17:54 GMT +316 October 2019
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    Scotland on the Eve of Independence Referendum (210)
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    Independence sentiment spreads across Europe. Catalonian supporters of independence classify the sheer fact that Scotland will hold a referendum a victory in itself.

    Independence sentiment spreads across Europe. Catalonian supporters of independence classify the sheer fact that Scotland will hold a referendum a victory in itself.

    The Scottish independence referendum is slated for September 18, to coincide with the seven hundred year anniversary of the Battle of Banuckburn. Catalonia’s National Assembly has already announced that an independence referendum will be held in April 24 2015.

    Russian online newspaper Gazeta.Ru writes that according to a poll conducted by YouGov and Sunday Times, over 51 percent of residents of Scotland favor independence from the United Kingdom. The daily notes that a second poll on independence may suggest that by 2016 Scotland will secede. The newspaper also refers to an article in The Local, a Spanish newspaper. "Scotland makes us envious and fuels our fury," the newspaper quotes Josep Maria Guell, a 32-year-old architect, outside the headquarters of the Catalan National Assembly, the region's leading pro-independence group. “The case of Scotland shows that with dialogue and political will from Madrid, we could resolve this democratically." Catalonian supporters of independence classify the sheer fact that Scotland will hold a referendum a victory in itself. Gazeta.Ru reminds that the Scottish independence referendum is slated for September 18, to coincide with the seven hundred year anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, a major Scottish victory in the First War of Scottish Independence, which laid the groundwork for the country’s independence for several centuries.

    Novye Izvestia has an article on Catalonian demonstrations. The newspaper reminds that September 11 is a national holiday for this region – in fact, the main holiday for the Spanish autonomous region that is striving to achieve true independence; the date marks commemoration of the end of Barcelona’s siege in 1714. The 300-year anniversary was especially festive and meaningful, with streets and highways of Catalan cities big and small adorned with red and yellow flags of the autonomy. Apart from celebrating a historic victory, locals used this opportunity to voice their support for a referendum which would decide the future of the region vis-à-vis Spain. The letter V was a major symbol of the event, meaning Victoria, Voluntad and Votar – victory, will and vote, which should be interpreted as “exercise your will to vote and we will be victorious,” the newspaper highlights. The daily reminds that Catalonia’s National Assembly has already announced that an independence referendum will be held in April 24 2015, regardless of Madrid’s stance on the issue.

    Lenta.Ru online newspaper reports that hundreds of thousands of people walked the streets of Catalonia on Thursday, all supporting the referendum to secede from Spain. Official from Barcelona, the autonomy’s capital, estimated that one point five million people participated in the demonstrations; calculations from the Spanish government are quite different, gauging the turnout at four hundred seventy to five hundred twenty thousand activists. Everyone wore yellow and red T-shirts symbolizing colors of Catalonia’s flag; the crowd formed a giant letter V. The newspaper reminds that Catalonia first attempted to gain independence from Spain in early nineteen hundreds. In 1979 Catalonia finally scored a small victory by attaining the status of an autonomy; at the same time, Catalan was recognized as an official language. In 2006 the region gained increased financial independence; in 2009 and 2010 Catalonia held a series of unofficial referendums on the subject of independence; the polls indicated that the majority of local parliamentarians supported it. The official referendum was scheduled for November 6, but the Spanish parliament preemptively ruled it illegal.

    A suitcase containing plastic explosive was accidentally left at Sydney airport for three weeks by the Australian federal police, The Guardian writes. The agency released a statement on Thursday apologizing for mistakenly leaving a training device at the airport – containing 230g of real plastic explosive – in an unclaimed suitcase during a dog training exercise on August 14. The statement highlighted that the explosives were not live. The newspaper notes that the admission is an embarrassment for the force, and follows repeated indications that Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation (Asio) is actively considering raising Australia’s terror alert level. The plastic explosives blunder was not discovered until  September 9, when a woman travelling through Sydney airport found the device. She had been offered the case as a replacement bag when her own luggage was damaged; she then took the case to Cessnock police station, where officers evacuated the building as a safety precaution, the police statement says. The daily reminds that Guardian Australia reported in August that the force had accidentally published sensitive information that may have jeopardized criminal investigations.

    The Moscow Times writes that the Labor Ministry will oblige Russian companies to pay for their employees to go to fitness clubs or take part in other sporting activities starting as of 2015, according to a statement published Thursday on the ministry's website. The ministry added the new requirement to the standard list of functions that companies must carry out to improve the working conditions of their staff, the statement said. The daily explains that now under Russia's Labor Code, companies must spend the equivalent of at least 0.2 percent of its production costs on the health and safety of its employees. Valery Korzh, head of the ministry's workplace safety department, said that each company will be given its own tailor-made list of activities it has to fund. Olga Slutsker, head of Russian Fitness Group, a company that manages gyms, said that spending money on the plan would be beneficial if it means avoiding higher medical costs in the future, but only if employees actually make use of the new perk.Six years after the 2008 Summer Olympics, China is mounting a strong push to host the 2022 Winter Olympics. The Washington Post reminds that in the past few weeks alone, Chinese leaders have announced deep-pocketed sponsors, unveiled a 2022 Olympics logo and taken journalists on tours of sprawling proposed venues. The newspaper highlights that many of the challenges and objections to China’s bid are not financial or logistical but moral. For example, experts have pointed to international promises leading up to the 2008 Beijing Games — that such a prominent spotlight would temper the government’s authoritarian impulses, and improve human rights and the rule of law. In reality, many say the 2008 Games ultimately made little difference on those fronts, and in some areas, conditions have worsened in recent years. Before the 2008 Games, Beijing residents were evicted from certain areas and homes demolished to make way for new infrastructure; activists were rounded up and imprisoned. Now activists fear the same will happen in 2022, the daily writes.

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    Scotland on the Eve of Independence Referendum (210)
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    independence referendum, Scotland, Catalonia, Spain
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