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These Russians Have Lived in Central Europe Since the Dawn of Time (Carpatho-Russians)

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This article originally appeared on: Russian Faith, a new website with news about the Christian renaissance in Russia. See their introductory video at end of article


Lemko (Rusyn) women in national dress. Lemko’s are a Carpatho-Russian tribe from Western Ukraine.


Lord, Thou hast been our refuge from generation to generation.

The Great Doxology (part of a Russian Orthodox Morning Service).

O God, give me the strength to live through this day and help me to survive in this foreign land where they have brought me and my children…O Lord, give my children the wisdom to find their way back to the native land of their grandfathers and great-grandfathers to honour their graves, their churches and their faith.

Kateryna Rusyn

“Not all those who wander are lost”

J.R.R. Tolkien


Once when the American pop-artist Andy Warhol, was asked where he came from, he answered: ‘I come from nowhere’. In one sense he was right, for his real name was Ondrej Varchola, the son of Carpatho-Russian immigrants to Pittsburgh in the US in 1918. It is no good looking on a map – you will not find Carpatho-Russia. It exists, and yet it has never existed, it is ‘nowhere’. No wonder that some have called the Carpatho-Russians ‘the Kurds of Europe’. Who are they and where is Carpatho-Russia?

Perhaps a more common name for Carpatho-Russia is Ruthenia. However, we should use this name ‘Ruthenia’ with care, for, just as Greeks do not call themselves ‘Greek’, so ‘Ruthenians’ do not call themselves ‘Ruthenian’. This Eastern Slav people, who live in and around the Carpathian mountains, speak a language which resembles Ukrainian, and yet which is distinct from it. For well over fifteen hundred years, they have lived in these Carpathians, the original home of all the Slav peoples.

The Carpathian Mountains are truly a place of beauty. Check out this article about a martyred Rusyn Priest for more stunning pictures like that.


 Before the Russian Revolution, most Carpatho-Russians lived scattered across a thousand villages in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, many in a region known as Galicia, where they were sorely persecuted and Uniatized. After the break-up of that oppressive Empire, the true ‘prison of the peoples’, most Carpatho-Russians found themselves living in Poland and Slovakia.

Since 1945, when Stalin took an eastern slice of Slovakia, most, over 600,000, have lived in what is now the Ukraine. Others still live in north-east Slovakia north of Presov, and in the south-east corner of Poland. However, there are also smaller groups of Carpatho-Russians in Hungary, Serbia and Romania and elsewhere, and also a very large emigration, mainly from 1880-1914, in the USA, especially in Pennsylvania and Connecticut, and in other countries of the New World. (One of these Carpatho-Russians, Sgt Michael Strank, was the soldier who raised the stars and stripes at Iwo Jima, thus figuring in one of the most famous photographs of the twentieth century).

Sometimes called ‘rusnaks’, in the Ukraine the Carpatho-Russians are often known as ‘Transcarpathians’, in Poland as ‘Lemki’ and in Slovakia they are called ‘Subcarpathians’. Academics usually term them as ‘Carpatho-Russians’ or ‘Carpatho-Rusyns’. However, they call themselves ‘Rusyn’.

With their emigration, the Carpatho-Russians number well over one million souls, perhaps as many as one and a half million. By folklore and custom the Carpatho-Russians resemble very much the Slovaks, Ukrainians and Poles, with influences from the Austrians and the Hungarians. However, by religion, and this is what defines the Carpatho-Russians, they are all Orthodox-rite.

Palanok Castle, Ukrainian Transcarpathia


Less than one third are actually Orthodox, and over two thirds, since the forced ‘Unia’ of the end of the sixteenth century, are nominal Greek-Catholics or Uniats. No Carpatho-Russian worthy of the name, is a Latin Catholic or Protestant. Moreover, if you talk to such ordinary Greek-Catholics, most of them will tell you, and they believe it, that they are in fact ‘Pravoslavny’ – Orthodox – such is the deception and trickery played on the simple by the clerics of the Vatican.

Converted to Orthodoxy by Sts Cyril and Methodius, traditionally in the year 863, for centuries the Carpatho-Russian people survived as Orthodox, outside the protection of any Orthodox State, and many still do so today.

Under their beloved Patron, St Nicholas the Wonderworker, they have survived innumerable persecutions and massacres, particularly from Catholic Poles, Hungarians and Austrians (at their notorious Thalerhof concentration camp), then Czechs, Fascist Germans and Slovaks, then Communist Poles and Ukrainians and now Slovak Uniats.

Catholic Uniates stole many Orthodox Churches and converted them into Catholic churches similar to this one in Lvov.


Over one hundred years ago, starvation and persecution led many of them, nearly half a million, to emigrate to the USA. Here many of the Greek Catholics among them, persecuted by Latin Catholic bishops, reverted to Orthodoxy. They came to form the backbone of what has now become the Orthodox Church in America (OCA). Other Orthodox, formed the fifty parishes, now under Metropolitan Nicholas of the Carpatho-Russian Diocese (at present in the Patriarchate of Constantinople).

Some others belong to the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), like the [then] present head of ROCOR, Metropolitan Laurus [now diseased]. Indeed, before the Second World War, the Carpatho-Russians were much helped by the ROCOR monastery in Ladomirova in Carpatho-Russia, which published a journal, ‘Orthodox Carpatho-Russia’. After that war the printing press and monastery moved to Jordanville in the USA and the title of the journal changed to the present ‘Orthodox Russia’.

Ladomirova Monastery of Saint Job of Pochaev


In their homelands, Greek Catholic Carpatho-Russians, persecuted by the Communists, are now reviving. Unfortunately, fanatical Ukrainian nationalist sentiment, originally an anti-Russian tool invented by Austrians and Hungarians, has lately been much exacerbated among them by the Vatican. In the last fifteen years, these Uniats have been taking revenge for Communist persecution on the Orthodox, causing considerable problems through their aggression and stealing most of the old wooden Orthodox churches in Slovakia from the Orthodox.

As regards the Orthodox who remain in the homeland, they belong to the Orthodox Churches of the Ukraine, Slovakia and Poland. In the Ukraine there are some tensions between Ukrainians and the Carpatho-Russians. They mainly live around Uzhgorod, near the border with Slovakia, to which State this region belonged until 1945. Indeed, Uzhgorod is the real capital of Carpatho-Russia.

As regards the Orthodox Church of the Czech Lands and Slovakia, it is in fact divided into three ethnic dioceses, one for Czechs, one for Slovaks, and a reinvigorated one, the real Metropolitan centre of this Local Church, in Presov, for the Carpatho-Russians, the Rusyny of ‘Presov Rus’ (Priashevskaya Rus’).

The Polish Orthodox Church is in fact largely composed of Ukrainians and to a lesser extent Belorussians, with very few Poles, but it also includes Carpatho-Russians, Lemki, faithful like most Orthodox Rusyns in the homeland, to the Orthodox calendar.

In the Diocese of the Polish Church bordering Slovakia, under Bishop Adam, there is a particular revival, which has come about partly since the canonization in 1994 of the Priest-Martyr Maxim, slain by the Latins in 1914. In 2003, another confessor, St Alexis (Kabaliuk) (1875-1947), ‘The Apostle of Carpatho-Russia’, whose relics were found intact in 1999, was canonized in the western Ukraine – Carpatho-Russia. He not only resisted the Austro-Hungarian persecutors, but later also the corruptions of the modernist innovations of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and found protection for his people in the Russian and Serbian Churches.

We now give the Life of the Holy Martyr Maxim, which explains something of the background to the sufferings of the Carpatho-Russian people.

Check out this great article about Father Maxim to learn more about his amazing life and brutal martyrdom by the hands of Austrian Catholics.

Orthodoxy in Carpatho-Russia has deep roots and the infamous ‘Unia’, or union with Rome, did not begin with the common people. In fact it was imposed by the machinations of the urban merchant class and a small minority of the clergy who desired the same feudal rights as their Catholic counterparts. Thus, these two classes of people betrayed their Orthodox princes and the faithful. The two religions struggled and even after the ‘victory’ of the Unia, Orthodoxy was not forgotten.

To counterbalance Catholic influence and to further deceive the people, the Uniats carefully preserved the purity of the Eastern Orthodox ritual, considering that a policy of slow and gradual Latinization would be far more successful in the long run than one of outright imposition of the Roman ritual. Yet the cultural inclination of the Carpatho-Russian people towards the Russian mainstream, which expressed itself in undisguised sympathy for Orthodoxy, could not be silenced. In the eyes of most prominent Carpatho-Russians, the Unia was but the instrument and means employed to sunder the one Russian family and they directed their gaze towards Orthodoxy as the ancient and original faith of their people when Holy Rus had been one.

This inclination, which was distinctively Russian, was a crucial element in the Carpatho-Russian reaction against ‘Ukrainianism’, artfully contrived by the Germans and Austrians as a weapon against the pan-Slav movement that threatened their domination of the area. Even among the Carpatho-Russian Uniat clergy, who perpetuated the idea of the union, there were sympathies towards Orthodoxy. These sympathies were so intense that the very concept of ‘Catholic’ was considered a sort of heresy. Indeed, their concept of the union was reduced to a purely jurisdictional recognition of the primacy of the Pope of Rome.

Orthodox sympathies were characteristic of the people of Carpatho-Russia. Alarmed by the growth of these sympathies and concluding that this growth was being directed toward rapprochement with Russia, from about 1900 on, the Austro-Hungarian authorities began to persecute. Unprecedented repression was imposed on Russophile clergy, both Uniat and Orthodox. The area teamed with informers. Not only the gendarmes, village clerks and sheriffs, but also teachers and some clergy denounced their neighbors. It reached the point where, in some areas of Carpatho-Russia, the entire educated class – priests, lawyers, judges, teachers, high school and university students, as well as peasants – were subjected to mass arrests. The prisons overflowed with those accused of treason. One in five Carpatho-Russians was imprisoned.

Lvov, Ukraine, one of the places where Father Maxim was imprisoned.


In accordance with a directive issued from Vienna, the Uniat Metropolitan of Lvov, threatened by the growth of Orthodoxy, quickly shifted his policy to one of isolation from all that was Orthodox. A Ukrainian Uniat ritual was concocted, which differed significantly from Orthodox ritual. The names of saints especially revered in Russia were deleted from the calendar. The veneration of wonderworking icons of the Mother of God which had appeared in Russia (e.g. the Iveron, Kazan and Pochaev icons) were proscribed. The word ‘Orthodox’ was replaced in the divine services with ‘Catholic’. Candidates suspected of harbouring Russophile sympathies were refused admittance to Uniat seminaries, acceptance being limited exclusively to those admittedly Ukrainian in outlook, who were prepared to submit a written oath of hatred for Russia.

Throughout the Carpathian region a tremendous upheaval shook the parishes. Uniat priests of Russian persuasion were driven from their posts, their families were cast out into the streets, and few were the courageous souls who dared to defy the authorities by sheltering the homeless. The parishes were then turned over to newly-ordained priests who had received their education at the hands of the Jesuits of the Basilian College. The imposition of the new Ukrainian Uniat ritual was entrusted to the Jesuit-educated monks of the ‘Order of St. Basil the Great’. But if life had become difficult for the Uniat Russophile clergy, it was far worse for the few Orthodox priests and their families in Carpatho-Russia and Galicia. Let us examine the case of one such priest, Fr. Maxim Sandovich, of blessed memory.

Fr. Maxim was born in Galicia, the son of Timothy and Christina Sandovich of the village of Zdyna.

His father was a prosperous farmer, who also served as choir director in the local parish church. Having completed four years of study at the high school in Novy Sanch, Maxim stole across the border into Russia and became a novice at the great Pochaev Lavra in Volynia.

A view of Pochaev Lavra towards Dormition Cathedral.


Subsequently he attended the Orthodox seminary at Zhitomir, and after marrying a young Orthodox woman named Pelagia, was ordained in 1911 to the holy priesthood and returned to his homeland. His pastoral and missionary service was not to last for long, for the militia were ever vigilant; he was denounced by a Ukrainian teacher, a certain Leos, and the Austrian gendarmes carried him off in chains to a prison in Lvov in 1912. He was to languish in prison without trial or inquest for two years, enduring indescribably horrible conditions and abuse. Finally, on the very eve of World War I he was released for lack of evidence.

Fr. Maxim returned again to his home in the village of Hrab, but was not fated to remain there long. The first shots fired in the new war were the heralds of a new repression of Carpatho-Russians. On 4 August 1914, the militia arrested the young priest, his father, mother, brother and wife and after much abuse dragged them off in shackles to the district prison in Horlitsk. The road was rough and the prisoners were forced to travel on foot, prodded on by the bayonets of the gendarmes. Words cannot convey the suffering of the innocent Sandovich family.

Gorlice (Horlitsk) then and now.

Two days passed in prison and Sunday 6 August dawned. Having risen from his bunk before the light of day Fr. Maxim read his morning prayers and three akathists. Then he stood motionless, lost in thought, gazing out the little window of his cell, trying to catch a glimpse of his wife or one of his relatives. They had all been imprisoned in different cells and were denied permission to see each other. The silence of the grave lay on the gloomy building, but beyond the walls the noise of a crowd could be heard.

What could this mean? Could they have brought in some new ‘spies’? Perhaps they had caught some new deserters the terrors of war for many are hard to bear. Suddenly a loud thud on the prison’s black gates broke the priest’s reverie. It was not yet six o’clock. A moustachioed German captain from Linz, Dietrich, a man with a reputation for cruelty and sadism, entered the prison compound with two soldiers and four gendarmes. They were followed close behind by the prison wardens, various civil servants, officers and a small group of curious ladies. This entourage was headed by Pan Mitshka, the head man of the Horlitsky District. The order was given for the warden to bring Fr. Maxim forth from his cell.

Horlitsky District


Silence fell. Two soldiers led the twenty-eight year-old Orthodox priest from the prison and suddenly he realized where they were taking him. ‘Be so good as not to hold me. I will go peacefully wherever you wish’, he said humbly, and with the dignity that becomes a true shepherd of souls he walked to the sight of his final torments. The murmuring of the crowd and the venomous glances they threw the ‘traitor’ affected his courageous bearing not in the least. He walked as befits a follower of Christ, calmly, with measured gait, to the fateful wall.

Again silence reigned. An execution was to be carried out in the name of the ‘apostolic’ Emperor – the execution of a Russian priest on Russian land! Captain Dietrich, the hero of the day, ripped the cross from Fr. Maxim’s chest, cast it to the ground at the priest’s feet and trampled it under foot; he then tied the prisoner’s hands behind his back and bound his eyes with a black kerchief. ‘You do these things needlessly. I have no intention of running away’. The captain laughed diabolically and with a piece of white chalk drew a line across the priest’s chest on his black cassock as a target for the riflemen. Then he arranged the executioners – two gendarmes on each side. The two soldiers, heavily armed, stood only three paces from the defenceless man.

An even more profound stillness descended upon the scene. Mitshka took a blue paper from his briefcase and read the death sentence. A short command was uttered by the captain; the sabre was raised; when it was lowered the rifles sounded. The shots echoed through the back corridors of the prison, and again the silence of the cemetery filled the prison courtyard.

Through this silence the voice of Fr. Maxim was heard distinctly: ‘Long live the Russian people!’ he cried, leaning his head against the prison wall. ‘Long live the Holy Orthodox Faith!’ he continued, his voice becoming weaker. ‘Long live Slavdom!’ he finished, barely audible. These were his final words. Wracked with the throws of death, his powerful frame slid down the wall to the flagstones of the courtyard.

One of the gendarmes approached and ended the priest’s sufferings with three shots from his revolver; the priests brains splattered against the prison wall. His aged father and mother both watched the heroic death of their son in silence, but Pelagia, his wife, wept inconsolably in her cell; and when the shots that brought an end to her young husband’s life rang out, she fell senseless to the ground. Thus died Fr. Maxim Sandovich, a martyr for Orthodoxy.

The Tomb of Father Maxim


The Prayer of Kateryna

The persecution of the Carpatho-Russians did not stop after the First World War. 1945 brought great suffering, firstly to those deported to the Ukraine. For other Carpatho-Russians in south-east Poland, the Lemki, in 1947 there also came deportation, mainly far to the north-west, to Silesia, to the former homes of deported Germans. This ‘Vistula action’ of deportation by the Poles was meant to denationalize the Carpatho-Russians. Here follows the prayer of one deportee, Kateryna Rusyn, taken away from Poland to the Ukraine:

O God, give me the strength to live through this day and help me to survive in this foreign land where they have brought me and my children.

O Lord, I pray and beseech Thee, let me not perish, nor my family, nor my people, who were late to sow the holy grain; for the corn will ripen in the summer and they know not when or how it will be gathered.

Beskyd Mountains


O All-Highest Lord, let us not forget – neither today, nor tomorrow, nor ever – and help us to keep alive in our memory all the beauty of our land, of the mountains, and of the rich, healing and pure waters in our rivers: the Bystry, the Poprad, and the Syan; and let us also remember the fair and lovely country of the high pastures, and the woodland paths through the hills; let us not forget the places of plenty in the forest where the mushrooms grow, and the fragrant strawberries, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries, and the woodland clearings where the cattle graze.

O God, let us not forget our customs, the lilt of our mother tongue, our stories and our songs, our dances and our evenings together on holy days and workdays.

O Lord, give my children the wisdom to find their way back to the native land of their grandfathers and great-grandfathers to honour their graves, their churches and their faith.

O God, grant unto my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren all the gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, reason, courage, knowledge, piety, and also give them the most important of all human virtues – Faith, Hope and Love.

O Lord, bestow upon me and my children the knowledge to tell the difference between good and evil, happiness and unhappiness, and give me the wisdom to value goodness and be grateful for good!

Grant me to know how to influence an enemy, give me the generosity to help the poor, and also give me the understanding to convince the wrongdoer of the evil of his ways, and to teach those who do not know. Amen.

Transcarpathian Ukraine


We have heard the voices of Orthodox Carpatho-Russia, calling to us from their highland homes. This little corner of Holy Rus’ has survived through a thousand years of oppression and persecution, outside the protection of the Russian State. It can be said that all who confess Russian Orthodoxy, whatever our nationality and whatever language we use, belong to Carpatho-Russia. For, whatever our nationality, we all live ‘beyond the Carpathians’, and though we do not belong to the Russian State, in our Faith we all belong to Rus’, to Holy Russia, a land much greater than any mere State.

Scattered across the face of the earth, we live surrounded by Non-Orthodox, and suffer, like the Hebrews who of old wept in exile by the waters of Babylon. In suffering for Holy Orthodoxy, we too, like the faithful Orthodox Rusyns, belong to Holy Rus’.

And in picking up such fragments of Holy Orthodoxy all over today’s Non-Orthodox and anti-Orthodox Europe, in putting them together like the pieces of a giant jigsaw, we rediscover not only ourselves, but also the whole picture of a once Orthodox Europe, and there discover the Image of Christ, Who has been here all the time.


Holy Hieromartyr Maxim and Holy Father Alexis pray to God for Orthodox Carpatho-Russia, 
and for all us Orthodox beyond the Carpathians!


A video introducing the Russian Faith website:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wQAwrhS15QI

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Health officials warn of strain on hospitals but Covid-19 admissions remain low

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Health officials have warned of mounting strain on hospitals as coronavirus infections increase, although the absolute number of admissions remains below previous surges of the disease.

Prof Philip Nolan, chairman of the National Public Health Emergency Team’s (Nphet) epidemiological modelling group, reported rising intensive care admissions but said the rise in hospital and ICU admissions was “far less” than “if we didn’t have so much of the population protected through vaccination”.

Dr Nolan said the expected pattern of infection in coming weeks was “really quite uncertain”. The background of exponential virus growth earlier in July “may or may not be stabilising” but the increase in hospital and intensive care admissions tracked the rising rate of infection.

While there was one intensive care admission every two days toward the end of June, Dr Nolan said the ICU admission rate in the past week was approaching three per day.

There were 152 people in hospital yesterday. The figure contrasts 1,949 during the January peak. There were 333 inpatients at the start of November 2020 and 862 in April 2020 during the first wave of the pandemic.

But admissions are again rising fast.

“We’re seeing on average 26 per day admitted to hospital in the last seven days and 30 today. You can see that that’s very significantly up, pretty much double what it was two weeks ago,” Dr Nolan told reporters at the Department of Health.


In a sign of pressure on the system, nurses in Limerick’s main hospital complained yesterday that overcrowding there is worsening despite the provision of more than 100 additional beds.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation said called on Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly to intervene directly to “look under the bonnet” and see why additional beds at University Hospital Limerick had not made a substantial impact.

More trolleys had been placed on wards and corridors in University Hospital Limerick in recent days as overcrowding continued, the union said.

Uneven pressure

Chief medical officer Tony Holohan said the uneven spread of coronavirus infections throughout the State meant some hospitals might be under more pressure than suggested by overall admissions data.

“It can happen that individual hospitals can be under quite a degree of pressure when the overall situation in the country might not suggest that’s the case. So we do know that maybe some hospitals in the west have already had a challenge with much more infections based on the most recent wave than other hospitals.”

He acknowledged reported pressure on hospitals in Limerick and in Letterkenny, Co Donegal, and cited pressure also on hospitals in Co Mayo.

“We have seen quite a wide variation in case numbers in individual hospitals,” Dr Holohan said. “We have 150 give or take hospitalisations. That’s not spread evenly spread across the 30 or 40 hospitals that might be admitting patients with this infection.

Deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said hospitals would be under pressure if there were no coronavirus admissions.

“The point that obviously the absolute numbers are much less than previous waves is very welcome,” he said.

“The reality is that if we had no cases of Covid in hospital tomorrow morning our hospitals would be under extreme pressure. Unfortunately that’s what we’re dealing with, both pre-Covid and now but particularly as a result of Covid in the last number of months

“Our healthcare workers are exhausted frankly. They’re facing into enormous backlogs in elective care, non-Covid care, non-Covid health plans, social care: both in acute settings and in community,” he confirmed.

“So while the absolute numbers are less than previously we’re very conscious that any increase in those number … has potential to be very significant to the health service that we’re trying to get back up to full function.”

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How is Germany using Covid health passes compared to other European countries?

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France

In France the health passport is already in use for venues including cinemas, tourist sites and nightclubs and from the beginning of August will be extended to bars, restaurants, cafés, some shopping malls and long distance train or bus services. Find the full list of venues where it is necessary HERE.

The health passport can show proof of either; fully vaccinated status, recent recovery from Covid or a negative Covid test taken within the previous 48 hours.

It is required for everyone at the listed venues – visitors and staff – but staff have until August 30th to get vaccinated. The passport is required for all over 12s, but children aged between 12 and 17 do not have to start showing their passports until August 30th.

There is no fine for members of the public who do not have a health passport, but you can expect to be barred from any of the listed venues if you cannot show your passport to staff. Venues found not enforcing the health passport face being closed down.

The passport can be shown either on the French TousAntiCovid app – find out how that works here – or on paper. The app is compatible with vaccine certificates issued in EU or Schengen zone countries, and the NHS app is also compatible. The situation for those vaccinated in the USA is a little more complicated, but they should be able to swap their US certificate for a French one that is compatible with the app.

Italy

Italy’s green pass, ‘certificazione verde’, will soon be required to access more leisure and cultural venues, including indoor restaurants, gyms, swimming pools, museums, cinemas, theatres, sports stadiums and other public venues.

Although it’s been in use since June, the Italian government announced on July 22nd that it would be extending its health pass scheme from August 6th.

From next month, people in Italy wanting to access most venues in Italy will need to show proof of being vaccinated – including those who have only had the first of two doses – having tested negative for coronavirus within the previous 48 hours or having recovered from Covid-19 within the last six months.

At the moment Italy’s digital health certificate is available to people over 12 years old who were vaccinated, tested or recovered in Italy.

The Italian version of the green pass is only for people who were vaccinated, recovered or tested in Italy. If that’s you, find out exactly how to claim it here. If you don’t fall into that category, here’s what you need to know about accessing Italy’s extended green pass.

If you’re from outside the EU, the rules are complicated or still being negotiated. At the border, Italy accepts vaccination certificates, tests results and medical certificates of recovery from the United States, Canada or Japan. However, there is currently no news on how travellers can access the green pass once they’re in Italy.

As for the United Kingdom, Italy does not currently have an agreement to recognise vaccinations performed in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

Spain 

Covid ‘health passes’ haven’t been imposed at a national level by the Spanish government, but two regions – Galicia and the Canary Islands – have opted to require proof of vaccination, testing or recovery for people to go inside bars, cafés and restaurants.

In both regions the scheme is only being applied in municipalities with particularly high infection rates, and although it seemed that it would initially only apply to the interior of hospitality establishments, the Canary government has extended the requirement to gyms and cultural events held indoors. 

Other regional governments in Spain such as Valencia’s have shown interest in implementing a ‘health pass’ requirement, but this has been met with opposition from the hospitality industry for the economic losses and holdups all the checking could potentially cause. 

The German version of the EU health pass. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-tmn | Zacharie Scheurer

The EU-approved Digital Covid Certificate issued mainly for the purpose of travel by Spain’s regions is the preferred means of proving Covid health status, although in practice bar and restaurant owners can accept other proof, paper or digital.

Neither the Galician nor the Canary government have announced what foreign tourists should show to access the interior of bars and restaurants in their territories. 

Spain’s Digital Covid Certificate is only available to residents in the country but as the system is standardised across the EU, European tourists will likely be able to use their country’s Covid Certificates with a scannable QR Code to go inside hospitality establishments (not needed for terraces).

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Sweden

Sweden is part of the EU-wide vaccine pass scheme which means the Covid-19 pass can be used as an alternative to showing a negative test result in order to enter the country.

But aside from travel into the country, the pass is not used at all for access to things like events, museums, restaurants or bars. The government hasn’t ruled it out entirely, but has said the Swedish preference is to open up for everyone at the same time instead.

To access the Swedish version of the EU vaccine pass, you need to have either had both doses of your Covid-19 vaccine in Sweden, or at least the second dose, so it is not currently possible for people vaccinated elsewhere to receive it. Another group excluded from the pass is those without a Swedish personnummer or social security number; although the eHealth Agency has told The Local they are working on making it available to the thousands of people in Sweden who were vaccinated without this number, this is not expected to happen until September at the earliest.

Denmark

Denmark controls access to certain activities and facilities – from indoor dining to cultural attractions like museums and sports games – using the scannable coronapas application, which tracks vaccination status, recent recoveries and test results.

The system is currently only available to Danish residents enrolled in the public health system, but it’s compatible with the vaccine certificates from other EU and Schengen area countries. People from outside the EU/Schengen area who received full courses of Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson or AstraZeneca can also use proof of vaccination in place of a coronapas. That documentation needs to meet a handful of requirements to be legally valid: the documentation must be in English or German and contain your name, date of birth, the vaccine you received and the dates for your first and second doses. 

The coronapas scheme is set to twilight on October 1st, when Denmark is scheduled to fully reopen. 

Norway

Norway’s domestic Covid pass is used to access large events such as concerts, festivals and football matches in addition to domestic cruises and tours. 

To enter venues and events using the pass, you will need a valid certificate. 

Certificates will be valid if three weeks have passed since your last jab, you are fully vaccinated, have had covid in the past six months and can prove so via the health pass, or have received a negative test result in the previous 24 hours. 

The certificate is presented as a QR code and will scan green if valid and red if not. 

It’s worth noting that a valid domestic covid certificate is not valid for travel as part of the EU’s health pass travel scheme. You can read more about how the Norwegian Covid certificate is used for travel here

A paper version of the certificate can be ordered here

Covid certificates in Norway require a national identification number and level four security electronic ID. Unfortunately, this means that it’s practically impossible for tourists and non-residents to access the Norwegian certificate and attend events that require a health pass. 

Furthermore, as the Norwegian certificate’s domestic version is different from the version used for travel, it also means that EU health passes can’t be used as a substitute for domestic vaccine passports. 

Austria

Austria was one of the first European countries to introduce a Covid-19 health pass system, having done so on May 19th as the 3G Rule. 

The 3G Rule refers to ‘Getestet, Geimpft, Genesen’ (Tested, Vaccinated, Recovered) and describes the three ways someone can provide evidence they are immune to the virus.

As a result, the framework is relatively well established in Austria. 

Austria’s Covid-19 health pass, known as the “green pass”, is needed to access bars, restaurants, hotels, hairdressers, gyms, events and a range of other venues. 

Travellers at Berlin Brandenburg airport at the end of June. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Jens Kalaene

For entering nightclubs, you need to be either vaccinated or have received a negative PCR test in the past 72 hours. This information will also be included in your green pass. 

As of July 1st, masks are not required anywhere that the green pass is required.

In effect, this means masks are required in public transport, supermarkets and museums. 

EXPLAINED: What is Austria’s Covid-19 immunity card and how do I get it?

Austria is a part of the European Covid-19 pass network since July 1st.

This means that if you are visiting Austria and you have the pass from your EU country, you can use it in Austria. 

Unfortunately, people with Covid-19 passes from outside the EU cannot yet use it in Austria, however they can use paper documentation. 

Also, as an Austrian phone number is needed to get the green pass (other than in Vienna), foreigners with documentation of a vaccination, recovery or a test cannot download it and use it when they are in Austria. 

Please read the following link for more information. 

EXPLAINED: Can tourists use Austria’s Covid-19 green pass to visit bars and events?

Switzerland

Switzerland also has a Covid-19 health pass, known domestically as a Covid-19 immunity certificate. 

However, this is only needed at large events (more than 1,000 people), nightclubs or discos. 

Some bars and restaurants can choose to ask for the Covid certificate, upon which they are allowed to dispense with other rules such as mask rules and social distancing requirements. 

READ MORE: How to get Switzerland’s Covid-19 health pass

In mid-July, Switzerland became a part of the EU’s Covid-19 pass framework, meaning that you can show your EU country pass in order to enter Switzerland. 

Switzerland as yet does not accept other Covid passes, but this has been flagged as a possibility in future. 

If you arrive in Switzerland, you can show the evidence of your vaccination to the authorities in your Swiss canton and you will be issued a Covid certificate. 

Unfortunately, this only includes Swiss-approved Covid vaccines. According to the Swiss government, this is only Pfizer/Biontech, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson, i.e. AstraZeneca is not accepted. 

More information about getting the pass if you are visiting Switzerland is available at the following link. 

EXPLAINED: How do tourists get Switzerland’s Covid certificate to access events, clubs and restaurants?

Elsewhere around Europe 

In Hungary immunity certificates delivered from the time of the first vaccine shot are required in health establishments and to attend sports and music events, as well as gatherings of more than 500 people.

 In Luxembourg a pass is asked for in shops.

In Azerbaijan a health pass has been mandatory since the beginning of June to enter sports centres or attend weddings.

In Portugal such a certificate is required to stay in a hotel or play sport. It is also required to eat inside restaurants, but only at weekends in the most hard-hit regions.

In Ireland the health pass is for the time being only needed for indoor eating and drinking in restaurants and pubs.

In Russia the Moscow region in June imposed a health pass for restaurants but this was so unpopular it was scrapped three weeks later.

The British government is planning to introduce in September a health pass in England to enter nightclubs and other places admitting large groups of people. Professional football matches could be included, reports say.

The UK’s other nations — Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — set their own health policies.

Georgia is also planning a health pass.



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Emilio Morenatti: ‘I would give up the Pulitzer to have my leg back. I’d even burn my work’ | Culture

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Emilio Morenatti gets off the high-speed Barcelona-Madrid AVE train with his camera at the ready, even though he’s not on a job. The camera, he says, is his third arm. Dressed in a polo shirt and long pants, it’s impossible to tell he is missing his left leg.

Morenatti’s leg was blown off in 2009 by a bomb in Afghanistan when he was accompanying US troops on a mission that he was advised against going on.

The chief photographer for the Associated Press in Spain and Portugal is now waiting for a visa to enter the US and collect the Pulitzer Prize for his photos of the elderly and homeless in Barcelona during the worst of the coronavirus pandemic. Morenatti says he is proud that, after all the restrictions he had to work around in order to take them, his photos were displayed as part of a state tribute to Covid victims. If he feels at all bitter about the obstacles that were put in his path, it doesn’t show.

Question. Is the revenge sweet?

Answer. In a way, yes. The authorities that asked for the photos are the same ones who denied us photographers access to hospitals and cemeteries. I could have refused them, but I am more interested in exposing the hypocrisy. We live in an aseptic society that doesn’t want to see certain things. But I think with this pandemic, there’s been a click. Something has changed. If this means making people think, I feel I have done my job.

Q. The Pulitzer is like the Nobel Prize of its field. What now?

A. Just keep working. If losing a leg – with all the family, professional and self-imposed pressures that entailed – didn’t detract from my passion or distract me from pursuing my career, this won’t either, even less so. That’s what I want to shield against; I still don’t want to sit down and edit someone else’s photos.

Q. Did the loss of your leg alter your perspective?

A. Yes, in particular my approach to victims. I feel vulnerable now; I see my two-legged colleagues and I’m the only one with one leg and I feel envious. I don’t hide my disability and, when I portray the vulnerable, I take certain liberties, as one cripple to another. It gives you empathy and the freedom to push through certain barriers.

The beauty of a photo is about trapping the viewer; it’s like those carnivorous flowers that attract you with their colors and then ensnare you

Q. “From one cripple to another!” That’s good but also tough.

A. A lame guy who saw my prosthesis once said to me, “I’m going to talk to you as one cripple to another” and I thought it was a great idea. Because being lame is not only physical, it’s mental. I miss my leg every day. Disability causes friction, pain and frustration. My mind gets used to it, but I deal with it every day. Before, I would go for a walk without thinking. Now, every outing requires logistics. It is not easy. It’s a subject that interests me a lot. That’s why the limp comes through in some of my photos.

Q. During lockdown, you went out to visit the sick with health workers. Did you also give a bit of that side of yourself to the people you photographed?

A. It felt a bit like that, yes. The elderly were very much in need of company, of human contact, of someone to pay them a visit. The doctors made the visit, but I went with them. In the Pulitzer series, there is a photo in which an old woman holds the doctor’s hand and also my own, while I took her picture with the other one. She started telling us about her life. That is also therapy, isn’t it? We could feel that people needed that support. And me too, of course.

Q. Is the camera your shield or weapon?

A. It is a part of me. Sometimes it is a shield. I have been very moved by some of the photos I have taken; they have been moments of great intensity. I remember [nursing home residents] Agustina and Pascual’s kiss that made me cry and, right then, I do remember I was using the camera as a shield. But the question is what it would be like for me not to have the camera. And that is Murphy’s Law. The day you don’t take it out with you, something happens, and that really tortures me: the photos I haven’t taken.

Agustina Cañamero, 81, kisses her husband Pascual Pérez, 84, in a care home in Barcelona, on June 22, 2020.
Agustina Cañamero, 81, kisses her husband Pascual Pérez, 84, in a care home in Barcelona, on June 22, 2020.Emilio Morenatti / AP

Q. What are the images you can’t get out of your head?

A. I remember an explosion in Gaza that landed very close to us. Those bombs are enormously violent. Everything inside you moves. There is a moment of silence, because your eardrums are blocked, and then you see smoke, people running and people who can’t run because they are dead, wounded, dismembered. I go over these kinds of situations in my head. And when it happened to me, when my leg was blown off, I watched the man who gave me a tourniquet and saved my life as if it was happening in slow motion. That slowness is something that happens again and again in my life. It is all accompanied by smells, screams, pain, nausea, all of which will accompany you all your life because your photo will never match the level of violence of a situation like that.

Q. But it is the photo that remains when the situation is over.

A. That is the privilege of this profession. And that’s what keeps me tied to it. It’s a privilege like being a superhuman or superhero. I have been in extraordinary situations, and the commitment that one acquires from being there and documenting them is what makes you do your best and say: I’m going to do it better than anyone else, even better than myself. It’s pure adrenaline.

Q. You won’t remember, but I met you while you were working at the 1992 World Expo in Seville. You were a young photographer at that time with a reputation for partying.

A. No, I don’t remember you! You’ll have to show me a full-length photo of yourself from back then [laughs]. I was a kid. I was always hungover. I was consumed by the drive and arrogance of my 20s. I was born in Zaragoza because my father is a policeman and was stationed there, but I grew up in Jerez. We were a big family of modest means in a down-at-heel neighborhood. I didn’t know anything about photography or English at that time. I did a lot of crazy things. I photographed Lady Di at the Expo, I also took myself on the island of Perejil [over which a turf battle in 2002 between Spain and Morocco] in an inflatable boat, and that brazenness was the springboard for my call from Associated Press. I’ve been a bit of a kamikaze, but as far as I’m concerned surviving means squeezing the most out of things.

I don’t hide my disability and, when I portray the vulnerable, I take certain liberties, as one cripple to another

Q. Did you feel marginalized by journalists?

A. Very much so. And I still do. I see my children and I think: they are going to have everything I didn’t have. I learned to survive on the job. Then I tried to educate myself intellectually, and I continue to do so.

Q. Have you already taken your dream photo?

A. No, and it’s impossible to do so, because it would have been during the Spanish Civil War. I dream of the Battle of the Ebro, of having worked with [photographer Robert] Capa. I would have loved to do what I’m doing now at that decisive moment in Spanish history.

Q. Would you like to cover a red carpet event?

A. I think that would be a drag. I would do it, just as we photographers do other things we don’t like, but it doesn’t interest me at all, like soccer. That, for me, is not photojournalism, which I understand to be a reflection of society. That particular element of society already has too much attention and doesn’t need to be given more. I focus on places where attention is scarce. My mission is to make visible…

Q. … what we don’t want to see?

A. Yes, so that it is discussed and not forgotten. And that’s where I think the language used has to be intelligent, because if not, there’s rejection. The beauty of a photo is about trapping the viewer; it’s like those carnivorous flowers that attract you with their colors and then ensnare you. That’s where I channel all my knowledge and 30 years of experience.

Q. Is there anything you do for pleasure to ease the suffering of injustice?

A. I would love to play the guitar. I am a lousy musician and I have already exasperated several teachers. But something happens to me: I’m practicing, I see a change of light through the window, I throw the guitar down and go out to take pictures. And that’s with just one leg. I’d have to be totally disabled to learn to play decently.

Q. How close are friends to asking you to take pictures at their weddings?

A. You’d be surprised. Friends in the south are calling me El Puli [after the Pulitzer], which is a way of putting me in my place in case I get too big for my boots. The other day, a friend I used to work on a newspaper with in Jerez said, “Do you remember when I told you they were going to give you the Pulitzer for the terrible photos you took? Well, now they finally did!”

Q. Well, thank you very much, Puli.

A. Thank you, but, you know, I would give up the Pulitzer to have my leg back and be able to use two legs again. I’d even burn my work. It might contradict everything I’ve just said, but that’s how I feel.

English version by Heather Galloway.

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