Newsletter October Newsletter

Good and Bad News Update – Europe October 2022

Good News Europe

  • Ukraine Railways and Doctors without Borders have created an ambulance train to carry patients from cities close to hostilities to hospitals some 1,000km away. So far they have carried over 650 patients. 
  • LGBTQ+ activists have set up shelters across Ukraine to help those who may need mental or physical support.
  • The president of Serbia attempted to cancel the EuroPride Festival due to run from 12 to 17 September in Belgrade after the Orthodox Church called for it to be banned. However, the organisers went ahead with a shortened march despite counter-protests from right wing and ultranationalist groups.
  • Spain has passed legislation that means consent to sexual intercourse cannot be assumed by default or silence. Under the new law, consent must be affirmative: only yes means yes.
  • An empty chair at the Venice Film Festival stood in for award-winning director Jafar Panahi when his latest film was premiered. He is currently serving six years imprisonment in Iran for promoting ‘propaganda against the Islamic Republic’. He was one of three film makers arrested in Tehran.
  • The European Court of Human Rights ruled that France must re-examine repatriation requests from two French women who travelled to Syria with their partners to join Isis and the children they gave birth to there. The Court ruled that the refusal was in violation of their rights to ‘enter the territory of the state of which [one] is a national’. 
  • Germany has agreed to pay a further £1.04bn for home care and compensation to Holocaust survivors around the world in 2023. This brings the overall total compensation paid by Germany to more than £80bn.
  • The Hungarian government submitted the first of several anti-corruption bills to Parliament in a bid to avoid losing billions in EU funding because of what the EU sees as Hungary’s failure to uphold the rule of law.

Bad News Europe

  • The Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine has told the UN Human Rights Council that war crimes have been committed in Ukraine. In interviews later the head of the Commission said ‘a large number’ had been committed by Russia and that there were only two cases committed by Ukraine involving the ill-treatment of Russian soldiers.
  • Ukrainian authorities have unearthed bodies from a mass burial site in an area recently captured from Russian forces. Some bear the hallmarks of torture. They have also found more than ten ‘torture chambers’. As a result, the Czech Republic has called for an international tribunal over the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 
  • Novaya Gazeta, one of Russia’s few remaining independent news outlets has been stripped of the media licence for its website by the Russian Supreme Court. A district court has banned its newspaper and sister magazine.
  • Since Russia invaded Ukraine, more than 500 journalists have left Russia and now journalist Ivan Safronov has been sentenced to 22 years in prison on unproven charges of selling state secrets. He was tried in secret and his lawyer said that the verdict would send a chilling effect through Russian journalism, adding: ‘for good, legal journalism work, you can go to prison for a long time’. Safronov had been offered a lower sentence if he confessed, but refused to do so.
  • According to Safe Passage, non-Ukrainian nationals, members of the Roma and traveller communities, and unaccompanied children, are all struggling to access a safe route to the UK. Even Ukrainian nationals are finding it difficult to obtain the correct paperwork or lack the support they need to send an application.
  • According to NGO Russia Behind Bars, Russia is recruiting prisoners to enlist in the military in exchange for a pardon and financial compensation. It estimates that 10,000 have been recruited to date. The casualty rate is said to be high as they receive only two days’ training before being sent to Ukraine. 
  • Russian officials claim that the vast majority of the population in eastern Donetsk, Luhansk and southern parts of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia have voted to join the Russian Federation – amounting to the annexation of 15% of Ukraine. Most countries do not regard the referendum as legitimate, and the UK has announced a package of sanctions against the officials.