Iceland & Ukraine: Iceland On Russia's 'Unfriendly Countries' List; Refugees Guest At Justice Minister's Home; Sanctions Hurting Russians

Iceland & Ukraine: Iceland On Russia’s ‘Unfriendly Countries’ List; Refugees Guest At Justice Minister’s Home; Sanctions Hurting Russians

Published March 8, 2022

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The Russian government issued a list of countries considered unfriendly by the federation yesterday, TASS reports, and Iceland is on it. Sanctions imposed on Russia are hitting its citizens hard, Iceland’s ambassador says. Meanwhile, Vísir reports Minister of Justice Jón Gunnarsson is providing temporary housing to a young Ukrainian woman and her son.

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The unfriendly countries list includes all countries that have imposed some kind of economic punitive measures against Russia, and includes Iceland on that list.

“Russian citizens and companies, the state itself, its regions and municipalities that have foreign exchange obligations to foreign creditors from the list of unfriendly countries will be able to pay them in rubles,” TASS states. “The new temporary procedure applies to payments exceeding 10 mln rubles per month (or a similar amount in foreign currency).”

The effects of the sanctions, as well as that of protests being held by Russians against the war, have had a marked effect on Russian society.

“There are police and even soldiers out on the streets, and of course in areas where there are protests,” Iceland’s ambassador to Russia, Árni Þór Sigurðsson, told RÚV’s news analysis show Kastljós. “There seems to be more surveillance. People are asked for their IDs and even to show their phones.”

Further, the economic sanctions imposed on Russians are also hitting Russian citizens hard.

“Not least of all in daily shopping,” Árni said. “The ruble has crashed. Stocks have plummeted, and markets have closed. Inflation has risen significantly. There is less variety of products and it takes longer to get supplies into shops, due to limits on imports. People are feeling the rise in prices and that there are more empty shelves.”

Meanwhile, the closed-knit nature of Icelandic society has also paid off when it comes to housing at least two Ukrainian refugees. Atli Sigurðarson, a resident of Kópavogur, had been looking for housing for his friend, a Ukrainian woman, and her son. The search had been hard going, and so he contacted an old friend–who also happens to be the Minister of Justice, Jón Gunnarsson.

Jón has reportedly happy to take in the couple, and while the Minister himself was unavailable for comment, Atli pointed out that Jón did used to be a member of the rescue squad.

“It’s forgotten sometimes that Jón is a rescuer,” Atli said. “That’s just how he is; it’s an element to him.”

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