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Summertime fun in Crimea
Summertime fun in Crimea
Elizabeta Surnacheva

MOSCOW — Upon getting the news that the United States and European Union wouldn’t issue travel visas to certain senior officials as part of the continuing sanctions in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea, no one in Moscow complained out loud.

Indeed, several prominent officials publicly declared that they would vacation in Russia, even if privately they wrung their hands over ruined plans for family vacations overseas. Then the government announced that it would not allow members of the armed forces to leave the country, and the image of government employees collectively opting for a “staycation” this summer got even stronger.

On April 10th, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a warning to Russian citizens, noting that the sanctions might increase the likelihood that Russian citizens would be detained by American law enforcement if they travel to the United States. The Foreign Ministry issued a general recommendation that Russian citizens avoid international travel this summer.

In truth, according to Kommersant's sources in the government, much of the responsibility for federal employees’ staying in Russia this summer lies at least partially with those employees themselves. Mostly for political reasons, many prefer not to go abroad, both out of solidarity with their sanctioned colleagues and to avoid spending money in “unfriendly” countries.

News of both Crimea’s annexation and the first list of sanctioned individuals, which included 11 Duma deputies and 8 senators, prompted euphoria in the Duma (Russian parliament). The Duma adopted - by a vote of 353 to 97 - a decree extending the "sanctions" to all of members of the Duma.

Members of the United Russia party bragged, both in public and in private, about the several weeks they were planning to spend in Crimea over the summer. They also announced the creation of an advertising campaign, “We’re going to Crimea! Who is with us?” One of the project’s features was supposed to be a website with photos of the Duma members on holiday in Crimea.

Neither the site nor the ad campaign materialized. Enthusiasm waned, and the party leadership decided against a ban on certain vacation destinations for its members not already on the list of sanctioned officials.

The truth is, most Russian Duma members will, in fact, have to spend their holidays at home. That’s not because of the sanctions, however - it’s because there are elections slated in many regions this fall, and deputies and senators are returning to their home regions to campaign instead of going on holiday.

“I’m on Canada’s sanctions list, and I’m certainly not going to Canada,” explained Mikhail Margelov, the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Federation Council of Russia.

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Society

End Of Roe v. Wade: Will It Spark Anti-Abortion Momentum Around The World?

Pro-life activists celebrated the end of the U.S. right to abortion, hoping it will trigger a new debate on a topic that in some places had largely been settled: in favor a woman’s right to choose. But it could also boomerang.

Thousands of people demonstrate against abortion in Madrid

Lisa Berdet, Lila Paulou and Shaun Lavelle

The Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling establishing a constitutional right to abortion put the United States at the forefront of abortion rights in the world.

Other countries would follow suit in the succeeding years, with France legalizing abortion in 1975, Italy in 1978, and Ireland finally joining most of the rest of Europe with a landslide 2018 referendum victory for women’s right to choose. Elsewhere, parts of Asia and Africa have made incremental steps toward legalizing abortion, while a growing number of Latin American countries have joined what has now been a decades-long worldwide shift toward more access to abortion rights.

But now, 49 years later, with last Friday’s landmark overturning of Roe v. Wade, will the U.S. once again prove to be ahead of the curve? Will American cultural and political influence carry across borders on the abortion issue, reversing the momentum of recent years?

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