What Orbán’s Third Win Could Mean for Europe
With his strong election victory on Sunday, Hungary’s Viktor Orbán exceeded all expectations. What will the party’s third win mean for Europe?
It’s about Russia, not God
The Russian Orthodox Church, which sees the Kiev patriarchate as a rival, cannot afford to alienate the 75% of the Ukrainian population who remain faithful to it: this is one of the few cases in which Moscow has not been able to count on the support of the Church.
Most Cossacks approve of the synergy between Church and state, which normally runs smoothly. But a few see it as a sign that the lessons of the past have been forgotten, something close to a betrayal. One young man showed me photographs of his great-great-grandparents, who were killed or died in exile after the Soviet authorities deported them in the 1920s.
Alexey Lebedev, a Cossack and priest of the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church, was just as angry: ‘When someone tells you that anyone who believes in Orthodoxy has a duty to defend the state, he is repeating the religious line dictated by Vladimir Putin. Patriarch Kirill’s Church isn’t really a religious organisation, it’s just a department of the Kremlin in charge of Orthodox affairs.’
A number of commentators have dubbed Russia a “mafia state”. It is certainly a catchy epithet, but what does it actually mean?
The Kremlin does not control organised crime in Russia, nor is it controlled by it. Rather, organised crime prospers under Putin, because it can go with the grain of his system.
There is a very high level of corruption in Russia, which provides a conducive environment for organised crime. It is not just professional criminals who are exploiting the opportunities provided by Russia’s cannibalistic capitalism – state agents, too, are exploiting their own criminal opportunities in an increasingly organised way. In 2016, the police raided the apartment of Col Dmitry Zakharchenko, the acting head of a department within the police force’s anti-corruption division. There they found $123m (£87m) in cash
The connection between the elite and the gangsters usually revolves around mutually profitable relationships – but these relationships can also fall apart in spectacular ways.
The modern Russian state is a much stronger force than it was in the 1990s, and jealous of its political authority. The gangs that prosper in modern Russia tend to do so by working with rather than against the state. In other words: do well by the Kremlin, and the Kremlin will turn a blind eye. If not, you will be reminded that the state is the biggest gang in town.
Just as the Russian language has become colonised by many borrowings from criminal slang, so too have regular Russian business practices become suffused with underworld habits and methods. Corporate espionage, bribery, and the use of political influence to swing contracts and stymie rivals remain commonplace, and continue to connect the worlds of crime and business. Likewise, the new generation of crime bosses are more likely than ever also to be active within the realms of legitimate and “grey” business.
The increasing sophistication of criminal operations, especially their shift towards white-collar crime, has created a need for financial specialists, to manage their own funds and also their economic crimes.
A vor I once spoke to bitterly complained that “we have been infected by the rest of you and we are dying”, but the infection has passed both ways. Many of the organising and operating principles of modern Russia follow the lead of the underworld. Maybe it is not that the vory have disappeared so much as that everyone is now a vor, and that the vorovskoi mir – the world of the thieves – ultimately won.
February 24, 20183:51 PM ET JOANNA KAKISSIS
The EU told Serbia it can join by 2025 — but only if it carries out reforms and works out its differences with Kosovo. German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said he supports Serbia’s candidacy only if it recognizes Kosovo and deals with “nonfunctional” northern Kosovo.
Kosovo’s current leaders — Thaci and Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj — are throwbacks to the 1990s, both former Kosovo Liberation Army officers who fought the Serbian Army. Serbia wants to extradite Haradinaj to be tried for war crimes. Thaci has been accused of involvement in an organ-trafficking ring. (He denies the allegations.) Their supporters recently angered the United States and the EU by trying to scrap a special court to try former KLA fighters for wartime and postwar crimes.
Unemployment hovers between 30-35 percent, rising to nearly 60 percent among young people. More than half of Kosovo’s population is under age 25.
Some are lured by crime and even terrorism. At least 315 Kosovars joined the Islamic State in recent years.
When she was 30, Suzy Hansen left the US for Istanbul – and began to realise that Americans will never understand their own country until they see it as the rest of the world does
Anti-Muslim, Anti-Somali sentiments in St. Cloud area
MATTHEW BRUNWASSER datetime=”2017-11-24T14:53:57-05:00″>NOV. 23, 2017
Observers also note the return of the political language of the 1990s by some senior Serbian government officials as they attack dissenters as traitors, spies and enemies.
The European Union warned against letting a war criminal give a lecture to the academy, but the general received high praise from the defense minister, Mr. Vulin, a former close political ally of Mr. Milosevic’s widow, Mirjana Markovic.
The public support for a war criminal appalled human rights activists and Western officials.
Russian propaganda had influenced how the Serbian government portrays the difficult democratic reforms required by the bloc: they are cast as “pressure” from Brussels, enabling Serbian politicians to present resistance as patriotism.
HOW A GOOD PERSON TURNS EVIL
November 5, 2017
A Lesson in Defiance with Lyudmila Ulitskaya
The celebrated Russian writer will discuss civil courage and civil reality in present-day Russia. The programme will include a reading from her novel Jacob’s Ladder, recently published in Ján Štrasser’s Slovak translation.
The power of negative emotions in politics cannot be countered by ridding it of emotions altogether. Forced ideologies combined with cynicism destroy politics. Where should we seek solutions?
Slavenka Drakulić (Zagreb) – Max Harris (Auckland/ Oxford) – Ivan Krastev (Sofia) – Tomáš Sedláček (Prague)
SLAVENKA DRAKULIĆ 21 November 2017
this same photo was selected, by Time magazine and an international team of curators, to be among the 100 most influential photographs of all time.
Ron Haviv’s photo is a picture of war, any war. All the ingredients are here. But also of a civil war, of people who lived too close to each other not to kill one another with emotions.