Students on the barricades
Thursday, 31 October 2013 15:54

FOR several hours on October 30th, Bulgaria’s Constitutional Court, the highest judiciary body in the country, was being auctioned on eBay. Before the site took it down, the unusual item was described as “not functioning as intended and not fully operational”.  According to the ad, the item would be most useful for mafia members, kingpins or c...

From Velvet Underground to Velvet Revolution
Wednesday, 30 October 2013 11:30

JOYLESSNESS was an Achilles heel of Communist rule in Europe. The portly grey men who ran the show wanted tightly scripted and uplifting culture, not the subversive improvisation of the 1960s. After Soviet tanks crushed Czechoslovakia's Prague Spring in 1968, all performing musicians were vetted for loyalty to the new regime. The criteria...

The Roma not in the news
Tuesday, 29 October 2013 17:20

STORIES about Roma in the Balkans or Central Europe tend to be depressing and quite dull. They tell the same story of discrimination against Roma, who respond by setting off to beg in western countries, in which they encounter further hostility (and often get send home again). So, Octav Ganea’s story about Bulgarian Roma striving to break the m...

No clear way forward
Sunday, 27 October 2013 16:35

THERE is no clear path to a stable Czech government after seven parties passed the 5% threshold to make it into parliament during voting on October 25th and 26th. While the Social Democrats (ČSSD) took the most votes, a strong showing by ANO—a political vehicle for the country’s second-richest man—rode a wave of popular discontent to further fractu...

Ten years in prison
Friday, 25 October 2013 16:21

TEN years ago, on October 25th, 2003, on a tarmac in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk, Russian special forces surrounded the plane of Mikhail Khodorkovsky (pictured) and arrested him. Mr Khodorkovsky, the head of Yukos, an oil company, was charged with fraud and tax evasion. He was sent to prison, where he remains today. (A second trial...

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