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PostPosted: Mon Sep 07, 2015 8:28 pm 
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Tens of thousands rally to demand Moldova president resign
6 September 2015

Chisinau (AFP) - Tens of thousands of Moldavans rallied in the capital Chisinau on Sunday to demand the resignation of President Nicolae Timofti and the election of a new head of state, organisers said.

The demonstration was sparked by public anger over a $1 billion banking scandal which has shaken the former Soviet country, one of the poorest countries in Europe. "We will stay here until our demands are fully met," shouted lawyer Andrei Nastase, one of those who organised the rally.

Organisers said between 50,000 and 100,000 demonstrators had gathered in Chisinau's central square to demand Timofti's resignation and a plebiscite to chose a new head of state, who is currently elected by parliament. They also called for the resignation of top officials at Moldova's central bank and the attorney general's office, demanding the government pursue integration efforts with Europe.

Leaders of the demonstration presented their demands to Moldova's new pro-European premier, Valeriu Strelet, who took up the post at the end July pledging to crack down on corruption. Elsewhere, activists from the so-called "Red bloc" -- the radical leftwing "Our Home is Moldova" party -- tried to break into the prosecutor general's office, provoking clashes with the police, who arrested several people.

Last year, Moldova, which lies between Ukraine and Romania, signed an association agreement taking it closer to European Union membership despite opposition from former Soviet master Russia. Moscow promptly slapped a ban on Moldova's fruit imports in apparent retaliation for its shift towards the West. Disagreement over a similar pact sparked the current crisis in neighbouring Ukraine, where Russia has been accused of fuelling a bloody separatist conflict in the east.

Russia maintains thousands of troops in Moldova's breakaway region of Transdniestr, and has for years provided money to prop up the impoverished region of 500,000 people, which is home to some 180,000 Russian nationals.

Source: Yahoo! AFP

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 07, 2015 8:31 pm 
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Protesters erect tents in Moldova, to protest missing money
7 September 2015

CHISINAU, Moldova (AP) -- Protesters have put up tents in Chisinau, the Moldovan capital, demanding a probe into the disappearance of up to $1.5 billion from three Moldovan banks last year.

Organizers from non-governmental groups erected about 40 small tents Monday in a main square, a day after tens of thousands joined a demonstration calling on the government, the central bank governor, the general prosecutor and others to resign.

The state-owned Savings Bank, the Social Bank and Unibank, where the money disappeared before the November 2014 parliamentary elections, were put under the National Bank of Moldova's administration in December, and the losses were covered by state reserves. An unpublished parliamentary report said some of the money was transferred to Russian banks. The three banks are owned by Moldovan and Russian investors.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2015 12:55 am 
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Thousands of EU farmers protest price slump
By RAF CASERT
7 September 2015

BRUSSELS (AP) -- Thousands of farmers protested outside European Union headquarters on Monday to demand more aid and higher prices for their milk and pig meat. The European Commission responded with a support plan worth 500 million euros ($560 million).

In a tense standoff, farmers from across the 28-nation EU pelted police with eggs and sprayed them with hay before they were drenched in return by a water cannon. In a building close by, European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen announced the support plan, which seeks to immediately ease the debt load of farmers, many of whom are selling milk below production prices. The market has become oversupplied since a system of quotas was reformed this year and some markets were closed off.

"The milk price is under or around 28 cents (per liter, about 0.2 gallons). And this is not enough even to cover the costs," said Heinz Thorwarth, who had come to Brussels from Fuchsstadt, in southern Germany. "Prices have gone down 30-40 percent for most farmers and our farms are really going bankrupt like this," added Sieta van Keimpema, vice president of the European Milk Board farmers group. Some farmers have called for a reintroduction of quotas on production or more direct aid from their governments to pay the bills.

Katainen called the European Commission's measures "a robust and decisive response." He said direct payments to farmers from EU nations could be sped up to ease the cash crunch. Katainen also said there would be measures to stabilize the volatile markets and better regulate the supply chain to protect farmers more.

The head of the EU farming federation Copa-Cogeca, Pekka Pesonen, said that "an aid package of 500 million euros is nowhere enough to compensate farmers for the loss" of the Russian export market, which is closed off because of a ban.

About 6,000 farmers walked through the capital and 2,000 tractors stopped traffic in around the city, relentlessly blowing their horns. Farmers have historically been protected against volatility in market prices by EU policies that sought to guarantee them a fair living in return for steadfast and plentiful production.

But a system of generous subsidies and market-shielding measures led to overproduction and the industry found it tough to adapt to changing conditions. Quotas to limit dairy production were abolished in April and extra production has caused prices to tumble.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 12, 2015 11:16 pm 
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Police in Armenia break up protest against electricity hikes
12 September 2015

YEREVAN, Armenia (AP) -- Police in Armenian have dispersed a protest against electricity price hikes that was blocking a central avenue in the capital, Yerevan.

Several thousand demonstrators rallied Friday night, reigniting a two-week-long protest that was the most serious unrest the former Soviet nation had seen in years. But early Saturday police unblocked the avenue. Police spokesman Ashot Agaronyan said 48 protesters who refused to disperse were detained, but were soon released.

The initial protests fizzled in early July after the government suspended the electricity rate increases. The demonstrators continue to demand that they be annulled entirely. Armenia is closely allied with Russia, and its power grid is a subsidiary of a Russian electricity company. Organizers said they had no political motives, but Moscow has watched the rallies with concern.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 13, 2015 10:14 pm 
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Hundreds of Russians protest destruction of demon sculpture
13 September 2015

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People gather for a protest rally in downtown St.Petersburg, Russia, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015. About 300 people have held a protest in Russia's second-largest city over the destruction of a century-old bas-relief of the demon Mephistopheles, and called for greater protection of other historical buildings and parks they say are under threat. The poster reads: 'We are not barbarians'. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

ST. PETERSBURG (AP) -- About 300 people have held a protest in Russia's second-largest city over the destruction of a century-old bas-relief of the demon Mephistopheles and called for greater protection of other historical buildings and parks they say are under threat.

The sculpture was a small landmark in St. Petersburg, a city noted for striking architecture. Its destruction by unknown vandals in August raised fears of growing religious intolerance in Russia.

Also last month, activists ransacked an exhibition of non-conformist artists in Moscow, shouting that the works offended Christians.

Alexander Kobrinsky, a St. Petersburg lawmaker who took part in Sunday's protest, said the objective was "to defend our city from vandals, construction companies and even religious organizations." Irina Kruglova, a 67-year-old protester, said she came "to defend my city from vandalism and greed."

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 20, 2015 9:14 am 
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Topless protesters disrupt Muslim conference on women
By David Chazan
13 September 2015

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The protesters, aged 25 and 31, grabbed microphones and shouted feminist slogans in French and Arabic. Photo: Ruptly/ liveleak.com

Two Femen protesters were arrested after baring their breasts at a controversial conference near Paris on the role of Muslim women.

According to Inna Shevchenko, a spokeswoman for the feminist protest group, two fundamentalist preachers were discussing the question of “whether wives should be beaten or not” when the activists, aged 25 and 31, ripped off their Arab-style cloaks and jumped on to the stage on Saturday evening. One had the slogan “No one subjugates me” inked across her torso. The other bore the words “I am my own prophet.”

The protesters, aged 25 and 31, grabbed microphones and shouted feminist slogans in French and Arabic before being roughly bundled off the stage by about 15 men and handed over to police. Video footage of the incident shows a man apparently kicking one of the women.

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The women were arrested after protesting at conference near Paris on the role of Muslim women. Photo: Ruptly/liveleak.com

According to Ms Shevchenko, some of the men shouted “dirty whores” and “kill them”. She thanked the police for protecting the two women, who were taken into custody. They were released after being questioned by prosecutors, who said they would continue investigating what happened. Conference organisers said they would press charges against the activists.

They were not alone in taking exception to the presence of fundamentalist preachers at the event, where shopping and cooking were showcased as appropriate “feminine activities”. One speaker at the conference has reportedly posted calls on social networks for women to veil their faces or risk hellfire and sexual assault in the afterlife.

Nearly 6,000 people signed an online petition against the event.

Twitter posts called for the protesters to be stoned or collectively raped. On Facebook, the conference organisers urged Muslims to “stand together” and attend the final day of the event on Sunday. They said it was “the victim of an anti-Muslim media frenzy.”

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Source: Telegraph UK.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 20, 2015 8:05 pm 
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Protest against asylum seekers at Finnish-Swedish border town
19 September 2015

Helsinki - More than 500 people with Finnish flags have formed a symbolic human wall across a road in the border town of Tornio in northern Finland to protest against the arrival of migrants from Sweden.

The protest against the recent rise in arrivals of asylum seekers began Saturday when more than 100 people gathered at the northern Finnish-Swedish border town of Tornio. Local police said Saturday the demonstration in Tornio, which is the sole entry point for migrants arriving from Sweden, had been peaceful and the demonstrators did not attempt to block people from crossing the border from the adjacent Swedish town of Haparanda, Finnish broadcaster YLE reported.

One banner displayed the text: "It is enough. Close the borders." "We have only seen men, no families. These are welfare refugees and that is why we are protesting," an anonymous protester told YLE. On the Swedish side of the border, about two dozen people gathered to show support for the rights of asylum seekers, Swedish television reported.

Finland has been a favoured destination for people from Iraq, Somalia and Afghanistan, according to the Interior Ministry, while fewer Syrian nationals have been registered. Interior Minister Petteri Orpo said that as of Saturday, asylum claims will be registered as soon as people arrive in Tornio.

A formal registration center for refugees is scheduled to open in nearby Kemi on Tuesday. So far this year about 10,000 asylum seekers have arrived in Finland, and the Interior Ministry projects up to 30,000 expected arrivals in the country by the end of this year, compared to 3,651 last year.

Tornio - population 22,000 - sits just south of the Arctic Circle.

Sources: dpa, AP

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 20, 2015 8:11 pm 
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Russian opposition draws thousands to anti-Putin protest
By KATHERINE JACOBSEN
20 September 2015

MOSCOW (AP) -- Russia's beleaguered opposition drew several thousand people on Sunday to a protest rally in an outlying Moscow neighborhood to decry the 15-year rule of President Vladimir Putin.

Protesters denounced the Kremlin-controlled political system that keeps Putin in power and prevents the opposition from running in elections. They complained of political repression and official corruption. Opposition leader Alexei Navalny called on Russians not to give up hope that they can make a difference. He said the opposition's mission was "to work with those who don't believe" that anything can be changed.

The Kremlin intensified its crackdown on the opposition after anti-Putin protests drew as many as 100,000 people in the winter of 2011-2012. The protests were set off by parliamentary elections won by the Kremlin party through what independent observers said was widespread fraud and by Putin's decision to return to the presidency for a third term after four years as prime minister.

Irina Yegorova, 50, who held a sign saying "Putin is not a czar, he's a bureaucrat," said she came to the protest even though she no longer sees a way forward. She said the government will "put more people in jail" and Russia's economy will continue to suffer. "There is no investment. They are stealing and stealing and stealing," Yegorova said. "We don't have hope anymore."

Protesters said it was wrong to have a system of government where the leader does not change. "It's not like your wife that you're married to your whole life," said 65-year-old Vladimir Semyonovich, who gave his patronymic but not his last name. The protest was relegated to the southeastern Maryino neighborhood because the city government refused to allow the opposition to rally in central Moscow.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 20, 2015 8:55 pm 
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Lebanese protesters face off with security forces in Beirut
By SARAH EL DEEB
20 September 2015

BEIRUT (AP) -- Hundreds of Lebanese protesters pushed through a security cordon as they marched toward parliament on Sunday, the latest in a series of demonstrations that began with a trash crisis but has since expanded to target the country's political class.

Thousands marched through the streets of Beirut earlier in the day to press their demands for holding government officials accountable and new parliamentary elections. They also called for a sustainable solution to the trash piling in the streets of Beirut. Security forces blocked off streets leading to the parliament building, the final destination of the rally. The protesters raised their hands in the air to show they were unarmed, chanting "peaceful."

"The people are the source of authority," protest organizer Ajwad Ayyash told the crowd, which was thinning by evening. "This is the square of the people. And we insist we must enter it so that we can have elections." The square, Place de l'Etoile, is outside the parliament building. Lebanon's parliament has extended its term twice in a controversial move amid disputes over a new election law. The last elections were in 2009.

After more than an hour of standoff and some scuffles, protesters broke through the cordon. Police let them into the street leading to the square and the parliament, but set up a new cordon closer to the parliament building. Additional security forces were deployed as tension grew.

What started in July as protests against trash piling in the streets is turning into Lebanon's largest protest movement in years, targeting an entire political class. The movement is growing to include different groups with varied grievances about government dysfunction. There has been recurrent friction between police and protesters.

Earlier Sunday, angry supporters of the parliament speaker, Nabih Berri, attacked a group of protesters waving a photo of him and accusing him and others of corruption. The brawl ended with the arrest of a Berri supporter who had jabbed a protester with a knife.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 27, 2015 11:18 pm 
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20,000 protest against Moldova's pro-European government
By CORNELIU RUSNAC
27 September 2015

CHISINAU, Moldova (AP) -- Some 20,000 people have protested against Moldova's government, days after the International Monetary Fund said it would not negotiate a new loan agreement with the pro-European leadership which says it needs the money to pay salaries and pensions.

Two pro-Russian parties organized Sunday's protest, the latest demonstration since Sept. 6 when tens of thousands protested government policies and called for early elections. Protesters shouted "down with the thieves!" and at least 30 tents were erected in front of Moldova's Parliament.

Another group, which is not politically affiliated with the main protesters, later put up tents in front of the agriculture ministry where some lawmakers have offices and vowed to continue the protest that they began earlier this month. In a sign of tensions, police guarded the country's main institutes. By late afternoon, a few thousand protesters remained.

An IMF mission began a two-week visit on Sept. 22, a day after Moldova's central bank governor Dorin Dragutanu resigned following protests over $1.5 billion that disappeared from three Moldovan banks before parliamentary elections in November last year. The banks were put under the National Bank of Moldova's administration in December and the losses covered by state reserves. Moldova, one of Europe's poorest nations, has been mired in political instability since then.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 03, 2015 7:37 pm 
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Conservationists rally in South Africa, other countries
By CHRISTOPHER TORCHIA
3 October 2015

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Demonstrators walk through the streets of Nairobi, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015, participating in a Global March to support wildlife Elephants and Rhinos. Kenya is a leading wildlife safari destination that has been grappling with declining wildlife numbers, some thousands of people walked 10 kilometers in the capital Nairobi. (AP Photo/Khalil Senosi)

JOHANNESBURG (AP) -- A vehicle carrying a rhino sculpture led anti-poaching marchers in Johannesburg on Saturday. Kenya's environment minister joined conservationists at a similar rally in Nairobi, the capital. In London, activists in elephant costumes demanded an end to the ivory trade.

The demonstrations were part of what organizers called a "global march" for rhinos and elephants, whose populations have been severely reduced by criminal networks that sell rhino horn and elephant ivory for high prices, particularly in parts of Asia. The loosely knit coalition of conservationists also planned events in the United States this weekend.

Organizers want governments to focus more on protecting wildlife, but acknowledge that major challenges such as poverty, state corruption and lax law enforcement facilitate poaching. South Africa is grappling with a record surge in rhino poaching, and poachers have slaughtered tens of thousands of elephants annually around Africa in recent years.

In September, President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping of China agreed to implement nearly complete bans on the ivory trade. "Why not a total ban?" said Dex Kotze, a march organizer in Johannesburg. He noted that conservationists in South Africa are divided between those, including himself, who oppose proposals to allow a regulated trade in rhino horn, and those who say controlled trade could drive criminals out of poaching. South Africa is reviewing the issue. The Johannesburg march was held in the Sandton area, where some motorists honked in appreciation.

Protester Annette Erasmus said she was disappointed that the rally had not been joined by representatives from South Africa's legal wildlife hunting industry, which says it helps preserve animal populations. Hunting in Africa has come under increased scrutiny since an American dentist killed a popular lion named Cecil in Zimbabwe in an allegedly illegal hunt. "We need to get more people out here," Erasmus said.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 04, 2015 4:30 pm 
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10,000 protest in Moldova over missing $1.5 billion
By CORNELIU RUSNAC
4 October 2015

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CHISINAU, Moldova (AP) -- About 10,000 people staged an anti-government protest in Moldova's capital on Sunday, demanding a probe into the up to $1.5 billion that disappeared from three of the country's banks last year.

Some protesters scuffled with police and tried to push their way into Parliament. Protesters gathered in a main square in Chisinau for the fifth consecutive week of anti-government demonstrations, which began on Sept. 6. Protesters want a probe into the missing money and for those responsible to be prosecuted. The losses were covered by state reserves in Moldova, one of Europe's poorest countries.

Vasile Nastase, a leader of the Dignity and Truth non-governmental organization which has staged the protests said: "From tomorrow, we will declare acts of civil disobedience." He urged Moldovans not to pay bills, and to go on strike in state institutes, such as schools. "We will block this government." Protesters are also demanding early elections and for the president, the prime minister and others to resign.

Separately, in the past 24 hours, two crews from Russia's NTV television channel have not been allowed to enter Moldova. They were stopped at the airport and later sent back to Moscow, the station reported. Moldovan authorities said they did not have local press accreditation. On Saturday, two pro-Russian parties erected about 250 tents near Parliament, blocking the capital's main street. They took the tents down Sunday.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 07, 2015 7:36 am 
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Air France workers rip shirts from executives after airline cuts 2,900 jobs
By Kim Willsher
5 October 2015

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Air France’s human resources deputy director, Xavier Broseta, is helped over a fence to escape angry staff. Photograph: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images

Striking staff at Air France have taken demonstrating their anger with direct action to a shocking new level. Approximately 100 workers forced their way into a meeting of the airline’s senior management and ripped the shirts from the backs of the executives.

The airline filed a criminal complaint after the employees stormed its headquarters, near Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, in what was condemned as a “scandalous” outbreak of violence.

Photographs showed one ashen-faced director being led through a baying crowd, his clothes torn to shreds. In another picture, the deputy head of human resources, Xavier Broseta, left bare-chested after workers ripped off his shirt and jacket, is photographed being pushed to safety over a fence.

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Broseta is evacuated to safety. Photograph: Jacky Naegelen/Reuters

Tensions between management and workers at France’s loss-making flagship carrier had been building over the weekend in the runup to a meeting aimed at finalising a controversial “restructuring plan” involving 2,900 redundancies between now and 2017. The proposed job losses involve 1,700 ground staff, 900 cabin crew and 300 pilots. After the violence erupted at about 9.30am on Monday, there was widespread condemnation from French union leaders who sought to blame each other’s members for the assaults.

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Pierre Plissonnier, vice-president of Air France, is helped by police. Photograph: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images

Laurent Berger, secretary general of the CFDT, said the attacks were “undignified and unacceptable”, while Claude Mailly, of Force Ouvrière (Workers Force) said he understood Air France workers’ exasperation, but added: “One can fight management without being violent.” Manuel Valls, France’s prime minister, said he was “scandalised” by the behaviour of staff and offered the airline chiefs his “full support”.

Air France said it had lodged an official police complaint for “aggravated violence”. Several hundred airline employees had gathered to demonstrate outside Air France’s head office and members of senior management were greeted by an angry crowd shouting and waving flags and placards featuring the company chiefs portrayed as criminals in police mugshots. As executives entered the building, dozens of workers forced their way into the committee room shouting “this is our home”.

The Air France president, Frédéric Gagey, escaped unharmed. However, Pierre Plissonnier, vice-president of the airline’s Orly airport hub, was attacked. Afterwards, Broseta told a press conference that he was “shocked and disappointed” by the attack, but added: “What we saw this morning is not typical of company staff.” He said: “I’ve received hundreds of messages of sympathy from union representatives and colleagues.”

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Air France staff demonstrate near the company headquarters in Roissy-en-France. Photograph: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images

The French finance minister tweeted his support for the attacked men. “Those who engage in violence are irresponsible. Nothing can replace social dialogue,” Emmanuel Macron wrote. The French employers organisation, MEDEF, blamed an “irresponsible minority” for “unacceptable and scandalous aggression”.

Air France was founded in 1933 and in 2004 merged with the Dutch airline KLM to create the world’s fifth-largest air transport company. Increased competition from Middle Eastern rivals and budget airlines recently prompted the loss-making group to seek a reorganisation and €1.8bn (£1.3bn) savings. The company is also planning to close five long-haul routes and sell off 14 of its larger, long distance aircraft.

On Monday morning, before the demonstration, Philippe Martinez, secretary general of the powerful CGT union, told RTL radio: “For several years now, successive heads of Air France have suggested rescue plans … each time, it’s a bottomless pit with the same suggestions. I believe they are trying to set one lot of us against the other. We need a real expert appraisal of the situation.” He admitted that Air France had been hard hit by the deregulation of the industry and the popularity of low-cost airlines.

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The Air France president, Frédéric Gagey, speaks to reporters. He escaped the protesters unharmed. Photograph: Eric Piermont/AFP/Getty Images

Before the meeting, a government official, Stéphane Le Foll, said all parties had to get round the table to thrash out an agreement. “I call on everyone, especially the pilots, to make an effort,” he told France Inter radio. After the violence, Air France said the committee meeting would be postponed until Monday afternoon, before cancelling it altogether. In a statement, the airline said executives were willing to negotiate with workers but “under certain conditions”. Alexandre de Juniac, president of Air France-KLM, said the group condemned “the physical violence that took place around the executive meeting with the greatest firmness”, adding that it nevertheless “does not alter the management’s willingness to continue discussions”.

It is not the first time French workers have taken matters into their own hands with violent results. Since 2009, as the global economic crisis has escalated, several bosses have been held hostage by angry staff. In January 2014, workers at a Goodyear factory in northern France prevented two managers from leaving and said the pair would be held until the company gave a “satisfactory response to requests”. Olivier Labarre, director of BTI, a human resources consultancy, told Libération newspaper in 2009: “This happens elsewhere, but to my knowledge, taking the boss hostage is typically French. It’s the nature of the social dialogue in our country.”

Image
An Air France employee waves a CGT union flag in front of an Airbus A330, at the company headquarters. Photograph: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images

Source: Guardian UK

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 17, 2015 9:57 pm 
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Montenegro police break up anti-government protest
17 October 2015

PODGORICA, Montenegro (AP) -- Montenegrin police have used tear gas to break up a protest by the opposition demanding the government's resignation and an early election in the small Balkan state.

Several hundred opposition leaders and supporters gathered Saturday evening in downtown Podgorica, the capital, and tried to advance through a police cordon. Officers fired tear gas and pushed them away.

Anti-government leaders had staged a dayslong protest in a main street in Podgorica, but police removed their tents earlier on Saturday. Opposition parties have vowed to gather again in a bid to force an early election.

The opposition groups earlier this week also staged an anti-NATO protest during a visit by the alliance Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg to Montenegro. Opponents have accused Montenegro's government of authoritarian rule and using pressure against opponents.

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 28, 2015 9:13 pm 
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Montenegro police throw tear gas on protest
By PREDRAG MILIC
24 October 2015

PODGORICA, Montenegro (AP) -- Montenegrin police on Saturday fired tear gas at opposition supporters who hurled fire bombs and torches to demand the resignation Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic's government which hopes to steer the Balkan country toward NATO membership later this year.

Several thousand protesters charged at the Parliament building in downtown Podgorica, the capital, shouting "Milo Thief" and throwing various objects, including fire-bombs, at riot police guarding the site. The police then threw tear gas, chasing away the demonstrators with armored vehicles.

Witnesses said that several shop-windows were broken in the unrest, as tear gas smoke enveloped the city center. Police said 15 policemen were hurt, while 24 protesters sought doctors' help because of tear gas. One opposition leader was detained.

Anti-government protesters gathered earlier at a central square, pledging to bring down the government. Opposition leader Nebojsa Medojevic shouted "the dictator must fall," referring to Djukanovic, who has been in power for 25 years and whom opposition accuse of authoritarian rule. Some of the demonstrators carried banners reading "No to NATO" and "For military neutrality of Montenegro." Zoran Kovacevic, a 57-year-old unemployed electrician said that "we are against NATO, but most of all we are hungry."

Police also used tear gas twice last week against stone-throwing government opponents, who are also calling for early elections and a referendum on whether Montenegro should join NATO. Montenegrin pro-Western government hopes to be invited to join the military alliance in December. Many Montenegrins with historic ties to Russia remain opposed. The Adriatic nation of some 600,000 people split from a union with much larger Serbia in 2006.

Source: AP

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