< SWITCH ME >

 Olympic Cauldron Relit for Sochi Winter Games 2014 Feb 21st 12690365295The Winter Olympic Games in Sochi earlier this year unexpectedly helped fire public debate in the Russian Federation

What impact do major sporting events have on local people? Do mainstream Western media only scratch the surface when it comes to popular opinion in the former USSR? Edgar Gerrard Hughes takes a look at a project that sought to discover exactly that.

Every so often, in the midst of a European television report about sporting events in one of the successor states to the Soviet Union, a local citizen will appear on screen for a few seconds and angrily denounce Western arrogance. They are presented as the voice of the nation, and the (intended?) response of many viewers is dismissive: these are not original or authentic opinions, but rather the regurgitation of official propaganda. We all know that media freedom in Russia leaves much to be desired, so when we see a vox pop from the streets of Sochi, it is easy to assume that the speaker is simply parroting their government’s self-interested agenda.

A response like that is, of course, at best lazy and simplistic. But how can we get a more rounded sense of the domestic impact of events like the Winter Olympics when these brief news cameos are our most readily available source of popular opinion? Five participants from Berlin’s prestigious Studienkolleg programme (incidently also the birthplace of E&M), which gives young people a chance to explore Europe on their own intellectual terms, set out to provide a better answer to this question. An answer based on the experiences of people actually living in the countries in question.

Our friends from the National Youth Council of Serbia have asked us to spread the word about the disastrous floods currently happening in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Gestures of European solidarity and support are desperately needed. Please spread the word and help our friends in these difficult times. Several countries, among them France, Russia and the United States, have already sent aid to Serbia and Bosnia. Serbia has already declared a state of emergency and asked for humanitarian aid and support from the European Commission and other countries. 

See below the press release of National Youth Council in Serbia for more information and possible ways to help. 

 

Press Release

National Youth Council of Serbia (KOMS) / Out of the Box International

 

SERBIA AND BOSNIA and HERZEGOVINA ARE WITNESSING THE BIGGEST NATURAL DISASTER IN LIVING MEMORY

HELP ACROSS EUROPE NEEDED!

Belgrade, 17th May 2014 – Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegowina aregoing through the worst floods ever recorded in this region.  The situation is critical with thousands of people being evacuated; many of them are still waiting to be rescued.

Police and army in helicopters are trying to prevent further damage in the town of Obrenovac, south of Belgrade, after the Kolubara River burst its banks and flooded 90 per cent of the town. According to one rescuer in Obrenovac, bodies are floating in the water and the rescuers have trouble evacuating all the people who are still trapped in the city.

&quot;The situation in Obrenovac remained very critical and rescuers had started uncovering dead bodies. I will not reveal the number until the water goes down,&quot; Predrag Maric, head of police emergency sector said on Saturday.

Floods are threatening to leave one third of Serbia without electricity. Forecasters expect the Sava River to rise in the coming days due to the rainfall upstream in Bosnia and Croatia.

A state of emergency has been declared in Bosnia also, after the heaviest flooding in past 120 years. &quot;People need assistance in basic groceries, clothing and hygienic supplies. Many people are left homeless due to the landslides and flooding, and unfortunately first victims are marked. The whole country is on its feet and volunteers are making efforts to help in affected areas such as Maglaj, Doboj, Zavidovici, Bijeljina, Bosanski Samac, Vogosca&quot;, as Lamija Terzimehic, journalist from Sarajevo informed us.

Help from abroad is needed, please publish those appeals at your news and help rescuing operations.

Contacts:

Marko Paunovic | Brussels  | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.|+32495948417

Milena Stosic | Belgrade | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | +38169738446                 

Assistance for those in need can be paid into the dinar account of the Serbian government 840-3546721-89, purpose of payment: removal of consequences of the emergency situation – floods. The number of the foreign currency account to which assistance can be deposited is: 01-504619-100193230-000000-0000. Ministry of Interior of Republic of Serbia: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Donations to the Red Cross of Republic Srpska: NLB RAZVOJNA BANKA A.D., SWIFT CODE: RAZBBA22, IBAN:

BA395620128039461369, client name: CRVENI KRST REPUBLIKE SRPSKE, client address:

SRPSKIH RATNIKA 1, 71 420 PALE Account number: 508-4101833294

Donations to the Red Cross of Bosnia and Herzegovina Federation: RAIFFEISEN BANK d.d. BiH, SWIFT CODE: RZBABASS, IBAN:

BA391610000000850119, client name: CRVENI KRIZ FEDERACIJE BIH SARAJEVO, client address: NEDIMA FILIPOVICA 9, 71000 SARAJEVO 

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 yjaThis month, a group of talented writers from across Europe converged on Berlin to attend a workshop celebrating our inaugural Young Journalist Award. The articles that had won each participant a place at the table spanned subjects as surprising and various as Europe itself: from beggars to bus stations, cheese crackers to the mafia.

Thursday, 01 May 2014 00:00

Road trip to a new Europe

Written by

 caravan

 

It's a sublime and sleepy spring afternoon in Słubfurt, and Michael Kurzwelly is pontificating from a tree stump in the central square of the city he founded. "I am not German, French or Polish," he says, "but European. When you have lived in many cultures, you cannot stand to exist in only one."

Kurzwelly lives in a picturesque university town that conventional maps know as Frankfurt an der Oder. The river that marks the eastern edge of the city is also the limit of the German state: on opposite bank sits the Polish town Słubice. As a sworn transnationalist, Kurzwelly did not feel at home in either Frankish Frankfurt or Slavic Słubice. His own identity, he says, was '"the identity of being in between." And so he dreamed up a polis of his own: Słubfurt, "the first city located half in Poland and half in Germany."

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