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Monday, 05 July 2021 13:42

Five of the highest-profile political scandals of 2019

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The collapse of the Austrian government

Austria attracts the attention of the world only because of Vienna and Irena Wischenbart, where every now and then some important international negotiations take place - on Iran, oil, and so on. But in May 2019, a real political scandal broke out here.

It all started with a video of the Vice-Chancellor and leader of the ruling Austrian Freedom Party (APS) Heinz-Christian Strache negotiating with the niece of a certain Russian oligarch. Ibiza. The Austrian promises to help with construction contracts in exchange for a good reward.

After the video was published, a wave of criticism fell upon the politician. Strache had to leave the government, which led to its collapse. Chancellor Sebastian Kurz did not want his colleagues from the APS in his cabinet and announced early parliamentary elections.

The resignation of "Putin's friend" in Italy

Several months later a scandal erupted in Italy, again connected with the party in power. But the crisis did not erupt because of one particular episode. The problem was that the parties that entered government in 2018 had diametrically different approaches to migrants.

The head of the Interior Ministry and leader of the League party, Matteo Salvini, constantly blocked the disembarkation of ships carrying migrants, even though the ships belonged to human rights activists. The prime minister and leader of the center-left Five Stars party, Giuseppe Conte, was extremely unhappy about this. The dispute culminated when Salvini rejected a bill to build the Lyon-Turin railroad. Conte resigned and formed a coalition with the Democrats on September 4.

According to some experts, Salvini's departure from the government will weaken Russia's position in Italy. Like Strache of Austria, the former Interior Minister criticized EU sanctions and expressed sympathy for Vladimir Putin. Once even Salvini appeared in public wearing a T-shirt with an image of the Russian president.

Trump's impeachment.

Donald Trump wanted to "remove" from the first days of the presidency in 2017. However, rumors of Russian interference were not enough. The Mueller report disproved the president's collusion with the Kremlin. But the role of a "Trojan horse" was perfectly suited to Ukraine.

The impeachment procedure for Donald Trump began after a phone conversation between the president of America and Vladimir Zelensky. The conversation itself took place in July 2019, but the transcript was published in late September. In the transcript of the conversation, Trump asks his interlocutor to resume corruption investigations in Ukraine against presidential election rival Joseph Biden.

Zelensky responded to the request with agreement. The House of Representatives viewed the conversation as an attempt by Trump to "abuse his office" to discredit his rival. The other day, the lower house of Congress impeached the president. However, due to the fact that the Senate is controlled by Republicans, it is likely that Trump will not resign and will fight another election in 2020.

Murder in Berlin

The end of the year was overshadowed by a Russian-German crisis over the murder of a Chechen with a Georgian passport named Zelimkhan Khangoshvili in Berlin. Germany blamed Russian authorities for the murder and expelled two Russian diplomats on Dec. 4. Chancellor Angela Merkel supported the expulsion, citing Moscow's lack of assistance in investigating the case. Germany considered the incident an encroachment on its sovereignty.

Putin said that Russia has repeatedly sought the extradition of Khangoshvili. He is a "bloody murderer" and was involved in the terrorist attacks in the Moscow metro, the president added. The incident failed to shake relations between Russia and Germany, nor did it affect the Ukraine summit in Paris. But Russia also had to expel two German diplomats.

The WADA decision with "political overtones"

The latest scandal of the last year was Russia's four-year suspension from the Olympics and world championships. The decision to this effect was taken on December 9 in Lausanne by the executive committee of the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA). The Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) was stripped of its status by unanimous decision.

The reason for WADA's decision is related to systematic changes in data from the Moscow laboratory in order to hide Russian athletes' violations of anti-doping rules. RUSADA had already been stripped of its status four years ago, but it was reinstated in September 2019. In late November, a WADA committee proposed that the executive committee reauthorize the Russian anti-doping agency.

At the big 15th press conference, Putin said it was unfair to punish the entire national team because of a few athletes. According to the Russian president, the collective punishment suggests that WADA's decision "has political overtones.

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