16.11.2018 This first-person account of the conditions inside the prison in Pazardjik, Bulgaria was first published on the web site of the Bulgarian Prisoners’ Association. The Pazardjik prison is a classic. I had heard a lot about it but now that I’m here, have no words to describe what I’m going through. Most people are mentally unstable or one step away from it, especially the prison management. The institution’s director Veselin Kotzev behaves like he’s at a market square. He screams, scolds and doesn’t know the letter of the law. Or rather, knows it, but behaves like a spoiled brat. His way o ..
The Slovak national anthem begins with this dramatic stanza: “That Slovakia of ours / has been asleep so far / but the thunder’s lightning / is rousing it / to come to.” And it continues in a similar spirit: “Slovakia already arises / tears off its shackles.” While the author Janko Matuška, a member of the insurgent mid-nineteenth-century Romantic movement, referred to the then incipient “awakening” of the Slovak nation, the image conjured by the opening lines is even today reflected in one of the Slovaks’ favourite autostereotypes: that they are “sleepy” i ..
Note from the LeftEast editors: This article originally appeared in the Serbian publication Masina on 10.06.2016. It was composed in the months following a series of nocturnal demolitions in the Belgrade neighbourhood of Savamala. The demolitions, conducted by unidentified workers in balaclavas, are widely perceived to be the vanguard actions of Belgrade on the Water, a controversial ‘urban renewal’ project that has been the focus of continuous protests led by the civic initiative Ne da(vi)mo Beograd (a name that simultaneously means: ‘Let’s not give Belgrade away’ and ‘Let ..
The Croatian political scene has been very lively since the last parliamentary elections held on 8th November 2015. The results of the election left both major centrist parties unable to form a majority government as the nominally left-of-centre coalition led by the Social Democratic Party (SDP) won 56 seats, while the nominally right-of-centre coalition led by the Croatian Democratic Union (CDU) won 59 seats in a 151-seat parliament. The biggest winner of the election was a new party called Bridge (“Most” in Croatian), which won 19 seats and was thus the decisive factor in the formation of the new government ..
Note from LeftEast Editors: This article has been published in collaboration with the web-portal Bilten.org. A month and a half has passed since a Presidential blanket amnesty of over 50 corrupt government figures and their collaborators sparked social upheaval across Macedonia. The action laid bare deep societal rifts, cracked open by double legal standards, dividing on the one end a corrupt political class and their clients shielded by impunity, economic capital, and political power, and on the other the majority of citizens dispossessed of access to legal and social justice. Although public attention has focus ..
There is nothing quite like it in contemporary European politics. Perhaps there never was. The story of the current Romanian president seems more of a farce, a figment of imagination, than a real story. As with everything Romanian, it would be deeply funny and amusing if it weren’t tragic. President Klaus Iohannis came to power in November 2014 in very contested circumstances. Trailing by 10% his main competitor after the first round –the then Prime Minister Victor Ponta – and pretty much unconvincing during the TV debates before the run-off, Iohannis was all but defeated. In fact, from the very beginning, ..
Note of the LeftEast editors: the articles is published in co-operation with the Serbo-Croatian web portal Bilten.Org. Bulgaria’s political scene is notorious for its volatility: parties come and go, sometimes sweeping to power months after being formed; cabinets seldom last a full term in office. Amid this flux, the liberal Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) has remained one of the few stable actors. Yet, the party was violently rocked on Christmas Eve 2015, when its leader Lyutvi Mestan was abruptly overthrown by an internal coup, just as he seemed to be at the pinnacle of his power and the party, officia ..