While Covid-19 takes all the headlines, deals are made and laws are passed, with hardly anyone noticing. Many will change our lives for years or forever. UnderCovid keeps track of these stories.
French officials have launched an investigation into former President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing for allegedly groping a journalist. Ann-Kathrin Stracke, a German reporter, accused the former leader of touching her buttocks repeatedly during a 2018 interview.
The foreign ministry summoned the ambassadors of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden on Monday to address the issue of spreading “fake news by the international liberal mainstream.” Péter Szijjártó, Hungary’s foreign affairs minister, was annoyed by the support that his counterparts in the five countries had expressed in a letter to the secretary general of the Council of Europe who had raised concerns about Hungary’s coronavirus-related law. Szijjártó said that Hungarians are an old nation who can’t accept “pathetically hypocritical patronising.”
Hungary’s state secretary for international communications and relations criticized financier George Soros for “political profiteering” in an interview with Mr Soros published by Project Syndicate’s blog.
The presidents of Croatia, Zoran Milanovic, and the Prime Minister of Romania, Ludovic Orban, were irked by a Facebook post of the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban that consists of a “Greater Hungary” map recalling Hungary’s one-time rule over several of its neighbours. The map includes territories that are now part of Romania and Croatia. “The sparrow dreams of the dough,” the Romanian Orban said, referring to a Romanian proverb, to explain why his Hungarian counterpart has posted that map.
A slew of classified documents published by Nordic Monitor revealed that Turkey has been conducting intelligence operations to spy on critics of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government in more than a dozen countries around the world. Turkish spies have been sent to collect information from the following countries: United States, Canada, Germany, United Kingdom, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, Greece, Norway, Romania, Brazil, Angola, South Africa, Egypt, Iraq, Uzbekistan, Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan.
Moldova’s president Igor Dodon wants the Parliament to set November 1st as the date for the next presidential elections. He also warned the opposition that if they try to topple the government, he will dissolve Parliament and organize early elections.
An agreement through which the Moldovan government would take a Russian loan of €200m was annulled by the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Moldova, the country’s sole institution not controlled by the Moldovan President Igor Dodon.
Defence Minister Damir Krsticevic resigned after a military training aircraft crashed at Biljane Donje near the coastal city of Zadar. The incident resulted in the killing two members of the Croatian Air Force.
Russian state-controlled oil giant Rosneft is said to put pressure on Vedomosti, Russia’s leading business newspaper, through a multibillion-dollar debt held by its bank. Rosneft has been suspected for a long time of being involved in high-profile censorship scandals at Vedomosti.
Russian activists removed last week two plaques memorializing the Stalinist executions of thousands of Polish prisoners of war 80 years ago. They followed orders from local authorities who claimed that there is no evidence of the crimes. The plaques were located in the city of Tver.
Members of Venezuela’s U.S.-backed opposition negotiated a US$ 212.9m deal to “capture” President Nicolas Maduro with a U.S. security firm, according to a report from The Washington Post. Venezuela announced on Monday that it had killed eight and arrested 17, including two former U.S. Green Berets, accused of trying to topple Maduro.
The Prosecutor’s Office in Bolivia yesterday raided the offices in La Paz of Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales Bolivianos, a Bolivian state-owned oil enterprise. The raids were part of an investigation into allegations of illegal contracts during the tenure of the company’s former president, Herland Soliz, who was removed from office.
Toyota Motor Corp announced last Tuesday that it expected its profit to drop by 80% to its lowest in nine years. Japan’s largest automaker is struggling with the impact of the novel coronavirus that sapped demand for vehicles.
Saudi Arabia has plans to treble its value added tax (VAT) as part of a package of austerity measures aimed to support its coronavirus-hit economy. The Saudi government also announced plans to suspend its cost of living allowance as part of the authorities’ efforts to beef up their state finances.
Saudi owned company Aramco, the world’s largest oil exporting company, reported a 25% fall in first-quarter net profit. However, its quarterly dividend was in line with a plan for a US$ 75bn payout for the year.
Bitcoin has recently experienced a much-hyped adjustment that slowed down the rate at which new coins are created. Bitcoin relies on what are known as “miners,” who run software that aims to solve complex maths puzzles in return for Bitcoins.
Talks between the UK and EU over a post-Brexit trade deal are planned to enter their third round before a Brexit summit next month that is likely to be decisive for the future of Britain outside Europe. Both sides are expected to decide by the end of June whether the current deadline for negotiating an agreement should be extended beyond December 2020.
The European Banking Authority, the pan-European banking regulator, should have stopped its executive director Adam Farkas from joining the Association for Financial Markets in Europe (AFME), a financial lobbying association, the European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly said. She argues that public authorities “cannot allow themselves to become proxy recruiters for the industries they are regulating.”
Started in early April 2020 with a focus on Europe and several CIS countries, UnderCovid has grown into a news monitoring service with global coverage, published weekly. Its focus is on key legal, political and business developments that go unnoticed because of the heavy Covid-19 coverage. For more details and investigations into the topics covered by UnderCovid, send us an email.