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Archive for Germany

Newsline: German Police Arrest Suspected Mastermind in Russian Embassy Cocaine Scandal

German police have arrested the suspected mastermind of a busted drug smuggling operation that reportedly ran hundreds of kilograms of cocaine from South America to Moscow on a Russian presidential plane. Six people were arrested after nearly 400 kilograms of cocaine were discovered at the Russian Embassy school grounds in Buenos Aires, authorities said last week. The man who allegedly supplied the drugs, initially identified as “Mr. K” and later named as Andrei Kovalchuk, was reported to be in hiding in Germany after the story broke. “His wife called me and said that Kovalchuk was detained as part of the criminal case on narcotics,” Interfax cited Kovalchuk’s lawyer Vladimir Zherebenkov as saying Friday. “As expected, the police intend to go to court for his arrest,” he added. An unnamed Russian law enforcement official told the Rosbalt news agency on Monday that Kovulchuk had previously been employed as a staff member at the Russian Embassy in Berlin. Russia’s Foreign Ministry released a statement Tuesday denying that Kovalchuk was ever employed by Russia’s diplomatic missions in Germany and “in general never worked for the Foreign Ministry.” Before his arrest, Kovalchuk claimed that he had been set-up in a “well-organized provocation” by American authorities, saying that his Argentinian suitcases with coffee, cigars and alcohol had been replaced by cocaine.



Newsline: Russian Embassy in Germany says man featured in coke case was not staff member

Reports claiming that the suspected mastermind of a criminal scheme for shipping drugs from Argentina to Russia, Andrei Kovalchuk used to be a member of personnel at the Russian embassy in Germany are totally fictitious and contradict reality, Denis Mikerin, the embassy’s press attache wrote on Facebook. “I was really surprised when I came across a story published by Rosbalt Internet portal, which claimed on the background the ongoing flow of concoctions that the man suspected of organizing the criminal scheme, Andrei Kovalchuk, had been a member of the staff of the Russian embassy in Germany,” he wrote. “Quite naturally, the journalists drew far-fetched conclusions.” Mikerin promised the mission would verify the information in detail. “We can state with a hundred percent assuredness that, to the best of our knowledge, Kovalchuk never had a position on the staff of our embassy while the information circulated by Rosbalt simply stands at variance with reality,” he said. The Foreign Ministry said earlier the Russian and Argentine law enforcement agencies had held a joint operation to plug a channel for delivery of a large consignment of drugs (389 km of coke) to the European market and had detained the suspects, who were Argentine and Russian citizens.


Newsline: Turkish embassy in Berlin attacked, vandalized

Police closed off the street near the Turkish embassy in Berlin as part of an investigation into vandalization that left one of its walls splattered in red, green and yellow paint – the colors of the Kurdish flag. Four darkly dressed people threw paint bags at the embassy and then fled the scene under the cover of a smoke bomb, according to the guards. Barbed wire was also laid out on a path by the embassy, which is located across from Berlin’s Tiergarten park. A taxi driver witnessed fireworks or flares burning in the bushes. Germany is home to 3 million people of Turkish-origin, and about 750,000 ethnic Kurds.



Newsline: North Korea’s Berlin embassy accused of acquiring nuclear tech

Germany’s domestic intelligence agency chief has claimed North Korea has been acquiring equipment and technology for its nuclear and weapons programmes through its Berlin embassy. “We have noticed that so many procurement activities have taken place from the embassy,” said Hans-Georg Maassen, head of the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (BfV), or Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution. “From our point of view, they were for the missile programme but also partly for the nuclear programme,” Maassen added in an interview with German public television channel ARD, aired on Monday. Although the exact nature of the technology was not specified, the intelligence chief said they would have civilian and military uses. “When we see such things, we stop them. But we cannot guarantee that we spot and block each attempt,” he said. Germany’s domestic intelligence agency obtained clues on the technology procurements in 2016 and 2017, according to an investigation by ARD. In 2014, it said a North Korean diplomat attempted to obtain equipment used in the development of chemical weapons.



Newsline: China lashes out at German ambassador over cyber security

China’s foreign ministry lashed out at the German ambassador after he said Beijing failed to respond to requests to discuss Chinese internet controls foreign companies worry will disrupt business. Ambassador Michael Clauss told the South China Morning Post newspaper of Hong Kong the two governments agreed in 2016 to set up a group to discuss cyber issues but it “has yet to see the light of day.” He said requests for a “meaningful dialogue” about Chinese curbs on virtual private networks, which are used for encrypted communication and can evade Beijing’s web filters, have “regrettably not yet received a positive response.” “The remarks by the relevant ambassador are not constructive, and some of them are even wrong,” said a foreign ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, at a regular briefing. Hua said Germany had been invited to send delegations for consultation but was reluctant to do so. “Instead, they accuse China of lacking sincerity for dialogue. It does not make sense,” said Hua. “I hope the German Embassy and the people involved can refrain from unprofessional and irresponsible remarks and do something conducive to development of bilateral relationship and mutually beneficial cooperation.” It is almost unheard of for the Chinese foreign ministry to criticize a foreign diplomat, but Clauss is unusually forthright in talking publicly about import curbs, internet controls and other sensitive issues. Chinese authorities have banned use of unlicensed VPNs as part of a sweeping crackdown on technology to evade controls aimed at preventing the public from seeing material deemed subversive or obscene.



Newsline: Thailand to ‘Upgrade’ Munich Consulate

Thailand’s diplomatic mission in Munich is slated for expansion, with a new Consulate-General to replace its honorary representative, a top foreign affairs official said. Under a plan approved by the Cabinet, the new Consulate-General’s office will cover the two German regions of Bayern and Baden-Württemberg. The change means Thailand will have a second Consulate-General in Germany in addition to one already in Frankfurt. Foreign Affairs is tasked tasked with furnishing personnel and funds to make it happen, while Germany was extended a reciprocal offer to expand its diplomatic presence in Thailand. However, Germany currently has no plans to open a new consulate in Thailand, deputy head of German mission Jan Scheer wrote in an email.



Newsline: Diplomats Seek Intensified Security in Lagos after German Embassy Breach

Following the recent breach at the German Embassy on Walter Carrington Crescent, Victoria Island, five diplomats from their respective embassies asked the police to intensify security. The diplomats were drawn from the British High Commission, United States (US), German, Italian and The Netherlands embassies, all in Lagos. Tabling their grouse to the Lagos Police Commissioner, Edgal Imohimi, at the command headquarters in Ikeja, they cited the popular Nigerian Army Mammy Market operated in the neighbourhood, as one of the security threats they face. According them, their worries were triggered by the recent security breach at the German Embassy, which almost went out of hand before it was contained.