PC Press Digest

Weekly Press Digest – October 10

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

Michal Chmela’s selection

Last week, the mass hysteria spawned several weeks ago when (on account of a series of complicated and rather uninteresting events) the price of butter shot up finally escalated into the traditional refuge of a discontented Czech: racism. A Facebook jokester wrote up a post parodying a good old hoax about the Romani not having to pay for prescription drugs (which keep popping up with an alarming regularity for the last five years) and replaced a couple of words to reflect the current crisis threatening the nation. Couple of days and three thousand Facebook shares later, the amount of Czechs convinced that the government is distributing their preciouss butter to the Romani seems to be growing. Turns out the alt-right does not have a sense of humor. Who knew?

In a similar vein, the mainstream media revealed a frankly disgusting attitude when the biggest broadsheet in the country opened with a piece about an Afghan youth formerly accused of attempting to rape a nurse being pronounced not guilty by the court. In reality and according to the court, the man was merely trying to answer the question repeated in hospitals everywhere: where does it hurt?
This did not stop MF Dnes, a -ownership and resulting political agenda aside- “respectable” journal to open with a humongous headline shouting “A Czech would not have done it, claims nurse.”
This headline boggles the mind. Putting aside the literal interpretation (i.e. a Czech would not have tried to explain himself that way – no kidding, most Czechs speak at least a bit of Czech), we are looking at obvious fearmongering: foreigners! Immigrants! Muslims! Rape! Nevermind the commonplace occurrence of rape in our society, nevermind the fact every tenth woman here has experienced attempted rape. Czechs would do it, dear nurse. Czechs do it. All the goddamn time.

And since it is two weeks before elections, the politicians are doing their best to shovel dirt and sling, uh, manure at one another. This week has been about lithium: turns out this country still possesses a resource it has not squandered completely yet. Of course, it squandered at least part of it, having sold the rights for mining a load of it to an Australian company for a price that retrospectively seems altogether too small to our elected elite. So far the blame has been going around the governmental departments not unlike a hand grenade suddenly lacking a pin. Since no one is going to start actually digging for the thing until at least 2022, said grenade might quite well turn out to be a dud – but still capable of turning quite a few undecided potential voters.

Michal Chmela is a translator and journalist.


Nino Sichinava’s selection

Ruble is no longer dependent on oil prices. What happened?
In 2014 Russia witnessed the horrific inflation caused by the drop of oil prices. The correlation between currency and the prices remained strong until this year when it decreased from 80% to 40%, therefore, ruble remained stable during the past few months. The reason is explained by the purchase of foreign currency by the Ministry of Finance and by the change in the behavior of investors who took the risks and invested in Russia.

Navalny arrested for 20 days for organizing protests
At the beginning of the week, after Alexei Navalny received 20 days of administrative arrest, his supporters announced plans to hold mass actions in Russian cities on October 7, the birthday of Russian President Vladimir Putin. While in St Petersburg the protests were marked with brutality of police, those in Moscow passed by calmly and quietly. Not a single person was arrested. BBC suspects that the reason was the birthday of President, the upcoming elections and the absence of the head of police in Moscow.

Siberia continues to produce best con artists
As if the fake English teacher who decided to immortalize a dying Mingrelian dialect of Georgia in Siberia was not enough, the parents of 6 decided to continue a fraudulent tradition of the region by pretending to be bank representatives. The couple managed to steal over 1 million rubles from 15 people since 2014. The scheme included fake sim-cards, bank accounts and “a loan on favorable terms on behalf of Sberbank”. Both parents received 5 years of probation for fraud.

High-ranking clergyman in the Georgian Orthodox Church found guilty of murder
Giorgi Mamaladze was arrested in February 2017 and found with cyanide in his suitcase. He was blamed for poisoning a secretary and advisor of the Patriarch, in a case which was dubbed the ‘Cyanide case.’ Mamaladze was found guilty in September 2017 of plotting to murder and sentenced to nine years in prison. Patriarch Ilia commented on the situation: ‘We have a lot to do in order to restore the image that the Church had, and unfortunately today we face conditions which tremor this image.’

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


Roman Broszkowski’s selection

Last week, Defense Ministers of Croatia and Poland announced that 78 Croatian troops will be stationed in Poland starting on October 17. The troops will be part of Nato’s Enhanced Forward Presence and under the command of a U.S.-led combat group. The decision comes the same day as news of Russia delivering six MiG-29 Fighter Jets to Serbia free of charge. Russia has also promised other military hardware to Serbia including tanks and armored vechicles.

On Tuesday, Polish police broke up an 11 person counterfeit smuggling ring near Warsaw. The group had managed to bring €12 million worth of fake clothes, cosmetics, shoes and accessories. The haul was enough to fill 200 buses.

Additionally, Polish newspapers announced that the Polish government had bought 11,000 tons of anthracite coal indirectly from the Luhansk People’s Republic, the pro-Russian breakaway region of Ukraine. The coal was smuggled out of Ukraine by Russian secessionists, re-labeled in Russia, and finally sold in Poland by a company called DonCoalTrade. The firm is registered in the Polish city of Katowice, but is run by a Ukrainian oligarch named Oleksandr Melnychuk. Mr. Melnychuk has long standing ties to Russian secessionist forces and is the Former Deputy Minister of Energy for the LPR.

Roman Broszkowski is an undergraduate International Politics student from New Jersey. His area of study is Eastern Europe and the Middle East.


Featured photo by centralniak via Flickr.