Tag Archives: restrict

Russia may restrict Czech imports, including BEER, amid simmering diplomatic row – media

Author: RT
This post originally appeared on RT Business News

Russia may slap economic sanctions on the Czech Republic, possibly targeting beer imports among other measures, in response to the expulsion of Russian diplomats, the daily newspaper Kommersant reported.

The sanctions would be part of Moscow’s asymmetrical response to Prague’s “unprecedentedly aggressive actions,” one of the newspaper’s sources familiar with the matter said. He was referring to the the recent decision to bar 18 Russian officials from the Czech Republic and threats to expel even more diplomatic staff. 

Also on rt.com Czech Republic set to order all but 5 of Russia’s diplomats out of country in escalating tit-for-tat over spying & sabotage claims

While the restrictions may target any area, the report says that imports of Czech beer may be banned. According to Kommersant, Russia imported $ 38 million-worth of Czech beer in 2020 – 10% more than it did in the previous year. 

Some ten brands that sell their product to Russia may suffer from the possible sanctions, the report indicated. However, such a move is more symbolic than economically harmful, as Russia buys abroad a tiny fraction of its overall beer and drinks turnover. According to Vadim Drobiz, the head of the Center for Research on Federal and Regional Alcohol Markets, the share of the Czech beer in total imports of the beverage is about 10% in physical terms, or 40 million liters per year. That’s 0.5% of the annual turnover of eight billion liters. 

Also on rt.com Russia’s Rosatom likely to get barred from $ 7-bn Dukovany nuclear plant tender, Czech minister says, amid ammo depot blast scandal

Trade turnover between Russia and the Czech Republic fell over 40% to $ 5.2 billion as a result of the pandemic last year, according to customs data cited in the report. As of 2018, Russia was the 13th biggest importer from the republic and its seventh largest exporter.  

Tensions between the two countries escalated last week when Prague claimed that Russian intelligence officers were involved in a local munitions depot blast in 2014 and ordered 18 Russian diplomats out of the country. Russia denied the allegations, with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs accusing Prague of following Washington’s bidding. In response, Moscow decided to expel 20 staff members of the Czech embassy in Moscow. Now the Czech authorities even want to send home staff working at the Russian embassy in Prague.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

Corporate giants come out against Republicans’ efforts to restrict voting in Texas

Multiple major corporations based in Texas spoke out Thursday in opposition to Republicans’ legislative proposals to further restrict voting in Texas.

Corporate giants American Airlines, based in Fort Worth, and Dell Technologies, headquartered in Round Rock, were among the first to take a position. American Airlines took specific aim at Senate Bill 7, which would impose sweeping restrictions that take particular aim at local efforts meant to make it easier to vote — like extended early voting hours. Senate Republicans advanced that measure in a 2 a.m. vote[1] Thursday.

“Earlier this morning, the Texas State Senate passed legislation with provisions that limit voting access. To make American’s stance clear: We are strongly opposed to this bill and others like it,” the company said in a statement[2].

Dell Technologies CEO Michael Dell declared his company’s opposition to House Bill 6, another voting proposal, in a Twitter post.[3] That legislation would prohibit local election officials from proactively sending out applications for mail-in ballots and impose new rules for people assisting voters to fill out their ballots.

The House Elections Committee on Thursday was hearing public testimony on the proposal that was expected to continue into the night.

“Free, fair, equitable access to voting is the foundation of American democracy. Those rights — especially for women, communities of color — have been hard-earned,” Dell said. “Governments should ensure citizens have their voices heard. HB6 does the opposite, and we are opposed to it.”

Both measures are legislative priorities for Texas Republicans, who this year are mounting a broad campaign[4] to scale up the state’s already restrictive voting rules and pull back on local voting initiatives championed in diverse urban centers, namely in Harris County, during a high-turnout election in which Democrats continued to drive up their margins. That push echoes national legislative efforts by Republicans to change voting rules after voters of color helped flip key states to Democratic control.

Also on Thursday, AT&T and Southwest Airlines, both based in Dallas, issued statements that didn’t mention any specific legislation, but expressed broad support for voting rights.

“The right to vote is foundational to our democracy and a right coveted by all. We believe every voter should have a fair opportunity to let their voice be heard,” the statement from Southwest Airlines said.

AT&T’s statement said it would be working with the Business Roundtable “to support efforts to enhance every person’s ability to vote.”

““We understand that election laws are complicated, not our company’s expertise and ultimately the responsibility of elected officials,” the statement said. “But, as a company, we have a responsibility to engage.”

The statements come just a day after Black business leaders called on corporations[5] to publicly oppose Republican-proposed restrictions across the country — a response to new restrictions in Georgia that were recently passed into law with little opposition from major companies.

SB 7 is one of the broadest proposals under consideration during the 2021 Texas legislative session. Beyond prohibiting extended or overnight voting hours meant to accommodate shift workers, it would outlaw drive-thru voting, make it illegal for local election officials to proactively send applications to vote by mail to voters, allow partisan poll watchers to video record some voters who receive assistance to fill out their ballots and set specific rules for the distribution of polling places in the state’s largest counties — most of which are either under Democratic control or favored Democrats in recent national and statewide elections.

The legislation has been offered under the banner of “election integrity,” with state Sen. Bryan Hughes[6], R-Mineola, defending it as a measure that “standardizes and clarifies” voting rules so that “every Texan has a fair and equal opportunity to vote, regardless of where they live in the state.”

“Overall, this bill is designed to address areas throughout the process where bad actors can take advantage, so Texans can feel confident that their elections are fair, honest and open,” Hughes said at the start of the Senate debate on the bill.

In response to American Airlines’ opposition, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick[7] — who deemed SB 7 a legislative priority — released a statement in which he argued[8] the legislation included “comprehensive reforms that will ensure voting in Texas is consistent statewide and secure.”

“Texans are fed up with corporations that don’t share our values trying to dictate public policy,” Patrick said.

But the legislation has been met by fierce opposition from Democrats and a collection of civil rights organizations that have warned its restrictions — and its focus on local initiatives pushed in Harris County — could lead to intimidation and disenfranchisement of voters of color and voters with disabilities. That coalition now includes representatives of corporate America.

“Any legislation dealing with how elections are conducted must ensure ballot integrity and security while making it easier to vote, not harder,” the American Airlines statement read.

As the House Elections Committee’s heard public testimony on the bill late Thursday, Microsoft also raised concerns with HB 6’s prohibition on sending vote-by-mail applications to voters who haven’t requested — an initiative taken up by several Texas counties as voters sought to avoid the dangers of in-person voting during a pandemic.

Some counties sent applications to voters 65 and older, who automatically qualify to vote by mail in Texas, while Harris County’s attempted to send applications to all 2.4 million registered voters in the county with specific instructions on how to determine if they were eligible. That effort was ultimately blocked by the state courts, teeing up Republican’s legislative proposals to prevent a repeated attempt through both HB 6 and SB 7.

“Microsoft is headquartered near Seattle in a county and state where our elections are conducted entirely by mail, and where our first-hand experience leads us to believe that voting-by-mail can make voting more convenient and more secure,” the tech giant’s statement read. “For that reason, we would encourage you to explore ways to make the secure use of absentee ballots more accessible for all Texas voters.”

It remains to be seen if the corporate opposition to Republicans’ proposals will match the barrage of outcry during the Texas Legislature’s 2017 debate over a so-called “bathroom bill” to restrict transgender Texans’ access to public facilities.

That year, transgender women, men and children from across Texas descended on the Capitol to testify about how the proposal could endanger their lives. They were joined by a broad faction of businesses — from local enterprises to top corporate executives, including the heads of dozens of Fortune 500 companies — in rallying opposition to the legislation, which failed to pass.

“Major Texas employers are stepping up and speaking out against voter suppression, and for good reason. Texas should not go down the same path as Georgia,” said[9] former House Speaker Joe Straus, the San Antonio Republican who helped bottle up the bathroom bill in the House. “It’s bad for business and, more importantly, it’s bad for our citizens.”

Texas voting rights groups, including Texas Organizing Project, MOVE Texas and theTexas Civil Rights Project, have joined with Black Voters Matter to demand similar stands by corporations against Republicans’ bills, including SB 7, starting with full-page ads in the local newspapers in recent days.

“We are calling for the business community to take a strong stand against current attempts to pass voter suppression legislation that amounts to Jim Crow 2.0,” the groups said in the ads. “It must not be business as usual.”

Disclosure: AT&T, Southwest Airlines Dell and MOVE Texas have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here[10].


  1. ^ advanced that measure in a 2 a.m. vote (www.texastribune.org)
  2. ^ said in a statement (news.aa.com)
  3. ^ a Twitter post. (twitter.com)
  4. ^ Texas Republicans, who this year are mounting a broad campaign (www.texastribune.org)
  5. ^ Black business leaders called on corporations (www.nytimes.com)
  6. ^ Bryan Hughes (www.texastribune.org)
  7. ^ Dan Patrick (www.texastribune.org)
  8. ^ released a statement in which he argued (twitter.com)
  9. ^ said (twitter.com)
  10. ^ list of them here (www.texastribune.org)

Alexa Ura