An­niver­sary apol­ogy: Ex-min­is­ter jailed: Un­der­sea ca­bles:

The Week - - News -

Berlin

Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel has fi­nally held a face-to-face meet­ing with the sur­vivors and fam­i­lies of vic­tims of the truck at­tack on a Christ­mas mar­ket in Berlin last year. “I know that some would have wanted such a meet­ing sooner,” she said be­fore the closed-door meet­ing, re­fer­ring to a sear­ing let­ter from some of the rel­a­tives that had been pub­lished in Der Spiegel. They had slammed the in­tel­li­gence ser­vices for fail­ing to pre­vent the at­tack – by a Tu­nisian asy­lum seeker who had been iden­ti­fied as a po­ten­tial threat, and who had been un­der surveil­lance – and crit­i­cised Merkel for not ac­knowl­edg­ing their suf­fer­ing or even send­ing them her con­do­lences. This week, at the un­veil­ing of a memo­rial to the at­tack’s 12 vic­tims, Merkel ad­mit­ted to mis­takes in the han­dling of the atroc­ity and vowed to “make things bet­ter that did not work [be­fore]”. She said that sur­vivors and vic­tims’ fam­i­lies would re­ceive more state aid.

Moscow

Vladimir Putin’s for­mer econ­omy min­is­ter Alexei Ulyukayev has been found guilty of ac­cept­ing a $2m bribe and sen­tenced to eight years in prison – an un­ex­pect­edly harsh sen­tence, which has been seen as a warn­ing to mem­bers of the po­lit­i­cal class not to step out of line. Ulyukayev sup­pos­edly re­ceived the bribe in ex­change for back­ing en­ergy gi­ant Ros­neft’s ac­qui­si­tion of a stake in another firm. But the politi­cian had in fact been pub­licly op­posed to the deal; he says he was framed by Ros­neft’s pow­er­ful boss, Igor Sechin, as an act of re­venge. Sechin, a close ally of Pres­i­dent Putin, was a lynch­pin of the case. He did not ap­pear at the trial, say­ing he was too busy, but Ulyukayev was con­victed any­way.

Moscow

Rus­sia has ridiculed the idea that it might cut the com­mu­ni­ca­tions ca­bles that run be­neath the At­lantic in or­der to harm the UK and other Nato na­tions. Last week, in a speech warn­ing that the West was fac­ing mil­i­tary ag­gres­sion from Rus­sia across sev­eral fronts, the chief of the UK de­fence staff, Air Chief Mar­shal Sir Stu­art Peach, urged Bri­tain and Nato to pri­ori­tise the pro­tec­tion of the un­der­sea ca­bles, which are es­sen­tial to global com­merce and the op­er­a­tion of the in­ter­net. Rus­sian war­ships have of­ten been spot­ted sail­ing close to ca­bles that criss-cross the ocean floor. How­ever, Moscow is­sued a state­ment de­scrib­ing the idea as non­sense, and ac­cus­ing the armed forces of com­ing up with “mind-bog­gling” sce­nar­ios for its own ad­van­tage. “The rea­sons look ob­vi­ous – but even if the UK mil­i­tary needs money so badly, why in­tim­i­date peo­ple this much?”

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