Kaliningrad begins World War I centennial commemoration, Ukraine makes first gas debt payment to Russia, Russia shuts down military GPS stations, State work and government loyalty in Russia dominate middle class, Palestinians announce new unity government, Cadbury cleared by Malaysia Islamic body after pig DNA rumor.
Izvestia reports that Kaliningrad became first Russia's city to commemorate the World War I centennial. Russia's Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky and Kaliningrad region governor Nikolai Tsukanov has unveiled the 11 meter tall monument, depicting three social classes of the soldiers of the Russian Empire, who took part in the war: a nobleman officer, a peasant and a raznochinets; the latter means a social estate which literally translates as “miscellaneous ranks” and includes the lower court and governmental ranks, children of certain nobleman and discharged military. The daily notes that it symbolizes the collective contribution of the people to protect Russia during the quote unquote “forgotten war.” The newspaper quotes Medinskiy, who is also the chairman of the Russian Military Historic Society: “Essentially Russia has no memorials dedicated to World War I. If we're talking about monumental constructions, this is the first memorial of its kind in Russia.” The newspaper reminds that the society organized a competition to choose the best monument commemorating heroes of WWI; the winning memorial will be unveiled in Moscow in august; however, the jury believed that four runner-ups should be brought to life as well, with the first one being erected in Kaliningrad.
Head of Ukraine's Energy Ministry, Yuri Prodan, has announced that Naftogaz has transferred seven hundred eighty six point four million dollars as partial payment for the outstanding gas debt, RBC Daily writes. The daily notes that according to Naftogaz, Kiev has thus paid for the consumed gas for the first quarter of 2014, with the price of two hundred eighty six point five dollars per thousand cubic meters. Russia's Energy Ministry has confirmed the payment which covered debt for February and March. The article notes that the transfer was 2.5 times less than what was previously announced following previous round of negotiations – Ukraine was expected to pay two billion dollars. The daily writes that according to Prodan the paid amount was the only part of the debt which was not disputed. The rest of the debt is to be discussed at the Russia-Ukraine-EU summit in Brussels. Meanwhile, Alexey Miller, head of Gazprom, said that the company will switch to prepaid gas shipments June 9, not June 1, like previously stated.
Russia has made sure that GPS stations operating on its territory cannot be used for military purposes, Rossiyskaya Gazeta writes. Russia's Space Agency has announced “As per instructions issued by the Russian Government Roscosmos together with the Federal Agency of Scientific Organizations have implemented measures which rule ot using information supplied by GPS stations located on the territory of the Russian Federation for purposes unspecified by acting agreements, which includes military purposes.” The daily reminds that in mid-May Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin announced that if talks on allowing GLONASS stations in the US failed to gain traction by May 31, Russia would shut down american GPS stations. The article explains that essentially these GPS stations now operate with slight lag, which makes no difference for civilian devices, but is critical for military use, such as guided missiles.
Domination of state employment place members of Russia's middle class in stark contrast with those of the West, a new study published by the Russian Academy of Sciences shows, The Moscow Times writes. The daily notes that the exact parameters of Russia's middle class have remained a matter of debate. Among other things, substantial income differences have long distinguished members of Russia's middle class from their Western counterparts. Now, however, the Academy of Sciences has pinpointed another peculiarity of Russia's middle class: most people who comprise it are on the state's payroll. According to the article, that may explain another trend uncovered by the academy's research: the predominance of loyalty to the government, with 79 percent of the middle class saying the state deserves support despite its flaws. Seventy-eight percent said stability was more important than change, and 49 percent said Russia needed a "firm hand" to keep order in the country. Vladimir Petukhov, manager of the center for social research at the academy's Sociology Institute, described the middle class as entirely content with the status quo. "Most members of the middle class today are loyal [to the state] and are really fond of order and stability, and moving society forward is the last thing on their minds."
Palestinians formed a new “government of national unity” Monday, backed by the Islamist militant group Hamas, which the United States and Israel have branded a terrorist organization, The Washington Post writes. The announcement of the transitional government, led by the moderate Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and with ministries run mostly by technocrats, represents a significant step toward ending a seven-year feud between the Palestinian political factions that separately control the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, the article suggests. Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president and PLO leader, promised that the new government would continue a course of nonviolence. He said any peace talks with the Israelis would take place under the auspices of the PLO — not the interim government. However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that he would not conduct diplomatic negotiations with a government “backed by Hamas, a terrorist organization that calls for the destruction of Israel.”
Malaysia's Islamic body has cleared Cadbury chocolates of containing pig DNA, easing outrage among Muslim groups who had called for a boycott of all Cadbury products. The Guardian reminds that the country's health ministry said earlier this month that porcine DNA had been found in two varieties of Cadbury chocolates, prompting the company to recall the products. However, the Malaysian Islamic development department said on Monday that new tests on 11 samples taken from the factory showed no trace of pork in the products. Islamic officials said the earlier samples could have been contaminated as they did not come direct from the factory. The newspaper remind that the controversy sparked outrage among Muslim groups, who accused the British confectionery company of trying to "weaken" Muslims in Malaysia.