Belarusian journalist appears in video ‘confession’
Belarusian blogger Roman Protasevich has appeared in an online video, claiming to be in good health and ‘confessing’ to having played a role in organising mass protests in Minsk last year against President Alexander Lukashenko’s regime. He said he was being treated “absolutely correctly”, has no health problems and was cooparating with the investigations. The video was dismissed by his allies, saying he has clearly been beaten since his detention on Sunday. They noted that his forehead looked bruised.
EU leaders censure Belarus
The EU has agreed to impose sanctions against Belarus, following what it called the “unacceptable and unprecedented” incident in response to the forced landing of the Ryanair plane in Minsk on Sunday. L’Echo reports the conclusions adopted by that the 27 EU leaders include a ban on Belarusian airlines from flying into European space, and called on European companies to avoid Belarus’ airspace. Commission President Ursola von der Layen called for the immediate release of the journalist and his girlfriend Sofia Sapega. EU leaders said they would also extend new economic sanctions, and called for an urgent investigation by ICAO, to shed light on the incident. The leaders also expressed their solidarity with Latvia for the “unjustified” expulsion of its diplomats.
COVID-19: ‘no country out of the woods, yet’
The COVID-19 pandemic is being perpetuated by a “scandalous inequity” in vaccine distribution, the WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told the annual assembly of health ministers from its 194 member states. Tribune de Geneve reports Ghebreyesus saying that no country should assume that it’s “out of the woods”, no matter its vaccination rate. “The world remains in a very dangerous situation,” Tedros said.
China again denies that COVID virus escaped from Wuhan
China has accused the US of promoting theories that the coronavirus escaped from a high-security lab in Wuhan, as a fresh report about sick workers at the facility prompted Beijing to reaffirm denials. Xinhua quotes Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian telling a regular briefing in Beijing that the Wall Street Journal report that three researchers from the Wuhan Institute of Virology got sick, was not true.
‘Very rare’ COVID variant detected in France
According to France 24, a new strain of coronavirus has been detected in the Bacalan neighbourhood of Bordeaux, France, with at least 46 new cases reported. The strain is related to the British variant of the virus, but with an additional mutation. “It is a variant that has already been identified on a national level, but has been very rare until now,” health authority Santé Publique France said.
Eurovision winner passes cocaine test
Ansa says the lead singer of Italy’s glam rock band Maneskin, which won this year’s Eurovision song contest, has passed a drugs test proving he did not take drugs at the weekend event. The European Broadcasting Union said it had conducted a thorough review of what happened on Saturday after some viewers thought footage showed Damiano David snorting cocaine as he waited for the winner to be announced. EBU said this had returned a negative result and it considered the matter closed.