Western leaders have called on Russian authorities to launch a full and transparent investigation into the killing of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, who was shot dead near the Kremlin on Friday. Nemtsov, who had previously served as Deputy Prime Minister, had been a critic of President Vladimir Putin and was due to hold a rally in Moscow against the war in Ukraine on Sunday. President Putin is reported to be taking the investigation into the killing under his personal control.
First-time home buyers under the age of 40 in England will be able to buy new homes at a discount of up to 20 percent. The new discount is part of the government’s “starter homes” scheme and aims to encourage more development on ‘brownfield’ land. Buyers would have to repay the 20 percent difference if they sold the house within the first five years of ownership. The discount is made possible by waiving local authority fees for homebuilders on brownfield sites. Responding to the scheme, the Labour Party criticised the government for overseeing the lowest levels of house building since the 1920s.
China’s central bank announced on Saturday plans to lower benchmark interest rates to 5.35 percent from 5.6 percent, as Chinese authorities take further action to alleviate the slowdown in its economy. Benchmark saving rates are also to be cut from 2.75 percent to 2.5 percent. All changes are to come into effect on Sunday. China previously lowered interest rates in November, with a continuing aim of lowering borrowing costs for businesses.
Issues of terrorism make the headlines in some papers today. The Guardian reports criticism from MP David Davies saying that “flawed tactics” used by the security services worsen the terror threat to the UK. The Times, meanwhile, reports that “Hundreds more jihadists” may have slipped through the net and travelled to Syria, according to MI5. The Daily Telegraph features calls from Apple chief Tim Cook for everyone to “Say no to email snooping”. Governments and companies should not access users’ data in the name of fighting terrorism, Cook argued. The Independent leads with news that British Airways “spied on its own staff”, paying “£1m in compensation for its in-house investigators’ activities”. Emails and phone calls of union members were also reportedly accessed. The company has denied the latter claim.
British Media on China
On China’s ivory import ban: China’s year-long imposed ban on ivory imports received coverage from most UK media outlets, including the BBC, Independent, Guardian and Daily Telegraph. Articles point out that demand in China fuels poaching in Africa. The BBC writes that China is “the world’s largest importer of smuggled tusks”. The Guardian’s agency piece writes that demand for ivory has “surged” since 2008, when China acquired a stockpile of legal ivory. Writing on the ban, The Daily Telegraph asks “will it make any difference?” The piece questions if the ban is merely “shrewd diplomacy”. The Independent writes that the ban is only “window dressing”, reporting that some campaigners feel that the ban does not address root concerns: namely, China’s “legal stockpile of ivory and a culture that encourages its sale as a luxury product”.