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Greece pressures vaccine skeptics as infections surge

Greece pressures vaccine skeptics as infections surge

Health care workers in Greece will be suspended if they refuse to get vaccinated under a new mandatory policy announced by the country’s prime ministerBy DEREK GATOPOULOS Associated PressJuly 12, 2021, 6:27 PM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleATHENS, Greece — Health care workers in Greece will be suspended if they refuse to get vaccinated under a new mandatory policy announced Monday by the country’s prime minister.Staff at nursing homes will be suspended starting Aug. 16 if they fail to book a vaccination appointment, with a similar policy to follow in September for workers at state-run and private hospitals.Starting Friday, and until the end of August, all indoor commercial areas, including bars, cinemas, and theaters, will only be available for the vaccinated.“After a year and a half, no one can claim ignorance about the coronavirus anymore,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in a televised address. “The country will not shut down again due to attitude adopted by certain people … It’s not Greece that’s a danger, but unvaccinated Greeks.”The new restrictions will apply nationwide, including the Greek islands and other key tourism destinations.COVID-19 infections in Greece have surged since late June, with authorities blaming carelessness at bars and restaurants as well as the spread of the highly infectious delta variant. The number of daily infections per 100,000 residents over seven days rose from 3.5 on June 24 to above 17 now.Just over 40% of residents have been fully vaccinated but appointments to start the vaccine process have been falling in recent weeks — prompting the government to increase the pressure on vaccine skeptics.Authorities on Thursday will begin accepting vaccination requests from minors over 14 with parental consent.Lengthy lockdowns and a steep drop in tourism in 2020 halted the country’s financial recovery and swung Greece into recession, with the economy contracting 8.2% last year. The European Commission says it expects output to rebound by 4.3% this year and 6.0% in 2022 if tourism continues to recover and new lockdowns are avoided.———Follow Gatopoulos at http://www.twitter.com/dgatopoulos———Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

Greek construction worker arrested for Picasso work theft

Greek construction worker arrested for Picasso work theft

A painting donated to Greece by Pablo Picasso will go back on display at the newly renovated National Gallery in Athens after its recovery nine years after it was stolen and the arrest of a 49-year-old construction worker as a suspectBy DEREK GATOPOULOS Associated PressJune 29, 2021, 11:06 AM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleATHENS, Greece — A painting donated to Greece by Pablo Picasso will go back on display at the newly renovated National Gallery in Athens following its recovery more than nine years after it was stolen and the arrest of a 49-year-old construction worker as a suspect.Authorities said Tuesday that Picasso’s “Woman’s Head” and a work by the Dutch master Piet Mondrian, “Stammer Mill with Summer House,” were stolen in January 2012 from the National Gallery in Athens.They were recovered, wrapped in plastic sheets and hidden in a dry river bed outside Athens after the suspect was detained for questioning.The Picasso work of a female in cubist style was donated to Greece in 1949 with a dedication “in homage to the Greek people” for their resistance against the German-led occupation in World War II.“This painting is of special importance and emotional value as the great painter personally dedicated it to the Greek people for their struggle against fascist and Nazi (occupying) forces and bears his hand-written dedication,” Culture Minister Lina Mendoni said.“That is why this painting was impossible not only to sell but even to put on display as it would be immediately identified as being stolen from the National Gallery.” The National Gallery was recently reopened after a major renovation that lasted nine years and was delayed for months due to the pandemic. Mendoni did not say when the recovered works would go back on display.The suspect is a Greek man who is believed to have acted alone, police said. They were investigating his claim that a third stolen work, a drawing of a religious scene by Italian 16th-century painter Guglielmo Caccia, was damaged and discarded shortly after the 2012 break in.Police did not give details on how the suspect and paintings were located, but noted that they had been moved to the dry river bed recently, apparently following reports in the Greek news media that authorities were close to making an arrest.“Recovering the works of Picasso and Mondrian is a major success,” Public Order Minister Michalis Chrisochoidis said. “The police worked systematically, in a collaborative and creative way, and they should be commended for that. At the new National Gallery, the (paintings) will be given the place they deserve.”———Follow Gatopoulos at https://twitter.com/dgatopoulos

Greek priest charged over acid attack on 7 senior bishops

Greek priest charged over acid attack on 7 senior bishops

A defrocked Greek Orthodox priest has been charged with multiple counts of causing grievous bodily harm over an acid attack that injured seven senior bishops and three other peopleBy DEREK GATOPOULOS Associated PressJune 24, 2021, 6:23 PM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleATHENS, Greece — A defrocked Greek Orthodox priest was charged Thursday with multiple counts of causing grievous bodily harm over an acid attack that injured seven senior bishops and three other people.The 37-year-old Greek man was led to court in lay clothing, handcuffs, and under a heavily armed police escort.He was arrested by a police guard late Wednesday after he allegedly threw acid at the bishops following their announcement, at a disciplinary hearing, that he had been formally removed from the clergy for alleged misconduct.The victims of the attack were hospitalized with burns, two in more serious condition. The arresting police officer was also hospitalized with burns. Most were released Thursday.Photographs of the scene of the attack in central Athens, shown on state ERT TV, showed bloodstains and acid burns on the walls of the room where the hearing was held and on small desks where the bishops had been seated.Discarded black robes thrown off by the bishops and attending clergy also had bloodstains and burn holes.The governing Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church described the attack as “abhorrent and unprecedented,” confirming that the suspect had been removed from the priesthood after holding the lower rank of deacon.Church officials said he was removed for “ecclesiastical and criminal offenses” including fraud and illegal possession of drugs, adding that he had made threatening posts on social media ahead of Wednesday’s hearing.The attack was also condemned by Greece’s government, President Katerina Sakellaropoulou, and the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I who is based in Istanbul, Turkey.Police have not said what caustic substance was used in the attack but the suspect’s lawyer described it as acid when talking to reporters outside a courthouse where the charges were being prepared.“The suspect … is a psychiatric patient who is taking strong medication,” his lawyer Andreas Theodoropoulos said. “He did not fully comprehend the consequences of his action … but was responding to a perceived injustice.”———Follow Gatopoulos at https://twitter.com/dgatopoulos

Greek pilot charged with murdering UK wife, staging robbery

Greek pilot charged with murdering UK wife, staging robbery

A Greek helicopter pilot has been charged with the murder of his British-Greek wife Caroline Crouch after being led to court in handcuffs and a bulletproof vestBy DEREK GATOPOULOS Associated PressJune 18, 2021, 3:21 PM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleATHENS, Greece — A Greek helicopter pilot was charged Friday with the murder of his British-Greek wife, whose death he had initially claimed was caused by burglars during a brutal invasion of their home on the outskirts of Athens.Pilot and flight instructor Babis Anagnostopoulos, 33, was arraigned for the May 11 killing of Caroline Crouch, 20, who died of suffocation.He was led in handcuffs and a bulletproof vest to an Athens court and is due to return next week to give evidence.In brief remarks to reporters, his lawyer confirmed that he had confessed to the crime, adding that he had expressed remorse for his actions.Police investigators said analysis of data from a smartwatch worn by the victim had helped reveal inconsistencies in the pilot’s account of events.The pilot had publicly claimed that armed robbers broke into the couple’s home and tied up and gagged him and his wife in their bedroom as their months-old daughter slept. He had said the men stole cash before escaping.The account shocked the nation and prompted government officials to announce a 300,000-euro ($365,000) reward for information about the crime.Their daughter was unharmed, but the family dog was found choked to death on a leash, hanging from a staircase rail, authorities said.“Everything was staged for the crime scene to look like the scene of a robbery,” Costas Hassiotis, director of the greater Athens homicide division told reporters, adding that the suspect had tied his own hands and those of his dead wife.He said the examination of mobile devices, a smartwatch with a heart rate monitor used by Crouch, and cameras, had established a timeline that contradicted with the pilot’s testimony.Hassiotis said forensic experts established the time a memory card had been removed from a security camera, adding to the evidence against the pilot.Anagnostopoulos was detained after authorities summoned him for questioning Thursday while he was attending a memorial service for Crouch on the Aegean Sea island of Alonissos, where she grew up.He was flown to Athens by helicopter from the nearby island of Skiathos, and interviewed for more than six hours before police announced that he was a suspect.In a May 16 post on Instagram, Anagnostopoulos uploaded an undated photograph of the couple on a trip to Portugal for a wedding photoshoot, writing: “Always together. Farewell, my love.”

US, Russia envoys discuss Iran nuclear deal ahead of summit

US, Russia envoys discuss Iran nuclear deal ahead of summit

Delegations from Russia and the United States involved in nuclear negotiations with Iran have held talks in Vienna ahead of Wednesday’s summit meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir PutinBy DEREK GATOPOULOS Associated PressJune 14, 2021, 6:36 PM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleVIENNA — Delegations from Russia and the United States involved in nuclear negotiations with Iran held talks in Vienna on Monday, two days ahead of a summit meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin.The United States is not directly involved in the Vienna negotiations but has regular contacts with participating diplomats.Efforts to revive a 2015 nuclear containment deal for Iran are a rare topic of collaboration between the two global adversaries.Mikhail Ulyanov, a senior diplomat who headed the Russian delegation at the meeting in Vienna, called the talks with U.S. counterparts “fruitful.”“Our dialogue in Vienna seems to be proof that the two countries can maintain businesslike cooperation on issues of common interest, non-proliferation in this particular case,” Ulyanov wrote in a tweet.The nuclear agreement was scuppered in 2018 when the Trump administration pulled the United States out of the accord, arguing that it handed Iran too many concessions.Diplomats from China, Germany, France, Russia, and Britain held joint talks with Iran Saturday and multiple bilateral meetings afterward at a hotel in the center of the Austrian capital.Matthew Rojansky, director of the Wilson Center’s Kennan Institute in Washington, said Russia was keen to curb some of Iran’s ambitions.“Moscow still prefers to see Tehran checked in its aspiration to develop a weapon, but is much less motivated when it comes to checking Iran’s regional ambitions and its broader global misbehavior,” he told the AP.“At the same time, Russia has a balancing act to perform in Syria, where Iran’s force of arms on the ground could become a problem for Russian ambitions.”The 2015 agreement was designed to keep Iran’s nuclear program peaceful, imposing strict controls on uranium enrichment levels as well as the technology and facilities used for the process.Iran stopped abiding by those limits after the U.S. withdrawal but insists it has no plan to build nuclear weapons — a claim that the U.S. and its western allies dispute. ———Follow latest news on Iran at https://apnews.com/hub/iran