Thursday. 6/10/2022

The Monocle Minute

Image: Reuters

Opinion / Konstantin Andzhanovskii

Rank and exile

On 27 September, six days after Russia began “partial mobilisation”, I received a message from my father in St Petersburg: “Putin’s parasites remembered you”. With the message was a photo of draft papers from an enlistment office signed by a military commissar. The papers ordered me to appear at the office within two hours. It was a surprise. It had not crossed my mind that I might be asked to risk my life in this pointless and shameful war. I have never served in the army – clearly there’s nothing “partial” about the mobilisation – and, having moved to the UK several years ago, have grown accustomed to my role as a faraway observer of events in Russia.

The first talk of mobilisation started soon after the war began, with the topic resurfacing every time Russia suffered military setbacks. I was confident that if compulsory conscription was introduced, the Putin regime would cross its Rubicon by violating the despot’s social contract: “If you are not interested in politics, we are not interested in you.” This, I thought, could finally turn the general public against the regime. The mobilisation has brought panic and fear, as many are being dragged into a war that they could previously ignore. Only time will tell whether this gives rise to a popular revolt; so far there are very few signs of that happening.

Thankfully, my father is too old to be conscripted. Most of my friends left Russia in March and have not returned, though I’m not aware of anyone else in my circle receiving a call-up. Technically speaking, my summons is not legally binding as it has to be handed over in person and signed by me. However, if I were to enter Russia, I have no doubt that I would be forcibly conscripted. Right now, the prospect of seeing my homeland again soon looks very slim.

Konstantin Andzhanovskii is a UK-based sound engineer and computer-science student.

Image: Reuters

Politics / Iran

Fuel to the fire

Iran’s security forces are continuing to crackdown on a wave of protests sparked by the death of a 22-year-old woman in police custody. Thousands of Iranians have expressed their outrage at the treatment of Mahsa Amini, who was arrested under “morality laws” in September, by discarding their headscarves and taunting the country’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The 83-year-old, for his part, has laid blame at the door of the US and Israel, which have long been convenient bogeymen for Tehran’s ruling elite. “Iran’s leadership won’t see this in revolutionary terms but we are starting to see younger and younger people join the protests,” Sanam Vakil, deputy head of Chatham House’s Middle East and North Africa programme tells The Monocle Minute. “It’s significant because the security apparatus won’t start detaining schoolgirls. This is without doubt the biggest moment for Iran since the Green Movement protests in 2009. The world is watching.”

Image: Alamy

Geopolitics / South Pacific

Good neighbours?

The Solomon Islands’ prime minister, Manasseh Sogavare, visits Canberra today for his first meeting with Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese (pictured, left, with Sogavare). The visit comes just six months after the Pacific island nation signed a security pact with China that, alongside its withdrawal of diplomatic recognition for Taiwan, has strained relations with its regional neighbours. But the islands’ turn to Beijing is not inevitable: last week, Sogavare was among Pacific leaders at a summit in Washington that resulted in a pledge of $810m (€816m) in financial support and a joint declaration addressing regional security.

In a statement yesterday, Albanese described a “Pacific family” committed to addressing regional issues, including climate change – a particularly pressing threat for remote archipelagos. Economic and infrastructure development are also top priorities for the Solomon Islands and their Pacific neighbours. Assuaging these concerns and keeping diplomatic channels open are key to effectively countering the lure of China.

Image: Pierre Mangez / Candela

Transport / USA

All hands on deck

More than 260 companies and ferry operators from 40 countries attended the latest Interferry Conference in Seattle yesterday. Delegates debated the merits of hydrogen power and electric batteries, while all agreeing that diesel is on the way out. “There will be massive change in our industry over the next 10 years,” said Robert Clifford, founder of Tasmanian shipbuilder Incat. “Zero emissions is not only possible but practical.”

Swedish boat-maker Candela gave tours on its zippy C-7 (pictured) all-electric speedboat. The quiet, no-wake hydrofoil propulsion is the basis for the P-12, a 30-passenger shuttle that will begin serving the Ekerö-Stockholm route in January. Nordic firms, from Norwegian ferry operator Norled to Finnish maritime software firm Carus, are setting the bar for innovation. The Philippines and Thailand are also building newer boats and adding routes. “We did yeoman’s service during the pandemic – sailing empty with lower holds full of cargo,” said Interferry CEO Mike Corrigan. “Now we’re recovering and pumped about the future.”

Image: Felix Brüggemann

Business / Global

Firms with benefits

In the current recruitment environment, workers are placing a high premium on pastoral care. One way for employers to attract and hang on to good staff is by offering perks. A landscape-design studio in the UK has a vegetable garden used by employees to augment their lunches. Meanwhile, in Mexico City, a PR firm employs an astrologer who divines its workers’ futures free of charge. In Berlin, David Chipperfield Architects built a staff canteen (pictured) that has become a destination for discerning diners who don’t work for the business.

“If you search for our company online, the first thing that pops up is Chipperfield Kantine,” says managing partner Eva Schad. The canteen (where staff pay half price) came to be 10 years ago, when an architect’s friend was loaned an outbuilding in exchange for cooking a midday meal. “It has a catalyst function regarding new relationships, knowledge and ideas,” says Schad. “We spend most of our daytime here in the office but if you’re in the Kantine it feels like life, not work.”

Read about more unique staff perks at companies from Helsinki to Hong Kong in the latest issue of ‘The Entrepreneurs’, which is out now.

Image: Stine Goya

Monocle 24 / Monocle On Design

Stine Goya and Hvidt & Mølgaard

In a Denmark special, fashion designer Stine Goya discusses her namesake brand, we visit a folly that appears to be made from paper in Ebeltoft and the revival of Hvidt & Mølgaard with &Tradition.

Monocle Films / Global

Monocle preview: October issue, 2022

Monocle’s October issue is all about making an effort, whether that’s designing a distinctive uniform for your business, decking out your apartment so that hosting is easy or sharpening up your autumn style. We cover it all. Plus: will Brazil stick or twist as election day nears?

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