Merkel demanded to release Navalny from jail

Russia’s position on the alleged poisoning of Navalny

Since the end of August, the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office has sent Germany requests for the results of Navalny’s examination, on the basis of which the German side argued that he had been poisoned by Novichok. For a long time, the demands remained unanswered, and on January 16, the German Ministry of Justice announced that it had sent a response to four Russian requests on the Navalny incident.

According to the department, the Russian side received samples of Navalny’s blood, tissue and clothes, as well as the protocols of his interrogation by the Berlin prosecutor’s office. The Ministry of Justice stressed that they did not provide any medical data of the founder of the FBK, since he himself did not agree to this.

The next day, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that the responses of the German authorities to Russian inquiries did not contain information in essence. Press Secretary of the Russian President Dmitry Peskov said that Russia had not received any information from Germany that would help investigate the incident with Navalny, and called it a “formal reply.” Today the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office sent another request to Germany.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced new measures to combat COVID-19

The nationwide lockdown in Germany will last until at least February 14th. This decision was announced on Tuesday evening by German Chancellor Angela Merkel following negotiations with the prime ministers of the federal states. Despite the decrease in the number of new cases of coronavirus infection, the danger of the spread of the “British” strain forced the meeting participants to take a number of preventive measures. In particular, it was decided that social contacts in the country should be minimized – meetings with only one person from another household should be allowed.

Initially, the negotiations were planned to be held on January 25, but at the end of last week it became known that the video conference of Mrs. Merkel with the heads of the federal states would be postponed to an earlier date. This is due to fears caused by the spread of the “British” strain of coronavirus in Germany. Such haste gave rise to speculations about the further tightening of the lockdown – there was no doubt about its extension. The German media periodically appeared to speculate about what other restrictions would apply in the country.

Various options were discussed: from the mandatory wearing of FFP2 masks and the introduction of a curfew to a complete stop of public transport and the closure of borders.

If tightening the mask regime seemed almost a foregone conclusion, then the decision to restrict the movement of buses and the metro seemed too radical a measure. Nevertheless, a survey by the RND portal showed that 39% of respondents would support this innovation, and another 10% would support a complete stop of public transport. Curfew was approved by 56% of respondents, and 60% favored wearing FFP2 masks. However, none of these measures were implemented.

The Chancellor’s talks with the heads of the federal states began on Tuesday afternoon and continued almost until nightfall. It took the participants of the meeting eight hours to agree on a common document.

The most heated debates were about whether to keep schools and kindergartens closed.

The German newspaper Bild, citing its own sources, reported that Mrs. Merkel even interrupted the meeting for a while to discuss the problem in a narrower format. Vice-Chancellor and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, Berlin Mayor Michael Müller and Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder were invited to the conversation.

Shortly thereafter, the German Chancellor announced the results of the talks to reporters. Ms Merkel immediately indicated that the tough lockdown that has been in effect since mid-December – only grocery stores, pharmacies and banks are open in the country – has begun to bring results. The number of new cases of coronavirus has decreased, and the workload on intensive care units has also decreased. However, a new “British” strain of the virus could nullify these gains.

“We are in grave danger. We are talking about a mutation of the virus, – Angela Merkel told reporters following the talks. And she added: “So far, the epidemiological data collected has said this virus is much more contagious.”

«Now is the time to take preventive action. It’s hard that we have to put people through this again, but the principle of prevention is our priority, we must take this into account, and we take it into account today, ”said the German chancellor.

The document, adopted after the talks, states that the lockdown in Germany will last until February 14:

  • Introduces the requirement to wear medical masks or FFP2 masks in shops and on public transport.
  • Social contacts should be kept to a minimum – meetings with only one person from another household are allowed.
  • Schools and kindergartens will remain closed, if possible, students will switch to distance learning.
  • Employers are encouraged to maximize teleworking opportunities. In the near future, the German Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs will adopt a corresponding decree, which will be valid until March 15.

Ms Merkel called the decision to leave schools and kindergartens “sensitive”, but necessary, since the “British” strain of the coronavirus may be more dangerous not only for adults, but also for children.

The benchmark for lifting restrictions in the country is still the mark of 50 infections per 100 thousand people.

If in any federal state this figure exceeds 200 people, then additional measures are introduced. Among them, a ban on travel further than 15 km from the city limits, including flights. The rules do not apply to those who move around work or are sent for treatment. The prime ministers of the federal states have the right to impose other restrictions. Bavaria already has a curfew, and from January 25, its residents will be required to wear FFP2 masks. Shops, restaurants, museums and theaters will remain closed across the country. The revision of existing measures will take place no earlier than early February.

Veronica Vishnyakova, Berlin