December 3, 2022

Latvia probes into exiled Russian TV over help to Moscow troops

A Dozhd news anchor stated on Thursday that the station had already helped provide many Russian soldiers with basic equipment and amenities.
November 17, 2022

The Guardian view on a demographic paradox: the rebirth of pronatalism | Editorial

The global population reached 8 billion this week – but authoritarian governments are rolling back rights as they try to boost their populationsAs the world marks the birth of its eight billionth inhabitant this week – three times the total in 1950 – the paradox is that many governments are worrying about too few citizens, not too many. About 60% of the global population live in places where fertility rates have dropped below the replacement level of 2.1 births per woman, the point at which a country’s population would remain stable. In South Korea, which already had the world’s lowest rate, it fell to just 0.81 this year.By 2050, populations will be declining in more than half of European countries; in five – Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Serbia and Ukraine – they are projected to drop by more than 20%. China – soon to be overtaken by India as the most populous nation – saw a fifth consecutive fall last year to a new record low, with just 10.62 million births despite a population of 1.4 billion and a sustained push to persuade people to have more children. As experts warned when the party maintained its “one child” policy for more than three decades, it is easier to reduce births than increase them. Continue reading...
November 16, 2022

‘Without enough Latvians, we won’t be Latvia’: eastern Europe’s shrinking population

Latvia’s population is 30% smaller than it was in 1990 and by 2050 numbers will be in decline in over half of Europe’s 52 countriesWhen Margarita Skangale was a teenager in the late 1970s, there were 1,200 pupils in Viļāni high school. When her son was young, the queue outside the children’s clothes shop – assuming, this being the Soviet era, it had any stock – stretched down the street.Today, there are 400 pupils in the school and of her now 35-year-old son’s class of 26, just four still live in this small town in Latvia’s eastern Latgale region, three hours’ drive from the capital, Riga, and a little over an hour from the Russian border. Continue reading...
November 7, 2022

Mikhail Baryshnikov: ‘The thought of going back to that Brezhnev swamp was impossible’

The illustrious ballet dancer on natural insecurity, his defection from the USSR to Canada – and how his body feels these daysMikhail Baryshnikov, 74, is the finest ballet dancer of his generation. Born in Riga, Latvia, to Russian parents, he danced with the Kirov Ballet before defecting to Canada in 1974. A dancer of short stature but huge hunger, versatility, technical mastery and personality, Baryshnikov made his career in the US, performing with New York City Ballet and American Ballet Theatre, where he later became artistic director. He moved into contemporary dance, founding the White Oak Dance Project with Mark Morris, and now runs the Baryshnikov Arts Center in New York. He still performs in experimental theatre, most recently a version of Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard by Ukrainian director Igor Golyak, where he shared the stage with a giant robotic arm. On screen, he has appeared in films The Turning Point and White Nights, and in Sex and the City. On 16 November, Baryshnikov will be awarded the Royal Academy of Dance’s Queen Elizabeth II Coronation award at Buckingham Palace. Congratulations on receiving the RAD’s QEII award, presented for ‘outstanding services to the art of dance and ballet’. What has ballet given you, and what do you think you have been able to give ballet?Ballet gave me my life. From the age of eight or nine, my first experiences in ballet gave me the confidence to believe I could be a part of the mysterious world of the theatre. And I mean everyone from the performers to the electricians to the cleaners that come in after a show. I’ve had a love affair with it all and still do. As for what I’ve given to ballet, I gave my excitement, I think. And gratitude for the opportunity to live and work in a unique and sometimes strange world.How often do you dance now? I saw a video of you busting out some moves at a Vogue parade recently – you’ve still got it!You’re very kind, thank you. I don’t dance much now, and was flattered when Anna Wintour asked me to be a part of the Vogue event. It was a kiss to New York and its crazy resilience.How is your body feeling these days?Every day is a new encounter, and they are not always pleasant.You’ve danced so many different choreographers and styles across classical and contemporary, and you’re still performing in theatre now. What drives that hunger?I like to put myself in vulnerable positions artistically. It’s exhilarating to try and overcome the natural insecurity and fear that comes with each new project. Chasing that unknown and finding a way to make it work keeps me focused. And happy, actually. Continue reading...
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