Saudi king arrives in Moscow on historic 1st visit to Russia
MOSCOW (AP) — Saudi King Salman arrived in Moscow Wednesday on the first ever visit by a Saudi monarch to Russia.
As part of the four-day trip, the king is due to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday for talks in the Kremlin expected to focus on the global oil market and the conflict in Syria.
Ties between the two countries were often strained in the past. During Cold War times, the Saudis helped arm Afghan rebels fighting against the Soviet invasion.
More recently, tensions were high over the war in Syria, in which Russia has staunchly backed Syrian President Bashar Assad while Saudi Arabia has supported his foes.
However, relations have begun to improve in recent years and King Salman’s heir, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has held several meetings with Putin.
Thousands of workers protest Romania’s plan to hike taxes
BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Thousands of Romanian public sector workers rallied Wednesday outside government offices in Bucharest to demand that the government scrap its plan to make workers pay more social security taxes.
Protesters blew whistles, yelled “Romania, wake up!” and called for the resignation of Prime Minister Mihai Tudose and other key ministers.
Under the new plan, social welfare taxes currently paid by the employer would be transferred to the employee. Unions say the measure would reduce employees’ net income by at least 8 percent.
Ecaterina Constantinescu, a 47-year-old nurse from the southern city of Craiova, claimed that the leftist government, which took office in January, had failed to respect electoral promises to raise living standards.
“We’ve had enough. We work and we work and it’s hard to make ends meet,” she said, adding that she needs extra shifts and overtime to get by.
Factory worker Gheorghe Constantin from eastern Romania said the proposals would reduce his salary, while gasoline, utility and food prices have gone up in recent weeks.
The premier later said the government planned to go ahead with its proposal but promised to find unspecified compensation for employees.
Police closed Bucharest’s Victory Square where the government has its main offices for the demonstration, snarling traffic in the Romanian capital.