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Around the Bloc - 16 May

The important, interesting, or just downright quirky news from TOL’s coverage region. Today: a groundbreaking documentary in Poland; Bosnia under water; FC Sheriff Tiraspol; high-tech opportunities for Armenian youth; and a fight for the right to make brandy. 16 May 2019

Big Fish in a Small Pond


Despite its total dominance of Moldovan football for almost two decades, the Sheriff Tiraspol team remains more a piece of post-Soviet trivia than a fixture on the international football circuit. As BBC Sport writes, this has do with its place of origin, the unrecognized Transdniester republic, a sliver of land between Ukraine and Moldova, where contraband thrives. FC Sheriff has won 17 of  the last 19 Moldovan league titles but failed to make the leap to success in European club competitions. "It was the business model of the club to sign foreign players from South America and from Africa, add to their value and then sell them to Russian clubs," Petr Lulenov of the Transdniestrian Football Federation told the BBC. "But because the domestic league is so weak and there is little competition for Sheriff, that policy no longer works,” adding that “the football club is run at a massive loss.”



High-Tech Dreams


A cutting-edge after-school center in Yerevan is introducing Armenian teens to the latest high-tech trends. “Packed with hundreds of computers with industry standard software, 3D printers, video cameras and an animation studio, Tumo gives youngsters an opportunity to study web design, robotics, animation, music, digital media and more,” AFP writes. The Tumo Center for Creative Technologies was founded in 2011 by U.S.-based couple Sam and Sylva Simonian, who provided the initial investment of $60 million for the project, which is largely self-sustaining, according to AFP. In addition to four Tumo centers in Armenia, more are in the works in Paris, Beirut, and Tirana.



Brandy Wars


Hungary and Romania have joined efforts to promote an issue high on the local agenda: more rights for home distillers of palinka or tuica, as brandy is known in the two neighboring countries. When not arguing over who originated the fiery beverage, Romanians and Hungarians alike benefit from leniency from Brussels, which allows them to produce more brandy for personal use than elsewhere in the European Union and pay less tax, according to Reuters. Still, Bucharest, which currently holds the rotating EU council presidency, wants to increase the threshold for personal use, and scrap taxes on homemade brandy altogether.



Telling Everyone


A documentary about the Catholic Church’s sexual abuses in Poland has gone viral and sent shock waves through the church hierarchy, according to The Associated Press. Financed through a crowdfunding campaign and released on YouTube on Saturday, “Tell No One”  documents a conspiracy of silence surrounding priests accused of abuse. Instead of facing internal sanctions or being turned over to the police, some abusers were transferred to new parishes. The film has racked up more than 17 million views so far. Perhaps more significant, the hullabaloo in this profoundly Catholic country forced a reaction from the church itself, with the primate of Poland, Wojciech Polak, thanking the film’s director-brothers Tomasz and Marek Sekielski, for their “courage.” The Vatican’s ambassador to Poland, Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio, said “the pope is very concerned and we express sympathy and solidarity.”



Miserable Weather in Southeastern Europe


Torrential rain is wreaking havoc in the Balkans this week. Flooding prompted the Bosnian authorities to declare a state of emergency on Tuesday, while Croatia and Serbia were on the alert, Reuters reports. Homes flooded and some people were evacuated across much of Bosnia, and landslides cut off electricity and drinking water in some areas. Croatian Environment and Energy Minister Tomislav Coric today said flood control measures were in place in areas threatened by an advancing wave of high water, but that no repeat of last year’s record floods was likely, Total Croatia News reports. Two massive floods in four months struck the region in 2014, causing billions of dollars in damages.

Compiled by Ioana Caloianu
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#PragueMediaPoint Conference for journalists, media professionals, and scholars

‚ÄčThe 2019 edition of Prague Media Point will highlight these types of inspiring examples and more. We will offer a mix of scholarly presentations, including keynote addresses; sessions with innovators explaining their solutions; and networking opportunities to promote the exchange of know-how. As in years past, the conference will have a special regional focus on Central and Eastern Europe, though we look forward to covering cases and trends from other parts of the world. – WHAT’S WORKING





Moldovan diaries

The Moldovan Diaries is a multimedia, interactive examination of the country's ethnic, religious, social and political identities by Paolo Paterlini and Cesare De Giglio.

This innovative approach to story telling gives voice to ordinary people and takes the reader on the virtual trip across Moldovan rural and urban landscapes. 

It is a unique and intimate map of the nation.


© Transitions Online 2019. All rights reserved. ISSN 1214-1615
Published by Transitions o.s., Baranova 33, 130 00 Prague 3, Czech Republic.