Voices from Russia

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

6 February 2019. Don’t Try This At Home… Las Luminarias Festival in Spain

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On the eve of the Catholic feast of St Anthony (17 January), the Las Luminarias festival occurs in the village of San Bartolomé de Pinares in Spain. People ride horses through bonfires in order to rid the beasts of sin, purify them, and to give them protection for the coming year. Oh, yes… they cheat… they douse the horses in water before riding them through the fire. The locals build around 20 bonfires; around a hundred horses and riders take part. Don’t try this at home…

BMD

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Saturday, 30 June 2018

“Alternative Sexual Identity”: Austria Recognises “Third Gender”

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Austria’s Constitutional Court handed down a verdict that allows people to register themselves in official documents as something other than male or female if they wish. The Austrian court, in response to a request from an intersexual activist known as Alex Jürgen, called upon the European Convention on Human Rights to introduce the option of “other” or “inter” on civil register forms that ask for a person’s gender. Jürgen, whose birth name remains secret, said:

For the first time in my life, I feel like I’m recognised as what I am, how I was born.

The court emphasised in its ruling that Article 8 of the European Human Rights Convention certifies the right to “an individual sexual identity” and defends “in particular, people with an alternative sexual identity”. The court decision won’t amend existing law since it doesn’t explicitly require documentation of male or female gender.

Last November, Germany became the first European country to call for official recognition of a “third sex”, a decision supported in May by the Netherlands. The third gender already received legal recognition in several countries, Australia, New Zealand, the USA, Canada, India, Pakistan, and Nepal. According to UN experts, from 0.05 to 1.7 percent of global births are intersex.

30 June 2018

Sputnik International

https://sputniknews.com/europe/201806301065909946-austria-court-third-gender/

Editor:

I find this more than a little disquieting. It appears to hinge upon personal choice, not objective medical criteria. It’s one thing if an intersex person or a transsexual under medical supervision asks for a change in gender on documentation, but it’s quite another if we open it to untrammelled personal whim. I know that this’ll open me up to attacks from both sides of the aisle. Those on the left will excoriate me for not being “sensitive” enough. Those on the right will vilify me for even offering a pathway to change one’s documents (they wouldn’t even accept medical vetting, I’ve found). I’d say to you to ignore the activists on both sides and keep it grounded in medical reality. That’s how it stands in most places today (including my home state of New York), and I think that it’s best kept that way. That is, there should be a limited and controlled way to amend one’s personal documents. Otherwise, it becomes anarchy and chaos. Keep it grounded and you won’t go wrong.

BMD

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Kommersant: Russia to Side with Europe and China in Coming Global Trade War

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Economic Development Minister Maksim Oreshkin noted that Russia is likely to take part in the global trade war that’s gradually gaining momentum. Taking a cue from China and the EU, Russia will raise tariffs on imported US goods in response to Washington’s protective measures concerning steel and aluminium supplies. The tariff row is unlikely to fade away until the US Congress elections scheduled for November. Other countries announced tit-for-tat measures as well. China filed a WTO complaint and increased duties on US imports worth 3 billion USD (188.92 billion Roubles. 19.52 billion Renminbi. 203.6 billion INR. 3.99 billion CAD. 4.03 billion AUD. 2.57 billion Euros. 2.26 billion UK Pounds). The EU, Canada, and Mexico published their own lists of increased tariffs after Washington extended its steel and aluminium duties to them on 1 June. Sergei Afontsev, Head of the Economic Theory Department at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations, said:

According to WTO rules, the countries affected by unjustified trade restrictions have the right to take tit-for-tat measures without waiting for the results of their WTO complaints. Concerning US steel and aluminium tariffs, that’s what India did a few days ago; we expect a relevant EU decision. Russia will follow the global trend. If the USA is willing to begin a dialogue, the parties could discuss the mutual damage, but this could take two or three years. A trade war between the USA and China is a very real threat. To date, both parties seem to be willing to raise the stakes by increasing duties and extending them to new groups of goods. Where the limits of such escalation are, and whether they exist at all, is a big question. This is a fundamentally new situation in global trade.

20 June 2018

TASS

http://tass.com/pressreview/1010251

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Two-Thirds of Russians Felt No Impact of Western Sanctions

00 Russian food market. 27.12.14

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According to poll results released on Wednesday, most Russians polled by the all-Russia Public Opinion Centre (VTsIOM) (67 percent) felt no impact of anti-Russian sanctions whilst 24 percent of respondents said the restrictions affected their financial position. In its report, VTsIOM said:

The respondents assessed more unambiguously the impact of Western sanctions on their family’s financial position… 67 percent of them didn’t feel their effect. However, there can be clearly seen the share of those who spoke about negative implications… 24 percent across the sample (reaching 36 percent in respondents who assessed their financial position as low).

As the poll suggests, Russians are divided on the benefit or the harm of the sanctions for the Russian economy… 34 percent of those polled believe that sanctions had a beneficial effect compared to 30 percent of the respondents who held the opposite opinion whilst 20 percent of respondents saw no impact of sanctions on our economic development. Responding to a question about positive consequences of the sanctions, Russians noted a boost in the country’s economic development (50 percent) and import substitution (20 percent). Amongst negative implications, respondents singled out growth of prices and taxes (22 percent) and economic decline (9 percent). Generally, the issue of sanctions remains topical for Russians… 57 percent of those polled paid attention to it. In reply to a question about Russian counter-sanctions, 73 percent of respondents said that they supported an unyielding foreign policy without concessions to the West whilst 17 percent of those polled disagreed with that. Most respondents (78 percent) believed that Western countries suffer more from anti-Russian sanctions. Commenting on the poll results, VTsIOM head Valery Fyodorov said:

Almost four years after their imposition, anti-Russian sanctions don’t cause any special fear. Moreover, a considerable part of our respondents sees mostly positive economic consequences in them. Nevertheless, every fourth respondent sees negative implications from the sanctions for their own well-being and for the well-being of their close relatives.

The poll was on 10-11 June 2018. The error margin is 2.5 percent with a 95 percent probability.

In 2014, the EU and the USA imposed sanctions on Russia over developments in the Ukraine and Crimean reintegration with Russia and often broadened and extended them. The EU suspended talks on visa-free travel and a new basic cooperation agreement, imposed a ban on entry to the EU for officials from Russia, and froze their assets, as well as introducing restrictions in the trade, financial, and military spheres. Overall, the EU blacklisted 151 individuals and 37 companies. It imposed sanctions against 20 Russian financial, energy, and defence structures. In addition, the USA imposed a ban on the export of US goods, technologies, and services to the Crimea. It also banned US investments in the Crimea.

20 June 2018

TASS

http://tass.com/society/1010277

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