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Peru’s Castillo swears in new minister as he awaits Cabinet confirmation vote in Congress

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November 4, 2021

LIMA (Reuters) – Peruvian left-wing President Pedro Castillo swore in a new interior minister in charge of public safety on Thursday, as he awaits a key vote in Congress on whether to confirm a new Cabinet, his second in three months in office.

The new interior minister, Avelino Guillen, is a former prosecutor known for having successfully prosecuted former President Alberto Fujimori, who is serving a prison sentence for human rights violations.

Guillen replaces Luis Barranzuela who resigned after allegedly hosting a party on Halloween, while the government had banned social gatherings.

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The Cabinet is headed by Mirtha Vasquez, a moderate left politician and lawyer. Peru’s first Cabinet collapsed last month amid political instability and threats from former Prime Minister Guido Bellido to nationalize the country’s natural gas sector.

Castillo’s presidency, and the Marxist-Leninist party that backed him, has spooked investors and sent Peru’s currency to record lows. His new Cabinet is widely seen as trying to moderate his administration’s stance.

But it is unclear whether the opposition-led Congress will confirm the new Cabinet, partly because Castillo has distanced himself from his Peru Libre party, with some members accusing him of a right-wing turn and announcing they will reject the Cabinet.

The Peru Libre party has 37 seats out of the 130-member Congress.

Keiko Fujimori, the leader of the political movement first created by her father Alberto, has also suggested her party will vote against the confirmation vote. Her party has 24 seats.

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Peru also faces a spate of social unrest against the key mining sector, which most recently triggered the suspension of production at the country’s largest copper mine, Antamina, on Sunday. Antamina is jointly owned by Glencore and BHP Billiton <BLT.L.

Peru is the world’s No. 2 copper producer, after Chile.

(Reporting by Marco Aquino and Marcelo Rochabrun; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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Russian court remands mine director, inspectors in custody after deadly accident

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November 27, 2021

MOSCOW (Reuters) – A court in Siberia on Saturday remanded five people in custody for two months to face charges related to a mining accident that killed more than 50 people this week.

Three managers of the Listvyazhnaya mine, including its director, were ordered to remain in custody until late January for flouting industrial safety standards, a spokesperson for the regional prosecutor’s office said.

The court also ordered two safety inspectors, who had issued a certificate for the mine this month but had not actually checked the facility, to remain in custody until late January.

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The accident, which regional authorities say was likely caused by a methane explosion, claimed the lives of 51 people, including five rescuers who were sent to bring out dozens of men stuck deep underground.

The health ministry said on Saturday that 60 people were being treated in hospital for injuries sustained at the mine, TASS news agency reported.

The accident at the mine, located some 3,500 km (2,200 miles) east of Moscow in the Kemerovo region, was Russia’s worst since 2010 when explosions killed 91 people at the Raspadskaya mine in the same region.

(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Christina Fincher)

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Russia spy chief says Ukraine invasion plan ‘malicious’ U.S. propaganda

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November 27, 2021

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia has no plans to invade Ukraine and suggestions to the contrary are malicious U.S. propaganda, Moscow’s foreign intelligence chief said on Saturday.

U.S., NATO and Ukrainian officials have raised the alarm in recent weeks over what they say are unusual Russian troop movements near the border with Ukraine, suggesting that Moscow may be poised to launch an attack.

Russia has repeatedly said it is free to move its troops on its own territory and that such movements should not be a cause for concern.

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“I need to reassure everyone. Nothing like this is going to happen,” Sergei Naryshkin, head of Russia’s foreign intelligence agency, said in an interview broadcast on state television, referring to comments on Russia’s alleged invasion plans.

“Everything that is happening around this topic right now is of course malicious propaganda by the U.S. State Department.”

Naryshkin spoke a day after the State Department’s top U.S. diplomat for European affairs said all options were on the table in how to respond to Russia’s troop buildup near Ukraine’s border and that NATO would decide on the next move after consultations next week.

While U.S. officials have voiced concerns about a possible Russian attack on Ukraine, Moscow has accused Washington, Kyiv and NATO of provocative and irresponsible behaviour near its borders.

(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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Spanish police march in Madrid to protest against ‘Gag Law’ reform

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November 27, 2021

By Miguel Gutierrez and Marco Trujillo

MADRID (Reuters) – Thousands of Spanish police officers marched through Madrid on Saturday to protest against a proposed reform of a security law which they say will hamper their ability to do their work.

Politicians from Spain’s three main conservative parties joined police officers in the protest against proposed changes to the 2015 Citizens Security Law, which critics say violates the right to protest and limits free expression.

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Dubbed the “Gag Law” by those who oppose it, the legislation allows authorities to fine media organisations for distributing unauthorised images of police, strictly limits demonstrations and imposes heavy fines for offenders.

Spain’s leftist government has proposed reforms including no longer classifying the taking of photographs or making of recordings of police at demonstrations as a serious offence.

Under the changes, police will also have to use less harmful materials at protests after a number of people were seriously injured by rubber bullets fired by officers.

The time that suspects who are arrested at protests can be held in custody will be cut from six hours to two and fines will be proportional to how much offenders earn.

“They should either leave the current law as it is or make it better for the police and for the citizens,” Civil Guard officer Vanessa Gonzalez told Reuters.

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Ivan Espinosa de los Monteros, of the far-right Vox party, said: “There is strong opposition against (the reform) of this law. It is against our police and we will not let it happen.”

However, Isa Serra, spokeswoman for the far-left Unidas Podemos party, said at a rally in Cantabria in northern Spain that the law had done a “lot of damage to Spanish democracy”.

Organisers said 150,000 people took part in the Madrid demonstration but the government put the figure at 20,000.

(Reporting by Graham Keeley, Miguel Gutierrez and Marco Trujillo; Editing by Alexander Smith)

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