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Local anger over Greece trying to shelter refugees after Lesvos fire | Greece

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Authorities rushed to pitch tents in Lesbos after thousands of men, women and children, forced by devastating fires to evacuate from Greece’s largest refugee camp, spent a second night awake.

Faced with strong opposition from local authorities, who now demanded that the infamous overcrowded facility in Moria be removed “once and for all” from the island, the Greek government tried to break the deadlock.

Chinook helicopters with tents and other vital equipment were observed landing at a military training ground near Mytilene, the island’s main city, and rows of large white tents were being erected.

Officials said it was hoped they could accommodate 2,000 to 3,000 people by the weekend, adding that a ferry and at least two naval ships had been seconded to house several thousand more, although it was unclear if there would be enough.

“We have tents, we are ready to cover the needs of families and vulnerable groups,” said Greek Minister of Migration Notis Mitarachis. “There is a serious problem of cooperation with the local administration, which rejected all the alternative proposals that we made to make these people fall asleep. [somewhere] safely. “

He acknowledged that relief efforts were chaotic, describing the situation as “particularly difficult.”

In a sign of growing frustration, asylum seekers, surrounded by riot police and water cannons, pleaded for help, many holding cardboard posters that read “We want freedom.”

Homeless, young and old families were forced to sleep anywhere: in churches, in cemeteries, in fields, in supermarket parking lots and along roadsides. Three days after the first wave of fires completely devastated the hilltop camp in Moria, a 15-minute drive from Mytilene, an estimated 12,500 people were still forced to fend for themselves.

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Refugees interviewed by Greek television amid blankets and makeshift shelters scattered around one of the island’s main boulevards spoke nostalgically about the detention center. Moria is much better. There is no food, no water [and it is] very cold, ”said one young man amid the scenes that caused the first wave of refugees who arrived in the summer of 2015.

“Without basic infrastructure, it’s impossible to sustain food spoilage in the harsh heat of the day,” another said as the camera focused on boxes of rotten eggs.

Refugees with their belongings on the road near Mytilene in Lesvos.
Refugees with their belongings on the road near Mytilene in Lesvos. Photo: Milos Bicanski / Getty Images

Five years ago, the island of the Aegean became the first taste of the West for the nearly 1 million men, women and children who arrived on its shores in wobbly boats from Turkey when the Syrian civil war forced people to hit the road. Europe looking for safety.

Moria was born out of this drama. The temporary detention center, which can accommodate no more than 3,000 people, soon developed into a mega-camp, which numbers nearly 10 times as many as the influx of asylum seekers increased. Lesbos initially welcomed new recruits before compassion turned to annoyance and then anger amid reports of rising crime.

Negotiating in Athens with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas, a Greek woman, described Moria as a “sharp reminder” of what now needs to be changed.

“Time is up, how long can Europe live without a migration policy,” he said, adding that the EU will soon introduce a new “migration and asylum pact” that provides a robust system for managing the foreign policy of the 27-member bloc. borders.

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Mitsotakis, like his predecessors, bitterly complained about the lack of solidarity on the part of Brussels, saying that Greece, as a border country, was forced to assume a disproportionate responsibility in the fight against migration flows from the Middle East, Asia and, increasingly, Africa.

The coronavirus pandemic has also complicated the response, as dozens of former Moria residents were diagnosed with Covid-19 before a fire destroyed the camp.

Among the thousands of people who escaped the fires, eight were found infected, but even they were missing by Friday, forcing Mitarachis to admit that Lesvos is facing “a very serious public health problem.”

When the first tents began to rise to the island, an aircraft arrived with approximately 200,000 Covid-19 rapid test kits. Each refugee will be checked by doctors before being placed in any formal temporary housing.

“People are very worried,” said Yiannis Mastroiannis, chairman of the Moria village, which overlooks what remains of the site. “After all these years, we are very tired. If they want to keep them here, then it must be somewhere very far away. “

Greece’s center-right government has blamed the fires on asylum seekers protesting the isolation measures in the camp after Covid-19 infections were found among residents. He promised to bring those responsible to justice, although refugees dispute the official version of events. There is also widespread speculation that vigilantes may be behind the arson attacks.

Everyone agrees that Moria is gone. But the specter of the infamous camp, which in the minds of local residents was associated with poverty and international outrage with Lesbos, is also unlikely to be accepted. In a statement, the island’s municipality warned it would use “any means” to stop another camp replacing “the abomination that was Moria.”

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“The decision on this issue is final,” the message says. “We are calling on the relevant authorities to cooperate … before it is too late.”

One senior municipal official admitted that if reason did not prevail, right-wing extremists would simply take matters into their own hands.

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Vladimir Putin has delayed the invasion of Ukraine at least three times.

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Putin has repeatedly consulted with Russian Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu about the invasion, Europa Press told Ukraine’s chief intelligence director Vadim Skibitsky.

According to Skibitsky, it was the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), which is responsible for counterintelligence and espionage work, that put pressure on Gerasimov and other military agencies to agree to launch an offensive. .

However, according to the Ukrainian intelligence services, the FSB considered that by the end of February sufficient preparations had already been made to guarantee the success of the Russian Armed Forces in a lightning invasion.

However, according to Kyiv, the Russian General Staff provided the Russian troops with supplies and ammunition for only three days, hoping that the offensive would be swift and immediately successful.

The head of Ukrainian intelligence also emphasized the cooperation of local residents, who always provided the Ukrainian authorities with up-to-date information about the Russian army, such as the number of soldiers or the exact location of troops.

The military offensive launched on February 24 by Russia in Ukraine caused at least 6.5 million internally displaced persons and more than 7.8 million refugees to European countries, which is why the UN classifies this migration crisis as the worst in Europe since World War II (1939-1945). gg.). ).

At the moment, 17.7 million Ukrainians are in need of humanitarian assistance, and 9.3 million are in need of food aid and housing.

The UN has presented as confirmed 6,755 civilian deaths and 10,607 wounded since the beginning of the war, stressing that these figures are much lower than the real ones.

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Life sentence for former Swedish official for spying for Russia

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A Stockholm court on Monday sentenced a former Swedish intelligence officer to life in prison for spying for Russia, and his brother to at least 12 years in prison. In what is considered one of the most serious cases in Swedish counterintelligence history, much of the trial took place behind closed doors in the name of national security.

According to the prosecution, it was Russian military intelligence, the GRU, who took advantage of the information provided by the two brothers between 2011 and their arrest at the end of 2021.

Peyman Kia, 42, has held many senior positions in the Swedish security apparatus, including the army and his country’s intelligence services (Säpo). His younger brother, Payam, 35, is accused of “participating in the planning” of the plot and of “managing contacts with Russia and the GRU, including passing on information and receiving financial rewards.”

Both men deny the charges, and their lawyers have demanded an acquittal on charges of “aggravated espionage,” according to the Swedish news agency TT.

The trial coincides with another case of alleged Russian espionage, with the arrest of the Russian-born couple in late November in a suburb of Stockholm by a police team arriving at dawn in a Blackhawk helicopter.

Research website Bellingcat identified them as Sergei Skvortsov and Elena Kulkova. The couple allegedly acted as sleeper agents for Moscow, having moved to Sweden in the late 1990s.

According to Swedish press reports, the couple ran companies specializing in the import and export of electronic components and industrial technology.

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The man was again detained at the end of November for “illegal intelligence activities.” His partner, suspected of being an accomplice, has been released but remains under investigation.

According to Swedish authorities, the arrests are not related to the trial of the Kia brothers.

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Ukraine admitted that Russia may announce a general mobilization

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“They can strengthen their positions. We understand that this can happen. At the same time, we do not rule out that they will announce a general mobilization,” Danilov said in an interview with the Ukrainska Pravda online publication.

Danilov believed that this mobilization would also be convened “to exterminate as many as possible” of Russian citizens, so that “they would no longer have any problems on their territory.”

In this sense, Danilov also reminded that Russia has not given up on securing control over Kyiv or the idea of ​​the complete “destruction” of Ukraine. “We have to be ready for anything,” he said.

“I want everyone to understand that [os russos] they have not given up on the idea of ​​destroying our nation. If they don’t have Kyiv in their hands, they won’t have anything in their hands, we must understand this,” continued Danilov, who also did not rule out that a new Russian offensive would come from “Belarus and other territories.” .

As such, Danilov praised the decision of many of its residents who chose to stay in the Ukrainian capital when the war broke out in order to defend the city.

“They expected that there would be panic, that people would run, that there would be nothing to protect Kyiv,” he added, referring to President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The military offensive launched on February 24 by Russia in Ukraine caused at least 6.5 million internally displaced persons and more than 7.8 million refugees to European countries, which is why the UN classifies this migration crisis as the worst in Europe since World War II (1939-1945). gg.). ).

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At the moment, 17.7 million Ukrainians are in need of humanitarian assistance, and 9.3 million are in need of food aid and housing.

The Russian invasion, justified by Russian President Vladimir Putin on the need to “denazify” and demilitarize Ukraine for Russia’s security, was condemned by the international community at large, which responded by sending weapons to Ukraine and imposing political and economic sanctions on Russia.

The UN has presented as confirmed 6,755 civilian deaths and 10,607 wounded since the beginning of the war, stressing that these figures are much lower than the real ones.

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