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Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Wednesday

The Local Austria
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Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Wednesday
In this pool photograph distributed by the Russian state agency Sputnik, Russia's President Vladimir Putin sees Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi off following their talks at the Kremlin in Moscow on July 9, 2024. Modi left Moscow for Vienna on Tuesday.(Photo by Gavriil GRIGOROV / POOL / AFP)

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Vienna, sports betting addiction rising in Austria, and more news from Austria on Wednesday.

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Vienna to strengthen ties

Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Vienna from Moscow, kicking off his visit with a vegan dinner hosted by Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer on Tuesday evening. The visit, marking 75 years of diplomatic relations between India and Austria, includes talks on bilateral relations and the Ukraine conflict.

Modi's packed agenda features a business forum at the Hofburg, attended by over 40 companies. With its booming economy, India is a crucial trading partner for Austria, with trade between the two nations reaching €2.7 billion.

Modi and Nehammer will deliver remarks at the forum, which will be followed by a luncheon with business, cultural, and political leaders. 

Modi will also meet with Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen and address the Indian community in Vienna before departing for New Delhi.

Elternteilzeit: How parents in Austria can change or cut their working hours

Parents in Austria have generous parental leave they can take, but many people don't know they are also entitled to change their work hours after having a baby.

Russian Katyusha rocket discovered in Vienna-Simmering

A Russian Katyusha rocket was unearthed at a construction site in Vienna-Simmering on Monday. The discovery was made during excavation work for a well on Haindlgasse. An explosives expert confirmed the object's identity, and the Ministry of Defence's demining service safely removed and transported the rocket for controlled detonation at a secure location.

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Sports betting addiction on the rise in Austria 

As the European Championship reaches its climax, sports betting providers in Austria are reaping the benefits of a legal framework that classifies sports betting as a "game of skill" rather than gambling. This unique classification has led to unchecked advertising and easy access for young adults, contributing to a surge in sports betting addiction.

The addiction counselling service in Wels, Upper Austria, reported an increasing number of men as young as 22 seeking help for sports betting addiction. Psychologist Eliane Eder-Manser warned that the illusion of control and competence associated with sports betting could quickly lead to increased stakes and financial losses.

Experts are calling on politicians to recognise sports betting as gambling, allowing for stricter regulations and responsible advertising. 

They argue that the current situation normalises and trivialises a potentially harmful activity, exposing even children to its influence through stadium advertising.

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Austrian government launches commission to review OMV's gas contract with Gazprom

Energy Minister Leonore Gewessler announced the formation of a special commission to review the previously confidential gas supply contract between Russia's Gazprom and Austria's OMV. 

The move aims to explore potential withdrawal options and prevent future "political mistakes" like the contract's extension in 2018.

Gewessler criticised the extension in the presence of then-Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and President Putin as a "mistake" that cemented Austria's dependence on Russian gas. The commission, led by former Supreme Court President Irmgard Griss and university professor Andreas Kletecka, will analyse the political circumstances surrounding the extension and examine the potential legal and economic implications of withdrawing from the contract.

While the commission's work is expected to conclude by the end of the year, the announcement has already sparked political debate. The ÖVP criticised the timing, suggesting it was an election campaign stunt, while Gewessler defended the commission's independence and stressed the importance of its findings for future energy policy decisions.

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Body of missing swimmer recovered from Vienna's Kaiserwasser

The body of a 29-year-old man who went missing while swimming in Vienna's Kaiserwasser during the night has been recovered. 

Limited visibility initially hampered the extensive search operation, which involved water police, the Vienna Fire Brigade, divers, a helicopter, and a drone.

The police do not suspect foul play and believe the incident was an accident. An autopsy has been requested to determine the exact cause of death. According to the man's companion, who reported him missing, the pair had consumed alcohol and drugs before the 29-year-old went for a swim.

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