#PandoraPapers: Ukraine President Zelensky starring

Strasbourg 05.10.2021 The Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky may have pledged to reform the country’s corrupt system of politics, but the Pandora Papers reveals otherwise.

Driving the news: Ukraine is the country with the highest number of politicians named in the leak of offshore data, which implicates hundreds of people linked to offshore companies — including President Volodymyr Zelensky, presumably fighting corruption.

Though offshore companies are not themselves illegal, they often help facilitate tax evasion or money laundering, writes the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the network of reporters and media organisations that obtained the records, revealing double-faced politicians.

While being a popular professional comedian, Zelensky had campaigned on reforming Ukraine’s oligarch-dominated system, positioning himself as an outsider of the crooked universe of the politicians, including incumbent Petro Poroshenko, who hid offshore assets.

However the Pandora Papers revealed that Zelenski was involved with a network of offshore companies, which he co-owned with friends and business partners.
Zelensky is one of several politicians who campaigned on anti-corruption platforms — others include Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan — who will now be facing questions over undisclosed wealth tied to them or their close associates, Axios’ eidotor Dave Lawler said.

By the numbers: Ukraine leads with 38 politicians named in the Pandora Papers. The top five are …

– Ukraine: 38
– Russia: 19
– Honduras: 11
– United Arab Emirates: 11
– Nigeria: 10

#PandoraPapers: $32 trillion tax evasion

Strasbourg 05.09.2021 More than 600 journalists from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ @ICIJorg 2021 have conducted a vast investigation named #PandoraPapers which reveals how the offshore money machine operates in every corner of the planet, including the world’s largest democracies.
The Consortium @ICIJorg has uncovered tax evasion and corruption totaling up to $32 trillion involving:

– 35 current/ex-world leaders;
– 336 politicians/public officials;
– 130 billionaires, mostly from Russia, Brazil, UK, Israel.

The Washington Post, owned by the American billionaire Jeff Bezos, and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) gained an unprecedented look into the money flowing into trusts in the United States by examining a trove of more than 11.9 million confidential documents maintained by trust and corporate services providers around the world.

The records, presented to public under the name of the Pandora Papers, expose how foreign political and corporate leaders or their family members moved money and other assets from long-established tax havens to U.S. trust companies.

The investigation identified 206 U.S.-based trusts linked to 41 countries holding combined assets worth more than $1 billion. Nearly 30 of the trusts held assets connected to people or companies accused of fraud, bribery or human rights abuses in some of the world’s most vulnerable communities.

The cache of confidential files, obtained by @ICIJ and shared with more than 150 media partners, describe only some of the trusts in the United States but is the most significant set of records ever made public from inside America’s trust industry.

The trust documents come mostly from the Sioux Falls office of Trident Trust, a global provider of offshore services. In a written statement, Trident said it is committed to compliance with all applicable regulations and routinely cooperates with authorities. The company declined to answer questions about its clients.

On Monday, October 4, the European Parliament included Council and Commission #PandoraPapers statements to agenda of the Plenary in Strasbourg. On October 6 at Strasbourg plenary of the European Parliament – implications on the efforts to combat money laundering, tax evasion and avoidance will be presented at 15h00. The MEPs will vote on the resolution at the next part-session.

PM Sanna Marin trashes EU dress code

Brussels 25.06.2021 Anna van Densky OPINION There is no official dress code in the EU institutions, “however you are expected to dress adequately” the site of the European Commission announced. For most businesses throughout Europe, business attire is formal, which means dark suits, subdued ties, and lace-up shoes. Women’s clothing follows suit.
(Image: Finnish PM Sanna Marin “Friday” casual look at doorstep of the European Council).

Business attire is a formal dress code for many offices and corporate events in the EU. It denotes a professional style of dress that appears smart and sophisticated. For men, a suit is generally required. Women as “newcomers” can interpret business attire in a range of ways. While pantsuits and skirt suits are ideal, polished separates and business dresses are accepted if applied with discretion.

Business casual is a somewhat relaxed style of office wear which is accepted on certain occasions. It is often called upon for contemporary places of work in offices, however nowadays with distant working everything has been even more relaxed due to teleconferencing.

Previously along with “casual Fridays” in more conservative offices. Formal business attire is more sophisticated than business casual and is typically reserved for more traditional offices along with certain professional occasions, such as meetings and presentations.

According to modern dress code women can wear casual pants or skirts. Neither should be tight. Fabrics should be crisp; colours should generally be solid; navy, black,  gray, brown and khaki are always safe bets. For the most business-like appearance, pants should be creased and tailored; neither extreme of tight or flowing. (Image below: Christine LAGARDE -President of the European Central Bank):

“If you are pursuing a conservative industry and are in doubt, observe well-dressed women in your industry on the job, at career fairs, at information sessions, or consult your career coach” the University of Maryland School of Business instructs.

However new generation EU politicians are not willing to look up to the pre-COVID19 era. Lockdowns, social distancing and teleworking reflected upon modern looks. Future is clearly unceremonious! 

#Abyss: Brussels youth for human rights

Brussels 02.03.2021 “The abyss”, an icebreaker party scheduled for Friday, April 2, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. to defend the right of assembly* in the ongoing context of the pandemic, did not take place at the Parc du Cinquantenaire in Brussels as initially announced, but at the Bois de la Cambre, according to information. published in the morning on the Facebook group of the event.

Brussels Bourgmestre Philippe Close does not intend, according to his spokesman, to close the woods,surrounding the capital, considering that this would be depriving citizens of the freedom to enjoy it to breathe and walk there. For its part, the Brussels-Capital/Ixelles police zone has indicated that its forces will be present this Friday evening at both places, at the Cinquantenaire and at the Bois de la Cambre.

“We want to regain our right to meet and assemble except that we have to ask for an authorization and since we have been living under a “health dictatorship” for a year, it was obvious that we never would have had it. Hence the qualifier “wild” for our parties. We feel that we are not doing anything wrong. For several hours now, we have had the impression that we are organising a terrorist attack. It shows how far we have come. It’s just about putting some music in a park and even yesterday they didn’t even succeed. I think we have the law on our side, morality on our side, a good part of the people … “

*Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights

“Article 11: Freedom of assembly and association
1. Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

2. No restrictions shall be placed on the exercise of these rights other than such as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. This article shall not prevent the imposition of lawful restrictions on the exercise of these rights by members of the armed forces, of the police or of the administration of the state”.

#TBT: BRAFA Art Fair

Brussels 1.10.2020 In the evening of the first day of October a sad for the art lovers news came – the cancellation of the Brussels Fine Art Fair 2021 due to volatile COVID-19 pandemic context. (Images: @AnnaVanDensky)

The members of the non-profit organisation (organiser of the BRAFA Art Fair) held an Extraordinary General Meeting during which they decided to postpone the event to 2022.

The first ever BRAFA was held in the Arlequin Hall of the Galerie Louiza in 1956. Charles Van Hove and Mamy Wouters, the long standing President and Vice-President of the Belgian Chamber of Antiques Dealers, were behind the initiative to set up the salon. This first Belgian Antiques Fair or ‘Foire des Antiquaires de Belgique’, as it was known then, followed in the footsteps of the fairs already held at Grosvenor House in London and at the Prinsenhof in Delft, but preceded those set up in Paris, Florence and Munich.

The growing success of the fair and the increasing number of participants meant that a location had to be found capable of keeping up with the event’s development. The range of art objects on display also continued to expand. From 1967 to 2003, the fair was held in the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels. Up until 1994, only Belgian antiques dealers who were members of the Royal Chamber of Antique Dealers could take part in the fair which was, at the time, a purely national event. The number of participants fluctuated between forty and fifty.

The first major change occurred in 1995 when Christian de Bruyn opened the fair to foreign antique dealers for the first time. The Belgian antique dealers saw this as a revolutionary step and they were right; in no time the fair had outgrown the Palais des Beaux-Arts and a new, much bigger location had to be found. In 2004 the Belgian Antiques Fair therefore moved to Tour & Taxis, a gem of Belgian industrial architectural heritage situated in the north of Brussels, next to the Willebroek canal. Now that exhibition space was no longer restricted, the BRAFA actively sought to increase the number of participants. Having started with no more than twenty Belgian antique dealers it grew to incorporate about one hundred and thirty exhibitors from both Belgium and abroad in the space of a few years. The fair is now recognized worldwide as one of the leading international fairs in Europe.

BRAFA, or the Brussels Art Fair, is one of the longest running art and antiques fairs in the world and is organized every year by the nonprofit Belgian Antiques Fair Association.

The uncertainty created by the coronavirus pandemic in Europe is the main reason for the postponement. BRAFA, which is traditionally the first top international fine art fair of the year, showcases 130 exhibitors on average, of which two thirds come from abroad.

Last year, the fair welcomed a record number of 68,000 visitors, collectors and professionals, including a significant number from neighbouring countries. The current health situation and its potential evolution this autumn and winter have caused serious concerns. New restrictions on intra-European travel related to coronavirus pandemic and the safety measures imposed by the authorities have only added to the fear of the organisers.

E-Tourism: long-term work and leisure fusion..

Anna Van Densky OPINION The latest edition of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) – World Tourism Barometer concluded that the near-complete lockdown imposed in response to the pandemic led to a 98% fall in international tourist flows in May when compared to last year.

The Barometer also indicated a 56% year-on-year drop in tourist arrivals between January and May. This data signified a fall of 300 million tourists and US$320 billion lost in international tourism profits – more than three times worse than during the Global Economic Crisis of 2009.

However the dramatic disruptions of the traditional tourism caused by pandemic, can also conceive new forms and incentives for travellers, venturing advantages of long-term «e-tourism».

Nowadays the new cyber-age technologies enable travelers to work from any hotspot providing broadband internet, the opportunity transcending the traditional forms of vacation built on antithesis of work-leisure, and integrating work into classic leisure environments, creating fusion of both.

«Telework tourism» opens new perspectives for individuals, couples, families, and groups, who are interested to combine a possibility of a new format of
remote office work, and leisure in a foreign country for a basic period of three months (in some cases up to six months with a relevant insurance).

Taking into consideration the most immediate and lasting lifestyle changes caused by the pandemic, the major trend – a remote work tourism, can become a must and vogue for «office people». The opportunities are equally open for employees, and self-employed, who have reformatted their modus operandi to tele-communications; and certaliny for representatives of intellectual and free professions as authors, writers, editors, publishers; not least those who are in education and academia system, as lecturers, instructors, tutors, researchers, Ph.D students, who have had already a sufficient level of autonomy and capabilities to realise their work remotely. As a result we will soon witness the birth of the entire Nomadic e-communities venturing resorts on six continents.

Within the new pandemic context the toursim sector might develop new concepts to broaden the spectrum of services, offering to the potenial travellers ideas and models of new, adapted e-lifestyle, discoveering positive sides of teleworking, moving to different settings, and environments, combining work and leisure for a significanly longer period of time, which previously has been a luxury available for senior citizens only.

Before the pandemic disruption the European tourism has been going through a period of intense development also as a result of the status of ‘industry’ it was attributed in the EU, creating jobs and generating impressive profits.
One of the achievements of these developments is the highest level of quality of the services in products offered by the industry of hospitality responding to the diversity of demands, and scale of financial opportunities of the travellers, which nowadays with a broadband can be enjoyed for a significantly longer period of time.

And after all, may be new age technology offers us much more interesting ways of spending life than we could have ever imagined before? The nascent trend for long-term «teleworking tourism» in the setting of traditional resorts is shaped by download speeds of 2.8 Mbps for HD quality, providing modern standard tele-conferencing for the working travellers, enjoying wonders of the Cyber Age.

In today’s rapidly changing world invaded by volatility the working e-travelling is the long-term trend to stay: bon voyage!

Khabarovsk: Russians protest against Putin

#Khabarovsk #Russia The protestors started with the demands of release of their governor Sergei Furgal, who was abdicted, they believe, because of his refusal to falsify the results of the Constitution referendum, which aimed at crowning Putin lifelong President of Russia.

The Far East region of Khabarovsk showed very little support to a plan of leaving Putin at power to 2036, with 36,64% of «NO» votes among 44% turnout, and after that failure Sergei Furgal «lost confidence» of the President, and was literally kidnapped, and transported to Moscow prison.

The abdicated on July 9 governor denies all accusation of plotting murders of businessmen committed in 2004-2005, claiming his innocence.
People in Khabarovsk insist the entire Furgal affair is fabricated, being the revenge for his independence, and democratic attitude towards the plebiscite, letting the vote happen without manipulations.

Nowadays the citizens are not only demanding his liberation, but also the resigantion of Putin, and respect of democracy, being indignant by the foul play around Constitution, with one single aim of continuation of Putin’s presidency.

They are chanting «Putin’s thief!», «Putin resign!», «Putin out!», «Crime against Constitution», «Russia without Putin!». National Guards sent to the central square said they will not act against people, in case of order to use force, they will surrender uniforms and quit.

Remarkable, that Khabarovici use method of Catalans and Yellow Vests, manifesting on Saturday, and working during the week to keep movement going for a long period of time.
It is also special that people went out in the streets in spite of the summer heat: + 31 C°
Cases of heat stroke were reported, and at least one woman received medical assistance.
Citizens-journalists claimed there were 100 000 people in streets today, more than last Saturday.
The protests started shortly after arrest of Sergei Furgal, and became massive from July 11.

Reacting upon the situation, Putin has appointed a new governor Mikhail Degtiarev from the same Liberal party, however he was not accepted by the citizens, even as deputy to revolve the situation temporarily.

At present the authorities try to play the COVID-19 card, demanding everyone «STAY HOME-STAY SAFE», but it is obvious that they are concerned about FREEDOM – “the most contagious virus known to man” spreading all over Siberia, already showing discontent with Putin’s authoritarian rule, absence of genuine political competition causing endmemic corruption.
Following Bolshevik Revolution the Far Est Republic was established in 1920-1922 in Siberia by Social-Democrats, but after the failure of White movement requested joining Russia. However nobody in Siberia has forgotten the legendary years of independence.

Review by Anna van Densky

Austria top diplomat enjoys ‘wedding of the century’

No need to spend a fortune on a wedding gown, no need to follow strict diet to fit in either. No need to look like a Hollywood star and suffer from plastic surgeries and pain from injecting Botox to enjoy ‘wedding of the century‘. Even at the age of 54 and with some extra kilo you can catch the limelight of the entire mankind, if you invite distinguished guests. Since times of late Tsar Nicolas II Russian heads of state have not been attending weddings abroad. Austrian Minister of Foreign affairs Karin Kneissl performed a dance with one of the most powerful politician in the world, sparkling both indignation and admiration. Public opinion has never been so divided, however the wedding has not passed unnoticed. Was that the purpose?

 

Imperium blandum imperiosissimum!

(Soft power is the strongest! Latin)

Oostend in summer

Ostend is famous for its sea-side esplanade, including the Royal Galleries of Oostend, pier, and fine-sand broad beaches.  Ostend is visited by many day-trippers from all over Belgium heading to the beaches, especially during July and August. It is also appreciated by sailors, finding here a charming place to drop anchor, visiting numerous bistro and restaurants.

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The harbor is usually crowded in summer month, creating a picturesque setting next to the railway station.

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In hot day, the broad beaches are crowded, and experienced visitors come early in the morning hours to get the best places.

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Further from the town, more space with equally fine sand on broad beach.

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Oostend nowadays is truly international hosting visitors from all continents and cultures.

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Happy New Year 2018!

Happy New Year! Bonne Année!¡Feliz Año Nuevo! Blwyddyn Newydd Dda! Buon anno!Frohes Neues! Gelukkig Nieuwjaar! Gleðilegt nýtt ár! Sťastný nový rok!  Godt nytår! Hyvää uutta vuotta! Godt nytt år!  Szczesliwego Nowego Roku! Feliz Ano Novo! C Новым Годом!

Champ bubbles