Mt Desolation Band – Departure [Vimeo Staff Pick]



Departure is Mt. Desolation’s first release from their debut album.

The band’s line-up includes members of Keane, Noah & The Whale, The Killers, The Long Winters, The Staves and Mumford & Sons.

The artists recorded themselves on webcams or personal video cameras and were brought together through the polaroid concept of the video.

Tom Palliser is a London based Director with experience in Music Videos, Live Music and Commercials.

The video was a Vimeo staff pick – thanks Vimeo!


Calling Russia ‘threat to humanity’ puts Obama’s sanity in doubt – PM Medvedev

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, left, gives interview to CNBS in Moscow. Right: journalist Geoff Cutmore.(RIA Novosti / Ekaterina Shtukina)

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, left, gives interview to CNBS in Moscow. Right: journalist Geoff Cutmore.(RIA Novosti / Ekaterina Shtukina)

RT news

Published October 15, 2014

The Russian PM has suggested that Obama’s charges against Russia were caused by a “brain aberration” and added that such rhetoric saddened him.

I am very upset by the fact that President Obama, while speaking from the United Nations’ podium and listing the threats and challenges humanity is currently facing, put Ebola in first place, the Russian Federation second and the Islamic State organization was only in the third place. I don’t even want to comment on this, this is some sort of aberration in the brain,” Dmitry Medvedev said in an interview with CNBC television.

The top Russian official stressed that his country was not isolating itself from the rest of the world, but sought mutually beneficial cooperation with foreign nations. “We want to communicate with all civilized peoples on friendly grounds. Of course, this includes our partners from the United States of America, but for this the situation must be leveled,” Medvedev said.

However, the Russian PM also noted that the Western sanctions have inflicted considerable damage to Russia’s cooperation with the US, and without cancellation of this policy there can be no return to partnership.

Let us be frank, it was not us who invented these sanctions, they were invented by our partners in the international community. As our saying goes, let God be their judge. Without any doubt we can survive these sanctions, I am sure that sometime later the sanctions will evaporate, simply cease to exist. But there is no doubt that they have dealt some damage to our relations.”

Medvedev ruled out the possibility of an immediate reset in relations between Russia and the West, adding that he expected the process to composed of at least two stages.

What sort of reset can be there under such conditions? We must first distance from this all and return to a normal position, at least to the starting position and only then we can start elaborating on the development of relations in the future,” he said.

The Russian PM also stressed that Russia can and will find new partners for routine trade and normal investment projects.

Russians’ approval of President Vladimir Putin hits near all-time high, poll shows

Russia's President Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin (RIA Novosti / Alexey Nikolsky)


RT news

Published time: October 15, 2014 18:30

President Putin’s average approval marks from the Russian public have approached the record level of early 2008, independent research has shown.

The poll conducted in late September by the Levada sociology center shows that the average mark given by Russians to their leader is now 7.33 out of 10. This figure has been higher only once before – a mark of 7.49 reached in January 2008 at the very end of Putin’s first two terms as president.

17 percent of all respondents think Putin deserved the top mark – 10 out of 10 – for his work.

In the same poll, 38 percent of Russians said the head of state was worthy of their trust because his current performance was strong and successful.

At the same time, the overwhelming majority of respondents denied that the president’s popularity was turning into a personality cult. Only 19 percent said they had noticed features resembling a cult, compared to 27 percent a year ago.

The poll results are consistent with a recent tendency for record-breaking ratings for President Putin and other top Russian officials. Researchers explain this by ‘mobilization’ and solidarity of society in the face of foreign hostility, and also by events like the accession of the Crimean Republic into the Russian Federation.

In mid-August, 52 percent of Russians told Levada Center that they were ready to vote for Putin if presidential elections were held on the nearest weekend. January 2014, the share of such people was about 29 percent and that means that Vladimir Putin’s presidential rating has doubled in almost seven months.

Another influential sociological think-tank, the Public Opinion Foundation, conducted similar research in early August. It found that 68 percent of all potential voters were ready to support Putin at presidential elections, compared to 58 percent in March and 46 percent in January.

Putin: Nazi virus ‘vaccine’ losing effect in Europe

The coup d’état in Ukraine is a worrying example of growing neo-Nazi tendencies in Eastern Europe, Russian President Vladimir Putin told a Serbian newspaper. He stressed that “open manifestations” of neo-Nazism is also commonplace in Baltic states.

Below is the full text of the interview.

Politika:You are coming to Belgrade to take part in the celebrations commemorating the 70th anniversary of the city’s liberation from occupation by Nazi Germany. Why, in your view, are such commemoration events important today?

Vladimir Putin:First of all, I would like to thank the Serbian leadership for the invitation to visit Serbia and take part in the celebrations commemorating the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Belgrade from occupation by Nazi Germany.

We are truly grateful to our Serbian friends for the way they treasure the memory of the Soviet soldiers who fought together with the National Liberation Army of Yugoslavia against Hitler’s occupation troops. During World War II, over 31,000 Red Army officers and soldiers were killed, wounded or went missing on the territory of former Yugoslavia. About 6,000 Soviet citizens fought against the invaders in the ranks of the National Liberation Army. Their courage brought closer our common victory over Nazism and will always be remembered by our peoples as an example of bravery, unyielding determination and selfless service to one’s homeland.

It is hard to overestimate the importance of the upcoming events. Seventy years ago, our nations joined forces to defeat the criminal ideology of hatred for humanity, which threatened the very existence of our civilization. And today it is also important that people in different countries and on different continents remember what terrible consequences may result from the belief in one’s exceptionality, attempts to achieve dubious geopolitical goals, no matter by what means, and disregard for basic norms of law and morality. We must do everything in our power to prevent such tragedies in the future.

Regrettably, in some European countries the Nazi virus “vaccine” created at the Nuremberg Tribunal is losing its effect. This is clearly demonstrated by open manifestations of neo-Nazism that have already become commonplace in Latvia and other Baltic states. The situation in Ukraine, where nationalists and other radical groups provoked an anti-constitutional coup d’état in February, causes particular concern in this respect.

Members of the Ukrainian far-right radical group Right Sector (Reuters / Valentyn Ogirenko)

Members of the Ukrainian far-right radical group Right Sector (Reuters / Valentyn Ogirenko)

Today, it is our shared duty to combat the glorification of Nazism. We must firmly oppose the attempts to revise the results of WWII and consistently combat any forms and manifestations of racism, xenophobia, aggressive nationalism and chauvinism.

I am sure that the anniversary celebrations in Belgrade, which are to become another manifestation of the sincere friendship between our nations based on the feelings of mutual affinity and respect, on spiritual kinship, on brotherhood in arms in the years of WWII, will also contribute to addressing these challenges. We hope that the preservation of historical memory will continue to help us strengthen peace, stability and welfare of the common European space together.

Politika:How do you see the Russian-Serbian relations today? What has been achieved during the past twenty years and what future trends in the interaction between the two countries do you foresee?

Vladimir Putin: Serbia has always been and still is one of Russia’s key partners in southeast Europe. Our nations are united by centuries-long traditions of friendship and fruitful cooperation. Their development is fostered by common interests in such spheres as politics, the economy, culture and many others.

Today, the Russian-Serbian relations are on the rise. In 2013, President of Serbia Tomislav Nikolic and I signed the Interstate Declaration on Strategic Partnership reaffirming our shared intention to promote large-scale collaboration in all key areas.

We have maintained active political contacts to discuss relevant bilateral and international issues in the spirit of confidence and agree on joint practical steps. Our governments cooperate closely within the United Nations, OSCE, the Council of Europe and many other organizations.

We are satisfied with the consistent progress in our economic relations bolstered by the existing free trade regime between our countries. In 2013, our mutual trade grew by 15 percent amounting to $1.97 billion, and, in the first six months of 2014, it increased by another 16.5 percent to $1.2 billion. We expect it to reach $2 billion by the end of this year.

A positive trend continues in the field of investment as well. The total amount of Russian investments in Serbia has exceeded $3 billion. Most of these funds have been invested in the strategically important energy industry. One example of successful cooperation is the energy giant Petroleum Industry of Serbia, which has turned from a loss-making enterprise into a major contributor to the Serbian state budget. The South Stream project will provide Serbia with more than 2 billion euros in new investments and significantly strengthen the country’s energy security.

Serbia’s rail infrastructure is being rebuilt and upgraded with the participation of the Russian Railways and our support in the form of loans.

I am pleased to see Serbian businesses play an active part in the promising Russian market. For example, they supply high-quality agricultural and industrial products.

I would like to note another important area of our bilateral cooperation. In recent years, the Russian-Serbian Humanitarian Centre in Nis has taken part in disaster response operations in the Balkans on several occasions. Last May, Russian rescuers helped to evacuate people during a severe flood. The Russian Emergencies Ministry aircraft made several flights to deliver more than 140 tonnes in humanitarian aid to Serbia.

The growing mutual interest of Russian and Serbian people in our countries’ history and culture is also evidence of deepening humanitarian relations. This autumn, Serbia is hosting Days of Russian Spiritual Culture with great success. The central event is the exhibition titled Russia and Serbia. History of Spiritual Connections, 14th-19th Century. We plan to expand cultural, educational, scientific and youth exchanges, and to promote tourism and sports events.

I am confident that my upcoming visit to Belgrade will give a new boost to the traditionally friendly Russian-Serbian relations, which will continue to grow and strengthen from year to year.

Politika:There is currently a great deal of speculation regarding the possible reduction in the supplies of Russian gas to Europe because of Ukraine’s debt. Should European consumers get ready for a cold winter? What about the future of the South Stream project, which is of great interest to Serbia?

Vladimir Putin: First of all, I would like to stress that Russia is meeting its obligations in full with regard to gas supplies to European consumers. We intend to further deepen our cooperation with the EU in the energy sector, where we are natural partners, on a transparent and predictable basis.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) shakes hands with his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko in Minsk August 26, 2014 (Reuters / Sergey Bondarenko)

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) shakes hands with his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko in Minsk August 26, 2014 (Reuters / Sergey Bondarenko)

Since the beginning of the 21st century, we have successfully implemented a number of major projects together with our European partners. This includes the Nord Stream, whish is an important factor in minimising transit risks and ensuring uninterrupted gas supplies to Europe. Over the recent months, Gazprom has been actively increasing gas reserves in European underground gas storage facilities. These measures are aimed to prevent transit disruptions and meet the peak demand in winter.

Naturally, we are aware of the risks generated by the Ukrainian crisis. We were forced to interrupt gas supplies to Ukraine last June because the Kiev authorities refused to pay for the gas supplies they had already received. In late summer and early autumn, we held a series of consultations in a three-party format with the participation of Russia, the EU and Ukraine, where we discussed possible mutually acceptable solutions to the problem of the Ukrainian gas debt settlement, resumption of gas supplies to Ukraine, which had been stopped by the Ukrainian side itself, and continuous hydrocarbon transit to Europe. We are ready to continue constructive talks on these issues.

As for the future of Russian gas exports to Europe, the problem of transit across the Ukrainian territory remains. One of the more obvious solutions might be to diversify the delivery routes. In this regard, we hope that the European Commission will finally make a decision in the nearest future about the use of the OPAL gas pipeline at full capacity.

In addition, we need to resolve the deadlock concerning the South Stream. We are convinced that this project will significantly contribute to integrated energy security in Europe. It will benefit everybody, Russia as well as the European consumers, including Serbia.

South Stream gas pipeline (RIA Novosti / Ramil Sitdikov)

South Stream gas pipeline (RIA Novosti / Ramil Sitdikov)

Politika:In your opinion, what is the ultimate objective of the sanctions against Russia, imposed by the EU and the United States? How long will they last, in your view, and how much harm can they do to Russia?

Vladimir Putin: This question should be addressed to the EU and the United States, whose reasoning is hard to understand. Any unbiased person knows that it was not Russia who staged the coup d’état in Ukraine, which led to the grave internal political crisis and a split in society. An unconstitutional seizure of power was the starting point for the subsequent events, including the ones in Crimea. The people of Crimea, seeing the complexity and unpredictability of the situation and in order to protect their rights to their native language, culture and history, decided to hold a referendum in full compliance with the UN Charter, as a result of which the peninsula re-joined Russia.

Our partners should be well aware that attempts to put pressure on Russia with unilateral and illegitimate restrictive measures will not bring about a settlement, but rather impede the dialogue. How can we talk about de-escalation in Ukraine while the decisions on new sanctions are introduced almost simultaneously with the agreements on the peace process? If the main goal is to isolate our country, it’s an absurd and illusory goal. It is obviously impossible to achieve it but the economic health of Europe and the world can be seriously undermined.

With regard to the duration of the restriction measures, it also depends on the United States and the European Union. For our part, we will adopt a balanced approach to assessing the risks and impact of the sanctions and respond to them proceeding from our national interests. It is obvious that the decline in mutual confidence is bound to have a negative impact on both the international business climate in general and on the operation of European and American companies in Russia, bearing in mind that such companies will find it difficult to recover from reputational damage. In addition, it will make other countries think carefully whether it is wise to invest their funds in the American banking system and increase their dependence on economic cooperation with the United States.

Politika:What do you think the future holds for Russian-Ukrainian relations? Will the United States and Russia re-establish a strategic partnership after all that has happened, or will they build their relations in a different way?

Vladimir Putin: As for Russia, its relations with Ukraine have always played and will continue to play a very important role. Our nations are inextricably linked by common spiritual, cultural and civilisational roots. We were part of a single state for centuries, and that huge historical experience and millions of intertwined fates cannot be dismissed or forgotten.

Despite the current difficult stage in Russian-Ukrainian relations, we are interested in progressive, equitable and mutually beneficial cooperation with our Ukrainian partners. In practice, this will become possible after sustainable peace and stability are achieved in Ukraine. Therefore, we hope to see an end to the protracted deep political and economic crisis.

Today, there is a real opportunity to end the armed confrontation, which actually amounts to a civil war. The first steps in this direction have already been made. It is vital to start a real intra-Ukrainian dialogue as soon as possible involving representatives from all the regions and political forces. This approach was documented in the Geneva Statement of April 17. Such a nationwide dialogue must focus on Ukraine’s constitutional structure and the future of the country, where all the citizens with no exception will live comfortably and in safety.

As for the Russian-US ties, our aim has always been to build open partnership relations with the United States. In return, however, we have seen various reservations and attempts to interfere in our domestic affairs.

Everything that has happened since the beginning of this year is even more disturbing. Washington actively supported the Maidan protests, and when its Kiev henchmen antagonised a large part of Ukraine through rabid nationalism and plunged the country into a civil war, it blamed Russia for provoking the crisis.

Now President Barack Obama in his speech at the UN General Assembly named the “Russian aggression in Europe” as one of the three major threats facing humanity today alongside with the deadly Ebola virus and the Islamic State. Together with the sanctions against entire sectors of our economy, this approach can be called nothing but hostile.

US President Barack Obama (AFP Photo/Timothy A. Clary)

US President Barack Obama (AFP Photo/Timothy A. Clary)

The United States went so far as to declare the suspension of our cooperation in space exploration and nuclear energy. They also suspended the activity of the Russia-US Bilateral Presidential Commission established in 2009, which comprised 21 working groups dedicated, among other things, to combating terrorism and drug trafficking.

At the same time, this is not the first downturn in relations between our countries. We hope that our partners will realise the futility of attempts to blackmail Russia and remember what consequences discord between major nuclear powers could bring for strategic stability. For our part, we are ready to develop constructive cooperation based on the principles of equality and genuine respect for each other’s interests.


President Vladimir Putin: Russia’s isolation is ‘absurd and illusory goal’

Russian President Vladimir Putin (RIA Novosti / Alexey Druzhinin)

Russian President Vladimir Putin (RIA Novosti / Alexey Druzhinin)

RT news

Published time: October 15, 2014 19:03

Trying to isolate Russia with sanctions and restrictive measures is “an absurd and illusory goal,” Russia’s president has said. Moscow intends to “further deepen” cooperation with EU partners, Vladimir Putin told the Serbian newspaper, Politika.

“If the main goal is to isolate our country, it’s an absurd and illusory goal. It is obviously impossible to achieve it and the economic health of Europe and the world can be seriously undermined,” Russia’s president said.

“Attempts to put pressure on Russia with unilateral and illegitimate restrictive measures” is not going to help reach an agreement, but will “rather impede the dialogue,” Putin said particularly referring to the nearly year-long Ukrainian conflict that the international community blames on Russia.

“Washington actively supported the Maidan protests, and when its Kiev henchmen antagonized a large part of Ukraine through rabid nationalism and plunged the country into a civil war, it blamed Russia for provoking the crisis,” Putin said.“Any unbiased person knows that it was not Russia who staged the coup d’état in Ukraine, which led to the grave internal political crisis and a split in society.”

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland (R) and U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt (2nd R) distribute bread to riot police near Independence square in Kiev December 11, 2013 (Reuters / Andrew Kravchenko)

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland (R) and U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt (2nd R) distribute bread to riot police near Independence square in Kiev December 11, 2013 (Reuters / Andrew Kravchenko)

Speaking of sanctions, Putin reiterated that Russia will “adopt a balanced approach to assessing the risks and impact” of sanctions imposed by the EU and the US and will “respond to them proceeding from our national interests.”

Certainly, he added, the current situation and “decline in mutual confidence” will have a negative impact on European and American companies operating in Russia as well as on the international business climate in general.

At the same time, Russia is ready to develop relations with its EU partners and “constructive cooperation” with the US.

As for the EU, Russia intends to settle a dispute with Ukraine over gas supplies to European partners, which receive about 15 percent of their energy via Ukraine. In June, Russia’s gas giant Gazprom shut off supplies to Ukraine, but continued deliveries to European neighbors. If there is no agreement reached between Russia and Ukraine, Europe will face serious energy shortages.

“I would like to stress that Russia is meeting its obligations in full with regard to gas supplies to European consumers,” Putin said. “We intend to further deepen our cooperation with the EU in the energy sector, where we are natural partners, on a transparent and predictable basis.”

Putin agreed that “the problem of transit” of Russia’s gas to Europe across Ukrainian territory “remains.”

One of the “obvious solutions,” the Russian president said, “might be to diversify the delivery routes.”

“In this regard, we hope that the European Commission will finally make a decision in the nearest future about the use of the OPAL gas pipeline at full capacity,” he said.

OPAL (Ostsee Pipeline Anbindungs-Leitung) is a 470-kilometre transit pipeline, which links Russia’s Nord Stream and Europe bypassing transit countries as it runs Russian natural gas across Germany to the Czech Republic and further.

OPAL (Ostsee Pipeline Anbindungs-Leitung) (Image from

OPAL (Ostsee Pipeline Anbindungs-Leitung) (Image from

Gazprom has asked the European Commission to exclude OPAL from the Third Energy Package, which doesn’t allow one single company to both produce and transport oil and gas.

Unblocking the South Stream pipeline will also “significantly contribute to integrated energy security in Europe.”

“It will benefit everybody, Russia as well as European consumers, including Serbia,” Putin said.

President Putin was also asked about relations between Russia and the US. In his response Putin stressed that Russia always aimed for “open partnership relations with the United States.”

“In return, however, we have seen various reservations and attempts to interfere in our domestic affairs,” Putin said.

“Everything that has happened since the beginning of this year is even more disturbing.”

Current bilateral relations between the two states the president described as “nothing but hostile.”

“Now, President Barack Obama in his speech at the UN General Assembly named the ‘Russian aggression in Europe’ as one of the three major threats facing humanity today, alongside the deadly Ebola virus and the Islamic State. Together with the sanctions against entire sectors of our economy, this approach can be called nothing but hostile,” Putin said.

U.S. President Barack Obama (C) speaks while chairing a meeting of the U.N. Security Council at the 69th United Nations General Assembly in New York, September 24, 2014 (Reuters / Brendan McDermid)

U.S. President Barack Obama (C) speaks while chairing a meeting of the U.N. Security Council at the 69th United Nations General Assembly in New York, September 24, 2014 (Reuters / Brendan McDermid)

At the same time, President Putin noted that “this is not the first downturn in relations between our countries.”

“We hope that our partners will realize the futility of attempts to blackmail Russia and remember what consequences discord between major nuclear powers could bring for strategic stability,” he said.

For its part, Russia is ready to cooperate “based on the principles of equality and genuine respect for each other’s interests.”


Italy loses billions in economic standoff with Russia, opposition leader says

Reuters/Tobias Schwarz

Reuters/Tobias Schwarz


RT News

Published time: October 13, 2014 19:53

The EU sanctions imposed on Russia have already cost Italy alone two billion euro due to Moscow’s retaliatory food embargo, the leader of Italian opposition party Matteo Salvini says.

Western sanctions on Russia are a “great foolishness” and the EU agricultural sector has already lost five billion euro, said European Parliament deputy and the leader of the Northern League opposition party Matteo Salvini.

He added that Brussels is only ready to provide 200 million in compensation.

Farmers from many EU states have complained they are bearing the brunt of Russia’s food embargo, having lost access to Russia’s $16 billion food market – about 10 percent of total exports, according to Eurostat.

Italy has been the most outspoken about the consequences of Russia’s ban on certain European food imports, with the country’s Veneto region claiming last week they would take all the necessary steps to protest EU sanctions against Russia. Veneto ranks the second among Italy’s regions in agricultural production, accounting for 160,000 agricultural firms with a total turnover of six billion euro per year.

Matteo Salvini has previously opposed the sanctions against Russia, saying that if Italy dropped the sanctions, the country could return to its previously privileged relationship with Russia.

“I want to be optimistic. I believe some European governments will take the right side and prevent new sanctions,” the politician said.

The opposition leader is now visiting Crimea to discuss the prospect of Russian-Italian economic, cultural and tourism co-operation.

“If an Italian television viewer arrived here, he would be surprised to see no tanks and no armed soldiers,” he told the reporters before meeting Crimea’s leaders.

Who is hit hardest by Russia’s trade ban?

Germany and Poland will lose the most trade with Russia, and neighboring Finland and Baltic states Lithuania and Latvia will lose a bigger proportion of their GDP. Norway will see fish sales to Russia disappear, and US damages would be very limited.

Russia has banned imports of fruit, vegetables, meat, fish and dairy products from the 28 countries of the EU, the US, Canada, Norway, and Australia for one year.

EU trade is heavily dependent on Russian food imports. Last year Russia bought $16 billion worth of food from the bloc, or about 10 percent of total exports, according to Eurostat.

In terms of losses, Germany, Poland and the Netherlands- the top three EU food suppliers to Russia in 2013 – will be hit hardest. Food for Russia makes up around 3.3 percent of total German exports.

French Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll said his government is already working together with Germany and Poland to reach a coordinated policy on the new Russian sanction regime.

Last year, Ireland exported €4.5 million worth of cheese to Russia, and not being able to do so this year is a big worry, Simon Coveney, the country’s agriculture minister, said.

Farmers across Europe could face big losses if they aren’t able to find alternative markets for their goods, especially fruit and vegetables.

Some are already demanding their governments provide compensation for lost revenue.

“If there isn’t a sufficient market, prices will go down, and we don’t know if we can cover the costs of production, because it is so expensive,” Jose Emilio Bofi, an orange farmer in Spain, told RT.

EU farmers complain €125mn compensation is just drop in the ocean.

The €125 million in emergency EU support to its food producers may not be enough to cover the damage, as some estimates have it more than a hundred times higher.

On Monday, the European Commission announced €125 million in emergency funding for European farmers hit by the Russian trade ban

Economists at ING estimate the embargo could cost the European Union €6.7 billion ($9 billion) during a year of lost production. The report also sees 130,000 jobs at risk in the trade row between Russia and the West over Ukraine.

The European statistics office, Eurostat, said the ban – which bars meat, dairy, cheese, fruit and vegetables from all 28 EU member states, affects €12 billion ($16 billion) worth of EU exports, or 10 percent of the total.

Hit hardest will be Poland and Norway, both of which export over $1 billion in sanctioned foods to Russia, followed by the Netherlands and Spain, both which have strong trade ties with Russia.

Spain already estimates it will miss out on €337 million in food and agriculture sales due to blocked access to the Russian market. The value of sanctioned food exports to Russia is $792 million, according to Russian Federal Customs data.

In Zaragoza, Spain, fruit growers took to the streets dumping out excess produce and torched an EU flag.

“This price compensation is not enough. Let’s say 20 jobs in our company will be lost. Our salaries will also be affected- then, we will just disappear,” a Spanish fruit farmer told RT.

Exporters may have to further slash prices, which have already fallen 80 percent in the fruit industry, or even throw away perfectly fresh produce that can’t be sent to Russia.

In Greece, farmers feel sanctions are putting their livelihood at stake- being shut out of the Russian market is bad for business. Producers estimate losses over fruit alone will exceed €178 million in the next 12 months.

READ MORE: Russian food ban takes huge bite out of Greek fruit growing industry

“Right now we have no other market to send out produce to, other than the Russian one,” Fotis Kyriazis, President of the Irmini Agricultural Cooperative, told RT.

“I don’t think anyone will compensate us for our losses. Neither Greece nor the EU has the money to compensate us,” Kyriazis said.

The worst-hit countries have already tried to bypass the restrictions by sending goods via Belarus, but were stopped by Russia’s consumer watchdog.

Poland, which before the ban exported 50 percent of its apples to Russia, is feeling the sanctions biting back and is hoping to launch a complaint with the European Commission and World Trade Organization.

“The ban has caused horror among Polish producers of fruits and vegetables. We have to tighten our belts and get production costs back at the very least,” Jacek Izyucki, Trade Branch President of the Agrostar Company in Poland, told RT.

“Obviously some unintelligent political decisions were made and brought harm for all,” Izyucki said.


Key food suppliers to Russia

Country Exports to Russia, 2013
(in billion $)
Belarus 2.74
Brazil 2.41
Ukraine 1.99
Germany 1.83
Turkey 1.68
China 1.61
Poland 1.55
USA 1.54
Netherlands 1.42
France 1.42
Italy 1.34
Spain 1.26
Other EU countries 4.88

Source: Data from the International Trade Centre analysed by Reuters

The largest opposition party in Greece is urging its government drop sanctions against Russia, even if the move isn’t supported by other EU states.

In 2013, Denmark supplied Russia with $628 million worth of products which are now banned.

European Agriculture commissioners will set up a task force to address Russia’s sanctions, on Monday.

Border States

Lithuania and Finland, which both share a border with Russia, could be hit hard by the new restrictions.

Now a member of the EU and NATO, Lithuania is still closely linked economically with Russia. Banned exports account for 2.5 percent of the country’s GDP, according to an estimate by Capital Economics.

Vegetable and foodstuffs are among Lithuania’s top five exports.

Finland’s dairy industry stands to lose up to $535 million (€400 million) in the trade spat. The country depends on Russia for 14 percent of its trade.

Both Finland and Lithuania have already contacted Brussels with complaints.

Scandinavian neighbor Norway, a large exporter of fish and seafood to Russia, will lose out to domestic fish companies, which have seen their share prices soar after the introduction of the trade restrictions.

America not bothered

For the US the effect will be very limited, as agricultural exports to Russia are about one tenth of one percent of total US gross domestic product of about $144 billion, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

US food exports to Russia in 2013 amounted to less than 1 percent of the country’s total agricultural exports, the US Department of Agriculture said to RIA Novosti. Conversely, Russian exports to the US and European markets are 13 percent of its GDP. In 2013, the US exported $1.3 billion of food goods to Russia, about a quarter of which were poultry products.

So far the US, EU, Canada, Australia, and Norway haven’t responded to Russia’s retaliatory measures.

What’s in the ban for Russia?

The immediate trade restrictions will create a $9.5 billion gap in Russia’s food market that needs to be filled. Russia is in talks with Latin American countries on how to fill this hole with meat from Brazil and cheese from New Zealand.

Russia is also holding talks with Custom Union members Kazakhstan and Belarus, which it will ask to prevent any transit of Western goods into Russia.

Promising to develop its own industries and protect the economy, Russia will support the new measures at home, and has already allotted $50 billion to farmers.

However, some analysts fear it won’t be enough, and that food prices will rise, further worsening Russia’s inflation problem. Higher inflation will not only hurt those buying groceries, but also Russia’s export sectors- oil, gas, metals, and mining.

Restaurants will have to adapt, as they source nearly 50 percent of their produce from abroad, according to OAO Rosinter Restaurants Holding, which operates 370 restaurants in Moscow, Bloomberg News reported.



EU risks €40bn hemorrhage from Russia sanctions in 2014 – Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.(AFP Photo / Kirill Kudryavtsev)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.(AFP Photo / Kirill Kudryavtsev)

RT news

Economies across the European Union will lose about €40 billion this year, with the damage estimated to widen to €50 billion in 2015, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, citing figures from the EU itself.

There are so far no exact figures for the damage incurred, but the European Union has made some preliminary estimates and said the damage could be as high as €40 billion this year, Sergey Lavrov said.

The Foreign Minister was addressing a group of business leaders at the Association of European Businesses (AEB), a Moscow-based lobby group that represents the interests of more than 600 European companies in Russia.

Lavrov called forsanctions against Russia that target state-owned companies as well as individuals, to be lifted. Then Russia would cancel the country’s one-year food ban against the EU, a penalty which could cost the EU $6.6 billion in exports.

“Decisions in Brussels, in particular, to impose sanctions against Russia, were made under strong American pressure,” Lavrov said.

Russia announced the food ban in August, but only after the West had introduced several rounds of sanctions over the country’s perceived role in the Ukraine crisis.

According to Lavrov, sanctions are a “one-way tool” and that Russia never wanted to join the tit-for-tat political game – but was forced to.
Trade, South Stream

Despite the diplomatic standoff, Russia is still interested in deepening integration, and creating a free trade zone with the EU. Trade between Russia and the EU is $440 billion and thousands of companies do regular day-to-day business in Russia.

In September, the AEB penned a letter to the EU and Russian governments asking to keep business relations between the two groups functional.

Lavrov hopes that the EU will drop their political rhetoric and focus on business.

One of the main points of cooperation Lavrov hopes will remain intact is the South Stream gas pipeline project that will deliver gas to south and central Europe without crossing through Ukraine, which has proved an unreliable transit partner.

The pipeline will deliver about 64 billion cubic meters to Europe, Russia’s biggest gas client.

“This project will minimize the risks to supplies of Russian gas for EU consumers, which is fully consistent with Brussels’ goal to ensure energy security in Europe,” Lavrov said.

Since the Ukraine crisis began to unfold and splinter relations between Brussels and Moscow, the project has faced many roadblocks, from countries being forced to halt construction, to the EU raising questions on whether it violates anti-monopoly laws.

Nine Days in the Caliphate: A Yazidi Woman’s Ordeal as an Islamic State Captive – Spiegel International

Christian Werner/ DER SPIEGEL

Christian Werner/ DER SPIEGEL

By Ralf Hoppe

When Islamic State fighters conquered the border region between Iraq and Syria, the Yazidi village of Kocho also fell into their hands. Twenty-year-old Nadia was among dozens of young women who were abducted and abused. This is the story of her ordeal.

During the ninth night of her captivity, Nadia seized an unexpected opportunity to flee.

Back on the first day, the men who kidnapped Nadia and the other young women as hostages and sex slaves had away taken their shoes. Escaping barefoot was out of the question. As the women could see from the windows, the surrounding terrain was rough and rocky, and they would end up with bleeding cuts and gashes all over their feet.

The house in which they were held captive had many rooms and the young women were frequently moved from one to another. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason for the frequent moves; they were apparently dependent on the whims of their captors. But in one room stood a wardrobe, inside of which Nadia found a pair of pink tennis shoes under some rags. Though they were a few sizes too small for her, they might just do.

Six men — her captors, rapists and tormentors — stood guard from day one. But on the ninth night, Nadia noticed that four of the men were apparently absent, perhaps sleeping elsewhere. Whatever the case, only two of the Islamic State fighters were sitting in the kitchen that night — and they were distracted. It looked as though they were arguing.

The men had shut up Nadia alone that night and she didn’t know where the other young women were. The lock on her door was defective and she was able to open it. She pulled out the tennis shoes that she had kept hidden, crammed her feet into them, slipped out of the room and was able to push open a terrace door. She scurried out of the house and rushed through the garden, filled with rustling dry bushes and trees. She was afraid that a dog would start barking, but she was lucky.

She came to a wall, a high wall, so it seemed — reaching beyond her outstretched arms. “Now I had to climb over the wall,” she says, “and I didn’t have much time.”

Waking Up in Tears

Nadia Murad-Pesse, 20, was born and raised in the Kurdish region of Syria by her mother Shama and father Murad. Her hometown of Kocho, which once boasted a population of 1,700, lies near the Sinjar Mountains not far from the border between Iraq and Syria.

Some households in the village, including hers, had a TV and Nadia’s favorite broadcasts were music shows and horror movies, as long as the good guys won in the end. She even saw a World Cup soccer match, Germany versus Brazil, but ultimately felt sorry for the Brazilians and couldn’t understand why her brothers made fun of the losing team.

Nadia has shoulder-length, dark brown hair with a touch of henna. Her shoulders are narrow, her voice is hoarse. She has scars on her forearm. She wrings her hands as she speaks and the words sometimes come haltingly, then pour out almost as a scream. It has been one and a half months since she escaped, but she still wakes up in tears at night, according to the relatives who have taken her in. Their home is located not far from the Iraqi Kurdish city of Dohuk, on the safe side of the front.

During the interview, in which Nadia talks about her nine-day ordeal, she is repeatedly shaken by crying fits, but she no longer wishes to remain silent. She is determined to tell her story, a detailed eyewitness account of how she was held hostage.

This past summer, Kurdish fighters in the border region of northern Syria and northern Iraq retreated before the rapid advance of IS troops. The fighters of the “caliphate,” superbly armed and well-organized, seized control of large areas. More than 1.8 million people have fled the region, according to a United Nations report. From January to the end of September 17,386 civilians were wounded and 9,347 killed. In addition, Kurdish military officials estimate that thousands of young women were abducted.

Amid all this turmoil, Nadia’s town was suddenly left unprotected.

On the night she snuck out of the house of her captors, Nadia found a protrusion along the garden wall and managed to clamber to the top. She was lucky in other ways, too: there was no barbed wire and no embedded shards of glass. It was pitch black on the other side of the wall. Far in the distance, she recalls, she could make out the dim, yellowish lights of a city. She was afraid to jump.

But she did so anyway.

Nadia landed safely and started running, quietly, but as quickly as she could. “Don’t even think of running away!” the men had warned her. They claimed she would be recaptured within an hour, saying they had announced a reward for $5,000 (€3,950) for fugitives. The punishment for attempted escape, the men added, was death.

Nadia had a happy childhood growing up in her small town. Her father died 11 years ago, but he left the family a spacious rambler, with four large bedrooms, in which the children grew up: Nadia, her 12 brothers and two sisters. Nine of her brothers, both her sisters, and her mother are listed as missing. Nadia shows a picture of her mother on her mobile.

Nadia liked school and she was a model student, as she somewhat bashfully admits, finishing among the top two of her graduating class. History was her favorite subject. She dreamed of going to college someday, perhaps even becoming a teacher and buying an apartment of her own, with shelves filled with books.

Her family was not rich, but they were able to make ends meet. They had around 50 sheep, two dozen chickens and a few goats. Nadia’s older brothers worked as day laborers while her mother sold milk, yogurt, eggs and cheese. Sometimes even Muslims from the neighboring towns came to make purchases. They got along fine with the Christians, but her mother always warned her about the Muslims: “Never trust them!”

Fair Game

Nadia has had three tattoos since childhood, each consisting of just one dot. She has one violet pinpricks on the backs of each hand and a dab of violet on the tip of the chin. They function as a kind of protection to ward off evil at key places on the body: on the hands, which are used to touch things, and near the mouth, so it can tell no lies.

Nadia and her family are Yezidis, a monotheistic religion that most likely dates back to the Middle Ages and is steeped in mysticism. An estimated 400,000 Yezidis, making up approximately 5 percent of the Kurdish population, live in northern Iraq and Syria. Islamic State fighters see the Yezidis as idol and devil worshipers — in other words, as scum, as they never tire of telling their prisoners. And, as far as they are concerned, Yezidi women are fair game.

Islamic State fighters came to Nadia’s town several times, always at intervals of one or two days. They were at pains to demonstrate their military strength, roaring into town and announcing that they were the new lords of the land. The men wore mirrored sunglasses, kept their faces masked with black scarves, and carried pistols and daggers in their belts, recalls Nadia. At first, they led the townspeople to believe that they were safe, as long as they handed over their weapons, mostly old hunting rifles and kitchen knives. They told the men of Kocho that disarmament was the price to pay they had to pay to avoid being killed by Islamic State fighters.

After the weapons were collected and piled up on the back of a pickup truck, the jihadists herded the residents into the school. They separated the men from the women and took away the men in small groups. The women heard shots all afternoon and were paralyzed with fear, says Nadia. Then the older women were separated from the younger ones. At the last moment, her mother slipped a gold ring from her finger and gave it to Nadia: “In case you need it,” she whispered. This is Nadia’s last memory of her mother.

Islamic State fighters used SUVs and minibuses to drive a total of 64 young women, including Nadia, to Mosul, the city that IS had captured in mid-June. During the nine days in which Nadia was a prisoner of the “caliphate,” they stayed in five different places, and with every move they took the young women along with them.

‘We Remained Steadfast’

The first house, Nadia recalls, belonged to a judge named Ghasi Hussein, who had fled the area, one of their captors told the young women. But in the future, as the man said, it will belong to them, in honor of Allah. Photos of the judge and his wife still hung on the walls, and he had had teacups printed with their likeness. The men and their prisoners stayed there for three days before they moved to a second, a third, a fourth and a fifth house.

Nine days can be longer than an entire lifetime, says Nadia, but she can remember every second of those nine days.

Sometimes they were given nothing to eat, other times just a putrid egg for six young women. For two long days, they received no water. It was extremely hot and their captors had given them a single glass of tea. They passed around the glass — two tiny sips for each woman. If you convert to Islam, the men said, you’ll be given as much fresh water as you want.

“We remained steadfast,” says Nadia.

On another occasion, they were deprived of drinking water once again, only this time their captors put down a bucket of used bathwater. It tasted like soap and reeked of urine, but they had nothing else.

Their captors beat them, sometimes several times in a single day, for no apparent reason. There was a man with a beard who used an electric cable, while two others preferred wooden switches. Sometimes they were also punched and kicked, and they were repeatedly sexually abused.

Nadia doesn’t give a literal account of these rapes. It is virtually impossible for her to talk about them, and it contravenes the conventions of her culture. She merely says: “We were taken individually to another room, to one of the men.” Then she lowers her head, in silence, awash with shame.

“What else could we do?” she says after a while, now speaking very quietly. She says the men were merciless. Some women threw themselves at their tormentors’ feet, kissed their knees and hands, and — eyes filled with tears — pleaded for mercy. It was no use. The men remained unmoved. It only entertained them.

Access to Money and Women

They also debated whether they could attack one of the men and kill him, she says. “But they always came in groups of three or four. And they were always armed. At one point we broke a window pane, and each of us women hid a shard of glass up our sleeves, so we could kill ourselves if we couldn’t take it anymore.”

There was a constant coming and going, with new men arriving all the time, carrying weapons and clad in black or khaki fantasy uniforms, and then the fighters would withdraw for long discussions. There is speculation that Islamic State members take drugs and fight under their influence, but Nadia observed nothing of the sort. Sometimes one of the men would smell like cigarette smoke, she says.

One of them tore her mother’s gold ring from her finger and slipped it onto his own hand. Nadia swore: I will find this man one day, and I will cut off his finger, and I will take back my ring.

This man was probably a local, says Nadia, who notes that he spoke no Arabic, but rather the Kurdish dialect that is commonly used in her region. She says that there were two groups of IS fighters: men who appeared to be highly devout, who were leaders of a sort, and who spoke Arabic — and men who spoke a mixture of Arabic and Kurdish, whose devotion seemed rather feigned, and whose accent divulged that they came from the border region. These were apparently fighters who had joined the presumed victors to gain access to money and women.

After she jumped over the wall, Nadia ran toward the lights and managed to reach downtown Mosul, once a burgeoning metropolis of almost 2 million people, and the second largest city in Iraq after Baghdad. But as she walked through the streets, Mosul seemed empty and deserted.

From time to time, she ducked into building entrances and behind bushes, to keep an eye out for possible pursuers. Although she knew she was in Mosul, she was unfamiliar with the city. Finally she came to a residential area and, suffering from severe exhaustion, picked a door at random.

After she knocked persistently, a sleepy-eyed man opened the door and shined his mobile phone light in her face. Nadia cried as she told him who she was and what had happened to her. The man pulled Nadia into the house and fetched his wife. The two of them hid Nadia behind a pile of odds and ends in a room, gave her a mattress, a blanket and water. Nadia took off her shoes and discovered that her toes were bleeding.

Nadia may one day write a testimony of what she has endured. She has heard of the International Criminal Court in The Hague. An uncle has told her that the judges there seek the truth, even after decades, and could eventually find the guilty parties and punish them. When the time comes, she intends to testify, even if it takes years. She won’t forget anything.

Translated from the German by Paul Cohen