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      Cyber Nations Forum Rules   07/03/2016

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Imperator Azenquor

Serene Republic of Vaule News Thread (v2.0)

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VNN News: Local government elections delayed by a week

 

 

[i] "With some Mayors eager to start campaigning for re-election and Municipal councils rushing through last minute legislation, the Prime Minister announced that local and municipal elections would be delayed by 7 days. In a short statement from the Office of the Prime Minister, the Prime Minister stated that the decision to delay the municipal polls was taken after careful consultations with the Vaule Electoral Council (VEC) and the Speaker of Parliament. The VEC asked the Prime Minister to grant a short delay to ensure that the voter registry can be updated and verified to add 28,269 new voters.

 

According to the statement from the Prime Minister's Office, all Governors and Mayors will continue on in office for the seven day period with the 'full powers of office', however all Municipal Councils will only function in a caretaker capacity and are expressly forbidden from initiating any new law or ordinance which would be approved prior to the next municipal election. In order to ensure that there isn't a funding gap for the period between municipal elections, the Finance Ministry has announced that it will disperse approximately NRR$160,000 to ensure that all Municipal councils will meet their financial obligations during this time.

 

As is customary, Prime Minister Rokossovsky will bring the motion to delay the elections to Parliament and, once the motion is passed, will consult with the Office of the Imperator. An Imperial Spokesman has already suggested that the Imperator would not object to the delaying of the municipal elections."[/i]-R. Porter.

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[b][u]VNN: Gov’t bans strikes, outraging unions[/b][/u]
 
 
[i]“The torrent of new legislation continues today as he government introduced several more bills to Parliament during another marathon session. The latest round of legislative proposals are not without controversy, however, even the Opposition has admitted that all of the proposed bills will very likely become law. Prime Minister Rokossovsky led the introduction of the latest round of proposals and urged their adoption as ‘the next key stage of national reform’.
 
The first bill, seeks to reform the bloated Vaulian public sector without sacrificing its efficiency. Under the proposed legislation, a number of public sector benefits will be reduced and a number of individuals will be removed from their positions. Benefits including vacation leave will be cut from 25 days per year to 12, termination pay will be cut from 10% to 2.5% and unemployment benefits will be sharply reduced from 25 weeks to 12 weeks. The bill would also mandate the largest cuts to the size of the public sector since 2001. The Opposition has warned that the mass reduction in the size of the civil service too rapidly could undermine the delivery of services and the administration of government.
 
The government has also introduced legislation to lower the retirement age for most Judges and to change the manner of the appointment of their replacements to involve an Independent Judicial Commission. The proposed bill would also increase the number of judges from 210 to 317 over the next 8 months. The Opposition Slavic Unity Party (SUP) has claimed that the Judicial Reform bill is a government attempt to pack the Judiciary with supporters of the Vaule Revolutionary Vanguard (VRV) party. The government has denied that charge and has stated that it is simply making the appointment of Judges more accountable and transparent. Notably the reduction in the retirement age of non Supreme Court Judges from 62 to 55, will mean that ¾ of the current Judges will have to retire if the bill becomes law.
 
The final and most controversial piece of legislation introduced by the government is a temporary prohibition on industrial action by any union or group of workers in the public or private sector. This ban on strikes would apply to all workers regardless of their industries and would last for at least six months. While the government has stated that the measure is necessary in order to allow a handful of reforms to proceed smoothly, several unions have denounced the measure as an attempt to undercut the power of the unions and to take away hard won rights of the workers.[/i]-R. Porter
 

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 VNN News: Fears of Banking crisis as VNB rumored to be insolvent, further delay to local elections
 
 
[i]“There are worries about the health of Vaule’s banks today amidst persistent rumors that the privately owned Vaule National Bank (VNB) may be approaching, or may already be insolvent. The VNB has publicly denied the allegations as being nothing more than ‘malicious rumors’ and have sought to reassure investors and depositors alike that the bank’s finances remain ‘entirely stable’ and in ‘overall good health’. Nonetheless, the rumors, bolstered by testimony from an alleged bank insider, has contributed to a plunge in the value of VNB stock in trading today. The rumors have also spurred a handful of depositors to withdraw all of their funds from the bank, sparking fears of a possible bank run in the near future.
 
According to testimony by an anonymous insider, the VNB has engaged in ‘shady accounting practices’ and a ‘massive exploitation of every gimmick under the sun’ in order to hide the full nature of it’s finances. The insider claims that the financial statements showing that the bank is in good financial shape do not include debts in excess of NRR$2.8 billion which were allegedly moved to the accounts of a number of subsidiary companies. This was done, the insider said, to avoid reporting the nature of the debt racked up by the VNB and to simultaneously permit the bank to continue borrowing additional funds based on its account statements indicating ever growing profits. When asked about the true financial status of the bank, the insider would only state that it was his estimate that if all depositors attempted to get their money back tomorrow that ‘the bank would only have enough funds to pay 19% of depositors in full’ and that everyone else would be ‘up a creek without a paddle’.
 
When asked how he became aware of the information, the alleged insider revealed that the Finance Ministry’s plan to conduct government led audits into a number of financial institutions had frightened the leadership of the bank who were rapidly attempting to find a solution that would either prevent or delay such an audit. The insider alleges that during the chaos of this period, a handful of bank officials, including the insider himself, were brought into the loop and tasked to ‘find a way out of the mess before the government shows up’. The insider expressed sincere worry that if he did not ‘reveal the truth quickly’ that the bank officials might have been able to cover their tracks.
 
As soon as the insider testimony was received, the Finance Ministry ordered an emergency investigation into the VNB. The decision to do so, combined with the reports of the insider testimony and rumors of financial malfeasance, has resulted in the VNB stock losing 39% of it’s value in the first 9 hours of trading on the stock exchange. The stock has closed at an all-time low of NRR$0.98 per share.
 
In other news, the government has announced a further delay to local and municipal elections. After initially announcing only a week-long delay, Interior Minister Filip Brankovic has called for a further ten month delay to the municipal elections in order to allow the government's reforms to municipal governance to be enacted. Should this delay be approved, the municipal government elections will be held at the same time as the next Parliamentary elections."[/i]-R. Porter
 

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[b][u]VNN News: Municipal Elections delayed, strange story from Marscury[/b][/u]
 
 
[i] “The government of Prime Minister Rokossovsky has obtained imperial endorsement to delay the municipal and local government elections. According to a statement released by the Office of the Imperator, after ‘careful consultations regarding the impact of the postponement of the elections’ and after considering the ‘fiscal impact of having to hold two municipal elections in a period of less than two years’ in the event that municipal reforms are passed, His Most Orthodox Royal Highness the Imperator, decided to issue an imperial decree postponing the elections.
 
Under the terms of the decree, the new elections for all municipal and mayoral bodies will be held at the same time as next month’s parliamentary elections. After the granting of the Imperial decree, the Opposition parties in the Parliament withdrew their major objections to the delay. Vladimir Boskovic, the leader of the Slavic Unity Party (SUP) issued a short statement in which he expressed some concern about the prospect of delayed municipal elections becoming common,  and voiced his concern that such actions would ‘undermine democracy at its most local and grassroots level’. Nonetheless, Mr. Boskovic has acknowledged the imperial decree and has thanked the government for providing a ‘clear and unambiguous roadmap’ toward the ‘restoration of normal municipal government’.
 
With the date of the municipal elections now set to coincide with the Parliamentary elections, the Vaule Electoral Council (VEC) has sought to assure the nation that it is adequately prepared to hold both polls simultaneously. According to a spokesperson for the VEC, the Council has already made the necessary modifications to electronic voting machines and has printed additional ballots where needed. The spokesperson has also said that the VEC has begun a media wide information campaign to remind voters that there will be casting two ballots instead of the usual one.
 
In other news, the Marscurian Autonomous Region issued an order today which has caused some confusion and concern in the Serene Republic. According to a statement carried in the Marscurian media, the government of the M.A.R. has issued an 'order’ to the gay communities of Russia that they cease to use the rainbow flag as their representative symbol as it too closely resembles the flag of Marscury. After carefully examining the Marscurian news item, it was discovered that the story appears to be accurate. The news item has become the hot topic on the late night comedy circuit as many comedians are relishing the opportunity to criticize this unusual and unprovoked action.
 
The Organization for Unity and Progress (OUP) which serves as an umbrella human rights organization for several rights groups is not laughing however. The OUP has already submitted a request for a court ruling, on behalf of it’s gay, lesbian and transgender member organizations, on the legality of such an order from the Marscurian Autonomous Region’s government. The preliminary hearing of the case is expected to be heard at the Sygh-Varthys Regional Court sometime next week. The organization also released a short statement in which it condemned the Marscurian government’s decision as being ‘a violation of the rights of Russian citizens’ and a ‘drastic overreach on the part of the Marscurian authorities’.
 
Also, in response to the story, the OUP has called for protests at the administrative boundary with the Marscurian Autonomous Region. The organization has asked interested Russian citizens to stand on the Vaulian side of the administrative boundary tomorrow afternoon holding protest signs and rainbow flags.
 
When asked for a comment on the development, Vaulian Prime Minister Rokossovsky reiterated that the Marscurian order does not affect the Serene Republic, or the citizens thereof and that his government has no objections to the continued use of the rainbow flag by members of any organization or community.
 
In the East Ingushetia Autonomous Community (EIAC) Regional Governor General Bakiyev would only confirm that a protest permit has been granted to the OUP to hold a small protest on the administrative border tomorrow. When asked about the protest itself, Governor Bakiyev reiterated that he had ‘better things to do’ than listen to whatever the ‘nutty Marscurians’ are up to now. The Governor also questioned our VNN journalist and asked why the story was receiving any airtime in the Serene Republic. Our journalist promptly informed the Regional Governor that it was a very slow news day.
 
We will bring you updates on these and other stories tomorrow.”[/i]- Reporter
 

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[b][u]VNN News: VEC Election report published, Regional Governor Bakiyev backs security wall[/b][/u]
 
 
[i] “The Vaulian Electoral Council (VEC) today published it’s formal report regarding the elections in the East Ingushetia Autonomous Community (EIAC). The results of the election have been strongly contested by the Ingush Liberal Party (ILP). Due to the slim margins of victory in a handful of constituencies in East Ingushetia, automatic recounts were triggered for at least 6 of the 50 seats. 
 
According to the officially certified results of the regional elections, the Vaule National Movement (VNM) has won 43 seats and the opposition Ingush Liberal Party (ILP) has won 7 seats. Of the 6 seats that were subject to recounts, 4 of the 6 seats were narrowly won by the VNM and the remaining 2 seats were narrowly won by the ILP. In the constituency of Itzukograd North-east, the VEC upheld the election result which saw the VNM candidate winning the seat by a margin of less than 622 votes. This result has come as a shock for the ILP since Itzukograd North-east is approximately 72% Muslim-Ingush, 8% Buryat and 20% Vaulian and has been a stronghold of the ILP for more than 10 years.
 
The Acting Head of the Electoral Council Natalya Trubacheva chaired a two hour press conference at which she commented on the methods employed by the VEC and the results of the investigation. When asked if the investigation was triggered by the submission of an electoral challenge by the ILP, Ms. Trubacheva responded that the VEC compiles reports for every election, but that the scope of the report was ‘expanded upon receipt of the electoral challenge in order to ensure that the concerns raised in the challenge are thoroughly investigated and resolved’. According to the report, the allegations made by the ILP that the results of the election were fraudulent were found to be ‘without merit’. The ILP raised 8 individual allegations of voter fraud which were looked into by the investigators. One of the allegations, stated that the VNM victory in Itzukograd North-east was a ‘statistical impossibility’ since it is ‘not possible’ that a Muslim majority portion of the city would vote for the VNM candidate. The VEC investigation uncovered no evidence of voter fraud and no evidence that the resulting election of the VNM candidate was ‘in any way illegitimate’.
 
The allegation raised by the ILP that thousands of it’s supporters who had previously been able to vote but were allegedly prevented from casting their ballots has also been rejected by the VEC investigation. Investigators found that 2081 individuals were prevented from casting ballots on election day. Of those individuals, 397 were ineligible to vote due to a previous criminal conviction, 831 individuals were unable to prove right of abode in the province, 527 individuals attempted to vote in one jurisdiction while being registered in another and 325 individuals failed to register to be added to the voter rolls in the first place. The final individual was prevented from voting due to ‘proximity to the Crown’. The investigators requested additional information from the ILP regarding specifics of the allegations it made in it’s electoral challenge, but according to the report, the party declined to provide any additional information to support it’s allegations.
 
The 50 page report concluded that the challenge was baseless and that the electoral results were upheld.  The Regional Governor General Artim Bakiyev released a statement congratulating the VNM and condemning the ILP’s ‘spineless attempts to distract from their defeat and the rejection of Islamism and separatism’ and in which he urged the party to ‘accept defeat graciously’ and not to attempt to ‘stir up confrontation’. The ILP has also released a statement in which it condemned the decision of the VEC as being ‘politically motivated’ as part of a ‘grand conspiracy to undermine the legitimate opposition in East Ingushetia’. The statement alleges that that the party will refuse to participate in the activities of the Regional Parliament until the election results are ‘completely annulled’ and until Regional Governor Bakiyev ‘resigns in shame for his actions’.
 
In other news, Governor Bakiyev has announced his support for a proposed Security Barrier project in East Ingushetia. According to the Office of the Regional Governor, General Bakiyev ‘wholeheartedly’ supports a proposal that would upgrade a series of military and police checkpoints into a more permanent security structure along sectarian fault lines and areas with high militancy threats. According to the project proposal, the series of structures would be constructed in three main phases. The construction would provide heightened security while reducing the numbers of G.P.S.R. and military personnel required to remain in these areas.
 
Despite the support of the Regional Governor, the proposal to construct the Security Barrier would still need to be approved by the Regional Parliament and by the Parliament in Sygh-Varthys before any construction begins. The proposal will also have to include provisions to ensure that the construction of the barrier does not severely impact transit or trade routes through the province.”[/i]-Reporter
 

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[b][u]VNN News: East Ingushetia Parliament backs wall, Gov Bakiyev to meet PM[/b][/u]
 
 
[i] “In a heavily partisan vote, the Regional Parliament of the East Ingushetia Autonomous Community (EIAC) has approved the construction of the first phase of the Security Barrier in the province. The legislation formally approves the acquisition of the necessary land and authorizes an official request for funding and approval from the Parliament of the Serene Republic. With the formality of the initial approval completed, only the approval of the Parliament is required before construction on the Security Barrier can begin.
 
In a statement from the Office of Regional Governor Bakiyev, he expressed his gratitude to the Vaule National Movement-Patriotic Front (VNM-PF) for the speed with which it acted on the proposed legislation and vowed to make the case for the Security Barrier to the Vaulian Parliament in person. In addition, Governor Bakiyev also pledged to raise the issue of the Security Barrier when he meets with Prime Minister Rokossovsky in Sygh-Varthys next week.
 
When asked if the government would support the proposed Security Barrier, Prime Minister Rokossovsky said that it would only do so provided that the construction of the Security Barrier formed a part of a comprehensive reform and security strategy and if the construction of the barrier would not ‘significantly impact cross border traffic with the Marscurian Autonomous Republic’. Prime Minister Rokossovsky also pledged to hold cross-party discussions on a series of Security and Development funding grants for the East Ingushetia Autonomous Community (EIAC).
 
In other news, the Speaker of the Regional Parliament of East Ingushetia Andrei Bakiyev has criticized a news item carried in the Marscurian media seeking to attribute some of the blame for the decline of the Marscurian economy on ‘the inability of the East Inguish (sic) government to keep Muslim extremists from destroying the Trans-Siberian Railway’. While Mr. Bakiyev expressed ‘brotherly concern’ for the state of the Marscurian economy and expressed the hope that ‘joint initiatives’ could be negotiated to increase trade and benefit the economy on both sides of the administrative border, he also suggested that the news report seemed to imply that the damage to the railway occurred recently rather than more than a decade ago. He further stated his belief that such articles which contain ‘historical errors’ would do nothing to foster a spirit of ‘brotherhood and mutual cooperation’.”[/i]-Reporter
 

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[b][u]VNN News: Prime Minister Rokossovsky to unveil East Ingushetia reform proposal[/b][/u]
 
 
[i] “In his first address to Parliament this year, Prime Minister Rokossovsky tackled a wide variety of issues including the economy and the reform process in the East Ingushetia Autonomous Community (EIAC). The Prime Minister pledged to unveil detailed proposals aimed at what he called ‘stability, progress and economic growth’. On the economic front, the Prime Minister chastised his predecessor for leaving a ‘bloated and inefficient’ state bureaucracy and a ‘dysfunctional and decrepit’ revenue collection system. Too long, the Prime Minister insisted, had government revenue shortfalls been simply plugged with surplus funds from the oil and petrochemicals sectors. The Prime Minister vowed to unveil a ‘top-to-bottom’ reform of the state revenue and pension systems within seven days. He has also pledged to present legislation overhauling the tax rates system within ten days. Once the key legislation is approved, the Prime Minister said, he would then have the Minister of Finance present a budget to Parliament.
 
On the defense policy front, the Prime Minister blasted the state backed VaulTech Industries (VTI) and it’s CEO Dr. Maximillian Reaver, for ‘failing to anticipate and prepare effectively for the needs of a modernized Vaulian military’ and for the continued delays in the mass production and introduction of the MiG 37E stealth fighter to key air force units. In his speech the Prime Minister pledged to intervene personally to bring the situation to an ‘advantageous solution’ and announced that he would hold a meeting with VTI and Defense Ministry officials to address the government’s concerns. The Prime Minister also addressed the issues of armed forces procurement contracts and called on defense agencies to expand their production capacity and to improve their overall efficiency. In what was taken to be a stinging rebuke of the Ground Armaments Co (GACo)’s controversial Z-2 MBT project, the Prime Minister stated that ‘defense companies should never take so long to deliver on mass production of equipment that the equipment is obsolete before it even rolls off the lot’.
 
Prime Minister Rokossovsky also sought to weigh in on the situation in the East Ingushetia Autonomous Community (EIAC). He called on the Ingush Liberal Party (ILP) and the various separatist splinter groups of the Liberation Army of East Siberia (LAES) to ‘accept the undeniable and unchangeable reality that East Ingushetia is a part of the Serene Republic of Vaule and a part of Russia’ and urged any rational members among them to ‘accept this truth’. The Prime Minister also took aim at Regional Governor General Artim Bakiyev stating that it is ‘inconceivable’ that the territory could have an estimated unemployment rate of almost 41% and that no action is taken by the local authorities. The Prime Minister stated that ‘certain officials’ in the EIAC have taken to using government jobs as patronage to reward their political allies. This practice, he said, amounted to the aforementioned individuals treating the institutions of local government and the territory itself as ‘their own personal fiefdom’.
 
The Prime Minister also threatened that if Governor Bakiyev failed to crack down on corruption and address the situation of spiraling unemployment that the government would have to act. The Prime Minister notably stopped short of directly blaming Governor Bakiyev or calling for his removal. On that front, the Prime Minister has pledged to facilitate a dialogue between all ‘parties who recognize the authority of the state and the Constitution’ in order to put forward a proposal for reform in East Ingushetia. As an incentive for the talks to succeed, the Prime Minister revealed that he has enocuraged VTI to move some production systems to East Ingushetia and the Finance Ministry is prepared to directly allocate NRR$3.9 billion to infrastructure and employment programs in the region.[/i]”-Reporter
 

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VNN News: Imperator backs Gov. Bakiyev, Reaver responds
 
“The response to the Prime Minister’s televised speech to Parliament has been mostly positive, but there are a few key exceptions. The Prime Minister’s criticism of VaulTech Industries (VTI) and it’s leadership did not sit well with CEO Dr. Maximillian Reaver. The VTI CEO issued an urgent press release to all news stations and newspapers in the capital in which he responded to the criticisms leveled against him by Prime Minister Rokossovsky. As expected, Dr. Reaver pulled no punches in his reply. His statement read as follows:
 


 

“As the CEO of VaulTech Industries I have had the distinct privilege of working alongside some of the most hardworking, focused and dedicated people in our industry. Individuals who do more for their country from 9 to 5 than most politicians do in months. Yesterday, our honorable Prime Minister made a series of allegations in which there were, let’s be charitable and call them, factual errors. The duty falls to me as the CEO of VTI to respond to correct these errors.

 
Firstly, VTI only took charge of core armament industries six months ago. Our ability to proceed on mass production of certain military projects depends on our acquiring of the legal rights to those projects. Unfortunately, with regard to some of these projects, the government has not yet authorized the transfer of the necessary rights to VTI to proceed. Those rights still reside with the East Asia Company (EACo) even though it has lost the exclusive rights to defense contracts. Of all projects where the necessary rights have been transferred to VTI, I can state that we have entered full production on 92% of these projects and are either on track or ahead of schedule.
 
Secondly, regarding the assertion by the Prime Minister that VTI has failed to ‘anticipate and prepare effectively’ for the needs of the modern Vaulian military, I believe that it is an assertion which should be levelled not at VTI but at the mammoth bureaucracy of government. Our company has launched a series of future-technology oriented projects only to find months later that the rusted cogs of the government bureaucracy have only just begun to turn.
 
Lastly, as I’m rather a good sport, I would like to offer our Honorable Prime Minister a small wager. If the Prime Minister temporarily transfers administrative authority regarding defense contracts and projects from the Civil Service to VTI, I bet that within two months VTI will have every contract fulfilled, every project underway and 5% of the total Vaulian Army fully upgraded and re-equipped. If we do not meet the aforementioned conditions, then I, Maximillian Reaver, will resign as CEO of VTI and I will make a donation of NRR$2.7 million to any organization of the Prime Minister’s choosing. If I win, however, I will only require that the temporary administrative transfer become permanent.”

 

 
In other news, the Prime Minister’s criticism of East Ingushetia Regional Governor General Artim Bakiyev resulted in an unusual rebuke from a higher authority. In a stinging single sentence statement from the Office of the Imperator, a spokesperson said:
 


 

“HMORH the Imperator continues to have full confidence in Regional Governor Bakiyev and his ability to discharge his duties even in the difficult circumstances in the province.”

 

 

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[b][u]VNN News: Imperator to visit East Ingushetia, Gov’t to explore two child policy[/b][/u]
 
 
[i]“The Office of the Imperator today announced that His Most Orthodox Royal Highness the Imperator will travel to the East Ingushetia Autonomous Community for a two day visit. According to the statement, the Imperator will meet with the Regional Governor and local party leaders and will address the Regional Parliament of the East Ingushetia Autonomous Community. The statement did not outline the topics to be addressed by the Imperator during his visit, or offer any reason for the visit and it’s timing.
 
As expected, the announcement of a pending visit by the Imperator himself has been greeted warmly by the nationalist and anti-separatist communities in the province who are planning celebrations to welcome the Imperator to what they see as ‘the most loyal province’ of the country. On the other side, supporters of the Ingush Liberal Party (ILP) have denounced the plans for a visit by the Imperator as being ‘in no way constructive’ and have announced that they will boycott the Imperator’s speech to the Regional Parliament in protest.
 
In other news, the Prime Minister has announced that the government is exploring methods of further reducing the rate of population growth through a modified system of family planning initiatives and an incentive and fine mechanism that would expand on existing laws. According to the Prime Minister, the government is exploring the possibility of extending the Uncontrolled Reproduction Tax (URT) to all families with more than two children. Under the proposed reform, any couple resident in Vaule who, after the law is enacted, has more than two children would be required to pay the URT Tax annually until the youngest of their children has reached the age of twenty-three. The government is also proposing to double the URT from 4.5% of individual income to 9.0% of individual income.
 
The initial proposal has met with fierce opposition from the right-wing Union of Patriotic Right Forces (PRF) and from the Vaulian Orthodox Church who view the proposal as an ‘unwelcome intrusion of the state into the family lives of citizens’. The Prime Minister has vowed to consult with all key parties prior to bringing any legislation to Parliament.
 
Despite another government promise to introduce a budget this fiscal year, it appears that once again the Ministry of Finance will simply request that Parliament grant another Interim Budget Measure (IBM). Under an IBM, the government will hold a single vote in Parliament on whether to cap current budgetary expenditures and revenues at their levels as of the last approved budget. Under such a measure, the government would be able to lower expenditure at will, but would only be permitted to raise expenditure by 1% of GDP.
 
The Finance Minister is expected to address the Parliament tomorrow to explain the reasons behind the decision to pursue an IBM, particularly in an election year. Insiders in the Finance Ministry have reported that the Finance Minister and his staff have been attempting to wade through layer upon layer of the convoluted tax and expenditures system in order to both simplify the system and to find unnecessary expenditure to be trimmed. A handful of optimistic financial analysts believe that the Finance Minister will wait until just before the next Parliamentary elections to unveil a budget.
 
As elections for the Parliament of the Serene Republic are fast approaching, Prime Minister Pavel Rokossovsky has announced that the Vaule Revolutionary Vanguard (VRV) party will be holding a National Party Congress in Sygh-Varthys next week. The Prime Minister will likely once again seek the backing of his party’s delegates to lead the party into the next election, and he is also expected to unveil his election platform and long term re-election strategy. According to political analyst  Marina Ilyanova, the Prime Minister desperately needs to re-energize his party base after disappointing economic results during his current term.”[/i]-Reporter
 

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VNN News: Dastardly Terrorist attacks; Parliamentary elections delayed
 
 
“Yesterday, a series of coordinated and deadly terrorist attacks struck the capital and the far east resulting in a number of casualties. According to reports, two large explosive devices believed to have some nuclear components, were detonated along the Amur River and in the Kamchatka region. In addition there was also a bombing in Moscow. While there has been no official confirmation as of yet, it is widely believed that the attacks were the work of agents of the Pure Lands regime.
 
As a result of the attacks, emergency protocols have been enacted throughout the Serene Republic as evacuations get underway. Camps for displaced citizens have been set up in the Vancouver Territory and in East Ingushetia to house survivors of the attacks who are residing in mandatory evacuation zones. The Vaulian Emergency Situations Ministry has reported that decontamination stations have been set up in the region and that the evacuation is proceeding on schedule. The Ministry refused to speculate on the number of fatalities of the attacks and stated that ‘the current focus is on the evacuation of survivors and the treatment of those injured as a result of the attacks’.
 
The Vaulian Interior Ministry has raised the national threat level and has enacted ‘additional security measures throughout Vaule’ to thwart further attacks. In the interests of national security, citizens are asked to remain vigilant and to report any suspicious items or strange activity to the G.P.S.R. without delay.
 
In other news, the Vaulian parliament approved a temporary motion delaying the upcoming Parliamentary elections due to the ongoing conflict. According to the motion, the elections will be held ‘within 30 days of the end of the conflict’ provided that the Electoral Council is sufficiently prepared for the holding of the elections. Additionally, the Parliament also voted to declare a State of Emergency in all provinces of the Serene Republic for the next 60 days. Under the state of emergency, the Prime Minister will temporarily assume the powers of the legislature and the Parliament will be suspended. The declaration also empowers the police to declare mandatory curfews, to seize property and to detain individuals without charge for the duration of the emergency period.
 
The ‘Law prohibiting industrial action/strikes’ will remain in force for the duration of the emergency.”-Reporter
Edited by Imperator Azenquor

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[b][u]VNN News: Max Reaver to co-found new private TV stations[/b][/u]
 
 
[i] “In a sudden and unexpected announcement, the CEO of VaulTech Industries has announced that he will be co-founding two private television channels in the next few weeks. In a short statement, Maximillian Reaver revealed that he had long been considering whether or not to foray into the media sector and decided to do so after watching a ‘particularly dreadful 24 hour marathon’ of what he termed ‘some despicable reality tv drivel’. He stated that he turned to his colleague and remarked that he could do more interesting television.
 
With that announcement, Mr. Reaver put up NRR$2.8 million of his own funds to create VaulMedia Industries (VMI). The newly appointed head of VMI will be media specialist Dr. Evgeni Rokossovsky. Dr. Rokossovsky has been charged to recruit a qualified team of experts and to launch the two channels within the next sixty days. If the deadline is met by Dr. Rokossovsky, Mr. Reaver has pledged to donate additional funding and has pledged to raise at least NRR$3 million for the new initiative.
 
When asked if the new foray into television would be expanded to include radio and newspaper production as well, Mr. Reaver stated that ‘this is the Internet age. Who in their right mind still reads an actual newspaper? We shouldn’t cater to any of those tinfoil-hat-wearing, newspaper-reading, abacus-clutching, loons’.
 
In other news, the United Nations Security Council has approved a resolution governing the sizes of nuclear arsenals which can be maintained by nuclear weapon capable countries. The approval of the resolution has been greeted with cautious optimism by the League for Nuclear Disarmament (LND), not to be confused with the League for Narwhal Decimation, which released a statement praising the Security Council resolution as the first step towards a world free of the 'scourge of nuclear weaponry'.”[/i]
 

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[b][u]VNN News: Prime Minister expresses concern about election delay[/b][/u]
 
 
[i] “Prime Minister Rokossovsky has expressed some concerns about the delaying of the municipal and parliamentary elections in the Serene Republic. The elections, which were constitutionally due last year and early this year respectively, were postponed due to the conflict in the Caucasus. According to the legislation which postponed the elections, the incumbent government would continue to function in a limited interim government capacity until the elections could be held. This requirement, the Prime Minister claimed, has significantly impacted the government’s ability to undertake new projects, to complete reforms and to modify taxes and expenditures. This, the Prime Minister stated, has prevented his government from taking action on certain key matters of economic and public sector reform which were on the agenda for the current parliamentary term.
 
The Prime Minister also revealed his intention to go to Parliament in order to request the approval of new legislation that would confer ‘full governing powers’ to the incumbent government until the end of the emergency period. The proposed legislation would allow the government to present a new budget to parliament, provided that the budget in question does not reduce expenditures to National Security, Armaments, etc. The measure would also allow the government to transfer emergency funds to a number of municipalities who have been placed under increasing pressure after using all of their allocated financial grants for the fiscal year.
 
The Opposition has rejected the Prime Minister’s concerns as being ‘primarily motivated by poor election polling’ and has accused the Prime Minister of attempting to sharply increase government expenditures as a ‘last minute vote getter’ ahead of the next election. The Opposition has cited the government’s request as ‘concrete proof of the nature of mismanagement and the lack of governance’ which has taken place over the last four and a half years. The Opposition parties have vowed to vote against any measure which seeks to grant the interim government any additional powers prior to the next election.
 
In other news, in a statement from the Office of the Imperator, it has been revealed that the government will shortly be announcing the first delegation of Vaulian Senators to the Supreme State Council. The delegation of 45 Senators will be appointed via a consultative mechanism involving the Parliament, the Prime Minister and the Office of the Imperator.[/i]-Reporter
 

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VNN News: First divorce finalized, BSS reports rise in profits
 
 
“History was made at a district court in Sygh-Varthys today as the first legal divorce in the modern history of the Serene Republic of Vaule took place. After 7 years of marriage, Konstantin and Irina Belinsky applied for a divorce under the terms of the Dissolution of Marriage act. As required by the law, the couple verified that they had not lived at the same residence for more than two years and submitted an official Application for Divorce. Afterwards, the couple submitted proof of completion of a recognized marriage counselling program and proof that all reasonable steps were taken to save their marriage. Two months ago, the couple obtained a Certificate of Pending Divorce and began to divide their common assets. At the district court today, the presiding judge officially granted their divorce and presented them with a Certificate of Divorce.
 
Moments after the historic occasion, the formerly married couple spoke to the press. Irina Belinskaya told reporters that she was ‘deeply saddened’ by the divorce and that she hoped that her former husband would be ‘run over by a tank’. Konstantin Belinsky, on the other hand, was fairly upbeat after the approval of the divorce. After smiling and joking with the gathered reporters, Mr. Belinsky stated that he was ‘indescribably happy’ that he was finally ‘free of the old ball and chain’ and that he was looking forward to a ‘wonderful future’. When asked about his future plans, he announced that he intended to marry his mistress Natasha Kameneva. Ms. Kameneva, who is almost half Mr. Belinsky’s age is a former professional gymnast. Without being prompted, Mr. Belinsky produced a photograph of his mistress/fiancée and commented to journalists that ‘clearly he had upgraded’. Shortly after the interview, Mr. Belinsky was seen skipping down the street shouting: "Free at last!"
 
In other news, the Bureau of Special Services (BSS) has revealed a 9.7% rise in profits in the prostitution sector. This sharp rise in revenue means that for this financial year, the BSS has brought in NRR$696 million. The organization has pledged to continue efforts to expand the sector and to continue cooperation with the official union PROSSIE. The BSS director has not commented on how much the state owned agency will have to pay in taxes on it’s profits, but he has revealed that at least 12% of the overall profit will be placed into pension and healthcare funds under the terms of the agreement which ended the last prostitutes’ strike five years ago.”-R. Porter
Edited by Imperator Azenquor

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[b][u]VNN News: Power-sharing rumors in EIAC[/b][/u]
 
 
[i] “The East Ingushetia Autonomous Community, long a flashpoint of tensions between the Muslim Ingush and the Christian Vaulian communities who reside there is once again in the news today. Despite official denials from all involved parties, there have been strong and persistent rumors from credible sources that some form of governmental reform is being discussed between the Vaule National Movement-Patriotic Front (VNM-PF) and the opposition Ingush Liberal Party (ILP). These talks are said to be chaired ‘at the highest level’ by a representative of the Office of the Imperator.
 
According to our source, the talks were convened on the initiative of the Crown with the support from both Orthodox and Islamic clergy in the province. The key aim of the talks, as we understand it, is to draft some form of power-sharing formula for local governance in the province. The secondary issues of policing, electoral reform and discrimination are also likely to be discussed. While no government official is openly confirming that such talks are underway, our source insists that the talks are well advanced and may potentially conclude sometime in the coming months.
 
If the reports are correct, the talks will face an uphill battle to overcome the decades of animosity between the two communities and to overcome the fear and militarism which once scarred the province. Both sides will likely have to make significant concessions in any future power-sharing agreement. The governing VNM-PF will be reluctant to cede any powers and might see such attempts as serving to undermine the Christian numerical majority in the province. The ILP on the other hand, will be reluctant to undertake negotiations which may weaken the party among it’s Ingush separatist base for fear of undermining itself at the next elections to the Regional Legislature.”[/i]-R.Porter
 

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[b][u]VNN News: Gov’t confirms EIAC talks, ILP walks out[/b][/u]
 
 
[i]“The Office of the Imperator confirmed this morning that an ‘inter-community dialogue’ was underway in the East Ingushetia Autonomous Community (EIAC). The statement offered no information about the nature of the talks but said that they were aimed at ‘bridging divides between communities’ and ‘strengthening political involvement by all residents’.  However, within 10 hours of the government announcement, the talks broke down and the Ingush Liberal Party (ILP) withdrew from the process. 
 
In a short statement to it’s supporters, ILP party leader M. A. Rashid stated that the party withdrew from the consultations due to ‘the intransigence of the VNM-PF and it’s refusal to recognize the rights of the Muslim people’ of the province. The statement also said that the ILP insists that any power sharing arrangement must include ‘the resignation of Governor Artim Bakiyev’ and the direct election of all future Regional Governors of the EIAC. We understand that both terms were rejected outright by the VNM-PF who accused the ILP of ‘failing to negotiate in good faith’ and ‘seeking to undermine the system of governance in the province’. 
 
According to the Imperator’s representative to the negotiations, the talks ‘are not yet over’ and that ‘further attempts to bridge the divide will occur’. It is unclear if the ILP will return to the negotiations or if the VNM-PF is willing to offer the major concession of agreeing to Governor Bakiyev’s resignation.
 
In an unusually bold move, billionaire and VaulTech CEO Maximillian Reaver has pledged to undertake a series of investment projects valued at more than NRR$3.1 billion in the EIAC if both sides manage to agree to an amicable power sharing arrangement. In a short statement in his usual style, Mr. Reaver stated that the 32% unemployment rate in the EIAC was ‘an absolute disgrace’ and that the two communities ‘have only themselves to blame’ for it. Addressing the religious divide in the province, Mr. Reaver stated that ‘Muslim, Christian or Buddhist, it’s all rubbish anyway’.”[/i]-R.Porter
 

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[b][u]VNN News: EIAC talks resume, Victory day celebrations[/b][/u]

 

[i]“Ladies and gentlemen, before we begin tonight’s newscast, we would like to make a short editorial correction. Yesterday in our broadcast coverage of the EIAC negotiations and VaulTech CEO Maximillian Reaver’s statement regarding the aforementioned negotiations, I accidentally referred to a ‘Mr. Reaver’. It has been brought to our attention by the law firm ‘Reaver, Reaver, Reaver & Browne’ that the aforementioned individual’s should be referred to as ‘Dr. Maximillian Reaver’. We at VNN would like to officially apologize for our error and we would like to reassure Dr. Reaver that we meant no offense and will endeavor to ensure that such editorial errors do not happen in the future.

 

On to the news. After yesterday’s breakdown in the talks between both parties in East Ingushetia, we have some good news. According to an official statement from the Imperator’s Representative, confirmed by both parties, the negotiations have resumed and the ILP has dropped their prior condition that Governor Artim Bakiyev resign in any resulting power sharing agreement. The negotiations have now resumed and we will continue to follow the story for any developments.

 

In other news, students at the Sygh-Varthys University broke a record today when they unfurled a 35m by 60m Russian flag which they carried from the University Administration building to Revolution Square. The students, with the flag held aloft, marched through the parade route to cheering crowds as they opened the official commemoration of Victory Day in the Serene Republic.

 

Further celebrations, including a military parade will be held later today. We will be covering the event in Sygh-Varthys live and we will also cover the celebrations in Moscow.”[/i]-R. Porter

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[b][u]VNN News: Gov’t mulls Police Reforms, PM to visit Vancouver Territory[/b][/u]
 
 
[i]“The government announced today that it would be undertaking a series of reforms to better equip the police force (i.e. the Guardians of the Peace of the Serene Republic (G.P.S.R.)) to maintain public order, to fight crime and to carry out it’s other duties and roles. According to the Interior Minister, the G.P.S.R. needs to be significantly expanded and restructured to maximize it’s efficiency while minimizing operational costs. The Interior Ministry has unveiled a series of proposals discussed with the senior G.P.S.R. leadership and with a number of local and regional government officials.
 
The first of these proposals is to expand the G.P.S.R. to include an additional 16,700 personnel and 87 new police stations. This expansion is to take place over a three to five year period with the police adding an estimated 3,000 personnel each year. The G.P.S.R. Academy is expected to play a vital role in the recruitment and training of new officers over this period of expansion.
 
The second major proposal involves the creation of three special purpose units within the G.P.S.R. who will be assigned tasks outside of the realm of ordinary day-to-day policing. This proposal would see the creation of a G.P.S.R. Counterterrorism Unit and a G.P.S.R. Organized Crime & Narcotics Unit. The proposal has stirred some controversy as it also suggests that the G.P.S.R. should be expanded to include a dedicated Gendarmerie-like unit whose primary purposes will be riot control and crime deterrence. The units for this proposed organization would be required to undertake special training, and individuals who have undertaken three years or more of active military service would be given special consideration.
 
The third proposed reform would create a more centralized command structure for the G.P.S.R. units stationed in the Autonomous Communities and in the Vancouver Territory. Additionally, the Justice Ministry in Sygh-Varthys would be given a greater oversight role of police forces operating in the Autonomous Communities.
 
The Interior Ministry has pledged to bring the proposals to Parliament as quickly as possible so that a detailed discussion and debate of the merits of each proposal can take place.
 
In other news, Prime Minister Rokossovsky’s office has announced that the PM will visit the Vancouver Territory sometime next week to discuss local elections, new infrastructure projects and electoral reforms in the territory.”[/i]-R. Porter
 

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[b][u]VNN News: Gov’t considers ban on religious parties[/b][/u]
 
 
[i]“In a surprising statement this morning, the S.R.V. Justice Ministry announced plans to draft legislation which would prohibit the formation of parties on the basis of religion and would proceed to ban any such parties which currently exist. In it’s statement the Justice Minister revealed that the government is ‘carefully navigating the dual concerns of civil rights and the importance of upholding the political order’ and would only proceed with the draft legislation after ‘ensuring that it does exactly what it is intended to do’. The Justice Ministry pledged to give frequent updates to the press and to the Parliament while the process is underway.
 
The announcement was greeted with support from a number of groups and parties, however those sentiments are by no means universal. In a strongly worded statement, the Christian Democratic Party (CDP) leader Radislava Terdic stressed her ‘clear and unwavering rejection’ of the proposed law. Mrs. Terdic also stated that her party considered the proposed law as nothing more than ‘a means to legislate the opposition out of existence’ and to ‘use the tools of the state to attack individuals who hold center-right and conservative political views’.
 
In the East Ingushetia Autonomous Community (EIAC) news of the proposal risks raising tensions between the governing Vaule National Movement- Patriotic Front (VNM-PF) and the opposition Ingush Liberal Party (ILP). In a cautious statement, the ILP stressed that it ‘agreed with the notion of no political party being formed purely on the basis of religion’ but expressed concern that if the criteria for defining a religious party is too vague that it creates the ‘real and likely possibility that the law will be abused and used to stifle opposition, particularly in the EIAC’. The party further suggested that because of it’s ‘long history of advocacy for the Ingush Muslims of the province’ that it will ‘almost definitely be branded a Muslim political party and forced to disband’ if the proposed law comes into force. In a short statement from his office, Regional Governor Artim Bakiyev (nominal head of VNM-PF) welcomed the proposed law and expressed his hope that the Vaulian Parliament would widen the conditions for banning of political parties to include ‘refusing to swear allegiance to HMORH the Imperator’ and ‘failing to recognize the territorial integrity of the Serene Republic of Vaule within the Greater Russian Empire’.
 
When asked if the VNM-PF would be in favor of a government order prohibiting the activities of the opposition ILP, the spokesperson simply replied: ‘if the Sharia fits.’ Adding to worries in the region, shortly after the Justice Ministry announcement, a handful of fliers mysteriously appeared across the city of Itzukograd. The fliers depicted a woman in a niqab with the slogan ‘Sharia today for a better tomorrow’. It is unknown who produced the fliers, however they are labelled ‘from the Society for the Prevention of Vice and the Promotion of Virtue (SPVPV)’.
 
The Guardians of the Peace of the Serene Republic (G.P.S.R.) has removed a number of the fliers and has opened an investigation into the incident.”[/i]-R. Porter
 

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[b][u]VNN News: Palace reorganization, some agencies dissolved[/b][/u]
 
 
[i]“In a surprise move, the Office of the Imperator has announced that a massive reorganization and overhaul of ‘all agencies, entities and organizations which are affiliated to the Vaulian Crown in both it’s secular and religious roles’ will take place over the next thirty days. It is unclear what sparked the decision to undertake the reforms, or what determined the scale of the proposed reorganizations, but the reforms may be the most wide ranging changes to the Crown Agencies in decades. As is the custom, the reforms to the Agencies were announced by Imperial Chief of Staff Ms. Yulia Simonova.
 
The first set of reforms is as follows:
-The Office of the Government Liaison shall be dissolved
-The Office of Imperial Representative to the Cardinalate shall be dissolved
-The Imperial Chief of Staff and her deputy shall resign with immediate effect
-The External Affairs Council shall be dissolved
-The roles and duties of the aforementioned offices shall be assumed by the newly created office of ‘President of the Privy Council’
-The Crown Land Bureau shall be dissolved
-The Crown Revenue Bureau shall be dissolved
-The Imperial Household Agency shall be dissolved
-The roles and duties of the aforementioned agencies shall be assumed by the newly created agency the ‘Crown Assets Bureau’
-The Office of Holder of the Vaulian Seal shall be dissolved and it’s duties shall be assumed by the newly created office of ‘Deputy-President of the Privy Council’
-The Royal Heraldic Office (RHO) shall report directly to the Monarch
-The College of Cardinals of the Vaulian Orthodox Church shall be expanded to 120 members
 
According to the Chief of Staff, the reforms will lead to the consolidation of agencies whose roles overlapped and the overall reduction in the size and cost of the Crown Agencies. She was quick to reassure that the reforms would not lead to a deterioration in efficiency or a reduction in the service quality of any of the previously mentioned agencies. The reforms are also expected to save 10-15% of operating costs over the next few years.”[/i]-R. Porter
 

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[b][u]VNN News: Gov’t proposes new renewable energy targets [/b][/u]
 
 
[i] “In a statement to Parliament today, Prime Minister Rokossovsky revealed that the government would need to set new targets for renewable energy and nuclear energy production for the next few years. In his speech, the Prime Minister urged the government to be ‘more ambitious’ in it’s energy goals and to provide greater incentives for the adoption of renewable energies and nuclear power. The targets, he said, should be revised in order to demonstrate the additional urgency of moving away from fossil fuels and LNG based power generation to ‘affordable and efficient technologies’. The Prime Minister conceded however that it would not be feasible to have solar and wind power as the means of generating the majority of the energy used in the S.R.V., but still suggested that much more could be done in that sector.
 
According to the Prime Minister, the government intends to set benchmark targets so that by the year 2022, at least 40% of energy will be produced via nuclear power, 35% by hydropower, 5% Geothermal, 5% by solar power and the remaining 15% from LNG. While, the government acknowledges, there are currently no coal fired power stations operating within the S.R.V., the Prime Minister has expressed a desire to officially ban the construction and operation of any power stations that use coal or peat as fuel. The new goals, the PM stressed, are ambitious but attainable.
 
In concluding his statement, Prime Minister Rokossovsky stressed the need for the SRV to adopt a new comprehensive National Energy Policy (NEP) and to begin planning to replace power stations which are nearing the end of their service lifetimes. He repeatedly stressed that expansion of the power grid and the adoption of diverse energy sources would not only lower costs to consumers and result in more environmentally friendly energy production, but would also help boost industrial production.
 
Not missing an opportunity to weigh in on the debate, VaulTech CEO Dr. Maximillian Reaver has called on the S.R.V. to examine all current power stations and to begin plans for constructing new stations to replace those what are within 5 years of the end of their service lifetimes. He also urged the government to undertake ‘serious repairs’ to the power transmission systems in the East Ingushetia region which remains significantly damaged after years of prolonged conflict. Dr. Reaver also urged the government to consider examining the power generation needs of the Marscurian Autonomous Region (M.A.R.) in their formulation of the NEP. There is, he suggested, an opportunity to either expand the powergrid in the EIAC to transfer some additional energy to the M.A.R., or to even partner with the Marscurian Authorities to construct a power station in the region.
 
Dr. Reaver assured the government that VaulTech Industries was ‘ready and willing to undertake such a project’ and could provide the majority of the needed funding up front and without the government needing to foot the entire bill.”[/i]-R. Porter
 

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[b][u]VNN News: Gov’t pledges to improve internet speeds and accessibility [/b][/u]
 
 
[i]“The Interior Minister of the S.R.V. addressed the Conference on Science and Technology, held in Zhukovgrad earlier today. In his speech, he praised a number of conference participants who have presented strategies to expand the use of new technologies for sustainable economic and social development. He identified a proposal, by a renewable energy firm, to consider mandating the addition of solar panels to all residential buildings as a condition of granting building permits as a ‘potentially beneficial and revolutionary’ idea. He pledged that the government would undertake a feasibility study to determine if the idea could be adopted for future construction projects in the S.R.V.
 
After being heavily criticized by a number of conference participants, the Interior Minister acknowledged that the government had not yet managed to assure universal access to high speed broadband internet connections for all citizens across the country. Citing the need to upgrade internet infrastructure and to sort out agreements with various internet service providers, he stressed that it would not be an easy task to reach universal access. He reminded the conference participants that the access to a high speed broadband internet connection of no less than 100Mbps is ‘a fundamental right that is enshrined in Article 24 of the Russian Constitution’ and that the government was ‘absolutely committed to ensuring full compliance’. 
 
When urged to provide details, the Interior Minister pledged that he would meet with the Council on Internet Access (CIA) and incentivize the internet service providers to undertake network upgrades where needed. On the government side, he pledged to obtain a budgetary allocation for the upgrading of government held internet infrastructure across the S.R.V. and to expand the number of available WiFi hotspots by at least 95% over the next year.
 
The minister also cited statistics showing that current efforts to expand access to high speed internet service had resulted in 99.2% of all schools in the S.R.V. now having access to the internet at speeds of 100Mbps and above. According to the same statistics, 99.8% of citizens in Sygh-Varthys have high speed internet access, 99.2% of citizens in Zhukovgrad, 82% of citizens in the Baikal Autonomous Community and 58.4% of citizens in the Vancouver Territory.
 
In response to the Interior Minister’s speech, a number of companies and organizations at the conference signed a joint-pledge to hold the government responsible if ‘meaningful progress isn’t made within the next year’.”[/i]-R. Porter
 

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[b][u]VNN News: PM Rokossovsky rejects compulsory voting legislation [/b][/u]
 
 
[i]“In a speech to Parliament today, Prime Minister Rokossovsky vowed to reject a proposal to require all eligible voters to cast ballots in all elections. The proposed Mandatory Voting bill was originally introduced 8 years ago, but was twice delayed until the current parliament. In his speech the Prime Minister criticized the decision to delay voting on the bill and vowed to bring the bill to a vote in the current Parliamentary session. 
 
Prime Minister Rokossovsky suggested that mandatory voting in elections would be ‘an abjectly terrible way of inspiring interest in the electoral process’ and the proposed fee of NRR$66.66 for eligible voters who fail to cast their ballots in a given election was ‘clearly ridiculous’. In his speech, the Prime Minister called on the government to ‘respect the fact that not only should voters have a choice in who they vote for when they go to the polls’ but that they should also have a choice in if they decide to vote. He further criticized the proposed law as being ‘well-intentioned, but poorly planned’.
 
He concluded his speech by stating that previous parliaments had ‘kicked the can further and further down the road to avoid taking a decision’ but that the bill must be brought to a vote. The Prime Minister then indicated that his party would vote ‘clearly and unquestionably against’ the proposed bill.
 
Before the session of parliament ended for the day, the Prime Minister answered questions posed by MPs. While most MPs questions were related to local matters or the rumors of a pre-election budget, an Opposition Slavic Unity Party (SUP) MP asked the Prime Minister to set the date for the next parliamentary elections. After reminding the SUP MP that the previously approved extension requires a new election by the end of this year, the MP persisted and insisted that the Prime Minister set a date. In response, Prime Minister Rokossovsky replied that a date would be set ‘in the fullness of time, as circumstances permit’ and that ‘once the situation is carefully weighed and re-weighed’ that the government would then announce the ‘date at which the Slavic Unity Party will once again be sent into Opposition’.[/i]-R. Porter
 

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[b][u]VNN News: Rumors swirl that PM may call election[/b][/u]
 
 
[i]“The capital is rife with rumors that Prime Minister Rokossovsky will seek the dissolution of the Parliament in preparation for a general election next month. The dissolution, according to the rumors, will be timed so that the election will take place days before the elections to the Federal Duma. Such a decision, would divert the efforts of some political parties as they would be simultaneously organizing campaigns for both the Parliament and the Federal Duma while allowing the VRV to put it’s entire campaign machinery towards the Parliamentary elections.
 
When our reporters contacted Prime Minister Rokossovsky he refused to confirm or deny the rumors and reminded us that ‘he has no intention of commenting on rumor and speculation’. Opposition leader Vladimir Boskovic of the Slavic Unity Party issued a statement saying that his party would ‘not be deterred by the Prime Minister’s attempts to use underhanded tactics’ and that if true, the rumors point to the ‘government’s desperation at it’s disappointing poll numbers’.
 
Political analyst Dr. Andrei Denisov suggested that the decision to hold the polls in such close proximity to the Duma election would only ‘marginally benefit the VRV’. He suggested that most of the opposition parties would likely perform no better or no worse than if the election were held this month. Surprisingly, Dr. Denisov suggested that the ‘quick and harsh response’ from Mr. Boskovic may suggest that there is some disarray within the Slavic Unity Party. When asked to clarify, Dr. Denisov suggested that the friction between Slavic Unity Party leader Vladimir Boskovic and his brother Federal Prime Minister Antonin Boskovic has caused some division within the party. He suggested that the party views Mr. Boskovic as being a ‘perpetually interim leader who lacks his brother’s charisma’. He also noted that a number of SUP party members blame Mr. Boskovic for the party’s electoral woes, pointing to the electoral success the party experienced under Mr. Antonin Boskovic before his entry into federal politics.
 
Our statistics team at VNN decided to conduct a series of polls to determine the potential impact of the rumored election. When asked if they believed the rumors that the Prime Minister would announce an election date within days of the Duma elections, 56% of respondents said yes, 10% said no and the remainder said that they did not know. When asked if the rumored election date would affect who they voted for 78% of respondents said no, 12% said yes and the remainder did not know. A group of likely voters were asked if they were more or less likely to vote for the VRV if the elections were held at the same time as the Duma election. Of those polled, 20.3% said that they would be more likely to vote for the VRV, 7.7% said that they would be less likely to vote for the VRV while the remainder indicated that the election date would not impact their decision to vote for the party.”[/i]-R. Porter
 

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[b][u]VNN News: Vaule National Petroleum Company announces 1.5% increase in production[/b][/u]
 
[i]“In some good news for the oil and gas sector in the SRV, the Vaule National Petroleum Company (VNPC) has announced that overall production output has increased by approximately 1.5% when compared to the same period last year. The company attributes the increased production to upgrading and expanding extraction infrastructure in the north, and the first commercial extractions of oil and natural gas from the Sakhalin field off the coast of the Sakhalin Autonomous Community. In it’s report, the company also pointed to the resolution of an outstanding wage dispute with the National Union of Oil Workers (NUOW) as helping to boost domestic production.
 
The VNPC also outlined the company’s strategic vision for the next five to six years. In the report, the VNPC acknowledged the government’s proposed energy initiatives and vowed to support the initiatives in both the short and long term. In order to do so, the VNPC is expected to construct at least four new refineries, two LNG terminals and three new pipeline projects over the next four years. The construction, according to VNPC officials, will enable increased export and domestic consumption of LNG, and will aid in the transport of crude oil to new facilities.
 
In other news, the persistent rumors of a parliamentary election appear to be increasingly true. In the last 24 hours, Prime Minister Rokossovsky has held a meeting with the MPs of his Vaule Revolutionary Vanguard (VRV) party and a meeting with His Most Orthodox Royal Highness the Imperator. After holding these two meetings, the Prime Minister’s office announced that he would hold a press conference tomorrow afternoon to discuss ‘matters of importance’ related to the incumbent Parliament. Given the situation, all political parties now believe that an election may be imminent and are entering campaign mode in an attempt to drum up support before the polls. Adding to the speculation, the Vaulian Electoral Council (VEC) is expected to make an announcement less than an hour after the Prime Minister’s scheduled press conference tomorrow. Despite persistent questioning, the VEC refused to discuss claims that it is in the process of updating and certifying the national voter registry.”[/i]-R. Porter
 

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[b][u]VNN News: Journalist charged over story about HRH Prince Pyotr[/b][/u]
 
[i]“A journalist with the privately owned National Newspaper has been charged with lese majeste after an editorial he authored which questioned the paternity of His Royal Highness Prince Pyotr Sforza and made other serious allegations against the Vaulian monarchy. The editorial was written by the journalist and was published on the 9th of May this year in the National Newspaper’s Victory Day edition.
 
In the controversial editorial, the journalist claimed that HRH Prince Pyotr Sforza ‘could not possibly be the child of the late Imperator Pyotr I’ and that he was the ‘product of an indiscretion’ on the part of HRH the Dowager Imperatrix Sofiya II. The journalist claimed, with no supporting evidence whatsoever, that HRH Prince Pyotr Sforza is the son of the Duke of Caledonia. After making that and a list of similarly scandalous allegations, the journalist further claimed that HMORH the Imperator is ‘deeply mistrustful and paranoid’ about the individuals surrounding him and claimed that he feared that the individuals had some part in the assassination of his father.
 
After receiving a written request from the Office of the Imperator to withdraw the false and scandalous accusations he made in his article, the journalist refused to do so and stood by his story. At this stage the Ministry of Justice and the Prosecutor’s office recommended that the journalist be charged with lese majeste for the story and the false allegations contained therein. If convicted, the journalist is likely to face either a fine or a one to three year jail term. In his defense, however, the journalist has argued that the Royal family ‘is not above criticism’ and that it cannot be just to ‘restrict freedom of speech’ in the name of protecting the integrity of ‘an institution with just as much dirty laundry as most’. 
 
The case will be heard in the Sygh-Varthys Regional Court next week.”[/i]-R. Porter
 

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