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Operation show your Covid-19 immunisation certificate—Saudi Arabia tells intending pilgrims to Umrah


Only people who can show evidence that they have taken Covid-19 vaccination will be allowed to perform this year’s Umrah pilgrimage which starts in the holy month of Ramadan.

According to a statement by the Saudi authorities on Monday, only people who have been immunised against the dreaded Covid-19 virus will be granted permits to perform Umrah as well as prayers in the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Mecca.
These include individuals who have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, those having received one dose of the vaccine at least 14 days before performing the pilgrimage, or a person who has recovered from the virus, the ministry said.The ministry also said it would increase the operational capacity of the holy mosque in adherence with COVID-19 measures and restrictions.

It was also not clear whether the policy, which comes amid an upsurge9 in coronavirus infections in Saudi Arabia, would be extended to the annual Hajj pilgrimage later this year.

Saudi Arabia has reported more than 393,000 coronavirus infections and over 6,700 deaths from the virus.

The kingdom’s health ministry said it has administered more than five million coronavirus vaccines, in a country with a population of over 34 million.

Last month, King Salman replaced the Hajj minister, months after the kingdom hosted the smallest Hajj in modern history due to the pandemic.

Mohammad Benten was relieved of his post and replaced by Essam bin Saeed, according to a royal decree published by the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

Only 10,000 Muslim residents of Saudi Arabia itself were allowed to take part in the Hajj last year, a far cry from the 2.5 million Muslims from around the world who participated in 2019.

With COVID-19 vaccination drives taking place across the globe, the idea of vaccine passports or certificates has become a hotly debated solution to safely reopen international borders for travel and boost tourism sectors that have immensely suffered under coronavirus lockdowns.

Last month China launched a health certificate programme for Chinese citizens travelling internationally.

The digital certificate, which shows a user’s vaccination status and virus test results, is available for Chinese citizens via a programme on Chinese social media platform WeChat.

The United Kingdom’s government is also considering asking people to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination to access crowded spaces such as pubs or sports events.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has previously said a certificate is likely to be needed for international travel.

However, British parliamentarians from across the political divide recently in a letter opposed any such move in the future, calling it “divisive and discriminatory”.

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U.S. picks 56 young Nigerians for Mandela Washington Fellowship

US President, Joe Biden
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EU commences phased boycott of Russian crude oil.

Russian Crude

The European Commission has formally drafted a long-awaited ban on Russian crude oil imports, according to the Wall Street Journal, and it circulated the details to EU member states on Tuesday.

If adopted, the measure would force Russia to sell its oil at a discount to faraway buyers, like refiners in India and China.

The proposed text would require most EU member states to phase out Russian crude imports within six months and all Russian refined products within the year, officials told the paper.

The plan contains a 20-month extension for Hungary and Slovakia, which both rely heavily on Russian crude oil supplies.

All 27 EU member states must agree to the plan in order for it to be enacted.

The government of Hungarian President Viktor Orban has been vocal in its objections to the idea of a Russian crude oil ban, and the carveout would allow Hungary to continue to source Russian oil for the foreseeable future.

In addition to a ban on Russian oil, the sixth round of sanctions will also remove additional Russian banks from the SWIFT financial messaging system and list Russian “disinformation actors,” according to EC foreign affairs commissioner Josep Borrell.

The possibility of an outright ban on Russian oil reflects significant efforts by EU member states and oil refiners to find alternate sources of crude.

 Germany, which once sourced about one-third of its oil from Russia, now expects to fully transition to other suppliers by the end of the summer.

It may also accelerate a trend of “self-sanctioning” by Western oil traders, who have already begun limiting their exposure to Russian crude because of the perceived risks.

 If these barrels are locked out of the market in Europe and North America, they will have to be sold for less to buyers in India, China and elsewhere – but the obstacles are significant.
According to Bloomberg, the options for financing and insuring Russian oil are getting slimmer, and Asian buyers are demanding steep discounts to cover the inconvenience.

Assuming that Russia can find alternate markets to absorb production, tanker owners could be up for a windfall with the reshuffling of the oil trade.

With fewer short-haul shipments running between Russia and Europe, tonne-mile demand for long-haul transport of oil could rise.
 In addition, Western sanctions on Russian shipping have restricted the trading patterns and insurance options for Russian tanker companies, creating more opportunity for their foreign competitors, according to shipbroker Gibson.

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Puzzle over mysterious death of six Russian billionaires, executives at oil giant Gazprom who “committed suicide”  within three months.

One of the Russian billionaires who "committed suicide" with his wife
Mystery continues to hover around the alleged suicide incidents of six Russian oligarchs and leading businessmen since the onset of the war in Ukraine.

Four billionaires and two executives at state-owned gas and oil giant Gazprom have died since Russian troops began preparing to invade their neighbour in late January.

They include Mikhail Watford, a Ukraine-born gas and property tycoon who told friends he feared Putin’s hit list ‘for years.

Three days beforehand, Joe Biden told Volodymyr Zelensky to ‘prepare for impact’.

Less than a month after Shulman’s death, Gazprom Deputy Director, Alexander Tyulakov was found hanged at the same St Petersburg housing complex.

Three days later Mikhail Watford was found dead – and three weeks after that, medical supplies tycoon, Vasily Melnikov, was killed in the alleged murder-suicide of his wife and children.

The billionaire owner of MedCom, 43, is thought to have murdered his wife, 41, and two children aged ten and four before taking his own life.

Local investigators said there were ‘no signs of unauthorized entry into the apartment.

‘We are considering several versions of what happened, police in a Western city, Nizhny Novgorod added.

On April 18, Gazprombank Vice-President, Vladislav Avayev was found dead with his wife and daughter in their Moscow apartment.

Russian reports said the gas executive shot and killed his family before turning the gun on himself. He was reported to have tortured his wife for hours.

But Avayev’s ex-colleague Igor Volobuev said the suicide is ‘hard to believe’ and alleged it was staged.

Mr Volobuev denied that Avayev – who may have had FSB links and was found with an FSB gun after his death – had left his role as the senior Vice-President at Gazprombank, as had been widely reported.

Mr Avayev was still at the bank and would have had access to the accounts of its most elite clients, including Putin’s circle and possibly the president himself, his co-worker added.

Mr Volobuev told CNN: ‘Did he kill himself? I don’t think so. I think he knew something and that he posed some sort of risk.’

The next day, billionaire gas Executive, Sergey Protosenya was found dead in his Spanish holiday home, with his wife and daughter ‘hacked to death with an axe’.

Spanish authorities suggested that Mr Protosenya, 55, executed the pair before killing himself in an uncharacteristic fit of rage while the family enjoyed an Easter break on the Costa Brava last week.

But Protosenya’s son Fedor, 22, said his father ‘could never harm’ his family in that way.

He told MailOnline: ‘He loved my mother and especially Maria my sister. She was his princess.

‘He could never do anything to harm them. I don’t know what happened that night but I know that my dad did not hurt them.’

Mr Protosenya did not leave a suicide note and no fingerprints were found on the weapons – an axe and a knife – used to kill. There were no bloodstains on his body.

Fedor, a 22-year-old student, said the police had told him not to discuss the case.

Protosenya’s friend, Anatoly Timoshenko also told MailOnline: ‘Sergey did not do it. Sergey did not kill his family. It is impossible. I do not want to discuss what may have happened at the house that night but I know that Sergey is not a killer.’

Another friend, Roman Yuravich, added: ‘Sergey did not kill his family. I have known him for ten years. He was a happy man.

‘He loved his family. He did not kill his wife and child. I am sure.’

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