Sajóbábony, a small town of 2,000 inhabitants 13 km from the city of Miskolc, has been in the news off and on since 2009, shortly after the random murders of G***ies in several towns and villages. In the aftermath of these murders the Hungarian Roma population was not surprisingly jumpy and fearful. Intensifying their fear was the activity of Jobbik and the Hungarian Guard, its paramilitary unit. Guardists often appeared in towns with a large Roma population, almost as if they wanted to provoke some kind of conflict with the G***ies.
In November 2009 the Hungarian Guard decided to move about 600 of their members to Sajóbábony, and Jobbik organized a political gathering in the town. The local Roma community felt threatened and unprotected by the police. Some of them decided to defend themselves, apparently armed with axes, swords, and canes. When they saw a dark car going through their neighborhood, at least nine people attacked it. The two people in the car, who were members of the Hungarian Guard, received minor injuries.
As a result of this incident the nine people involved in the incident were arrested. Last May the Miskolc court found them guilty. According to the prosecutors, in the course of attacking the car the Roma threatened to kill “the stinking Hungarians.” All of the accused denied the charges and claimed that they simply sent “the filthy guards back to where they came from.” Notwithstanding their protestations, all nine were found guilty of a hate crime directed against a distinct community, in this case against the Hungarians. Each received between two years and six months and four years in jail.
Thanks to slepaulica for bringing this story to my attention.
ETA: Slur redacted by me.
For a sitting head of state, Toomas Hendrik Ilves spends an awful lot of time on the internet. Most world leaders leave their online presence to aides, punctuated only by the occasional initialized platitude. The president of Estonia, however, spends hours a day reading, writing, and tweeting to his nearly 17,000 followers about issues ranging from European Union border controls to the latest Thomas Pynchon novel.
That follower count may seem modest: Barack Obama is just shy of 37 million. But what’s remarkable is that, unique among world leaders, Ilves really gets it. His account is not just a public relations tool. It’s really him there touting Estonia’s buoyant startup scene; warning of Russia’s aggressive policies toward its former satellite states in Eastern Europe; and rebuking people who put his country down. Not bad for the head of a tiny Baltic state of 1.3 million with little in the way of executive power (most of which is concentrated in the prime minister’s office).
Remembered as a brutal sadist by inmates who managed to survive the prisons he once ran, Alexandru Visinescu bubbles with violent fury. “Get away from my door, or do you want me to get a stick and beat you?” the 88-year-old former prison commander screamed recently when a reporter called at his fourth floor apartment in the center of this capital city.
Like other onetime servants of the old Communist government, Mr. Visinescu — now a frail retiree with a hunched back — does not like being disturbed. Until recently, he was not. He was left alone with a generous pension and a comfortable apartment, surrounded by black-and-white photographs of his fit, youthful self in uniform. He passed his time with leisurely strolls in a nearby park.
His peace ended in early September, when prosecutors in Bucharest announced that Mr. Visinescu would be put on trial over his role in Communist-era abuses, the first case of its kind since Romania toppled and executed the dictator Nicolae Ceausescu in December 1989.
The case has opened a flood of news media coverage here and raised hopes, however tentative, among victims and their advocates that Romania may finally be following most of its neighbors in Central and Eastern Europe in shaking off a national amnesia about its brutal past and re-examining a culture of impunity that has fed rampant corruption and constrained the country’s progress despite its entry into the European Union in 2007.
In the eyes of many here, the downfall and execution of Mr. Ceausescu merely removed the leader of the old Communist Bloc’s most intrusive dictatorship, leaving the system beneath largely intact. That continuity between the Communist and post-Communist elites helps explain why resistance to a serious reckoning with past crimes has been particularly strong in Romania, where there is still widespread nostalgia for the Communist era.
Much more at the source.
Amid Putin’s Crackdown, Sochi Gay Scene Thrives
A man named Ravil catapults onto the dance floor and starts stomping out the lezginka, the arrogant rooster strut of the Chechen national dance.
Ravil’s spontaneous performance is made even more unusual by the fact he’s in one of the two gay clubs in Sochi, the southern Russian town that will host the Winter Olympics amid Vladimir Putin’s harsh crackdown on gays. The morality campaign — centered on a law banning homosexual “propaganda” — has threatened to overshadow the games as it provokes an international outcry.
Paradoxically, Sochi is a far cry from the conservative lifestyle that the president is trying to promote.
At club Mayak, for example, the dancers are as diverse as the city itself: a Muslim who is a former market butcher, an Armenian who owns a strip club in a nearby town, a Ukrainian who loves to sing like Whitney Houston and dress like Adele.
And the men behind Mayak are hopeful that Sochi can remain the exception to the rule as its entrepreneurial, anything-goes crowd prepares to welcome the world. “This is a resort town,” says Andrei Tenichev, the owner. “We have a saying: Money doesn’t smell of anything.”
(There’s a lot more at the source.)
For the third year in a row, the state has caved in to the extremists’ demands and banned Belgrade’s Pride Parade citing security reasons.
Serbia’s national security council has decided to ban all gatherings scheduled for the weekend including the annual gay pride parade which was due to take place on Saturday, over concerns of violent clashes."No one should question the political orientation of the state and whether the constitutionally guaranteed rights are respected, the only limitation are security reasons," Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic told Serbian public service broadcaster RTS on Friday evening.Several Serbian far-right organisations had scheduled rival rallies on the day of the parade, raising fears that there would be street disturbances.
…Then it all began. First quietly, then louder and louder. “Solidarnosc! Solidarnosc! Solidarnosc!” A few years later, when archive security records of the match were found, they said that it was only a couple of thousand fans chanting but it was far more than that. In fact, it was the whole stadium.
It was so loud that it reached the Lechia dressing room, with the home team manager, Jerzy Jastrzebowski, saying: “We were in the dressing room during half-time when we heard it and it sent shivers down our spines, the whole ground singing ‘Solidarnosc’.”
State television was so worried about the rest of the country hearing the chants that they delayed transmission of the second half by six minutes and then decided to show it without any sound at all. Lechia lost the game 3-2 and the tie 10-2 but it did not matter, a much more important victory had been secured.
Go read the piece. Really interesting.
From the Washington Post:
It’s a momentous choice. Ukraine has the chance to opt for a road that in theory would extend European values of transparency and the rule of law far to the east. Or it can join Russia in a financial and cultural zone that is increasingly…
What would be really interesting would be to see the Ukrainian point of view, not just the Washington Post and RT
My guess is that people have a pretty wide variety of views. Any Ukrainians reading this want to offer their opinion?
From the Washington Post:
It’s a momentous choice. Ukraine has the chance to opt for a road that in theory would extend European values of transparency and the rule of law far to the east. Or it can join Russia in a financial and cultural zone that is increasingly defining itself as separate from the West and not answerable to Western norms. As a nation of 46 million, Ukraine would be a significant addition to Putin’s Eurasian Union.
The Russian MP said the Ukraine-EU agreement would create a single-sided dependence of Ukraine on the EU as Ukraine will not be able to influence the development of EU directives, but would nevertheless automatically accept them as obligations.
“No one offers Ukraine to become a EU member, it is an attempt to tie this country to the European Union for a small price and with little effort, to make this country into an economic appendix. Ukraine is going to lose very seriously from these agreements,” Pushkov explained.
“We are practically talking here about establishing a semi-colonial dependence,” the parliamentarian emphasized.
Two weeks ago, when the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia National Basketball Team began warming for their first game of the Eurobasket tournament, all eyes of the small central European nation were glued to their televisions, transfixed by their adopted hero, Lester “Bo” McCalebb.
As he jogged around the baseline, aware of the significance of the tournament — the international championship of Europe — to Macedonians, McCalebb lightly rubbed the base of his chin once, twice, and then a third time. It’s a tick he has. It’s hardly noticeable, so subtle he probably doesn’t even realize he does it.
The people of Macedonia, however, whose sense of pride and identity have become so wrapped up in each of his shots and movements, do notice. They notice everything he does.
Interesting little piece on the intersection of sports and politics.