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23 dead as violent unrest in Chile enters fifth week

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The death toll from violent unrest in Chile rose to 23 on Friday as the country entered its fifth week of social unrest, AFP reported.

Looting and demonstrations took place in cities across the South American nation, and an agreement on a political roadmap that will see Chile draft a new constitution has halted neither the anger, nor the bloodshed.

Furious Chileans have since October 18 been protesting social and economic inequality, and against an entrenched political elite that comes from a small number of the wealthiest families in the country, among other issues.

The crisis is the worst in three decades of Chilean democracy and has led to around 2,000 injuries, including some 280 people who suffered eye damage from shotgun pellets.

The latest death was a 13-year-old boy who an interior ministry official said was run over by a van during protests in Arica, about 1,300 miles (2,100 kilometers) north of the capital Santiago.

Thousands of people gathered again on Friday in Plaza Italia, the center of the demonstrations in Santiago and the site of weekly rallies that have seen massive turnout since the social upheaval broke out.

"We cannot ease up. We have to keep expressing ourselves because we have not achieved anything, because the repression continues and also (the government) keeps signing fake agreements, like the peace deal," Claudia Ortolani, a young protester, told AFP.

Nearby, hooded men were squaring off against police, who broke up the crowd with tear gas and water cannons.

Meanwhile, about a hundred people protested outside the Costanera Center, the largest mall in South America, as around twenty riot police guarded the entrance to the building.

– Violence rages –

While protests earlier in the week not been huge, the outbursts of violence multiplied in the capital's metro area on Thursday and Friday.

The anger in the streets had eased after last week's agreement by Congress to draft a new Constitution.

But with people back on the streets in force again, President Sebastian Pinera's government again appealed for calm.

Interior Minister Gonzalo Blumel issued a "deep and sincere call to all political forces" to end the unrest.

But in Quilicura, north of Santiago, a shopping center was set on fire and looted by a crowd while in Puente Alto, another working-class area, a gas station, a police headquarters and businesses were attacked.

In the northern city of Antofagasta, a motorist injured five people when he ran down protesters, while a supermarket was ransacked.

"This situation … affects our offer to take charge," said police general Enrique Basseletti, after complaints from people irate that they had not seen police on their streets.

Blumel said that 2,500 trainee police officers would be put on the streets early to bolster the force.

On Thursday, authorities arrested 700 people in the unrest. That followed the police decision to suspend the use of birdshot against protesters, following an outcry over eye injury victims.

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Switzerland puts Einstein on worlds smallest gold coin

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Switzerland has minted the smallest gold coin the world has ever seen, state-owned Swissmint announced Thursday, DW reports.

The 2.96-millimeter (0.12-inch) gold coin, weighing only 0.063 grams (1/500th of an ounce), is so small the viewer needs to squint closely to see world-famous physicist Albert Einstein sticking his tongue out.

The coin has a nominal value of 1/4 of a Swiss franc ($0.26, €0.23) and can be ordered online.

According to Swissmint, 999 of the coins have been made, and a single coin will be sold for 199 francs and accompanied with a special magnifying glass so owners can see Einstein.

The gold coin represents Swissmint's official 2020 commemorative coin and celebrates the works of Einstein.

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Procter Gamble Europe to invest in Azerbaijan to establish centre in Baku

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Procter & Gamble Europe is to create a regional centre in Baku.

ABC.AZ reports that discussions were conducted during the Davos meeting of President Ilham Aliyev with Loic Tassel, the president of Procter & Gamble Europe.

During the conversation, it was noted that Procter & Gamble Europe intends to expand its activities to Central Asia and the Far East and the city of Baku was chosen as a regional center. It was emphasized that reforms implemented by President Ilham Aliyev and the business environment created in Azerbaijan will provide an opportunity for Procter & Gamble Europe to expand towards the east through the company’s office in the country.

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Bulgaria charges three Russians over poisoning possibly linked to Skripal case

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Bulgarian prosecutors have charged three Russians with the attempted murder of three men whose poisoning is being investigated by Sofia for possible links with the 2018 nerve-agent attack on ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal, Reuters reports.

The prosecutors did not name the three Russians but said European arrest warrants had been issued and that they would seek their extradition to Bulgaria.

The three are accused of trying to kill arms factory owner and trader Emilian Gebrev and two other Bulgarians in Sofia between April 28 and May 4, 2015, by “intoxication with an unidentified organophosphorus substance,” the prosecutors said in a statement.

They said the method used was “dangerous to the lives of many”.

Gebrev and the two other victims fell ill but survived.

The investigation into the poisoning was reopened in 2018 after Gebrev told prosecutors he had reason to believe the substance used on him might have been similar to Novichok, the nerve agent used against Skripal in Salisbury in England.

In February last year, Bulgaria said it was investigating a possible link between their poisoning and the attack on Skripal and his daughter, both of whom survived.

At the time, prosecutors said a Russian man by the name of Sergei Fedotov visited Bulgaria three times in 2015 and was there in April when Gebrev was poisoned.

In October 2018, the Russian news website Fontanka named Fedotov, who it said worked for the country’s GRU military intelligence service, as a suspect in the Skripal case.

Moscow never comments on the identity of GRU staff but has denied involvement in the poisoning of Skripal.

A Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman declined to give detailed comments on Thursday but said the Russian embassy in Bulgaria was probably following developments.

Investigative website Bellingcat has said Fedotov was an alias for a GRU officer called Denis Sergeev.

In December, Sotir Tsatsarov, at the time Bulgaria’s chief prosecutor, said he saw a close link between the people involved in the crimes in Bulgaria and England as a suspect in the Skripal case was in Sofia when Gebrev was poisoned.

The Bulgarian prosecutors have said they are cooperating with the FBI and Britain on the investigation.

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