IMF AGREES ON LOAN TO UKRAINE
The International Monetary Fund announced this morning that it will loan between $14 billion and $18 billion to Ukraine over the next two years. With loans from other partners, the program is expected to free up a total $27 billion for the embattled country. This comes after yesterday’s announcement that the Ukrainian government would increase the price of gas by more than 50% for domestic consumers and that it plans more hikes until 2018 in an effort to secure the IMF deal.
Speaking to the Parliament in Kiev, Interim Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk announced a series of economic measures that include freezing minimum and living wages and a cut of 24,000 government employees, representing a 10% workforce reduction. He said that the country faced bankruptcy if the Parliament didn’t adopt the proposed measures, Interfax reports.
Acting President Turchynov stated that the goal of Ukraine’s new government was membership to the European Union, Itar-Tass reports. “For Ukraine, the signing of an association agreement with the European Union is not the ultimate aim. It is the beginning of a new cooperation. We set ourselves the aim of full membership in the EU,” he said.
Meanwhile, in Russia, President Vladimir Putin’s approval rating reached an historic high at 82.3%. At the same time, The Washington Post reports, President Obama’s popularity is falling, with a recent poll showing a 59% disapproval rating. According to the poll, only 40% agree with his handling of the Ukrainian crisis.
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RISE IN EXECUTIONS GLOBALLY
Theaters, museums and cinemas welcomed "essential services" on their stage floors to make a point about the industry's struggles during the latest COVID lockdown.
It’s an unusual sight even in these unusual times: in the Royal Concertgebouw, Amsterdam's prestigious concert hall, a man sits on stage getting his hair cut. Behind him, an orchestra plays Charles Ives' Symphony no. 2. In front of him, dozens of people are watching — both the orchestra, and to see when it's their turn for the next haircut.
For one day it was possible: getting your hair cut in a theater or attending your morning Pilates class in a museum. This was project “Theater Hairdresser”, an initiative set up to protest the Netherlands' continued nationwide lockdown in the arts sector, even after restrictions on other businesses were reduced.
The nation of 17 million entered a strict lockdown on Dec. 19 to try to slow the spread of the Omicron variant, fearing the increase in cases would overwhelm its relatively small intensive care capacity.
Last week, the government relaxed some of its measures and permitted non-essential shops, hairdressers and gyms to open again. But the government of Prime Minister Mark Rutte decided to keep cinemas, museums, theaters and other arts and entertainment venues closed.
It's a playful protest
The decision was met with great disdain since museums and theaters have repeatedly bore the brunt of the Dutch COVID policies. This sector was the final one to open during the last two lockdowns, leading to financial hardship amongst museum workers, artists, producers, and technicians, according to RTL nieuws.
“Theater Hairdresser” is the sector’s response. It’s a playful protest, initiated by cabaret artist Diederik Ebbinge. Approximately 70 theaters and 100 museums participated in the protest, reported the NRC.
A nail parlor in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam
Hollandse-Hoogte via ZUMA Press
After Security Council discussions on Tuesday night, mayors announced that they would be enforcing the COVID-19 measures. This led to tension everywhere as to whether and when the police might intervene. In the end, many municipalities only received a warning. But in other places – such as Nijmegen, Utrecht and Rotterdam – actions were prevented or stopped.
Yet, it seemed some authority figures and police felt for the arts and were reluctant to act. "You could feel from everything that the warnings were half-hearted," said Ebbinge, reports NOS.
Theater ‘De Kleine Komedie’ in Amsterdam staged its light-heartedly defiant opening, NRC reported. Jochem Myjer, a well-known Dutch comedian standing in front of the doors disguised as a security guard, winked and said: “That’s possible, because we are a hair salon. If it were a theatre, it would never be allowed of course.”
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