PC Press Digest

Weekly Press Digest – September 18

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

Michal Chmela’s selection

Last week has seen the introduction of probably the weirdest addition to the upcoming battle for votes: the movement called simply “Sportsmen”. Nomen omen: their candidate lists are chock-full of professional ball-kickers, ball-throwers, ball-jugglers and ball-chasers. This theme is further expanded upon in their party program, which basically divides statements on issues into two categories: vague and non-existent. As such, their program is, in one word, balls.

A prime opportunity for an act of supreme good by explosion was wasted when oligarch, ex-Finance Minister and repeat offender against the Czech language Andrej Babiš had a meeting with an uncannily sober President. Babiš brought a tasteful present: a small brochure detailing “what good he did for the country as Minister,” as well as a list of politicians that increased this country’s debts the most. Zeman, for his side, reassured Babiš of his views on the fraud accusations, namely that they were a police plot intended to discredit him politically. They both left in a positively shining mood. Where is a terrorist when you need one?

The European Commission has finally addressed the issue of lower quality food shipped into the Eastern part of the EU. Or, rather, they admitted such an issue exists. Jean-Claude Juncker promised the EC will “issue guidelines,” with no legislation currently planned. Now, Czech media being what they are, their takeaway from this was the reminded that all the member countries have signed an obligation to switch to Euro at some point. Which, in the hands of disinformation webs and even some “serious” right-wing communal politicians turned into blackmail: the evil EU will not let us have quality chocolate until we sell our souls for their filthy Satanic currency. Clearly a diabolical plot to pre-emptively stomp out our economy which would otherwise threaten our European overlords.

Michal Chmela is a translator and journalist.


Nino Sichinava’s selection

The race before Tbilisi Mayoral Elections 2017 gets more inventive as always

Elections have always been fun to watch for Georgian citizens. This year’s Tbilisi Mayoral Elections race has already bypassed every previous one. On 16th September, month before the elections, Georgian Labour Party leader, Shalva Natelashvili, gave a promotional speech for his party’s candidate, Giorgi Gugava. The speech was so intense that even the news anchor couldn’t hold herself from laughing. Natelashvili’s representation of the candidate that can be described simply by the ‘The Dark Knight’ quote as the ‘hero that everyone deserves, but not the one it needs right now’ received an immediate reaction from the audience all over the social network, producing numerous memes and songs dedicated to it. Truly great way to get popular in the eye of a public. Here is the now-famous part of the speech:

Someone is abusing you? No need to deal with it, Gugava will come. Do you feel sick? Gugava will come. Did your water pipe break? Gugava will come. Is the road on your way destroyed? Gugava will come. Do you have some problems in life? Gugava will be by your side.’

To make things less hilarious and more intriguing the Republican Party proposed the idea to regulate same-sex marriages and presented their second group of five people for the electoral list of Tbilisi City Assembly for the upcoming local self-governance elections on October 21. Surprisingly, one of this 5 people is an openly lesbian activist, Nino Bolkvadze. This is the first time that an openly LGBTQ is presented as a candidate of a party.

According to the chairperson of the Republican Party, Khatuna Samnidze: “Nino’s visions coincide with the vision of the Republican Party. We are proud that she trusts the Republican Party. She considers Tbilisi to be a safe city, so she will work in this area in the Tbilisi City Assembly.”

The movie that caused strong agitation in the Russian society before it was even shown

On September 11th my hometown, Vladivostok, was yet again the center of talks, hosting a premiere of a scandalous ‘Matilda’, a film by Aleksei Uchitel. The very same day cars were blown up by the group of unknown near the office of Uchitel’s lawyer, Konstantin Dobrynin. On the spot of arson, leaflets with the words ” Burn for Matilda” were found.

The story of prince Nicholas Romanov’s (future Emperor of Russia Nicholas II) personal life and first love with Polish Ballet dancer Matilda Kschessinska caused an outrage from the religious community and the authorities in Moscow during its 4-year production. The film was even called “a threat to national security” by the one of the Deputies of State Duma. The reason for such drastic reaction was the fact that in 1981, the Romanovs were listed as martyrs by the Russian Orthodox Church abroad, and in 2000 they were canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church as royal passion-bearers. Thus, the film’s plot about Emperor’s love affair with the ballet dancer while married to Alexandra Fyodorovna, doesn’t go well with the saint status. Click here to watch the trailer.

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 exact date of the general elections has not been announced yet, but now that everyone’s back from their vacation, the campaign is already well underway.

Before Orbán even announced the so-called “Soros-plan,” news portals close to Fidesz already revealed who will be causing problems in the future, reported an “attack” on a ministry by students, an “attack” on a newspaper by an oppositional movement leader, and a “dog attack” on their reporter. By the way, the government’s reaction to the EU ruling on refugee quotas was that the ruling is not mandatory, and thus “we will not implement it,” because the “immigration war has just begun.” In case you’ve lost track of Fidesz’ and Orbán’s contradictory and haphazard statements on that “immigration war,” 444’s subbed video looks at how it went down, and how successful The Nation has been at defending Europe.

In other news, the oppositional social democratic party Együtt released their election program – in the form of an Ikea-catalogue. It might well be that this innovative approach (although it was already done by Podemos in 2016) will get people to actually read an election program for once: finally, there are more pictures than words, and everything is so aesthetically composed. Our potential representatives-to-be are sitting around in shiny kitchens and neat living rooms… although if I opened it without knowing what it is, I’d probably think it’s one of those Ikea family magazines for lifestyle inspiration.

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


Featured photo by Maria Savenko via Flickr.