PC Press Digest

Weekly Press Digest – August 14

Political Critique's weekly selection from the Eastern European press.

Michal Chmela’s selection

Probably the biggest story of this week is the Czech police finally getting off its lazy rear end and asking for the prosecution of oligarch, ex-finance minister, most likely the next PM and easily the most popular immigrant in the country Andrej Babiš. The accusation of the second richest man in the country unlawfully diverting fifty million out of an EU fund intended for small businesses into a luxury zoo/conference center (less weird than it sounds) by briefly handing over the ownership to his children has been floating around since 2015; however, as even the media across the pond note, it is just the tip of a positively humongous iceberg of Babiš having used his position as Minister of Finance to funnel EU subsidies into his own businesses.

Even should the prosecution occur, there are less than three months remaining before general elections – elections that Babiš is expected to win by a landslide. And for some unfathomable reason, I have this sneaking suspicion that the new government will not be quite as sympathetic to the police’s request as this one…

Prague Pride is taking place this week and it’s been raising quite the manure hurricane in media, being called pointless and generally unsavory: those people should really keep their deviancy in private, they’re only hurting themselves by turning it into a topic of public discussion and so on. A2larm dissects this attitude to reveal just how much intolerance hides behind the patronizing attitude of “but being LGBT+ is allowed, so what is the deal?” – and by doing so proves the importance of Pride marches even in the relatively-tolerant-but-growing-less-so-by-the-moment Europe.

Michal Chmela is a translator and journalist.


Nino Sichinava’s selection

President Putin visits occupied Abkhazia

On 8th of August in honor of 2008 Russian-Georgian war President Vladimir Putin visited occupied region, Abkhazia, and met its de facto President Raul Khajimba, assuring Russia’s full support of Abkhazia’s development in international scene. Future social and economic steps were the main topics of discussion of the meeting.

Russia’s unexpected GDP growth – the end of the crisis?

According to BBC Russian Service, the higher prices on oil and terrible weathers contributed to the boost of GDP in Russia. However, it is too early to talk about the end of the crisis. Furthermore, the US sanctions against Russia are getting harsher and might lead to the mirrored actions from Moscow.

Georgia bans selling junk food at schools
From September 2017 unhealthy food in school buffets will be prohibited. To perfect nutrition in the schools Georgian Ministry of Education and Science launched the trainings for school buffet staff expecting modified menu as the school season starts.

Georgian director’s film claims First Feature Award at Locarno Festival

Ana Urushadze’s debut film ‘Scary Mother’ was awarded the First Feature Award at Locarno Film Festival. The movie focuses on the role of the woman in modern Georgian society. Overall, ‘Scary Mother’ received positive reviews from film-critics.

Nino Sichinava is an International Relations student at Lazarski University (Poland) and Coventry University (UK). A contributor for Political Critique and European Alternatives.


Anna Azarova’s selection

The Hungarian government, along with other V4 states, has been hot and bothered for months about the allegedly lower quality of various food products of foreign brands imported to Hungary, and expressed its discontent in the usual terms of double standards, imperialism, defending the interests of ordinary Hungarians against the big companies. According to a recent study, however, the difference between foreign and local products is negligible both in terms of ingredients and customer experience – and even in those cases where there was a difference, it wasn’t always clear which product is actually “better.” On another front in the national anti-multinational wars, it turned out that despite the hostile rhetoric, the government gave immense tax benefits as well as investment aid to companies in the past years.

The pro-government propaganda paper reports that the Hungarian Immigration and Asylum Office fired ten interpreters because they were suspected of “abuse of power” – not maintaining “professional neutrality” and helping refugees during the asylum process. Apparently, appalling conditions and violent racism are not enough of a deterrent from coming to Hungary, and the Asylum Office needs to come up with new ones.

Anna Azarova is a graduate student in Budapest and a freelance translator.


Featured photo by Marco Fieber.