World German-Russian relations flare up over state-run TV channel
Germany prepares way for its troops to stay in Afghanistan
BERLIN (AP) — The German government is preparing the way for the country's troops in Afghanistan — the second-biggest contingent in a NATO force — to stay in place until next year if needed. Chancellor Angela Merkel's Cabinet on Wednesday approved a new draft mandate that would enable German troops to stay until Jan. 31, government spokesman Steffen Seibert said. German troop deployments overseas require parliamentary approval, which is typically granted on an annual basis. The current mandate for Afghanistan expires at the end of March.NATO has just under 10,000 troops in the war-ravaged country, helping to train and advise Afghan security forces.
Russia has accused Germany of restricting press freedoms after the bank accounts for a state-run broadcaster with an office in Berlin were closed.
A dispute between Berlin and Moscow over the establishment of a Russian state-backed TV channel in Germany heated up on Friday after the Russian Foreign Ministry accused the German government of.
The dispute arose regarding the channel RT — formerly Russia Today — the German offshoot of which announced a plan in January to set up a television station in Germany by the end of the year.
Russian diplomats leave North Korea by hand-pushed rail trolley due to Covid-19 restrictions
Eight employees of Russia's Embassy in Pyongyang and their families spent more than 34 hours trying to leave North Korea this week, a grueling trip that ended with at least one diplomat pushing his luggage and young children on a railway trolley into Russian territory. © Russia MOFA Russian diplomats working in the Pyongyang embassy had to use a handcar as they returned home from North Korea with their family members.
The media policy spokesperson for the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP) in the German parliament, Thomas Hacker, told DW on Friday that RT's chances of getting legal permission to broadcast in the country were slim.
"If RT Deutsch wants a regular place among the TV stations, then it will inevitably always need a. But the station will probably not get one, because broadcasting licenses rightly require state independence," he said.
RT, based in Moscow, already offers services in English, Spanish, Arabic and French. RT DE, as the German-language offshoot is called, launched its website in 2014.
Open loopholes in broadcasting regulations
The Media Institute Berlin Brandenburg (MABB) told DW on Friday that RT DE had said it would abide by the German legal broadcasting framework.
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The MABB also confirmed that broadcasting licenses in Germany require independence from state control, but also suggested that such rules should be extended to prohibit online loopholes.
"In principle, broadcasting licenses in Germany are governed by the principle of state neutrality. In the digital world, however, there are other ways of distributing cross-media content. Therefore, one must ask whether the legal framework that exists in Germany is still sufficient," the MABB director told DW.
Russian threats 'still high'
The German Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) also expressed its concern with the "threat posed by Russian attempts to spread influence in Germany."
The domestic intelligence agency told DW that the threat remained "still, just as before, at a high level." The BfV pointed to its own report regarding Russian media influence in connection with the coronavirus pandemic in Germany.
The Boston Celtics are officially an absolute mess
This is the online version of our morning newsletter, The Morning Win. Subscribe to get irreverent and incisive sports stories, delivered to your mailbox every morning. The Boston Celtics came into the season with hopes of contending in the East again and at least posing some sort of challenge to the star-studded Nets and the Giannis Antetokounmpo-led Bucks. With their two young stars – Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown – leading the way, it wasn’t crazy to think that they could be a problem this year. Well, the Celtics are now 32 games into their season and we can officially say that Brad Stevens’ team is a mess.
They cited the "very selective and subtle manipulation" of RT DE'slast year.
"Here, the selection of images with a focus on police operations could be suitable to paint the picture of a repressive surveillance state, which uses violence to prevent blameless and concerned citizens from exercising their fundamental rights," the BfV told DW.
Russia accuses Germany of restricting foreign media
Tensions spiked on Thursday when Maria Sakharova, spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, accused the German government of forcing Commerzbank to close accounts belonging to RT DE until the end of May in an attempt to stifle "freedom of expression and freedom of the press."
Sakharova also said it would be forced to take "measures" againstunless Germany takes steps to improve its relations with foreign media.
Berlin denied that it had any involvement in the closure of the RT accounts and rejected the threats from Moscow.
"This is not the first time that the Russian government has tried to hold us responsible for a private-law business relationship between RT and its banks," German Foreign Ministry spokesman Christofer Burger said.
"On behalf of the Federal Government, I can once again state quite clearly that the Federal Government has in no way lobbied Commerzbank to end the business relationship," he added.
ab/nm (DW, Jens Thurau)
This article was translated from German.
German developers benefit despite Corona: Apple publishes figures for app store .
Apple has published solid figures for the German app store. We spoke exclusively to Christopher Moser, Senior Director for the App Store, about jobs and income. © t3n Not only on the iPhone, apps from Germany score. It is not often that Apple publishes official figures on the development of the German app store, but the company is currently allowing a little look behind the scenes. Accordingly, the "app economy" has proven to be resilient in the pandemic.