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Switzerland

Swarovski Luxury Crystal Maker Moonlights In Road Safety Reflector Business

After four people were killed recently while crossing the street in Bern, the Swiss city looked to the Austrian luxury crystal maker's affiliate that mixes Swarovski glass beads into road surfacing to increase visibility. It's a top-end

Swarovski's glass beads will be slightly more subtle than these (Mr. T in DC)
Swarovski's glass beads will be slightly more subtle than these (Mr. T in DC)
BERN - The world-renowned Austrian firm Swarovski doesn't only produce jewelry and small crystal figures. For more than 40 years, it has made micro glass beads for street markings. In 1969 Manfred Swarovski founded M. Swarovski GmbH in Amstetten, Austria, to make the beads. Today, the group known as Swarco AG has more than 80 companies in 20 countries and employs 2,600 people.

In Bern, Switzerland, where four people have died in recent weeks as they crossed in pedestrian crossings, there has been an outcry to improve the safety of crossings – something the city had already started planning for this past summer. Crossings are now being repainted a different yellow, and next spring they will be resurfaced.

The city is planning to mix Swarovski glass beads into the surfacing. "They reflect car lights so crossings are more visible at night and when it's raining or foggy," said Stephan Meyer, who heads the road markings department at the city's depart of civil engineering.

Using glass beads is quite commonplace, says Meyer, but what is particular about the Swarco beads is that they are both very resistant and very reflective. He called them "sensational beads."

But they come at a price, and according to Meyer the cost of road markings in the city of Bern will rise by 5%. In 2011, the city shelled out 500,000 Swiss francs for marking maintenance.

In a few years, all the city's pedestrian crossing are expected to be aglitter with Swarovski beads.

Read the full story in German by Lisa Stalder

Photo - Mr. T in DC

*Newsbites are digest items, not direct translations

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Wagner's MIA Convicts: Where Do Deserting Russian Mercenaries Go?

Tens of thousands of Russian prisoners who've been recruited by the Wagner Group mercenary outfit have escaped from the frontlines after volunteering in exchange for freedom. Some appear to be seeking political asylum in Europe thanks to a "cleared" criminal record.

Picture of a soldier wearing the Wagner Group Logo on their uniform.

Soldier wearing the paramilitary Wagner Group Logo on their uniform.

Source: Sky over Ukraine via Facebook
Anna Akage

Of the about 50,000 Russian convicts who signed up to fight in Ukraine with the Wagner Group, just 10,000 are reportedly still at the front. An unknown number have been killed in action — but among those would-be casualties are also a certain number of coffins that are actually empty.

To hide the number of soldiers who have deserted or defected to Ukraine, Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin is reportedly adding them to the lists of the dead and missing.

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Some Wagner fighters have surrendered through the Ukrainian government's "I Want To Live" hotline, says Olga Romanova, director and founder of the Russia Behind Bars foundation.

"Relatives of the convicts enlisted in the Wagner Group are not allowed to open the coffins," explains Romanova.

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