Stories about Eastern & Central Europe from January, 2013
Russian Teacher Briefly Fired for Defending LGBT Rights
As if Russia's liberals were not already outraged enough about a proposed federal law banning "homosexual propaganda", the firing of an activist school teacher protesting this law has sparked a fresh wave of online indignation.
Slovak PM's Support for 2022 Winter Olympics Bid Draws Criticism
Whereas Norway and Switzerland are planning to hold referenda before submitting their 2022 Winter Olympics bids, the fate of the Slovak-Polish joint bid already seems decided: the Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico has declared his support for it, without waiting for the government's approval. Tibor Blazko reports.
“The Un-European Union”
GV Author Filip Stojanovski, on his blog Razvigor, has translated into English a mock story [sr] by Njuz.net, “the Serbian equivalent to The Onion,” about the UK striving to join “the Un-European Union”: The Council of Ministers of the countries of the Un-European Union stated today in Skopje that a...
Where Russia's Honest Ones Go to Die: Dolmatov's Suicide
On the morning of January 17, Russian political refugee Alexander Dolmatov was found having hanged himself in a solitary cell of a Dutch deportation center. Dolmatov left Russia last summer, believing himself to be under observation by Russian security forces and in danger of arrest for participation in a May 6, 2012, Moscow rally that turned violent.
Slovak President Butt of Jokes Online Due to Prosecutor General Saga
The post of the Prosecutor General has been vacant for more than a year in Slovakia, largely due to President Ivan Gašparovič's failure to approve the previous Parliament's candidate. Slovak netizens are making fun of their President, calling for a referendum on his removal and trying to sue him. Tibor Blazko reports.
Russian Parliament Confronts Next Threat to Kids: “Homosexual Propaganda”
The Russian parliament's effort to defend the nation's children continues. In the last year, Duma deputies have labored feverishly to shield Russia's youth from child pornography and online enticements to drug use and suicide, and—more recently—they passed a law to put an end to the scourge of American adoptions of Russian orphans. Law-makers have now zeroed in on the next heinous threat: "homosexual propaganda."
Opposition Party Attacks Russian eDemocracy
Just Russia has always been a conflicted political entity. Nominally, it's a social-justice-oriented opposition party with members in the Russian parliament. During the past year, Just Russia has gained a reputation for rebelliousness, after several of its high profile members began moonlighting as leaders of the unofficial opposition. The party's leadership is now demanding an end to the rebellion.
Hungarian Journalist Kidnapped, Then Released in Aleppo
Bálint Szlankó, a Hungarian foreign correspondent, was kidnapped – and later released – in Aleppo, Syria. He wrote this [en] on his Facebook page on Jan. 23: Just been through a 12-hour kidnapping ordeal in Aleppo. Yesterday morning me, a Mexican and a Basque journalist were abducted by unknown gunmen...
Parallels Between Religious and Copyright Wars
Rick Falkvinge, the founder of Pirate Party, reinterprets the wars of religion that devastated Western Europe in the XVI and XVII centuries in terms of the current struggle to control information through overbearing legislation related to copyright and freedom of expression: The religious wars were never about religion as such....
Hungarian Student Protesters Face Punishment, Keep Fighting
In December 2012, Hungarian university and high school students united to protest against the large cutbacks in higher education admission quotas. Their fight for tution-free slots continues.
Russia's Siberian State Within A State
Roughly 90% of Russian gas production originates in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, located in the northwestern corner of Siberia. In recent months, bloggers and Russian netizens have reacted to the latest in a series of changes to internal migration laws inside YaNAO that make it difficult for non-residents even to pass through the region.
Macedonian Sports Journalist Protests Harassment
A prominent Macedonian sports journalist Igor Filevski, who works as a correspondent from Spain, announced [mk] on his blog that he will no longer cover Macedonian sports in order to protest the silence of his colleagues and relevant institutions, who have been patiently ignoring the harassment inflicted on him for...
Inside the Audacious Assassination Attempt in Bulgaria
The January 19 gunman attack on the Bulgarian politician Ahmed Dogan has provoked many reactions by politicians and netizens - with some convinced that the assassination attempt was staged.
Slovakia: Social Benefits for Roma
Lucia Kureková, in her blog analysis [sk], shows that in Slovakia the majority of those who receive the Benefit in Material Need (BMN) are not the “typical” Roma families with many children, but are single, of any ethnicity, and childless (62%), often young and unemployed. About two-thirds of the Slovak...
Macedonians Ask State News Agency to Stop Manipulations
An online initiative against media manipulations [mk] perpetrated by the state-owned Macedonian Information Agency (MIA) asks citizens to express their dissatisfaction by sending e-mails to the agency. The action was spurred by the latest example of blatant spin, when a MIA correspondent distorted U.S. diplomat Philip Reeker‘s statement about the...
Traditional Hutsul Celebration of Epiphany in Ukraine
Photographer Maxim Balandyukh posted a photo report [uk] from the traditional Hutsul celebration of Epiphany (a religious holiday commemorating the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River; Vodokhreshcha in Ukrainian) in the Carpathian village of Kryvorivnya in western Ukraine.
Russian Facebook of Horrors: It's a Conspiracy!
In the days immediately following Kabanov's arrest Russian netizens experienced a rare period of introspection, liberally sprinkled with conspiracy theories.
Volunteers Settle Dispute Over Size of Moscow Protest?
No Russian opposition rally is truly over, it seems, until there has been an Internet flame war over the strength of its attendance. After the last protest march three groups have used independent approaches to produce a realistic headcount.
Slovak Antimonopoly Office Defends Obligatory Microsoft Use
European Information Society Institute, a Slovak NGO, reports [sk] that the Slovak Antimonopoly Office (AMO) does not see it as a problem that the country's Financial Directorate is forcing taxpayers to use Microsoft Windows and Internet Explorer, arguing that there is just about 10 percent of 44,000 subjects who have...
Fighting “Blatant Criminal Dictatorship” in Ukraine's Coal Mining Region
Blogger Stanislav Kmet documents activities in Severnyi, a decaying coal-mining village in eastern Ukraine, after local residents emailed him asking for help in drawing attention to the illegal mining that threatens to ruin their homes.
Macedonian Activists Collect 10,000 Signatures for Legislative Change
Activists of the civic initiative AMAN [mk] continue to fight for a better energy legislation [mg, fr, mk, es], despite pressure and infiltrations. In November, “unknown persons” prevented them from talking to PM Gruevski [mk] at an “open meeting with citizens.” Currently, there's an ongoing signature-gathering campaign for the change...