PC Press Digest

Weekly Press Digest – February 12

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

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Michal Chmela’s selection

Last week’s unexpected eruption of honesty when a bunch of nationalistic politicians slipped up and admitted denying the Roma holocaust in public. A2larm published an analysis showing that they were far from the only ones, the portfolio of politicians denying that Lety was a concentration camp including such paragons of virtue as ex-President Klaus (best known for stealing a pen in Chile) and current PM Andrej Babiš (still wanted by the police). Even more interestingly, the tracks down the source of these allegations to a book apparently written with the explicit purpose of denying any notion of Czech collaborators having had anything to do with the holocaust. Sounds familiar, Poland?

Taxi drivers in Prague have made yet another valiant effort at trying to get Uber banned in the city. While we can reasonably assume they do not, in fact, give a flying fig about the exploitative conditions Uber drivers work in, this could be a step in the right direction – provided someone actually notices the protests which has not been the case so far. Some 1000 cars have tried to slow down the Prague traffic without much success and another protest is planned on Monday. The Ministry of Transport has promised to update the law to regulate alternative transport companies but as usual no one has any idea what kind of regulation would that be should it even take place. Until then, Prague better get ready for a lot of honking.

And in better news, squatters from the group Resurp Crew have managed to retake the dilapidated villa Šatovka in Prague. Two years ago, they abandoned the building when the local district council promised they will repair the building and find a use for it. Funnily enough, this did not happen (shock and awe). On Friday, squatters have entered the object and announced their intention to turn it into a local cultural center along with a programme for the weekend. Understandably outraged, the district mayor arrived and attempted to intimidate the squatters out of the building, which did not happen either, the crew having announced their intention to hold the building until city council finally decides to do something about it. Enter the police.

As of now, squatters are camping on the roof, police are camping below and a bunch of citizens showing solidarity are camping near and playing music and films (with titles such as Wrong Cops). Apart from everyone freezing various body parts off, there was very little action – a shipment of food by drone was canceled on account of police declaring a no-flight zone and the police attempt to bring out a searchlight was canceled by telling them to go stuff it where the sun won’t shine.

The stalemate looks like it will continue at least until Monday when there’s a real chance the police will get ordered to storm the building; if not, then it seems to fall un how long will the squatters last on the roof. Either way, they managed to bring the attention of media to another building officially condemned to ruin by inaction – for whatever good that may do.

Michal Chmela is a translator and journalist.


Hana Grgić’s section

It’s always a circus. Honestly, news from the homeland never disappoints. A friend of mine said to me the other day, “When I saw what happened, I put my phone away and I laid on the sofa for a few minutes. I took a deep breath in order to not scream, which I wanted to do so badly.” And it is really like that. “My Rainbow Family,” a model of picture book with the sign ‘mom+mom’ and ‘papa+papa’, created for kindergarten-aged children, was publicly burned in front of several hundred children and parents last Sunday at the carnival in Kaštela near the city of Split in Croatia. The video was published on the Facebook page Random Toni and was later banned from Facebook after being reported with false accusations by right wing extremists.

The book was published two weeks ago by Rainbow Families, an organization “gathering LGBT* couples and individuals who have children, want to have children or just want to inform others about the challenges and beautiful sides of family planning.” The horrifying event was almost forgotten by the mainstream media, especially public television, but when the reaction came from the Ministry of Education and Science and the Ombudsperson for Children, something needed to be published. Later in the week, four groups, Zagreb Pride, LORI, Rainbow Families and RODA parents’ rights group, jointly issued a criminal complaint to the prosecutors.

“I guess this is logical, in a country where complete industry has been destroyed, which is in a permanent political crisis, and has been constantly shaken by corruption; the biggest problem is love. (…) Perhaps because this love is a sign that a different world is possible, oppressive traditions can be changed, which is why this love needs to be burned during a children’s carnival in order to teach young people from the earliest age that the most important value in Croatian society is – intolerance,” said activist and writer Mima Simić.

Just to inform you, this is not the first time that carnivals in Croatia have been promoting hate and violence; a few years ago a crowd symbolically burned a “gay baby from IVF.”

Hana Grgić is a feminist with a cat. Studied political science and journalism in Zagreb. Left Croatia, now based in Berlin.

Featured photo by Pank Seelen via Flickr.