Daily: 19/06/2022

Франція: президентська коаліція на виборах втратила більшість у парламенті

Альянс прихильників президента Франції Емманюеля Макрона і у першому турі мінімально випередив суперників

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Спецпредставник ЄС: винуватці воєнних злочинів в Україні мають бути покарані

Візит Еймона Гілмора триватиме кілька днів

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Армія РФ завдає авіаударів на Бахмутському напрямку, тривають бої у Сєвєродонецьку – Генштаб

Триває сто шістнадцята доба війни РФ проти України

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Irish PM Martin Urges Britain to Resume Talks With EU Over its N.Ireland Law 

Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin said on Sunday a new British law to change part of a Brexit deal to try to ease trade with Northern Ireland was “unilateralism of the worst kind” and urged the government to resume talks.

The European Commission launched two new legal proceedings against Britain this month after London published plans to override some post-Brexit rules in the so-called Northern Ireland protocol which governs trade with the British province.

London has proposed scrapping some checks on goods from the rest of the United Kingdom arriving in Northern Ireland and challenged the role of the European Court of Justice to decide on parts of the post-Brexit deal agreed by the EU and Britain.

The new legislation has yet to be passed by parliament, a process which could take some time.

“It’s not acceptable, it represents unilateralism of the worst kind,” Martin told the BBC.

“We accept fully there are legitimate issues around the operation of the protocol and we believe with serious sustained negotiations between the European Union and United Kingdom government, those issues could be resolved.”

He said the legislation, which London says is needed to restore a power-sharing administration in Northern Ireland, would damage the province’s economy by introducing a dual regulatory regime that could increase costs to business.

“If this bill is enacted, I think we’re in a very serious situation,” he said. “What now needs to happen is really substantive negotiations between the British government and the European Union.”

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Патріарх РПЦ Кирило: «Наші хлопці захищають Росію на полі бою»

Раніше цього тижня Велика Британія внесла Московського патріарха Кирила до списку санкцій

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French Voters Cast Ballots in Legislative Runoff   

France voted Sunday in the second-round runoff of legislative elections that saw a new left-wing alliance threatening President Emmanuel Macron’s majority in the National Assembly, the lower house of the country’s Parliament.

Voters trickled out of Neuilly Plaisance’s city hall, shopping carts in tow. After casting their ballots, their next stops were the bakery and Sunday market to finish their errands.

Gregory, an electrician in this eastern Paris suburb, had cast his ballot for France’s new leftist coalition, known as NUPES. He said French President Emmanuel Macron is breaking everything the country has worked for when it comes to social and environmental issues.

Pre-vote polls suggested Macron’s centrist alliance, Ensemble, or Together, would earn the largest share of votes — but not necessarily a ruling majority. The NUPES was hoping for an upset victory that would force Macron to pick its leader, far-left politician Jean-Luc Melenchon, as prime minister.

Michelle, another Neuilly Plaisance voter, said she believes that scenario would be a disaster. Certainly not the NUPES, she said. If they win, France will be in a mess.

Retiree Raymond offered a similar reaction. He said he doubts the feasibility of programs pushed by the leftist coalition. “Where’s the money to pay for them?” he asked.

Macron won a second term against his far-right rival Marine Le Pen just two months ago. But the abstention rate was high, and many French are underwhelmed by their president. Some criticized Macron for not campaigning enough for this crucial parliamentary vote, where this time his main rival was the far left.

These elections for the powerful National Assembly, or lower house of Parliament, will be critical in determining whether Macron can push through fiscal and retirement reforms that mark his second term agenda. The NUPES coalition has vowed to block them and enact tougher environmental policies.

Like the April presidential elections, these legislative elections have also been marked by high voter abstention.


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Індія збільшила імпорт вугілля та нафти з Росії у кілька разів – Reuters

Енергоносії продаються зі знижкою до 30 відсотків

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Бріджит Брінк: Україна не зазнає поразки

«І ми продовжуватимемо підтримувати Україну стільки, скільки потрібно» – посол США в Україні

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Казахстан запропонував ліквідувати ядерну зброю до 2045 року

«Цьогорічний військовий конфлікт на території України, розмови про повернення ядерних озброєнь та взаємні погрози застосування ядерної зброї змушують нас, як ніколи раніше, замислитися… про нагальну необхідність заборони та ліквідації цієї смертоносної зброї»

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Despite Ongoing Military Action, Ukrainians Continue to Get Married

Despite the ongoing war in Ukraine, couples there continue to get married. For many, the war itself prompted them to officially tie the knot – especially military couples. At least one jewelry store provides military couples with free wedding bands; wedding ceremonies are often held online, at times, literally from the front lines. Anna Kosstutschenko has the story.

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Russian Sanctions Hurting Small Italian Fashion Producers

Fine Italian knitwear packed in boxes addressed to retailers in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Kursk sit stacked in a Lombardy warehouse awaiting dispatch. Although not subject to sanctions to punish Russia for invading Ukraine, the garments are not likely to ship any time soon.

Missing payments from the Russian retailers who ordered the garments are piling up due to restrictions tied to the banking sector, putting pressure on small fashion producers like D. Exterior, a high-end knitwear company with 50 workers in the northern city of Brescia.

“This is very painful. I have 2 million euros worth of merchandise in the warehouse, and if they cannot pay for it, I will be on my knees,” said D. Exterior owner Nadia Zanola, surveying the warehouse for the brand she founded in 1997 from the knitwear company created by her parents in 1952.

Italy is the largest producer of global luxury goods in the world, making 40% of high-end apparel, footwear and accessories. While Russia generates just about 3% of Italian luxury’s 97 billion euros ($101 billion) in annual revenue, it is a significant slice of business for some of the 80,000 small and medium companies that make up the backbone of Italian fashion, according to industry officials.

“We are talking about eliminating 80% to 100% of revenues for these companies,’’ said Fabio Pietrella, president of the Confartigianato fashion craftsman federation.

Districts producing footwear in the Marche and Veneto regions, and knitwear makers in Umbria and Emilia-Romagna have grown particularly reliant on Russia.

“These are districts that connect the supply chain, and if it is interrupted, not only is the company that closes harmed, but an entire system that help make this country an economic powerhouse,’’ Pietrella said.

The Italian fashion world is best known for luxury houses like Gucci, Versace and Armani, which unveil their menswear collections in Milan this week. And some of the biggest names appear on a list compiled by Yale University professor Jeffrey Sonnenberg of major companies doing business in Russia since the war in Ukraine began.

“There are companies that kept selling to Nazi Germany after the outbreak of World War II — we don’t celebrate them for that,” Sonnenberg said, labeling as “greedy” any enterprise that continues to do business in Russia today.

He also underlined that fashion companies don’t have the grounds to make humanitarian appeals to bypass sanctions, voluntary or otherwise, as has been the case with agricultural firms and pharmaceutical companies.

Among those receiving a failing grade from Sonnenberg is Italy’s Benetton, which in a statement condemned the war but said it would continue its commercial activities in Russia, including longstanding commercial and logistic partnerships and a network of stores that sustain 600 families.

French conglomerate LVMH, meanwhile, has temporarily closed 124 stores in Russia, while continuing to pay its 3,500 employees in Russia. The Spanish group Inditex, which owns the fast-fashion chain Zara, also temporarily closed 502 stores in Russia as well as its online sales, accounting for 8.5% of group pre-tax earnings.

Pietrella fears a sort of Russia-phobia is taking hold that is demonizing business owners for trying to keep up ties with a longer-term vision.

He characterized as a “witch-hunt” criticism of some 40 shoe producers from the Marche region on Italy’s Adriatic coast for traveling to Russia for a trade fair during the war.

European Union sanctions against Russia sharpened after the Ukraine invasion, setting a 300-euro wholesale maximum for each item shipped, taking super-luxury items out of circulation but still targeting the upper-middle class or wealthy Russians.

“Without a doubt, we as the fashion federation have expressed our extreme concern over the aggression in Ukraine,’’ Pietrella said. “From an ethical point of view, it is out of discussion. But we have to think of our companies. Ethics are one thing. The market is another. Workers in a company are paid by the market, not by ethics.”

He said the 300-euro limit on sales was a gambit by European politicians that on paper allows trade with Russia despite accompanying bureaucratic and financial hurdles, while also shielding governments from having to provide bailout funds to the industry. He also dismissed as overly facile government suggestions to find alternative markets to Russia.

“If there was another market, we would be there already,’’ Pietrella said.

At D. Exterior, exposure to Russia grew gradually over the years to now represent 35% to 40% of revenue that hit 22 million euros before the pandemic, a stream that is also under new pressure from higher energy and raw material costs.

The company was already delivering its summer collection and taking orders for winter when Russia invaded on Feb. 24. By March, Russian retailers were having trouble making payments.

Not only is Zanola stuck with some 4,000 spring and summer garments that she has little hope of shipping to Russian clients, she said she was contractually required to keep producing the winter orders, risking 100,000 euros in labor and materials costs if those are unable to ship.

Over the years, her Russian clients have proven to be ideal customers, Zanola said. Not only do they pay on time, but they are appreciative of the workmanship in D. Exterior’s knitwear creations.

After working so hard to build up her Russian customer base, she is loathe to give it up and doesn’t see a quick long-term replacement.

“If Russia were Putin, I wouldn’t go there. But since Russia is not only Putin, one hopes that the poor Russians manage to raise themselves up,” she said.

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Czech Senate Leader Vows ‘Never Again’ to Communist Totalitarianism

Czech Senate Leader Milos Vystrcil was little known to the world until he led a Czech parliamentary and business delegation to Taiwan in autumn 2020, defying threats of severe retaliation from Beijing. And that is just how his late father would have preferred it.

“He would always insist that we live a normal, average life, not too visible,” Vystrcil told VOA during a visit to Washington last week.

Vystrcil was born in the town of Telc in 1960, 12 years after the Soviet-backed local communist party took control of what was then the Czechoslovak Republic. In order for him and his sister to lead as normal a life as possible, “my father created this sort of bubble,” Vystrcil recalled. “To me, it wasn’t right.”

Not until he was about 15 did his father tell him their family was on the wrong side of the communist revolution because Vystrcil’s grandfather had established a factory that produced agricultural machinery and fire extinguishers. Consequently, theirs was a family of “exploiters” and was closely watched by the nation’s new guardians of supposed equality and egalitarianism.

“My father was afraid all his life that somebody would come and ban us from doing things or they would actually force us to relocate to somewhere else,” he said.

Vystrcil’s father became so pessimistic about life that “he didn’t even want to get married at one point because he knew that his children would have a very difficult life,” he recounted through an interpreter. “My father was afraid that his children would suffer just by being his children.”

On Nov. 17, 1989, everything changed. Or almost everything.

That day marked the beginning of a series of mostly peaceful demonstrations known as the “Velvet Revolution,” culminating 11 days later when the Communist Party announced it was ceding power.

A father’s fear

The 29-year-old Vystrcil started out on a new path — a path his father watched with considerable unease.

“I remember writing an article after 1989. My father read it and he came to me and said: ‘Why are you doing this? What will they say now?’”

The younger Vystrcil forged on and rose from a high school teacher to principal to mayor of the city of Telc, where the family had resided for generations. He went on to become governor of the region.

By the time his father died at age 92 in 2017, Vystrcil had been elected as a federal senator; three years later, he became leader of the Senate.

It was in that capacity that he led a delegation to Taipei in 2020, showing his nation’s support for another victim of communist intimidation, and later invited Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu to Prague, prompting fierce Chinese threats of retaliation.

But, Vystrcil said in an interview with The Diplomat during his Washington visit, he personally did not feel added pressure from Beijing upon conclusion of the trip, partly because “the entire democratic world had actually stood up for us and stood up behind our mission to Taiwan once we were threatened by the People’s Republic of China.”

“On the other hand, this certainly does not mean that the Chinese have forgotten or will not do anything,” he added.

In the same interview, he stated that being able to “keep our backs straight” and not yield to pressure is a politician’s inherent duty to help build a “strong and proud nation” capable of withstanding challenges.

Asked by VOA whether his father ever overcame his anxiety as he watched his son’s political ascent, Vystrcil shook his head. “To answer your question, I’m afraid he did not manage to let go of his fear, even to the end of his life, he was not able to do it.”

Vystrcil said his father “was always afraid, because [he would say] ‘the more you go up the ladder, the stronger your enemies are, you’re more visible.’ He would always warn me: ‘Be careful.’” Vystrcil’s eyes grew wet as he recalled his father’s warning, and love. But he did not allow himself to dwell on it.

“Now that we have discussed this here together, that’s probably one of the reasons that convinced me that ‘never again’ — we mustn’t ever let it happen again,” he said of his nation’s period of one-party rule.

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Lithuania Says Sanctions on Goods to Kaliningrad Take Effect

Lithuanian authorities said a ban on the transit through their territory to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad of goods that are subject to EU sanctions was to take effect Saturday.

News of the ban came Friday, through a video posted by the region’s governor Anton Alikhanov.

The EU sanctions list notably includes coal, metals, construction materials and advanced technology, and Alikhanov said the ban would cover around 50% of the items that Kaliningrad imports.

Its immediate start was confirmed by the cargo arm of Lithuania’s state railways service in a letter to clients following “clarification” from the European Commission on the mechanism for applying the sanctions.

Urging citizens not to resort to panic buying, Alikhanov said two vessels were already ferrying goods between Kaliningrad and Saint Petersburg, and seven more would be in service by the end of the year.

“Our ferries will handle all the cargo,” he said Saturday.

A spokesperson for Lithuania’s rail service confirmed the contents of the letter but declined to comment further. The foreign ministry did not reply to a request from Reuters for comment.

Lithuanian Deputy Foreign Minister Mantas Adomenas told public broadcaster his institution was waiting for “clarification from the European Commission on applying European sanctions to Kaliningrad cargo transit.”

Sandwiched between EU and NATO members Poland and Lithuania, Kaliningrad receives supplies from Russia via rail and gas pipelines through Lithuania.

Home to the headquarters of Russia’s Baltic Sea fleet, it was captured from Nazi Germany by the Red Army in April 1945 and ceded to the Soviet Union after World War II.

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Заборона Литви на транзит підсанкційних російських товарів до Калінінградського анклаву почала діяти

До санкційного списку ЄС входять вугілля, метали, будівельні матеріали та високотехнологічні продукти

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Сенат США може розглянути визнання Росії спонсором тероризму наступного тижня – «Слуга народу»

«У випадку підтримки резолюції Сенатом, далі вона надійде до Палати представників»

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Російські війська завдали інфраструктурі України збитків на 104 мільярди доларів – Шмигаль

Про це прем’єр-міністр заявив на британсько-українському інфраструктурному саміті

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German Far-right Elects New Leaders After Co-Chair Quits

The far-right Alternative for Germany on Saturday elected two prominent figures to lead the party for the next two years, after one of its co-chairs quit in January saying it had become too radical.

Delegates voted for Alternative for Germany’s remaining co-chair, Tino Chrupalla, to head the party together with parliamentary caucus leader Alice Weidel.

The vote became necessary after European lawmaker Joerg Meuthen stepped down from the leadership in January, warning that the party risked being driven into “total isolation and ever further toward the political edge” with its current course.

Meuthen was the party’s third leader to quit since Alternative for Germany was founded in 2013. All cited extremist tendencies within the party that have also made it the subject of scrutiny by Germany’s domestic intelligence service.

Initially formed in opposition to the euro currency, the party swung to the right in 2015 to capitalize on resentment against migrants and entered the federal parliament for the first time in 2017. Lately it has vocally opposed almost all pandemic restrictions and western sanctions against Russia over the war in Ukraine.

The party, known by its German acronym AfD, received just over 10% of the vote in last year’s national election.

Delegates at AfD’s congress in the eastern town of Riesa also voted Friday in favor of changing its statutes so that in the future the party can be headed by a single leader. The proposal was championed by Bjoern Hoecke, the party’s leader in Thuringia state, who is considered to be on the extreme right of the party and has espoused revisionist views of Germany’s Nazi past.

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