Russia issues list of ‘unfriendly’ countries amid Ukraine crisis

Russia has said all corporate deals with companies and individuals from “unfriendly countries” will now have to be approved by a government commission.

Moscow said on Monday it approved a list of countries and territories taking “unfriendly actions” against Russia, its companies and citizens in the wake of severe economic sanctions over the Ukraine conflict.

The list follows a presidential decree on March 5 allowing the Russian government, companies and citizens to temporarily pay foreign currency debts owed to overseas creditors from “unfriendly countries” in roubles.

According to a government statement, the list includes Albania, Andorra, Australia, Great Britain, including Jersey, Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Gibraltar, European Union member states, Iceland, Canada, Liechtenstein, Micronesia, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, San Marino, North Macedonia, Singapore, United States, Taiwan, Ukraine, Montenegro, Switzerland and Japan.

To make such payments, the government said debtors should open a special type of rouble account with a Russian bank and transfer the rouble equivalent of the foreign currency amount owed, according to the central bank’s official exchange rate on the day of payment.

This temporary arrangement for paying foreign debts applies to payments exceeding 10 million roubles ($76,000) a month.

Russia’s war on Ukraine has been met with outrage from the international community, with the EU, UK, and US, among others, imposing a range of economic sanctions  on Moscow.

Hundreds have been killed in Ukraine since Russia launched its war on February 24, according to United Nations figures, with the real toll feared to be significantly higher.

More than 1.7 million people have fled Ukraine to neighbouring countries, according to the UN refugee agency.

Russia-Ukraine live news: Moscow to open humanitarian corridors

Corridors will allow for the evacuation of civilians from several cities including Kyiv, Kharkiv, Mariupol and Sumy.

  • The Russian military will hold fire and open humanitarian corridors in several Ukrainian cities including the capital Kyiv at 1000 Moscow time (0700 GMT) on Monday, the Interfax news agency cited Russia’s defence ministry as saying.
  • Several Ukrainian cities have reported deaths and widespread damage as the two sides prepare for a third round of peace talks, expected on Monday.
  • The US government is considering a ban on oil from Russia in a push to ramp up pressure on Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.
  • Streaming giant Netflix has suspended its service in Russia.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has urged the West to strengthen sanctions on Russia.

Pope Francis to visit DR Congo, South Sudan in July

Pope Francis attends an audience with the President of South Sudan Salva Kiir at the Vatican, March 16, 2019.

Pope Francis will visit the Democratic Republic of Congo capital Kinshasa and Goma in the restive eastern province of North Kivu from July 2 to 5. He will, after that, head to Juba, South Sudan, from July 5 to 7.

The announcement of the DRC visit was made by both the Prime Minister and the Catholic Church in Kinshasa on Thursday.

Prime Minister Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde said the pontiff “will have a message of reconciliation and encouragement.”

The visit, he said, “follows an official invitation” from the Congolese government.

“Pope Francis will visit our country 37 years after Pope John Paul II, a historic visit… Our government welcomes this historic announcement. We must all prepare ourselves to welcome this distinguished guest. It will be a moment of great communion,” said the government spokesman Patrick Muyaya. He added, in Swahili, “Karibu kwetu François (welcome here Francis)”.

The Pope’s visit will “revive the hope of the Congolese people who need peace, security and well-being”, said Monsignor Marcel Utembi, chairman of Congo’s National Episcopal Conference (Cenco).

Man spends three hours in full body contact with ice to break record

On the streets of Wilno, Wilenski, Lithuania, Valerjan Romanovski (Poland) set a new Guinness World Records title for the longest duration full body contact with ice with a time of three hours and 28 seconds.
Valerjan spent six months training for this record title, which included submerging himself in ice and icy water, being outside in freezing temperatures and only bathing in cold water.  
“I have been dealing with the cold for several years,” said Valerjan.

“Half a year before the record, there was a decision made to try my strengths in this discipline. I did a few trainings after which I decided that the record was within reach.”

Valerjan is also a keen cyclist and holds the Guinness World Records title for the farthest distance cycled off-road in 12 hours (male) with a distance of 314.65 km (195.51 miles).

“Working on the body and mind is my passion and it gives me great satisfaction,” said Valerjan. 

“I prepared for the ice record in a similar way to cycling (training, rest, regeneration).”

Despite the uniqueness of this record attempt and its physical demands, Valerjan was not phased.

“Workouts are not difficult for me, my body is prepared for them. I like new challenges. I use the knowledge of paramedics, scientists and doctors.”

The greatest challenge for Valerjan was preparing himself mentally for this attempt.

The attempt for the longest duration full body contact with ice saw Valerjan stood inside a glass box on the street which was packed with ice up to his neck. 

His body temperature was regularly checked with an in-ear thermometer, to ensure it didn’t drop below a critical level.

However, deciding to host his record attempt outside had some downsides. 
“The conditions were unfavourable for breaking the record,” said Valerjan. 
“Outside was around 8 °C (46.4 °F) , windy and it rained from time to time.”
The record to beat was 2 hr 35 min 33 sec, held by Romain Vandendorpe (France).
Valerjan passed this mark but, despite beating the record, he wanted to see how far he could push himself. 
Remaining submerged in the ice, he dug in to see how long he was able to last.

He was shivering uncontrollably by the two hour 45 minute mark, but kept going. 

When he hit three consecutive hours in the ice, he decided it was time to end the attempt. 

After Valerjan left the ice, he was wrapped in blankets and sleeping bags and his temperature was continuously monitored to ensure his wellbeing.

His recovery didn’t take very long, however.”The record did not cause any health loss, it was not my limit for the day. On the second day, I was already entering the icy water. After a month I was completely regenerated.”

Just months after securing his latest record, Valerjan has plans in motion for over a dozen potentially record-breaking projects, including endurance cycling at temperatures of -170 °C (-274 °F).

Valerjan, who is an ambassador of the DKMS FOUNDATION, dedicates each of his records to people suffering from cancer.

Queen Elizabeth’s son Prince Edward copies James Bond actor Daniel Craig

Prince Edward wore the velvet jacked at an event similar to the one that Daniel Craig sported during the London premier of “No Time To Die”.
According to, Edward appeared to be auditioning as the next James Bond when he attended a National Youth Fundraiser.

The report said film producer Barbara Broccli and Bridgerton star Rege-Jean Page were also present in at the fundraiser in North London.

“No Time To Die” was Craig’s last outing as James Bond. Rege-Jean Page, Tom Hardy and several others actors are being considered to succeed Craig as agent 007.

Edward is the youngest son of Queen Elizabeth. Her eldest son Prince Charles is first-in-line to the throne while second son, Prince Andrew, is currently  out of favor with the royal family due to sexual assault allegations levelled against him.


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NOT MONEY: Here are the reasons why you don’t have a plot of land yet

Gone are the days when people attached having land to wealth or a good-paying job. Today, having a plot of land is a mixture of personal goals and the ability to make specific risks towards it.

You have seen people doing odd jobs being interviewed and they can comfortably say: “I have been able to acquire a piece of land for myself.”

This should be a wakeup call to all of us that one does not need to necessarily have so much money or a good job to acquire land. In fact, money is a smaller component, and these are the reasons why you do not have land yet.

You think you need a lot of money at once

A friend of mine last year managed to start his dream of acquiring an acre of land in Gayaza. He walked to the broker and said he needed to tour the land available and after seeing what he liked asked the broker if one is allowed to pay in instalments.

The answer was affirmative, he immediately made a deposit of Shs 5million. He has then continued to deposit whatever amount he comes across conveniently as we speak, he is in final stages to finish the architectural plan of his maiden bungalow on an acre of land!

All this was made possible by him making a commitment to acquire this land on an instalment basis.

Forget the nonsense that one must bring all the money in cash, you can start even with as low as Shs500,000 and take two years to pay BUT ensure you are dealing with a trustable estate dealer.

You underestimate your job

Everyone who has a source of income has the capacity to obtain their dreams, they may not be as similar as the others but they will be at a level where you are except under very dubious circumstances.

Understand your earnings, find a working formula, and look for that piece of land you can afford.

Get the estate’s dealer to give you a payment plan that suits you, and be as honest as possible. Do not say you can pay 1million a month when you do not even earn it.

Be clear with what you can afford if you earn Shs500,000, and after rent and other items you are left with about 150,000, that means you can not afford land of Shs40m.

Start with the land of 3millions and care not where it is located but you can start building on that with patience.

You have not tried

Sometimes we are held up because we have not yet started. You imagine that buying land is a hard thing because you have not even tried to buy 8 decimals of land.

Unlock your chances by starting, that is how you break your jinx and understand the trade better.

Have you heard of the saying that when you start boarding planes you do not stop? Yes, when you start buying land, you do not stop.

You are looking for land that looks where your rental is

You rent in Naalya, Najjera, and you imagine that the land you want should be more or so like that.

The land should be located near the road, with a supermarket in walkable distance, a school not far away, tarmacked, a gym across, a swimming pool not far away and big shopping mall and night club.

Alas, where you currently stay is expensive already, you will have to cough so much money to buy the land the size of your palm.

Remember, even your landlord bought that land when you were either still in your village or still in school, and they will tell you there was nothing.

Every place simply develops, Buwate was a village and land was Shs5m, now you need Shs70m. Kira was a bush, Namugongo was regarded as a remote area and land was Shs3m, Nsasa, Bulindo, Bukerere, Sonde were serious villages and land was almost free, try buying land there now.

Neighbourhoods are built by people, take the first step and buy that plot of land; you will be shocked in a few years when you are surrounded by three banks.

Stop following your peers

Leave your peers and their decisions, you are your own person. It is not written anywhere that we must build in the same place if we are friends, it is not written anywhere that we must grow at the same level.

If your peers are buying in Gayaza or Kiwenda and you cannot afford the land there, feel free to buy in Busiika, you will still meet. Follow your pocket, not other people.

You do not need a loan, if you need one then there is no problem

Not everyone acquires a loan to get land, and even if you acquire a loan for the same, it is not bad. Choose to take a salary loan so you are safer.

Most importantly, speak to your company’s loan officers and have a better idea of the repayment period.

Today, many banks have promotions for those who want to buy land, walk into your bank and put them to the task.

You are a bad spender

Let us use an example of a man who drinks beer and whiskey from a high-end bar, rents a house around Namugongo, and has about three girlfriends.

By behaviour, such a person will spend at least Shs20,000 when alone and about Shs50,000 when he meets one of the girls at the very least.

In three days, he can deposit an instalment on a Shs7million land!

Review your expenditure alongside land prices, you will realise that some of you have bought a plot of land in a few lodge visits or wasted an acre on transport money.

You are thinking about visitors

Many of you are still considering how Regina will come to visit you in Kiwanda. She stays in Seguku and your imagination is that once you buy land in Kiwanda, she will never visit.

Let me say this quietly: “Regina would be happy to come to Kiwanda, find your house with cool air and spend the night”

Visitors are not primary when you are considering buying land. Someone who wants to see you will come, even if you stay on an island.

You want to inherit

Please wake up, you will be shocked when you are not the heir.

You don’t want to ask question

No broker will beat you for asking for land prices and a site visit. Take a walk, enter a dealer’s office and request to see land and prices.

Sometimes the person within us needs to get shocked by our bold moves so that he gets inspired and works towards achieving.

You do not want to leave Kampala

You are looking for a plot of land where you will easily jump into a taxi to town, a plot where the transport is less than Shs2k to Kampala, a plot where you can still keep running back to javas easily.

Kampala should not be the basis for your land choice, you could buy a car! Besides, the country is developing, soon KFC will be in Kira!

Today, go and look for a group on Facebook called Fabulous and Beautiful Homes on Facebook, they have a land saving scheme.

They also have so much expert advice on many things around housing, and land acquisition, you will not remain the same.

Credit: Nile Post