Following Saturday's scoreless soccer game that catapulted Moscow's CSKA club to its fourth Russian Premier League title, the team's fans clashed with riot troops in downtown Moscow. Police detained 140 people [ru], later releasing all but two. Bloggers posted photos to LiveJournal here, here, and here [ru], alleging police brutality.
Latest stories from Quick Reads + Eastern & Central Europe
Ukrainian blogger Olena Bilozerska's User Winner prize in the Bobs 2013 Best Blog Ukrainian nomination has been revoked, writes [ru] Mustafa Nayyem, the Ukrainian member of the Bobs 2013 jury, on his Facebook page, linking [ru] to the official statement [uk] posted on the Bobs 2013 website. The scandal (more on it in this GV text) seems far from being over in Ukraine, however, as many netizens are displeased with the decision. Nayyem's Facebook announcement has generated over 150 comments so far, many of them critical of the contest organizers in general and Nayyem in particular. In one of the few English-language comments in that thread, Andreas Umland, a Kyiv-based German political scientist, writes:
At this very moment, Kirov police are searching [ru] Alexey Navalny's local headquarters, established to coordinate the blogger's public outreach in the city where he currently stands trial for embezzling roughly half a million dollars. The case has attracted international attention as the latest in a long series of politicized Russian judicial proceedings, including the trials of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, three members of Pussy Riot, and others. More »
Reporters Without Borders condemns the sudden change of management at the opposition TV station TVi, announced three days ago, and is disturbed to learn that ensuing internal disputes have resulted in broadcasting being suspended. [...]
April 26, 2013, marks the 27th anniversary of the 1986 Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant disaster. Andriy Pryimachenko of peredova.com has created a video transcript [ru] of the audio recordings of the conversations that took place shortly after the blast between the dispatchers of the plant's firefighting unit and other firefighting dispatchers and officials. On his Korrespondent.net blog, Ivan Mateyko comments [uk] on this “most horrifying phone talk of the 20th century”:
[...] Hard to guess what these people were thinking back then and whether they knew how serious the situation and its possible consequences were, but the horror in their voices is evident. [...]
Hungarian grassroots student union Hallgatói Hálózat (Student Network) started a blog that curates freedom of information requests related to higher education. The blog, titled Transparent Education [hu], is using the Hungarian public freedom of information request service KiMitTud [hu] to track down the allegations of misuse of funds by university student governments. The blog's author Dániel G. Szabó was the one who sued the Faculty of Law at ELTE University in order to publicize the information on the Faculty's student government spendings. The aim of the blog is to promote the use of freedom of information requests, and to make the spending of public funds transparent at Hungarian colleges and universities.
“Practice indicates that responsible and ethical journalism is never the result of state legislation and regulations, but of the voluntary compliance with the code created by the media community itself.”
This statement from the Guide on Ethics in Journalism [mk] opens Žarko Trajanoski's analysis [en] of the “manipulations” by Macedonia's “pro-government journalists” who “fanatically support and promote [the proposed Media Law].” The English-language version of Trajanovski's text was published by Metamorphosis: Foundation for Internet and Society (@fmeta), and it is also available in Macedonian and in Albanian. One of Trajanoski's conclusions is that “the most vigorous advocates for the adoption of a new Media Law since 2011 are exactly the journalists and editors flagrantly violating the ethical norms of the journalist code.”
A Sarajevo-based Boston native writes on Notes from Sarajevo Tumblr blog that “the last few days [since the Boston Marathon bombings] have served as a reminder of Bosnia’s particularly dark brand of humor”:
[...] To be sure, friends and colleagues here have been kind and considerate, asking if everyone I know is OK (they are.) But some also wasted no time joking about the situation. [...] one said, “Who would want to bomb a marathon? Must have been a smoker.” I’m not one to get prickly about a joke I can’t appreciate, and in fact I respect the instinct to use humor to cope with tragedy, but it did strike me how very badly that would go over in the States right now. [...]
This month, Rob Martineau, Tom Stancliffe, and Guy Hacking are running 1,000 miles from Odessa to Dubrovnik, via Ukraine, Moldova, Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, and Croatia, as part of the Run For Love 1000 campaign, whose aim is to raise funds for Love146, a UK charity that “gives care and hope to trafficked children, and to raise awareness of the scale of human trafficking across Europe.” Follow their run on the RFL1000 website, on Facebook, and on Twitter; support the runners by donating here (215 donations have been made so far, with nearly £12,500 raised).
Dissidents have fled Russia for as long as there has been a Russia from which to flee. Earlier this week, April 7, 2013, activist Ilya Yashin startled many when he announced [ru] on Twitter that protest figure and former World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov had abandoned his leadership position in the oppositionist group “Solidarity,” and likely decided to emigrate. More »
[D]o something useful. Stop sticking your breasts there where they may offend people. And don’t stand in the way of real feminists doing their noble job.
Russian Internet censors at Roskomnadzor have reversed a decision to ban Wikipedia's entry for “cannabis smoking,” following a reexamination of the article after a new round of edits by Wikipedian volunteers. In a statement [ru] on its website today, April 10, 2013, Roskomnadzor announced the unbanning, though at least nine [ru] other Wikipedia articles apparently remain on the RuNet blacklist.
The Association of Journalists of Macedonia (AJM) explains [en] why Macedonian journalists are demanding an open debate “on the scope and the contents” of the draft Law on the Media (via @Macedonia_en):
[...] It was prepared, in its entirety, by the Government and is offered today to the public to give its comments and suggestions as a final and closed concept. [...] we do need changes in the legislation to incorporate the EU Audiovisual Media Services Directive and we need improved and strengthened implementation of the existing legislation. Any expansion of the scope of the regulation needs to be preceded by a serious debate on the very need to introduce new regulation. [...]
As RuNet Echo previously reported [GV], Alexey Navalny has appealed to his readers to make up their own minds about his innocence or guilt in an upcoming embezzling trial by releasing for download the financial documents of the firms involved. Now, his opponents appear to have taken a page out of his book, creating a website which is a direct copy [ru] of Navalny's original [ru]. Unlike Navalny's “Why is Navalny Not Guilty?”, this one is titled “Why is Navalny Guilty?” and makes available for download allegedly relevant excerpts from Navalny's previously hacked email correspondence [GV]. Since the emails have been publicly available for quite some time, the page is likely created in the spirit of “trolling” rather than any real attempt at an exposé.
On April 1, 2013, the 20 year anniversary of Novaya Gazeta, a Russian newspaper critical of the government and known for its investigative reporting, Head of the Chechen Republic (formerly President) Ramzan Kadyrov took to his Instagram [ru], as he often does these days, to publicly express respect for the publication and its journalists, even thought he “sometimes disagrees with them.” Some bloggers [ru] were flabbergasted [ru] – after all, it is a widely held belief on RuNet that Kadyrov (then Chechen Prime Minister) is at least partially responsible for the assassination of Novaya Gazeta reporter Anna Politkovskaya in 2006.
A photo-blogger based in the city of Voronezh, located in central Russia not far from the Ukranian border, has taken a series of striking photographs [ru] (including an animated panorama) of a small, forgotten “slum” hiding in the center of an otherwise modern and populous urban area. The “slum”, which turns out to be mainly abandoned buildings, looks like a set for a WWII movie — ironic in a city that was rebuilt after heavy destruction during the war.
Alexey Navalny, unofficial protest leader, took to his blog [ru] on March 27 to defend himself from what he says are unfair allegations of corruption. Navalny is currently a suspect in two different embezzlement investigations. One of these, the so-called KirovLes case, involves the supposed use of a shell company to steal several million rubles worth of materials from a Kirov Region lumber mill.
Watcher.com.ua reports [uk] that Kyiv-based netizens have set up an online volunteer coordination map [uk, ru] and a website [uk, ru] to offer help to those affected by the unprecedented snowfall in Ukraine's capital [see this GV text]. The map indicates the location of volunteers who can offer hot drinks and a place to warm up, or help dig the car out of the snow. The map also indicates locations where help is needed.
In order to shed light on the events of Dec. 24, 2012, when journalists and opposition MPs were thrown out of the Macedonian Parliament [en, es, mk], Foundation Open Society Institute Macedonia (@fosim) published a study entitled “Black Monday” [.pdf: en, mk, sq], with testimonies of witnesses and participants and analyses by relevant experts. Video from its promotion, with an extensive discussion, is also available online [mk].
Blogger Tomáš Homola blogs [sk] about a new Mercedes Benz E car recently acquired for 63,096 Euros for Professor Karol Mičieta [sk], the Rector/President of Comenius University in Bratislava. Homola describes Mičieta's connection to politics, and also recalls that the Ministry of Education just a short time ago was forced to cancel renting of an Audi A6 [sk] for about 3,000 Euros per month from a company whose owner is the former Minister of Economy allegedly deeply involved in the Gorilla scandal. The saddest part of the story is the extremely poor condition that the university building is currently in (see images in Homola's post).
Students from the Faculty of Law at ELTE University in Hungary sued the faculty's student union after they denied a freedom of information (FOIA) request. The students wanted to know who received bonus payments from the union's monthly budget of around $3,300. They wrote on their blog ÁJK HÖK Figyelő (Faculty of Law Student Union Monitor)[hu] that the student union head unilaterally decides on bonus payments. The initiative of the law bloggers gained support of the Hungarian National Authority for Data Protection and Freedom of Information as well, and their first court hearing [hu] attracted some 30 members of the public.
On January 23, 2013, an excerpt from the annual report of l'ACAT-France, A World of Torture 2013, makes a fresh assessment of the state of torture in the world [fr]:
“A report called A World of Torture in 2013, assesses torture practices that continue to be alarming, from Pakistan to Italy, by way of South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Australia and Bolivia. From authoritarian regimes to democratic countries, none are exempt from criticism on the topic. In 2013, torture remains as endemic, omnipresent and multi-faceted as ever”.
The area near the main train station in Bratislava doesn't look too neat [sk]. Nor do other neighborhoods. Some people refuse to accept it passively, however. Next month, the Green Patrol (Zelená hliadka; sk) initiative, led by Matúš Čupka, will celebrate its second anniversary. Through targeted cleaning actions, Green Patrol aims at highlighting the problem of garbage in public areas and motivating citizens to pay more attention to the environment in which they live (see photos). Bratislava's Green Patrol community has already inspired people in other parts of Slovakia (e.g., here and here; sk).