Masks off, Poles cheer reopening of bars and restaurants

Masks off, Poles cheer reopening of bars and restaurants

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People gather and celebrate as bars, clubs and other establishments reopened in Poland after being closed for seven months, in Warsaw, Poland, Friday, May 14, 2021. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski) more >

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By Vanessa Gera and Rafal Niedzielski

Associated Press

Saturday, May 15, 2021

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poles pulled off their masks, hugged their friends and made toasts to their regained freedom as restaurants, bars and pubs reopened for the first time in seven months and the government dropped a requirement for people to cover their faces outdoors.

The reopening, for now limited now to the outdoor consumption of food and drinks, officially took place on Saturday. Yet many could not wait for midnight to strike and were out on the streets of Warsaw and other cities hours earlier on Friday evening to celebrate, gathering outside popular watering holes. Some brought their own beer to hold them over until they could buy drinks at midnight — though some bars were also seen serving up beers and cocktails early.

“Now they are opening and I feel so awesome. You know, you feel like your freedom is back,” said Gabriel Nikilovski, a 38-year-old from Sweden who was having beer at an outdoor table at the Pavilions, a popular courtyard filled with pubs in central Warsaw. “It’s like you’ve been in prison, but you’ve been in prison at home.”

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DJs were finally back at work and waiters and waitresses were rushing to fill orders once again. Meanwhile, the end of a requirement to wear masks outdoors added to the sense of liberation. Masks will still be required in settings like public transport and stores.

Bar owners were also happy, thanks to the prospect of being able to finally start earning money, and many said they had been bombarded with reservation requests leading up to the opening.

“Today we feel as if it was New Year’s Eve because we are counting down to midnight,” said Kasia Szczepanska, co-owner of a bar, CAVA, on Warsaw’s trendy Nowy Swiat street. “It’s like New Year’s in May.”

Pandemic restrictions have meant that restaurants, cafes and other establishments have been limited to offering only takeout food and drinks since last fall.

“Everyone says they’re fed up with takeout food, food served on plastic,” Szczepanska said.

The easing of the country’s lockdown is coming in stages but the reopening of bars with outdoor gardens or dining areas was clearly a key psychological step on the road back to normality. From May 29, indoor dining will again be allowed.

Not all businesses survived the long months of forced closure, however, even with some government assistance, and others will be working at first simply to recoup their losses.

The loosening of restrictions comes as vaccinations have finally picked up speed across the European Union, of which Poland is a member, and the numbers of new COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations have plunged in Poland in recent weeks.

Yet many people don’t feel like they can fully relax yet.

Aleksandra Konopka, who manages a bar along a popular promenade on the Vistula River where people were lounging in deck chairs and sipping drinks in the sandy garden with a beach-like vibe, said she was thrilled that things were coming back. But she is also nervous there could be more lockdowns as new virus variants circulate. And she said there are new challenges coming from the difficulty of finding workers.

“Not everyone is willing to work in the gastronomy or hotel industry because they expect that they will lose their job,” Konopka said. “They changed professions and it’s hard to get service.”

One of the customers lounging at her bar, Monika Rzezutka, said she had badly missed contact with people during the many months of lockdown and welcomed the resumption of normal life.

“What used to be the norm suddenly becomes something unbelievable,” said Rzezutka, a 23-year-old psychology student. “It’s a nice feeling.”

Ukraine, Baltics, Poland leaders meet on Polish holiday

Ukraine, Baltics, Poland leaders meet on Polish holiday

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By MONIKA SCISLOWSKA

Associated Press

Monday, May 3, 2021

WARSAW, Poland (AP) – Lithuania‘s president said Monday that his country will never accept Russia‘s 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and Moscow’s military pressure on eastern Ukraine, or the Kremlin’s attempts to influence Belarus.

President Gitanas Nauseda was in Warsaw addressing a remote session of Poland‘s and Lithuania‘s parliaments marking the 230th anniversary of their joint constitution, Europe’s first such written democratic document.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the presidents of Latvia and Estonia – countries on the European Union’s border with Russia and Belarus – were also among the guests at the ceremonies in Warsaw.

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Lithuania will never recognize the illegal annexation of Crimea and will be taking steps toward ending the actual occupation of part of eastern Ukraine,” Nauseda said. “Whatever happens, we cannot allow Ukraine to slide back into the past.”

He also said Lithuania backs the freedom drive in neighboring Belarus and will never allow it to be influenced by Moscow.

“There is no room in the Europe of the 21st century for new areas of influence that negate the sovereignty of independent countries,” Nauseda said.

During a later televised debate among the presidents, Poland‘s Andrzej Duda assured Zelenskyy it was also Warsaw’s view that Russia‘s actions in Ukraine “must not be accepted.”

Zelenskyy, who is to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken this week in Kyiv, said that the war against Moscow-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine means that “there is war in Europe.”

“No one today will give up our sovereignty. We are fighting … because we want to be free,” Zelenskyy said.

Following one-on-one talks with Duda, Zelenskyy thanked Poland for its strong support for Ukraine‘s territorial integrity and condemnation of Crimea’s annexation.

Zelenskyy said he invited Duda to ceremonies in August marking 30 years of Ukraine‘s independence and to the accompanying meeting of state leaders that is to discuss the “de-occupation of Crimea.”

During the presidents’ debate Monday on the European Union and the pandemic, Zelenskyy said that Ukraine, which is aspiring to one day join the club, said it has not yet received any of the promised COVID-19 vaccines from the EU.

He said only 1 million people in his nation of more than 44 million have been immunized.

The five presidents signed a declaration stressing that solidarity among nations is the basis for peace, stability and development in today’s world.

Poland’s 1791 Constitution was intended to strengthen its political system and rule of law and protect it against aggression from neighboring powers, including Russia. Historians say the effort came too late, and failed to avert annexations by the Russian, Prussian and Austrian empires that in 1795 wiped Poland from maps for more than a century.

Poland and neighboring Lithuania were one state at the time of the 18th-century constitution.

Russia expels 5 Polish diplomats in quid pro quo move

Russia expels 5 Polish diplomats in quid pro quo move

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By

Associated Press

Friday, April 23, 2021

MOSCOW (AP) – Russia expelled five Polish diplomats Friday in retaliation to Polish authorities expelling three Russian Embassy workers last week.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said it summoned the Polish ambassador to inform him that the five diplomats must leave the country by May 15.

The Foreign Ministry berated Warsaw for its “deliberate course” to “destroy” relations with Russia. It denounced Polish authorities removing monuments to Soviet soldiers and accused them of seeking to undermine Russian energy projects and unleashing a “large-scale anti-Russian information campaign.”

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Poland said last week that it was expelling three Russian diplomats, describing the move as an act of solidarity with the United States.

Poland’s Foreign Ministry on Friday called Russian move as “yet another example of aggressive policies” and “a deliberate gesture meant to inflame relations with the neighbors and the entire international community.” The ministry said Warsaw reserved the right to “an appropriate response.”

The Biden administration announced sanctions on Russia for interfering in the 2020 U.S. presidential election and for involvement in the SolarWind hack of federal agencies – activities Moscow has denied. The U.S. ordered 10 Russian diplomats out of the country and imposed new curbs on Russia’s ability to borrow money along with the sanctions targeting dozens of companies and individuals.

Russia‘s move to expel Polish diplomats came after Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania ordered the expulsion of a total of four Russian diplomats Friday. The three Baltic countries said they acted to support the Czech Republic, which engaged in a tense diplomatic showdown with Russia involving the expulsions of scores of diplomats.

The Latest: Biden: ‘Big mistake’ by states to drop mask rule

The Latest: Biden: ‘Big mistake’ by states to drop mask rule

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A health worker prepares to administer the Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to a health staff member at the Hospital UiTM in Sungai Buloh, outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Wednesday, March 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian) more >

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By The Associated Press

Associated Press

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden called out Republican governors in Texas and Mississippi for “Neanderthal thinking” in deciding to relax their mask mandates and other COVID-19 restrictions.

The governors of both states announced Tuesday they would lift their states’ mask mandates and other restrictions on businesses and gatherings aimed at stopping the spread of the virus.

Biden called it a “big mistake” while speaking in the Oval Office on Wednesday during a meeting with lawmakers, who each wore a mask. He said, “I hope everyone has realized by now, these masks make a difference.”

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Biden added: “We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease” and said “the last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking that in the meantime, everything’s fine, take off your mask, forget it.”

___

THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

– CDC chief: Wear masks, follow federal guidelines

Biden stands by timeline of vaccines for all US adults by May

– Drug maker says India vaccine is 81% effective

– European countries seek vaccine ‘overdrive’ to catch up

– Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

___

HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

WASHINGTON – The Biden administration will partner with health insurance companies to help vulnerable older people get vaccinated for COVID-19.

White House coronavirus special adviser Andy Slavitt announced Wednesday the goal is to get 2 million of the most at-risk seniors vaccinated soon. Many older people live in relative isolation and some lack the internet access to make vaccination appointments.

Insurance companies have ties to Medicare recipients through businesses that range from Medicare Advantage private plans, to prescription drug coverage, to Medigap plans that seniors purchase for expenses that traditional Medicare doesn’t cover.

Slavitt says insurers will use their networks to contact seniors with information about COVID-19 vaccines, answer questions, find and schedule appointments for first and second doses and coordinate transportation. The focus will be on reaching people in medically underserved areas.

The two major industry trade groups, America’s Health Insurance Plans and the BlueCross BlueShield Association, separately announced their member companies will take part in the pilot program, which is being called Vaccine Community Connectors.

___

WASHINGTON – The Biden administration is warning against virus fatigue and encouraging Americans to continue to wear a mask and practice social distancing despite many states easing restrictions.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the nation is “at a critical nexus in the pandemic,” and the next two months are “pivotal” in determining the remaining course of the pandemic.

While vaccinations are set to rapidly ramp up, Walensky warned deaths and new infections have plateaued at a “troubling” level after falling off their January highs.

She says: “Fatigue is winning and the exact measures we have taken to stop the pandemic are now too often being flagrantly ignored.”

Walensky says the CDC has been clear in opposing states’ moves to lift restrictions and encouraged Americans to follow federal guidelines.

___

NEW DELHI, India – The interim analysis of results from an Indian vaccine maker’s late stage trials shows its COVID-19 vaccine to be about 81% effective in preventing illness from the coronavirus.

The Bharat Biotech vaccine was controversially approved by India in January without waiting for trials to confirm that the vaccine was effective. Since then 1.3 million of doses of the vaccine have been administered to people in India.

The interim results are based on 43 trial participants who were infected by the virus. Of these, 36 hadn’t received the vaccine, the company says. A second analysis will be conducted for 87 cases, and a final analysis 130 cases.

Health care workers have been reticent to take the shots and health experts are concerned the regulatory shortcut has amplified vaccine hesitancy.

Bharat Biotech has already signed an agreement with Brazil to supply 20 million doses of the vaccine by September.

___

DETROIT – This week, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan is expanding vaccinations to any resident factory worker, no matter their age or where they work.

Non-Detroit residents can also get a shot if they work in manufacturing in the city.

“We’ve had some illness in our plants and deaths. This is incredibly important. … It’s going to give them some peace of mind,” said Cindy Estrada, a vice president at the United Auto Workers, who bared her arm for a shot at the news conference.

More than 2.3 million vaccine doses have been administered so far in Michigan, mostly in the Detroit area, according to the state health department.

___

BERLIN – Germany is extending strict checks on its borders with the Czech Republic and Austria’s Tyrol province by another two weeks until March 17.

The checks were introduced on Feb. 14, initially for a 10-day period, in a bid to reduce the spread of possibly more contagious coronavirus variants that have taken hold in those areas.

Germany is limiting entry to its own citizens and residents, truck drivers, health workers and cross-border commuters working in “systemically relevant sectors.” All must show a negative coronavirus test.

Interior Ministry spokesman Steve Alter says an extension is necessary because of a “worsened infection situation” in the Czech Republic and the situation in Tyrol.

He says Germany is “in intensive talks, in particular with Austria, to find solutions.”

___

PRAGUE – The Czech Republic is negotiating with Germany and other European countries to treat its COVID-19 patients as hospitals fill up.

Interior Minister Jan Hamacek says 19 beds are ready for the Czech patients in neighboring Germany, which has offered to treat dozens. He says Switzerland has offered another 20 beds in its hospitals, including taking care of the transportation. Talks are also under way with Poland that could provide some 200 beds.

The Czech Republic is one of the hardest hit European Union countries. New confirmed cases reached 16,642 on Tuesday, the fourth highest since the start of the pandemic. There’s a record of more than 8,000 COVID-19 patients needing hospitalization.

Some hospitals in western Czech Republic near the German border and in the central Pardubice region cannot take more patients. The nation of 10.7 million had almost 1.3 million confirmed cases with almost 21,000 deaths.

___

WARSAW, Poland – Poland’s biotechnology company Mabion S.A. says it signed a framework agreement with the U.S. vaccine development company Novavax.

It would produce an active component, an antigen, of the U.S. firm’s anti-COVID-19 vaccine. The agreement provides for a transfer of technology to Mabion, which is to make a technical series of the antigen.

If the tests prove successful and Novavax vaccine gets approval from European, the companies will discuss cooperation on large-scale production, also for Europe’s needs.

Poland’s state Development Fund is to support the trial stage with up to 40 million zlotys ($10.6 million.) Amid a sharp rise in new infections, Poland is seeking to increase its purchases of COVID-19 vaccines. Poland’s President Andrzej Duda spoke this week with Chinese President Xi Jinping about the possibility of buying the Chinese vaccine.

___

PODGORICA, Montenegro – Montenegrin government says China has donated 30,000 Sinopharm vaccines to the small Balkan country.

A statement says the shipment arrived on Wednesday “illustrating friendly relations and great solidarity between our two countries.” Montenegro has previously acquired 5,000 Russian Sputnik V vaccines and Serbia has donated 2,000 of the same shots.

The small Balkan country of 620,000 people has reported more than 1,000 virus-related deaths and hundreds of new cases daily. Health authorities have appealed on the citizens to join the vaccination effort in large numbers.

Balkan countries have been turning to Russia and China for vaccines while still waiting to receive some through the international COVAX program. It’s designed to make sure less wealthy countries are not left behind in inoculation.

___

TOKYO – Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga says he is considering extending an ongoing state of emergency for the Tokyo region for about two weeks, amid concerns that infections have not slowed enough and are continuing to strain health systems in the region.

Suga had declared a month-long state of emergency in Jan. 7 for Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba, then extended the measure through to March 7. The measure issued for up to 10 other urban prefectures later in January was lifted last week, underscoring the government’s eagerness to allow businesses to return to normal as soon as possible.

“Our anti-infection measures are at a very important phase,” Suga told reporters Wednesday. “In order to protect the people’s lives and health, I think we need to extend (the state of emergency) for about two weeks.”

His comment comes after Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike and heads of the neighboring prefectures raised concerns that infections have not slowed enough and lifting restrictive measures this weekend could trigger a quick rebound of infections.

Daily new cases in Tokyo have significantly decreased after they peaked at around 2,000 in early January, but the slide has slowed recently. Tokyo on Wednesday reported 316 new cases, up from 232 the day before, for a prefectural total of 112,345. Nationwide, Japan has more than 434,000 cases and about 8,000 deaths as of Tuesday, the health ministry said.

Suga said medical systems in the region are still burdened with COVID-19 patients and that more hospital beds need to be freed up.

___

STOCKHOLM – A top health official in the Swedish capital says a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic has hit Stockholm after a drop in cases after the New Year. Cases in the capital have been rising sharply for the past three weeks.

“We do not want to see a development where the need for health care increases sharply,” said Johan Bratt, the capital city’s health director.

The last week of February saw 6,336 new cases, almost double the 3,225 new cases recorded three weeks earlier.

Officials in neighboring Norway said restaurants and gyms in some areas would be closed after pockets of virus outbreaks in the capital Oslo and elsewhere. The move comes after more cases of the virus mutations have been reported in Norway. The changes apply as of Wednesday.

___

MADRID – Spain has imposed a 10-day quarantine on travelers arriving from Colombia, Peru, and eight African countries, in addition to maintaining the quarantine on arrivals from Brazil and South Africa due to concerns over new variants of the coronavirus.

Spain’s government gazette published the order on Wednesday, imposing the obligatory quarantine on those arriving from Colombia, Peru, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Botswana, Tanzania, Zambia, Mozambique and Comoras.

The quarantine order will take effect on Monday and last for 14 days, after which it can be extended. Spain’s health ministry reported Tuesday has detected 54 cases of the South African variant and 17 cases of the Brazilian variant.

Visitors can reduce the quarantine to seven days if they provide a negative result for a COVID-19 test.

___

HELSINKI – Estonia has issued additional coronavirus restrictions and will close restaurants and all non-essential shops for weekends to curb the worsening pandemic situation in the small Baltic country.

Effective March 6, eating establishments and most shops will close for Saturday and Sunday but will remain open during the week, the Estonian government said.

During week days, restaurants and stores need to comply with a maximum of 25% percent occupancy rate requirement. The new restrictions will remain in place until March 28.

Estonia, a nation of 1.3 million, has seen a rapidly increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the past weeks as the pandemic has spread across the nation.

On Wednesday, the country reported 1,467 new confirmed cases putting total tally to over 58,000 cases with 615 deaths. The 14-day average rate for new infections per 100,000 inhabitants stands now at over 1,100.

___

ANKARA, Turkey – Turkish researchers say the vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech company has a 83.5% efficacy rate, according to the results of a late-stage trial conducted in Turkey.

The trial also showed the vaccine to be 100% effective in preventing the hospitalization of COVID-19 sufferers, professors Murat Akova and Serhat Unal of Ankara’s Hacettepe University told reporters on Wednesday. A total of 10,220 people participated in the late-stage trial, they said.

Turkey authorized the Sinovac vaccine’s emergency use on Jan. 13 and began administering shots the next day. So far, more than 9 million doses of the two-shot vaccine have been administered.

Unal said no serious side-effect has been reported so far.

Turkey is set to receive some 100,000 doses of the vaccine. Ankara has also ordered 4.5 million doses of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine. Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has said Turkey aims to vaccinate 52.5 million people by the end of May.

___

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia – Slovakia is tightening restrictive measures in a bid to halt the spread of a highly contagious coronavirus variant first found in Britain.

Starting Wednesday, Slovakia, one of the hardest-hit European Union countries, is imposing a nationwide curfew between 8 p.m. and 1 a.m.

Authorities are also tightening rules for international travelers Wednesday to try to prevent virus variants from spreading or entering the country. Police and military officers are set to enforce the new measures by re-imposing border checks for 24 hours a day on all major border crossings with Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland.

In Slovakia’s already tight lockdown, people in counties where the virus situation is considered serious need to take a test every seven days to be able to go to work.

___

THE HAGUE, Netherlands – Dutch police say a blast smashed windows at a coronavirus testing center in a small town north of Amsterdam in the early morning. Nobody was hurt.

Police in the North Holland province tweeted that “an explosive went off” near the test center in Bovenkarspel just before 7 a.m. (0600 GMT) on Wednesday.

Police have taped off the area about 60 kilometers (40 miles) north of Amsterdam and are investigating the cause of the blast.

In January, rioters torched a coronavirus test facility in the fishing village of Urk on the first night of a 9 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. nationwide curfew imposed as part of the government’s lockdown.

___

TAIPEI, Taiwan – The first batch of COVID-19 vaccine has arrived in Taiwan.

Taiwan has signed contracts securing 10 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, 5.05 million doses of the Moderna vaccine and 4.76 million doses of vaccines through COVAX. Wednesday’s delivery had 117,000 AstraZeneca doses, which was transported from the airport with a police escort.

Health care workers, especially those who have direct contact with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases, will be the first to get the shots, Taiwan’s Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said at a news briefing. The island has yet to announce a mass vaccination campaign for the general public.

The island is planning to give the first dose to 117,000 individuals, the minister said, with the first dose providing an efficacy rate of 71%. The second dose is meant to be given eight weeks later, boosting effectiveness to 81%.

___

TORONTO – The health minister of Canada’s most populous province says Ontario seniors won’t receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine since there’s limited data on its effectiveness in older populations.

Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott says Ontario plans to follow the advice of a national panel that’s recommended against using the newly approved vaccine on people aged 65 and older.

Elliott says for anyone over that age, it’s recommended that they receive either the Pfizer or the Moderna vaccine.

There are no concerns that the vaccine is unsafe for use, but Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization said this week that the vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are preferred for seniors due to “suggested superior efficacy.″

France said this week it will allow some people over 65 to receive the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, after initially restricting its use to younger populations because of limited data on the drug’s effectiveness.

___

WELLINGTON, New Zealand – New Zealand reported no new community cases of the coronavirus for a third consecutive day as the latest outbreak in Auckland appears to have been brought under control.

The government placed the nation’s largest city into a weeklong lockdown Sunday after several new community cases were found.

Top lawmakers in the Cabinet are meeting Friday to review the lockdown. Also, health officials announced they had given the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine to more than 9,000 people, including more than half of the 12,000 people who work at the border.

New Zealand currently has a supply of about 200,000 doses. The country has been slower than many to begin its vaccination campaign but is seen as lower risk after eliminating community spread of the virus.

___

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden is directing states to prioritize vaccinating all teachers during the month of March, and announced that the federal government will help in the effort through its partnership with retail pharmacies.

Biden said his goal is for every pre-kindergarten through 12th grade educator, school staff member and childcare worker to receive at least one shot by the end of March.

To achieve this, Biden announced that qualifying individuals will be able to sign up this month to be vaccinated at a pharmacy near them.

Biden said that while schools are safe to reopen even before staff have been vaccinated, “time and again, we’ve heard from educators and parents that have anxieties about that,” so to “accelerate” the safe reopening teachers should be prioritized.

___

Russia expels EU diplomats over Navalny as tensions rise

Russia expels EU diplomats over Navalny as tensions rise

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Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny’s lawyer Olga Mikhailova arrives to the Babuskinsky district court for the continuation of his trial, in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Feb. 5, 2021. A Moscow court resumes the trial against Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny on … more >

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By DARIA LITVINOVA

Associated Press

Friday, February 5, 2021

MOSCOW (AP) – Russia said Friday it was expelling diplomats from Sweden, Poland and Germany, accusing them of attending a rally in support of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, as international tensions grew over the jailing of the Kremlin’s most prominent foe.

The announcement came as the European Union’s foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell told Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that the treatment of Navalny represents “a low point” in relations between Brussels and Moscow.

The Russian Foreign Ministry accused Swedish and Polish diplomats in St. Petersburg and a German diplomat in Moscow of taking part in what it called “unlawful” rallies on Jan. 23. Tens of thousands of people across Russia took to the streets that day to protest Navalny‘s arrest.

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The diplomats were declared “persona non grata” and were required to leave Russia “shortly,” a ministry statement said.

European officials strongly denounced the move.

Germany said its diplomat was fulfilling his duty by following the developments, and it warned Moscow that its action won’t go unanswered, summoning the Russian ambassador.

“We consider this expulsion unjustified and think it is another facet of the things that can be seen in Russia at the moment that are pretty far from the rule of law,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in Berlin after a videoconference with French President Emmanuel Macron. Macron expressed solidarity with Germany, Poland and Sweden and condemned “in the stronger terms” the expulsions and what happened to Navalny “from the beginning to the end.”

Sweden said it “considers this entirely unjustified, which we have also conveyed to the Russian side,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Mats Samuelsson said in a statement to The Associated Press. Stockholm “strongly rejects Russian claims that the diplomat took part in a demonstration in Russia” and “reserves the right to take appropriate measures in response,” he said.

Poland also warned Moscow the move will worsen relations.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the action was further evidence Moscow was “turning its back on international law,” tweeting that expelling diplomats “for simply doing their jobs is a crude attempt to distract from Russia’s targeting of opposition leaders, protesters and journalists.”

Speaking at the start of his talks with Lavrov, Borrell said “our relations are under a severe strain, and the Navalny case is a low point in our relations.”

Afterward, Borell said he had relayed his concerns over Navalny’s jailing and the arrests of thousands of who had rallied on his behalf. The EU official said he also communicated the bloc’s support for Navalny‘s release and for an investigation of the August poisoning but added that there were no proposals of additional sanctions against Russia from the EU at this point.

Merkel said that “we reserve the right to continue the sanctions” but noted the Navalny situation shouldn’t affect the Nord Stream 2 pipeline under construction to deliver more Russian natural gas to Germany.

Lavrov again accused European officials of refusing to share evidence of the poisoning. The Kremlin has said it won’t listen to Western criticism of Navalny’s sentencing and police action against his supporters.

Navalny, 44, an anti-corruption investigator and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent critic, was arrested Jan. 17 upon returning from Germany, where he spent five months recovering from a nerve-agent poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin. Russian authorities have rejected the accusation.

On Tuesday, a Moscow court ruled that while in Germany, Navalny violated probation terms of his suspended sentence from a 2014 money-laundering conviction and ordered him to serve two years and eight months in prison. The ruling prompted international outrage.

In the mass protests across Russia‘s 11 time zones for two weekends in a row, many people chanted slogans against Putin in the largest show of discontent in years. Thousands were detained. Several of Navalny‘s close allies face criminal charges and are under house arrest, and many of his associates were handed short jail terms.

Top Navalny strategist Leonid Volkov argued Thursday that trying to maintain rallies every weekend would only lead to many more arrests and wear out the participants and said that protests should pause until spring after reaching a peak.

Instead, he urged supporters to focus on challenging Kremlin-backed candidates in September’s parliamentary elections and securing new Western sanctions against Russia to press for Navalny’s release. He said Navalny’s team would try to ensure that “every world leader would discuss nothing but Navalny’s release with Putin.”

On Friday, however, another Navalny ally, Vladimir Milov, expressed disappointment with Borrell‘s visit to Moscow. He called it a “disastrously weak visit” and said Lavrov “used him as a decoration to lecture Europe on ‘international law.’”

“Maybe he’ll bring back some Sputink V vaccines as a reward,” Milov tweeted, referencing Borrell‘s praise of Russia‘s domestically developed coronavirus vaccine.

Navalny, meanwhile, was back in court Friday for yet another trial – this time on a charge of defaming a World War II veteran featured in a pro-Kremlin video that Navalny denounced on social media last year.

A criminal probe was opened after Navalny slammed people featured in a video promoting constitutional amendments last year that allowed an extension to Putin’s rule. Navalny called the people in the video “corrupt stooges,” “people without conscience” and “traitors.”

Russian authorities maintained that Navalny’s comments “denigrate (the) honor and dignity” of Ignat Artemenko, the veteran featured in the video.

If convicted, Navalny faces a fine or community service. He has denied the charge and refused to enter a plea on Friday, calling the trial a “PR process” aimed at disparaging him.

“The Kremlin needs headlines (saying that) Navalny slandered a veteran,” he said.

Artemenko, 94, took part in the hearing via teleconference, saying he was distressed by Navalny‘s comments and demanding a public apology.

Navalny accused Artemenko’s family of exploiting the frail man for their own gain, alleging the case was fabricated and the evidence falsified.

“The judge should burn in hell, and you’re selling your grandfather out,” Navalny said, as Artemenko’s grandson testified.

The hearing was eventually adjourned until Feb. 12.

___

Associated Press writers Geir Moulson in Berlin, Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Sylvie Corbet in Paris and Jill Lawless in London contributed.

Future of Holocaust research in Poland hinges on libel case

Future of Holocaust research in Poland hinges on libel case

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FILE – In this 1943 photo, a group of Polish Jews are led away for deportation by German SS soldiers, during the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto by German troops after an uprising in the Jewish quarter. Two Polish historians … more >

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By VANESSA GERA

Associated Press

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

WARSAW, Poland (AP) – Two Polish historians are facing a libel trial for a scholarly examination of Polish behavior during World War II, a case whose outcome is expected to determine the fate of independent Holocaust research under Poland’s nationalist government.

A verdict is expected in Warsaw‘s district court on Feb. 9 in the case against Barbara Engelking, a historian with the Polish Center for Holocaust Research in Warsaw, and Jan Grabowski, a professor of history at the University of Ottawa.

It is the first major legal test in the wake of a 2018 law that makes it a crime to falsely accuse the Polish nation of crimes committed by Nazi Germany. The law caused a major diplomatic spat with Israel.

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Since it won power in 2015, the conservative ruling party, Law and Justice, has sought to discourage investigations into Polish wrongdoing during the wartime German occupation, preferring instead to almost exclusively stress Polish heroism and suffering. The aim is to promote national pride – but critics say the government has been whitewashing the fact that some Poles also collaborated in the German murder of Jews.

The Israeli Holocaust museum Yad Vashem said the legal effort “constitutes a serious attack on free and open research.”

A number of other historical institutions have condemned the case as the verdict nears, with the Paris-based Foundation for the Memory of the Shoah describing it Tuesday as a “witch hunt” and a “pernicious invasion into the very heart of research.”

The case centers on a 1,600-page, two-volume historical work in Polish, “Night Without End: The Fate of Jews in Selected Counties of Occupied Poland,” which was co-edited by Grabowski and Engelking. An abridged English version is due to be published in a few months.

Grabowski and Engelking say they see the case as an attempt to discredit them personally and to discourage other researchers from investigating the truth about the extermination of Jews in Poland.

“This is a case of the Polish state against freedom of research,” Grabowski told The Associated Press on Monday.

Grabowski, a Polish-Canadian whose father was a Polish Holocaust survivor, has faced considerable anti-Semitic harassment by nationalists, both online and at lectures in Canada, France and elsewhere.

The niece of a man in the village of Malinowo, whose wartime behavior is briefly mentioned, is suing Grabowski and Engelking, demanding 100,000 zlotys ($27,000) in damages and an apology in newspapers.

According to evidence presented in the book, Edward Malinowski, an elder in the village, allowed a Jewish woman to survive by helping her pass as a non-Jew. But the survivor is also quoted as saying that he was an accomplice in the deaths of several dozen Jews.

The niece, Filomena Leszczynska, has been backed by a group, the Polish League Against Defamation, which receives funding from the Polish government.

That organization argued that the two scholars are guilty of “defiling the good name” of a Polish hero, whom they claim had no role in harming Jews, and by extension harming the dignity and pride of all Poles. The lawsuit was filed in court free of charge as allowed under the 2018 law.

Mark Weitzman, director of government affairs for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, called “Night Without End” a “meticulously researched and sourced book … that details thousands of cases of complicity by Poles in the murder of Jews during the Holocaust.”

“The proceedings against these two scholars of international repute are nothing more than an attempt to use the legal system to muzzle and intimidate scholarship on the Holocaust in Poland,” Weitzman said.

Germany occupied Poland in 1939, annexing part of it to Germany and directly governing the rest. Unlike other countries occupied by Germany, there was no collaborationist government in Poland. The pre-war Polish government and military fled into exile, except for an underground resistance army that fought the Nazis inside the country.

Yet some people in Poland collaborated with the Germans in hunting down and killing Jews, in many cases people who had fled ghettos and sought to hide in the countryside.

Grabowski said “Night Without End” is “multi-faceted, and it talks about Polish virtue just as much. It paints a truthful picture.”

“The Holocaust is not here to help the Polish ego and morale, it’s a drama involving the death of 6 million people – which seems to be forgotten by the nationalists,” he said.

A deputy foreign minister, Pawel Jablonski, described the case as a private matter.

“It is everyone’s legal right to seek such a remedy before (a) court if they feel that their rights have been infringed by (another) person or entity,” Jablonski told the AP in an statement Monday. “The government is not involved in the proceedings, it is a private matter to be decided by the court.”

Yet those who fear that the case could stifle independent research take a different view.

“The involvement in this trial of an organization heavily subsidized with public funds can be easily construed as a form of censorship and an attempt to frighten scholars away from publishing the results of their research out of fear of a lawsuit and the ensuing costly litigation,” said Zygmunt Stepinski, director of the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw.

Pope Francis marking Holocaust warns another extermination possible

Pope Francis marking Holocaust warns another extermination possible

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In this Dec. 8, 2020, file photo, Pope Francis delivers his message during the Angelus noon prayer from the window of his studio overlooking St.Peter’s Square, on the Immaculate Conception day, at the Vatican. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini, file) more >

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Associated Press

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

ROME (AP) — Pope Francis marked Holocaust Remembrance Day on Wednesday by warning that warped ideologies can pave the way to another mass extermination.

Francis spoke off the cuff at the end of his weekly general audience, held in his private library because of coronavirus restrictions, to commemorate the 76th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp in Poland, where Nazis killed more than 1 million Jews and others.

The Argentine pope insisted on the need to remember, saying it was a sign of humanity and a condition for a peaceful future. But he said remembering “also means to be aware that these things can happen again, starting with ideological proposals that claim to save a people and end up destroying a people and humanity.”

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He warned that the Holocaust began that way, opening “this path of death, extermination and brutality.”

Francis prayed at the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial during his 2016 visit to Poland.

EU avoided chaos, explored new paths in turbulent 2020 year

EU avoided chaos, explored new paths in turbulent 2020 year

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FILE – In this Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020 file photo, European Council President Charles Michel speaks with EU leaders during an EU Summit video conference at the European Council building in Brussels, to address the need to strengthen the collective … more >

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By SAMUEL PETREQUIN

Associated Press

Friday, January 1, 2021

BRUSSELS (AP) – Between the specter of Brexit, the coronavirus pandemic and a new leadership team facing a budget battle, the European Union looked set to remember 2020 as an “annus horribilis.”

Instead, a last-minute trade deal with the United Kingdom coupled with the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in the final days of the year produced a sense of success for the 27-nation bloc and brought glimmers of hope to the EU‘s 450 million residents.

After months of chaotic negotiations, the EU also will head into 2021 with both a long-term budget and a coronavirus recovery fund worth 1.83 trillion euros ($2.3 trillion) that could help the EU‘s member nations bounce back from Europe’s most brutal economic crisis since World War II.

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“The European Union managed to do what was necessary,” Fabian Zuleeg, chief executive of the European Policy Centre, an independent think tank, said. “In the end, the European Union is resilient because it delivers benefits to its member, that the members will not want to give up.”

Ursula von der Leyen, a veteran member of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Cabinet, pledged to put the fight against climate change at the top of her agenda when she took over as president of the EU‘s powerful executive arm on Dec. 1, 2019. But the pandemic quickly relegated environmental concerns to the background.

EU leaders agreed this year on a more ambitious target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, yet immediate public health needs and the economic fallout of the virus crisis eclipsed the ambitious Green Deal that von der Leyen envisioned to make Europe the world’s first carbon-neutral continent by 2050 .

Faced with a more urgent crisis, Brussels showed adaptability.

After several member states closed their borders in response to the virus, temporarily threatening the sacrosanct principle of free movement of people and goods within Europe’s visa-free Schengen Area, the EU secured the creation of priority corridors to allow cross-border movement of essential supplies. In an unprecedented move, the bloc also relaxed its stringent state aid rules so national governments could help businesses on the verge of collapse.

The true silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic was certainly the emergence of a common approach to health, which was until this year purely of member states’ competence.

When the virus first struck Europe hard in March, a critical shortage of personal protective equipment for health care workers laid bare the weaknesses of the EU‘s supply chains. Ten months and more than 350,000 virus-related deaths later, the member states’ cooperation on health-related issues has never been closer.

Under the European Commission’s helm, the 27 countries joined forces to resolve medicine and mask shortage, and to secure vaccine deals that allowed all member states to kickstart vaccination programs around the same time last week.

European countries also forged new ground in agreeing for the first time to borrow together while mutualizing part of the debt to fund the coronavirus recovery program. It was not an easy task. A majority of member states first had to overcome the resistance of a group of so-called “frugal” countries led by the Netherlands, then faced resistance from Poland and Hungary over a provision of the overall EU budget that linked payouts to respect for democratic standards.

The stalemate was broken under Germany’s time in the rotating presidency of the European Council, which defines the EU’s priorities. Merkel, who has been chancellor since 2005 and is set to leave office next year, proved she remains as a major EU power broker while in the twilight of her political career.

“Her role has been crucial when it comes to the (budget), to the recovery package,” Zuleeg told The Associated Press. “It was crucial that Germany took the lead together with France and push it over the line.”

Of course, Merkel could not fix all the EU‘s problems is the space of six months: the bloc’s relationship with Turkey is at a nadir, and the EU has yet to tackle illegal immigration and asylum, Europe’ most pressing and politically divisive issue before the pandemic. .

But while sealing the U.K. trade deal made for a frantic December, the EU found more ways to usher in 2021 with a blush of health on its cheeks. It launched an ambitious reform of its rules for internet businesses, a move that will expose big tech companies to hefty fines for violations, and signed a major investment deal with China this week.

___

Bishr El-Touni in Brussels contributed to this report.

Poland, Lithuania are targets of cyber disinformation attack

Poland, Lithuania are targets of cyber disinformation attack

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Tuesday, December 15, 2020

WARSAW, Poland (AP) – The Polish and Lithuanian governments say they have been the target of a cyber disinformation attack that appears aimed at undermining relations between the two NATO allies.

A Polish government official, Stanislaw Zaryn, said Russia appeared to be the culprit, saying the type of attack falls into a recent pattern of informational warfare directed by the Kremlin against NATO members on the eastern flank of the alliance.

The cyberattack involved a false press release published last week that claimed to be issued by Lithuanian border guards. The fabricated statement said a Polish diplomat was caught smuggling narcotics, firearms, explosives and extremist materials into Lithuania, said Zaryn, the spokesman for the head of Poland’s security services.

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The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry said it “has worked in coordination with other responsible Lithuanian institutions and determined that this was a complex cyber-information attack.”

It added that “there has been an increase in cyber-information attacks aimed at undermining the friendly relationship between Lithuania and Poland, and at igniting discord.”

In a statement to The Associated Press, Zaryn said the hacking also involved a fake Facebook account pretending to belong to a regional Polish official spreading the “news” in Polish.

“The fashion in which the attack was carried, the fact that it targeted the relations between Poland and Lithuania, and the fact that it was yet another cyber-campaign of this kind allow (us) to conclude that Russia might be the culprit,” Zaryn said.

EU leaders agree to reduce emissions after all-night talks

EU leaders agree to reduce emissions after all-night talks

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French President Emmanuel Macron, center, speaks with Romania’s President Klaus Werner Ioannis, third left, and Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, center right, during a round table meeting at an EU summit in Brussels, Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020. European Union leaders … more >

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By Samuel Petrequin

Associated Press

Friday, December 11, 2020

BRUSSELS (AP) — European Union leaders reached a hard-fought deal Friday to cut the bloc’s net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by the end of the decade compared with 1990 levels, avoiding a hugely embarrassing deadlock ahead of a U.N. climate meeting this weekend.

Following night-long discussions at their two-day summit in Brussels, the 27 member states approved the EU executive commission’s proposal to toughen the bloc’s intermediate target on the way to climate neutrality by mid-century, after a group of reluctant, coal-reliant countries finally agreed to support the improved goal.

“Europe is the leader in the fight against climate change,” tweeted EU Council president Charles Michel as daylight broke over the EU capital city. “We decided to cut our greenhouse gas emissions of at least 55% by 2030.”

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Five years after the Paris agreement, the EU wants to be a leader in the fight against global warming. Yet the bloc’s heads of state and government were unable to agree on the new target the last time they met in October, mainly because of financial concerns by eastern nations seeking more clarity about how to fund and handle the green transition.

But the long-awaited deal on a massive long-term budget and coronavirus recovery clinched Thursday by EU leaders swung the momentum.

Large swaths of the record-high 1.82 trillion-euro package are set to pour into programs and investments designed to help the member states, regions and sectors particularly affected by the green transition, which are in need of a deep economic and social transformation. EU leaders have agreed that 30% of the package should be used to support the transition.

Still, agreeing on common language was not an easy task. Negotiations were punctuated throughout the night by intense discussions in the plenary session and multiple chats in smaller groups on the sidelines.

Another delay in revising the EU’s current 40% emission cuts objective for 2030 would have been particularly embarrassing before the virtual Climate Ambition Summit marking five years since the Paris deal, and leaders worked to the wire to seal a deal.

The event on Saturday will be co-hosted by the U.K. with the United Nations and France. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced last week he wants the U.K. to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 68% from 1990 levels by 2030 — a more ambitious goal than the EU‘s.

Poland, which last year didn’t commit to the EU’s 2050 climate neutrality goal, and other eastern countries, including the Czech Republic and Hungary, largely depend on coal for their energy needs. They considered it unfair that all member states should be submitted to the same ambition without considering their respective energy mixes.

To win their approval, member states agreed that the new target should be delivered collectively. According to the Belgian Prime minister’s office, “leaders agreed that the cuts will be first achieved in sectors and countries where there is still plenty of room for improvement.”

In addition, the European Commission will take into account specific national situations when drawing up the measures. A progress report will be submitted to the European Council in the spring.

The accord also left the door open to member states to use gas or nuclear power as they drop fossil fuels. EU leaders agreed last year that nuclear energy would be part of the bloc’s solution to making its economy carbon neutral, and they reiterated Friday that they would respect member states’ rights to decide on their energy mix and to choose the most appropriate technologies to reach the goal.

According to a French official who was not authorized to speak publicly about the meeting, Poland also obtained guarantees that the EU’s Emissions Trading System — a cap-and-trade scheme for industries to buy carbon credits covering about 40% of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions — would be revamped.

Poland wants the reform of the system to redirect more revenues to the poorer EU countries.

World leaders agreed five years ago in Paris to keep the global warming increase to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), and ideally no more than 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F) by the end of the century. Under the Paris accord, countries are required to submit updated climate targets by the end of this year.

Greenpeace and other environmental groups have said the improved EU target is insufficient to properly tackle climate change.

“To increase the chances of limiting global heating to 1.5°C and avoid the worst effects of climate breakdown, Greenpeace is calling for at least a 65% cut in EU emissions from polluting sectors by 2030,” the NGO said.

Climate Action Network Europe regretted that the revised “net” target includes carbon sinks like reforestation, meaning that emitting sectors will need to decarbonize less to reach the new goal.

“As the Commission indicates itself in its 2030 Climate Target Plan, if the EU is successful in implementing the Commission’s biodiversity, carbon removals could represent up to 5% of emissions. In this case the real emissions reduction target would be as low as 50%,” the NGO said.

EU leaders also encouraged the commission to propose a carbon tax at the bloc’s borders for countries that did do not regulate CO2 emissions as strictly as the EU does.

Pressure mounts on Hungary, Poland to unlock EU stimulus

Pressure mounts on Hungary, Poland to unlock EU stimulus

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FILE – In this Feb. 1, 2020 file photo, Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, left, and Hungary’s Prime Minister Victor Orban share a word as they line up for a group picture prior to a meeting in Beja, Portugal. Polish … more >

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By SAMUEL PETREQUIN

Associated Press

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

BRUSSELS (AP) – The German presidency of the EU said Tuesday that further delaying the European Union‘s landmark 1.82 trillion-euro ($2.21 trillion) long-term budget and coronavirus recovery package would be “irresponsible” as diplomats envisage a solution without Poland and Hungary, the two EU states holding up the measure.

German European Affairs minister Michael Roth said the stimulus is crucial for many European countries whose economies have been devastated by the pandemic. But Poland and Hungary, who agreed on the deal in July, are now vetoing the package because of a mechanism that would allow the EU to cut off funds to countries that violate the bloc’s democratic standards.

Germany, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU, has been deploying efforts to find a compromise before a summit of European leaders in Brussels starting Thursday, where the topic will top the agenda.

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“The social and economic consequences of the crisis become more visible every day,” Roth said, “It would be irresponsible to further delay essential support to our citizens. We need to rapidly unlock the financial support which is so critical for many member states.”

Both Poland and Hungary, which have conservative, nationalist governments, have said they fear the EU mechanism will be used to punish their values.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban came to Warsaw on Tuesday night and held talks with Polish counterpart Mateusz Morawiecki and Deputy Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who is the main architect of Poland’s politics. Media reports said they were to agree on an acceptable compromise as a result of negotiations with German Chancellor Angela Merkel before the summit.

Orban’s later comments seemed to indicate a toughening of their position, but at the same time raised hope for a compromise.

The joint position of Hungary and Poland is to “defend our national interests and the financial resources to which our nations are entitled, and now we know how to do it,” Orban said on Polsat News.pl.

He insisted the conditions on EU disbursements shouldn’t be linked to the financial plans and said the two nations are counting on “victory” at the summit.

“I think we have a good chance to close this case this week during the summit meeting on Thursday. We are just one centimeter away from it,” Orban said.

If EU leaders fail to adopt the budget for 2021-2027 before the end of the year, the bloc will continue to spend but function on limited resources, with a maximum of one-twelfth of the budget for the previous financial year to be spent each month. Many projects for Poland and Hungary – which are already being formally investigated by the EU for their potential violations of the rule of law – could be held up.

To break the stalemate and ensure that at least part of the money is made available, European officials have been thinking of options that would allow the EU‘s 25 other nations to launch the recovery plan without Poland and Hungary. A senior EU diplomat who was not authorized to speak publicly said Poland and Hungary need to give a clear indication before the summit that they have changed their minds and are now ready to compromise.

The diplomat said if there is no “clear signal” from those two nations, then EU officials will move on to Plan B, which could include an agreement by the 25 other nations labeled enhanced cooperation.

Under the enhanced cooperation procedure, a group of EU nations can decide to move forward in situations where all 27 countries are not on the same page. If the standoff continues, such a move could at least help unlock the bloc’s 750 billion-euro ($909 billion) economic recovery package.

Speaking after a video conference of European affairs ministers, Roth said discussing again the rule of law mechanism is not an option for EU countries but insisted that Germany remains committed to finding a compromise involving all 27 member states.

“We hope to be able to achieve success in the next few hours or days,” he said.

___

Lorne Cook in Brussels contributed to this story.

___

Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

Poland says it’s not backing down ahead of EU budget summit

Poland says it’s not backing down ahead of EU budget summit

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By VANESSA GERA

Associated Press

Friday, December 4, 2020

WARSAW, Poland (AP) – Polish government officials insisted on Friday that they are sticking to their tough negotiating position ahead of a key European Union summit next week that should finalize the bloc’s next seven-year budget and a major pandemic recovery package.

Poland and Hungary have threatened to veto the 1.8 trillion euros ($2.1 trillion) budget because other EU countries have insisted on a new mechanism that would link funding to respecting democratic standards.

Both Poland and Hungary have conservative governments that have been at odds over rule-of-law standards with other members of the 27-member union for years.

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A deputy prime minister, Jaroslaw Gowin, was in Brussels on Thursday, and according to some reports suggested during a news conference there that Poland was willing to compromise, words that some understood as Poland softening its position.

Deputy Foreign Minister Pawel Jablonski said Friday that Gowin was misunderstood, and that Warsaw’s position has not softened.

Jablonski told The Associated Press that Poland’s position remains as it has been from the beginning, which is that “we are ready to talk, we are ready to come to a compromise, but that there are some red lines” that Poland would not abandon.

“I think maybe he (Gowin) wasn’t precise enough with what he was saying but our position has not changed at all,” Jablonski said.

Government spokesman Piotr Mueller also tweeted that “Poland maintains its position in its entirety with regard to the regulation which determines the spending of EU funds.”

Support has grown within the 27-member bloc to find a way to put pressure on the governments of Poland and Hungary, which other countries accuse of violating fundamental democratic standards. Both countries insist they are unfairly accused and say they are being punished for their conservative values.

The key concerns center on how those governments have increased ruling party control over the courts and media, and the EU has found itself with very little power to change the course taken by either Warsaw or Budapest.

The EU treaty has a tool – Article 7 – that can be used to punish states that drift from democratic standards. Article 7 allows for the suspension of a state’s voting rights but it requires a unanimous vote by the rest of the EU members.

Article 7 procedures have been opened against both Hungary and Poland, but they have gone nowhere because each country had protected the other.

Jablonski told the AP that Poland believes that the proposed mechanism that would allow the EU to suspend funding to a state over suspected rule-of-law violations – which would be by qualified majority – would violate the provisions of the EU treaty in Article 7.

That, he argued, would be a rule of law violation. He also objected to arguments made by other EU countries that Poland’s government has violated the independence of the judiciary. He pointed to the many decisions made by Polish judges against government officials, saying this underlines how the courts remain independent.

‘Fort Trump’ in Poland replaced by Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement

Poland scraps plan for ‘Fort Trump’, eyes ‘positive relationship’ with ‘incoming administration’

Officials; U.S.-Polish military ties growing despite deep-sixing project

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President Trump visited Warsaw, Poland, during his first year in office and spoke with Polish President Andrzej Duda about a U.S. military base in September 2018. (Associated Press) more >

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By Ben Wolfgang

The Washington Times

Sunday, November 29, 2020

The dream of a bricks-and-mortar homage to President Trump in Poland is dead, and its proponents now are downplaying that it was ever on the table in the first place.

Talk of a “Fort Trump,” a permanent U.S. military base that the Polish government appeared eager to pay for when the idea was first floated in 2018, has been definitively replaced by a much broader defense pact. Under the bilateral Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) signed in August, the U.S. will increase its rotational military presence in the strategically vital European nation on Russia’s western border to about 5,500 troops.

Even as Mr. Trump moves to overhaul the U.S. troop presence in Germany and other parts of Europe, the Pentagon says it is taking other steps to solidify an American footprint in Poland, including moving hundreds of U.S. Army V Corps soldiers from Kentucky to a new overseas headquarters in the Polish city of Poznan.

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But the EDCA did not mention a new physical military base in Poland. That concept seems to have been pushed to the back burner during negotiations in 2019.

Polish officials now say “Fort Trump” was always more of a symbolic construct than a real-life structure and was intended as a catchall term to describe an increased U.S. military commitment to the country since Mr. Trump took office four years ago.

“The name ‘Fort Trump’ was a rhetorical musing aimed at succinctly describing what Poland aimed to achieve within the realm of national security — a permanent U.S. military presence in Poland and a larger presence in the region,” the Polish Embassy in Washington said in a statement to The Washington Times. “The name did not appear in any official documents or agreements signed between Poland and the United States, such as the [EDCA] signed on Aug. 15, 2020.

“The agreements and declarations that were signed between our two countries do not specify a single location where American troops will be stationed, but rather presume a distribution of various military units throughout multiple locations in Poland,” the statement said.

But leaders from both countries talked openly about a real-world Fort Trump, a term some former Pentagon officials say Poland employed as a way of currying favor with a brand-conscious U.S. president whose name already adorns buildings around the world from his days as a developer and investor.

In September 2018, Mr. Trump met with Polish President Andrzej Duda at the White House. At that time, it certainly appeared that both men were discussing a permanent U.S. base and genuinely believed such an idea was workable.

“I was smiling when talking to Mr. President,” Mr. Duda told reporters about the meeting. “I said that I would very much like for us to set up a permanent American base in Poland which we would call Fort Trump.”

“And,” he added, “I firmly believe that this is possible.”

Mr. Trump then said the Polish government offered $2 billion to help pay for the base.

“He would pay the United States, meaning Poland would be paying billions of dollars for a base,” the American president said. “We’re looking at that more and more from the standpoint of defending really wealthy countries.”

Defense officials also spoke of the idea as if it would involve U.S. troops stationed at one location permanently, a long-sought policy goal of Warsaw but one that was likely to upset military planners in the Kremlin.

“What we’re doing right now is with Poland, alongside Poland. We’re examining what land they’re talking about,” then-Defense Secretary James Mattis told reporters just days after the Trump-Duda meeting. “A base has also got adjacent close-in additional requirements for maintenance, for test flights, for test drive, test-firing.

“So the first thing we have to do is look at what are they offering,” he said.

U.S. officials stress that the underlying concept of a permanent base in Poland could be discussed in the future.

‘You don’t have to kiss up’

Ironically, some former defense officials say that the idea of a ramped-up U.S. military presence in Poland has been widely popular within both Republican and Democratic national security circles for years. But the term “Fort Trump,” they say, muddied the waters and adds unnecessary politics to the equation.

“Towards the end of my tenure there, we were already … considering ideas for Poland. We were thinking we need to do more in Poland,” said Jim Townsend, who was deputy assistant secretary of defense for European and NATO policy during the Obama administration. “The whole Fort Trump thing — it was kissing up to Trump. But what made a lot of the professionals upset is that you don’t have to kiss up. These are things we feel we need to do. You don’t need to go in there and humiliate yourself.”

Mr. Townsend said he and other former defense officials celebrated the unveiling of the EDCA in August, believing a stronger presence in Poland is good for American national security and a strong deterrent against an increasingly aggressive Russia.

The State Department said the agreement serves as an outline of the legal status of U.S. forces in the country and gives them access to Polish military installations during their time there.

The deal also “provides a mechanism for the sharing of logistical and infrastructure costs for U.S. forces present in Poland,” the State Department said, addressing Mr. Trump’s demand that all NATO countries spend at least 2% of their budgets on defense.

“This administration has a strong record on getting partners to increase their investment in our collective defense, ensure fairer burden-sharing, and getting the best deal for the American people through a variety of agreements with our allies and partners,” a State Department spokesperson told The Washington Times. “The Trump administration has prioritized this issue. For example, the president has pushed NATO allies to meet the alliance’s 2% of GDP on defense spending guideline, which has resulted in more than $100 billion in new defense spending.”

Indeed, at least eight NATO nations out of 30 total are now spending 2% or more of their gross domestic product on defense. Mr. Trump is widely credited with raising the pressure on allies to spend more.

In addition to the bigger rotational troop presence, the Army 5th Corps’ last week officially opened its forward headquarters in the Polish city of Poznan, underscoring the deepening military partnership between the countries.

At the same time, the U.S. at Mr. Trump’s instruction is reducing its footprint in Germany. After a surprise presidential tweet, the Pentagon this year announced that it would pull more than 10,000 troops from Germany, redeploy some to other locations in Europe and bring some back home.

Defense officials said the moves were made with European security in mind, though critics argued that Mr. Trump was simply seeking payback because Germany had not met the 2% spending threshold.

It’s unclear whether the incoming Biden administration will allow all of those moves to continue on schedule.

Poland has proved a rare welcome destination for Mr. Trump in Europe, with enthusiastic crowds greeting his visit there in the summer of 2017, his first year in office. The conservative government shares Mr. Trump’s unease with the leading powers of the European Union, and Mr. Duda was given an Oval Office visit in June just days before Poland’s general elections.

“I don’t believe we have ever been as close to Poland as we are now,” Mr. Trump said at the Oval Office gathering.

Mr. Duda congratulated Mr. Biden on his “campaign” when it was projected that the Democrat would win earlier this month, but Warsaw is on the dwindling list of world capitals that has not formally congratulated Mr. Biden as president-elect as Mr. Trump continues to contest the election.

Official acknowledgement by the conservative government still “depends on the political and legal developments in the United States itself,” Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau told a Polish radio interviewer last week, even after the General Services Administration gave the green light for a transition process to begin.

Even so, Polish officials project confidence that bilateral ties will remain strong, assuming the more liberal Biden administration does take office in January.

“We hope that our positive relationship and defense cooperation with the current U.S. administration will continue into the incoming administration,” the Polish Embassy said in its statement. “Poland is a country that has, over the course of the past few decades since the end of the Cold War, been staunchly pro-American and pro-transatlantic, irrespective of the various U.S. administrations’ political leanings.

“I believe that our partnership is above political divisions,” Mr. Duda said at the EDCA ratification ceremony at the Presidential Palace this month. “We are waiting for the new U.S. president to take office.”

Gulbinowicz, Polish cardinal accused of abuse, dies at 97

Gulbinowicz, Polish cardinal accused of abuse, dies at 97

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FILE – In this Sunday, May 25 1997 file photo, Wroclaw Metropolitan Cardinal, Henryk Gulbinowicz, in Wroclaw, Poland. Henryk Gulbinowicz, a prominent Polish cardinal, died Monday Nov. 16, 2020, at the age of 97 only days after the Vatican imposed … more >

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By VANESSA GERA

Associated Press

Monday, November 16, 2020

WARSAW, Poland (AP) – Henryk Gulbinowicz, a prominent Polish cardinal who only days ago was sanctioned by the Vatican over accusations he had sexually abused a seminarian and covered up abuse in another case, has died. He was 97.

The Polish Bishops’ Conference said Gulbinowicz died Monday morning, adding in a brief statement: “Lord, give him eternal rest.”

Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki, the head of the bishops’ conference, asked God to forgive Gulbinowicz.

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“I am asking God in His mercy to forgive the deceased for causing suffering to those harmed, and pain to the community of believers,” Gadecki said in a statement.

“While unequivocally expressing disapproval of the sins committed, one must not forget about the good that many people shared through his life and ministry. May he rest in peace!”

Gulbinowicz was long viewed as a hero in Poland and was decorated with the nation’s highest honors. Under communism, he was considered one of the most important clerics helping the democratic opposition, hiding Solidarity activists in his church buildings in Wroclaw and helping to store its money.

But he died amid scandal.

Earlier this month, the Vatican’s embassy in Poland said Gulbinowicz, the retired archbishop of Wroclaw, was forbidden from using his bishop’s insignia and participating in any religious celebrations or public events. He was also denied the right to have a cathedral funeral service or burial.

Recently, allegations were also made that Gulbinowicz was an informer for the communist-era secret security service.

A historian with the Institute of National Remembrance, a state historical body, has written that communist-era secret police had information about his homosexual relations with young people, suggesting that knowledge could have been a factor in why he was pressured to be an informer.

Days after the announcement this month of the Vatican sanctions, it was reported that Gulbinowicz was hospitalized in Wroclaw and was unconscious.

The hospital director, Wojciech Witkiewicz, told the news portal Onet that Gulbinowicz died of severe pneumonia and circulatory and respiratory failure.

Last year, prosecutors in Wroclaw opened an investigation into allegations against Gulbinowicz concerning sexual abuse of a seminarian in the 1980s, but they dropped the case because too much time had passed.

Gulbinowicz was also cited in a documentary in Poland about predator priests and coverup efforts. It alleged that Gulbinowicz saved a priest suspected of abusing of minors from arrest by vouching for him.

Gulbinowicz is the latest Polish prelate to be sanctioned after a Vatican-mandated investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct.

The reckoning has rocked the Catholic hierarchy in the predominantly Catholic nation, where the clergy have long been held in high esteem and St. John Paul II, the Polish pope, remains a figure of national pride.

Now even John Paul’s legacy is being tarnished by the new scrutiny.

A report published last week following a Vatican investigation into sexual misconduct by former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick put the lion’s share of the blame on John Paul for keeping the scandal covered up for so long.

Poles hold ‘constructive’ talks on domestic violence treaty

Poles hold ‘constructive’ talks on domestic violence treaty

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File-In this file photo from July 24, 2020, women dressed to evoke the feminist dystopian story “The Handmaid’s Tale” carry out a symbolic protest after a government minister threatened to pull the country out of an international convention aimed at … more >

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By VANESSA GERA

Associated Press

Friday, October 2, 2020

WARSAW, Poland (AP) – Experts from Europe’s leading human rights body said Friday that they have held “constructive” talks with Polish authorities on a landmark treaty aimed at protecting women and girls from violence.

A Council of Europe delegation visited Warsaw this week, some two months after Poland’s justice minister threatened to pull out of the treaty, known as the Istanbul Convention.

It was not clear if the productive nature of the talks described by the Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence indicated that Poland’s conservative government intends to remain in the treaty.

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The Istanbul Convention, named for the city where it was opened for signatures in 2011, is aimed at protecting women from domestic abuse and other violence. It has become a target for populist and nationalist governments that argue the accord poses a threat to “traditional families” due to its premise that violence against women is often rooted in cultural traditions.

Polish Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro’s threat in July to quit the treaty triggered street protests by women and exacerbated ideological tensions between liberals and conservatives that were already at a boiling point over LGBT rights.

Poland’s potential withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention also carried the risk of widening the rift between Poland and some of its European Union partners, which are concerned about a perceived illiberal drift under the nationalist government.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki asked the nation’s Constitutional Tribunal to study the convention to give its opinion on the pact.

The experts’ visit this week was planned before Ziobro threatened to pull out. They are assessing whether Poland’s police, judiciary, shelters for domestic abuse victims and other relevant institutions work effectively to ensure the protection of women.

One area they said needs work is the rape laws, a problem highlighted when a Polish court last month ruled that a 14-year-old girl had not been raped because she didn’t scream.

The move by the justice minister and Morawiecki’s counter-move came amid a power struggle between the two for future control of Poland’s political right as the 71-year-old ruling party leader, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, plans to step back from frontline politics.

Simona Lanzoni, the second vice president of GREVIO, which is the acronym for the group of Council of Europe experts that monitors compliance with the treaty, said the treaty does not seek to dictate whether “to be traditional or modern.”

“The question of the Istanbul Convention is to protect women inside a family or outside a family from violence,” Lanzoni said at a news conference in Warsaw.

The Council of Europe is an intergovernmental body that includes 47 nations. To date 34 countries have ratified the Istanbul Convention.

Russian prankster acts as UN chief, reaches Polish president

Russian prankster acts as UN chief, reaches Polish president

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Candidate in Poland’s tight presidential election runoff, incumbent President Andrzej Duda talks to reporters after having cast his ballot at a polling station in his hometown of Krakow, Poland, on Sunday, July 12, 2020. Conservative Duda is running against liberal … more >

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By MONIKA SCISLOWSKA

Associated Press

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

WARSAW, Poland (AP) – A Russian prankster posing as the U.N. secretary-general managed to reach Poland’s president on the telephone and rendered him speechless with questions about Ukraine, Russia and his reelection on Sunday.

The prankster, Vladimir Kuznetsov, known as Vovan, posted a recording of the 11-minute call on YouTube. President Andrzej Duda’s office confirmed Wednesday that it was authentic.

At various points in the conversation, conducted in English, Duda sounds surprised at the line of questioning but still refers to the impostor as “Your Excellency.”

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Duda tweeted Wednesday that he realized “something was not right” during the conversation, which took place Monday afternoon while the president awaited official word of his election victory.

Duda said he was suspicious because the real United Nations chief, Antonio Guterres does not pronounce the name of Polish vodka brand Zubrowka as well as the caller did. But he conceded that the “voice was very similar.” The president ended his tweet an emoticon of tears of laughter.

Polish state security is investigating how the prankster got through to the president and whether Russia’s secret services were involved.

The Internal Security Agency said in a statement the call had been authorized by an official with Poland’s mission to the United Nations and that his actions are under investigation.

Poland’s relations with Russia are tense, especially over Poland’s support for Ukraine’s drive for closer links with the European Union.

The caller congratulated Duda on his reelection but took the president to task for his hostile campaign comments about the LGBT community, drawing Duda’s assurance that he has “huge respect for every human being.”

Duda also rejected a provocative suggestion that Poland would seek to claim back the Ukrainian city of Lviv, which was part of Poland before World War II.

“No! No! This is Ukraine,” Duda emphasized, adding that no political group in Poland harbored such an idea.

The president also said that Poland has a “discussion about history” with Russian President Vladimir Putin about World War II and the Soviet “occupation” of Poland after the war.

Kuznetsov, and the Russian prankster Alexei Stolyarov, who is known as Lexus, have previously embarrassed European politicians including French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, as well as Elton John and Prince Harry with similar hoax calls.

Poland wants generous EU budget for Central Europe

Poland wants generous EU budget for Central Europe

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By MONIKA SCISLOWSKA

Associated Press

Friday, July 3, 2020

WARSAW, Poland (AP) – Polish President Andrzej Duda said Friday that the European Union’s budget for the next seven years should be generous for Central European nations, which aim to help drive the economic recovery from the coronavirus recession.

Duda spoke to open a summit of prime ministers of the Visegrad Group, a regional cooperation alliance that also includes the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. Poland is taking over the group’s rotating 12-month presidency from the Czech Republic.

“We want our region to be one of the poles of development in Europe after the pandemic. We have great ambitions but also great development needs,” Duda said.

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“For that reason, we want an ambitious European budget that will be focused on development, on European cohesion and on big structural investments that will fuel European economy in our region,” he said.

Duda urged the government leaders to agree on a joint strategy for the ongoing 2021-2027 budget negotiations among the 27 members of the European Union. Some member nations want the budget reduced for Poland and Hungary,arguing that government policies in the two countries violate EU principles of the rule of law and democracy.

“I want the budget negotiations to be closed as soon as possible, with the desirable results,” Duda said.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said later that he trusts the negotiations during a July 17-18 EU summit in Brussels will be successful, but he stressed that he views the existing proposals as “very far” from the “wise financial compromise that we need.”

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki described the proposals on the table as “not bad and interesting.”

Also attending the Warsaw meeting were Slovakian Prime Minister Igor Matovic and Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis.

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel pushed for a quick agreement on a recovery fund aimed at pulling the EU out of the coronavirus recession. Speaking to the upper house of parliament she said that “every day counts.”

Germany this week took over the rotating EU presidency for six months, giving it a key role in trying to reach a deal on the recovery fund.

Vladimir Putin uses World War II parade to boost support before vote

Putin uses World War II parade to boost support before vote

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In this Tuesday, May 7, 2019, file photo, Russian military vehicles roll down Red Square during a rehearsal for the Victory Day military parade in Moscow, Russia. A massive military parade that was postponed by the coronavirus will roll through … more >

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By Vladimir Isachenkov

Associated Press

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

MOSCOW (AP) — A massive Russian military parade postponed by the coronavirus pandemic will roll through Red Square this week to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe, even though Russia is still registering a steady rise in infections.

President Vladimir Putin’s insistence on holding the parade reflects not only his desire to put Russia’s power on display but also to bolster patriotic sentiments a week before a constitutional referendum that could allow him to remain in office until 2036.

The Victory Day parade normally is held on May 9, the nation’s most important secular holiday. This year’s date of Wednesday, June 24, coincides with the day in 1945 when the first parade was held on Red Square after the defeat of Nazi Germany by the Soviet Union and its allies.

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The Soviet Union lost a staggering 27 million people in what it called the Great Patriotic War and the enormous suffering and sacrifice of that era has left a deep scar in Russia’s psyche.

Victory Day is a rare event in the nation’s divisive post-Soviet history that is revered by all political sides, and the Kremlin has used that sentiment to encourage patriotic pride and underline Russia’s role as a global power.

The show is particularly important this year for Putin. The Kremlin hopes it will help secure public support a week before the July 1 nationwide vote on constitutional amendments that effectively reset the clock on his tenure in office and will allow him to seek two more six-year terms if he chooses.

“For Putin, the parade has a symbolic meaning, a symbol that the epidemic is over and so the vote can be held,” said Dmitry Oreshkin, a Moscow-based independent political analyst. “And even more importantly, Victory Day serves as a positive symbol of people’s unification, economic mobilization, strong leadership and consolidation – the things that Putin wants to claim credit for.”

The plebiscite was initially set for April 22 but, like the parade, was postponed by the coronavirus outbreak. When the first signs of a slowdown in the contagion appeared, Putin rescheduled the vote for July 1, eager to consolidate his power before the economic fallout from the pandemic further eroded his popularity.

His approval rating plummeted to 59% in April, its lowest level in more than two decades, according to the Levada Center, the nation’s top independent pollster.

“Three months later, the ratings will be lower as the economy is going downhill,” Oreshkin said. “It’s essential to hold the vote right now.”

While the pandemic has shattered the Kremlin’s hopes to get top world leaders to attend the parade, the heads of several ex-Soviet nations and Serbia’s president are still scheduled to show up Wednesday. The celebration will feature 14,000 troops, about 300 military vehicles and 75 warplanes in a display of the country’s military might.

Russian officials have insisted that all necessary precautions have been taken to protect the health of its troops, elderly veterans and foreign guests at the parade.

Russia has the world’s third-highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases after the United States and Brazil and still reports about 8,000 new infections a day. Its reported virus death toll is nearly 8,200, a number that experts say is much too low for a country with over 590,000 confirmed cases.

With this in mind, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin has cautioned the public against coming to see the show. Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also advised Moscow residents, who usually converge on central avenues to see the tanks and missiles roll by, to watch it on TV this time.

While the parade is politically important for the Kremlin, Putin’s persistence in holding it despite the risks of contagion also reflects his strong personal preoccupation with World War II.

The 67-year-old Russian leader views the war from a deeply emotional angle, often invoking dramatic memories of his parents, Vladimir and Maria, and his brother Viktor, nicknamed Vitya, when the Nazis besieged his hometown of Leningrad, now called St. Petersburg, for nearly 2 1/2 years.

“For my parents, the war meant the terrible ordeals of the Siege of Leningrad where my 2-year-old brother Vitya died,” Putin wrote in an article published in the U.S. journal The National Interest. “It was the place where my mother miraculously managed to survive. My father, despite being exempt from active duty, volunteered to defend his hometown.”

The Kremlin has tapped that history to rally patriotism at home but has also regularly used it against foreign opponents.

For many years, Russian officials have chastised the West for the failure to condemn annual demonstrations in Estonia and Latvia honoring veterans of Waffen SS, as well as Ukraine’s adulation for nationalist leaders who sided with the Nazis in the war.

Amid a bitter strain in relations with Poland, Putin this year zeroed in on Warsaw, denouncing its prewar leaders of colluding with Nazi Germany to annex part of Czechoslovakia in 1938.

Poland criticized Putin’s article as part of his “information war” against the West.

Causing outrage in Warsaw and the Baltics, Putin also staunchly defended a 1939 pact between Soviet leader Josef Stalin and Nazi leader Adolf Hitler that carved up Poland and the Baltic states. World War II began when Germany invaded Poland on Sept. 1, 1939, a week after the pact was signed. On Sept. 17, the Soviet Red Army rolled into Poland from the east.

Repeating a Soviet-era argument, Putin described the deal as an attempt by Stalin to buy time for strengthening the country’s defenses, arguing that Moscow had no other choice after Britain and France stonewalled Soviet proposals for a military alliance. Nazi Germany broke the pact and invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941.

Putin has pointed out that every seventh Soviet citizen was killed in the war, while the United Kingdom lost one out of every 127 and the United States lost one out of 320.

“The Soviet Union and the Red Army, no matter what anyone is trying to prove today, made the main and crucial contribution to the defeat of Nazism,” Putin wrote in The National Interest.

Dan Bull – I’m Going to Be a Daddy Lyrics

[First Verse:]

When she showed me the pregnancy test I felt numb
I thought these things were supposed to tell the facts
Howcome we got this outcome?
They’re meant to be ninety-nine point nine percent accurate
But now I doubt them
I thought maybe one day I may want a baby
But not here, not now, what, are you crazy?
It’s too soon I’m too stupid to build a human nest
I’m a man child hiding in the shadow of my student debts
We always used protection, at least to my recollection
Well, i guess this is another new regret to my collection
And I won’t kill a fetus
Even if it’s milimetres
If I’m big enough to spill a seed, then i’m big enough to let it breathe
A fellow creature, full of genes with each of us
We’re big enough to bring it up and let it develop features
Left speechless
But my ears hurt even when I hear tiny noises
How am I going to deal with each night of crying high-pitched voices?
When they’re in pain there’s no way to make them say it softly
I’m good with kids, as long as someone can take them off me
And what’ll remain of our relationship that’s already strained?
The love that’s left it’s drained and plumbed into a baby’s veins
And what if this isn’t the right relationship to stay with?
At this stage in the day it may just be to late to change it

[Hook:]

I’m going to be a daddy and I’m fucking terrified
I’m gonna throw up and there’s nowhere I can ever hide
I want to stop, I want to wake up and get off this ride
I’m going to be a daddy and I’m fucking terrified

[Verse 2:]

My life is rather good, it’s no time for fatherhood
Looking at the cats it’s hard enoguh, I can’t give up my livelihood
I can’t be a role model, my own soul’s swaddled
My train of thought’s like a pram rolling on old cobbles
How can I change the habit of a lifetime?
I’m a lazy chappy
Change that?
I’ve never had to change a baby’s nappy
Don’t want to watch the Tweenies on the TV
I like cult classic black and white cinema, fuck CBeebies
I don’t have a choice anymore
I don’t have a voice anymore
Can’t make noise anymore
I can’t have a bottle of brandy and a LAN party with the boys anymore
The way I want to steer the ship and the way it heads is all different
The game of life is flipped from single player to a co-op escort mission
How can I provide enough safety and security?
When it feels like it’s the whole world versus her and me?
Poland versus Germany
East versus West
Earth eating itself while I’ve invited you to be its guest
What can I bring to the table?
I’m not mentally stable
But they say parenting’s innate and we’re all meant to be able
But what if it’s ill, what if it’s disabled, what if it’s not mine?
What if it dies, what if it grows up to be a horrible little gobshite?
What if it hates me? What if it’s not just one kid?
What if it listens to this song and feels unwanted?

[Hook:]

I’m going to be a daddy and I’m fucking terrified
I’m gonna throw up and there’s nowhere i can ever hide
I want to stop, I want to wake up and get off this ride
I’m going to be a daddy and I’m fucking terrified

[Verse 3:]
I hope I can be helpful during the birth
Providing backup for the mother of the youngest of the children of earth
When it’s eighteen, I’ll be forty-eight
When it’s forty-eight, I’ll be seventy-eight
And when it’s seventy-eight, I should be dead in the grave
Or in my place waiting at the heavenly gate
Every day a memory fades except for some strange cases
Like when I’m travelling back to the past and wondering wether to change places
When she showed me the pregnancy test, I felt numb
But now I’ve settled down, I’ve got one message:
Welcome

I’m going to be a daddy
I’m going to be a daddy
I’m going to be a daddy
I’m going to be a daddy
I’m going to be a daddy
I’m going to be a daddy
I’m going to be a daddy
I’m going to be a daddy