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Tue Sep 10, 2019, 09:19 PM

Five Stories from Europe You May Have Missed

(Running behind this week. Missed posting last weekend)

1. Bacteria developing new ways to resist antibiotics, doctors warn

Bacteria are increasingly developing ways of resisting antibiotics, threatening a future in which patients could become untreatable, doctors have warned.

Over the last decade scientists in the UK studying samples from patients have identified 19 new mechanisms of antibiotic resistance.

The changes in bacteria are driven by genetics and mean they become able to repel even entire types of “last resort” antibiotics, including carbapenems and colistin.

For example, in 2016 an antibiotic-resistant strain of gonorrhoea emerged, which posed a major challenge for hospital doctors and sexual health experts seeking to treat those affected.

Over the same period no fewer than 12 new diseases and infections have been detected in England for the first time. Many have been brought into Britain by people who have picked it up abroad.


2. Bulgaria Charges Former Lawmaker With Spying For Russia

SOFIA -- Nikolai Malinov, a former parliamentary deputy from the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) who now heads a pro-Russian nongovernmental organization, has been formally charged in Sofia with spying and laundering money for Russian organizations.

Bulgaria's Prosecutor-General Sotir Tsatsarov announced the charges against Malinov on September 10, saying Malinov could face a prison sentence of five to 15 years if convicted.

Malinov was released from custody on September 10 after posting bail of 25,000 euros ($27,600). He has been banned from leaving Bulgaria, Tsatsarov said.

Malinov is accused of accepting payments for transferring Bulgarian state secrets to two Russian organizations -- the Double-Headed Eagle Society and the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies.


3. What's the 'European way of life'? EU chief's new Commission portfolio draws criticism

Some announcements from EU incoming chief Ursula von der Leyen about her Commission raised eyebrows on Tuesday but perhaps none more so than the new portfolio for "Protecting our European Way of Life."

It's Greece's new commissioner, Margaritis Schinas, a former member of the European Parliament and a long-serving official at the Commission, who has been handed the portfolio.

But it's what falls under his purview that has raised eyebrows and seen accusations of "fascist thinking" lobbed at the Commission.

Schinas is to steer the bloc's policy-making on migration and security as well as education and employment.


4. Yerevan Court Hears Arguments On Petition To Release Ex-President

Armenia's Prosecutor-General's Office has argued that there are no grounds to drop criminal proceedings against former President Robert Kocharian, or to release him from custody, as demanded by his defense team.

The two sides presented their arguments in a Yerevan court on September 9 after Kocharian's lawyers petitioned for his release, based on a ruling by the Constitutional Court last week that the former president's July arrest was "unconstitutional."

Prosecutors argued that the constitution does not provide Kocharian immunity from prosecution related to his decision to declare emergency rule to quell protests against the results of the 2008 presidential election.

Kocharian faces charges of overthrowing the constitutional order relating to the March 2008 decision to call in troops following clashes that left at least eight people, including a police officer, dead in the worst civil violence in that country's post-Soviet history.


5. Hungary tops EU anti-fraud investigations

The misuse of EU funds prompted protests around Central Europe from the Czech Republic to Romania in 2019.

OLAF, the EU's anti-fraud agency, has released a report saying almost 4% of development funding that went to Hungary between 2014-2018 is in question, by far the highest percentage in the EU.


"Its important to look always behind the numbers. The numbers are not always telling the whole truth. That's why I am coming (visiting) Hungary too. To discuss with judicial authorities and law enforcement what is behind and if there are problems, let's find together common solutions for those," Ville Itälä, OLAF General director told Euronews.


"I think what stands out most for us, is that member states simply don't seem to be taken the fight against corruption with EU funds seriously. The 36% indictment rate is unacceptable and needs to be addressed. I think the Czech case where the Czech prosecutor decided to suspend the corruption probe into Prime Minister Babis's holdings is an example how member states used to react to OLAF investigations, where they simply drag their feet, don't investigate properly and let the investigation dry up or be forgotten," Nick Aiossa, of Transparency International, told Euronews.


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