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Sat Mar 21, 2020, 07:44 AM

5 Stories from Europe You May Have Missed

1. Breakaway Abkhazia Set To Hold Election Under Cloud Of Controversy, Coronavirus

Just weeks ago, the leading contender in this election was lying in a Russian hospital bed recovering from the second mysterious bout of the flu to derail his bid to lead Abkhazia, prompting all candidates to suspend their campaigns.

But as voting day in the self-declared but globally unrecognized separatist republic in Georgia approached, even a looming pandemic was not threatening efforts to conclude a messy electoral process that started nearly a year ago.

After being rocked by poisoning scandals, protests, and the resignation of the territory's de facto president and the calling of a fresh vote, it appeared that the COVID-19 pandemic would not be enough to delay the March 22 election.


Abkhazia has long sought statehood, having declared independence from Georgia in 1992, before a 1992-93 war with Tbilisi. Following Moscow's recognition of Abkhazia as independent in 2008, the territory has tried to join the international community, but has been shunned by all but a few countries.


2. Russia’s Perm Opera-Ballet Stays Open -- For One Spectator At A Time

The famed Perm Opera and Ballet Theater in Russia's Urals region plans to continue performances despite restrictions forced by the coronavirus crisis -- by allowing one lucky spectator at a time to attend.

The group said on March 20 that the current situation had led it to establish its One On One performance policy beginning at the end of this month.

"A full-fledged performance cannot take place without public participation. But what happens if at least one person is present in the auditorium?” the company said on its website.


The theater said it will soon begin accepting applications "from those who would like to receive a unique opportunity to become the only spectator in the hall."


3. Enemies everywhere: photos show absurdity of life under the Stasi
East German secret police saw evidence of western sabotage in the most mundane events

A football kicked over a wall, a lightbulb thrown out of a window, a suspiciously unkempt lawn: for East Germany’s secret police, even the most mundane event was recorded as potential proof of the capitalist enemy trying to sabotage life in the socialist republic.

Thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, researchers at the Stasi Records Agency have for the first time systematically analysed the vast photographic archive the surveillance state amassed as a result of its untrammelled paranoia.


They tell the story of three children who caused an incident when they kicked a football over the Berlin Wall on to Soviet soil in May 1978. The children, two girls and a boy from West Berlin, eventually managed to get their ball back, but not before the Stasi had thoroughly documented the ball’s position – “around 25 metres from the border markings” – and photographed the ceremonial return of the offending object.


“In the 1950s, photography was still a relatively rare technology. But by the 80s cameras were more widely available and the Stasi discovered them as what they called a ‘weapon’. The number of photographs taken grew exponentially.”


4. German police arrest members of far-right group after state ban

German police have raided properties in 10 states and arrested members of a far-right group after it was banned by the government.

The United German Peoples and Tribes organisation belongs to the broader Reichsbürger or Citizens of the Reich movement, which rejects the authority of the modern German state and is driven by conspiracy theories. It is armed and considered extremely dangerous, the police said.

An interior ministry spokesman said on Thursday that its fight against rightwing extremism would not be halted even during the current global health emergency. “For the first time, the interior ministry has banned a Reichsbürger group,” the spokesman said. “Even in these days of crisis, we will continue to fight far-right extremism, racism and antisemitism.

Herbert Reul, the interior minister of the state of Nordrhein-Westfalen, where the group had its focus, said: “These people cannot consider themselves safe even in these times of the coronavirus.” He said he was grateful to the federal interior minister, Horst Seehofer, “for allowing us to proceed against this brown sauce”, in a reference to their Nazi-sympathies.


5. Armenia's Pashinian Kicks Off Campaign On Constitutional Reform

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian has urged voters to back proposed changes to the constitution that would lead to the removal of a majority of Constitutional Court judges.

Pashinian made the call on March 10 as he kicked off his campaign ahead of next month’s referendum on the proposed reforms.

“I urge you to go to polling stations on April 5 and confirm that you are sending home this old Constitutional Court, which had patronized all electoral frauds in Armenia in the past,” he said in a speech in the town of Meghri.

If approved, the proposed constitutional amendments would lead to the dismissal of seven of the court’s nine members installed before nationwide protests swept Pashinian to power in 2018.


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Reply 5 Stories from Europe You May Have Missed (Original post)
rpannier Mar 21 OP
bdamomma Mar 21 #1
empedocles Mar 21 #2
Beakybird Mar 21 #3
sinkingfeeling Mar 21 #4

Response to rpannier (Original post)

Sat Mar 21, 2020, 07:52 AM

1. Thank you for

Posting. All stories were interesting. The story of Armenia was something I didn't know.

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Response to bdamomma (Reply #1)

Sat Mar 21, 2020, 07:54 AM

2. More thanks

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Response to rpannier (Original post)

Sat Mar 21, 2020, 08:06 AM

3. Thanks. Interesting stories.

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Response to rpannier (Original post)

Sat Mar 21, 2020, 08:25 AM

4. Thanks so much for giving us this.

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