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European Parliament

'The EU defends a criminal' claims MEP

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MEP Dr. Maximilian Krah, member of the group Identity and Democracy and member of the Committee on International Trade, has reacted sharply at criticism of the European Parliament's resolution on the situation in Kazakhstan, noting the "courtship" of a convicted murderer, writes Phillipe Jeune

Dr Krah would you comment on your statement?

- Behind the resolution are years of relentless lobbying by the convicted criminal and billionaire Mukhtar Ablyazov, and his so-called NGO “Open Dialogue Foundation (ODF)”, which has set itself the task of discrediting the state of Kazakhstan.

Ablyazov, who embezzled over 7 billion euros is being courted by the European Parliament.

The Parliament would apparently blindly believe a convicted murderer and fraudster than look at data, facts and reality! This is shameful and one has to apologise for the fact that this is the reality of European politics today.

I fully respect the Justice of Kazakhstan but I want to stress that he was not only convicted in his country but also in the United Kingdom that he had to flee illegally to avoid prison.

- Mr. Deputy during the discussion in the parliament, when you were talking about unfair lobbying by individual deputies, some of your colleagues started laughing and behaving badly. Could you please comment on this?

At first mocking laughter in the plenary hall, then revealing silence. When I drew attention to the lobbying work of the Kazakh billionaire Mukhtar Ablyazov's ODF, things suddenly became quiet in the plenary: Ablyazov likes to disguise himself as a philanthropist in order to assert his own economic interests.

He enjoys being courted by the EU Parliament and his ODF is regularly invited to Brussels, in the EP premises. He was convicted for the brutal murder of his predecessor as chairman of the BTA Bank, and also for having embezzled 7 billion euros from that bank. He was therefore sentenced in Kazakhstan. Since then he has been agitating against his own country.

And the EU? It stands by the side of this criminal and thereby reveals the mendacity of its human rights imperialism. I have zero understanding of this.

- What can be done to prevent this unfair activity within the walls of European democracy?

On my initiative, the EP Research Service conducted an analysis of the activities of the Open Dialogue Foundation (ODF), which shows a clear and consistent campaign against Kazakhstan.

The staff of the ODF have consistently lobbied MEPs, and also the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) for the adoption of all manner of statements, petitions and resolutions of an anti-Kazakhstani orientation. To this end, Kozlovskaya and her colleagues have organised round tables and side events. It is noteworthy that among the officially announced meetings with the EP deputies, there are many who initiated the February 11th resolution.

It is quite obvious that Mukhtar Ablyazov is the main sponsor of ODF activities. In the European media there are many publications and journalistic investigations concerning the connections of the fugitive oligarch with Mrs. Kozlovskaya, and her husband. There are also many questions about the financial reporting of ODF, which is fully sponsored by private donations, including Mrs. Kozlovskaya's close relatives and some dubious companies based in England - we are talking about a structure called Silk Road Group.

European Parliament

Stop illegal live sports streaming, urge MEPs

EU Reporter Correspondent

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Find out how MEPs want to stop the pirating of live sports transmissions.

What is the problem with illegal sports streaming?

Broadcasting live sports plays an important role in the economy, providing a major source of revenue to event organizers. However, live sports broadcasts are often transmitted illegally online by dedicated professional websites, whose business model is based on subscription fees or advertising.

80%  ; of right owners´ revenue comes from broadcast rights

This infringes intellectual property rights and could be a security risk for users, who could be exposed to malware or data theft, including credit card fraud.

Sports event and copyright

Sport events as such do not qualify for copyright protection, as they are not a “work” as defined by EU copyright law, although the recording of a sports event is protected. Some countries have introduced specific rules covering live broadcasts, but they are not harmonised at EU level.

The need for swift redress

Live sports broadcasts have a time-limited economic value - the duration of the event - meaning the window for action against piracy is small.

Current procedures against live streaming piracy are long and not immediately applicable, so lack efficacy. MEPs on the legal affairs committee say the best remedy is the immediate termination of an unauthorised broadcast.

The aim is to "tackle those thousands and thousands of illegal broadcasters [who] get the signal from different sport events across Europe and broadcast it illegally," said Adrián Vázquez Lázara (Renew, Spain), the chair of the legal affairs committee. As sports clubs can't currently sell tickets " we have to protect the only income they have left, which is the TV rights".

How MEPs want to tackle illegal sports streaming

The report, approved by the committee on 13 April, calls for the extension of existing rights to live broadcasts. It urges the European Commission to propose concrete measures specifically adapted to live sports events, allowing for the immediate removal of, or the disabling of access to, content without blocking the legal live broadcast.

The removal of illegal content should take place immediately after reception of the notice and no later than 30 minutes after the start of the event. The new rules should target professional illegal broadcasters, not viewers who are often unaware that they are consuming illegal content.

The rules should not apply to live in-venue content or footage by the audience as this does not infringe any rights and is an integral part of fan culture.

Next steps

All MEPs will vote on the report during the May plenary session.

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Brexit

MEPs delay Brexit trade vote until UK respects withdrawal agreement

EU Reporter Correspondent

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The Foreign Affairs and International Trade Committees will vote on whether to give their consent to the trade and co-operation agreement between the EU and the UK on Thursday (15 April).

Time: Thursday, 15 April, 13.00-13.30 CET.

Venue: Brussels, Altiero Spinelli (1G-3) and remote participation.

Watch it live

At the extraordinary meeting, MEPs on the foreign affairs and trade committees will decide whether to recommend that Parliament give its consent to the agreement currently in provisional application until 30 April. The full House is to take the final decision, as well as adopt a separate resolution, at a future plenary session. The Parliament’s Conference of Presidents has decided not to set a plenary date yet, in order to emphasise the need for the UK side to fully implement the Withdrawal Agreement before doing so.

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European Parliament

European Parliament gives partial go-ahead to UK trade deal vote

EU Reporter Correspondent

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The European Parliament gave the go-ahead on Tuesday (13 April) for two key committees to vote this week on the EU-UK trade deal, but deferred a decision on whether the full parliament will give its assent later this month, writes Philip Blenkinsop.

The vote by parliament would be a final step in clearing the trade agreement struck between Britain and the European Union in December. Members of the parliament suspended the voting process in March in protest against British changes to arrangements on Northern Ireland.

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