tv Focus on Europe PBS December 19, 2015 6:00pm-6:31pm PST
damien: hello and a very warm welcome to "focus on europe," with a look at some of the main stories shaping the lives of europeans all over the continent. i'm damien mcguinness. thanks very much for joining us. on the program today -- the lights are going out for the tartars of crimea austrians quite literally up in arms about migration. and spanish singles head to the countryside, and it's more than fresh air they're after. when i lived in the former soviet state of georgia, electricity cuts were really common. you'd be sitting in a bar or a restaurant and suddenly the lights would go out. but georgians are an irrepressible bunch. so people would just whip out a
few torches and candles and carry on with their evening. it's much worse though right now for millions of people living on the black sea peninsula of crimea. they have been hit by power cuts for weeks now since the electricity lines through ukraine were blown up by anti-russian activists. it's thought those responsible were ethnic tatars, a muslim minority who objected to russia's annexation of crimea last year. but tatars are also some of those hit hardest by the power cuts. >> there's our generator! you just have to turn it on. >> aivaz and sergei asmanov are glad they've got their own electricity generator, even if it's expensive -- very expensive, they say. sergei's wife lilia invites us in. coffee's good for the nerves, she jokes. and this family needs strong nerves now more than ever. like many crimean tatars, the asmanovs feel caught in the crossfire between ukraine and russia -- especially since the
widespread power failure. moscow blames crimean tatar and ukrainian activists for blowing up electricity transmission towers to protest against the russian annexation of crimea. now all the tatars are under suspicion. >> they don't blame the crimean tatars to our faces. they talk about bandits and look at us suspiciously. some are saying we should move to ukraine. but why? we crimean tatars are staying here. nobody can intimidate us. we're used to troubles. we'll survive this, too. >> but for now, many crimeans, tatars and others, have to survive without electricity. bakhchysarai, near sevastopol, is a typical crimean tatar community. the tatars were once the majority in crimea, but the soviets deported many of them after world war two. some returned after the dissolution of the soviet union.
but they remain suspicious of moscow, especially since russia's take-over of crimea. and they also worry that the west may be prepared to use crimea as a bargaining chip in a compromise with russia in the ongoing ukraine conflict. the local hospital has power only for the most essential facilities. the laboratory and a few pieces of equipment. that's thanks to the resourceful director, who obtained two generators somewhere when the blackout started two weeks before. >> unfortunately, it's not enough. our x-ray machine could only be operated for two days in two weeks. the authorities switch on emergency power for a little while, but don't say when -- just for a few hours at night, when we don't really need it. >> ukraine has promised to restore electricity to crimea as soon as possible. and the power has been coming back on bit by bit.
the hospital director couldn't wait and went looking for more generators so his patients wouldn't have to travel the 35 kilometers to the capital simferopol for relatively minor injuries. there are more generators available there. but even in simferopol, the streets are dark, and night falls early at this time of year. the residents haven't yet seen much of the power restoration that's been announced. suddenly, we see light -- lots of light. the russian-sponsored government is holding a festival especially for the crimean tatars -- in the midst of the blackout. it seems to be meant to send the message, we're doing something for the minority, unlike what many believe. the crimean tatars have nothing to worry about.
crimean prime minister sergei aksyonov made a personal appearance. >> life goes on in spite of all the difficulties. so it was the right thing to organize this festival. my congratulations for it! >> in bakhchysarai, the lights were still off. candles provided the only light during the long evenings. the boys in this house say they drink tea or go outside to pass the time. >> our crimean tatar leaders do nothing for us. is that a nice life? it's just painful. >> the asmanovs don't seem to expect any help from anyone, neither the authorities nor the crimean tatar leaders. they help themselves, thanks
partly to their generator. >> see for yourself. as soon as it gets dark, we fire up the machine and have light until morning. >> it's also warm in their home lilia is baking pierogies for when the neighbors drop in later. like most crimean tatars, the asmanovs have had to adapt to russian rule. they have little choice. they hope they can keep on living here peacefully with their fellow ethnic-russian crimeans. >> we're often visited by people from the village who can't afford a generator. every day, somebody comes by. we sit together and talk, play cards or even watch television. >> if anything good comes of the power outage, lilia hopes it might bring crimea's ethnic russians and tatars closer together and allay some of the present suspicions.
damien: of course, the biggest challenge facing europe right now is how to cope with the unprecedented number of migrants. the latest figures show that more than a million people will come here to germany this year alone. but not all those coming to europe will be allowed to stay. if the authorities suspect that someone is fleeing poverty rather than war or oppression, then their request for asylum is usually turned down. and in theory at least, they are then sent back to their home country. but what happens if they have nowhere to return to? if they have no documents, for example. well, it seems the netherlands is getting particularly tough. >> a former office building on the outskirts of amsterdam is where a group of somali refugees have found shelter for the last few months. maryama omar and the other young somali women prepare their meals at what used to be a conference table. the dutch authorities rejected their applications for asylum
and put the women out on the street. since then, they've squatted various buildings. this building used to house municipal government offices. maryama is drying her clothes. maryama: this is my bed. before it became my bed it was the computer table for this room. this room was actually an office for the government, municipality office. >> so those who used to work here were officials from the same government that now wants to throw out the refugees. but maryama feels she's found a temporary home. she says she fled from somalian islamists five years ago. maryama: they asked for my hand in marriage. at the time, i was 16. and they came to ask my father to do that. and my father refused.
and it was not only me, but me and my brother. and when my father refused, they came several times to him, but he still refused it. and then they, at the end, they killed him. >> that's when her brother disappeared. maryama's family decided to send her to europe, and she landed in amsterdam. the family probably didn't realize she'd end up being homeless. maryama: yes, this is our newest building. and before that we were in at -- almost 10 other i don't know, , 14 other buildings. and every time we occupy a building and they evict us and we occupy a building and they evict us. >> hundreds of illegal refugees like maryama are scattered throughout the city with neither government assistance nor work
permits. they can't be deported because they're without passports. so they're stuck in limbo. the dutch authorities refused to grant us an interview about the harsh refugee policies. many neighbors show little interest in the migrants' fate. few of them shw any empathy. >> we are all human. so in my heart i say, "they are already here. try to get no new ones." and the ones that are already 5, 6, or 7 years here, let them stay. >> it's not good. when you say that they have to go back, then you have to send them back. but don't let them stay here. it's not good.
marjan: how wonderful to see you! maryama: nice to see you too. maryama: how are you? >> maryama couldn't survive without volunteer helpers -- like marjan sax, a political scientist. she visits the squatters regularly, bringing medicine when someone's ill, but also helping them find their next shelter. maryama doesn't understand why the dutch authorities treat her so badly. maryama: if i don't have a place and they know that they should give me a place, because shelter is not something i have to ask, it's something i'm entitled to. so if they're not giving and i try to take it. i don't know why they have to criminalize me. marjan: they think that if they can make the situation very bad, that then you will return. and now it's been proven already for quite a long time that people who can't return are not returning. they're just in very destitute and very bad circumstances, in
the street. the holland that has been in the past a liberal and open country has become very, very right-wing and very conservative. and scary. >> in the evening, the refugees hold a kind of conference in what used to be a government conference room. an attorney is on hand to give free advice. she sees only one way forward: the refugees should file new applications for asylum, with additional evidence to prove they were really persecuted. it's an exhausting bureaucratic ordeal. >> this is a declaration, a statement that you don't have any income. and if you send it to the court, you don't have to pay the court. that's the only thing we can do for you. >> so what do you need, then? >> after her five-year-long experience with the authorities, maryama omar sees no prospects in the netherlands. maryama: if i had a choice, i would go back to my country.
i would go back to my country even tomorrow, but i don't have that choice. >> the situation is similar for the other refugees here as well. but holland's harsh asylum policies have little deterrent effect, and more and more refugees keep arriving. damien: here in germany, you really get the impression that a lot of people are welcoming refugees. one friend i know in berlin regularly helps out at a local refugee hostel. another, a doctor, is about to sign up to give free medical examinations. in austria, though, the mood is very different. although there are undoubtedly plenty of austrians doing their bit to help, there is also a growing belief that more migrants could lead to more crime -- a fear which is being fueled by far-right parties. so much so, that some austrians are resorting to guns to protect themselves.
>> the shooters hall in himberg, 25 kilometers south of vienna. elisabeth keyl loves to shoot. it's her hobby, and she keeps a handgun at home. in austria, she needs a firearm certificate for that, and to get one, she had to undergo a psychological evaluation. she's required to store the gun securely and unloaded at home. but she says that gives her a feeling of security. elisabeth: i can use it, but by the time i'd get it out of the safe and loaded, i think the intruder would already be inside. i've never had a situation like that, but if it did occur, i'd be able to protect myself. >> the number of legal firearms is reported to be rising sharply in austria. many women, in particular, are reported to be arming themselves. many say that's because of the refugee crisis and a general feeling of vulnerability. elisabeth agrees with the right-wing populists on many
issues. elisabeth: the police have been downsized so much, they can't be where they're needed. and now, just look at what's happening at the border, where there were just three officers and they were overrun. citizens no longer feel at all protected. all these people are coming in nobody knows who they are. >> spielfeld, austria, october 21st. refugees stormed past fences as police and soldiers looked on. it was an isolated incident, but the images stuck in the public mind and they're being made use of by some who try to take advantage of the crisis for their own political ends. this is georg zakrajsek's first aid kit. he instructs holders of firearm certificates like elisabeth keyl. every five years, they're required to take a refresher course. zakrajsek is one of austria's leading gun lobbyists. politically, he tends to the far
right. he says austrians have no other choice but to arm themselves. georg: the fact is, our borders are open. we don't know who's coming in. we don't know what kind of people they are, where they come from or what they've got in their backpacks and bags. nobody checks. they say there are spot checks on the border. if someone comes along with three hand grenades, they just take them away and send him on his way. >> we ask him where he got his information. georg: many of our members belong to the police force and quite a few are in the military, and i hear it from them. they're reliable sources. >> the information could not be verified. but it can be confirmed that misinformation is being spread deliberately and massively through the social media. hate speech and blatant falsehoods are posted to stoke popular fears.
reports of hordes of refugees plundering supermarkets in vienna have been made up and posted. the mimikama initiative in vienna exposes falsehoods and abuse on the internet. it's financed by ads and donations. bogus reports on refugees are at an all-time high. >> there's no end in sight. because this phenomenon has a current political background which is also continuing. as long as we continue to have a political debate on refugees, material will continue to be disseminated on the social networks, and it has to be monitored. >> aside from target practice, elisabeth enjoys surfing the web. on october 14th, 2015, she retweeted, migrants are setting fires in sweden's capital. in fact, the reference was to the unrest in stockholm's suburbs back in 2013.
refugees were not involved, as mimikama confirmed. was this a deliberate attempt to incite fear? >> the fear is growing. partly, those fears have been purposely stocked up, and partly because they're rooted in people's own perception that they're growing, because they've always been harbored, and now they're just being reinforced. >> the seidler gun shop in vienna's 19th district. gun sales are rising sharply in austria's capital. since the central firearms registry was introduced in june, 2014, over 70-thousand additional pistols and rifles have been registered, with the total number of gun owners climbing to over 17,000. heribert seidler's business has been booming for months. heribert: we have many new customers who may well have never been in our shop before. but lots of police officers are buying private arms now, too that's very noticeable.
and rifles like these are popular, for example, because they look very threatening. >> but austria is not america. only licensed gun owners are allowed to carry a concealed weapon. and very few licenses being issued now. the state is keeping a tight lid on them. statistics exist that show crime rising with the arrival of refugees. also rising are feelings of insecurity, unfounded anxiety and a perception that the state is losing control the forces behind the rise in gun sales. >> we can't regulate or prohibit anything. all we can do is try to help people get rid of their fear so they won't squander their money on guns. >> but with fear growing and spreading, many austrians seem to be doing just that.
damien: it seems particularly worrying that refugees are being branded as potential criminals. wha do you think? is the fear of migrants justified? and if so, are weapons the answer? let me know your thoughts. i don't know about you, but a lot of my female friends living in big cities are single. at the same time, surveys show that in many rural areas some men find it hard to find a wife. well, in spain one dating service reckons it has the answer. city women from madrid are bussed into rural areas for a weekend of matchmaking at parties with local men who are looking for love -- or at the very least someone to help with the milking. but critics say the events objectify women, making them look like products you just ship in. well, to find out more, our reporter decided to hitch a ride. >> yuli bohorquez has looked forward to this day for a long while. since her divorce over 15 years
ago, she's lived on her own in madrid. but today she's part of a group of women headed for the spanish countryside, where they hope to find men to share their lives with. yuli: the most important thing is to have a good time and meet some nice people there. >> this bus excursion is called caravana de mujeres or women's caravan. it brings single women from madrid who are looking for life partners out to the country. organizers say that here there's a surplus of marriage-minded men. >> who's looking for a husband? hands up! look, they're all looking for a man, especially one with money! >> like on past trips, the bus is completely full. around 60 women are along for the ride this time. there are over a million single women in spain.
why so many? yuli: i think we shut ourselves in and don't get out enough. >> we always stay home. yuli: exactly, and wait for love to knock on our door! >> after three hours on the road, the "caravana de mujeres" is nearing its destination, the historical city of merida. but their arrival at a hotel five kilometers out of town is a bit of a let-down. just a few bachelors have turned up. that's partly due to the weather, but also because of the cost. men pay 50 euros each to take part -- over twice as much as the women. still, some are willing to try their luck. >> we're nervous, but hungry, too! we were supposed to eat at 1:00
and it's already 3:00! >> i hope the girls are friendly. >> the men come from the surrounding villages. most are farmers or tradesmen. many have been bachelors all their lives. julio is one of them. he's been here once before. that was two years ago when he met yuli's friend lupita. now the three of them are going for a stroll around merida. yuli: i'm a little jealous. i don't know. maybe because it looks like they're in love, and of course if that happened to me i'd be thrilled. but these things do take time. >> back at the hotel. most of the women here are over
40 and have been previously married. they say finding a man who's prepared to live with a mature, independent woman is next to impossible. yuli: i devoted myself to my children. i raised them, worked hard and neglected myself. click>> the first couples takeo the dance floor. in the meantime, more men have arrived from nearby villages -- and the dating game begins. feminists say events like these are meat markets which degrade women. but those attending disagree. meanwhile, yuli is focusing on her goal -- and on juan, a retired policeman. he's already smitten. >> i'm ready to give it a try with her.
>> and what about yuli? yuli: i don't know. we'll have to wait and see. we've just met and we're getting to know each other. time will tell -- days, weeks and months whatever it takes -- and then we'll see. >> after hours of heart-to-heart talks, juan takes his leave. yuli is on her own once again, but now she's doesn't seem to mind. she says the caravana de mujeres has already shown her one thing -- she's still an attractive woman. damien: i actually thought they were quite suited. well, that's it for today. thanks very much for watching. do feel free to get in touch anytime with your thoughts and comments. always great to hear from you. but in the meantime it's goodbye from me and the whole team. and look forward to seeing you next time. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]
steves: since the romantic era in the 19th century, luzern has been a regular stop on the grand tour route of europe. [ whistle blows ] its inviting lakefront now includes a modern concert hall, which incorporates the lake into its design. the old town, with a pair of picture-perfect wooden bridges, straddles the reuss river, where it tumbles out of lake luzern.
the bridge was built at an angle in the 14th century to connect the town's medieval fortifications. today, it serves strollers, rather than soldiers, as a peaceful way to connect two sides of town. many are oblivious to the fascinating art just overhead. under the rafters hang about 100 colorful 17th-century paintings showing scenes from luzern and its history. this legendary giant dates to the middle ages, when locals discovered mammoth bones, which they mistakenly thought were the bones of a human giant. here's luzern in about 1400, the bridge already part of the city fortifications. and luzern looked like this in 1630. luzern is responsible for controlling the lake level. by regulating the flow of water out of its lake, the city prevents the flooding of lakeside villages when the snow melts. in the mid-19th century, the city devised and built
this extendable dam. by adding and taking away these wooden slats, they could control the level of the lake. swans are a fixture on the river today. locals say they arrived in the 17th century as a gift from the french king, louis xiv, in appreciation for the protection his swiss guards gave him. switzerland has a long history of providing strong and loyal warriors to foreign powers. the city's famous lion monument recalls the heroism of more swiss mercenaries. the mighty lion rests his paws on a french shield. tears stream down his cheeks. the broken-off end of a spear is slowly killing the noble beast. the sad lion is a memorial to over 700 swiss mercenaries who were killed, defending marie antoinette and louis xvi during the french revolution. the people of luzern take full advantage of their delightful river with a variety of cafes and restaurants along its banks.