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UKRAINE

German paper hires Russian journalist after anti-war stunt

German newspaper Die Welt said Monday it has hired Marina Ovsyannikova, the Russian journalist who protested against Moscow's military action in Ukraine during a prime-time news broadcast on state TV.

Marina Owssjannikowa
Marina Owssjannikowa hijacks a news broadcast on a Russian state media channel with a "No war" poster. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/Social Media | ---

Ovsyannikova, 43, “is now a freelance correspondent for Die Welt, reporting from Ukraine and Russia, among other places”, the newspaper said in a statement.

She will write for the newspaper as well as being a regular contributor to its TV news channel, it said.

Ovsyannikova, an editor at Russia’s Channel One television, barged onto the set of its flagship Vremya (Time) evening news in March holding a poster reading “No War” in English.

It was a highly unusual event in Russia where state media is strictly controlled.

 After her protest she was detained and questioned for 14 hours before being released and ordered to pay a fine of 30,000 rubles ($280).

But she could face further prosecution, risking years in prison under draconian new laws.

The case drew international attention and raised alarm over press freedom in Russia in the wake of President Vladimir Putin’s decision to send troops to into Ukraine.

READ ALSO: A foreigner’s guide to understanding the German press in five minutes

Ovsyannikova said she was quitting her job but did not accept an offer from President Emmanuel Macron of asylum in France, saying she wanted to stay in Russia.

Ulf Poschardt, editor-in-chief of Die Welt, praised Ovsyannikova’s “courage at a decisive moment” and said she had “defended the most important journalistic virtues — despite the threat of state repression”.

Ovsyannikova said Die Welt “stands for what is being defended so vehemently by the courageous people on the ground in Ukraine right now: for freedom”.

“I see it as my task as a journalist to stand up for this freedom,” she said.

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POLITICS

Scholz says Germany to become biggest NATO force in Europe

Germany's investments in defence in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine will transform it into the biggest contributor to NATO in Europe, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Tuesday.

Scholz says Germany to become biggest NATO force in Europe

Alongside the United States, Germany is “certainly making the largest contribution” to NATO, Scholz said in an interview with the ARD broadcaster.

Speaking at the close of a summit of leaders from the Group of Seven rich democracies, Scholz said Germany was in the process of creating “the largest conventional army within the NATO framework in Europe”.

Days after Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Scholz announced a 100-billion-euro ($105-billion) fund to beef up Germany’s military defences and offset decades of chronic underfunding.

READ ALSO: Germany’s Bundestag approves €100 billion fund to beef up defences

He also promised to meet NATO’s target of spending two percent of GDP on defence, answering years of criticism from close allies that Berlin was failing to contribute enough to the alliance.

Russia’s invasion had led to a renewed conviction “that we should spend more money on defence”, Scholz said.

“We will spend an average of around 70 to 80 billion euros a year on defence over the next few years,” he said, meaning “Germany is the country that invests the most in this”.

Scholz’s announcement in February was seen as a major policy shift, upending Germany’s traditionally cautious approach to defence as a result of its post-war guilt.

Germany had steadily reduced the size of its army since the end of the Cold War from around 500,000 at the time of reunification in 1990 to just 200,000.

NATO allies are from Tuesday gathering in Madrid for a summit, where the United States is expected to announce new long-term military deployments across Europe.

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