Many jihadis from Germany have German citizenship: Report

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Over 1,000 Islamists have left Germany to aid terror groups in Syria and Iraq, a report cites the government as saying. And it says more than half of them hold German passports.

Militants of the 'Islamic State' group hold up their weapons and wave its flag on their vehicles in a convoy on a road leading to Iraq, while riding in Raqqa city in Syria

The German government knows of more than 1,000 Islamists who have left Germany for Syria or Iraqto support terrorist organizations there, media reported on Sunday.

The figure comes from an answer given by the government to a question from the parliamentary representatives of the Left Party, according to newspapers of the Funke media group.

The government also cited security authorities as saying that more than half of those who had left Germany for such conflict zones had German passports, the newspapers said in their report.

The figure given by the government shows a further increase in the number of those traveling abroad as jihadis, but indicates that the rate of departures has slowed considerably in comparison with two years ago.

According to the report, 243 supporters of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) have also travelled abroad to support the coalition fighting the extremist group “Islamic State” (IS). Germany classes the PKK as a terrorist organization.

Unconstitutional proposal?

Although dozens of German Islamists are in prison in Syria, Iraq and Turkey, many others, including women and children, have since returned to Germany.

The report said that during coalition negotiations between Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives and the Social Democratic Party (SPD), it was agreed that returning fighters with double citizenship should have their German nationality canceled if there is evidence of their having fought for a terrorist militia.

This plan was criticized by the Left Party’s expert for domestic affairs, Ulla Jelpke, who called it “unconstitutional.” She also told the Funke group newspapers that such a move would punish Germans who had fought alongside the Kurds against IS.


Turning back jihadis

Her counterpart from the SPD, Uli Grötsch, also slammed the proposal, even though his party agreed to it in the coalition deal.

“It is more symbolic than politically useful,” he said, saying that prosecution and deradicalization were what was needed instead.

However, the domestic affairs expert of Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), Armin Schuster, defended the measure, saying that a jihadi who was no longer German could be sent back at the border.


Source : DW

Berlin squatters take over series of buildings to protest gentrification

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As Berlin grapples with rising property prices, scores of squatters have taken over several residential buildings. In response, the owner of the empty building was willing to grant them a lease, with certain conditions.

Demonstrators stand in front of an occupied house on Bornsdorfer Strasse in Neukölln

Dozens of activist squatters occupied a series of empty residential buildings in Berlin on Sunday to protest homelessness and a lack of affordable housing in the German capital.

Rental prices have skyrocketed in Berlin in recent years, with one report finding property prices in the capital increased faster than any other major world city in 2017.

Berlin: homeless capital of Germany

Polive evict squatters

Squatters took over buildings in Steglitz, Friedrichshain, Neukölln, Kreuzberg and Grünau, but some of the takeovers were largely symbolic.

Action was mostly focused on a former nursing home in Bornsdorfer Strasse in Neukölln with 40 apartments.

Up to 80 people occupied the state-housing-owned building, while more than 100 people protested outside.

Authorities reportedly offered the squatters a permanent lease if they immediately left the building, but negotiations fell through.

Police then forced their way into the building and evicted the squatters.

Activists posted unverified videos of police entering some of the buildings.

Squatters’ demands

The building occupiers issued a statement saying they are staging a “radical intervention against the principle of speculative vacancies.”

Read more: Berlin property price growth tops global list: Knight Frank report

A spokesman said tens of thousands of people in Berlin are homeless and a growing percentage of residents’ incomes is being spent on rising rent prices. It is “illegitimate that houses stand empty” in light of endemic gentrification of the city,” he said.

The Left Party said in a statement that it was “hardly possible to find an affordable apartment in Berlin,” adding, “Luxury renovation, speculative investment and the construction of expensive condominiums characterize the situation in the city.” Nationwide laws protected “private profit for owners and speculators” instead of focusing on people’s needs for sufficient living space, the Left said.

The Green Party’s state spokeswoman for housing policy told the Berliner Morgenpost the occupation was “good and correct.” “As part of a red-red-green (SPD, Left Party, Green Party) coalition, it will give us the necessary pressure to improve our housing policy.”

The business-friendly FDP told BZ Berlin: “Once again squatters with criminal motivations disguise their crimes as political action. Homeowners, taxpayers and police officers are the victims. It used to be a political principle not to negotiate with criminals. Red-Red-Green is now renouncing this consensus, with potentially devastating consequences.”

2016: Berlin property prices soar – who does the city belong to?

Gentrification: Berlin, which has long enjoyed rents significantly behind other major international capitals, is finding itself unable to effectively limit price growth. While some policies have freed up housing, prices still increased more than 20 percent last year. There is also a shortage of 310,000 affordable homes in the city, according to some reports.

A history of squatters: Berlin has been a traditional hot spot for squatters, initially driven by the multitudes of empty properties left by families leaving the former East Germany. The practice continues to this day among the far-left scene, although gentrification is increasingly putting an end to it.

The political situation: A coalition of the Social Democrats, The Left Party and the Greens entered office after 2016 elections. The tricky alliance has promised to help ease housing pressure in the city.

Buildings cleared: By late evening, police had most of the buildings cleared. It was unclear if negotiations to house the activists in the nursing home, after necessary renovations had taken place, would continue.


Source : DW

German woman blocked from retrieving abducted daughters in Tunisia

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Despite securing sole custody of her children, Tunisian authorities prevented a woman and her daughters from leaving for Germany. The two girls had been held by their father’s family in Tunisia for almost three years.

Katharina Schmidt (picture-alliance/dpa/H. Hollemann)Katharina Schmidt, the mother of the two girls, said she and her family members were detained after trying to leave Tunisia

A German woman was blocked from leaving Tunisia on Sunday after she attempted to bring her daughters back to Germany after they’d been abducted and held by their father’s family in Tunisia.

The German Embassy in Tunis is currently in contact with local authorities about the case, the German Foreign Ministry said.

Family detained at airport:

The family was detained at the Tunis-Carthage Airport as they attempted to travel to Germany.

Besides the mother and her two daughters, the woman’s sister, her brother-in-law, and a family friend were also detained.

German and Tunisian courts granted the woman sole custody of her daughters. She also secured an exit permit for the girls in February, but Tunisian authorities reportedly did not acknowledge the document.

The Tunisian Foreign Office and the German embassy are in contact over the case.

The children, aged 9 and 11, had been held by their father’s relatives in the city of Kasserine for over two years.

Katharina Schmidt, Hannover (picture-alliance/dpa/P. Steffen)Schmidt, who lives in the northern city of Hanover, managed to secure sole custody of her children in both Tunisia and Germany

Passports confiscated

The mother of the two girls, Katharina Schmidt, said that authorities wouldn’t let the family’s lawyer or embassy workers meet with the detained group.

“We’re completely exhausted and are afraid of what will happen now,” the mother told public broadcaster NDR.

Authorities at the airport confiscated the family’s passports and later took them to a police station, Schmidt’s sister Maria Szur told news agency dpa.

Father jailed for kidnapping: The girls’ father, identified as Kais B., has been in jail for the past two years in Germany on child abduction charges. After his marriage to Schmidt ended, he took the girls to Tunisia to live with his relatives. Both Kais B. and his relatives have refused to allow the girls to return to Germany, despite losing custody of them.

International child abduction:  Several hundred children are the victims of international child abduction every year, according to figures from the German Foreign Ministry. In 2016, there were 454 cases where children were either abducted from Germany or brought into the country without the consent of one of the parents.


Source : DW

Putin signs decrees on appointing new Russian cabinet members

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Earlier in the day, Putin met with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who presented the candidates for the new cabinet

© Mikhail Klementiev/Russian Presidential press service/TASS

MOSCOW, May 18. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the decrees on Friday on appointing the new members of the Russian cabinet, the Kremlin press service said.

“Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the decrees on the appointments to the Russian government,” the statement said. The Russian president approved 10 deputy prime ministers and 22 ministers in separate decrees.

Earlier in the day, Putin met with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who presented the candidates for the new cabinet.

Putin said he would sign the decrees on Friday noting that the candidates are people who are “well-known, they have good work experience and they have proved themselves to be good in other areas of work.”

The prime minister assured the president that everything will be fulfilled and the new ministers will be presented to their ministries soon.

The new Russian cabinet will have 10 deputy prime ministers and 22 ministries. Two new ministries – the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Science and Higher Education – were established in accordance with the relevant decree issued by Putin instead of the former Ministry of Education and Science.

Thirteen ministers from the previous cabinet will retain their posts, including Olga Vasilyeva, who will serve as the Minister of Education.

Among the Russian ministers who also kept their jobs is Finance Minister Anton Siluanov, who also became the First Deputy Prime Minister, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu, Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov, Economic Development Minister Maxim Oreshkin (who was appointed in late 2016), Energy Minister Alexander Novak, Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky, Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov, Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov, Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova and Labor Minister Maxim Topilin.

New appointments

The new Russian ministers will be Emergencies Minister Yevgeny Zinichev, who replaced Vladimir Puchkov, Minister of Transport Evgeny Ditrikh, who replaced Maxim Sokolov, Minister of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media Konstantin Noskov (instead of Nikolai Nikiforov), Agriculture Minister Dmitry Patrushev (instead of Alexander Tkachev), Russia’s Far East Development Minister Alexander Kozlov (instead of Alexander Galushka), Minister of Construction, Housing and Utilities Vladimir Yakushev (instead of Mikhail Men), Minister of Natural Resources Dmitry Kobylkin (instead of Sergey Donskoy), and Minister of the North Caucasus Affairs Sergey Chebotarev (instead of Lev Kuznetsov). Mikhail Kotyukov will head the new Ministry of Science and Higher Education.

Mikhail Abyzov, who served as the minister responsible for the Open Government Affairs in Russia, won’t be part of the new cabinet. There is no such position in the new government.

Vitaly Mutko, the former sports minister who was appointed in October 2016 as a deputy prime minister overseeing sports, tourism and youth affairs, will now be responsible for construction issues. Olga Golodets, the deputy prime minister for social affairs, will now oversee culture and sports.

Source : TASS

Russia to develop cargo retrievable spacecraft in 2022

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A Russian cargo retrievable spacecraft is expected to be developed for the needs of a new orbital station in 2022

© Sergei Kazak/TASS

MOSCOW, May 18. /TASS/. A Russian cargo retrievable spacecraft is expected to be developed for the needs of a new orbital station in 2022, Energia Rocket and Space Corporation, the spacecraft’s developer, said on Friday.

“The development of the Soyuz GVK [cargo retrievable spacecraft] is planned to be completed in 2022. A Soyuz-2.1b carrier rocket with a large lifting capacity is planned to be used for the spacecraft’s launch,” the Energia press office said.

A cargo retrievable spacecraft will be able to deliver two tonnes of cargoes into orbit and return 500 kg to the Earth and the spacecraft’s detachable compartment will have a capacity to house about another tonne of disposable cargo, which will burn in the dense layers of the atmosphere, the Energia Rocket and Space Corporation said.

Energia First Deputy CEO, Chief Designer for Manned Space Systems Yevgeny Mikrin said that the company planned to develop a new cargo retrievable spaceship for resupplying a new orbital station that may appear after the operation of the ISS comes to a close.

He also announced plans to create a new orbiter that will consist of five modules with a total weight of 60 tonnes.

Today only US Dragon space vehicles can return cargoes from orbit. Russian Progress spacecraft deliver cargoes to the ISS but later bury them in remote areas of the Pacific Ocean after their service life expires.

Source : TASS

Macron seeks to give impetus to bilateral ties during visit to Russia – Elysee Palace

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A spokesman for the Elysee Palace also noted that it is unlikely that the sides will make serious progress on the challenging issues

French President Emmanuel Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron

© REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

PARIS, May 20. /TASS/. French President Emmanuel Macron plans to give impetus to bilateral relations during his upcoming visit to Russia, a spokesman for the Elysee Palace told the Journal du Dimanche weekly newspaper.

The article was published in the run-up to Macron’s visit to Russia scheduled for May 24-25 at the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The spokesman stressed that “dialogue with Russia is maintained and continues,” despite the differences in positions on the Syrian and Ukrainian crises, and also the case of former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal, who was allegedly poisoned in Britain.

“The two countries will have to do a lot to build [their ties] but there should be an unbiased approach to this, with open eyes,” the spokesman said, noting that it is unlikely that the sides will make serious progress on the challenging issues.

According to the newspaper, “the dialogue between the two leaders during the visit will be resolute, but specific in form.” President Macron plans to give a new impetus to bilateral relations, but “will adhere to the European Union’s framework” following Crimea’s reunification with Russia, the spokesman noted. Macron seeks to hold dialogue with the Russian president “without any naivety.”

The French president has been thoroughly preparing for his visit to Russia, the newspaper said. On Friday, he held a meeting in the Elysee Palace with historian and expert on Russia Antoine Arjakovsky. He also spoke to philosopher Michel Eltchaninoff, the author of the book “Inside the Mind of Vladimir Putin,” which has become very popular in France and other countries, and translated into a dozen of languages.

Source : TASS