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Covid-19 isolation, feminist fightback - the week in Europe

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By Stefan Grobe
Belgium EU Virus Outbreak
Belgium EU Virus Outbreak   -   Copyright  Stephanie Lecocq/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved   -  

In Europe, Italy remains by and large the epicentre of the Coronavirus which this week has been declared a global pandemic.

As a consequence, the entire country of 60 million people is now in lockdown.

The rest of Europe is holding its breath and attempting at least put a distance between themselves and the Italians.

Yet EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen had comforting words for the Italians and told them – in Italian – that Europe has their back.

In the meantime, German chancellor Angela Merkel quoted public health experts with a sober prediction:

"People have to understand that, if the virus is around and if people are not immune against this virus, if there is no proper vaccine or proper therapy, then, according to experts, between 60 and 70 percent of the population will be infected, as long as this situation exists."

Russian Revolution

Vladimir Putin forever! Those words pretty much sum up the constitutional changes that were proposed in Russia this week.

Putin's time as president would be reset to zero, granting him the chance to run again 2024, when his current fourth term is set to end. He has already been in power for twenty years.

"The president is a guarantor of security of our state, its internal stability and evolutionary development," Putin said, adding "We have had enough revolutions."

FEMEN's fight for women's rights

Initially founded in Ukraine and now based in Paris, the radical feminist activist group became known for organising controversial topless protests.

Regarding Putin's Russia, Femen has sharply criticized the depenalization of domestic violence. A hot button issue in the country.

Femen's leader Inna Shevchenko spoke to Euronews' Ana Lazaro about the backlash against feminism.

"I think that the fact that women are right now taking over the streets, that we are hearing their voices everywhere, it is also because there is a certain regression of women´s rights. While we are right sitting here in this very moment, in Russia domestic violence is depenalised.... in Turkey Parliament is proposing to discuss, debate and vote a legislation that would provide rapists a right to escape from any punishment if they marry their victim... femicides are taking place everywhere, in countries as Russia and Ukraine, as well in countries that I consider to be developped as the land of feminism, my country of exile, France.

Look Ahead

Here's what we want to cover next week, if events are not cancelled due to Covid-19:

* Eurozone finance ministers are scheduled to discuss the Coronavirus (via videoconference, of course)

* Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron plan to talk to Turkish president Erdogan about the migration crisis.

*And the second round of talks between the EU and Britain about the future relationship is on the books (but currently looking for a more virus stopping option of actually meeting in person)

And finally...

There was an interesting detail during this week's visit of President Erdogan to Brussels, that you may have missed. Watch the video above to find out.