News from Berlin and Germany, 14 April 2022

Weekly news roundup from Berlin and Germany



Refugee housing in oligarchs’ villas

It is a fact Russian billionaires have quite fancy mansions in London. But it is not so well-known they also own villas in Berlin’s southwest. The magazine “DER SPIEGEL” has discovered though such one, purchased in 2008 by the daughter of a close associate of Vladimir Putin, Arkady Rotenberg. Its owner appears to be a company called Rotex, and, according to neighbors, no one has ever lived there. So, why not give this mansion belonging to someone who has been on EU sanctions since 2014 to refugees, who are arriving from Ukraine every single day? Source: Exberliner.



Baerbock calls for heavy weapons

Baerbock signalled her support for increasing EU military aid to Ukraine to a total of 1.5 billion euros. The heavy weapons Baerbock is now calling for raise a few questions such as when such weapons could be used in the Ukraine. In principle, the older the weapon system, the less complicated and faster its introduction into the Ukrainian army. Newer systems – often computer-based – require more spare parts and maintenance. Older main battle tanks, such as the first version of the Leopard, seem to be less complicated. Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Selenskyj specified his wishes and spoke of anti-aircraft systems, fighter jets, tanks and artillery. Source: nd.

Ready for the big hospital strike

On this Wednesday, the regional football club SC Rot-Weiß will not be cheered at the Niederrhein stadium in Oberhausen. Instead, more than 500 nurses and other workers from six university hospitals in North Rhine-Westphalia want to come together for a “hospital council”. Their goal is a collective agreement for more staff and relief. The model for this is the successful collective bargaining movement at the public hospital operators Charité and Vivantes in Berlin. The organization ver.di is also calling on workers at the university hospitals in Aachen, Bonn, Düsseldorf, Essen, Cologne and Münster to take part in a two-day warning strike. Source: nd.

Who will be the next Minister for Family Affairs?

Anne Spiegel quit from her post on last Monday. The resignation was preceded by debates about her controversial holiday in France, shortly after the catastrophic floods on the river Ahr. There are already some indications of who could take over the post – and above all, who could not. Ricarda Lang (“die Grünen”) mentioned the next minister will be a woman. That means Anton Hofreiter, who had already narrowly missed out on a ministerial post when the cabinet was filled in December, will miss this out again. The possible candidates are the vice-president of the Bundestag, Katrin Göring-Eckardt, and the two parliamentary group leaders, Britta Haßelmann and Katharina Dröge. Source: nd.

“How wonderful freedom is …”

The number of survivors quickly declines. Günter Pappenheim, who went to Buchenwald as a 17-year-old apprentice because of his support for French forced labourers, died last year. He often gave speeches on the commemoration days of the camp’s self-liberation on April 11 1945 and repeatedly warned against the dangers of new right-wing extremism. The Ukrainian Buchenwald survivor Boris Romantschenko, killed in a Russian bombing raid on Kharkiv, was remembered on these days. Now only 16 former Buchenwalders could be present at this year’s commemoration. And organizations for the remembrance of history show concern about a divided commemoration of the coming 8 May, subject to partisan considerations. Source: nd.

Nine-euro ticket to come on 1 June and apply nationwide

The nine-euro ticket for regional transport could come into effect on 1 June at the earliest, when the Bundestag and its Council set the course in mid-May. And then in all federal states at the same time. Such decision will make that ticket possible in summer holidays, as well. In view of the increased energy prices, the federal government plans to finance a regional transport ticket for all citizens for nine euros per month for three months. This is part of its relief package presented three weeks ago. Berlin’s transport senator Bettina Jarsch (“die Grünen”) also mentions the relevance of such policy for climate protection. Source: rbb.

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