Russia Bans Lithuanian Dairy Amid Eu Tensions

Russia Rounds Up Sochi Games Migrant Workers, Rights Group Says

FIVB: Uberlandia, Brazil, October 4, 2013 -Russia start their inaugural Men’s U23 World Championship campaign in Uberlandia, Brazil looking to complete an impressive unique hat-trick of underage titles. After their U19 and U21 teams claimed victories earlier in 2013 at their respective world championships, Russia’s U23 group can now complete a dominant sweep with another win in Brazil. Russia’s squad in Uberlandia is well-stocked with the experience of players, including captain Dmitry Kovalev, that claimed the 2011 U21 world title, also on Brazilian soil, in Rio de Janeiro. Home team Brazil will be one of Russia’s main obstacles, led by star wing spiker Lucarelli who was named of the best players in this year’s World League Finals tournament in Mar del Plata, Argentina, and setter Thiago who captained Brazil’s U21 team to silver beind Russia earlier this year. In the pool stage Russia’s biggest challenge is likely to come from Serbia who can count on the inclusion of opposite Aleksandar Atanasijevic, who was Serbia’s top scorer in the Intercontinental Round of this year’s World League with 200 points. Both representatives from Asia, Australia and Iran, are in pool B alongside Russia and Serbia and provide upset potential. Australia, in particular, will take confidence into the championship from a warm-up tournament win against Argentina. The final pool B representatives are Venezuela, who are making a re-appearance at underage world championship level after 10 years, and Mexico who will start the tournament, taking on hot favourites Russia in the opening match on Sunday morning. The other pool boasts the classic South American match-up between hosts Brazil and Argentina, who will be looking for strong performances from recent senior debutants wing spikers Agustin Ramonda and Ezequiel Palacios, and opposite Pablo Kukartsev. Bulgaria could provide tough competition for both South American countries, with key players setter Dobromir Dimitrov and captain Nikolay Penchev both able to boast game time in this year’s World League. African representatives Egypt and Tunisia will try to improve on their last visit to Brazil for an underage world championship, when they were among the final positions at the 2011 U21 tournament in Rio de Janeiro. The final team in pool A, the Dominican Republic, are appearing at an underage world championship for the first time since finishing 13th at both the U19 and U21 competitions 14 years ago in 1999. Each team will play five pool matches before the final stage, where the pool winners and runners-up will meet in the semifinals, while the teams in pool positions third and fourth will play off against each other for final positions fifth to eighth.

Russia’s antigay law colors Sochi Olympics

Gay activists hold rainbow flags as they protest at the steps of the Acropolis´ museum during an event ahead of the handover ceremony of the Olympic Flame, in Athens, on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013. A few dozen gay activists peacefully protested at Russia’s restrictive laws against “homosexual propaganda” as the Olympic flame made its way through central Athens ahead of its handover to the organizers of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. (Kostas Tsironis/AP)

Lithuania has used its status as holder of the EU’s rotating presidency to draw attention to arduous customs checks that Moscow has imposed on Eastern European countries now seeking closer relations with Brussels. Ukraine hopes to sign a landmark association and free trade accord with the European Union during a November summit in Vilnius. Russia has responded by imposing detailed customs inspections on Ukrainian products over the summer and spreading those to Lithuanian goods three weeks ago. The trade row prompted Lithuania to warn Moscow this month that it risked souring ties with the 28-nation bloc if such checks continued. Lithuania also pointed out that it could — but would not — impose the same sanctions on goods travelling over its territory to and from Russia’s western exclave of Kaliningrad. The veiled warning outraged Russian officials, who on Saturday vowed to ban some Lithuanian dairy imports effective Monday. “There is every likelihood that Russia will begin limiting the admission of individual groups of dairy products on October 7,” news agencies quoted Russia’s public health inspector Gennady Onishchenko as saying. “At the start of next week, we will launch a series of measures aimed at halting the admission… of Lithuanian products that do not meet Russian legal requirements aimed at protecting consumer rights.” ITAR-TASS said Russia has already imposed some import restrictions on Lithuania’s top cheese producer Pieno Zvaigzdes. Russia first warned it may ban Lithuanian dairy imports on Wednesday due to “sanitary and epidemiological risks”. Tests on Lithuanian food products had “yielded unsatisfactory results”, Onishchenko said at the time. The dairy industry, which is responsible for about one-fifth of Lithuania’s agricultural production, is a vital source of export revenue. Moscow’s restrictions would be especially painful because the Russian market accounts for about 85 percent of Lithuania’s total dairy exports. The nation of three million, which hopes to swap its currency for the euro by 2015, is keen to avoid any economic shocks that may derail those plans. It has also sought the defence of larger European countries by promoting a united EU stance against Russia’s trade bans.

“I have gay family members, and I have a lot of friends in the LBGT community,” she began. “I’m so nervous to talk about this. But I have a firm stance that we should all have equal rights. At the same time, it is not my place to go into Russia and tell them how to run their country.” But more typical among the assembled Americans were figure skaters Jeremy Abbott and Evan Lysacek, the defending gold medalist, both of whom tried to sidestep the questions. “It’s a very polarized issue,” Abbott said. “There’s no way to answer this question properly without offending somebody. That’s why we all feel we are walking on eggshells. . . . We have to be cautious about what we say.” Fellow skater Agnes Zawadzki went even further, professing an ostrichlike hope that the potential distraction would not intrude on her preparations. “I’m not there to make a difference,” said Zawadzki, 19. “I want to focus on myself and what I have to do well to compete well at the Olympics.” The Russian law outlaws any attempt to expose minors to information portraying gay relationships in a positive light. Its provisions mandate a hefty fine and up to 15 days in prison for violators, including non-Russians. Part of the dilemma confronting the USOC is the fact that the International Olympic Committee charter, while outlawing racial, religious, and sexual discriminations, contains no specific language on gay bias.

Since early last month, Russian officials have rounded up the workers for alleged violations of migration or employment rules, the New York-based human rights group said today in an e-mailed statement. Many have been kept in arbitrary and inhuman conditions and some expelled from Russia, it said. Its outrageous for the migrant workers who helped to build Sochis shiny new Olympic venues to be herded into detention and deported, said Jane Buchanan, associate director for Europe and Central Asia. Ilya Djous, a spokesman for Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak, whos in charge of Olympic preparations, said by phone that there havent been any mass violations of labor or migration rules. Russia stages the competition in February and has spent about $50 billion, making these the most expensive Winter Games . The project has included road building and a train service to connect the coastal hub to be used for the opening ceremony and ice skating events and the mountains that will host the skiing and downhill competitions. Construction workers are being exploited and cheated out of their wages, Human Rights Watch said in February. Some employers demanded 12-hour shifts with few days off, withheld passports and work permits and refused to pay promised salaries, the group said. President Vladimir Putin has sought to attract large international events, including the 2018 soccer World Cup and last years Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. To contact the reporters on this story: Henry Meyer in Moscow at ; Ilya Arkhipov in Moscow at To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at More News:

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