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EU names Russian banks banned from raising capital

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(Last Updated On: August 1, 2014)

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The European Union (EU) banned five Russian banks from raising capital on the European Union’s capital markets as part of a wider package of sanctions on Moscow over its actions in the Ukraine conflict.

Due to enter into force on 1 August,  the ban targets Russian banks with state ownership of more than 50%. It excludes EU subsidiaries of the Russian banks.

Marking a fundamental shift in how Europe deals with Russia, the sanctions will mean EU nationals and companies can no longer buy or sell new bonds, equity or other financial instruments with a maturity of more than 90 days issued by major state-owned Russian banks or those acting on their behalf.

The European Union formally adopted sanctions on Thursday, which also curb arms sales to Russia. Others limit defence sales and the export of hi-tech equipment for the oil sector.

Until this week, Europe had imposed sanctions only on individuals and organisations accused of direct involvement in threatening Ukraine, and had shied away from wider “sectoral sanctions”. It published a new list of associates of Putin and companies subject to asset freezes late on Wednesday.

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China welcomes Huawei executive home, but silent on freed Canadians

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(Last Updated On: September 25, 2021)

Chinese state media welcomed telecoms giant Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, back to the “motherland” on Saturday, after more than 1,000 days under house arrest in Canada, on what they called unfounded charges of bank fraud.

But they have kept silent about Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, the two Canadians released from Chinese custody in an apparent act of reciprocation by Beijing.

Chinese state broadcaster CCTV carried a statement by the Huawei executive, written as her plane flew over the North Pole, avoiding U.S. airspace.

Her eyes were “blurring with tears” as she approached “the embrace of the great motherland”, Meng said. “Without a strong motherland, I wouldn’t have the freedom I have today.”

Meng was arrested in December 2018 in Vancouver after a New York court issued an arrest warrant, saying she tried to cover up attempts by Huawei-linked companies to sell equipment to Iran in breach of U.S. sanctions.

After more than two years of legal wrangling, she was finally allowed to leave Canada and fly back to China on Friday, after securing a deal with U.S. prosecutors.

Huawei, founded by Meng’s father Ren Zhengfei, said in a statement that it “looked forward to seeing Ms. Meng returning home safely to be reunited with her family.” It said it would continue to defend itself against U.S. charges.

Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, detained by Chinese authorities just days after Meng’s arrest, were released a few hours later, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said.

State news agency Xinhua formally acknowledged the end of Meng’s house arrest on Saturday, attributing her release to the “unremitting efforts of the Chinese government”.

Hu Xijin, editor in chief of the Global Times tabloid backed by the ruling Communist Party, wrote on Twitter that “international relations have fallen into chaos” as a result of Meng’s “painful three years”.

He added, “No arbitrary detention of Chinese people is allowed.”

However, neither Hu nor other media have mentioned the release of Spavor and Kovrig, and reactions on China’s Twitter-like Weibo social media platform have been few and far between.

The foreign ministry has not commented publicly.

China has previously denied engaging in “hostage diplomacy”, insisting that the arrest and detention of the two Canadians was not tied in any way to the extradition proceedings against Meng.

Spavor was accused of supplying photographs of military equipment to Kovrig and sentenced to 11 years in jail in August. Kovrig had still been awaiting sentencing.

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Five climbers die in snowstorm on Russia’s Mount Elbrus

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(Last Updated On: September 24, 2021)

Five climbers died after they got caught in a sudden snowstorm on Russia’s Mount Elbrus, the highest mountain in Europe, officials said.

The other 14 members of the party were rescued on the peak in the Caucasus Mountains in high winds and low visibility amid temperatures of minus -20 Celsius (-4 Fahrenheit), the regional emergency ministry said.

The group of Russian climbers sent out a mayday call just after 5 p.m. (1400 GMT) on Thursday, the ministry added. Eleven of the survivors were taken to hospital.

One woman fell ill and died in the arms of one of the guides, Denis Alimov, who helped organise the climb, told TASS news agency.

Another climber broke his leg as he was coming down and the party decided to split into three groups depending on who could go fastest, Alimov told TASS.

“As they descended, two more people died in one of the groups. But the decision to split up was the right one, otherwise there might have been more casualties.”

Guides with the group suffered frostbite and other injuries, Alimov was quoted as saying.

Mount Elbrus, which rises to 5,642 metres (18,510 feet) just north of the border with Georgia, is infamous for sudden changes in weather and climbing conditions.

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Melbourne rocked by rare 6.0 magnitude earthquake

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(Last Updated On: September 22, 2021)

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said there have been “no reports of serious injuries” so far after a magnitude 6.0 earthquake struck near Melbourne on Wednesday.

The earthquake is reportedly one of the country’s biggest on record, causing damage to buildings in the country’s second largest city and sending tremors throughout neighbouring states.

The quake’s epicentre was near the rural town of Mansfield in the state of Victoria, about 200 km northeast of Melbourne, and was at a depth of 10 km. An aftershock was rated 4.0.

“At this stage we have had no reports of serious injuries or worse, and that is very good news and we hope that that good news will continue,” Morrison, who is currently on a state visit to the United States, told reporters in Washington.

Quakes are relatively unusual in Australia’s populated east due to its position in the middle of the Indo-Australian Tectonic Plate, according to Geoscience Australia. The quake on Wednesday measured higher than the country’s deadliest tremor, a 5.6 in Newcastle in 1989, which resulted in 13 deaths.

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