Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Putin critic gets 25 years evoking Gulags and useful idiots

Russian opposition figure Vladimir Kara-Murza, who was accused of treason and spreading "false" information about the Russian army, stands inside a defendant's cage during his sentencing at the Moscow City Court on April 17, 2023. Handout/Moscow City Court Press Service

The Russian Putic critic Vladimir Kara-Murza (41) has been sentenced to 25 years in jail in Russia for charges linked to his criticism of the war in Ukraine. He was found guilty of treason, spreading "false" information about the Russian army and being affiliated with an "undesirable organisation."

The "outrageously harsh court decision clearly demonstrates yet again the political misuse of the judiciary in order to pressure activists, human rights defenders and any voices opposing Russia's illegitimate war of aggression against Ukraine," the EU's top diplomat Josep Borrell said in a statement.

Putin's Federal Security Service, or FSB (the successor to Putin's KGB), tried to kill Kara-Murza by poisoning in 2015 and 2017.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny (46) was poisoned with novichok by FSB agents in August 2020. Bellingcat, the investigations group, identified the team that was authorised by Putin to kill Navalny.

After treatment in Germany, Navalny returned to Russia and is now serving 11-1/2 years in the IK-6 penal colony, and may also face another charge with a sentence of 5 years.

Navalny is allowed only four visits by relatives per year instead of the usual six visits and there can be no communication with other prisoners. His lawyers believe that he is being slowly poisoned. “Our theory is that they are gradually killing him, using slow-acting poison which is applied through food."

Today April 26, 2023, Alexei Navalny (46), the jailed critic of the Russian dictator who is 70, has said he is being investigated on terrorism charges that could see him sentenced to 30 years in prison. Putin couldn't kill him by poisoning and now he wants to have Navalny in jail indefinitely.

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Success of Irish economy masks the extent of underlying weakness

The International Energy Agency was set up in the wake of the 1973-1974 oil crisis to help industrialised countries to respond to major oil shocks — this year the head has warned that the “energy battle” between Europe and Russia is not over, despite a sharp drop in wholesale gas prices that has eased concerns over high bills and blackouts. Fatih Birol said Europe’s efforts to replace Russian gas supplies this winter had been a “big success” but cautioned there were lingering fears over next winter. IEA

Indigenous Irish exports were 4.7% of total merchandise and services exports in 2021, dominated by FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) firms.

In 2021, the highest price level for consumer goods and services among the EU member states was observed in Ireland (44 % above the EU average) and the lowest in Romania (45 % below the average).

The USA was Ireland’s largest merchandise export market in 2021, with over €52bn in exports. This accounted for 32% of the total value of exports. Medical & Pharmaceutical Products and Organic Chemicals comprised €37bn, or 71% of the total exports to the USA in 2021, according to the CSO (Central Statistics Office). The second biggest export partner was the UK with over €18bn of exports, closely followed by Germany with over €17.7bn.

China and Belgium (for onward flights to other destinations) complete the list of the remaining top 5 export markets.

The UK was the biggest source of imports in 2021, with imports of €19.5bn.

Ireland remains an important UK trading partner

The UK’s trade surplus with Ireland was the UK’s second highest, after the surplus with the United States. Ireland was one of seven EU countries the UK had a trade surplus in 2021 — the remaining six were with Malta, Luxembourg, Cyprus, the Netherlands, Denmark and Estonia. Overall, Ireland was the UK's fourth-largest export market and tenth-largest source of imports.

A UK Department of Business & Trade factsheet issued on March 17, 2023, noted that total trade in goods and services (exports plus imports) between the UK and Ireland was £82.0bn in the four quarters to the end of Q3 2022, an increase of 25.2% or £16.5bn from the four quarters to the end of Q3 2021.

Ireland was the UK’s 6th largest trading partner in the four quarters to the end of Q3 2022 accounting for 5.0% of total UK trade.

In 2021, 40% of Northern Ireland's goods exports were to the Republic of Ireland (compared to 7% for the UK as a whole) while 36% of Northern Ireland's goods imports were from the Republic of Ireland (compared to 3% for the UK as a whole).

UK exports to Ireland were worth £41.6bn; imports from Ireland were £20.4bn, resulting in a trade surplus of £21.3bn. The UK had a surplus with Ireland in both goods and services.

Ireland was the UK’s 4th largest export market and the 10th largest source of imports.