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Amazing New War Panorama Museum in St. Petersburg

Voice Of EU



A new museum has opened in St Petersburg that lets visitors feel the full experience of the Patriotic War.

No corner was cut nor expense spared to create complete accuracy of the events that transpired. The following clip taken from Russian news (with transcript below) features the exhibit and features a visit from President Putin 

It’s so quiet here that it’s even possible to hear the snow crunching. The Piskaryovskoye Cemetery is the largest mass grave site of war victims in the world. Vladimir Putin’s older brother lies here. He died during the siege at the age of just two. The approximate place of where his brother’s body is buried was found just some years ago. This happened in millions of Russian families.

“All living, know that we didn’t want to leave and we didn’t. We fought to the bitter end near the dark Neva.”

Here, on the Nevsky Pyatachok, Putin’s father was seriously wounded while defending Leningrad.

Cemetery’s visiter:

“My father fought with yours on the Nevsky Pyatachok. He was the commander.”


Faces that were fire-burnt and frost-bitten at the same time. The newest diorama showing the Leningrad Siege breaking. It looks so realistic that you get chills with each millimeter. Struggle, close combat, bombing, shooting, blood, dirt, snow. And such an important victory, a life-saving Breakthrough.

Leonid Motorin:

“Good job, well done!”


He saw it all with his own eyes. The Breakthrough participant Leonid Motorin turns 94 in February. However real it looks in the museum, that horror can be conveyed only partly.

He looks into their faces, it’s impossible to forget his friends’ looks. This is Kostya Nepoklonov, he’s just 21. He was awarded the Order of the Red Star for destroying the enemy’s firing positions. This is Dmitry Stryomin, a regular art teacher. He was defending his home, simply by swimming across the Neva and entering combat with the Nazis. In 1942, he went missing, and nothing was known about him.

Search missions held by Dmitry Poshtarenko helped to find out the truth. He grew up in a house that was built on the site of the bloody battles and, as he says, he would pick up shells together with strawberries in his garden. So, he created this exhibition for young people like him to see history and thus feel it. Documented and real images and deeds.

Vladimir Putin:

“Holding arms, they turned towards the enemy. They never retreated. They died holding their arms, in the fight, advancing. It’s such an attitude towards the Motherland, the Fatherland that is in our people’s character.”


The 45-caliber anti-tank gun that the soldiers nicknamed “So long, Motherland.” Because it was just one shot at the tank that they could make before dying.

Dmitry Poshtarenko, the project’s author:

“When our girls were working on the material, they found in the archives Valentin Taraskevich’s photo, taken from the Nevsky Pyatachok, with exactly the same gun. And we broke the plate here exactly this way.”

Vladimir Putin:

“The 45-caliber anti-tank gun, “So long, Motherland.”


More than a million Soviet soldiers died fighting for Leningrad. Just think of it, 800 thousand civilians. A deed that we must always remember.

Leonid Motorin:

“While a soldier died or was killed in the trench, a sieged worker died standing near his press. Without dropping their hammer, nut key, or chisel. Once we came to a metal factory to pick up rifflers, and the head engineer sent us to uncle Vasya’s storeroom. We came there and saw uncle Vasya leaning on his press. He called him by his name thinking he fell asleep. He came close, but uncle Vasya’s body was cold already. He died standing near his press.”

Television Documentary:

January 18, 1943, at midday, the troops of the Leningrad and Volkhov fronts joined together. The Siege of Leningrad is over!

Isay Kuzinets, sieged Leningrad resident:

“My mother, a senior lieutenant and a doctor, came to our daycare and brought a cheesecake snack. The one you don’t know, plain, without vanilla, raisins or anything else. It cost 14 kopeikas back then. I’m 78 years old now, but I’m telling you this and can still feel its taste. That’s how I understood that something changed in this city. Now it’s clear that it was the Breakthrough.”


So much has been said about the Siege and the Breakthrough, but new horrible details still emerge.

Vladimir Putin:

“I’m deeply convinced that we must use every occasion to put this into remembrance. For us to never forget this. For the whole world to remember. For nothing like this to ever repeat neither in our country nor anywhere else in the world.”


The new movie Rubezh is awaiting its release. It’s about a young cynical businessman hindered by the excavation on the Nevsky Pyatachok. He ends up finding himself in the past, right in the middle of combat.

Film frame:

“Get up! Alyosha! Alyosha! Alyosha, wait! Alyosha!

Vladimir Putin:

“I think it’s made with much talent, it’s expressive, and it’s easy to understand. It touches right to the heart, just the way you wanted.”


This exhibition touches to the heart, too. It was first opened four years ago, but it was a small and temporary exposition. Putin then suggested making it larger and permanent.

Vyacheslav Panfilov, veteran:

“The sincerest veteran’s thank you! And restoring the Army is going well! We thought we could never have a good one again. But now, we’re so happy. We rustled it up well Syria! All veterans love you, honestly! With all our hearts. For us, you’re the support that holds Russia without letting anyone manipulate us. We’re now protecting our interests with dignity. We’re following everything, we know everything, thank you! Honesty, thank you!”


Real fighters that are so few now. They have lived a long life and saw quite a lot.

Vyacheslav Panfilov, veteran:

 “I wish you luck and all earthly blessings.”

Vladimir Putin:

“Thank you.”


“We, veterans, are always with you.”

Vladimir Putin:

“Thank you very much.”


“I wish you health, always stay the same, we’re always behind you.”

Vladimir Putin:

“Thank you very much.”


A long year passed between the moment when the Siege was broken and when it was fully lifted. But residents of the city on the Neva already knew and understood that they withstood it all and would definitely win.

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How Italy came to be Europe’s coffee capital

Voice Of EU



Given how protective Italians can be over their coffee culture, you might be forgiven for thinking they invented the drink.

But that title actually goes to Ethiopia, where much of the world’s coffee is still grown today.

According to the coffee blog Home Grounds, the story goes that in 700 AD, an Abyssinian goatherder named Kaldi found his goats prancing around and acting strangely.

Seeing red berries on some nearby bushes, Kaldi surmised that they might be behind his charges’ odd behaviour.

At this point different versions of the story emerge: one says Kaldi gave the berries to a monk, who was happy to find something to help him stay awake to pray all night; another says the monk disapproved and threw the beans on the fire, where they released the delicious aroma of roasted beans.

Unripened coffee beans growing on branches.
Unripened coffee beans growing on branches. Photo by Rodrigo Flores on Unsplash

Either way, humans started drinking coffee, and they haven’t stopped since.

From Ethiopia, coffee spread across the ocean to Yemen and proliferated throughout the Arabian peninsula. Here it gave rise coffeehouses or qahveh khaneh, which became hubs of social and cultural activity.

Coffee didn’t make its way to Italy until 16th century, when Venetian sailors brought it back from the Ottoman empire.

READ ALSO: Where, when and how to drink coffee like an Italian

At first this black, bitter liquid was feared to be from the devil, and local priests called on Pope Clement VIII to denounce it.

But, the legend goes, the pope decided to give the drink a try before delivering his judgement; and after a few sips, he proclaimed, “This Satan’s drink is so delicious that it would be a pity to let the infidels have exclusive use of it.” He gave the drink his blessing – but not before baptising the beans, just to be safe.

Coffeehouses subsequently started popping up in Venice in around the late 17th century, and by the mid-1700s there were over 200 of them, frequented by great artists, writers and poets of the time.

But it wasn’t until the late 19th century that a series of Italian inventors started coming up with the innovations that led to Italy gaining its current reputation as Europe’s custodian of coffee.

As coffee became more and more popular, people started looking for ways to produce it at speed rather than having to leave each cup to brew for several minutes, and the idea of forcing steam through coffee grounds at pressure in order to make coffee quickly began to take hold.

An old-fashioned Italian espresso machine.
An old-fashioned Italian espresso machine. Photo by Gabriella Clare Marino on Unsplash

The first effort at something approaching an espresso (literally, ‘pressed out’) machine was presented by Angelo Moriondo at the Turin General Exposition in 1884, where it won a bronze medal – but the device was somewhat impractical in its design, and was never produced commercially.

READ ALSO: Why is Italy called Italy?

A while later, in 1901, Milanese inventor Luigi Bezzerra developed and patented a smaller and more efficient version of the machine, making it commercially viable, though it still had some faults.

By 1906, Bezzerra and fellow inventor Desiderio Pavoni had more or less perfected their version of the instrument, and the first steam-based espresso machine went on the market.

This device was ultimately replaced by Achille Gaggia’s 1938 invention, which dispensed with the steam (which could give the coffee a burnt flavour) and made espresso by forcing hot water through the coffee grounds at very high pressure, producing a highly concentrated drink very similar to what we think of as espresso today.

In between, one Alfonso Bialetti came out with his stovetop Moka caffettiera in 1933, which allowed ordinary Italians to make something not unlike espresso coffee in the comfort of their own homes.

A bialetti moka caffetiera.
A Bialetti moka caffetiera. Photo by Sten Ritterfeld on Unsplash

With these inventions, Italy developed a reputation for being Europe’s, if not the world’s, coffee capital – a recognition it guards fiercely today.

The question of who ‘owns’ Italy’s coffee culture was raised earlier this year, when it transpired that the Consortium for the Protection of Traditional Italian Espresso Coffee in Treviso and the Region of Campania had separately sought UNESCO recognition for the espresso coffee tradition; the consortium representing all of Italy and Campania representing Naples, which is particularly proud of its coffee culture.

READ ALSO: Guardia di Finanza to Carabinieri – who does what in the Italian police force?

One academic who worked on Campania’s bid decried the Treviso consortium’s application as “an act of war by the north against the south”, the Wall Street Journal reported at the time, while the consortium’s founder Giorgio Caballini described Naples’ attempt to assert ownership over Italian espresso as “unacceptable”.

In the end, neither won: Italy’s UNESCO committee told the two groups it was disallowing both their candidacies, and to apply again as a united front next year.

Hopefully, they can resolve their differences – perhaps over an espresso or two.

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European Commission recommends travel ban on southern Africa amid fears over new Covid variant

Voice Of EU



The EU is expected to announce an immediate travel ban to southern Africa because of the discovery of a new Covid-19 variant.

The B.1.1.529 variant, which is more transmissible than the dominant Delta variant and could evade vaccines, has been discovered in South Africa’s most populous province Gauteng.

The EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen tweeted: “The @EU_Commission will propose, in close coordination with Member States, to activate the emergency brake to stop air travel from the southern African region due to the variant of concern B.1.1.529.”

The future of this year’s United Rugby Championship (URC) could be in jeopardy as it has four South African teams in it.

Munster are in the country to play Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday night and are due to stay on to play Lions in Johannesburg next weekend.

The UK has suspended flights from South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho and Eswatini (formerly Swaziland).

Northern Ireland’s chief medical officer, Michael McBride, said the emergence of the new variant was “undoubtedly a matter of concern”.

Recent arrivals to Northern Ireland from the six countries on the UK list will be contacted by the Public Health Agency (PHA) and asked to self-isolate and take a PCR test, which will be prioritised for genomic sequencing.

Further assessments will be made concerning other countries with strong travel links to South Africa, the North’s Department of Health said.

Dr McBride said the introduction of travel restrictions was on a “precautionary basis, while we await further evidence on the spread of this variant in South Africa and understand more about it.”

The official Munster rugby Twitter account stated: “We all are safe & well in Pretoria. We are working with URC on the ongoing situation relating to Covid-19 & will provide an update once we know more #MunsterInSA.”

The Covid adviser for the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP), Mary Favier has warned that if the new South African variant of the virus manages to “out run” Delta, then “we will have a problem”.

It was still unknown if vaccines would work against the new variant which was why so much attention was being paid to it, she told Newstalk Breakfast.

Dr Favier also welcomed plans to extend the vaccine programme to children aged 5-11. GPs knew the difference that vaccines could make, however, she pointed out that it would be a parental decision and GPs would be willing to discuss the issue with parents.

On RTÉ Radio 1’s Morning Ireland programme immunology expert, Professor Christine Loscher said she expected the World Health Organisation (WHO) to move the status of the new variant from one of interest to one of concern in the near future.

The new variant was of concern because of the number of mutations in the spike proteins and it was still unclear how this variant would respond to vaccines. It was a case of wait and see the impact, she said.

Within the coming weeks it would be known how good current vaccines were at neutralising antibodies in the variant, added Prof Loscher. But she pointed out that vaccine manufacturers have been able to “tweak” vaccines as the virus changed.

“That’s a positive thing to know, that they have the technology to vary the vaccine as variants arrive.”

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said he is “deeply concerned” about the new Covid variant.

The Department of Health said it is monitoring the situation in a number of countries in southern Africa and in Hong Kong. No cases have yet been reported in Europe.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) will meet on Friday to to further assess the significance of this variant.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has not updated its travel advice to South Africa on its website. It no longer advises against non-essential travel.

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Italy tightens Covid restrictions as some regions face return to ‘yellow’ zone

Voice Of EU



A government decree that comes into force from December 6th will require a ‘super green pass’ health certificate to access most venues and services across the country, in a bid to contain Italy’s rising infection rate and ensure Christmas celebrations can go ahead as planned.

The ‘super green pass’ can be obtained only by those who are vaccinated against or have recovered from Covid-19. 

It supersedes the basic ‘green pass’, which was also available to those who had recently tested negative for the virus; though the basic green pass will still be valid for use on public transport and to access workplaces.

READ ALSO: Italy to impose ‘super green pass’ Covid restrictions on unvaccinated

Speaking at a televised press conference on Monday evening, Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi said the restrictions would mean a “normal” Christmas this year for those who are vaccinated, and would “give certainty to the tourist season”.

The announcement comes amid media reports that some Italian regions will be placed under increased restrictions starting next week.

People wearing a face mask do some window shopping on Piazza di Spagna in central Rome on December 13, 2020.

People wearing a face mask do some window shopping on Piazza di Spagna in central Rome on December 13, 2020. Vincenzo PINTO / AFP

The northerneastern region of Friuli Venezia Giulia will be returned to the more restricted ‘yellow’ zone from Monday, after it met all of the Italian government’s criteria for tightened restrictions.

Italy operates under a four-tier colour coded system for coronavirus restrictions, with ‘white’ zone areas under the most relaxed rules, and ‘yellow’, ‘orange’ and ‘red’ zones under increasingly strict restrictions.

Since October, the entire country has been in the least-restricted white zone – but this week, Friuli Venezia Giulia’s hospital ward occupancy and Covid infection rates exceeded the limits put in place by the government last summer.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How will Italy’s Covid restrictions change in December?

The region’s figures stood at 15 percent Covid patient ICU occupancy and 18 percent general hospital ward occupancy as of November 24th, according to data provided by Agenas, Italy’s National Agency for Health Services.

Under a law introduced by Italy’s government in July, any region above the threshold of 10 percent ICU and 15 percent general ward Covid patient occupancy and with a new weekly incident rate of 50 cases per 100,000 inhabitants should automatically be placed in the yellow zone.

It’s thought that mass demonstrations held in the region’s capital of Trieste last month to protest the introduction of a Covid health certificate requirement for Italy’s workers are partly behind its deteriorating health situation.

A Santa Claus puppet wearing a face mask is displayed in the window of a food store at Rome's Trevi fountain square on December 23, 2020.

A Santa Claus puppet wearing a face mask is displayed in the window of a food store at Rome’s Trevi fountain square on December 23, 2020. Vincenzo PINTO / AFP

According to Italian media, Friuli Venezia Giulia’s governor Massimiliano Fedriga has agreed to enforce the government’s ‘super green pass’ rules from Monday, allowing the region’s vaccinated population to bypass restrictions they would otherwise be subject to.

READ ALSO: Q&A: How will Italy’s new Covid ‘super green pass’ work?

Currently, ‘yellow zone’ restrictions require an area’s inhabitants to wear a mask both outdoors and in indoor public spaces, and restaurants can seat a maximum of four diners to a table.

While those in a yellow zone will still be required to mask up outdoors, under the new rules, people who hold the ‘super green pass’ will be able to access “indoor catering”, shows (such as theatre performances), parties, nightclubs, sporting events, and “public ceremonies”, as normal.

Other parts of the country currently expected to join Friuli Venezia Giulia in the yellow zone within the next couple of weeks are the autonomous province of Bolzano, which had 10 percent ICU and 15 percent general ward Covid patient occupancy rates as of November 24th; as well as Marche, Liguria, Lazio, Calabria, which all have figures approaching the threshold.

Some of Italy’s larger cities are putting into place their own preemptive strategies to try to contain their infection rates.

On Thursday, Milan’s mayor Giuseppe Sala said he was preparing to sign a measure making facemasks mandatory outdoors across the city center from the coming weekend, reports news agency Ansa.

And in Venice, mayor Luigi Brugnaro has already signed an order requiring the use of masks at Christmas markets and other large outdoor gatherings in the city, reports Sky TG 24.

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