Repubblika urges Malta to stand with Ukraine tomorrow

Repubblika is urging people living in Malta to share messages on social media to express solidarity with the people of Ukraine.

This will be happening tomorrow night.

Once again, Malta sees Repubblika standing on the right side of history.

Foreign Affairs Ministry not coordinating Ukraine supply missions

Malta’s Foreign Affairs Ministry is not in charge of coordinating the supplies Malta is sending to Ukraine.

Yesterday on Facebook Bartolo said that Malta will be sending medicine and medical supplies to Ukraine.

So I asked outgoing Foreign Minister Evarist Bartolo about what medicines Malta will be sending to Ukraine. However, his spokesperson Joseph Borg said:

“Kindly note that these questions do not fall under the remit of MFEA and should have been directed to the Ministry of Interior.”

Then I turned to Byron Camilleri’s Facebook page. He’s the outgoing Interior Minister.

His only post I could find about the war was the one below. In it, he says that the Civil Protection Department (CPD) will be coordinating humanitarian aid sent to other countries.

Whether or not it’s wise to hand this responsibility to the Home Affairs Ministry rather than that of the Foreign Affairs Ministry remains to be seen.

Technically speaking, it means that right now the person in charge for Malta’s humanitarian aid is the same one that ignored all those pleas for him to kick out Alex Dalli from his role as the head of Malta’s prison until his hands were tied.

Nevertheless, it’s good for everyone to know who is in charge of what. Especially other fellow journalists who currently have their hands full covering the general election campaign. Hopefully, they’ll be able to pick up these stories when time allows for it.

So now I’ll be sending the same questions to the Home Affairs Ministry and we’ll see what they say.

Ukranian community to protest again at 18:00

As per Repubblika’s post:

“The Ukrainian community in Malta shall be holding another protest at the Triton Fountain at 6.00 p.m.”

It’s great to see that the NGO Repubblika that already has its hands full with its fight against corruption in Malta immediately leapt to the defence of Ukraine.

Featured photo by Repubblika

Robert Abela is a follower. Others lead on Ukraine

Robert Abela’s timid approach to Putin continues being exposed. MaltaToday reports that a spokesperson for the PM “would only say Malta will apply sanctions agreed upon at EU level”.

Abela waited until the last possible moment before he announced the closing of Maltese airspace to Russian airlines (which at the time of writing is still actually open). See here.

The same goes for his outgoing Foreign Minister Evarist Bartolo who waited until the last possible second before saying whether or not he was in favour of kicking Russia off the Swift payment system. See here.

With a general election around the corner, Robert Abela is losing the test on matters of foreign policy.

Compare and contrast.

Evarist Bartolo silent on future of Russian Ambassador

Outgoing Foreign Affairs Minister Evarist Bartolo failed to answer questions about whether or not the Russian Ambassador to Malta Andrey Lopukhov will be expelled.

Bartolo failed to answer all the questions sent to him by the time this article was published.

One of the questions asked was also about Malta’s position on whether or not Russia should be banned from the Swift payment network.

On Facebook, Bartolo now wrote: “We agreed…that certain Russian banks be cut off from the Swift system”. Such a move lacking transparency is very typical of the Labour Party which he forms part of.

Matthew Caruana Galizia was not amused:

Are there any updates from Malta related to Russia’s war against Ukraine that I missed? Contact me here.

Malta’s Russian flight ban starts on 28 February

Malta PM Robert Abela was late to show solidarity with Ukraine but finally, he shut down Maltese airspace to Russian flights.

On 27 February shortly before 15:00, Abela announced that Maltese airspace will be closed to Russian airlines. Better late than never, but finally it’s a move in the right direction.

However, a closer look at the details shows that the airspace will be closed as of tomorrow at noon. This was reported by Flightradar24.

The airspace closure also has also exemptions for: humanitarian flights, SAR flights, other flights that have the permission of the Maltese Government, and in case of an emergency landing or an emergency overflight.

Full details on Flightradar24 here.

Abela out of options?

Robert Abela’s hand may have been forced by the EU as European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen just announced that: “we are shutting down the EU airspace for Russian-owned, Russian registered or Russian-controlled aircraft.”

Furthermore, there aren’t really any Russian airlines flying to Malta and this was picked up by BugM on Twitter:

AirMalta did or does codeshare with Russian airline Aeroflot which is listed first in its list of partners here.

In 2017, the Times of Malta reported that Air Malta moved its Malta – Moscow operation to Sheremetyevo airport’s newest terminal E in June of 2016. The airline was operating a weekly service.

Times of Malta’s story about these latest updates on Malta’s flight ban can be found here.

Are there any updates from Malta related to Russia’s war against Ukraine that I missed? Contact me here.

Mobile operator Epic announces free calls to Ukraine

Mobile phone network operator Epic (previously called Vodafone) has announced that as of the 25th of February people from Malta can call and send SMSs to Ukraine for free.

On Saturday evening, Facebook user Ken Scicluna posted a screenshot of messages sent to Epic.

He has since updated his post and is now calling on Melita and GO to do the same.

Are there any updates from Malta related to Russia’s war against Ukraine that I missed? Contact me here.

Malta Police silent on who ordered them to touch Russia Embassy protest items

Malta’s Police force failed to say who gave its officers the order to move items such as candles, flags, and posters left in front of the Russian Embassy in Malta. These items were left in protest against its unjustified war on Ukraine.

I asked the police force two simple questions:

  1. Who gave the police the order to clear out the protest candles, flags, and posters?
  2. Why did the police carry out these orders?

Police Sergeant Brian Mifsud from the police’s communications office failed to tell me where the orders came from. However, he did give a reply as to why the officers were moving the objects in question saying:

“Kindly note that none of the items left by the protestors have been cleared by the police, but were repositioned in the same area for safety reasons.”

Maltese blogger Manuel Delia was the first to report about the video on his blog here. He aptly titled the story Owen Bonnici taught them well, referencing the daily clearing that used to happen of the protest memorial for slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

The video quality isn’t the best. From the parts uploaded the police seem to be blowing out the candles and transferring them to the pavement, removing them from the original position in front of the gate. The video technically doesn’t show them shoving everything in their path into a bin. But at one point, an officer is seen kicking an object in the street. This irks the person filming the scene.

Malta’s newspaper of record, the Times of Malta, seems to have independently verified the story. It used the headline Police filmed tearing down anti-war symbols outside Russia’s Kappara embassy. The Times said, “It appears that police set about removing the anti-war symbols soon after the last protestors left the site.”

The protest was organised by Repubblika, the Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation, SOS Malta, OASI Foundation, PEN Malta, Prisma Malta, and Anti-Poverty Forum Malta in solidarity with Ukrainian people.

More on the actual protest here.

Tweets related to the police’s actions below:

Meanwhile in Dublin

This is how the Russian Ambassador in Dublin was welcomed in Ireland:

Featured photo by NGO Repubblika