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tv   Focus on Europe  PBS  May 29, 2017 7:30pm-8:01pm PDT

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♪ damien: hello, and welcome to "fokus on europe." i'm damien mcguinness and today, we're off to one of europe's biggest pilgrimage sites -- medjugorje, in bosnia-herzegovina, where local catholics say they regularly see visions of the virgin mary. but the vatican is not so sure, so the church is now investigating the authenticity of these visions. catholics who are visiting here, though, are convinced. >> i have been praying to the virgin mary to help me cure my left leg. i had polio when i was very young. damien: ildar dadin has spent the last year-and-a-half in a russian prison in siberia, and all because he staged peaceful anti-government demonstrations
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in moscow. but he didn't even organize a crowd to protest. rather, he stood there, quietly, on his own, holding a sign. no violence, no crowds, and no chanting. just one man standing alone. but because of that, he was sent to jail, where he says he has been tortured. now his wife is also standing out in the cold on her own, this time at the prison gates, waiting and hoping desperately for his release. our reporter birgit virnich decided to wait with her. birgit: this is gulag country. rubtsovsk in siberia. 5000 prisoners are held in this penal colony. for days, anastasia has been waiting in the icy cold for her husband, ildar dadin, to be released. his conviction has been overturned. in letters, he described how he was tortured in prison.
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anastasia: in this one he writes -- the director of the penal colony and three men came and beat me, several times a day. birgit: they thrust my head down the toilet. they hung me up by handcuffs, pulled down my underpants and told me that if i didn't end my hunger strike, i would be raped. ildar begged her to publish the letters, but she knew that if she did, it could cost him his life. anastasia: when he wrote that he would only last a week, we knew that if we did nothing, he wouldn't survive. we knew that if we published the letters, they would either kill him, or it would all work out. birgit: she published the letters, sparking an immediate outcry. but what really happened? who is ildar dadin? ildar dadin staged silent protests by standing in a public
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place holding anti-putin posters, usually on his own. demonstrations are rarely allowed in russia these days, and the state came down hard. ildar: they are beating people. they beat me in the face. others, too. birgit: dadin became the first political prisoner convicted under a new law prescribing harsh punishment for repeat violations of russia's strict protest rules. he was originally sentenced to three years. ildar: i hope that i have the strength to withstand it. birgit: he was sent to a labor camp, put in solitary confinement and tortured. russian tv reported that he was insubordinate. human-rights lawyer valery borshov visited dadin in the camp and confirmed that torture of political prisoners was taking place. valery: torture is practiced in a number of penal colonies.
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they've been given carte blanche. people convicted of extremism and terrorism are sent there. the prison directors have the authority to act outside the law. birgit: anastasia worried for days before her husband was finally released. the supreme court quashed his jail term, but the authorities took their time about actually releasing him. anastasia is overjoyed that he's out. but once they're home, it's clear that he's a changed man. his time behind bars has taken its toll. he often loses his train of thought. ildar insists on showing anastasia just how they tortured him. sometimes he had to stand with his legs splayed for hours until he collapsed. the descriptions are hard for his wife to bear. she pleads with him to stop.
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she hopes she can help him recover. but it won't be easy without any money. they intend to demand compensation. she'd like them to leave russia straight away, but ildar is determined to stay and fight for the rights of other prisoners. he says that russia's penal colonies haven't improved since the days of the soviet gulags. ildar: i will stay here as long as it takes for the system to break down. for russia to respect human rights -- not just theoretically in the constitution. until then, i'll stay here and keep on fighting. birgit: ildar dadin gets a warm reception at his first public appearance after his release. he says he wouldn't have survived his time in prison without the support of his
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fellow activists. damien: some have lost their jobs. others have been thrown into jail without a trial. that's the fate of many critics of turkey's president, recep tayyip erdogan. they're accused of supporting an attempt last year to overthrow erdogan's government. the coup itself failed, but it has led to a clampdown on anyone at all who dares to criticize the turkish government. which is why some of those critics have fled turkey. and now, even many young open-minded turks are leaving, not necessarily because they're oppressed, but simply because they no longer feel at home in erdogan's turkey. reporter: ozgur and deniz might never have met in their home country, but they've become close friends in athens. they both left turkey because they wanted to live in freedom and safety. they had the courage to talk to us about turkish president recep
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tayyip erdogan, who they believe is driving turkey to ruin. ozgur: they're not the real side of the turkish people. they're not what we are. we just learn friendship, we just learn peace at home, peace at world, at the school from mustafa kemal ataturk. this is how we grew up. we grew up with love, we grew up with sharing. deniz: nowadays, for the last couple of years, it's been only like, oh yeah, we've been feeling sorry for you, another bomb exploded. it sounds like our specialty is exploding bombs in turkey, nothing about kebabs. ozgur: yeah, it's our national sport. reporter: deniz and ozgur are two of thousands who have left their home, but most do not dare openly criticize the political situation in turkey because they are worried about their families back home. those who are young, well-educated, and not religious
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can lead a happier life in greece. tasos telloglou is a greek journalist who thinks that erdogan might actually be pleased that some people are leaving turkey. tasos: it's a little bit like east germany, when the people who could, let's say, be a little bit difficult, simply left. those who could be difficult for erdogan are leaving now. in other words, the urban-educated classes who are against him. reporter: telloglou was the first journalist to talk to the eight turkish pilots who fled to greece after the attempted coup last july. they're still living at a police station -- for their own safety. when greece's supreme court refused to extradite them, the turkish reaction was harsh. tasos: all their wives lost
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their jobs, all the families lost their apartments, the children were forced to leave school, and the pilots' qualifications were annulled. reporter: more and more turks are requesting political asylum in greece. those with money are investing in real estate. few real estate agents wanted to talk on camera, but vasilis axarlis was prepared to show us an apartment similar to those that he has been selling to turks recently. vasilis: i've sold apartments like this one to a doctor and a lawyer. at the moment, we're in negotiations with a businessman. it's easy to get a residence permit if you invest a minimum of 250,000 euros in real estate. it's valid for five years and can be renewed if the apartment isn't re-sold. reporter: deniz and ozgur tend to hang out with other turks after work. most of them feel comfortable in
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their country of exile despite the traditional political tensions between greece and turkey and what they were told growing up ozgur: i grew up with the hate speeches against greece. they killed our women, they killed the pregnant ladies. and vice-versa here, and in greece it was the same. and then i come here and it is the best country i've ever been. it's the best people. it's like the same. deniz: i try to avoid to talk about what's happening in turkey when we are sitting in a small group, or whatsoever, because it doesn't contribute to anything. it doesn't contribute to our current situation here, it doesn't help anything, and it also makes us more stressful. what if we go back there? reporter: since they don't know when or if they'll ever go back to turkey, they're making the most of life in greece. damien: it's just like a small
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danish village. it has a shopping street, a fitness center, and a library. but this isn't any ordinary village -- it is reserved for people with dementia. and it's the first of its kind in denmark. with europe's population ageing, projects like this are getting a lot of interest here. so we decided to visit to see just how residents are settling in. reporter: in denmark's first dementia village, people who don't always recognize the world around them can move around freely and safely. the town of svendborg created this place especially for people suffering from alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia. here, patients aren't shut up in their rooms -- the village has an open-door policy. nina borup is 74 and suffers from alzheimer's disease. together with the project leader, she shows us around the village and a construction site. nina: they're making a garden.
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and a little lake -- or a big lake. annette: and there'll be a trailer here. nina: oh! i like camping. we never had a caravan of our own, but we'd rent one and take it on holiday. reporter: and where did you do? in denmark? do you remember where you went? nina: i can't remember. denmark and another land, another country. reporter: this is part of the concept of the dementia village. it aims to bring back memories of happy times. annette: because it's what you can remember, and it has been a nice time for the residents.
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and, yeah, so that's quite important. that's where you feel safe. reporter: nina enjoys these moments of clarity, but to make sure she and the other residents don't get lost, the village is enclosed by a fence. there are 125 apartments here, on what were once ordinary streets and squares. but now they're reserved for people like this woman, who enjoy the peace and quiet. and also for those who prefer a little action. nina loves to be around people. every friday there's a sing-along at the restaurant in the heart of the village. it's not just something to keep the patients busy -- it's an event. residents remember the days when they went out dancing and enjoyed a drink or two. here they can feel not much has changed. but this place is special to nina for another reason, too.
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nina: i used to work in the office of the svendborg brewery. and it was located right here, in the place i now live. it was a big brewery. reporter: unlike most patients in nursing homes, here, residents are encouraged to take on responsibilities. it's part of their therapy. they shop and pay for items at the village boutique. handling money is both a challenge and a boost for dementia patients. and speaking of money, the dementia village is financed by the town of svendborg. an association raises money to provide residents with a few extras. but the village is also a research project. scientists are monitoring life here to learn how to best manage dementia.
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for nina, being able to live in her own four walls is the biggest bonus. this community also gives her a sense of belonging. she no longer feels so alone. if it becomes necessary, she'll be cared for around the clock. still, nina borup hopes that, with help from the dementia village, she'll remain independent for as long as possible. damien: looks like a lovely place to be elderly. now, whenever i've met elderly people who've survived the holocaust, i've always been struck by how many are determined to talk about their experiences to prevent such brutality ever happening again. and that's certainly the case with 91-year-old shlomo graber. he miraculously survived nazi forced labor, the death marches, and three concentration camps. today he lives in switzerland,
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where he has devoted his life to making sure the tragedy of the holocaust is never forgotten. reporter: shlomo graber says that he survived hell, as did his father. the rest of his loved ones were not so fortunate. most died in the holocaust. yet, he feels very little resentment today. shlomo: why should i have any hatred? the current generations have absolutely nothing to do with that. reporter: shlomo graber was born in czechoslovakia and grew up in hungary, but he's lived in basel in switzerland for almost 30 years. he has written several books about his experiences under the nazis. he's never forgotten the brutal murder of his mother and siblings. shlomo: we were simply separated.
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women with children to the right, men to the left. the ss selected people. my mother just vanished, like a cloud. that was the first blow in my life -- the fact that i know how my mother and my brothers and sisters were killed. reporter: yet, shlomo graber likes life. he paints expressive, brightly-colored works that his partner displays in her gallery. he's found a way of dealing with the past. shlomo: there are so many holocaust survivors who have lived their whole life with the holocaust. they've not been freed from it. they live with it constantly. it's the opposite with me. i can talk about the holocaust, but that doesn't mean i have to live with it. reporter: he may not live with the holocaust, but he has
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forgotten none of the humiliation, violence, hunger, exhaustion, forced labor, and death. however, he has only ever painted one picture referring to that time. shlomo: everyone said that god would help them, but those who waited for god died, and i said to myself, god won't help me, i have to help myself. that was the will to survive. reporter: shlomo graber often gives talks about his experiences to school children. he's one of the last living holocaust survivors, and one of the few who can give a direct insight into an unimaginable past. shlomo: they said, from now on, you're not humans, you're sub-humans. and they gave us a number.
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i was 42649. reporter: graber refuses to give in to feelings of hate and revenge. his message to everybody is that hatred is destructive. valentina: i think it's impressive that he chose love over hate. david: we simply can't imagine it, none of us. and the fact that he experienced all of that and told us about it was very moving. reporter: shlomo graber is optimistic about the future. he's not even worried about the rise of the far right across europe. shlomo: there was no war in europe for 70 years. i am not worried because i like the system. i will be able to leave the world later because i know that it's going to be ok.
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reporter: until then, he'll continue to talk about his experience, so people can learn from the past. damien: they were just children living in communist yugoslavia when they first started having visions of the virgin mary. today, more than three decades on, those children are adults, and that region has become the country of bosnia-herzegovina. now if you're catholic, you'll probably know that i'm talking about medjugorje. believers say the virgin mary appears there. but the vatican is not so sure. reporter: they come by the thousands from all over the world to gather here in medjugorje on what has come to be called the apparition mountain. they are waiting for mirjana, one of six so-called seers. she says a female figure, or gospa in serbo-croatian, appears
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to her -- the mother of god. and everyone is welcome to be there when it happens. mirjana says gospa speaks to her every time. as soon as mirjana's vision is over, she conveys the message she's been told. an interpreter then translates the message into several languages, and the divine news is sent out into the world. >> dear children, with motherly love, i'm coming to help you so that you can have always more love, and that means more faith. i'm coming to help you to live with love, the words of my son, so that the world could be different. reporter: the fabled visions of maria draw more than a million pilgrims to medjugorje every year.
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what was once a tiny village near the croatian border has become a prosperous small city. hotels and shops selling devotionalia line the street. the gospa's appearances have brought prosperity. klaudia: things have changed for my family since the apparitions began. our town gets lots of visitors now, and that creates new jobs. we used to lead a quiet life as farmers. today, we all live from pilgrimage tourism. reporter: sacred souvenirs sell like hot cakes. almost every pilgrim buys something for his or her loved ones back home. that way, even those who can't make the pilgrimage can share in maria's blessing. >> i bought one, two, three, four rosaries -- for my sister and my grandchildren. reporter: the visions began in 1981 on a mountain near the village.
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the six seers -- young people, back then -- initially experienced them together, and every day. the communist government tried hard to suppress this development, but the inconspicuous village was soon drawing thousands of the faithful. today, medjugorje is one of the most important pilgrimage sites in the world. but the vatican views it all with a fair amount of skepticism. now this man, polish archbishop henryk hoser, has come to look into things as a special envoy of the pope. officially, he's only seeing after the well-being of the pilgrims, but the real focus is on power relations in the town and what influence the church still has here. influential local residents want to play the role of self-appointed sheriff and have a voice in what we film. generally speaking, the archbishop has a positive impression of medjugorje's spiritual significance.
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he says it is indeed a site of veneration for maria, where people can find calm and inner peace. the pilgrims, often barefoot, pray as they climb apparition mountain to approach their mother of god. many of them have grave concerns and deprivations. >> i have been praying to the virgin mary to help me cure my left leg. i had polio when i was very young. >> our mother has cancer. [indiscernible] reporter: it probably will make no difference to these people
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whether the vatican recognizes medjugorje's miraculous visions or not. and as long as the pilgrims keep pouring in, the businesspeople here need not worry about their incomes. klaudia: no, no. people have always come here to pray to god -- with the vatican or without it, independent of its validation. reporter: and so things continue as they always have in medjugorje. the vatican is expected to make its decision this autumn. damien: well that's it for this week. thanks for watching. for now it's goodbye from me, and the whole team here. and do join us next week for more personal stories from all over europe. ♪ [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit]
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steves: i'm meeting my florentine friend tommaso at i fratellini, a venerable hole in the wall much loved among locals for its tasty sandwiches and wine sold by the glass. -grazie. -tommaso: thank you.
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and when you're done, you leave it on the rack. steves: boy, it's intense in the city. tommaso: yes, it is. well, if you want to leave the tourists, let's cross the river, and let's go to where the real florentines live and work. -steves: what's that? -tommaso: the oltrarno area. steves: there's much more to this town than tourism, as you'll quickly find in the characteristic back lanes of the oltrarno district. artisans busy at work offer a rare opportunity to see traditional craftsmanship in action. you're welcome to just drop in to little shops, but, remember, it's polite to greet the proprietor. your key phrase is, "can i take a look?" -posso guardare? -man: certo. steves: grazie. here in this great city of art, there's no shortage of treasures in need of a little tlc. this is beautiful. how old is this panting? woman: this is a 17th-century painting. steves: from florence? woman: we don't know. -maybe the area is genova. -steves: genova. each shop addresses a need with passion and expertise. fine instruments deserve the finest care.
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grand palaces sparkle with gold leaf, thanks to the delicate and exacting skills of craftspeople like this. a satisfying way to wrap up an oltrarno experience is to enjoy a florentine steakhouse, which any italian meat lover knows means chianina beef. the quality is proudly on display. steaks are sold by weight and generally shared. the standard serving is about a kilo for two, meaning about a pound per person. so, both of those for four people? woman: yes. steves: the preparation is simple and well established. good luck if you want it well done. man: i am hungry, yeah. oh, look at this. ah! steves: oh, beautiful. [ laughs ] man: wow. steves: chianina beef. -woman: white beans. -steves: okay. perfect. man: and that one. steves: so, the meat is called chianina. tommaso: that's its name,
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because it comes from the chianti. steves: oh, from chianti. okay. and tell me about this concept of the good marriage of the food, you know? tommaso: well, when you have the chianina meat, you want to have some chianti wine, and they go together well. they marry together. we say, "si sposano bene." steves: si sposano bene. a good marriage. in other words, the wine is from tuscany, -and the meat is from tuscany. -tommaso: exactly. you don't want to have a wine from somewhere else. that's it.
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