FIFA Drops Russian Football Team, Clubs From Its Events

Following the initial decisions adopted by the FIFA Council and the UEFA Executive Committee, which envisaged the adoption of additional measures, FIFA and UEFA on Monday decided together that all Russian teams, whether national representative teams or club teams, shall be suspended from participation in both FIFA and UEFA competitions until further notice.

These decisions were adopted by the Bureau of the FIFA Council and the Executive Committee of UEFA, respectively the highest decision-making bodies of both institutions on such urgent matters.

“Football is fully united here and in full solidarity with all the people affected in Ukraine. Both Presidents hope that the situation in Ukraine will improve significantly and rapidly so that football can again be a vector for unity and peace amongst people,” the joint statement by UEFA and FIFA added.

Earlier in the day, in order to protect the integrity of global sports competitions and for the safety of all the participants, the IOC EB recommended that the International Sports Federations and sports event organisers not invite or allow the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes and officials in international competitions.

“The IOC EB based on the exceptional circumstances of the situation and considering the extremely grave violation of the Olympic Truce and other violations of the Olympic Charter by the Russian government in the past, taken the ad hoc decision to withdraw the Olympic Order from all persons who currently have an important function in the government of the Russian Federation or other government-related high-ranking position, including the following: Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation (Gold, 2001), Dmitry Chernyshenko, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation (Gold, 2014), and Dmitry Kozak, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office (Gold, 2014),” a statement said. (ANI)

Negotiations Between Russia And Ukraine Begin In Belarus

Negotiations between the delegations of Russia and Ukraine to resolve the ongoing conflict between the two countries began in the Gomel region of Belarus here on Monday.

High-level delegations from both sides arrived at the venue on the banks of the Pripyat River to attempt a negotiated settlement in the ongoing crisis.
According to the office of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Ukrainian delegation includes the Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov, the head of the parliament faction of the Servant of the People party, and a deputy foreign minister. The Russian delegation is led by former Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky.

“Immediate ceasefire and withdrawal of troops from Ukraine will be the key issues at the talks,” the office of the Ukrainian president informed.

“Since [there are] dead Ukrainian citizens, dead Ukrainian soldiers every hour of the conflict, we are certainly interested in reaching some agreements as quickly as possible. These agreements must be, of course, in the interests of both parties,” Medinsky said before the beginning of the meeting.

The Ukrainian side had refused to negotiate in Belarus earlier on Sunday, even as the Russian delegation arrived in the country. The Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy asked for negotiation in any other country but Belarus saying, “At the moment, we’re saying no to Minsk. Other cities can be a place to meet. Of course, we want peace, we want to meet, we want the war to end. Warsaw, Bratislava, Budapest, Istanbul, Baku, we have suggested all that to Russia. And any other city will do… in a country, from whose territory the rockets are not flying. This is the only way that the talks can be honest and can really put an end to the war.”

Later on the same day, the Ukrainian side agreed to send a delegation to Belarus after Belorussian President Alexander Lukashenko had a phone call with President Zelenskyy.

Earlier today, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus tweeted the pictures of the venue saying, “In Belarus, everything is ready to host Russia-Ukraine negotiations. Waiting for delegations to arrive.”

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) voted on Sunday to call for an emergency special session of the 193-member UN General Assembly (UNGA) on Russia’s military operations in Ukraine. The meeting of the UNGA is scheduled to be held today at 8:30 PM IST.

The UNSC too is scheduled to convene later in the day (1:30 AM IST on Tuesday).

Russia has been facing immense criticism, especially from the western countries over its recent actions in Ukraine. A number of countries including the US, UK, France and Germany among others have applied fresh rounds of sanctions on Russia. (ANI)

Weekly Update: Modi’s Bypass Fear, Trudeau’s Wilting Ideals, EU’s Dual Standards

Bypass Still Haunts Modi: Ever since the very very close miss with death at the Punjab Bypass where Modiji was stuck for 30 minutes, as open target for all of India’s enemies and Modi’s enemies, the Indian Prime Minister has been having foreboding hauntings.

The Bypass drama has confused almost everyone except the BJP. No one can identify what the threat to Modiji’s life was on that fateful Bypass where he got stuck due to his own security decision. It was one of this notebandi type spur of moment decisions. An avid fan of helicopters, he decided to go by road only to get stuck when there was ‘rasta roko’ by farmers. He got stuck on the top end of a bypass and since then has been haunted by ideas of conspiracies.

Although no one has come forward to say, ‘array mauka gwah diya’ (Oh! We lost an opportunity to get him). But Modiji is still convinced that it was a conspiracy, even if it was of his own making.

So last week in UP, Modiji, nervously convinced of conspiracies, again bellowed out that despite others wishing him dead, he is still here. This time he wasn’t stuck on a Bypass. In fact he was only stuck in front of his chosen audience at a rally in Uttar Pradesh elections.

So what was the conspiracy that was threatening him? According to Modiji, there is a great conspiracy. And he was able to point to the evidence. According to him, ‘People are praying for his death!’ As a yogi, he probably fears prayers. Except…

The main rival of BJP in UP, Akhilesh Yadav, had made fun of Modi’s frequent visits to his constituency (Varanasi) and gesticulated why he was doing that, ‘People spend their last days in Varanasi.’ Yadav was suggesting that Modi was frequently coming to Varanasi as these were the last days of BJP in power in the state.

But hypersensitive Modiji sees more than a conspiracy in these words. Emotionally he said, ‘They are praying for my death!’ It is said people do go to ask for wishes in Varanasi and take a dip in the Ganga. But to make a connection from Yadav’s political pun to ‘prayers for my death’ seems a rainbow bridge even the mythology might find difficult to build.

I wish Modiji long life, but sometime morning sadhna can take you into different realms of inferring reality and simple jokes. That Bypass has been a traumatic experience.

The Messiah’s Ideals Wilter

Canada’s Trudeau likes to give sermons to the rest of the world on human rights, morality and conduct. Currently he is busy telling Putin how to behave. In 2020, he and members of his Government publicly lectured Prime Minister Modi on the need to respect peaceful protests. This was when the farmers had peacefully besieged Delhi with tractors, langar and chai pakoras to save their farms. They were there protesting peacefully. The Indian Government fearing that pakoras could win the aam admi, decided to send the crack police forces to break up the protest.

The right to peaceful protest is enshrined in international human rights law as Trudeau lectured from Ottawa. India at the time hit back and said that Canada was one of the main reasons that the laws were being introduced as Canada had been objecting to MSP (Minimum Support Price) for crops at the WTO. Having been exposed as the cause of Punjab farmers’ dilemma, Trudeau, his Government, his party and all the Sikh Canadian MPs shut up like Trappist monks.

Now the issue of protests has boomeranged. Thousands of Canadians decided to protest peacefully in the capital city and outside the Canadian Parliament. They are anti-vaxers and do not like a law to force truckdrivers to vaccinate against Covid or lose their jobs.

Two very different protests but similar principles. The Farmers of Punjab were fighting for their livelihoods. Modi government got concerned about the growing discomfort around the world at his heavy handed attempts to break peaceful protests and decided to ‘respect the right to protest’. The Messiah Trudeau was right to point out India’s obligation to permit peaceful protests, even though he was lighting the fire that caused the protests in the first place. Some messiahs play God by being the cause and the adjudicators of how people react to the mischief.

Until it happens to them. The gods (not God) get quite angry when some one tests them for the principles they pontificate to others. Some messiahs do that. Little gods, messiahs and rest of mortals live in different dimensions.

So as the anti-vax Truckers were refusing to move, making the life of ‘hard working’ elite politicians a bit difficult as they tried to go into Parliament. The Truckers’ right to protest became a subject of little god’s law. The messiah Trudeau, suspended their accounts, and sent in the riot police, beating quite a few of the truckers and violently detain many. The peaceful protests of the truckers were ended by the violent methods of a messiah preaching human rights and peace to others.

However the wonder of all this is, Indian politicians and media didn’t remind Trudeau of his sermons to India! Nor did UN Human Rights bodies. Perhaps the right to peaceful protest, like many other things, is only when it doesn’t affect the framers of these rights. Or perhaps western messiahs like all mythical gods are in their own league. People don’t expect them to follow what they preach to mere mortals.

And Freedom of Expression Is…

The west is further confirming that what it preaches is not what others should expect it to follow. One of the strongest pillars of human rights and freedoms is the right of expression and free speech. The west promotes it everywhere and monitors it. African countries, China, India and even the Taliban all get constant lessons on why freedom of speech is a fundamental right from the ‘enlightened Europeans’.

I totally agree, Freedom of Expression is fundamental and it should never be compromised. Nor should the media ever be penalised, banned or censored by authorities simply because the State does not like what it says. It is a ‘universal right’ applicable universally except where universal principles are developed.

Am I talking about the Godi media? Sadly not. I am drawing attention to the very champions of free expression and free media. Europe.

In its desperate efforts at supporting the Ukraine Government to fight against Russian invasion or ‘special operation’ depending on who is defining it, the EU has decided that it is going to ban Russian TV (RT) and Sputnik. The EU says that both are spreading ‘propaganda’!

It is difficult to convey the double standards. Nearly all media in the west including the self-certifying acclaimer of balanced reporting, the state owned BBC, have a political position. Reporting and programmes are heavily biased either to the left or the right, or to some other politics or the national narrative on foreign policy. There is no such thing as an objective balanced media in the west.

As would be expected, RT and Sputnik, report news with a Russian State bias. As Russian media, they naturally try and contest western interpretations of events on the ground.

The freedom loving democratic Europeans find the critique of their own reporting a little uncomfortable. For instance RT concentrates on statements by Russia and its friends such as China or others on need to address security concerns of Russia around NATO expansion if there is to be meaningful discussions to end the Ukraine conflict.  European media has promoted the war as efforts of a deranged dictator (Putin) trying to restore the Soviet Union. It is almost quite on issue of NATO expansion and hasn’t to date explained why NATO wants a base in Ukraine.

Clearly the two explanations are at odds and in a genuine environment of freedom, both sides can blast their versions loudly and allow people to make their own minds.

Not in freedom loving, ‘independent media’ Europe. Unfortunately for them a lot of people are watching RT to get the other side of the story. Ordinary people are always a bit suspicious when their leaders start calling other deranged etc. They want to hear both sides of the story.

So the alter of free speech, France and rest of Europe, are banning RT! European States do not trust their own citizens to not fall to RT ‘Propaganda’ as they call it and are taking steps to prevent their citizens’ exposure to ‘vile fake propaganda’ as they label RT! Germany was among the first to ban RT. Poland followed suit and rest of EU is on track.

However, in oppressive, dictatorial, tyrannical Russia under a madman as Guardian, BBC and EU media would like us to believe, CNN and BBC can freely transmit. Not only that, they have been able to interview many war dissenters, including politicians and families of Russian soldiers. 

In Europe, including UK, politicians are scared of going on RT. The ex Scottish politician, Alex Salmond, who did a regular feature has been hounded by the British free media and has exited from RT. Europe says the war in Ukraine is about protecting ‘our liberal’ values. Whereas in Russia, one of the dissenters is the daughter of the spokesperson of Putin! She still goes shopping in Moscow without being harassed and her dad is still in the job in the office of the so called ‘tyrant’ of Russia! Even chaos theory cannot explain the logic of these facts.

Seems we are in a different world of reality now. It’s a bit confusing what freedom of media exactly means and what democracy and liberal values mean. Suddenly our cranial synapses are having to readjust to different explanations of liberalism. Or may be we already have a saying, ‘Pandey says. Do as I preach, not as I do’.

11 Killed In Blast In Ukraine’s Kharkiv

At least 11 people were killed and a dozen others were injured in Russian shelling on Ukraine’s Kharkiv city on Monday, the regional governor said.

“The Russian enemy is bombing residential areas,” Oleg Sinegubov, wrote on the Telegram messaging app, saying, “As a result of the bombardments that are ongoing, we cannot call on the emergency services. Currently there are 11 dead and dozens wounded”, he said.
On Sunday morning, two large explosions were heard in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv.

Explosions lit up the night sky to the southwest of Kyiv with one detonation that appeared to be approximately 20 kilometers, or about 12 miles, from the city center, according to CNN.

It further reported that the second explosion rocked western Kyiv just before 1 am (local time).

The second blast also came from the southwestern part of the city in the direction of the city’s second major airport.

Meanwhile, negotiations between the delegations of Russia and Ukraine to resolve the ongoing conflict between the two countries began in the Gomel region of Belarus is underway. (ANI)

Modi To Chair Second High-Level Meet On Ukraine Crisis

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will shortly chair another high-level meeting on the Ukraine crisis, said government sources on Monday evening.

Earlier in the day, the Prime Minister called a high-level meeting over the prevailing situation in Ukraine which was attended by External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar, Union Minister of Civil Aviation Jyotiraditya Scindia, Foreign Secretary of India Harsh V Shringla, other ministers and a host of senior bureaucrats.

Government Sources on Monday said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be sending four Union Ministers to neighbouring countries of Ukraine to coordinate evacuations of stranded Indians amid ongoing Russian military operations in Ukraine.

“Union Ministers Hardeep Singh Puri, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Kiren Rijiju and Gen (Retd) VK Singh will travel to neighbouring countries of Ukraine to coordinate the evacuation mission and help students,” Government sources said.

These Ministers will be going as special envoys of India.

Upon his return from Uttar Pradesh on Sunday evening, the Prime Minister held a two-hour long meeting with Foreign Minister S Jaishankar, Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla, Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba and other senior bureaucrats on Ukraine crisis.

In the meeting, PM Modi once again reiterated that ensuring the safety of Indian students and evacuating them is the nation’s top priority.

It was also discussed to further enhance cooperation with neighbouring countries of Ukraine to expedite the evacuation of the stranded Indians.

The Prime Minister on February 24 chaired a Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) meeting in New Delhi on the Ukraine crisis. Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Commerce & Industry Minister Piyush Goyal, Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas of India Hardeep Singh Puri among others were present in the meeting.

The union government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched operation Ganga to bring back stranded students and Indian citizens from the conflict-torn Ukraine.

Special flights are being operated by Air India under “Operation Ganga”.

Meanwhile, a fifth flight carrying 249 Indian nationals who were stranded in Ukraine landed in New Delhi today morning. (ANI)

Shruti Haasan Shares Her Covid ‘Fever Face’

Having contracted COVID-19, actor Shruti Haasan shared a health update on Monday.

Taking to her Instagram handle, the actor posted a no-makeup selfie, smiling at the camera. Further, she wrote, “Fever face. Getting better. Can’t keep me down.”

Shruti shared the news of testing positive for coronavirus on Sunday.

Taking to her Instagram handle, the actor shared a picture that read, “Hi everyone! A quick not so fun update. Despite all safety measures I have tested positive for Covid. I’m on the mend and can’t wait to be back very soon! Thank you and see you soon lovelies.”

Meanwhile, on the work front, Shruti’s web series ‘Bestseller’ was released on February 18 on Amazon Prime Video. She also has a thriller film titled ‘Salaar’ in the pipeline. (ANI)

Amul Hikes Milk Price By Rs 2 Per Litre

India’s largest dairy firm Amul announced on Monday it has decided to increase milk prices by Rs 2 per litre effective from March 1, 2022, across India.

Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation Limited, which manufactures and market milk and other dairy products under the brand name of Amul, said in a statement that Amul Gold price will be increased to Rs 60 per litre effective from March 1 from the existing Rs 58 per litre.
In Ahmedabad, Gujarat, the price of Amul Gold milk will be Rs 30 per 500 ml, Amul Taza will cost Rs 24 per 500 ml, and Amul Shakti will be sold at Rs 27 per 500 ml.

The company has increased prices after a gap of nearly eight months.

In percentage terms, the increase in price stands at around 4 per cent. The company claimed that the 4 per cent increase is much lower than average food inflation. (ANI)

Taliban Bans Afghans From Evacuating

The Taliban will not allow further evacuation of Afghans until the situation improves abroad for those who have already left, their spokesperson said on Sunday.

The Taliban has received reports that thousands of Afghans who have been evacuated are “living in very bad conditions” in Qatar and Turkey, reported Dawn.
Zabihullah Mujahid, Taliban spokesperson, in a press conference, said, “The government has the responsibility to protect the people so this will be stopped until we get the assurance that their lives will not be endangered.”

Notably, more than 120,000 Afghans and dual nationals were evacuated up to August 31 when the last US-led troops withdrew, two weeks after the Taliban took over Kabul.

In the aftermath of the Afghanistan crisis in August 2021, hundreds more were allowed to leave on flights. The last official evacuation by air was on December 1, reported the newspaper.

Evacuations have also taken place by road via Pakistan until recently. (ANI)

Sixth flight With 240 Stranded Indians Departs From Budapest

The sixth flight carrying 240 stranded Indian nationals has departed from Hungary’s Budapest for Delhi under Operation Ganga, informed External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Monday.

“Sixth Operation Ganga flight from Budapest has taken off with 240 Indian nationals for Delhi. Evacuation efforts continue to get stronger,” read Jaishankar’s tweet.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be sending four Union Ministers to neighbouring countries of Ukraine to coordinate evacuations of stranded Indians amid ongoing Russian military operations in Ukraine, according to government sources.

“Union Ministers Hardeep Singh Puri, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Kiren Rijiju and Gen (Retd) VK Singh will travel to neighbouring countries of Ukraine to coordinate the evacuation mission and help students,” Government sources said.

The union government has launched Operation Ganga to bring back stranded students and Indian citizens from the conflict-torn Ukraine.

Further, the Indian embassy in Ukraine today informed that the weekend curfew has been lifted in Kyiv. The embassy said that Ukraine Railways is putting special trains for evacuations and advised all students to make their way to the railway station for a journey to the western parts. (ANI)

Supertech’s Twin Towers To Be Demolished By May 22: SC

The Noida authorities on Monday told the Supreme Court that demolition work of Supertech’s twin 40-storey towers in its Emerald Court project has started and demolition works will be completed by May 22.

A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Surya Kant was also informed that the entire debris would be removed by August 22 from the site by M/S Edifice.
Senior advocate Ravindra Kumar for the Noida project told the apex court that pursuant to the order of the Court of February 7, a meeting of all stakeholders was held on February 9 where it was decided that by February 20 M/S Edifice (the firm chosen to carry out the demolition work) would mobilise the site with manpower, material and machine and that it shall commence and complete all activities as per the plan approved by Noida.

The twin towers would be demolished on or before May 22, and only in the event of unforeseen events, the dates can be changed, but that would be done after receiving prior approval of the court, the top court was further informed.

Kumar said orders of the apex court are being complied with and photographs regarding the work have been attached with the status report.

The bench in its order said, “The court has been apprised of the fact that the demolition has commenced at the site. All concerned stakeholders including Noida and Supertech as well as other authorities would strictly comply with the time schedule indicated in the status report for completion of the demolition.”

The apex court while seeking an updated status report from Noida now listed the matter for hearing on May 17.

On February 7, the top court had asked the CEO, Noida to take necessary steps to commence the work to complete the demolition of Supertech’s twin towers in Noida within two weeks.

A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Surya Kant directed the CEO Noida to convene a meeting of all concerned agencies within 72 hours to finalise the schedule for the demolition of the twin towers.

“The CEO Noida shall take all necessary steps for observing directions of this court, work of demolition shall commence no later than two weeks from this order,” the apex court had ordered.

Before that, the bench had asked Supertech Ltd to execute a contract within a week with a company to demolish its twin towers.

The top court was told by the Noida authority that Edifice Engineering has been chosen to carry out the demolition of twin towers in consultation with the Central Building Research Institute (CBRI) Roorkee.

The apex court had earlier dismissed a plea of Supertech seeking modification of August 31, 2021 order by which it was directed to demolish two of its 40-storey towers at its Emerald Court housing project.

While directing the demolition of two towers over grave violations of building norms, the top court had said that it was a result of “nefarious complicity” between Noida Authority and the Supertech and ordered that company shall carry out the demolition at its own expense within three months under the supervision of the Noida Authority and an expert body like the Central Building Research Institute.

The order had come on a batch of petitions filed by homebuyers for and against the April 11, 2014 verdict of the Allahabad High Court, which had ordered the demolition of the two buildings within four months and the refund of money to apartment buyers. (ANI)