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RUSSIA

Russia edge Germany to face Czechs in hockey final

Defending champions Russia battled from a goal down to book a place in the world icehockey championship's final with a hard-fought 2-1 win over hosts Germany here on Saturday.

Russia edge Germany to face Czechs in hockey final
Photo: DPA

Detroit Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk netted Russia’s winning goal, while goalkeeper Vasili Koshechkin made 26 saves to set up Russia’s meeting with the other semi-final winners Czech Republic in Sunday’s finale.

“It was a hard and nervous game but we won deservedly,” Pittsburgh Penguins striker Evgeni Malkin said.

“I was happy to score today it was a really indispensable goal. We dominated the playing but couldn’t score and it was our break-through goal.”

Germany, supported by a capacity 18,734 home crowd, produced courageous hockey from the start, testing Russia’s defence and trying to storm their way into the final.

Germany skipper Marcel Goc had his supporters on their feet, when he put his squad into the lead on two-man powerplay sending in a rebound after Felix Schutz’s powerful shot 15:30 into the match.

In the second period the hosts, who were playing their first ever semi-final since the existing championship format was introduced in 1992, continued their brave performance, while Russia played nervously producing too many own mistakes.

But halfway into the match Russia seized the initiative to pull the scores level through Malkin, who beat ‘keeper Robert Zepp with an unopposed slap shot. After the second intermission Russia took complete control but failed to convert their supremacy into goals before 58:10 when Datsyuk picked the puck in Russia’s zone and skated towards Germany’s net to wrist it home from the left face-off circle.

Germany coach Uwe Krupp substituted his goalie for the sixth field player with 1:30 to go but the hosts failed to level.

“We expected Germany to play defensively but our unforced mistakes and penalties allowed them to score,” Washington Capitals striker Alexander Ovechking said.

“We were self confident and stronger than the hosts but couldn’t score for almost half an hour and that made us a bit nervous. Luckily we managed to come back and win. But tomorrow we also expect a tough and even match.”

German goalie Rob Zepp said: “I think we’re more disappointed now than if we’d gotten blown out in the game.”

“We had a chance to win right until the end. It’s a very disappointing feeling, but when we step back from it, later tonight or tomorrow morning, I think we have a lot to be proud of.”

Earlier Czech Republic battled back from a goal down for a 3-2 win over Sweden in a penalty shootout.

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RUSSIA

Germany arrests Russian scientist for spying for Moscow

German police arrested a Russian scientist working at an unidentified university, accusing him of spying for Moscow, prosecutors said on Monday, in a case that risks further inflaming bilateral tensions.

Germany arrests Russian scientist for spying for Moscow
Vladimir Putin. Photo: dpa/AP | Patrick Semansky

Federal prosecutors said in a statement that the suspect, identified only as Ilnur N., had been taken into custody on Friday on suspicion of “working for a Russian secret service since early October 2020 at the latest”.

Ilnur N. was employed until the time of his arrest as a research assistant for a natural sciences and technology department at the unnamed German university.

German investigators believe he met at least three times with a member of Russian intelligence between October 2020 and this month. On two occasions he allegedly “passed on information from the university’s domain”.

He is suspected of accepting cash in exchange for his services.

German authorities searched his home and workplace in the course of the arrest.

The suspect appeared before a judge on Saturday who remanded him in custody.

‘Completely unacceptable’

Neither the German nor the Russian government made any immediate comment on the case.

However Moscow is at loggerheads with a number of Western capitals after a Russian troop build-up on Ukraine’s borders and a series of espionage scandals that have resulted in diplomatic expulsions.

Italy this month said it had created a national cybersecurity agency following warnings by Prime Minister Mario Draghi that Europe needed to
protect itself from Russian “interference”. 

The move came after an Italian navy captain was caught red-handed by police while selling confidential military documents leaked from his computer to a Russian embassy official.

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The leaders of nine eastern European nations last month condemned what they termed Russian “aggressive acts” citing operations in Ukraine and “sabotage” allegedly targeted at the Czech Republic.

Several central and eastern European countries have expelled Russian diplomats in solidarity with Prague but Russia has branded accusations of its involvement as “absurd” and responded with tit-for-tat expulsions.

The latest espionage case also comes at a time of highly strained relations between Russia and Germany on a number of fronts including the ongoing detention of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, who received treatment in Berlin after a near-fatal poisoning.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has moreover worked to maintain a sanctions regime over Moscow’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula, the scene of ongoing fighting between pro-Russia separatists and local forces.

And Germany has repeatedly accused Russia of cyberattacks on its soil.

The most high-profile incident blamed on Russian hackers to date was a cyberattack in 2015 that completely paralysed the computer network of the Bundestag lower house of parliament, forcing the entire institution offline for days while it was fixed.

German prosecutors in February filed espionage charges against a German man suspected of having passed the floor plans of parliament to Russian secret services in 2017.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas last week said Germany was expecting to be the target of Russian disinformation in the run-up to its general election in September, calling it “completely unacceptable”.

Russia denies being behind such activities.

Despite international criticism, Berlin has forged ahead with plans to finish the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, set to double natural gas supplies from Russia to Germany.

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