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- June 6, 2017 at 5:15 pm #347268
I nominate David Straka, Slovakia!
David Straka is just 18 years old and has not yet finished secondary school — but he’s already a national figure in Slovakia, for organizing anticorruption protests that have brought thousands of people to the streets.
Young, Idealistic but Determined, Slovaks Lead Anticorruption Crusade
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — The pair of budding corruption fighters paused outside Slovakia’s presidential palace, trying to decide how long to give the government to capitulate to their demands. They wanted the resignations of the interior minister and the national police chief, as well as full and transparent investigations of a parade of recent corruption scandals. And that was just a start — the demonstration they had organized on Facebook was only a few hours away.
“What do you think, seven days?” asked David Straka, considering the memorandum he had put together with his partner, Karolina Farska.
She wasn’t sure. “We forgot to put in a deadline,” she said sheepishly, her face framed by a flowery headband. “This is the first time we’ve done anything like this.”
The oversight could be forgiven. They were, after all, just 18.
Corruption has been a stubborn problem in many of the former Communist countries of Eastern Europe. Things have grown so bad that some analysts now speak in terms of “state capture” — where all major state institutions are effectively in the hands of corrupt politicians and untouchable oligarchs. The problem is entering an even more critical stage, as authoritarian-minded leaders leverage the rise of nationalism and populism to consolidate power.
For young people like Mr. Straka and Ms. Farska, the fight against corruption is about nothing less than taking their country back for the next generation. Their battle is infused with a healthy dose of youthful idealism, but their anticorruption campaign has caught on, as have like-minded movements across the region.
The pair have become local media darlings, using Facebook to organize an anticorruption march in mid-April that drew as many as 10,000 people.
Immediately after the high schoolers dropped off their single-page manifesto at the government’s complaints office on the day of the march, they made their way through the baroque city center of Bratislava to a square where a few hundred people had already started gathering.
“The state should respect our parents and not steal from them and lie,” Mr. Straka explained without breaking step, as glowering clouds loomed over nearby Bratislava Castle and a steady sprinkle of icy droplets fell from the slate sky.June 6, 2017 at 5:36 pm #438010
This movement also has its own pop anthem.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Id62YquRwqIJune 6, 2017 at 5:39 pm #438011
Protests like this happen every ~2 years here. But I have to say that if someone really achieved something in our country, it was students. It was them who started the revolution against communists. It was them who contributed to the national revival of Slovaks in the 19th century. It was a student who wrote our national anthem. So maybe it’s not that ridiculous to think that they could defeat corruption once and for all.
By the way, finally an English reporter that didn’t say Fiko, but correct Fico (Feetso).June 13, 2017 at 9:11 pm #438275
Chimney sweep Bertalon Tovt, Mukachevo, Zakarpattia Oblast, Western Ukraine. He is so beloved that he has his own statue. This sculpture is located in the center of Mukachevo city, Ukraine. Interestingly, it is believed that meeting a chimney sweep by chance is lucky.
A parade of chimney sweeps was held on July 27, 2016 in the city of Mukachevo in Transcarpathia. The head of Mukachevo tourist information center Maksim Adamenko informed on his Facebook page that the event was dedicated to the birthday of the living legend of the city – chimney sweep Bertalon Tovt. The event was open to all comers. You just needed to come up with a costume of a chimney sweep and join the procession in the city center.
B.Tovt, or Berti-bacsi, has been doing chimney sweep in Mukachevo since 1973. In 2010, a monument to him was erected on the main street of the town and it became the hallmark of Mukachevo. The highlight of the event was the participation of brides in the parade. “In Britain, there is a tradition to invite chimney sweeps to weddings. Couples entering into marriage rub a chimney sweep’s button for good luck – a kind of a good omen. So we decided to invite brides to the holiday. Everyone was able to make a wish standing between two chimney sweeps – the monument and the real Bertalon Tovt” – Maks Adamenko wrote. The parade of chimneysweeps, which was held in the city for the first time, according to the organizers, is intended to become an annual event for tourists and residents of Mukachevo.
[Actually, Tovt is Hungarian. But, hey, he lives and works in Ukraine. He’s probably at least SORTA Slavic by now.]June 13, 2017 at 9:19 pm #438276
Heh, reminds me a bit of one story by one of my favourite BG authors. Let’s hope they don’t chase him around, asking for favours now that he’s a celebrity though…June 13, 2017 at 9:31 pm #438278
@NikeBG What is the story? Who is this Bulgarian author?June 13, 2017 at 9:54 pm #438279
There’s a similar statue in Bratislava.
He’s best known as Schöne Náci (1897 – 1967).
From a Wikipedia article:
He walked around the Old Town and in particular the stretch from Michael’s Gate to the river, in top hat and tails, greeting women with the words, “I kiss your hand” in German, Hungarian and Slovak.
Here’s the full article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sch%C3%B6ner_N%C3%A1ci
It’s only a few sentences long, though.
Some other similar statues from Bratislava:
Čumil (the watcher)
This statue used to be a part of a restaurant with the same name. It’s not there anymore.June 13, 2017 at 10:30 pm #438281
@Karpivna The author is Ivaylo Petrov and the story is “The best citizen of the republic”. About a really helpful and loved old guy, whose neighbours eventually declare him “Best citizen of the republic”, then the state makes it official and then the whole neighbourhood starts asking him for favours/special treatment due to their collective effort for his award (until this highly conscientious guy finally gives in at the end). Btw, Petrov’s most famous novel and the one that made me his fan (I couldn’t believe it was written by a Bulgarian when I first read it), Wolf Hunt, has recently been translated to English, if anyone wants to check it out (don’t worry, it’s not really about hunting, but it is great).June 13, 2017 at 11:04 pm #438285
@NikeBG Thank you for the information! I’ll have to read this book.November 1, 2017 at 8:49 am #442960
The Incredible Story of the Polish Hero Who Volunteered for Auschwitz Will Amaze You!
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