Holiday reading list 2019

Holiday reading list 2019

Our holiday reading list with the most thought-provoking, surprising, touching European stories of the year. Published, produced and/or inspired by n-ost projects.

The year is coming to an end, holidays are about to start. Finally, some time to look back and reflect on the topics and stories that moved, surprised or touched us. So this year, we invite you to explore with us the n-ost universe and discover stories and innovative journalism from all corners of Europe.

Our (multilingual - yes, you might need a translating app for some articles!) European reading list comes – or course – with a distinct n-ost flavour: Many of the stories on this list have a cross-border element and/or have been the result of cross-border collaborations. They mostly focus on underreported topics and provide a unique look at the East of Europe (and beyond!).

All the stories below have been published, produced or inspired by n-ost – through projects like Reporters in the Field or n-vestigate, via our Trafik service and our own online publishing activities.

This year’s reading list is full of surprises and it covers a wide range of topics. Our selection focuses at the big European themes but also highlights underreported stories: You will find stories about corruption in Ukraine or Czech Republic, climate change in the Arctic, right-wing populism across Europe, bizarre photos from Bulgaria or a story about an Armenian citizen trapped in the dysfunctional prison system of Italy.

We hope you enjoy our n-ost reading list and wish you a happy new year full of interesting and thought-provoking stories!

Environment and climate change

[DE] Klimawandel in der Arktis: Der Eisbär wird zum Eierdieb

Tamara Worzewski has published a fascinating story from her research trip to Ny Ålesund in the Norwegian Svalbard archipelago in the Arctic Ocean with Spektrum der Wissenschaft - a science journalism magazine. Climate change is omnipresent in the region and has multiple consequences directly impacting both the nature and its inhabitants. An example: while polar bears are fighting extinction, polar foxes enjoy the rising temperatures. Read her story here (in German)

[DE] Artenschutz: Das Leiden der Zierfische

Nathalie Bertrams and Ingrid Gercama uncovered the methods used to catch ornamental fish to sell it to hobbyists in Europe, killing most of them and jeopardizing the environment. Read their story here (in German).

[EN] Overfishing: Italy And Croatia Reel In To Preserve Adriatic

The Adriatic Sea could slowly turn into a kind of underwater "eco-desert". This story of Jacopo Pasotti & Vedrana Simicevic uncovers the growing ecological, economic and political problems of overfishing in the area. Read their findings on Worldcrunch.

European perspectives

[DE,RR, IT, PL, HU] Research network: Europe's far right

Right-wing populists have been on the rise in almost all European countries. It is a European topic and thus lends itself to cross border journalism – especially in the year of a European election. This was also the idea of a group of European journalists that decided to focus on this topic to reveal the agenda, strategies, and networks of Europe’s right-wing populists across 7 European countries. But this is also a typical n-ost story: It all started with an idea for our Reporters in the Field project and developed into a research network facilitated by the German newspaper taz.

[DE,EN] Bizarre Images of Bulgarian Reality

A religious believer researching on laser swords, a fakir training with nail boards in his living room, a former police officer dressing up stuffed animals. "T(h)races" by Bulgarian photographer Vladimir Vasilev creates a bizarre and at the same time loving portrait of his homeland. Ole Witt talked to him about his long-term project and asked him about the stories behind his photographs.


[SR] Ekskluzivno: Koliko košta negovatelj sa Balkana?

Nemanja Rujević, Sanja Kljajić and Ajdin Kamber have published a story on the "Industry of Leaving" with DW Deutsche Welle Serbia. Their research shows how medical workers are systematically recruited for German clinics and how agencies and companies make money out of this practice – in legal and illegal ways. The article and video can be found here (in Serbian).

[IT] Bruno, storia di una custodia cautelare

Originally from Armenia, Bruno was accused of being involved in organised crime and put in solitary confinement in Rome for several months. Francesca Berardi produced a radio feature for RAI about this extraordinary story about an Armenian immigrant and the dysfunctional Italian prison system. The rest of the series will be published in February 2020 - with an English translation. In the meantime you can listen to Bruno’s moving story in Italian here.

Eastern Europe

[CZ,UKR] The Odessa Files

Powerful politicians and entrepreneurs from Odessa, the Ukrainian port, have been running business and buying up luxury real estate in the Czech Republic. The Odessa Files revealed an illegal business network and uncovered links between organised crime networks in Ukraine and Czech Republic. The story appeared in Czech (for example here, here here here and here) and Ukrainian media outlets (for example here, here, here and here)

[EN] How a slice of rural western Ukraine became a geopolitical fault line

While reporting on Ukraine usually focuses on the war in the Eastern part of the country, Ian Bateson writes about ethno-geographical disputes in rural western Ukraine where the question of minority rights has escalated into a stand-off between Budapest and Kyiv. Read the full article at Politico.

[EN] Mining Caucasian Gold: Corporate Profits Come at a High Price

As part of our n-vestigate network, Kristine Aghalaryan investigated the business interests around gold mines in Armenia and Georgia. The story reveals that businesses - via various offshore companies that are linked to government circles in Russia and China - are extracting gold from the most profitable mines in Armenia and Georgia. The story also revealed how Armenian government officials, their relatives and associates benefit from the gold mining sector. Read this fascinating investigation here.

[EN, DE] Who are the Crimean Tatars?

The Crimean Tatars suffer massively from the annexation of Crimea five years ago. But who are they exactly? Moritz Küstner & Greta Uehling show their eventful history in this series of photographs.

[EN] Rescuers of the Transnistrian Metallurgic Plant: Filip and Poroshenko have helped Transnistria earn millions

A team of Ukrainian and Moldovan journalists (Vladimir Thorik and Valeriya Yegoshina) investigated the illegal export of metal from Ukraine to Transnistria (an unrecognized republic sandwiched between both countries). The investigation revealed a secret agreement between the then-President of Ukraine Poroshenko and Moldovan Prime Minister Pavel Filip to undermine trade restrictions. Read the complete investigation in English here.

[DE] LGBT in Moldau: Ein Kampf, der nicht vergebens ist

In Moldova homosexuality has been legal since 1995 but the topic is still highly contested in the country. An LGBT organisation in Chisinau wants to change this – with the help of the Moldovan diaspora. This radio feature originated at the n-ost media conference in Chisinau, Moldova. Read and listen here (in German).

South-Eastern Europe

[DE] Bosnien und Herzegowina: Die Schule für alle

In Bosnia and Herzegovina schools are divided among ethnic lines and pupils are taught separately from a young age onwards. But one girl opposed this system and started a local school protest until authorities changed their minds. Today, the city of Jajce has a school for pupils from all ethnic backgrounds. Read this uplifting story by Krsto Lazarevic here (in German).

[EN, DE] Kosovo’s Invisible Children: The Secret Legacy of Wartime Rape

F.K.’s daughter, now 19, is one of the children born as a result of rape during the Kosovo war who do not know the circumstances of their birth. No one knows exactly how many more were born this way, how many were rejected, adopted or raised in orphanages. Serbeze Haxhiaj, Hilma Unkic & Sonja Ernst met women in Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina who were victims of sexual violence during the war in the former Yugoslavia. This story has been published in three Western Balkan countries as well as in German and English.

[EN] Turkey's gift of a mosque sparks fears of ‘neo-Ottomanism’ in Kosovo

Is Mosque-building a new way of Turkish diplomacy? This article by Maxim Edwards and Michael Colborne in “The Guardian” explains how Turkey, which has already made huge investments in Kosovo, tries to further expand its influence in Kosovo by building a new central mosque in Pristina. Read their story here.