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Geopolitics

“Just Cover Your Eyes” – The Toll Of Decades Of Nuclear Tests In French Polynesia

More than 15 years after the end of French nuclear testing in the South Pacific, 720 people afflicted with cancer and other illnesses have sued France for compensation.

Nuclear testing in Mururoa atoll, 1970 (Point Zero Canopus)
Nuclear testing in Mururoa atoll, 1970 (Point Zero Canopus)
Christine Chaumeau

PAPEETE - Lucien Faara was a farmer on Tahaa Island, in French Polynesia. In 1968, he left his island for Mururoa atoll, where he hoped for a more stable income than his taro field was yielding. For eight years he worked as a laborer on the sites where the Pacific Experimentation Center (CEP) and the Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) held 210 nuclear weapons tests between 1966 and 1996.

Farra died from bronchopulmonary cancer in 2004. Since 2005, his widow has been asking the courts to recognize her husband's sickness and death as a result of radioactive contamination. She brought her case to the compensation committee (Civen) created in 2010 to acknowledge and compensate French nuclear weapons testing victims, to no avail.

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Economy

How Much Longer Can The Russian Economy Survive Sanctions?

The head of the Kremlin boasted at the recent forum in St. Petersburg International Economic Forum about Russia’s economic resilience against Western sanctions. But behind the scenes, Russian business leaders tell a different story.

At a Veshki distribution center for the food retailer VkusVill, a chain of online Russian grocery stores.

Benjamin Quénelle

-Analysis-

MOSCOW — "The most effective sanction to weaken the Kremlin? Not to target us and punish us, but to give us visas instead ... to abandon the sinking the ship!" This businessman's iconoclastic perspective embodies the anxiety one could detect percolating just below the surface at the "Russian Davos" Forum in St. Petersburg last week.

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Officially called the "International" Economic Forum, the annual event organized by Vladimir Putin is meant to attract foreign investors — but this year, the elite of the national business community were cut off from the rest of the world. "Just among Russians... And forced to line up behind the regime and its economic strategies that lead us to a dead end," says the same source, a Russian manager in one of the main state-owned companies.

Like so many others, this man in his 40s, a typical representative of the new upper middle class, with a foreign passport in hand, educated in the West, liberal and multilingual, discovered his name on the lists of Western sanctions. Directly or indirectly, a large part of the Russian business world has been caught up in the European and U.S. sanctions against Moscow.

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