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Karelia – Russia’s Stunning Border with Finland

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The Republic of Karelia has become one of the popular travel destinations in all of Russia. When one cast eyes upon its beauty, it becomes apparent why.  

The following clip taken from a Russian news network with transcript below explores some of the wonders of this majestic place.

And for those who prefer to relax in Russia, it’s worth visiting Ruskeala, a picturesque marble canyon in the Republic of Karelia. According to the British newspaper, The Guardian, in Russia, Ruskeala occupies the first place in the list of the best places for recreation outside of Moscow and St. Petersburg. What else does Karelia have? And why do thousands of pilgrims strive to visit Valaam?

Denis Davydov will tell us about the beauty and being away from the bustle of life, and about the beauty and majesty of Karelia.

Correspondent:

Valaam is a place of strength and faith. The Holy Island has been speaking with God for more than a 1,000 years. The cloister experienced wars, and desolation in the years of religious persecution. In the 90s monks began to return to Valaam. Now again, as has been for centuries before, the spiritual center of the Orthodox Church.

Monks of Valaam:

“There is no praying on a schedule, when you are baking you are praying, just like a baker bakes bread.”

“Here, there’s no desire to reach a certain level in society, it’s absolutely irrelevant in a monastic life. And there isn’t a single person, who after visiting Valaam, hasn’t been changed in some way.”

Correspondent:

There’s only a reference to worldly “courage,” and a variety of cucumbers in the monastery greenhouse. There are more than a hundred monks and they have their own farmstead. Fresh milk, and delicious cheese, made according to old recipes.

There’s also a trout farm in Valaam. Each enclosure has from 3.5 to 6 thousand fish. In the winter they are fed once a day. Each fish weighs 2 kg, and is ready to be cooked and served.

From late autumn until spring, the island is cut off from the outside world, and this is the best time for monks, an opportunity to be alone with yourself, because in the midst of the tourist season there are crowds of pilgrims and tourists. Last summer Valaam received 300,000 visitors. A hotel is now being restored for the visitors.

Brother Efrem, Monastery’s Administrator:

“On the base of the hotel… It won’t be just a hotel, we’re also making a spiritual center there. There are also museums, and painting and icon making schools.”

Correspondent:

Karelia is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Russia. Last year 760,000 people visited the republic.

The closer the New Year holidays get, the fewer vacant places remain in the local hotels. People come here from Moscow, St. Petersburg, and abroad. In addition to the European neighbors, there are frequent visitors from Asia, and even Australia. It’s not just the moderate prices that are attracting the visitors.

Viktoria Vokhmina, Hotel Director:

“The untouched Karelian nature. This is a chance to experience it in comfort. We are surrounded by a forest, on a shore of Lake Ladoga.”

Correspondent:

Tarulinna, a cozy corner on the Karelian peninsula, translation from Finnish means fairy-tale like. Fluffy fir trees stretch towards Ladoga. The forest seems to invite you to breathe, to wander or you can also race all over the snow.

The UK newspaper, The Guardian, awarded Karelia 1st place in the top ten Russian regions, attractive for tourists. The top of the article is adorned with a Ruskeala canyon photo.

Ruskeala canyon is not only a monument of nature, but also of mining. Marble was mined here since the 17th century. Many buildings in St. Petersburg were built from Karelian stone: the Hermitage, Kazan Cathedral, St. Isaac’s Cathedral. About 300,000 tons of marble were mined in the canyon during its history. It hasn’t been used for that in a long time, now, amazing photos are being made here.

A man in a boat:

“The tourists come here almost every day. During the summer, you need to sign up a few days in advance, you can’t just walk in.”

Correspondent:

The underground lake is 70 meters deep, and it’s man-made. When the marble mining stopped, the mine was flooded. Now it’s one of the favorite diving places in the Russian north-west.

The Sortavala furniture-ski factory has been making hockey sticks and skis for the whole Soviet Union for decades. But in the 90s, the flagship enterprise fell into decline, and the whole city followed.

The youth center opened in the city 2.5 years ago. A modern equivalent of the Palace of Pioneers. And a large number of educational programs that are absolutely free: foreign languages, design, painting, and a cinema club.

Pavel Partunen:

“One week I came here right after school, and left when it was closing. Almost all the young people in the city go here.”

Correspondent:

Every week 3,000 children go to the “Serdobol” center, as Sortavala was called in tsarist Russia. Now it’s probably the most popular building, with a youth cafe and free Wi-Fi. A fashionable place for the city’s youth.

Nina Vokhmyanina, Director:

 “The lads turn from bullies into children who write poetry, for example. And those who came here only for the Wi-Fi, are now starting to paint. This is so wonderful.”

Correspondent:

Officially, Serdobol is open for preschool and schoolchildren. But it’s so interesting that even the adults are looking in. The locals as well as invited experts teach children. Moscow mentors, directors, linguists, and coaches come to master classes.

A pupil:

“I finished my homework, and I studied my favorite English language, I’m very happy.”

Correspondent:

The center is built and is maintained by private donations, an attempt to save the rural youth. It’s no secret that they leave to big cities for opportunities. In Karelia, it’s Petrozavodsk. The center of the Republic is expanding and being built up.

Boris Zhadonovskiy, Acting CEO:

“The railroad divides the city into two parts, on one side is the center, and on the other side is a large residential district. People who could have gotten home in 5 minutes, had to go a long way around, in traffic.”

Correspondent:

By the end of the year an additional bridge will be opened, which will off-load the roads. Micro-districts are growing because the Republic started a program for resettlement from old housing. The problem wasn’t solved for years, the former leader even received a reprimand from the President. The new leader is doing everything to solve the issue by the end of next year.

Artur Parfenchikov, Head of the Republic:

“We found a solution to the problem that was revealed this March: we had 24,000 square meters of emergency housing that didn’t make it into this program at all. We prepared a plan, including a financial one, to build and assign these 24,000 square meters of housing next year.”

Correspondent:

Construction on the shores of Lake Onega began in the 18th century, simultaneously with St. Petersburg. The northern capital and Petrozavodsk are the same age.

Petrozavodsk is associated with Peter the Great. At the beginning of the 18th century Russia is at war with Sweden. The army needs guns, and ammunition in huge quantities, but it’s far and expensive to deliver them from the Urals to the Baltic. The Tsar ordered to look for iron ore near St. Petersburg. The valuable material is found in Karelia. An arms factory is built, and around it, the city of Petrozavodsk forms.

These events went down in history as the Northern War. It lasted 21 years and Russian won. We won thanks to the Petrozavodsk cannons.

Alexei Tereshkin, Museum Employee:

“Russia really defeated Sweden, and became an empire, and joined the European powers, and after this nothing was decided without Russia’s involvement.”

Correspondent:

To this day Karelia is one of the industrial centers. There are 11 industrial towns. Metallurgical and woodworking enterprises. A pulp and paper mill was Segezha’s city-forming enterprise since 1939. Locals remember well how before, everyone was trying not to open the windows at home.

Olga Sergeeva, Segezhskiy Tsbk:

“I’ve worked in the factory since 1981.”

Correspondent:

-In the 80’s, did it stink even from the entrance of the apartment building?

Olga Sergeeva, Segezhskiy Tsbk:

-“Yes, of course it did, now it’s a lot better. We have 13 air filters at the factory that significantly decrease air pollution.”

Cprrespondent:

The factory employs more than 2,000 people. This year the company launched a paper-making machine, the most modern in the world. Their products are top in the market, and are delivered to 60 countries. World-famous brands make bags from Karelian paper.

Kamil Zakirov, President of Segezha Group:

“It comes from the northern forest natural resources, fir and pine, which give the strongest and best quality material.”

Cprrespondent:

An important detail: the company isn’t just doing timber processing, but also reforestation, which is confirmed by international certificates.

The Karelian Father Frost sings about Petrozavodsk, how everyone is going to their northern city. The words from a national song during the New Year holidays are more relevant than ever.

A long weekend is a great reason to discover a region of amazing beauty.

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Census 2022 – what difference does it make?

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Next Sunday, April 3rd, is Census night. Millions of people in homes countrywide will fill in page after page of questions, some of which are deeply personal and many of which might be unfamiliar.

But what it is it all about?

At a basic level, Census 2022 will be used to inform planning of public policy and services in the years ahead, according to the Central Statistics Office.

The questions will cover a range of environmental, employment and lifestyle issues, including the use of renewable energy sources in homes.

The questions will help inform policy development in the areas of energy and climate action, and the prevalence of internet access, to understand the availability of and need for internet connections and range of devices used to access the internet.

Questions also focus on changes in work patterns and will include the trend of working from home and childcare issues, while questions are also asked about the times individuals usually leave work, education or childcare, to help identify and plan for transport pattern needs locally and nationally.

Other topics covered include volunteering and the type of organisations volunteers choose to support, tobacco usage and the prevalence of smoke alarms in the home.

And of course there is a time capsule – the chance to write something which will be sealed for the next 100 years.

In this episode of In The News, the head of census administration Eileen Murphy and statistician Kevin Cunningham about what it all means for us.

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Oscars 2022: Will Smith makes Oscar history after slapping Chris Rock over joke about wife Jada Pinkett Smith | Culture

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Will Smith took the Oscar for Best Actor at last night’s 94th Academy Awards, but he also became the protagonist of the ceremony for other reasons. The night was following the script, until Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock on the stage after the latter made a joke about the shaved head of the former’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Rock had quipped that he was “looking forward to GI Jane 2,” in reference to her look. Pinkett Smith has revealed publicly that she has alopecia. It looked as if the moment had been planned, until Smith went back to his seat and shouted: “Get my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth.”

The moment, which immediately became Oscar history but for all the wrong reasons, left the attendees with frozen smiles, and asking themselves whether it was possible that a veteran such as Smith could have lost his cool in front of tens of millions of people. After taking the prize for Best Actor, the superstar actor made a tearful apology, saying that he hoped the Academy “will invite me back.” Later on, actor Anthony Hopkins called for “peace and love,” but it was already too late. The incident overshadowed the success of CODA, which took the Oscar for Best Picture. Just like the time when Warren Beatty mistakenly named La La Land as the big winner of the night, no one will speak about anything else from last night’s awards.

At first sight, Smith’s actions looked as if they were scripted. When he first heard Rock’s joke, he laughed. But his wife was seen on camera rolling her eyes, and it was then that the actor got up onto the stage and hit Rock. When he returned to his seat he raised his voice twice to shout “Get my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth,” sending a wave of unease and shock through the attending audience. The fact that he used the f-word, which is prohibited on US television, set alarm bells ringing that this was real and not a planned moment. In fact, the curse word was censored by the broadcaster, ABC, in the United States.

During a break, Smith’s PR manager approached him to speak. In the press room, which the actor skipped after collecting his prize, instructions were given to the journalists not to ask questions about the incident, Luis Pablo Beauregard reports. The next presenter, Sean “Diddy” Combs, tried to calm the situation. “Will and Chris, we’re going to solve this – but right now we’re moving on with love,” the rapper said.

When Smith took to the stage to collect his Best Actor award for his role as Richard Williams – the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena – in King Richard, he referred to the character as “a fierce defender of his family.” He continued: “I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people. I know to do what we do you’ve got to be able to take abuse, and have people talk crazy about you and have people disrespecting you and you’ve got to smile and pretend it’s OK.”

He explained that fellow actor Denzel Washington, who also spoke to Smith during a break, had told him: “At your highest moment, be careful, that’s when the devil comes for you.”

“I want to be a vessel for love,” Smith continued. “I want to be an ambassador of that kind of love and care and concern. I want to apologize to the Academy and all my fellow nominees. […] I look like the crazy father just like they said about Richard Williams, but love will make you do crazy things,” he said. He then joked about his mother, who had not wanted to come to the ceremony because she had a date with her crochet group.

The Los Angeles Police Department released a statement last night saying that Chris Rock would not be filing any charges for assault against Smith. “LAPD investigative entities are aware of an incident between two individuals during the Academy Awards program,” the statement read. “The incident involved one individual slapping another. The individual involved has declined to file a police report. If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report.”

On December 28, Pinkett Smith spoke on social media about her problems with alopecia. She stated that she would be keeping her head shaved and would be dealing with the condition with humor. “Me and this alopecia are going to be friends… Period!” she wrote on Instagram.



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House-price inflation set to stay double digit for much of 2022

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House-price inflation is expected to remain at double-digit levels for much of 2022 as the mismatch between what is for sale and what buyers want continues.

Two new reports on the housing market paint a picture of a sector under strain due to a lack of supply and increased demand driven by Covid-related factors such as remote working.

The two quarterly reports, one each from rival property websites myhome.ie and daft.ie, suggest asking prices accelerated again in the first quarter of 2022 as the stock of homes available for sale slumped to a new record low.

Myhome, which is owned by The Irish Times, said annual asking-price inflation was now running at 12.3 per cent.

Price

This put the median or typical asking price for a home nationally at €295,000, and at €385,000 in Dublin.

MyHome said the number of available properties for sale on its website fell to a record low of 11,200 in March, down from a pre-pandemic level of 19,000. The squeeze on supply, it said, was most acute outside Dublin, with the number of properties listed for sale down almost 50 per cent compared with pre-pandemic levels.

It said impaired supply and robust demand meant double-digit inflation is likely until at least mid-2022.

“Housing market conditions have continued to tighten,” said author of the myhome report, Davy chief economist Conall Mac Coille.

“The broad picture of the market in early 2022 remains similar to last year: impaired supply coupled with robust demand due to Ireland’s strong labour market,” he said.

Soure: MyHome.ie

“One chink of light is that new instructions to sell of 7,500 in the first 11 weeks of 2022 are well up from 4,800 in 2021, albeit still below the 9,250 in 2019. The flow of new properties therefore remains impaired,” said Mr Mac Coille.

“Whatever new supply is emerging is being met by more than ample demand. Hence, transaction volumes in January and February were up 13 per cent on the year but pushed the market into ever tighter territory,” he said.

He said Davy was now predicting property-price inflation to average 7 per cent this year, up from a previous forecast of 4.5 per cent, buoyed strong employment growth.

Homes

Daft, meanwhile, said house asking prices indicated the average listed price nationwide in the first quarter of 2022 was €299,093, up 8.4 per cent on the same period in 2021 and and just 19 per cent below the Celtic Tiger peak, while noting increases remain smaller in urban areas, compared to rural.

Just 10,000 homes were listed for sale on its website as of March 1st, an all-time low. In Dublin, Cork and Galway cities, prices in the first quarter of 2022 were roughly 4 per cent higher on average than a year previously, while in Limerick and Waterford cities the increases were 7.6 per cent and 9.3 per cent respectively.

The report’s author, Trinity College Dublin economist Ronan Lyons, said: “Inflation in housing prices remains stubbornly high – with Covid-19 disturbing an equilibrium of sorts that had emerged, with prices largely stable in 2019 but increasing since.

“As has been the case consistently over the last decade, increasing prices – initially in Dublin and then elsewhere – reflect a combination of strong demand and very weak supply.”


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