to fully implementing its non-recognition policy, including through restrictive measures. The European Union calls again on UN Member States to consider similar non-recognition measures in line with the UN General Assembly Resolution 68/262. The European Union does not and will not recognise the holding of elections by the Russian Federation in the Crimean peninsula.

“The increasing militarisation of the peninsula continues to negatively impact the security situation in the Black Sea region. In violation of international humanitarian law, Russian citizenship and conscription in the armed forces of the Russian Federation have been imposed on Crimean residents. The unjustified use of force by Russia against Ukraine on 25 November 2018 is a reminder of the negative effects of the illegal annexation on regional stability. The return of the illegally-captured Ukrainian servicemen and vessels, as requested by the Order of the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea and called by the EU, was long overdue when it eventually took place in the second half of 2019.

“The European Union condemns the construction of the Kerch Bridge without Ukraine’s consent and the recent opening of a railway section. These are yet further steps towards a forced integration of the illegally-annexed peninsula with Russia, and a further violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The EU expects Russia to ensure unhindered and free passage of all ships through the Kerch Strait to and from the Azov Sea, in accordance with international law. The illegal restrictions to such passage are still ongoing and have negative economic consequences for Ukraine’s ports in the Azov Sea and the whole region.

“Since the illegal annexation by the Russian Federation, the human rights situation in the Crimean peninsula has significantly deteriorated. Residents of the peninsula face systematic restrictions of fundamental freedoms, such as freedom of expression, religion or belief and association and the right to peaceful assembly. In accordance with UN General Assembly resolution 74/168 of 18 December 2019, it is crucial that the regional and international human rights monitoring mechanisms as well as the non-governmental human rights organisations have unimpeded access to Crimea and Sevastopol.

“The rights of the Crimean Tatars have been gravely violated through the shutting down of Crimean Tatar media outlets, and the banning of the activities of the Mejlis, their self-governing body, and the persecution of its leaders and members of their community. The EU expects Russia to reverse these decisions and to end the pressure on the Crimean Tatar community. Crimean Tatars, Ukrainians and all ethnic and religious communities in the peninsula must be ensured the possibility to maintain and develop their culture, education, identity and cultural heritage traditions, which are currently threatened by the illegal annexation.

“Furthermore, Russian Federation should stop changing the demographic structure of the population by transferring its own civilian population to the peninsula. Russia must also take measures to improve the environmental situation, which has considerably worsened since the illegal annexation.

“The EU reiterates its call for the immediate release of Emir-Usein Kuku and his five co-defendants, Oleh Prykhodko and all others who have been detained in the Crimean peninsula and sentenced in breach of international law. The EU calls for full compliance with international human rights standards in the peninsula. Journalists, human rights defenders and defence lawyers should be able to work independently and without undue interference and intimidation. All pending cases of human rights violations and abuses, such as enforced disappearances, torture and killings, violence, politically motivated prosecutions, discrimination and harassment should be thoroughly investigated. Full, free and unrestricted access for international human rights actors to the whole territory of Ukraine, including Crimea and Sevastopol, continues to be paramount. The EU recalls UNGA Resolution 74/168 of 19 December 2019, and calls for its full implementation, including the Russian Federation’s obligations under applicable international humanitarian law.”

Illustration: Crimea, Livadia Palace

Ukraine tourists vandalised Vatican fresco

A video was published in the “Italy for Me” community of the Facebook social network in which the user showed the names of tourists from Ukraine scratched on a Raphael fresco in the Vatican, the RIA Novosti news agency reports. The incident caused an outrage in social media, demanding the investigation into the this appalling act of vandalism.

Two Ukrainian tourists became notorious due to vandalism. Visitors of the Vatican’s Papal Palace discovered the clumsy scratched names of two residents of Vinnytisa on the fresco of the greatest genius of the Renaissance, Rafael Santi.

A video with traces of vandalism was published on Facebook by a user Alexander Voznesensky.

The graffiti were left on one of the frescoes in famous stanza of Rafael (from the Italian Stanze di Raffaello – the rooms of Rafael) – the precious masterpieces of the Papal Palace. The Italian genius painted the rooms in 1508-1517 with his apprentices. Each stanza has four fresco compositions of wall size.

For a minute I was even speechless from what I saw. It’s not even shame, it … I don’t have enough words. Some Lena and Tamara from Vinnitsa scribbled their names on Raphael’s mural,Alexander wrote on his page.

So far Ukrainian prosecution has not reacted yet upon the case of deplorable vandalism of World Heritage by two inhabitants of Vinnytsia, an industrial city of 370 000 inhabitants. There city also hosts the headquarters of the Ukrainian Air Force.

The recent case of vandalism involved 17-year-old Bulgarian studen, who has been accused of aggravated damage to a building of historical and cultural interest after carving her initial into a wall of the Colosseum in Rome.

The student was visiting the monument on a school trip on 28 April 2019 when she engraved the letter “M”, the intital of her first name, on an interior wall of of the ancient amphitheatre.

The Bulgarian tourist actions were noticed by security staff who immediately called police.

Following a sequence of barbaric incidents in 2016 Italian legislators approved a bill, introducing the specific offence of defacing or damaging cultural heritage or landscapes, and increased the penalty to a maximum of five years imprisonment. Previously the vandals were changed with €20 000 fine, which was not effective, preventing vandals from their barbaric actions.

Migrant shot dead at Greek border

Significant numbers of migrants and refugees have gathered in large groups at the Greek-Turkish land border and have attempted to enter the country illegally. I want to be clear: no illegal entries into Greece will be tolerated. We are increasing our border security,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said, reacting upon the tense situation at external EU border from Turksih side.

Greek border police have shot dead a migrant attempting to reach Europe as clashes grow following Turkey’s announcement that the border was “open.”

The Greek border is being besieged by thousands of migrants being convinced they can reach EU welfare havens following Ankara’s decision to stand down.

Following clashes that saw migrants attacking police with rocks and other objects, one victim was shot through the mouth and died at the scene.

“This is the first reported death among immigrants trying to cross the border from Turkey to Greece,” tweeted journalist Jenan Moussa. “A Syrian man is shot dead by Greek border guards. Here is the video.”

Idlib: Greece veto of NATO statement

The Permanent Mission of Greece to NATO vetoed a statement that the Alliance was preparing to issue in support of President Erdogan, following the recent killing of 33 Turkish troops in ongoing operation in Idlib, Greek newspaper Vima reported, refering to their own sources. (Image: social media)

The Foreign minister of Greece, Nikos Dendias, issued direct instructions to representatives to use a veto if the text of the joint statement does not include a Greek proposal to refer to compliance with the March 2016 EU-Turkey declaration on refugees and migrants.

President Erdogan vowed to allow refugees to travel to Europe from Turkey, and as a result thousands of migrants stuck on the Turkey-Greece border have clashed with Greek police, protecting exterior EU borders.

Greek police fired tear gas at people who have amassed at a border crossing in the western Turkish province of Edirne, some of whom responded by hurling stones at the officers.

The clashes occurred after Ankara announced it would no longer prevent refugees from crossing into Europe following the death of 33 Turkish troops in northern Syria in battle for Idlib.

EU-UK negotiation mandate adopted

The Council adopted a decision authorising the opening of negotiations for a new partnership with the UK and formally nominating the Commission as the EU negotiator. The Council also adopted negotiating directives which constitute a mandate to the Commission for the negotiations.

The first formal meeting between the EU and UK negotiators is expected to take place in early March. EU ministers also discussed the next steps in the EU-UK relationship.

The Council adopted a decision giving the go-ahead to open negotiations on a new partnership with the UK. The Council also nominated the Commission as EU negotiator and adopted the negotiating directives which set the scope of the future partnership. This mandate covers areas such as trade, fisheries, foreign policy, security and defence, law enforcement and judicial cooperation in criminal matters.

As a next step, the Commission will agree with the UK the dates for the first negotiating sessions.

The Council has adopted a clear and strong mandate for our negotiator, Michel Barnier. This confirms our readiness to offer an ambitious, wide-ranging and balanced partnership to the UK for the benefit of both sides. The EU is now ready to start negotiations” said
Andreja Metelko-Zgombić, Croatian State Secretary for European Affairs.

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