Evening Update Friday 25 February

In Monaco, the National Council has called for many Covid-19 measures be scrapped, saying that the situation in Monaco is better than that of the Alpes-Maritimes where several rules have already been removed. Monaco has seen a 33% drop in the incidence rate, which is nearly half the Alpes-Maritimes of 757. The National Council is calling for the abolition of the health pass when the incidence rate hits 300 or less. The measure would affect Monegasque citizens, residents and employees only, meaning French nationals would still need a valid health pass until the French abolish the pass as well.

Around 60 members of the Franco-Ukrainian Association of the Côte d'Azur rallied outside the Russian consulate in Villefranche-sur-mer today. They’re calling for the expulsion of Putin's diplomats and the freezing of their accounts in France. Their next gathering is due to be held at 11am Sunday on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice.

As a show of support, the TousAntiCovid app has included the Ukrainian flag in the upper left-hand corner of the screen. It will display when you launch the pass sanitaire application up to midnight tonight.

The men who kidnapped the 76-year-old owner of the Grand Hotel in Cannes and La Reserve restaurant in Nice have had their sentences increased at the Assize Court in Aix-en-Provence today.  In 2016 Jacqueline Veyrac was kidnapped, tied up, and gagged before escaping two days later in Nice. The Advocate General had been demanding that the sentences of the kidnappers be changed to the most severe possible.  Today the court upheld that request increasing the prison sentences up to twenty years.

In the Presidential Election, the leader of the far-left Jean-Luc Mélenchon has obtained the 500 sponsorships required to run. Meanwhile, with just a week to go before the closing date, far-right leaders Marine Le Pen and Eric Zemmour have still to reach the number of signatures required.

The president of the PACA region Renaud Muse-lier is making moves to create a bank where signed sponsorships, but without a candidate's name, would be divided equally between Marine Le Pen and Eric Zemmour. The region president said it would be a denial of democracy if those candidates, each credited with millions of voting intentions, could not stand.

The musical romance Annette with Marion Cotillard and Adam Driver, the Celine Dion biopic Aline, and the box office smash Lost Illusions, are leading the race for France’s equivalent of the Oscars which take place tonight in Paris. The star-studded Ceasers ceremony can be seen unencrypted on Canal+ from 9pm.

BUSINESS

Stock markets are more positive today as investors assess international sanctions put in place against Russia. Of key importance is the decision to keep Russia within the SWIFT international bank payments system and leave the energy sector untouched has given confidence to the markets. As a result, European and Asian indexes are up and the price of oil has fallen marginally below $100 a barrel.

Renault is to temporarily shut down its car assembly plant in Moscow due to what it called ‘a forced change in logistic routes and increased border controls in transit countries’ which are causing component shortages. The car manufacturer said it is looking at options to resume operations as soon as possible.

SPORT

Football - In the Europa League, AS Monaco are to face Sporting Braga in the last 16 playoffs which was drawn this afternoon. The first leg will be played on March 10th. Lyon has been drawn to play Porto, that game is due to kick off on the 9th.  

France is to host the final of the Champions League at Stade de France in Paris. UEFA made the announcement today after stripping Russia of the final which was due to be played in St Petersburg.

UEFA also said Russian and Ukrainian clubs and national teams competing in UEFA competitions, will be required to play their home matches at neutral venues until further notice. This will affect Spartak Moscow in the Europa League, and Russia and Ukraine in the Nations League which is due to get underway in June.

On the sponsorship front, UEFA is under increasing pressure to cut ties with Gazprom, the Russian state energy company who spend about €40m a year sponsoring the Champions League, European Championships and Nations League. At club level, Germanys Bundesliga team FC Schalke 04 has announced they are removing the Gazprom logo from their shirts and UK club Manchester United are to drop their commercial partnership with Russian state airline Aeroflot.

Formula 1 - The Russian Grand Prix has been officially cancelled. Following a crisis meeting of all team bosses, the governing body ruled it would be impossible to hold the race in the current circumstances. The race was due to be held in Sochi in September.

Tennis - The world’s new #1 player Daniil Medvedev says he wants to promote peace all over the world, while his Russian compatriot Andrey Rublev delivered the same message. Last week, Rublev paired up with Ukrainian Denys Molchanov to win a doubles title in Marseille.

Medvedev will officially become the world No.1 on Monday, after Novak Djokovic lost in the quarter-finals of the Dubai Duty-Free Tennis Championships yesterday. He is the first player, outside of Djokovic, Nadal, Federer or Murray to be No.1 since 2004.

Meanwhile, world No 3 Alexander Zverev has been fined $40,000 dollars, forfeited more than $30,000 in prize money, and lost all of his rankings points from the Mexican Open, after smashing the umpire's chair with his racket. The ATP says it will further review the incident so Zverev could yet face even further sanctions up to and including being excluded from the tour.

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