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RUSSIA

Sweden claims bandy world title

Sweden claimed its ninth bandy world championship on Sunday, overpowering Russia 6-1 in a come from behind victory before more than 7,500 fans at the ABB arena in Västerås in central Sweden.

Sweden claims bandy world title

The victory was especially sweet for retiring Swedish coach Anders Jakobsson and 38-year-old veteran forward Marcus Bergwall.

For Jakobsson, who took over as the team’s coach in 2005 following Sweden’s last bandy world title, the 2009 championship broke a streak of frustrating second place finishes.

“It’s such a relief. For me, this is absolutely huge,” Jakobsson told the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.

“I wouldn’t have died even if we had lost again. We’ve been close several times, but maybe we needed this time to become good enough that we could defeat a Russian team which is so unbelievably good.”

Considered a niche winter sport in most parts of the world, bandy is popular in Scandinavia and many countries of the former Soviet Union.

The sport, sometimes referred to as “field hockey on ice”, is played on a sheet of ice roughly the size of a football pitch and features a small ball rather than a puck. Each team has eleven players on the ice at a time, include a goalkeeper, who is the only player allowed to intentionally touch the ball with his head, hands, or arms.

Players advance the ball by passing to one another or by dribbling the ball forward as they skate towards the opposing net, looking for an opportunity to score a goal by shooting the ball past the goalkeeper.

In last year’s bandy world championships, held in Moscow, the Russian team defeated Sweden 6-1 to claim its 14th title, continuing the country’s long dominance of the sport, which has held a world championship tournament since 1957.

But this year, Sweden took advantage of the home ice advantage to turn the tables on the Russians.

Early on, however, there were fears of a repeat Russian victory when at the 25 minute mark, Misja Svesjnikov gathered a loose ball and fired a shot past Sweden’s netminder.

But the veteran Bergwall, playing in his ninth world championship tournament, struck back four minutes later, bringing the Swedes back equal with the Russians.

Sweden’s assault on the Russian net continued in the second half, as the home team poured in five more goals, including a second by Bergwall, in the match’s final 25 minutes.

“I’ve been waiting for this match the whole year. What a bonus it ended up being,” a jubilant Bergwall said at a post-match press conference.

In celebrating the victory, Bergwall also announced his retirement from professional bandy.

“It doesn’t get any better than this. It’s a perfect end,” he told the Aftonbladet newspaper.

On it’s way to the gold, Sweden posted victories against Finland, Kazakhstan, Norway, and Belarus in qualifying matches, as well as a 2-2 tie with Russia.

Sweden went on to defeat Kazakhstan 8-3 in the tournament semifinals, setting up the much anticipated revenge opportunity against Russia in the final.

RUSSIA

Germany arrests Russian scientist for spying for Moscow

German police arrested a Russian scientist working at an unidentified university, accusing him of spying for Moscow, prosecutors said on Monday, in a case that risks further inflaming bilateral tensions.

Germany arrests Russian scientist for spying for Moscow
Vladimir Putin. Photo: dpa/AP | Patrick Semansky

Federal prosecutors said in a statement that the suspect, identified only as Ilnur N., had been taken into custody on Friday on suspicion of “working for a Russian secret service since early October 2020 at the latest”.

Ilnur N. was employed until the time of his arrest as a research assistant for a natural sciences and technology department at the unnamed German university.

German investigators believe he met at least three times with a member of Russian intelligence between October 2020 and this month. On two occasions he allegedly “passed on information from the university’s domain”.

He is suspected of accepting cash in exchange for his services.

German authorities searched his home and workplace in the course of the arrest.

The suspect appeared before a judge on Saturday who remanded him in custody.

‘Completely unacceptable’

Neither the German nor the Russian government made any immediate comment on the case.

However Moscow is at loggerheads with a number of Western capitals after a Russian troop build-up on Ukraine’s borders and a series of espionage scandals that have resulted in diplomatic expulsions.

Italy this month said it had created a national cybersecurity agency following warnings by Prime Minister Mario Draghi that Europe needed to
protect itself from Russian “interference”. 

The move came after an Italian navy captain was caught red-handed by police while selling confidential military documents leaked from his computer to a Russian embassy official.

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The leaders of nine eastern European nations last month condemned what they termed Russian “aggressive acts” citing operations in Ukraine and “sabotage” allegedly targeted at the Czech Republic.

Several central and eastern European countries have expelled Russian diplomats in solidarity with Prague but Russia has branded accusations of its involvement as “absurd” and responded with tit-for-tat expulsions.

The latest espionage case also comes at a time of highly strained relations between Russia and Germany on a number of fronts including the ongoing detention of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, who received treatment in Berlin after a near-fatal poisoning.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has moreover worked to maintain a sanctions regime over Moscow’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula, the scene of ongoing fighting between pro-Russia separatists and local forces.

And Germany has repeatedly accused Russia of cyberattacks on its soil.

The most high-profile incident blamed on Russian hackers to date was a cyberattack in 2015 that completely paralysed the computer network of the Bundestag lower house of parliament, forcing the entire institution offline for days while it was fixed.

German prosecutors in February filed espionage charges against a German man suspected of having passed the floor plans of parliament to Russian secret services in 2017.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas last week said Germany was expecting to be the target of Russian disinformation in the run-up to its general election in September, calling it “completely unacceptable”.

Russia denies being behind such activities.

Despite international criticism, Berlin has forged ahead with plans to finish the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, set to double natural gas supplies from Russia to Germany.

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