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German Minister Warns Omicron Could Make Bad Situation Worse 

Top German health officials Friday warned that the omicron variant of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 was likely to worsen the fourth wave of infections the nation is facing and was threatening to overwhelm the health care system. 

German Health Minister Jens Spahn and Lothar Wieler, president of the  Robert Koch Institute for Infectious Diseases, spoke with reporters in Berlin. 

Spahn said that at the current rate of infection, Germany will almost certainly have more than 5,000 COVID-19 patients in intensive care units in coming weeks, with the number likely to peak around Christmas.

The two health officials spoke a day after federal and state leaders announced tough new restrictions on unvaccinated people, preventing them from entering nonessential stores, restaurants, and sports and cultural venues. It was the same day Germany reported its first case involving the omicron variant. 

Wieler said the nation should be prepared for the possibility omicron could lead to even more cases than the delta variant in a shorter period of time. He said restrictions announced Thursday must also be implemented nationwide to prevent infections from collapsing the health system.

The German parliament is expected to consider a vaccine mandate. If approved, it would take effect in February. 

Spahn noted that the share of unvaccinated residents who are infected and seriously ill is much higher than their share of the overall population.

He said there was good news on the vaccination front: The nation is likely to meet its goal of administering 30 million booster doses before Christmas. He told reporters 10 million doses had already been injected, 10 million had been delivered and 10 million more were to be delivered next week.

Spahn said the important thing now was to vaccinate more people each week until the end of the year. 

The Koch Institute on Friday reported 74,352 new COVID-19 cases and 390 additional deaths. 

Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

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Справа російського історика Дмитрієва: прокуратура просить збільшити строк покарання

Історик та голова карельського «Меморіалу» Юрій Дмитрієв разом із колегами у 1990-х відкрив урочище Сандармох, де за часів Великого терору розстрілювали людей

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Кулеба про вимоги Москви до НАТО: відкидаю ідею про те, що ми маємо щось гарантувати Росії

«Це Росія має гарантувати, що вона не продовжуватиме своєї агресії проти будь-якої країни»

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Справа Стерненка: захист намагається довести політичний характер обвинувачення

Засідання 3 грудня стало першим, на якому захист розпочав долучення доказів. До цього впродовж року свої докази долучало обвинувачення

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У Північній Македонії відбулася церемонія вшанування жертв автобусної аварії в Болгарії

Два військові літаки із тілами загиблих, серед яких 12 дітей, приземлилися в аеропорту столиці країни Скопʼє 3 грудня

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Austria’s Ruling Party Names New Chancellor

Austria’s ruling party on Friday named Interior Minister Karl Nehammer to lead the conservative camp and the country after the shock resignation of former chancellor Sebastian Kurz as party head caused fresh political upheaval.

“I wanted to announce that today I was unanimously appointed by the OeVP (People’s Party) leadership as party head and at the same time as the chancellor candidate,” Nehammer told reporters.

The meeting of the party’s top brass came a day after Kurz, implicated in a corruption scandal, said he was quitting as party boss.

Alexander Schallenberg, who took over as chancellor in October, said on Thursday that he was ready to resign as “the posts of chancellor and head of the party… should quickly be taken on by the same person”.

It will now be up to Austria’s president to accept Nehammer’s nomination and swear him in, but this is mostly a formality.

Kurz’s announcement that he would quit politics to dedicate time to his family, especially his new-born son, came just two months after he resigned as national leader.

This followed his implication in a corruption scandal, bringing down a spectacular career, which saw him become the world’s youngest democratically elected head of government in 2017 at just 31.

Besides naming Nehammer, the conservative party also nominated fresh faces for several other portfolios, the interior minister said.

This includes a new finance minister after Kurz ally Gernot Bluemel also resigned on Thursday.

Former army officer

Born in Vienna in 1972, Nehammer worked in the army for several years before becoming a communications advisor.

He became a lawmaker in 2017 and interior minister in January 2020 and faced the first jihadist attack in Austria, which killed four people.

The interior ministry was strongly criticized for having failed to monitor the Austrian gunman responsible for the killings, even though they had been alerted to the danger.

The scandal bringing down Kurz erupted in early October when prosecutors ordered raids at the chancellery and the finance ministry.

They are probing allegations that Kurz’s inner circle used public money to pay for polls tailored to boost his image and ensure positive coverage in one of the country’s biggest tabloids.

Kurz has denied any wrongdoing, saying he hopes to have his day in court to prove his innocence.

Kurz, now 35, wrested control of the OeVP in 2017 and with his hard stance on immigration led it two to election victories.

The OeVP’s first coalition with the far-right collapsed in 2019 when its junior partner became engulfed in a corruption scandal, leading to fresh elections.

Those returned Kurz as chancellor, this time heading an administration with the Greens.

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У Боснії заарештували 7 підозрюваних у воєнних злочинах 1992 року

За даними прокуратури Боснії, затриманим висунули звинувачення в участі у вбивстві 22 боснійців, у тому числі сімох дітей, у селі Балатун майже 30 років тому

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Афганістан: таліби оприлюднили указ про права жінок – про освіту в ньому не згадується

Таліби зазначають, що «ніхто не може змусити жінок виходити заміж під примусом чи тиском», але не згадують про шлюби неповнолітніх

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Україна розпочинає будівництво військово-морських баз в Очакові і Бердянську – Резніков

Розвиток флоту є одним із пріоритетів Міністерства оборони – міністр

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«Розвідка аналізує усі сценарії» – Резніков припускає, що Росія буде готова до ескалації в кінці січня

Міністр оцінює кількість військ, які Росія може задіяти для ескалації, в 94,3 тисячі осіб

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США делегувала до ICAO пілота Салленбергера, який виступає за заборону голосування для Білорусі

70-річний Салленбергер, став відомим після того, як безпечно посадив Airbus A320 на ріку Ґудзон після надзвичайної ситуації в 2009 році

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Blinken Dismisses Russian Claims It Is Threatened by Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with both the Ukrainian and Russian foreign ministers in Stockholm on Thursday, amid concerns over troops amassed at their common border. Blinken stressed America’s strong commitment to Ukraine’s territorial integrity and called on both sides to seek a diplomatic solution, as VOA’s Senior Diplomatic Correspondent Cindy Saine reports.

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Serbia Sentences 4 Former Intelligence Officers in Journalist’s 1999 Murder

A Serbian court Thursday jailed four former intelligence officers for up to 30 years over the brutal 1999 murder of journalist Slavko Curuvija, a fierce critic of late strongman Slobodan Milosevic.

The special court sentenced Serbia’s former secret police chief, Radomir Markovic, and the head of Belgrade’s intelligence branch, Milan Radonjic, to 30 years in prison, the Beta news agency said.

Two other intelligence officers, Ratko Romic and Miroslav Kurak, were each given 20 years in prison. Kurak was sentenced in absentia.

According to Serbian media outlet Cenzolovka, the group was convicted of premeditated murder “for the purpose of protecting the regime.”

The four had been found guilty in 2019, but the decision was overturned and a retrial ordered.

Shot 13 times

Curuvija was one of the most critical voices in Serbia in the 1990s, attracting a wide readership as the owner and editor of two leading independent publications.

He was shot 13 times in front of his Belgrade home during the NATO bombing campaign that was a response to the Milosevic government’s brutal crackdown on ethnic Albanians in Kosovo in the late 1990s.

The journalist was killed just days after pro-government media outlets accused him of being a “traitor” and after he was accused on state media of calling on NATO to bomb.

Journalists have long been targeted in Serbia, where reporters and editors critical of authorities have been assaulted and intimidated.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, who served as information minister under Milosevic, regularly berates reporters during his near-daily public addresses.

In 2020, 32 journalists were physically attacked and almost 100 reported threats, according to the Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia.

Press freedom groups called the sentences a victory, even though they remain subject to appeal.

“The verdict is an important step in the right direction by Serbian authorities in breaking the cycle of impunity in crimes committed against journalists,” Attila Mong, of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, told VOA.

Pavol Szalai, the head of the European Union and Balkans desk for the press freedom group Reporters Without Borders, said threats continue against journalists throughout the region.

“Before he was murdered, Slavko Curuvija was surveilled by the state, pressured by politicized judiciary, verbally attacked by politicians and subjected to a smear campaign in the pro-government media,” Szalai said.

“These are all issues which Serbian journalists are still threatened with,” he said. “If the Serbian authorities can definitively bring justice for Slavko Curuvija, there is a hope they can avoid another murder.”

Reporter Milan Nesic of VOA’s Serbian Service contributed to this report.

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Меркель залишає посаду канцлера. У Берліні провели прощальну церемонію 

Церемонія відбувалася при світлі смолоскипів і супроводжувалася маршем військових у парадному обмундируванні

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Білорусь пригрозила «жорсткими» кроками у відповідь на нові санкції

«Глибину абсурду рішення ЄС щодо останніх санкцій проти суверенної Білорусі і сам його зміст зараз важко усвідомити», – заявили в МЗС Білорусі

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У Раді відкрили виставку про зниклих безвісти на Донбасі та в Криму – фото

«Фотографії розповідають історію життя зниклого через окремі деталі, спогади та емоції. З історіями героїв фотографій можна ознайомитися, відсканувавши QR-код»

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Лідери України, Польщі й Литви у спільній заяві закликали посилити санкції проти Росії

Сторони також підтвердили відданість суверенітету, незалежності й територіальній цілісності України в межах її міжнародно визнаних кордонів

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Two South Sudanese Migrants Rescued at Sea Tell of Dreams, Hopes

The tale of two South Sudanese brothers recently rescued in the Mediterranean Sea is a common one among the many African migrants seeking better lives in Europe. The two men left Libya on a flimsy boat, but the engine broke down and they were eventually picked up by the Ocean Viking rescue ship. Reporter Ruud Elmendorp was on board the rescue vessel and has their story. 

Producer: Rob Raffaele. Camera: Ruud Elmendorp.

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US, EU, UK and Canada Announce New Belarus Sanctions

The United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom and Canada have announced a new round of sanctions against Belarus officials and entities, citing the government’s “ongoing attacks on democracy, human rights, and international norms, and for their brutal repression of Belarusians both inside and outside the country,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

The U.S. is targeting 32 officials and entities, including state-owned enterprises that support the government of President Alexander Lukashenko. Also sanctioned is Lukashenko’s son, Dmitry.

The U.S. also placed restrictions on the Belarus government’s ability to borrow money. 

Lukashenko has been cracking down on political dissent since the August 2020 elections, which the U.S. and EU called fraudulent. It is also accused of using migrants as political weapons against its neighbors, such as Poland.

“Today’s actions demonstrate our unwavering determination to act in the face of a brutal regime that increasingly represses Belarusians, undermines the peace and security of Europe, and continues to abuse people seeking only to live in freedom. These sanctions are also in response to the Lukashenka regime’s callous exploitation of vulnerable migrants from other countries in order to orchestrate migrant smuggling along its border with EU states,” Blinken said.

The EU sanctions are against officials involved in the migrant crisis, as well as against two airlines — state airline Belavia and Syrian airline Cham Wings — which it says are bringing migrants to Belarus to make the crisis worse.

The U.K. announced it will freeze assets of state-owned OJSC Belaruskali, a large manufacturer of potash fertilizer. Canada said it would sanction the 32 individuals and entities named by the U.S.

“Our position is clear,” Blinken said. “The United States calls on the Lukashenko regime to end its crackdown on members of civil society, independent media, the political opposition, athletes, students, legal professionals and other Belarusians; to immediately release all political prisoners; to engage in a sincere dialogue with the democratic opposition and civil society; to fulfill its international human rights obligations; to stop its coercion of vulnerable people; and to hold free and fair elections under international observation.”

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Вирок у справі про вбивство журналіста у Сербії – загалом 100 років увʼязнення експрацівникам Служби безпеки

Процес затягувався більше ніж 20 років через зміни урядів, зміни суддів й інші процедурні причини. Засуджені мають право оскаржити вирок

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