Bulgaria: Reports that a third suspect in the nerve agent poisoning of a Russian ex-spy in England allegedly was involved in a 2015 poisoning in Bulgaria are being investigated, a Bulgarian party official said. Tsvetan Tsvetanov of the ruling GERB party said the probe was being coordinated with foreign partners. He told Bulgaria's bTV channel that intelligence officials plan to present evidence on the topic on Friday to a parliamentary homeland security committee. Investigative group Bellingcat has reported an alleged Russian military intelligence agent arrived in Bulgaria in April 2015, a few days before Bulgarian businessman Emilian Gebrev was poisoned by an unidentified substance. Gebrev, an arms industry executive, survived but authorities still don't know who poisoned him. Bellingcat said the 45-year-old Russian agent travelled under the alias Sergei Vyacheslavovich Fedotov and had been "conclusively identified as an agent of Russian military intelligence" for Moscow's GRU agency. Bellingcat said Fedotov also was suspected of being involved in the Novichok nerve-agent poisoning of Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in the English city of Salisbury. He arrived in Britain two days before the March 2018 attack. British officials have blamed the attack on the GRU and charged two Russian suspects.
United States: Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren took aim at President Donald Trump, saying he "may not even be a free person" by next year's election. The Massachusetts senator also urged fellow candidates to avoid letting Trump define the contours of the election with his personal and provocative attacks. "Every day there is a racist tweet, a hateful tweet — something really dark and ugly," Warren said as she opened an event in Cedar Rapids. "What are we as candidates, as activists, as the press, going to do about it? We're going to chase after those every day?" Warren has been a frequent Trump target. "By the time we get to 2020, Donald Trump may not even be president. In fact, he may not even be a free person," she said. Warren told reporters her comments were a reference to the multiple investigations that have shadowed Trump's presidency. Trump has not been charged with any crimes, but several of his former advisers have pleaded guilty to a variety of charges.
South Korea: The United States and South Korea struck a new deal that increases Seoul's contribution for the cost of the American military presence on its soil, overcoming previous failed negotiations that caused worries about their decades-long alliance. The development comes as US President Donald Trump is set to hold his second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam in late February. South Korea last year provided about US$830 million, covering roughly 40 per cent of the cost of the deployment of 28,500 US soldiers whose presence is meant to deter aggression from North Korea. Trump has pushed for South Korea to pay more. Chief negotiators from the two countries signed a new cost-sharing plan, which requires South Korea to pay about US$924 million in 2019, Seoul's Foreign Ministry said.
Finland: An Israeli Holocaust historian praised authorities in Finland for publishing a report that concluded Finnish volunteers serving with Nazi Germany's Waffen-SS "very likely" took part in World War II atrocities, including the mass murder of Jews. Efraim Zuroff of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre lauded the determination of the National Archives of Finland to release the findings even if doing so was "painful and uncomfortable" for Finland. The Government commissioned the independent 248-page investigative report. It said 1,408 Finnish volunteers served with the SS Panzer Division Wiking during 1941-43, most of them 17 to 20-years-old.
Germany: Five watercolours attributed to Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler from his early days as a struggling artist have failed to sell at auction in the southern German city of Nuremberg, possibly over fears they could be fakes. The Nuremberger Nachrichten newspaper reported that no bids were received on the paintings, which had starting prices of between €19,000 and €45,000. Three days before the auction, prosecutors seized 63 other paintings attributed to Hitler from the auction house to investigate allegations they were fakes. In Berlin last month, prosecutors seized three other Hitler watercolors after receiving a complaint questioning their authenticity.
Yemen: Conjoined twin boys born under blockade in Yemen nearly three weeks ago died after attempts to secure their evacuation for potentially life-saving treatment failed. The Health Ministry said the twins' deaths reflected the humanitarian situation faced by Yemen's children as a result of the civil war, according to a statement carried by the Houthi-run Saba news. Abdelkhaleq and Abdelkarim were born in Houthi-controlled Sana'a, at a hospital woefully underequipped after years of bombardment and blockade by the Saudi-led coalition. The twins' doctors had begged for them to be evacuated. However, Yemen's airspace is controlled by the Saudi-led coalition and, following Houthi missile attacks on Saudi Arabia, no civilian flights have taken off from Sanaa since 2015. Despite offers from a Saudi organisation to provide the needed medical care, no way around the blockade was found.
- AP, Telegraph Group Ltd