PC Press Digest

Weekly Press Digest – August 7

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

Michal Chmela’s selection

August 2nd was the Roma Genocide Remembrance Day and Czech media saw fit to reflect that in various ways over the course of the week. A2larm published a piece about a French documentary that compared the situation of the Romani in Spain, Germany and France to that of Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania and the comparison is frankly terrifying: according to the film, the Romani in post-communist countries are worse off than they were back when those were actually communist countries. With social exclusion rising in spite of European money provided for the exact opposite and the social housing bill having been effectively torpedoed by the Czech Parliament, we appear to be at a crossroads: should the currently fashionable trend of politics scoring points by inciting hatred against minorities continue, we’ll end up following the path towards a nationalistic, non-liberal state in the vein of Hungary. But the question seems to be not whether we can turn this around – but if we want to.

And whether we really want people like the father instructing his daughter to pound the pillow as if it was a gypsy or a Muslim to decide for us. Turns out it might even be a crime. Who knew? And more importantly, who is going to care?

In slightly more cheerful news, EU Observer posted a rather fascinating probe into what it calls the fake news industry in the Czech Republic. It turns out that this country is not only an eager recipient of fake news and hoaxes but it also serves as a starting point for many successful lies that end up having a star career abroad. The Czech Republic has finally found an export commodity, hooray.

Michal Chmela is a translator and journalist.


Nino Sichinava’s selection

Mikheil Saakashvili in Poland

Former President of Georgia and ex-governor of Ukraine, Mikheil Saakashvili arrived in Warsaw from the United States for what was his first international trip since Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko stripped him of his Ukrainian citizenship on July 26. He has taken part in Poland’s commemorations marking the anniversary of the 1944 Warsaw Uprising against Nazi occupation. During his speech on August 4th he thanked Poland for the support and contribution to both Georgia and Ukraine.

HBO buys ‘Hostages’

New Georgian movie directed by Rezo Gigineishvili, a joint Georgian-Polish-Russian production, has been bought by HBO Europe. According to Georgian Journal, ‘Hostages’, the film about the real story that occurred in Soviet Georgia, will be premiered on TV along with other films by HBO.

Mike Pence visits Georgia

Since Georgian issue was taken off of the agenda during the first meeting of Putin and Trump, the country feared the loss of support from US. However, the visit of Mike Pence, Vice President of USA, has reassured the public that Georgia’s security and freedom is still on the list of important issues. Imedi News published the series of tweets from Pence account where he shares his full support to Georgia and its people.

Members of Pussy Riot got arrested after the protest in Yakutsk

Following the protest against the conviction of the Ukrainian film-director, Oleg Sentsov, two members of the protest group Pussy Riot, Maria Alekhina and Olga Borisovna were detained by the police for carrying out an unauthorized event. BBC reminds the readers that Oled Sentsov was sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment in 2015 for creating and running terroristic organizations that were in charge of two attacks in Crimea.

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

Abcug.hu reports on a recent study on “the workers’ elite” in western Hungary, the factory workers who benefited from the fall of communism, work for big multinationals, and live comfortably — yet are xenophobic, anti-West, and support the far-right Jobbik party. The researchers claim that the results are difficult to compare across the country, as researching workers is rather unpopular due to the “communist” associations the topic evokes, but they are noteworthy nonetheless. According to the study, among the reasons for the strong popularity of Jobbik are the absence of a “genuine” left-wing party, antiziganism, authoritarian and macho culture, and family remembrance of agrarian repression during communism.

The Hungarian Üvegplafon (Glass Ceiling) blog drew attention to the still prevailing tendency that the extra labour necessary for living a more ecologically conscious lifestyle often falls to wives and mothers. Therefore, the added efforts of a sustainable household should be considered as part of the disproportional reproductive and emotional labour women are expected to perform for their families.

A collection of some basic facts on the death penalty in Belarus: did you know that only men can get executed, but not women? That in a 1996 referendum 80% of the population voted to keep the death penalty? Or that the last sentence to capital punishment was … wait for it … two weeks ago? Available in Belarusian and Russian.

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


Featured photo By Jakub Szafrański.