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Russian Parliament To Ban Public Employees From Owning Foreign Assets

Russian Parliament To Ban Public Employees From Owning Foreign Assets
This is a digest item, not a direct translation

MOSCOW - Proposed legislation in the Russian Duma (Lower House of Parliament) would forbid all public employees, including government ministers, the President and the Duma MPs themselves, from owning any real estate, stocks or bank accounts outside of Russia. In its current form, public employees found to have property or accounts abroad would be removed from their posts and would face up to five years in jail, as well as hefty fines. In addition, public employees would not be able to own property abroad for three years after they leave government service.

Vyacheslav Lyisakov, an MP from the ruling United Russia party and one of the bill’s authors, said that government employees should “have two feet in Russia.” But other members of the United Russia party admitted that the law could violate government workers’ civil rights.

Aleksei Makarkin, vice-president of the Center of Political Technology, says that this new law is a way to respond to public outcry about new restrictions on rallies and the activities of NGOs; a way of saying “Look, we don’t just restrict average citizens, we also restrict ourselves.” But he is convinced that the law is too full of loopholes to genuinely prevent ownership of foreign assets among the leading classes.

Kiril Kabanov, head of the National Anti-Corruption Committee, agrees, adding that the real reason for the law project is the upcoming report on the fight against corruption in Russia that will be presented to the international community in September.

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A Refuge From China's Rat Race: The Young People Flocking To Buddhist Monasteries

Unemployment, stress in the workplace, economic difficulties: more and more young Chinese graduates are flocking to monasteries to find "another school of life."

Photograph of a girl praying at a temple during Chinese Lunar New Year. She is burning incense.

Feb 20, 2015 - Huaibei, China - Chinese worshippers pray at a temple during the Lunar New Yeat

Frédéric Schaeffer

JIAXING — It's already dawn at Xianghai Temple when Lin, 26, goes to the Hall of 10,000 Buddhas for the 5:30 a.m. prayer.

Still half-asleep, the young woman joins the monks in chanting mantras and reciting sacred texts for an hour. Kneeling, she bows three times to Vairocana, also known as the Great Sun Buddha, who dominates the 42-meter-high hall representing the cosmos.

Before grabbing a vegetarian breakfast in the adjacent refectory, monks and devotees chant around the hall to the sound of drums and gongs.

"I resigned last October from the e-commerce company where I had been working for the past two years in Nanjing, and joined the temple in January, where I am now a volunteer in residence," explains the young woman, soberly dressed in black pants and a cream linen jacket.

Located in the city of Jiaxing, over a hundred kilometers from Shanghai, in eastern China, the Xianghai temple is home to some 20 permanent volunteers.

Unlike Lin, most of them only stay for a couple days or a few weeks. But for Lin, who spends most of her free time studying Buddhist texts in the temple library, the change in her life has been radical. "I used to do the same job every day, sometimes until very late at night, writing all kinds of reports for my boss. I was exhausted physically and mentally. I felt my life had no meaning," she says.

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