Latest stories from Quick Reads + Serbia
Marija Janković's photo of her 3-month-old baby sleeping peacefully next to the 52 medical and administrative documents has received 942 ‘likes’ and 826 ‘shares’ on the Facebook page of Status Magazin [sr], a Belgrade monthly, and was awarded the first prize in a photo contest run by the publication. It took Janković one year to collect all this paperwork in order to be eligible for one-time financial aid from the Serbian state. Facebook user Tanja Plava commented [sr]:
And this is only the beginning :)
[...] I believe that we, decent and honest Serbs, should be ashamed of what was done in the name of Serbdom during the '90s and condemn it all unequivocally! And I also agree that it's wrong that most Serb war crimes suspects have yet to be apprehended; it should not stay like that any longer. However, it's one thing to seek justice for serious offences that were committed in wartime, and a completely different thing to deny every sign of another culture and language in peace time, just because some dispicable members of that community did something horrible to you or a loved one. [...]
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 long road lies ahead of United Kingdom in order for it to join this international organisation. [...]
The Macedonian translation of the story is here.
[...] So do I still consider last month’s acquittal at the Hague a “disgraceful acquittal”, an “outrage” and an “insult to all the Serbs from the fallen Krajina…”, and most importantly a “mockery of justice”? Well, I was upset by this vindication initially [...]. [...] However, I do concede that I lack the qualifications to brand any verdict a “mockery of justice” as an expert could; I am not qualified to use that term in any case and I regret using it in my previous article. I’ll end this post with what I sincerely believe is right:
Fifteen young journalists from six different countries have produced a series of personal stories about representatives of the minorities (in a broad sense) from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Serbia, and Macedonia. The stories are available in English, German, and French on the Face the Balkans website.
Dozens of bloggers [sr] from Serbia, as well as from Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Slovenia, attended Blogomanija [sr], a regional blogging conference that was held in Serbia on Dec. 7-9. Among other things, they discussed [sr] the impact of blogs and social networks on social and political life in Serbia and the region.
[...] Some people are delighted with the judgment and other people are outraged, with divisions following predictable political lines. The appeals chamber itself is no less divided. The five judges on the panel made most of their decisions by a 3-2 vote. [...] So consensus about the law and the facts of the case is not any greater among the members of the appeals chamber than it is in the public. This gives us a result that does not settle controversies, but keeps them burning for a good long time. [...]
Wikimedia CEE Meeting 2012 took place in Belgrade on October 13–14, 2012, and is the first Wikimedia CEE Meeting for Central and Eastern Europe. The primary goal of the event is to intensify cooperation among the Wiki communities, Wikimedia chapters, and other interested groups from Central and Eastern Europe. The program included presentations and workshops on the themes related to the Wikimedia movement, as well as keynote addresses by speakers from outside the movement. You can find the live documentation here.
Nothing Against Serbia posts photos of the migrant workers’ houses in Eastern Serbia and explains the “Gastarbajterske Kuće” phenomenon:
[...] the effort to make money in the West (under arduous circumstances) has to be showed off back home as a reward for the hassle! [...] The houses itself are made with expensive materials and fittings, the land where they stay is usually worth just a couple of dinars. The biggest part of them are occupied only for a month during the summer. [...]
Macedonian non-profit outlet Diversity Media published an article/podcast [mk, sq] about the Balkan states’ reactions to the situation in Syria, featuring a statement by GV Author Ruslan Trad (among others, including the Macedonian politician Stojan Andov [en, mk], who served as the Yugoslav Ambassador to Iraq in 1987-1991).
Balkan Buro, a Dutch non-profit “dedicated to providing a platform for artistic and cultural encounters between Western and Southeastern Europe,” announces the Balkan Snapshots Festival 2012, which will take place in Amsterdam on Sept. 21-23: “three nights of music, creativity, movies and inspiring debates!”
At Kosovo 2.0 blog, Belgrade-based journalist Dušan Komarčević writes – here and here – about his July 2012 trip to Prizren, Kosovo, to attend the DOKUFEST International Documentary and Short Film Festival:
[...] The cinemas were filled with movie lovers from Kosovo, Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Croatia, Serbia, … Serbs and Albanians together!, will exclaim in unison ethnocentric builders committed to multiply the concept of the Berlin Wall in as many locations as possible. Unlike diplomats from Belgrade and Prishtina, who are seated around the same table by some Brussels bureaucrat [...], moviephiles don’t need any intermediaries. Of course, with the exception of celluloid film. [...]
Russian collective “Chto Delat? // What is to be done?” published an essay by Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek, who considers Pussy Riot “conceptual artists in the noblest sense of the word: artists who embody an Idea,” and fight against the cynicism of power-mongers who strive to return Russia to the tsarist level characterized by Leon Trotsky (1905) as “a vicious combination of the Asian knout [whip] and the European stock market.” The text has been translated into various languages [en, ru - middle of page, it, sr, sr, mk, gr] and reprinted by bloggers and progressive portals throughout Europe.
In “Libricide,” Ante Lešaja has documented the process of “purging” of “unsuitable” books from Croatian schools and public libraries by the right-wing HDZ government in the 1990s. According to a Jutarnji List interview [hr] with Lešaja, the “purging” was based on ideological and ethnic criteria and affected books “written in Cyrillic [script], [Ekavian dialect], books by Serbian authors and publishers, by ‘suspicious’ Croats, by leftists…” As a result, 2.8 million books (13% of all the library material) and 3,000 monuments of the anti-fascist struggle were obliterated. Comments on the link by Macedonian Facebook users suggest that similar processes are taking place in other ex-Yugoslav states, with janitors throwing “obsolete” books into trash.
Amila Bosnae interviews Boban Stojanović, one of the organizers of the “accidental” gay pride parade in Belgrade – which went without incidents: “There were just over 50 of us. You see, this wasn’t a real Pride, but a small street action. We’re happy with it because as activists, we always remember the words of Margaret Mead, who said: ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.'”
Marko Attila Hoare of Greater Surbiton comments on the ICTY’s decision to acquit Radovan Karadzic of one count of genocide in Bosnia, noting that “[t]he contradiction between the Trial Chamber’s rulings over Milosevic in 2004 and Karadzic in 2012 indicates that it is not operating on the basis of consistent legal principles, and suggests a change of policy.”
Growth in social media activities has slowed down, indicates the research of Wave6 [sr; en], which surveyed active Internet users in 62 countries: Macedonia and Croatia are more involved in the social media than Serbia, where watching video clips is the most popular activity (91%). For the first time, there is a decrease in blogging, though social networking activities still prevail.
Center for Internet Development in Serbia reports [sr] that Serbs use the Internet mostly for current news (63%) and educational purposes. The research was conducted in April 2012, with a sample of 1,239 respondents: 80% of them considered communication and info-exchange with government institutions via Internet very relevant, while 68% considered it equally important to access meaningful info to monitor public officials work. More info on Digital Agenda Serbia.
Eric Gordy of East Ethnia sums up the results of the first round of the elections in Serbia and predicts what is to come after the May 20 runoff: “Assuming that Tadić defeats Nikolić by his usual narrow margin in two weeks, a government that looks a lot like the previous one, only less stable and more corrupt, and lots of signs that there is a good number of angry people in a system that remains pretty lopsided and pretty dysfunctional. No signs that things will get much better, but happily no signs that they will get a whole lot worse.”
The High Court in Belgrade has recently brought its first conviction for online hate speech, sentencing Simo Vladičić to three months in prison and two years of probation for threatening members of the LGBT community via the Facebook group 500.000 Srba protiv gej parade/500,000 Serbs against gay parade in September 2011, when the gay pride parade in Belgrade was canceled due to security reasons. In a similar case, the European Court of Human Rights has recently ruled that hate speech against members of the LGBT community cannot be justified by the right to freedom of speech.
Spotted by Locals: Experience cities like a local features a few dozen locations, including CEE cities of Belgrade, Bucharest, Budapest, Krakow, Ljubljana, Prague, Riga, Sofia, Tallinn, Vilnius, Warsaw, and Zagreb. A random sample post from Zagreb, Croatia: Hrelić Flea Market – The Aleph of Zagreb; from Bucharest, Romania: The Haunted House – Armenian Neighbourhood; from Sofia, Bulgaria: Nissim – A True Old-School Bookstore.