PC Press Digest

Weekly Press Digest – October 2

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

Michal Chmela’s selection

Last Thursday was a newfangled state holiday and remembering the tenth-century martyr Saint Wenceslas has provided a welcome opportunity for the Czech public face of the Catholic Church to make an ass of himself again. Cardinal Duka’s rather peculiar interpretation of his faith led him towards asking God to “let the refugees find the courage to return the lands of their fathers” – never mind the trifling matter of war – for strength for facing the  “lethal gender theories” and naturally for “European nations to return to their Christian roots and keep the Old Continent for the next generations” because Christianity is, after all, all about tribal exclusivism. The cardinal even managed to sneak in a populistic note with his touchingly expressed hope for the upcoming elections to “express the will of the majority that is being kept silent, manipulated and controlled by whims of certain elites”. One has to wonder just what majority is the good Father referring to – and dread the answer. All in all, it was a very nice nationalist gathering and another step in Duka’s attempts to make the Church more involved in the politics of this country. God help us all.

Shocking as it seems, Church-flavored stupidity was not the most absurd thing heard in Czech media this week. The latest outburst of President Zeman’s professional idiot Ovčáček managed to grab the attention of media abroad as well: in a fit of righteous rage about the EU leaning on our country to stop calling local potato-based rotgut “rum” (on account of it having nothing to do with actual rum apart from the sailboat on the label), the smokescreen-slinging secretary compared the EU to Hitler’s Third Reich. The Nazis were all about proper labels on booze, you see.

And in much happier news, the cycle of reports on lowest-paying jobs by Saša Uhlová (which is being published right here as well) managed to gain some proper attention: an article by her about the shocking workplace conditions in a chicken processing plant owned by the rising star of business, politics, and hopefully prison Andrej Babiš got acknowledged by the man himself. “She lied,” he put it with his trademark eloquence, ignoring the photographic evidence. Coming from him, that is high praise indeed.

Michal Chmela is a translator and journalist.


Nino Sichinava’s selection

Catholicos-Patriarch of Georgia, Ilia II, gave an inspiring speech to unite Georgian people

Known for his idealistic fight against political and social turbulences in the country, Iliya II, gave a speech in a Sameba chuch, proclaiming Saturday to be the day of unity and support between people. ‘We should not act in a way that starts a conflict between people. There must be peace among humans’. He also referred to the recent case involving foreigners by stating that ‘the guest should know his place, and the host should know his.’

Saakashvili continues his non-stopping battle-show in Ukraine

After crossing the border, the former President openly proclaimed his goal to overthrow the current Ukrainian government at the Protest in Odessa, calling people to attend a protest in Kiev on October 17 and start the process. According to political scientist, Rostislav Ishchenko, October 17 could be the beginning of a “creeping coup” against Poroshenko. He added that Saakashvili does not have a political future and is only used as a puppet that will take a blow at himself.

It’s been two years since Russia entered the war in Syria

Russian economy continues to suffer as government spends millions of dollars on the Syria campaign. Experts believe that the amounts spend on warfare pinches educational, healthcare and scientific funds. So, the question is why interfere in the war that destroys your economy? Apparently, Russian armament gained a lot of attention since the war started, leading to a higher demand of it. The same source also discusses the fact that many businessman close to Kremlin largely increased their profits because of the war.

Meanwhile, Krasnodar Krai witnessed the most horrific live recreation of ‘Only Lovers Left Alive’

Last week was full of surprises for the Kuban police, who accidentally solved the 18-year-old case of missing people in the region. The workers who did repairs on Repin Street found a cell-phone with numerous images of middle-aged man posing with the dismembered pieces of human flesh. They immediately handed the phone to the police that found its owner and his wife in their apartment together with bowls and canned cans of human leftovers. Police suspects the victim to be a young woman that disappeared without a trace early in September this year. The earliest image of couple’s cannibalism depiction goes back to 1999, which means they have been murdering people for quite a while. As a cook herself, the wife kept her own video tutorials and recipes on how to cook human dishes. As for now only 1 murder has enough evidence to blame the ‘cannibalistic’ couple for, while 30 others remain in question.

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

Orbán’s announcement that the government will build an oncological hospital in Vietnam has made the rounds even in English-language media, and the severe underfundedness of Hungarian healthcare is widely known, too. Last month, for example, a major Budapest hospital’s heating broke and remained broken for a while despite previous knowledge of boiler dysfunctions. According to a couple of recent studies, healthcare is the issue most Hungarians feel to be the most pressing – so why doesn’t it help unite the opposition, the way immigration helps the government? Liberal think-tank Republikon lists a few reasons: the divided opposition; the overwhelming jargon of the already narrow healthcare discourse; but also the movement’s (wait, what movement?) total avoidance of “politics,” and the hierarchy within healthcare: reforms targeting patient interests might provoke strong institutional resistance – as opposed to the educational reform movement, which managed to unite students, parents, and teachers alike.

If you’re a member of the middle class but want the Orbán government to end, are you in a dilemma? Do you have to choose between a progressive government and keeping the 15% flat income tax? Nope. As a well-earning citizen, a lot of your income probably goes to private healthcare, or private tutoring for your kid, or private carers for your elderly parents – services which would not be necessary if we spent that money on taxes in a less corrupt state. And this, apparently, would be good for those in control of the means of production, too, in the forms of a functional, mentally and physically healthy worker. So now comes the hard part: how can a new political elite build enough trust to convince us that, this time, the taxes will be spent well?

And even if we do get a new government this coming spring, we will most likely be paying after them for a long time, as the case of this summer’s Budapest Aquatics World Championship illustrates: in August, a month after it ended, the costs suddenly rose by 400 million HUF (€1,28 million), and last week, by another 83 million (€266K).

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


Featured photo by Maria Savenko via Flickr.