Sunday, August 23, 2009

The ugly underbelly of Europe, East and West

Tourists cavort on the beaches of Italy, sip wines in the vineyards of France, explore the fabulous coastline of Dalmatia. And remain oblivious (along with those who remain at home, wherever home is) to the nastiness in the underbellies of the the beautiful places. Of course, the same can be problems can be discussed in USA, but the focus here is on the Roma and the Baltics because of their vulnerability to the forces of evil in the form of nationalists and the Russian Bear.

This week four people were detained in Hungary in "connection with a series of killings of Roma". We're not just talking about good old-fashioned murder: this violence includes firebombings and other assorted sordid acts of aggression and degradation. The above link to the NYT article is a small report.
Then we have the situation with the highjacked Russian vessel, the Arctic Sea. The Russians report this in the same vein as the highjackings by Somali pirates or pirates in Indonesian-Malaysian-Indian waters. Not quite. What cargo was on that vessel? Why were communications so effectively blocked? Why did they turn off the GPS tracking device? Who is "they"? The whole story sounds weird from the outset, but the fact that Russia was very quick to point out that the "pirates" were Latvian, Estonian, and Russian (in that order) makes the hairs on the backs of necks of all Balts rise and antennas tuned to the vibes emanating from the east. Russia is still smarting from the loss of what it considers its territories (ask the Balts how they feel about that) and any chance it gets, will rattle sabers and make Estonians, Lithuanians, and Latvians feel very vulnerable.

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