Faina Savenkova appeal for the 2021 UN Children’s Day

Faina Savenkova appeal for the 2021 UN Children’s Day

May 31, 2021

Dear friends

Today I am sharing with you the video of the public appeal made by Faina Savenkova, from Lugansk, to the United Nations and the rest of the world reminding them that the children of the Donbass deserve to live in peace and security.  This video is posted at the same time it will go on display at the UN HQ in New York, courtesy of the Russian Mission to the UN.  For those who have missed it, here is an article written by Faina for the Saker blog in which I mention the possibility to ask Faina any question you want, please do check it out.  I now leave you with Fania’s appeal, please circulate it as much as possible!

Thank you

The Saker

Today I saw Syrians dancing and celebrating life, and a return to peace – but, of course, the Western media won’t report that

 

Eva Bartlett

Celebrations for the Syrian presidential elections in Douma, eastern Ghouta, Syria, May 26, 2021 © Eva Bartlett

26 May, 2021, RT.com

-by Eva K Bartlett

Although the West has waged 10 years of war on Syria, and there is much destruction, the entire country isn’t in ruins and the pulse of life continues, albeit strangled by brutal Western sanctions.

After Eastern Ghouta’s liberation in 2018, the Western media predictably went silent on the return of internally displaced Syrians and the rebuilding that had occurred. Today, in towns in the region outside the capital Damascus, behind dusty, battered metal shop shutters, I saw glossy new windows and even more rebuilding than I had when I was here in 2018.

In Douma, I saw lovely, smiling children, excited to practise their English with me. Given that they were born during the war and lived under the horrifically savage rule of the rebel groups Jaysh al-Islam and Faylaq al-Rahman, and their co-terrorists, their exuberance was remarkable. The traumas they endured they have either deeply buried within or miraculously healed from.

Since both the media and leaders in the West made such a big deal over the Douma chemical hoax, it was particularly rewarding to see life in the streets again.

Lively times in Irbeen and Douma, Eastern Ghouta, today, where Syrians exercised their right to vote in Presidential elections.

Western media mocks the elections.

Syrians voting, sing, dancing, is a massive F.U. to the West’s ambitions of regime change in Syria. pic.twitter.com/nNwIhDzWJ1— Eva Karene Bartlett (@EvaKBartlett) May 26, 2021

Syrians in Eastern Ghouta were put through a hell that most of us, living safely far from war, cannot begin to fathom. I had seen their tortured faces shortly after their liberation in 2018. That made seeing them smiling, dancing, and celebrating the presidential elections today incredibly moving. The difference between then and now was like night and day.

Some were surprised when I posted videos on social media of a Syrian singer and orchestra performing at the Damascus Opera House two nights ago. Many assume the country has been completely destroyed, others are just unaware that it has a rich culture that hasn’t died, in spite of a decade-long war waged by the West.

Damascus Opera House now. pic.twitter.com/xMXLpposfl— Eva Karene Bartlett (@EvaKBartlett) May 24, 2021

Until the liberation, however, Syrians in Damascus risked being maimed or killed every time they went to work, to school, to the market, or even while they remained at home, when terrorist mortars and missiles rained down from Eastern Ghouta.

Back in 2014, leaving behind the hospitality of the small hotel I was staying in near the gate of Bab Sharqi, the Old City’s East Gate, I drifted over to a cluster of tables across from the beautiful Zaitoun Greek Orthodox cathedral and beside a closed restaurant. But instead of working on my laptop, as I’d intended, I ended up getting into a conversation with the owner of that restaurant, now called the Abu Zolouf bar.

As Abu Shadi and I spoke, terrorist-fired mortars fell in nearby districts. I wrote at the time: “As it happened, I got two of four mortars on audio. The first occurred around 7:05 pm, which Abu Shadi estimated to be 200 metres away. His friend corrected him saying it was only 50 metres away (also about 20 metres from my hotel). Roughly 10 minutes later, the second mortar. There were two other mortars within half an hour. SANA news reported the injury of 17 civilians.”

Our conversation became about the incessant shelling, where the latest mortar had fallen, and his near-death experience with one.

Two times mortars landed outside my restaurant. One would have killed me, but I went inside just before,” he said, pointing to a spot on the ground next to the door. He lamented the loss of business as much as the threat posed by the mortars.

The other night, I visited the restaurant with a friend. Seeing Abu Shadi, we sat down with him and chatted about those days. Now, his restaurant is open and well frequented, guests sitting under light-strung olive trees enjoying the early summer evenings.

very early in the evening; in a few hours, the place will be packed

Also in 2014, one afternoon, wishing to escape the blazing sun, I leaned against the wall encircling the Old City, looking towards Jobar, then occupied by terrorist factions, roughly a kilometer away. As I wrote at the time, while I chatted with a friend, “bullets whizzed past me, half a meter to my right, to my left. Everyone in the vicinity jumped up and ran, most looking panicked. We ran for about 50 meters, to a point which was apparently out of the terrorists’ range. One woman, hyperventilating and unable to stand, took a good 10 minutes to calm down, repeatedly making the sign of the cross as she wheezed. Later, I chatted with a man selling spinach patties, mentioning that I was surprised the bullets had reached the point where I’d been sitting. ‘They reach as far as here,’ he said, from his hole-in-the-wall bakery another 200 metres from where I’d been sitting.

My encounters with mortars and their victims were many over the years, including seeing numerous children maimed and with critical injuries from the terrorists’ shelling, many ancient Damascene houses partially destroyed by it.

Douma, Syria, April 2018 © Eva Bartlett

n 2018, I interviewed the supremely talented violinist and composer, Raad Khalaf, who is also a founder of the all-women Mari Orchestra. Afterwards, we chatted and he mentioned that the shelling had reached the Higher Institute of Dramatic Arts where he taught, near the Opera House.

He told me that the year prior, terrorists had attacked the area with some 37 bombs in one day.

The students had to stay inside for eight hours – you couldn’t go outside because we didn’t know when or where the next bomb would fall. One student went outside and was killed. Here we lived five difficult years.

On Monday this week, I went to the Opera House to hear Syrian singer Carmen Tockmaji and the orchestra accompanying her perform. The auditorium was only half-full but lively, everyone evidently enjoying the singer’s talents.

I was surprised to learn later that a front-row ticket cost just 2,000 Syrian pounds (80 US cents), a second-class ticket 1,500 (60 US cents), and a third class ticket 1,000 (40 US cents). Nonetheless, despite the low price, Syria’s poorest can’t afford this, largely because of the brutal sanctions on the country that decisively affected the currency, causing hyperinflation – an intended consequence of the cruel and immoral sanctions leveled against the Syrian people.

I wrote last year (and before) about how these sanctions directly affect civilians: “On June 17, the US implemented the Caesar Act, America’s latest round of draconian sanctions against the Syrian people, to ‘protect’ them, it claims. This, after years of bombing civilians and providing support to anti-government militants, leading to the proliferation of terrorists who kidnap, imprison, torture, maim, and murder the same civilians. Sanctions have impacted Syria’s ability to import medicines or the raw materials needed to manufacture them, medical equipment, and the machines and materials needed to manufacture prosthetic limbs, among other things.”

But sanctions have yet another brutal effect: they wreak havoc on the economy. A May 3, 2021 opinion piece by Abbey Makoe on the website of the South African Broadcasting Corporation noted: “Electricity rationing in Syria has reached its highest levels due to the government’s inability to secure the fuel needed to generate electricity. This is mainly due to the damaging international economic sanctions led by the Western powers, including the IIT [Investigation and Identification Team of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons] protagonists France, UK and the US. The value of the Syrian pound has crumbled to almost nothing. The Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2019 … is credited with bringing about starvation, darkness, plague, misery, robbery, kidnappings, increased mortality rate and the certain destruction of a nation that was once a beacon of hope across the Middle East.” 

The misery is real, and Syrians are indeed suffering, many unable even to feed their families properly.

Speaking of Opera House performances may seem trite in light of the economic suffering, but the fact that productions such as this do still occur in Syria is another indication that the West’s change-of-government project has failed, despite its 10 years of waging war in Syria.

Seeing this concert just before the presidential elections was moving and poignant. As Carlos Tebecherani Haddad, a Syrian-Brazilian friend I met in 2014 when mortars were raining down around us, wrote: “Celebrating life, victory over foreign aggression, rebuilding, the strength of Syrian roots, presidential elections and the bright future of the Syrian nation.

That indeed is what I’ve seen in Syria, including today in Douma, where Syrians amassed to vote. Yet there is much to be done, particularly when it comes to rebuilding the infrastructure – especially as oh-so-benevolent America and its allies, in sanctioning the Syrian people, are directly preventing this.

So, if you’re still pointing a finger at the president and the army, turn that finger back at your governments, ye in the West. They are the cause of the destruction and death in Syria, and they hinder an otherwise achievable return to peace and normality.

Putin delivers annual address to Federal Assembly

 Source

Putin delivers annual address to Federal Assembly

April 21, 2021

Putin’s speech comes amid a period of diplomatic confrontation with Western nations and a stand-off over the situation in Ukraine and Russian troop movements.

The address to the Federal Assembly is often used to announce major changes in Russian domestic and foreign policy.

This is the current live stream.

The full and complete transcript is now posted.

Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly

The President of Russia delivered the Address to the Federal Assembly. The ceremony took place at the Manezh Central Exhibition Hall.

April 21, 202113:20

Moscow

The ceremony was attended by members of the Federation CouncilState Duma deputies, members of the Government, the heads of the Constitutional and Supreme courts, regional governors, speakers of regional legislatures, the heads of traditional religious denominations and public activists.

* *

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Members of the Federation Council, State Duma deputies,

Citizens of Russia,

Today’s Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly will be dedicated mostly to internal issues. These include, naturally, healthcare, social policy and the economy. Of course, I will say a few words about external affairs and literally a few words about security issues.

It stands to reason that I will begin with last year’s events, when our country and, actually, the entire world faced a new, previously unknown and extremely dangerous infection.

It that period, including during our meetings with experts and conversations with the leaders of many states, I often heard the following description of the situation: we are faced with total uncertainty. And this is how it really was.

I could see this from the information I received from the regions. The number of people who contracted the disease and needed to be rushed to hospital kept growing. Actually, all of you are very well aware of this. Many hospitals were filled to capacity and reported that they could run out of oxygen soon, including in intensive care units. Ventilators, protective masks and PPE were actually distributed by the piece. Shops were running out of basic products, such as cereals, butter and sugar, due to increased demand.

The epidemic was on the offensive. But although there was great concern, I personally had no doubt that we would pull through.

Citizens, society and the state acted responsibly and in unison. We rallied, managed to take preventive action, to create conditions that would reduce the risk of infection, and to provide medical personnel and citizens with personal protective equipment. We increased the number of hospital beds for coronavirus patients more than five times over, to 280,000 beds.

The brief outline of measures conceals the tremendous and intensive work of millions of people in all regions of the Russian Federation. I would like to cordially thank all of you for this. Everyone worked quickly, efficiently and conscientiously.

At that time and later on, we were analysing the situation practically non-stop. I recall vividly my visit to the hospital in Kommunarka. It was necessary to experience, to see at first hand the danger facing us and to assess the working conditions of medical specialists. They immediately found themselves in the thick of events and fought for every life, while risking their own.

Today, doctors, paramedics, medical nurses and members of ambulance teams are sitting here in this hall. Once again my heartfelt thanks to you and your colleagues from all the Russian regions.

Russian researchers made a real breakthrough, and Russia now has three reliable coronavirus vaccines. These and many other achievements of the past few years highlight the country’s growing science and technological potential.

I would like to thank everyone, every person who contributed to the fight against infection, including the workers at the plants manufacturing medications, medical equipment, personal protective equipment, and enterprises working 24 hours a day, housing and utility agencies, trade companies, the Russian business community that quickly converted entire sectors so that they could manufacture essential goods, civilian and military builders, agriculture workers who gathered a record-breaking harvest, one of the biggest in the country’s history, that is, over 130 million tonnes.

The personnel of law enforcement agencies and the special services continued to carry out their duty, and the Russian Armed Forces reliably ensured our country’s security.

I would like to underscore the selfless behaviour of people working for social services, orphanages, boarding schools, retirement homes and hospices who stayed and who continue to stay with their charges. You will certainly agree with me that, while analysing developments at these institutions, one feels proud of people who are carrying out their duty there in such a responsible manner. It could move you to tears. I would like to thank them once again.

I would also like to convey my sincere gratitude to school teachers and the lecturers at universities and other education institutions. You did everything possible to enable your students and pupils to gain knowledge and successfully pass their exams, with the involvement and support of their parents.

Russia’s cultural life continued unabated. Theatres, museums and concert halls remained open to audiences online thanks to modern technology. Everyone who works in this crucial sphere rose to the occasion.

Our people showed discipline and managed to observe, let’s face it, quite exhausting, but vital precautions. Thus, acting together, we have put up an effective barrier to the pandemic.

The people’s solidarity showed in concrete actions, in caring for the loved ones and in willingness to help people in need. Millions became volunteers and engaged in building person-to-person help routes. The nationwide We Are Together campaign brought together people from different walks of life and ages. As always during challenging times, our traditional religions stepped up to provide spiritual support to the society. I see the leaders of our religions here and I would like to bow deeply to you, thank you very much

Throughout history, our people have come out victorious and overcome trials thanks to unity. Today, family, friendship, mutual assistance, graciousness and unity have come to the fore as well.

Spiritual and moral values, which are already being forgotten in some countries, have, on the contrary, made us stronger. And we will always uphold and defend these values.

Colleagues,

The pandemic broke out at a time when the aftermath of the demographic shocks of the 1940s and 1990s converged. We realise that the current demographic situation is an emergency. Unfortunately, this is how things are. We must accept and admit it and do something about it based on our understanding of this situation.

Saving the people of Russia is our top national priority. This priority underlies the stipulations of the updated Constitution concerning the protection of the family, the important role parents play in bringing up their children, strengthening social guarantees, and further developing the economy, education and culture.

Our strategy is to return to sustainable population growth to make sure that the average life expectancy in Russia increases to 78 years in 2030.

Unfortunately, the statistics show us sad and disappointing numbers. We are even seeing a certain decline. It is clear what is happening because of the pandemic, but we will keep our strategic goals in this critical sphere unchanged.

I fully realise that this is no small feat, the more so as the coronavirus has not yet been completely defeated and remains a direct threat. We see the dramatic developments in many countries where the cases of infection continue to grow. We need to keep in check the defence barriers designed to slow down the spread of the virus along our external borders and within our country.

I would like to address all citizens of Russia once again. Friends, please stay alert. I am asking you to take care of yourselves and your loved ones and to comply with the doctors’ and sanitary services’ recommendations as closely as possible.

Vaccination is of crucial importance. I would like to ask the Government, the Healthcare Ministry and the heads of the regions to monitor this process on a daily basis. The opportunity to take the jab must be available everywhere, so that we achieve the so-called herd immunity by the autumn.

The attainment of this goal depends on everyone, on all our citizens. Please, I am asking all citizens of Russia once again to get vaccinated. This is the only way to stop this deadly epidemic. There is no alternative. The other choice is much worse: to contract the disease with unpredictable consequences.

I would like to say once again that the disease is still with us. But we must start thinking already now about healing the wounds it has inflicted and restoring people’s health.

During the peak periods, our hospitals and outpatient clinics had to reduce or even suspend scheduled visits. This increased the risk of the aggravation of chronic illnesses or the risk of missing the first signs of or correctly diagnosing new illnesses.

I would like to ask the Government, the Healthcare Ministry and the constituent entities of the Russian Federation to expand the system of medical check-ups and periodic screenings, taking into account the current epidemiological situation, and to relaunch them in full measure on July 1, 2021 for people of all ages. They must involve the largest number of people possible. This is why we will increase the supply of mobile medical diagnostic systems to the regions in the near future.

One of the targets of the coronavirus is the cardiovascular system. These diseases have always been the leading cause of death. Therefore, special attention during periodic screenings must be given to people with cardiovascular diseases. I would like to instruct the Government to take additional measures to prevent the diseases that are the main causes of premature death. As I have already mentioned, these are cardiovascular diseases plus malignant tumours and respiratory system diseases.

Hepatitis C claims many young lives. Decisions must be made to reduce this threat to the health of the nation to a minimum within 10 years.

To ensure that as many people as possible can restore their health at sanatoriums and health resorts, I propose that the 20 percent rebate programme for domestic travel is extended at least until the end of the year.

Children’s health is our special priority. Indeed, the foundation for good health for many years to come is laid during childhood. Children’s rest and recreation activities must be made as affordable as possible. In this regard, this year, I propose reimbursing half of what parents spend on their children’s summer camps.

In addition, we need to expand opportunities for student tourism. Already this year, we must launch several pilot projects, including accommodation on university campuses and in dormitories in other regions for students who travel around the country during the summer.

And, of course, we must reward the young people who have done well in academic competitions and in volunteer and creative initiatives as well as the projects operated by the Russia – Land of Opportunity platform. For them, the partial reimbursement programme for tourist vouchers will remain valid during the holidays, aka the high season. This is a ground-breaking decision.

I wish to thank all the parliamentary groups which supported the decision on the taxation of high incomes, or rather, a portion of high incomes. These proceeds will go to the dedicated Circle of Kindness fund and have already been released to help children affected by rare and serious diseases, to purchase expensive medicines and medical equipment, and to cover the costs of surgeries.

On April 28, we will celebrate Ambulance Worker Day which was established as a show of respect to those who arrive first to save lives. These specialists must be provided with all necessary supplies. Within the next three years, we will make another 5,000 new ambulances available to rural communities, urban-type localities and small towns, which will replace the ambulance fleet almost in full.

I want to emphasise that public healthcare authorities in many leading countries – we are well aware of it and, in fact, they themselves are saying so – were unable to deal with the challenges of the pandemic as effectively as we did in Russia. At the same time, global health care is on the cusp of a genuine revolution. This must be recognised and clearly seen. We cannot miss it.

The pandemic has exponentially sped up the introduction of telemedicine, artificial intelligence and new approaches in diagnostics, surgery, rehabilitation and the production of medicines everywhere. We must put these technologies at the service of the people of our country.

We must build our healthcare system around this ground-breaking technology, and keep an eye on pressing everyday problems in the process. As we are all aware, they abound, mostly in primary care. There must be no such thing as waiting lines, no hassle making a diagnostics appointment or a specialist doctor appointment, or obtaining prescriptions and sick leaves, for that matter. This has often come up in our discussions lately. The funds have been set side and allocated. It is time to move quickly and efficiently to make it happen.

We have a backlog to deal with in healthcare and other social sectors, including many technical, financial and managerial challenges. However, what people need is qualified and timely medical help. I propose reviewing public healthcare problems from this perspective at an expanded meeting of the State Council some time soon. We will prepare for it and hold it shortly.

I repeat: we have gained some fundamentally new experience in fulfilling our social commitments. During the pandemic, we made direct payments to families bringing up almost 28 million children, and they received their benefits without any unnecessary paperwork or other kinds of red tape – they got the money they needed and were entitled to automatically. I know Government members have been working on this, focusing deliberately, not without some failures, but they have made every effort to accomplish this task, and coped with it. This is great, this is a good example. This approach should become the norm at all levels of government.

This is the essence of the National Social Initiative, which was discussed at a recent joint meeting of the State Council Presidium and the Agency for Strategic Initiatives.

I am calling on the regional governors: it is your direct responsibility to organise the work of local clinics, daycare nurseries and schools, and employment centres, based on the daily needs of families, of each and every person. In many regions, I have seen with my own eyes that such work has already been launched in certain areas. This needs to be done everywhere and in all social sectors.

As soon as in 2022, we must introduce the ‘social treasury’ principles. This means that all federal benefits, pensions and other social payments and services will be provided and paid in a one-stop mode, without having to visit dozens of different agencies, but simply upon marriage, the birth of a child, retirement or other life milestones. Within three years, the vast majority of public and municipal services should be provided to Russian citizens remotely, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, that is, on an ongoing basis.

Separately, we will have to discuss child-support payments, which are a sensitive topic for many families. Unfortunately, this is a problem in our country. This procedure should not be humiliating for anyone. Most issues here need to be resolved remotely and, most importantly, in the interests of the affected party. A mother with a child should not have to camp on the doorstep of various authorities to collect official documents, carrying her baby in her arms, and this is what usually happens. A system of interagency communication needs to be built, with banks included, in such a way as to ensure the unconditional execution of court decisions on the recovery of child-support payments. The state is obliged to protect the rights of the child; this is what we are talking about. I will return to this topic again later.

Colleagues,

We understand the heavy toll that the pandemic has taken on people’s welfare. Statistics show the aggravating effects of this outbreak on social inequality and poverty. It has been a challenge for all countries around the world – remember, all countries, not only Russia, are experiencing the same consequences. Certainly, we should be primarily concerned about the situation in our own country.

We are now facing price hikes that are undercutting people’s incomes. Some urgent decisions have been made, of course, but we cannot solely rely on targeted and essentially directive measures. We remember potential outcomes. Back in the late 1980s and the 1990s in the Soviet Union, they resulted in empty store shelves. But today, even when the pandemic was at its worst, we did not allow the same thing to happen.

The Government’s goal is to create conditions that will be long-term and which, I want to stress this part, colleagues, can, thanks to market mechanisms (which we have), guarantee the predictability of prices and quality replenishment of the domestic market. Nobody is saying that we will be setting prices from the top. There’s no need to muddy the waters and scare people. There are market regulatory mechanisms and they must be employed – promptly and to the extent required and appropriate to a specific situation in the economy and social sphere. We need to stimulate investment activity by reducing business risks. The two are not mutually exclusive.

Surely, the main goal right now is to ensure that people’s real incomes grow – that is, to restore them and secure their further growth. As I said, we need tangible changes in our fight against poverty.

Before anything else, the Government must provide direct support to families with children who are experiencing hardships. This has been our consistent policy and we will continue to pursue it.

We already have a system of benefits paid to parents of one or two children from the time the children are born and until they reach the age of three. Families with incomes below two subsistence minimums per family member are entitled to such benefits. The average monthly amount paid across the country is 11,300 rubles per child. Seventy-eight Russian regions pay benefits for the third child, also 11,300 rubles on average.

Please note that we are making consistent progress in this area, step by step. Last year, we introduced benefits for children aged three to seven. They range from 5,650 to 11,300 rubles per month depending on the region.

I instruct the Government to develop, by July 1, a comprehensive system of support for families with children. Our goal is to minimise the risk of poverty for such families.

But a number of new decisions need to be taken immediately, already today. It is always difficult for a single parent to raise a child. There are plenty of reasons for that. And this is not about the reasons but about supporting children. It is particularly difficult when a single-parent family is having financial problems, especially when children start going to school and family expenses objectively rise.

In particular, we must support single-parent families, where a mother or a father is bringing up a child alone, and only one of the parents is registered on the birth certificate – sorry to be speaking of such mundane things, but this is a fact of life – or the parents have divorced and one of them has the right to child-support payments. Therefore, as of July 1 this year, all children in such families aged between 8 and 16, inclusively, will receive a benefit. The national average of such benefit will be 5,650 rubles.

Of course, we must also help women who are expecting a baby and who have financial problems. It is extremely important for a mother-to-be to get support from the state and society, so that they can keep their pregnancy and know that they will receive help in raising and bringing up their child.

I propose approving a monthly subsidy for women who register at a maternity centre during early pregnancy and who have financial problems. The average subsidy for them will be 6,350 rubles a month.

Next, the sick pay for taking care of a child who falls ill depends on the employment record, which is correct, on the whole, and fair. However, young women receive much smaller sick leave payments. We have discussed this issue at the State Council, and it has been raised by the United Russia. We need to adopt legal decisions on this matter without delay, so that payments for taking care of a sick child aged up to 7 years inclusively are approved at 100 percent of the parent’s salary as soon as this year.

You understand what this means. The majority of those in this room know that the longer the employment record the larger the sick pay. Women who have a long work record usually receive full sick pay, but they usually do not have children at their age. Those who have children do not receive full pay. We must definitely help those who are expecting a baby.

I would also like to remind you that we have expanded and extended the maternity capital programme up until 2026. This benefit will now be paid already for the first child. We could not afford this before. The maternity capital has been adjusted to inflation and is almost 640,000 rubles

Free hot meals for all primary school children were approved as of January 1, 2020, and this measure has become a great help for families.

I would like to point out that all our decisions were designed to support our people. I know that many and very many people have financial problems now. The labour market and real disposable income of the people will be certainly restored, and we will move on. This has not happened yet. Therefore, I suggest approving one more one-off payment for the families that have school children, namely, 10,000 rubles per schoolchild. Moreover, this payment will also be made for the children who will only start school this year. We will transfer the money in mid-August, so that parents can get their children ready for school.

The updated Constitution of Russia includes clauses on demographic development, and protection of the family and childhood. They should be implemented in practice at all levels of government. I propose including a section aimed at supporting young people in each national project.

Friends,

During the pandemic, many young doctors and nurses, recent graduates as well as residents and students of medical universities worked courageously in the so-called red zones, joining their senior colleagues. In that extraordinary situation, teachers, schoolchildren, college and university students continued to teach and study, to have exams. Young family members supported their parents and older relatives. The youth of Russia proved to be extremely worthy during that period of trials. We can be proud of them.

We will do everything to open up as many life opportunities as possible for the younger generation. Their journey certainly begins at school, and I am sure that school will always be a second home for children; a new home, comfortable and modern.

Under the existing federal programme and with additional resources provided by the VEB Development Bank, we will build at least 1,300 new schools for more than a million children by the end of 2024. We will also purchase at least 16,000 school buses over the next four years. All school buses must be modern and safe.

Classroom teachers have been receiving a monthly addition to their salaries since last year. A very necessary and, I am sure, fair decision. I remember how we held discussions on this matter last year.

However, I have received requests, letters from teachers in secondary vocational institutions who say they have been forgotten. This is actually true. Justice must be restored. We have to fix this and establish the same additional payment of 5,000 rubles for supervisors of educational groups at technical schools and colleges.

I propose allocating an additional 10 billion rubles in the next two years for major repairs and technical equipment of our pedagogical universities. I ask the Government to pay close attention to up-to-date training of future teachers. The future of Russia largely depends on them.

Furthermore, school teaching teams should be expanded with teaching assistants, mentors and counsellors, whose job will be to organise exciting projects for children at schools.

It is very important that our young people should look to and be inspired by the achievements and victories of our outstanding ancestors and contemporaries, by their love for our Motherland and aspiration to make a personal contribution to its development. Children should have the opportunity to explore the national history and the multinational culture, our achievements in science and technology, literature and art in advanced formats. You know, I still open certain school textbooks occasionally and am surprised at what I see there – as if what is written there has nothing to do with us at all. Who writes such textbooks? Who approves them? It is unbelievable. They mention everything, the ‘second front’ and a lot of other facts, but not the Battle of Stalingrad – how is that possible? Amazing! I do not even want to comment.

I propose allocating an additional 24 billion rubles within the next three years to renovate cultural centres, libraries and museums in rural areas and small historical towns. This is another crucial area.

It is important to resume the activities of the Knowledge Society – we all remember well what it is – based on a modern digital platform. It seems to have been operational lately, but no one seems to notice it is there, either. Also, in order to support projects in culture, art and creative activities, we will set up a Presidential fund for cultural initiatives. Already this year, we will use its competitive grants to finance over 1,500 creative teams.

Colleagues,

A month from now, 11th grade students will be taking exams. Based on the results, most of them, about 60 percent, will enrol in universities and have their tuition covered from the budget. It can be safely stated that practically no country in the world apart from Russia has this kind of broad and free access to higher education.

In the next two years, we will make an additional 45,000 state-funded places available at our universities. At least 70 percent of them will go to the regions which need university graduates.

Starting this year, at least 100 universities in the constituent entities of our Federation will receive grants in the amount of 100 million rubles or more for opening student technoparks and business incubators, upgrading academic and laboratory facilities, and running training programmes. All state universities will be eligible for this support, including the ones that train future teachers, medical doctors, transport and culture workers. I am confident that the young generation of Russians, Russian scientists, will make their names known in the meaningful research projects that are yet to come.

This year was declared Science and Technology Year in our country. We realise that science is absolutely key in the modern world. Until 2024, Russia will allocate 1.63 trillion rubles from the federal budget alone for civil, including fundamental, research. But that is not all.

We are about to launch ground-breaking programmes in areas that are critical to our country. They will be given the status of nationwide projects. I would like to discuss some of them separately just to give you a sense.

First, we must have a solid and reliable shield to give us sanitary and biological safety. We now understand what it is about. It is imperative to ensure Russia’s independence in the production of the entire range of vaccines and pharmaceutical substances, including medications against infections that are resistant to the current generation of antibiotics. Importantly, this must be achieved with the maximum engagement of Russian-made equipment and domestic components.

In the event of an infection as dangerous as the coronavirus, or, God forbid, even more dangerous, Russia must be prepared to develop its own test systems within four days, precisely four days, and to create an efficacious domestic vaccine and start its mass production as soon as possible. These are the goals that we are setting for ourselves. The timeframe for achieving these goals is 2030. But the sooner we get there, the better.

Second, we need new comprehensive approaches to the development of our energy sector, including new solutions for nuclear generation in the promising areas of hydrogen energy and energy storage.

Third, we must find answers to the climate change challenges, adjust our agriculture, industry, the housing and utilities sector and the entire infrastructure to them, create a carbon utilisation sector, bring down emissions and introduce strict control and monitoring measures.

Over the next 30 years, the cumulative emissions in Russia must be smaller than in the EU. It is an ambitious goal, considering the size of our country and the specific features of its geography, climate and economic structure. However, I have no doubt whatsoever that it is a perfectly realistic goal in light of our research and technological potential.

Our new energy and pharmaceutical sectors and the solution of climate problems must provide a powerful boost to a comprehensive modernisation of all economic sectors and the social sphere. It is a direct path to the creation of modern and well-paid jobs.

The efforts taken by each level of government, business, development institutions and the Russian Academy of Sciences must have in view the main, central task: to improve the quality of life for our people. I would like to point out that our position on environmental protection is a matter of principle in this respect, and it will definitely remain unchanged.

The dangers of the alternative position have been recently exemplified by the events in Norilsk, Usolye-Sibirskoye and several other places. We will certainly help the people who live there, but we must also preclude a repetition of such environmental disasters.

I would like to ask those responsible to accelerate the adoption of a law on the financial responsibility of enterprise owners for clearing up the accumulated pollution and for the reclamation of industrial sites. This is a very simple approach. Here it is: if you have benefited from polluting the environment, clean up after yourself. We must act harshly. Rosprirodnadoz [the Federal Service for Supervision of Natural Resources] and other regulatory authorities must do their jobs.

I would like to add that the “polluter pays” principle must also be employed in full in the waste disposal sector to ensure transition to the so-called closed-loop economy. With this aim in view, we must launch a mechanism of extended producers and importers’ responsibility for the management of products and packaging wastes as soon as this year.

I also propose marking environmental payments to the federal budget. I know that experts and financial specialists do not like such special marks, but I see this as a vital sphere of our activity. We can make an exception in this case, and invest these funds in clearing up accumulated pollution and improving the environment.

Also, as I said, the amount of hazardous emissions in Russia’s 12 largest industrial centres must be reduced by 20 percent by 2024. We have already discussed this. Obviously, this goal must be accomplished through a comprehensive modernisation of the industrial sector, the housing and utilities sector, transport and energy.

Moreover, I propose expanding the emission quota system to all Russian cities with major air quality problems and introduce strict liability for non-compliance with environmental regulations. Of course, this requires transparent monitoring.

We will definitely support the efforts of businesses to upgrade their facilities up to current environmental standards. For example, upgrading will begin this year at aluminium plants in Bratsk, Irkutsk, Krasnoyarsk and Novokuznetsk based on the state guarantee mechanism. I will later name other cities and towns in other contexts but it does not mean that our work is limited to those areas. They only serve as examples.

Colleagues,

Last year, we allocated unprecedented resources for supporting the economy. Among other things, we managed to preserve over 5 million jobs through subsidised loans for wage payments. I want to stress that this programme succeeded but it succeeded precisely because businesses acted responsibly and did everything they could to keep their employees. We could see that.

Unfortunately, it was not possible to prevent layoffs completely. I understand how hard it is for those who lost their jobs. The Government was instructed to ensure that the labour market recovers by the end of the year. Still, this problem must be solved sooner so that people can have a stable income again. The Government will be encouraging entrepreneurial initiatives and stimulate private investments that create new jobs.

As you know, last year, social insurance contributions for small and medium-sized businesses were reduced by half, from 30 to 15 percent. This decision will remain in force permanently and is not subject to review.

I instruct the Government to present, within the next month, additional proposals on supporting small and medium-sized businesses, such as tax incentives, accessible loans and expanding product distribution and sales, including to major state-run companies.

As for other decisions in the economic sphere, I would like to mention the following.

First, we have already scrapped many archaic norms and requirements in construction and other fields and discontinued many unnecessary control inspections, but we also need to increase the momentum to achieve substantive, clear and tangible results in improving the business climate. For example, building a turnkey factory in Russia should be faster, more economically efficient and easier than in other regions of the world, including countries with developed economies.

Furthermore, we need to simplify the working conditions for non-commodity exporters. We have certainly been pursuing this policy line for a few years now, but we still need to remove all excessive restrictions in forex control for these exporters. This is one of the problems. The new procedure should start functioning in July. We have discussed this matter more than once. All amendments to the legislation must be adopted as quickly as possible during the spring session.

Secondly, the talent of an entrepreneur is primarily the talent of a creator, an aspiration to change life for the better, to create new jobs. The state will definitely support this attitude.

In the modern world where the market situation sometimes changes almost every day, businesses have to deal with high risks, especially when investing in long-term projects. To address this, we will be adjusting the entire private investment support system. We will evaluate how effective the projects are by the new products, services, and technologies they provide people with and how they improve the potential of Russia and each individual region.

The Special Investment Contract mechanism has already been improved; we have implemented a new instrument – Investment Protection and Promotion Agreements. We have consolidated development institutions on the basis of VEB. Their job is to reduce the risks for investing private capital, to help in the creation of new markets and investment mechanisms, the same as with the Project Finance Factory mechanism already in place. It is currently supporting more than 40 commercial projects with a total investment of 3 trillion rubles.

I am waiting for proposals from the Government on the implementation of the ideas proposed in March at a meeting with Russian businesses. Colleagues, you are well aware of this.

Third, we are making all major decisions concerning the economy through a dialogue with the business community. This is the practice established over many years. Of course, we have the right to expect that the auxiliary financial instruments and support mechanisms will bring the most desired result, which is converting profit into investment and development.

There is an important thing I want to say although it is nothing new to businesses. They know it already. The corporate sector is expected to make a record profit this year, despite all the problems that we are dealing with. Despite these problems, this is the real picture. We will take note of how this profit will be used and, based on the annual results, we may decide to calibrate the tax legislation. I want to see specific proposals from the Government. Off the record, I should note: some withdraw dividends while others invest in the development of their companies and entire industries. We will be encouraging those who invest.

Last year, we substantially increased budget expenditure while managing to maintain the stability of state finances. The Government and the Central Bank must continue to pursue a responsible financial policy. Ensuring macroeconomic stability and containing inflation within set parameters is an extremely important task. I assume that it will definitely be accomplished.

At the same time, thanks to our budget capacity and our reserves, we can allocate more funds to support investment in infrastructure and provide regions with new development instruments. Launching these instruments will require the law to be amended. I expect that all parliamentary parties – A Just Russia, the Liberal Democratic Party, the Communist Party and United Russia – will uphold these amendments.

In this regard, I want to thank all constructive public forces in the country for their responsible and patriotic attitude during this difficult epidemic. These are not just meaningless words because it was this attitude and its practical significance that helped all of us preserve the balance and stability of Russia’s government and political system. This is always important but it is especially relevant because we are preparing for the elections to the State Duma and other government bodies, considering the extensive work we will have to carry out. I hope that this competitive mindset that unites us in the face of common goals will persist.

Colleagues,

The country is developing and moving forward, but this is only taking place when the regions of the Russian Federation are developing. A striving of the heads of constituent entities to make their regions successful and self-sufficient must be and will be encouraged in every way.

We will support those who assume responsibility and launch constructive projects. I am confident that every Russian region has huge potential. To help make positive and productive use of this potential, what must we reduce first of all? The governors know what I am referring to: we must reduce the debt burden. These topics must be thoroughly discussed once again.

I ask the Government to submit by June 1 the proposals on ensuring long-term stability of regional and municipal finance and on increasing the regions’ self-sufficiency. We will discuss them in summer at a State Council meeting, and we will do so with due regard for the priority decisions about which I will tell you now.

First of all, we must help regions with large commercial debts. Here is what I suggest: the amount of a region’s commercial debt that exceeds 25 percent of the given region’s own revenues will be replaced with budgetary loans that will mature in 2029.

In addition, I propose restructuring the budgetary loans, yes, budgetary loans that were issued to the regions last year for taking measures to combat the pandemic. I believe that this would be fair. I would like to remind everyone that these loans will mature in two months, on July 1. I suggest extending them to 2029 as well.

I would like to emphasise that the restructuring of accumulated debts should be used as a mechanism of increasing the self-sufficiency of regional economies, especially considering that we will be offering a fundamentally new development tool to our constituent entities. I am referring to the so-called budgetary infrastructure loans with an interest rate of not more than 3 percent per annum and with maturity in 15 years. We intend to allocate a total of at least 0.5 trillion rubles, that is, 500 billion rubles of such infrastructure loans by the end of 2023.

Regional debt restructuring must be based on the concept of justice, which has always been the case, actually. Some constituent entities have large accumulated commercial debts, while other entities did not take out many loans. The latter may feel neglected in this case. This will not do, and we will not permit this. We will support those who have always pursued and continue to pursue a balanced financial policy. The principle of the distribution of infrastructure loans will be as follows: the fewer debts a region had, the more it will be able to receive in infrastructure loans.

We are one country. All levels of government and business must work to one end. Debt restructuring and an innovative investment resource in the form of infrastructure loans will allow us to expand the planning horizon and to launch new solutions that are tied in with the implementation of national projects, sector-specific strategies and a comprehensive plan for upgrading the backbone infrastructure.

Federal infrastructure loans are a powerful resource, but whether they will help us get ahead or attract private investment hugely depends on what regional management teams do and on their ability to conduct an open and candid dialogue with businesses, investors, and, of course, primarily, individuals.

The infrastructure projects in the regions must be implemented, primarily, in the interests of the people, and serve as investment in the creation of new jobs and in promoting the well-being of millions of Russian households and securing the future of our children. The priorities will be building motorways and bypasses in urban areas, upgrading the housing and utilities sector infrastructure and the public transport system, as well as conducting integrated development of territories and building tourist facilities.

Please note that the infrastructure and budget loans will be fully under the control of the Federal Treasury and will be provided exclusively for specific projects that have been thoroughly analysed by experts at the federal level. While we are at it, I would like to say something to regional leaders and the Government: listen, let’s work in a rhythmic and business-like manner. I do not want to use harsh or rude language at this rostrum, but things must be done on time and projects must be prepared, not just pictures shown to the Government. In turn, the Government must quickly process the projects and help the regions deal with things they have problems dealing with. You must help your colleagues, you understand that? Not trash what they have brought to you and say they did a bad job. Some of them are unable to do what you ask of them. Help them, and then things will be on the path forwards.

The scale of the projects may vary, but most importantly, as I said, they must benefit our people and open up new opportunities. For example, in conjunction with our major companies and using the proposed mechanism, the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Area will begin the construction of the Northern Latitudinal Railway. This is the railway that will spur the development of the richest resources of the Arctic. This project has been in the works for a long time now, and it’s time to launch it, since we can do so now. For example, as a result, Nizhny Novgorod will be able to continue building the metro and to start renovating the city centre. Chelyabinsk, another city with a million-plus residents, will also have the opportunity to upgrade its transport system through a long-standing metro construction project. I am aware of other similar projects in Krasnoyarsk and other regions.

And, of course, the construction of new facilities must be at a qualitatively higher level. I want the Government to draft a clear step-by-step plan for the end-to-end and widespread use of digital design, and the production and introduction of cutting-edge energy-efficient materials. This is also important if we want to tackle the climate and environmental challenges.

Large-scale infrastructure development sets fundamentally new tasks before the construction industry. In the difficult past year, it worked smoothly and built over 80 million square metres of housing. This is a good result. The more we build, the more affordable housing will there be for Russian families.

Therefore, we have an ambitious goal. We have already discussed it as well and this ambitious goal has not disappeared– we plan to build 120 million square metres of housing every year. That said, we must certainly envisage a special mechanism for supporting private housing construction.

As for large-scale construction, the DOM.RF development institute will attract financial resources through the placement of bonds. This is a tried and tested mechanism that generally works well. These resources must go to developers as targeted loans.

I would like to emphasise that federal budget subsidies will allow DOM.RF to issue loans to developers at a minimal annual rate of about 3–4 percent. The construction of residential neighbourhoods in Tula, Tyumen, the Sakhalin Region and Kuzbass will be pilot projects for developing this model.

Improvement of cities and towns and housing construction growth play a major role in the development of the regions. We must take care of the urgent, daily problems of local residents. Quite a few Russian families live in areas connected to gas networks but their homes still have no access to gas for some reason. It seems the pipe is there but there is no gas at home.

I would like to ask the Government to work out, in cooperation with the regions, a clear-cut plan for bringing gas to such households. In this context, I support United Russia’s initiative, notably, that people do not have to pay for laying gas pipes directly to the border of their land plots in a residential area.

As I have already said, the Government must analyse all details in cooperation with Gazprom and other companies and agencies that work in this area to prevent any setbacks. Otherwise, I will say something from this rostrum and people will be waiting for it but because you don’t put some squiggles or commas in the right place everything will get bogged down again. This is unacceptable, and I will check on it myself, so please pay attention. Mosoblgaz and other companies must understand what they must do, in what timeframe and how much money they have at their disposal.

The goal is certainly more extensive. We must offer every region our solutions on public access to reliable and clean energy sources. This may be electricity, including from renewable sources, or environmentally friendly use of coal, which is also an option in the modern world, pipeline or liquefied gas. I instruct the regional heads to prepare, in coordination with the Government, detailed plans of action and start implementing them next year.

For example, in Kamchatka we must envisage the creation of local gas-receiving infrastructure to ensure reliable long-term gas supplies to the residents and companies of the Kamchatka Territory.

Colleagues,

We will not only give fundamentally new development tools to the regions, but will also directly invest federal resources into the settlement of the worst systemic problems, which will have a compound effect on boosting the regions’ growth and improving the quality of people’s lives.

We will begin with allocations from the National Welfare Fund for building mainline motorways. First of all, we should finance the ongoing construction of the Moscow-Kazan high-speed road and, more than that, extend it all the way to Yekaterinburg, completing this project within three years.

This way, together with the existing Moscow-St Petersburg high-speed road and the Central Ring Road, this will ensure safe high-speed motorway transit across the entire European part of Russia, from the Baltic Sea to the Urals, by 2024.

However, it is not enough to simply connect the end-of-line destinations. What good will this do, if it does not change anything about life in villages or small towns but only gives the people there an opportunity to watch high-speed trains and vehicles rush past? The backbone infrastructure must definitely lead to the development of all the territories where it has been built, giving rise to the development of a modern regional network.

The constituent entities will now be able to use infrastructure loans to speed up the implementation of these construction projects. But in their development plans, our colleagues should remember and take into account that the federal and regional mainlines must function as a unified system in the interests of our citizens, businesses and regions. In this way, the infrastructure loans and the resources of the National Welfare Fund will be working for the benefit of all Russian regions.

The same goes for our new national project in the tourist sphere. A programme of easy loans will be launched soon to finance the construction and renovation of hotels and other tourist infrastructure. The interest rate on these loans will be 3–5 percent as well, and the loans will mature in 15 years.

There are many other pilot projects. I will only mention some of them: the development of Sheregesh, the leading mountain ski resort in Kuzbass; the creation of a yachting resort in the Bay of Balaklava in Sevastopol; and the development of the tourist industry on the Altai and in the Kaliningrad Region.

The infrastructure loans project will give a new impetus to entire tourist clusters. In particular, several regions in Central Russia will be able to modernise and expand the Golden Ring route at a fundamentally new level, realising the tourist potential of small towns such as Tarusa, Palekh, Murom, Gorokhovets, Tutayev and Borovsk. Development projects will be launched in the Volga Region cities, the Crimean resorts, the Black Sea and Pacific coast areas, as well as in our resort towns such as Staraya Russa in the Novgorod Region and Kavkazskiye Mineralnye Vody in the Caucasus, including its gem, Kislovodsk.

Russia is a hospitable country that is open to its good friends. You surely remember what happened during the 2018 football championships. As soon as the epidemiological situation allows, we will lift the remaining restrictions and millions of tourists from all over the world will come to Russia again. We have a practical task at hand: to ensure that e-visas for travel to Russia are available remotely and without undue formalities within a matter of four days in the majority of countries.

Colleagues,

The meaning and purpose of Russia’s policy in the international arena – I will just say a few words about this to conclude my address – is to ensure peace and security for the well-being of our citizens, for the stable development of our country. Russia certainly has its own interests we defend and will continue to defend within the framework of international law, as all other states do. And if someone refuses to understand this obvious thing or does not want to conduct a dialogue and chooses a selfish and arrogant tone with us, Russia will always find a way to defend its stance.

At the same time, unfortunately, everyone in the world seems to be used to the practice of politically motivated, illegal economic sanctions and to certain actors’ brutal attempts to impose their will on others by force. But today, this practice is degenerating into something even more dangerous – I am referring to the recently exposed direct interference in Belarus in an attempt to orchestrate a coup d’état and assassinate the President of that country. At the same time, it is typical that even such flagrant actions have not been condemned by the so-called collective West. Nobody seemed to notice. Everyone pretends nothing is happening.

But listen, you can think whatever you like of, say, Ukrainian President [Viktor] Yanukovych or [Nicolas] Maduro in Venezuela. I repeat, you can like or dislike them, including Yanukovych who almost got killed, too, and removed from power via an armed coup. You can have your own opinion of President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko’s policy. But the practice of staging coups d’état and planning political assassinations, including those of high-ranking officials – well, this goes too far. This is beyond any limits.

Suffice it to mention the admission made by the detained participants in the conspiracy about a planned siege of Minsk, including plans to block the city infrastructure and communications, and a complete shutdown of the entire power system in the capital of Belarus! This actually means they were preparing a massive cyberattack. What else could it be? You know, you cannot just do it all with one switch.

Clearly, there is a reason why our Western colleagues have been stubbornly rejecting Russia’s numerous proposals to establish an international dialogue on information and cyber security. We have come up with these proposals many times. They avoid even discussing this matter.

What if there had been a real attempt at a coup d’état in Belarus? After all, this was the ultimate goal. How many people would have been hurt? What would have become of Belarus? Nobody is thinking about this.

Just as no one was thinking about the future of Ukraine during the coup in that country.

All the while, unfriendly moves towards Russia have also continued unabated. Some countries have taken up an unseemly routine where they pick on Russia for any reason, most often, for no reason at all. It is some kind of new sport of who shouts the loudest.

In this regard, we behave in an extremely restrained manner, I would even say, modestly, and I am saying this without irony. Often, we prefer not to respond at all, not just to unfriendly moves, but even to outright rudeness. We want to maintain good relations with everyone who participates in the international dialogue. But we see what is happening in real life. As I said, every now and then they are picking on Russia, for no reason. And of course, all sorts of petty Tabaquis are running around them like Tabaqui ran around Shere Khan – everything is like in Kipling’s book – howling along in order to make their sovereign happy. Kipling was a great writer.

We really want to maintain good relations with all those engaged in international communication, including, by the way, those with whom we have not been getting along lately, to put it mildly. We really do not want to burn bridges. But if someone mistakes our good intentions for indifference or weakness and intends to burn or even blow up these bridges, they must know that Russia’s response will be asymmetrical, swift and tough.

Those behind provocations that threaten the core interests of our security will regret what they have done in a way they have not regretted anything for a long time.

At the same time, I just have to make it clear, we have enough patience, responsibility, professionalism, self-confidence and certainty in our cause, as well as common sense, when making a decision of any kind. But I hope that no one will think about crossing the “red line” with regard to Russia. We ourselves will determine in each specific case where it will be drawn.

I will now say, just as I always do during the annual addresses to the Federal Assembly, that the improvement and qualitative strengthening of Russia’s Armed Forces continues on a regular basis. In particular, special attention will be given to the development of military education both at military school and academies and at military training centres at civilian universities.

By 2024, the share of modern weapons and military equipment in the armed forces will reach nearly 76 percent, which is a very good indicator. This share in the nuclear triad will be over 88 percent before this year is out.

Standing on combat duty are the latest Avangard hypersonic intercontinental missile systems and the Peresvet combat laser systems, and the first regiment armed with Sarmat super-heavy intercontinental ballistic missiles is scheduled to go on combat duty in late 2022.

The number of combat air systems with Kinzhal hypersonic missiles, and warships armed with precision hypersonic weapons such as Kinzhal that I mentioned, and with the Kalibr missiles, is increasing. The Tsirkon hypersonic missiles will be put on combat duty soon. Work is underway on other modern combat systems, including Poseidon and Burevestnik, in accordance with the development plans of the Armed Forces.

As the leader in the creation of new-generation combat systems and in the development of modern nuclear forces, Russia is urging its partners once again to discuss the issues related to strategic armaments and to ensuring global stability. The subject matter and the goal of these talks could be the creation of an environment for a conflict-free coexistence based on the security equation, which would include not only the traditional strategic armaments, such as intercontinental ballistic missiles, heavy bombers and submarines, but – I would like to emphasise this – all offensive and defensive systems capable of attaining strategic goals regardless of the armament.

The five nuclear countries bear special responsibility. I hope that the initiative on a personal meeting of the heads of state of the permanent members of the UN Security Council, which we proposed last year, will materialise and will be held as soon as the epidemiological situation allows.

Russia is always open to broad international cooperation. We have consistently advocated the preservation and strengthening of the key role of the United Nations in international affairs, and we try to provide assistance to the settlement of regional conflicts and have already done a great deal to stabilise the situation in Syria and to launch a political dialogue in Libya. As you know, Russia played the main role in stopping the armed conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.

It is on the basis of mutual respect that we are building relations with the absolute majority of the world’s countries: in Asia, Latin America, Africa and many European countries. We are consistently expanding as a priority contacts with our closest partners in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, BRICS, the Commonwealth of Independent States, and our allies in the Collective Security Treaty Organisation.

Our common projects in the Eurasian Economic Union are aimed at ensuring economic growth and the wellbeing of our people. There are new, interesting projects here, such as the development of transport-and-logistics corridors. I am sure they will become a reliable infrastructure backbone for large-scale Eurasian partnership. The Russian ideas of this broad, open association are already being put into practice, in part, via alignment with other integration processes.

All these projects are not just geopolitical ideas but strictly practical instruments for resolving national development tasks.

Colleagues,

I began today’s Address with urgent healthcare issues, and concluding it, I would like to say the following. Nobody in the world knew what misfortune we would have to face. However, we, citizens of Russia, have already done much and will do all we can to counter the threat of the epidemic. Our country has reliable resources for this. We created them in healthcare, science, education and industry in previous years.

However, we must definitely move forward. We have mapped out national development tasks. Naturally, the challenge of the epidemic has made objective adjustments to our work. Today’s Address contains instructions on demography and family support, as well as on efforts to fight poverty, increase incomes, create jobs, improve the business environment and raise state management to a new level.

I would like to ask the Government to focus on these tasks in preparing new initiatives on Russia’s socioeconomic development and instruct it to present them by July 1 of this year.

What do I have in mind? Doing everyday work, we must certainly not forget about our strategic development goals and our national development goals, and we must improve the mechanisms for reaching them.

We will discuss the Government’s proposals with the participation of the relevant State Council commissions, our business associations, experts and the Civic Chamber. Following such a broad discussion, we will make final decisions on further financial and organisational actions at the meeting of the Council for Strategic Development and National Projects.

Now I would like to address all citizens of Russia once again to say that we will do everything in our power to achieve the goals set. I am sure we will move forward together and accomplish all the tasks that we have set for ourselves.

Thank you very much for your attention.

The National Anthem of the Russian Federation is played.

‘I Didn’t Do Anything’: Excerpts from Dima al Wawi’s Story (VIDEO)

March 17, 2021

Dima al-Wawi and her parents at the Jabara checkpoint, where Israeli authorities released her after 75 days imprisonment. (Photo: Oren Ziv, via Activestills.org)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff

Dima Ismail Rashid al-Wawi was born on November 20, 2003, in the town of Halhul, north of Al-Khalil (Hebron) in the occupied West Bank. Her family earns its income mostly from farming a small piece of land located on the outskirts of the town.   

Halhul has been a constant target for Israeli army raids, as its residents have protested against the confiscation of much of their land to support the expansion of the illegal Jewish settlement of Karmei Tzur. Since 2000, the Israeli military has confiscated about 1,500 dunums (Approximately 371 acres) of land belonging to Halhul, which is subject to routine closures imposed by the Israeli army.

Dima has been witness to much of the violence and injustice meted out against her town, although her family tried to protect her and her siblings. On February 9, 2016, Dima was ‘arrested’ by an armed, illegal Jewish settler who claimed that the 12-year-old girl was trying to stab him. After weeks of interrogation by the Israeli army, a military court sentenced her to four and a half months in prison.

Throughout her interrogation, Dima kept telling Israeli officers: ‘Ma’miltish ish’, ‘I didn’t do anything.’

Below is an excerpt from Dima’s story published in Ramzy Baroud’s latest volume, THESE CHAINS WILL BE BROKEN: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons (Clarity Press).

The audiobook edition of the book is set to be released by the same publisher later this year.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

Hell on Earth Exists

By Stephen Lendman

Source

Made in the USA, assisted by its imperial partners, hell exists in raped and destroyed nations by US-led aggression.

It’s worst of all in ravaged Yemen since October 2001, a nation under attack by the US and complicit aggressors for nearly two decades without let-up.

According to World Food Program executive director David Beasley in remarks to Security Council members last week:

“Just two days ago, I was in Yemen, where over 16 million people now face crisis levels of hunger or worse.” 

“These aren’t just numbers. These are real people.” 

“And we are headed straight toward the biggest famine in modern history.” 

“It is hell on earth in many places in Yemen right now.”

“Around 400,000 children may die in Yemen this year without urgent intervention.” 

“That is roughly one child every 75 seconds.” 

“So, while we’re sitting here, every minute and a quarter, a child is dying.”

“Are we really going to turn our backs on them and look the other way?”

“To add to all their misery, the innocent people of Yemen have to deal with a fuel blockade.”

“(M)ost hospitals (still operating) only have electricity in their intensive care units because fuel reserves are so low.” 

“I know this first-hand because I’ve walked in the hospital.” 

“And the lights were off. The electricity was off.” 

“The people of Yemen deserve our help. That blockade must be lifted, as a humanitarian act.” 

“Otherwise, millions more will spiral into crisis.”

“Man made conflict is driving instability and powering a destructive new wave of famine that threatens to sweep across the world.” 

“The toll being paid in human misery is unimaginable.” 

“These looming famines have two things in common: they are primarily driven by conflict, and they are entirely preventable.”

“The cycle of violence, hunger and despair pulls in more and more individuals and families as the weeks and months pass.” 

“But the potential consequences are truly global: economic deterioration, destabilization, mass migration and starvation.”

“Beyond the immediate crisis, we also need to invest in peace, so that in the future, desperate families are not forced to the brink of survival by the bullet and the bomb.” 

“The costs of this violence are immense: just in 2019 $14.5 trillion dollars a year – 15 percent of global GDP.” 

“It would take a fraction of this money to fund the development programs that could transform the lives of people in fragile, conflict-scarred nations – and help lay new pathways to peace.”

Beasley added that he earlier warned that famines “of biblical proportions” are happpening in over three dozen countries.

He estimates around 270 million people worldwide today on the brink of starvation — what’s entirely avoidable but it’s happening because of endless wars and indifference to the health, welfare and rights of world’s most vulnerable people.

Millions reside in Yemen, victimized by US aggression because of its strategic location.

It’s near the Horn of Africa on Saudi Arabia’s southern border, the Red Sea, its Bab el-Mandeb strait — a key chokepoint separating Yemen from Eritrea through which millions barrels of oil pass daily — and the Gulf of Aden connection to the Indian Ocean.

It’s why war to gain and maintain control of the country rages endlessly.

Yemeni Houthi freedom fighters want their country back.   

They want US-led aggression ended, US/Saudi forces out of the country once and for all.

Millions of Yemenis on the brink of starvation want to live, not die.

The Saudis are waging US proxy war on the country, massacring thousands, destroying vital infrastructure —  schools, food storage facilities, residential areas, and hospitals, wrecking Yemen’s healthcare system.

Millions of Yemenis face endless violence, lack of treatment for illnesses and injuries, starvation, and for many in the country widespread famine.

The entire population is at risk.

Beasley warned that things are “sliding toward the brink of the abyss” today.

Millions of desperate people in Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria, Sudan, South Sudan, the Sahel and elsewhere — dozens of countries where millions of people go hungry because of US aggression and/or support for endless wars.

Beasley visited Sana’a, Yemen’s Al Sabeen children’s hospital.

He was overwhelmed by horror stories and what he saw firsthand.

He witnessed pain, incredible hardships, sick children whose bodies were skin and bones, and countless numbers on the brink of death from preventable or treatable illnesses and hunger.

“If I showed you some of the pictures, you would not believe it, and no one with a heart at all could sit idly by and let this continue. No one,” he stressed!  

Ending war in Yemen and other countries, along with lots of money for food and healthcare are desperately needed to save lives. end pain and indescribable suffering.

Beasley estimates around 250,000 deaths in Yemen from war, untreated diseases and starvation.

A more accurate toll since Bush/Cheney launched aggression in the country almost two decades ago is likely at least ten-fold higher than Beasley’s estimate.

What’s going on won’t likely end unless world community members no longer tolerate US-led wars on humanity.

They continue in multiple theaters by hot and/or other means, the human toll mounting exponentially each day.

Busy Day for NATO Terrorists in Syria: 3 Kids Hurt by IED, Homes Bombed

 MIRI WOOD 

al jourin bombing

NATO terrorists had a busy day in Syria on 6 March: Three children were injured by an IED in Daraa, while homes and businesses were bombed in Jourin. Syria has had no honeymoon from terror since the changing of the occupant of the White House; NATO weapons continue to fall like manna from the heavens, into the arms of the demi-angels, those joyful freedom fighters.

Terrorists in the outskirts of Jisr al Shughur, Idlib governate, launched rocket fire against the residential neighborhood of Jourin, Hama governate. There were no casualties, but much infrastructural damage.

Rockets are ground-to-ground bombs.

The three children were injured while playing near the al Khirbeh roundabout at the eastern entrance to Daraa. Being children, they were enticed by a sweets box (“halwa”) protruding from a brick wall. The empty candy box was rigged to detonate when touched.

Local police discovered more explosives and several detonators nearby. Blowing up Syrian children has been ongoing evidence of the doubleplusgood activities of the NATO Spring, since the Russian sappers found explosives in toys while clearing almost one thousand hectares of the eastern parts of Aleppo, after the terrorists were put on buses in December 2016.

white-helmets-organ-traders
Russian sapper demining a doll of explosives
smart-prosthetics
takfiri left explosives in children’s toys
another toy rigged to blow off child’s arms
double aka amputee child in rehab
little syrian boy being fitted for prosthetic arm
arm prothestic

2 Children Killed and 10 Others Injured in a Landmine Explosion in Daraa

Landmine explosion in Syria - Archive photo - انفجار لغم أرضي سورية

ARABI SOURI 

Two children were killed on the spot and ten other children were injured in a landmine explosion in the city of al-sheik Maskeen (Maskin), northern Daraa countryside.

The victims and the injured children were rushed to the National Hospital of Daraa and the National Hospital of Izraa.

A spokesman for the Daraa Police Department stated that ‘a landmine was detonated in the Eastern Neighborhood in al-sheik Maskeen in the northern Daraa countryside yesterday, January 11, 2021, in a group of young children killing two of them and injuring ten others.’ The police spokesman added that most of the victims are from the same family.

Syria is suffering massively from the tens of thousands of landmines and IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) planted by the NATO-sponsored ‘freedom fighters’ of Al Qaeda FSA and of ISIS in all the areas they infested. In addition to planting a large number of military-grade landmines, gifted by the generous US and European taxpayers, the terrorists were making their own explosive devices in different shapes and sizes, some of which are like the usual household items. The terrorists would then spread their killing tools in its designated areas before they flee in order to continue killing and maiming Syrians, especially children who many of them were killed or lost limbs when picking up toys that were stuffed with explosives.

The task of demining and cleaning the regions newly liberated from NATO-sponsored ‘freedom fighters’ is overwhelming, to say the least, and it’s overwhelming for capable countries let alone a country that is still fighting terrorist groups in different parts of its territories, while it’s under a blockade and under inhumane draconian sanctions by the USA and its European minions preventing the Syrian state from acquiring needed tools to clear areas of the explosives and also impeding the procurement of medicine and medical tools and equipment.

Friendly civilized countries have been helping the Syrian state to clear the liberated areas from the explosives but those same countries are under attacks and sanctions as well by NATO and stooges.

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Related

Idlib Terrorists Plot Chemical False Flag after US Diplomat Chirps about ‘Mass Graves’

Source

July 9, 2020 Miri Wood

OPCW manipulated Douma chemical attack report - mass grave

A new false flag chemical attack plan in the al Qaeda haven of Idlib has been uncovered, days after American diplomat Kelly Craft warned of (threatened?) “mass graves” in Syria, unless UNSCR 2504 was extended by the Security Council, and one day after part of the new Sykes-Picot project was vetoed by Russia and China.

Security Council Resolution 2504 (2020) was a 6-month extension on 2449 (2018) which was an extension on 2165 (2014).

Trump’s top diplomat at the Security Council of the UN was threatening with an outbreak of COVID 19 in the areas the terrorists control (link above), seems there is also a plan B, and maybe more for false flags; ‘all options on the table’ as the US warlords prefer to say.

Via 2165 (2014), poisoned vaccines were brought into Syria from Turkey.

As reported in SANA, the Russian Coordination Center in Hmeimim announced that under the direction of European special intelligence operatives illegally in Syria, terrorists “are preparing to stage a false flag chemical attack in a number of towns in Idleb countryside.”

chemical-attacks
White Helmets and the UN – OPCW

Intelligence sources informed the Coordination Center that fifteen “explosive devices filled with unknown toxic materials” were produced in a laboratory in Sarmada, with plans to explode them in Sfouhen, Fatira, and Flaifel in order to blame the Syrian Arab Army and the government of using chemical weapons.

Is it some stunning coincidence that a new false flag chemical attack comes on the heels of Craft’s warning/threat of imminent mass graves, given that the previous false flag — thwarted when the incompetent al Qaeda terrorists injured themselves — was in early March, when Craft, Raab, Jeffrey, and Lowcock were in Turkey, to give moral support to Madman Erdogan, for his war crimes against Syria?

How utterly bereft of human decency is the United States’ ambassador to the United Nations, practically salivating over the fantasy of ”mass graves.” One might wonder if she enjoyed “The War of Terror Through Forensic Medicine.”

How utterly bereft of human decency is this diplomat, sadistically implying that the UN’s NATO Klan has a backup plan to unleash COVID into the Syrian Arab Republic — because burning wheat fields, and attempting to starve the population via criminal Caesar and stealing Syrian oil is not enough war criminal activity.

This is a precarious time for another false flag chemical attack against Syria. The world’s human garbage that has been dumped into the Levantine republic are at each other’s throats. Foreign terrorists in Idlib are now kidnapping each other and someone has just released pervy nude selfies of the American illegal Bilal Abdul Kareem, the degenerate who legitimized the beheading of 12 year old Syrian-Palestinian Abdullah Issa by the al Zinki division of the FSA, and who has glorified the butchery of savages on the US Treasury SDN list.

Such a false flag would also give Trump a bit of respite from ongoing media attacks. After all, the transatlantic warmongering NATO stenographers did give him a standing ovation when he bombed Syria for al Qaeda, on 7 April 2017.

— Miri Wood

UPDATE:

On cue for another false flag to legitimize another war criminal bombing of the SAR by NATO colonialists, the contemptible OPCW has entered with another round of vicious Goebbels Lies. As Syria News has meticulously dissected several of its previous propaganda missives, this author refers our readership to them.

The organization betrayed its noble cause when it ejected Jose Bustani per the demand of Dick Cheney, via his lapdog, the neocon’s neocon, John Bolton — now deified by Operation Mockingbird liberals.

Related:

Trump Threatens Syria for al-Qaeda Occupiers of Idlib

https://www.syrianews.cc/trump-threatens-syria-for-al-qaeda-occupiers-of-idlib/embed/#?secret=4P6V6AsRiT

On Tuesday’s Massive Criminal Chemical Weapons Lies against Syria

https://www.syrianews.cc/tuesdays-criminal-chemical-weapons-lies-syria/embed/#?secret=GoiFtgQ7f9

Nobody Noticed Trump Followed CNN against Syria?

https://www.syrianews.cc/nobody-noticed-trump-followed-cnn-against-syria/embed/#?secret=vshQgBy8Bz

True History of FSA Chemical Weapons Threats against Syria

https://www.syrianews.cc/true-history-fsa-chemical-weapons-threats-syria/embed/#?secret=RP3jP0wTsC

The War of Terror on Syria Through Forensic Medicine – GRAPHIC

COVID-19 HYPE AND HORRORS OF DEEP STATE

COVID-19 Hype And Horrors Of Deep State

South Front

The COVID-19 pandemic, and the hysteria it carried with it is without precedent in modern history, with a massive share of the global population under lockdown, and specifically that of Europe and the United States.

It is customary, furthermore, that every crisis presents opportunities to speculate, and provide alternative narratives (or even conspiracy theories) of what specifically is going on, how and why it was initiated and where it would all lead.

A crisis without precedent, however, creates the opportunity for massive-scale speculation, especially when it’s as polarizing as the COVID-19, with the entire situation having no exact clarity of what the mortality rate is, how many people are and were, in fact, infected, how many are actually dying and so on.

Of course, every respectable conspiracy theory blames a “force” (or a group, individual) that has an interest at stake and there is much to gain from organizing it.

One of them is the following:

In a short summary, the “narrative is the following” and it is a popular QAnon conspiracy theory, that’s being shared by influencers (such as Rose Henges who spread “awareness” for “holistic living”, but she is one of many), on Instagram and other social media.

Supporters of the completely unfounded QAnon conspiracy theory believe that President Donald Trump and the American military are waging a secret war against the deep state, which they believe is a global cabal of pedophiles. They get their updates from off-shoots of the anonymous message board 8chan and a website called QAlerts, which they comb through for barely coherent secret messages from a person they believe has Q-level security clearance within the US government.

Starting from the week beginning on March 30th, thousands (and even hundreds of thousands) of hungry and terribly abused children have been found dead, or in captivity in an underground tunnel in New York.

This tunnel, allegedly, connects between the Clinton Foundation Building and the port of New York, with a length of approximately 4 kilometers.

It is through the end of the tunnel that comes out into the port of New York that children and corpses are loaded onto the USNS Comfort medical vessel.

It should be reminded that a man was arrested for attempting to derail a train and collide with the USNS Mercy, docked near Los Angeles, because he believed that the U.S. government was planning some sort of takeover.

Thus, according to the conspiracy theory, the USNS Mercy is docked near Los Angeles to provide the same service – care for kidnapped children and the victims of horrible abuses saved from the tunnels, because there’s also apparently tunnels under L.A.

These rescue activities are under the patronage of the “Pentagon Pedophile Task Force,” which is another quite popular conspiracy theory.

This conspiracy theory, however, goes one step further – some of the corpses had bitemarks on them, maybe by rats, but it even claimed that the starving children ate the corpses of the dead ones.

The makeshift field hospital in the middle of Central Park in New York, also, is there to treat the children, rather than to fight COVID-19.

And it is estimated that New York needs 100,000 body bags.

And it is expected that between 4 and 6% of these children would die, because they were too weak. They were tortured and sexually abused. Many of these children were raised for this specific purpose and have never seen the light of day, and so on.

Furthermore, there’s also an explanation of the urgent need of respirators – the air in the tunnels is stagnated, thus they need help breathing.

Finally, police officers who entered the tunnels were traumatized, and they were even given bags in which to throw up if it’s too much.

Furthermore, in addition to that, global celebrities began providing all sorts of entertainment, to presumably keep people away from seeing the truth.

These include Arnold Schwarzenegger, Antonio Banderas, Robbie Williams, and many more, who have began releasing videos, and what not, in order to entertain the quarantined masses.

Then, the conspiracy theory went even deeper – Madonna was quoted in Vogue magazine that she “would kill for pasta” and most would think its because panic buying left shelves empty and restaurants and bars are closed far and wide.

But no, “pasta” apparently is some sort of pedophile slang for the murder of a young boy.

And that’s also done for a purpose – apparently it all connects to also the, now deceased, Jeffrey Epstein who presumably killed himself used to take celebrities on a private island for that sort of entertainment.

It was to produce Adrenochrome was used by celebrities as a drug and an elixir of immortality. It is derived from a child’s body at the time of terrible fear and pain.

So, apparently, the synthetic adrenochrome produced in Wuhan, China, was intentionally infected with a special type of coronavirus.

Thus, a person who has taken some of this substance could easily be tracked.

And quarantine served as a cover for the largest ever secret U.S. intelligence operation, which will arrest 158,000 people and “remove all the villains” – politicians, celebrities and company heads, bankers such as George Soros, the heads of the United Nations, the founders of GRETA and more.

Indirectly, this wild theory, according to its followers, is proved by the US statistics, according to which in the USA annually, according to the official version alone, about 460,000 children disappear each year.

In short, people began to seriously discuss that Jeffrey Epstein on his island treated his influential friends not only to young girls, but also to children. And everyone who flew in private jets to his island will face arrest and a military tribunal.

The list of people who have visited Epstein’s island is long and is no secret and it includes many influential politicians, entertainers, film and music celebrities and what not.

And all sorts of stories such as this are being propagated by the entire quarantine that keeps everybody at home, generally alone with themselves or with likeminded individuals who can spiral their ideas out of control.

Gone are the times when the most illogical, weird and “disturbing” thing was the ending of Game of Thrones.

Now, there’s surely very little truth to the general idea of the conspiracy theory, but what’s interesting is who it’s aimed at and why it appears now, of all times.

More than likely, what’s described above is a well-planned (albeit hastily, since the timeline with the COVID-19 was a bit short) campaign to discredit the entire “neoliberal elite” group that’s quite popular in recent times.

It is no secret that many of the faces behind some of the major global capital, or some of the leaders of entertainment and media are associated with some very large-scale scandals (such as Harvey Weinstein, for example, or maybe George Soros’ heart transplants, there’s numerous other cases), and these are generally related to things that the “common folk” would find disturbing.

The general concept is to get some facts, such as the quarantine, the field hospital (as if out of M*A*S*H) and the UNSN Mercy and the USNS Comfort, and such, glue them together with a very questionable, horror-filled content and try to pass it as a possible version that sounds at least “slightly reasonable.”

Who could stand behind the propagation of such narratives, however?

There are several options.

  1. The pro-Trump lobby, and his team (not directly Donald Trump himself), are, at least partially, responsible for starting the “versions” since they discredit his direct opponents quite apparently, and it is not a bad timing for the diffusion of such information, after all his entire handling of the COVID-19 situation is turning into a fiasco.
  2. It could be China – and why not, these “neoliberal elites,” are, to a very large degree, in charge of global affairs – globalism is a narrative that they push forward, in a way. China isn’t interested in a US-oriented global order, or a West-oriented one, it has little interest in a group of people pushing the narrative. Beijing wants to be the sole super power, for its own reasons and to achieve its own goals. Discrediting its direct “competition” and also by maintaining that US soldiers brought the coronavirus to Mainland China is one way to do so.
  3. It could be Russia – but, it makes no sense, since some of these theories slam traditional Russian “allies” (in very broad terms) as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is willing to “look the other way” from the Western-propagated narrative for the greater (economic) wellbeing. Furthermore, the “Great Russian propaganda machine” is much more a myth than a reality, as it has been proven time and again. Finally, a large part of the current Russian elite is very much integrated with the Western elite, there’s little (if any) interest in undermining it, after all it works to their benefit.
  4. There’s always “rogue actors” those who are conditionally “patriotic” or conditionally “conservative” since the current climate doesn’t specifically play into their field, this could relate to capital, political interest, various lobbyist interests.

There’s other QAnon versions, as the “movement” has seen increased activity on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter since the outbreak of COVID-19. Some Q followers baselessly claim the virus is a human-made bioweapon, which they believe was created by either the Chinese government or Bill Gates, depending on which Twitter account you read.

One thing is certain, during a crisis, conspiracy theories are abound, and truth, sometimes, comes around, factual stories are few and far between.

MORE ON THE TOPIC:

Israel detained 5,500 Palestinians in 2019

Israeli police officers arrest a Palestinian youth in Issawiya, Jerusalem, 4 January 2017 [Mahfouz Abu Turk/Apaimages]
MEMO | December 31, 2019

Israeli occupation forces detained over 5,500 Palestinians from the occupied Palestinian territories in 2019, including 889 children and 128 girls and women, Quds Press reported rights groups saying yesterday.

According to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Commission, Palestinian Prisoners’ Club and Addameer for Human Rights, there are approximately 5,000 Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli jails, including 40 girls and women, 200 children. Some 450 are under administrative detention.

The groups said that five Palestinian prisoners passed away while in detention this year, citing medical negligence and torture. They were named as: Faris Baroud, Awni Youses, Nassar Taqatqa, Bassam Al-Sayeh and Sami Abu-Dayyak. Israeli authorities withheld the bodies of four Palestinian prisoners.

During 2019, Israeli occupation forces issued 1,035 administrative detention orders, including four against women and four against children.

The rights groups said there are currently 700 prisoners who are in need of medical attention inside Israeli jails, including ten who suffer from cancer and more than 200 who have chronic diseases.

More than 50 prisoners went on hunger strike in protest against the policies of the Israeli prison services, as well as against the policy of administrative detention.

“Israeli occupation authorities violate all the rules of international and humanitarian laws, and reinforce their flagrant violations through the judicial system,” the rights groups said.

They called for local, regional and international bodies to put pressure on the Israeli occupation in order to stop its violations of Palestinian prisoners.

A Generation Deleted: American Bombs in Yemen Are Costing an Entire Generation Their Future

Yemen war children feature photo

Feature photo | A child injured in a deadly Saudi-led coalition airstrike rests in a hospital in Saada, Yemen, Aug. 12, 2018. Hani Mohammed | AP

As a new school year begins in Yemen, Ahmed AbdulKareem investigates the impact that American weapons have had on the war-torn country’s schoolchildren.

Children Of Our World In Trauma — Rebel Voice

Originally posted on Rebel Voice: This short but haunting piece of video highlights the ways in which the children of the Earth are being failed by humanity. There are no words sufficient to describe the horrors that children face in an increasingly callous and selfish global society. Rebel Voice strongly recommends that everyone watch this…

via Children Of Our World In Trauma — Rebel Voice

Axis of Resistance.The West and its Allies Support al Qaeda and ISIS Globally

Global Research, October 04, 2019

The real Axis of Evil consists of Washington-led NATO and its allies. The magnitude of the human and environmental catastrophe is unimaginable in scope. Western governments and their agencies send strong delusion to North Americans, who remain largely ignorant to the reality of the catastrophe being committed in their names.

The Western War Of Terror, to which our governments remain committed, loots public treasuries to commit and sustain an overseas holocaust, wherein the West and its agencies support, command and control the very same terrorism that they proclaim to be fighting.

Dr. Gideon Polya notes in “An Iraqi Holocaust/ 2.7 Million Iraqi Dead From Violence Or War-imposed Deprivation” that the West’s supremely criminal war against Iraq alone

“led to 2.7 million Iraqi deaths from  violence (1.5 million) or from violently-imposed deprivation (1.2 million),” and that, “the West has now commenced its Seventh Iraq War since 1914 in over a century of Western violence in which Iraqi deaths from violence or violently-imposed deprivation have totaled  9 million. However Western Mainstream media have resolutely ignored the carnage, this tragically illustrating the adage ‘History ignored yields history repeated’.“

The West and its allies support al Qaeda and ISIS globally. They are the proxies, the “boots on the ground” that destroy sovereign, independent countries for their Western permanent-state masters. They are the essence of barbarism and evil, shrouded in torn veils of “plausible deniability” that deceive only those who willfully choose to be deceived.

Happily, the Axis of Resistance is becoming stronger. Each victory for those countries that oppose Western barbarism (including Yemen, Syria and Iraq) is a victory for nation-state sovereignty and territorial integrity, a victory for international law, a victory for dignity and civilization, a victory for truth, justice, peace, and a livable planet.

A multi-polar world order will impose restraints on the lunacy of the U.S-led New World Order, its global war, its predatory, anti-Life political economies, its poverty, and its growing holocaust.  Stripped of its war propaganda, the US-led monster is a global dictatorship that extracts disproportionate wealth from the world to a minute, transnational oligarch class.

Syria, Iraq, Iran, Russia, China, Yemen are all on the front lines against the West’s cancerous foreign policies of normalized Supreme International war crimes, of criminal blockades, of widespread, genocidal mass-murder, and the on-going destruction of a livable planet.

The crimes and their consequences are pre-planned and monstrous. The West murdered almost 600,000 Iraqi children when it intentionally destroyed water plants in Iraq through economic blockades. They bombed water infrastructure in Libya and Syria, and they are using the same tactics in Yemen, as well.  Civilian deaths are intended, planned for, they are mass murder. The predicted diseases, the cholera, are also anticipated.  The UN itself has condemned the cholera epidemic in Yemen as a “man-made disaster.”

Journalist David Pear notes in “The US-Led Genocide and Destruction of Yemen”:

“Since 2015 the cholera epidemic has been spread by biological warfare against Yemen. US bombs dropped by Saudi pilots destroyed Yemen’s public water and sewage systems. The parts, chemicals and fuel to operate Yemen’s water purification and sewage plants are blockaded. Potable water, cholera vaccine, and even individual water purification tablets cannot get in ….

The sewage from non-working treatment plants overflows into streams that run onto agricultural land, thus contaminating vegetables before they go to market. Sewage flows into the cities, residential areas and the refugee camps. Flies swarm over the sewage and spread cholera everywhere. The International Committee of the Red Cross, the Red Crescent, and Doctors Without Borders; hospitals, clinics and disaster relief organizations, and human rights workers have been deliberately bombed.”

Yemen, like its counterparts in the Resistance, seeks its own sovereign political economy, free from externally-imposed “neoliberal” diktats, the privatizations, the international financing and impoverishing “Structural Adjustment Programs”.

Yemen seeks to use its resources for the social uplift of its peoples, as guaranteed by the UN Charter and International law. Yemen seeks justice and truth and peace, as it fights the West’s al Qaeda terrorists, as it withstands the bombs furnished by the West, delivered by Saudi planes, commanded and controlled by the West. And Yemen is winning the war.

Shortly after the Aramco attacks, falsely blamed on Iran, Houthi forces defeated a large Saudi force in the Najran province, capturing 1000’s of soldiers, and littering the battlefield with light armored vehicles (LAVs) – manufactured by General Dynamics Lands Systems in London, Ontario, Canada.

(Instead of making environmentally-friendly fast trains, successive Canadian governments chose instead to manufacture LAVs for their Saudi and al Qaeda allies.)

In Phase Two of the offensive, Yemeni Armed Forces reportedly overtook three Saudi military bases and now control more than 150 square kilometers of Saudi territory.

These victories, as with Syria’s on-going victories over international terrorism, are ushering in a new era of multipolarity, an era that promises to be more resistant to the West’s terrorism, more resistant to the shackles of globalizing “neoliberal” parasitism, and more resistant to Washington’s unipolar agenda of permanent war and poverty – a cancerous agenda , toxic to humanity and toxic to a livable planet.

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Mark Taliano is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG) and the author of Voices from Syria, Global Research Publishers, 2017. Visit the author’s website at https://www.marktaliano.net where this article was originally published.


Order Mark Taliano’s Book “Voices from Syria” directly from Global Research.

Mark Taliano combines years of research with on-the-ground observations to present an informed and well-documented analysis that refutes  the mainstream media narratives on Syria. 

Voices from Syria 

ISBN: 978-0-9879389-1-6

Author: Mark Taliano

Year: 2017

Pages: 128 (Expanded edition: 1 new chapter)

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CHILDREN ARE KILLED BY AMERICAN WEAPONS IN YEMEN EVERY YEAR. THEN A REFINERY BLOWS UP, AND AMERICA SUDDENLY PAYS ATTENTION | OPINION

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Anthony Harwood, FORMER FOREIGN EDITOR OF THE DAILY MAIL

It’s like the start of a bad joke.

Syria News Briefs: SDF Child Soldiers, Landmines, and Economy

Source

 

Syria SDF YPG Asayish Recruiting Child Soldiers Kurds
US-run ‘SDF’ continues to kidnap Syrian children to make them ‘soldiers.’

In Syria news briefs today, two children were injured in another landmine blast; a child fleeing from US ‘SDF’ criminal militia was shot to death; Reconciliation continues; an increase in olive production is expected.

Two children were injured by shrapnel from another exploding landmine left behind by terrorists in al Swaiaa, Deir Ezzor. They are expected to recover. Despite the UN Mine Action Service has signed an MoU to assist the Syrian government more than a year ago, terrorists’ buried landmines continue to kill and maim.

Also on 21 August, Syria continued with its Reconciliation program. In Homs, 115 men had their legal statuses settled, upon turning themselves in, and handing over their weapons, so they could “return to their normal lives.”

Syria’s Ministry of Agriculture announced the expectation of olive and olive oil production to be increased this year. Since last year, when crops were decreased because farmlands were injured by terrorists, the Ministry has engaged in rehabilitation and ongoing maintenance to return to normal production. The expected output is 830,000 tons of olives, and 150 tons of olive oil.

olive economy sanctions syria

The vilest of news from Syria, on 21 August, will never be reported in NATO media. The US-run ‘SDF‘ murdered a Syrian child who attempted to escape kidnapping. Three of his family members were also shot by these separatist-terrorists, trying to protect him.

The murdered child was 13 years old Osama Obeid, who lived in the village of al-Gharb in Hasaka. The ‘SDF‘ stormtroopers have been raiding homes in Hasaka countryside, to kidnap young men and children to incarcerate them in “coercive recruitment camps” — brainwash centers to force Syrian children to become armed terrorists.

Syria SDF YPG Asayish Recruiting Child Soldiers Kurds
Syria SDF YPG Asayish Recruiting Child Soldiers Kurds
child-soldier
kidnapped-girls-soldiers

The YPG precursor to the ‘SDF’ criminals promised to end their war criminal activity of creating ‘child soldiers,’ back in 2014. NATO media swooned, then, and swooned again late June, when an ‘SDF commander’ was invited to the UN to sign an agreement to end the destruction of children’s psyches.

How utterly shameless that that which should be considered normal among civilized human beings should be lauded, instead.

NATO media supporting the US-sponsored ‘SDF’ against Syria has a two-pronged effect: The ability to subsequently ignore more war crimes, and to feed into the wretched western colonial mindset, attracting the Lilliputian serfs to support the attempted destruction of the sovereignty of Syria.

This insidious propaganda permits western media to ignore the murder of Osama Obeid, 13, who tried to escape kidnapping, as they have ignored the ‘SDF’ torching thousands of hectares of wheat and barley farmland in Syria, and as they have ignored the attempt of ‘ethnic cleansing‘ of Syrians in Qamishli.

Syriac Qamishli Church Explosion - Syria

Do an internet search, “Syria news,” and you will not find a single western medium to report on Tuesday’s murder of the Syrian child, nor anything except ongoing, anti-Syria war propaganda.

The time is past overdue for westerners to stop being colonial serfs, to stand upright, on hind legs, and to acknowledge that Syria continues to fight terrorism on behalf of humanity.

— Miri Wood

NB: Today is the anniversary of the Ghouta massacre, committed by the FSA moderate terrorists who admitted having received their chemical weapons from “Prince Bandar [who should have instructed the killers in their proper usage so as not to have slaughtered some of their own, also].”

Killing Tariq: Why We Must Rethink the Roots of Jewish Settlers Violence

85% of cases involving settler violence against Palestinians are never pursued by law. Of the remaining cases, only 1.9% led to a conviction.

Seven-year-old Tariq Zabania from Al-Khalil (Hebron) was killed on the spot when an Israeli Jewish settler ran his car over him on July 15. Little Tariq’s photograph, lying face down on the road, was circulated on social media. His untimely death is heartbreaking.

Tariq’s innocent blood must not go in vain. For this to happen, we are morally obliged to understand the nature of Jewish settler violence, which cannot be viewed in isolation from the inherent racism in Israeli society as a whole.

We are all often guilty of perpetuating the myth that militant Jewish settlers in the occupied Palestinian territories are a different and distinct category from other Israelis who live beyond the so-called “Green Line”.




Undoubtedly, the violent mentality that propels Israeli society, wherever it is located, is not governed by imaginary lines but by a racist ideology, of which disciples can be found everywhere in Israel, not just in the illegal Jewish colonies of the West Bank.

Israel is a sick society and its ailment is not confined to the 1967 Occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.

While Palestinians are imprisoned behind walls, fences and enclosed regions, Israelis are a different kind of prisoners, too. “A man who takes away another man’s freedom is a prisoner of hatred, he is locked behind the bars of prejudice and narrow-mindedness,” wrote the late anti-Apartheid hero and long-time prisoner, Nelson Mandela.

It is this racism and bigotry that makes Tariq invisible to most Israelis. For most Israelis, Palestinian children do not exist as real human beings, deserving of a dignified life of freedom. This callousness is a defining quality, common among all sectors of Israeli society – right, left and center.

Tariq Zabania

Tariq Zabania

An example is the terrorist attack carried out by Jewish settlers against the Palestinian Dawabshe family in the village of Duma, in the northern West Bank in July 2015, resulting in the death of Riham and Sa’ed, along with their 18-months old son, Ali. The only member of the family spared that horrific death was Ahmad, 4, who was severely burned.

This cruelty was further accentuated in the episodes that followed this criminal incident. Later that year, Israeli wedding guests were caught on tape while dancing with knives, chanting in celebration of the death of the Palestinian baby.

Three years later, as the Dawabshe family members were leaving an Israeli court, accompanied by Arab parliamentarians, they were greeted by a crowd of Israelis chanting “Where is Ali? Ali’s dead” and “Ali’s on the grill”.

The passing of time only cemented Israelis’ hatred of a little child whose only crime was his Palestinian identity.

The only survivor, Ahmad, was punished thrice: when he lost his whole family; with his severe burns and when he was denied compensation. The then Israeli Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, simply resolved that the boy was not a “terror victim.” Case closed.

Although the Dawabshes were killed by Jewish settlers, the Israeli court, army and political system all conspired to ensure the protection of the killers from any accountability.

This was no different in the case of Israeli soldier Elor Azaria, who, on March 24, 2016, killed an unconscious Palestinian man in Hebron. In his defense, Azaria insisted that he was following army manual instructions in dealing with alleged attackers, while top Israeli government officials came out in droves to support him.

When Azaria was triumphantly released following only nine months in jail, he was hailed by many Israelis as a hero. Possibly, he will have a successful career in politics should he decide to pursue that route. In fact, he was courted by Israeli politicians to help them garner more votes in April’s general elections.

Condemning solely Jewish settlers while sparing the rest of Israeli society is equivalent to political whitewashing, one that presents Israel as a healthy society prior to the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. This view presents Jewish settlements as a cancerous disease that is eating up at the otherwise proud and noble achievements of early Zionists.

It is convenient to classify Jewish settlers as rightwing extremists and to link them with Israel’s ruling right-wing political parties. But history proves otherwise.

Ahmad Dawabsheh, the sole survivor of an Israeli settler arson attack in Duma is dressed at Tel HaShomer Hospital, July 22, 2016. Tsafrir Abayov | AP

It was Israel’s Labor Party that created the settlement projects originally, soon after the colonization of the West Bank. Some of Israel’s largest, and most militant colonial enterprises, in occupied East Jerusalem – Ramat Eshkol, Gilo, Ramot and Armon Hanatziv – are all the creation of the Labor Party, not the Likud.

Neither is the ‘settler’ a new phenomenon. Historically, the early settlers who preceded the establishment of Israel in 1948 were idealized as true Zionists, celebrated as “cultural heroes” – the Jewish redeemers, who eventually ethnically cleansed historic Palestine from its native inhabitants.

“The original Labor movement,” wrote Amotz Asa-El in The Jerusalem Post, “never thought settling beyond the Green Line was illegal, much less immoral.” If there was any debate in Israel regarding settlements, it was never truly concerned with the issue of legitimacy or legality, but practicality: whether these colonial projects can be sustained or defended.

Protecting the settlements is now the overriding task of the Israeli occupation army.  The Israeli human rights organization, B’Tselem, which monitors the conduct of the Israeli army and Jewish settlers in the West Bank, explained the nature of this relationship in a report published in November 2017.

“Israeli security forces not only allow settlers to harm Palestinians and their property as a matter of course – they often provide the perpetrators escort and back-up. In some cases, they even join in on the attack,” B’Tselem wrote.

Another Israeli organization, Yesh Din, concluded in a report published earlier that 85% of cases involving settler violence against Palestinians are never pursued by law. Of the remaining cases, only 1.9% led to a conviction, which is likely to be inconsequential

Jewish settler violence should not be analyzed separately from the violence meted out by the Israeli army but seen within the larger context of the violent Zionist ideology that governs Israeli society entirely.

This violence can only end with the end of the racist ideology that rationalizes murder, like that of little Tariq Zabania.

Feature photo | Jewish settlers point their guns at unarmed Palestinians protesting the confiscation of their land by the Jewish settlers in the West Bank village Burin, near Nablus, Aug. 7, 2009. Majdi Mohammed | AP

Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and editor of Palestine Chronicle. His last book is ‘The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story’ (Pluto Press, London). Baroud has a Ph.D. in Palestine Studies from the University of Exeter and was a Non-Resident Scholar at Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies, University of California Santa Barbara. His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

Stories published in our Daily Digests section are chosen based on the interest of our readers. They are republished from a number of sources, and are not produced by MintPress News. The views expressed in these articles are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect MintPress News editorial policy.

Saudi Arabia on UN’s list of child-killing regimes for 3rd year

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A child suffering from malnutrition caused by the Saudi aggression lies on a bed at a treatment center in al-Sabeen Maternal Hospital in the Yemeni capital Sana'a on June 22, 2019. (Photo by AFP)
A child suffering from malnutrition caused by the Saudi aggression lies on a bed at a treatment center in al-Sabeen Maternal Hospital in the Yemeni capital Sana’a on June 22, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

The United Nations has for the third year put Saudi Arabia and its allies in their military campaign against Yemen on the world body’s blacklist of child killers,  

According to a report by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, in 2018, the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen killed or injured 729 children, nearly half the total child casualties of the year.

The UN chief’s report, which was presented to the Security Council on Friday, also states that Palestinian casualties caused by the Israeli regime, mainly its military, hit a four-year high in 2018.

The report shows that 59 Palestinian children were killed – 56 by Israeli forces – and another 2,756 were injured last year.

Guterres urged “Israel to immediately put in place preventive and protective measures to end the excessive use of force”.

“I condemn the increasing number of child casualties, which are often a result of attacks in densely populated areas and against civilian objects, including schools and hospitals,” Guterres said in the report, produced by UN Children and Armed Conflict envoy Virginia Gamba and issued in Guterres’ name.

The report does not subject those listed to action; however, it shames parties to conflicts in the hope of pushing them to stop killing children.

Diplomats say Saudi Arabia and Israel both have exerted pressure in recent years in a bid to stay off the list, but no to avail.

In reaction to the Friday report, Saudi Ambassador to the UN Abdadllah Al-Mouallimi claimed that “every child’s life is precious” to Riyadh, and questioned the sourcing and accuracy of the report, describing the numbers as “exaggerated.”

His claims come as over 80,000 Yemeni children under five years have died as a result of severe malnutrition caused by the Saudi-led coalition’s aggression against the people of Yemen, Guterres cited a report as saying earlier this year.

The war that  began in March 2015 has so far killed thousands of Yemeni women and children and destroyed Yemen’s infrastructure.

The Yemeni Health Ministry announced in a report on Friday that one Yemeni child is dying of malnutrition every 10 minutes. The report, cited by al-Mayadeen TV, said malnutrition has affected 2.3 million children in Yemen during the past five years.

It also pointed to the outbreak of cholera as a result of the Saudi-led coalition’s aggression, saying that children account for 40 percent of the 3,700 people diagnosed with the disease in the war-torn country.

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Aleppo: New Atrocities by Erdogan, Qatar, & NATO Terrorists

 

aleppo bombing

Another savage attack against Aleppo by terrorists supported by Erdogan, Qatar, US, EU — and now also officially by the Holy See — murder 3, injured 15, and destroyed cars and property, 24 July. Two of the martyrs are children. This carnage follows the terror attacks of Monday.

The Nusra faction of al Qaeda against Syria — Qatar’s faction of wahhabi savages — fired rockets into Aleppo from al Rashidin, causing death and destruction in al Hamadaniyah and Seif al Dawlah neighborhoods.

Sohayb Masri@Sohayb_Masri1

Video of armed terrorist groups targeting the “Hamdania” district of with rocket-propelled grenades

Embedded video

See Sohayb Masri’s other Tweets

In April 2017 a deal brokered with Qatar by Iran to exchange imprisoned terrorists for civilian kidnap victims ended in a massacre of upwards of 130, and the kidnapping of dozens of Syrian children. Qatar subsequently offered security to OPCW investigators to enter Khan Sheikhoun, but they declined.

The Syrian Arab Army responded by destroying rocket launch pads and an undisclosed amount of human garbage.

It is unlikely Pope Francis has been able to send another diplomatic letter to President Assad at this time.

Also on 24 July, Syrian sappers inspecting liberated areas of Deir Ezzor discovered an underground cache in al Mayadeen Bayida desert area, of more than 1,000 (one thousand) mortars left behind by retreating terrorists.

deir ezzor mortars

Aleppo continues to rebuild its infrastructure.

— Miri Wood

Syria Eight Years Later

https://i0.wp.com/www.granma.cu/file/img/2019/03/medium/f0132727.jpg96% of Syrian territory is under the control of the Armed Forces and the national government. One and a half million of those who had to leave the country due to the war, have now returned and begin normal life and the colossal task of reconstruction in a nation devastated by shrapnel, both from the terrorists of the so-called Islamic State and Al Nusra Front, and from the US air force that still continues bombing operations and maintains troops at illegal bases in the Arab state.

That is the situation until this March 15, the eighth anniversary of an externally imposed war.

Preliminary accounts of the injuries caused there indicate that more than 360 000 people have died and several million have been displaced or have had to emigrate. An estimated 1 106 children died in 2018 alone, according to UNICEF data.

A report from the UN agency said: “People believe that the conflict is ending, but many children remain as exposed to danger as at any time in the past eight years”.

Material losses in excess of $400 billion and a reconstruction of the country, which, according to the UN, will need $250 billion, is part of the Arab nation’s landscape today.

But the international community must be aware that there are two wars against Syria: that of the terrorists of the Islamic State and Al Nusra Front, supported by the United States with money and weapons, and the bombing of U.S. planes that continue to cause deaths of hundreds of civilians, mostly children and women, as well as major material destruction.

On the eve of the eighth anniversary of the beginning of the war, units of the Syrian Army discovered and exposed before the world the most varied armaments that have been seized and that have the label of origin of the United States and Israel.

This week also saw the deaths of 50 Syrian civilians in a new massacre by U.S. fighters in the Deir Ezzor region.

In late January, the U.S. Department of Defense admitted that some 1,190 civilians lost their lives in coalition attacks in Syria and Iraq over the past three and a half years; however, human rights bodies report a much higher number.

It is curious that, while Trump talks about the triumph of his forces against the “terrorists”, the only territories where the few remaining pockets are grouped together are located in areas protected by US military and aviation bases, which illegally entered Syrian territory.

And although Trump had recently announced that his troops would leave the Arab nation, the opposite has happened. Even John Bolton, Donald Trump’s national security adviser, told ABC News that “he hoped that the British and French allies would join Washington’s efforts”.

Translation by Internationalist 360°

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13-year-old Gaza Artist Shot by israeli (apartheid state) Soldiers While “Calling for Our Basic Right to Live a Decent Life”

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By Wafa Aludaini,

“Living under occupation and siege, imposed since I was born, inspired me and affected my paintings.”

Majd al-Madhoun, a young, 13-year old Palestinian artist, was shot for the second time by an Israeli soldier while protesting peacefully in the Great March of Return protest near the fence which separates Gaza from Israel. Majd’s first shot was in his leg. The second was a rubber bullet in his head. Majd has been hospitalized, but that didn’t stop him from doing what he loves to do the most.

“I posed no threat to Israeli forces,” Majd said. “I was only standing, looking at our occupied homeland and imagining that I was painting the trees over there.”

I go to every the protests every Friday and Monday and participate with my family and friends, calling for our basic right to live a decent life,” Majd added.

Majd is well-known among his colleagues and relatives for his inspiring art. He has participated in several local exhibitions inside the Gaza Strip.

“My wish is travel across the world and participate in international exhibitions,” he said.

The young artist painted a picture of Razan Al-Najjar, the iconic Palestinian medic shot dead by Israeli gunfire while treating the injured in the Great Return March. He also painted several pictures of Palestinian leaders and martyrs.

Source: Just World Educational

His grandfather discovered his talent when he was only five years old.

“Living under occupation and siege, imposed since I was born, inspired me and affected my paintings,” Majd said. 

Since March 30, Palestinians have protested peacefully, every Friday, at the separation fence east and north of the Gaza Strip to break the blockade Israel has imposed on Gaza since 2006, and call for their right to return to their occupied homeland.

The also protest the naval blockade by demonstrating near the maritime fence every Monday.

According to Ministry of Health spokesperson Dr. Ashraf al-Qedra, around 219 Palestinians have been killed and over 20,000 injured with live ammunition.

Majd is not the only child shot during the Great Return March. Many others had their legs amputated. 12-year-old Abdur Rahman Nofal is an example. He lost his leg when an Israeli sniper shot him with a live bullet. It’s been nine months, and Palestinians insist on continuing their peaceful marches until the Israeli blockade is lifted and the people of Gaza can live like the rest of the world.

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Wafa Aludaini, a Gaza-based activist and journalist, is the manager of the 16th October Group.

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