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tv   Focus on Europe  PBS  December 3, 2016 6:00pm-6:31pm PST

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damien: hello and welcome to another edition of "focus on europe." i'm damien mcguinness. i'm really pleased you could join us today. refugees and migrants are changing the face of europe. some think of problems when they think of immigration. but today we'll be looking at how asylum seekers are also enriching local communities. including in some very unexpected ways such as on the pitch. cricket isn't often a sport you play here in germany. but it is popular in some of the countries where many refugees come from, like afghanistan or pakistan. and so the influx of migrants is sparking an unexpected cricket boom here. this trainer says, germany has
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suddenly got a lot of young and hungry cricketing talent. we'll catch up with the training at the wickets later in the show. now we all know the stories of , how massive multinationals, like google, apple or microsoft, were started in somebody's garage. well in russia, ordinary people have been running businesses in garages since soviet days. but their aim is not to make it big but rather the very , opposite. to stay small and unofficial. certainly as far as taxation goes. but as the russian economy falters, the kremlin wants to boost tax income. so these underground businesses could be forced out of the shadows. as our correspondent juri rescheto has been finding out. correspondent: a classic garage band -- russian style. and a garage upholstery shop. and a do-it-yourself recycling center. they're all part of grenada -- a
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garage cooperative in the city of nabereznye chelny, a city of half a million people over a thousand kilometers east of moscow. many of the city's male population get together here. this is where they earn their living, often with manual trades, almost always off the books. >> my customers are all russians. my prices are reasonable. >> i've no idea if i'd need any kind of patents here. i'll stay here 'til someone throws me out. >> everybody comes here with their own problems. this is a world of its own with its own laws. correspondent: this male domain is ruled by a woman -- ekaterina ermakova, known locally as catherine the great. >> i know my lads, and they know me. correspondent ms. ermakova has : been chairwoman of the garage
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cooperative for the past 20 years. she can open a few doors that would otherwise stay locked tight to outsiders. in this workshop, old soviet cars are made good as new. customization goes hand in hand with restoration -- these are collectors' items on four wheels. "valeri," as we'll call him, is a master mechanic in high demand. a customer explains what he'd like done with his old uazik. valeri rents two garages and employs an assistant. >> the customer prefers exotic models. this one, for instance, is slow but safe. he's come to us, because he appreciates comfort above appearances -- and because nobody but us can do the things he wants doing -- at least not at the prices we offer.
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correspondent: valeri is versatile. in his garage's basement, he does upholstery work of all kinds. he says he's legally registered as a small businessman -- as legal as he can be, working cash in hand and no billing. that may be why he wanted to remain anonymous. >> i don't need anything else. even if i end up having to sew slippers one day when i get to be an old fart, somebody will always buy them or at least give me a bottle of milk for them, so i can survive. correspondent: most of the other renters or owners of the over 2000 units in grenada think and live much the same way. garage cooperatives like this one are a hold-over from the soviet era. they were built to house vehicles, but since capitalism took hold, the state has not been privy to what goes on behind the closed doors.
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the chairwoman can't -- or won't -- say how many of the members have registered their trades with the authorities. but she doesn't seem that surprised that most are working off the books and not paying taxes. >> even if one of them suddenly decided to go legit and register his trade, he'd have to pay so much more in rent and taxes and undergo so many checks, from environmental to fire safety regulations, that his business wouldn't survive. that's why everyone here lies low. correspondent: estimates of the garazhnikis' numbers run to 30 million, or about 40% of russia's able-bodied population, a vast shadow economy. they have no intention of sharing their earnings with the state. yet they're urgently needed by russia's legitimate economy by the industry they once fled.
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boris used to work as an automotive mechanic. now he's specialized in fixing loudspeakers. >> for 30 years, i worked in a plaintiff hardly got any -- in a plant and hardly got any pay for finally, i quit, and i've been my own boss here ever since -- not officially, of course. i avoid any contact with the authorities. they're corrupt themselves and just demand bribes. i won't go along with that! correspondent: no government has yet succeeded in breaking the vicious circle -- the tradesmen cheat the state, or the state cheats them. all across russia, the situation is much the same -- billions of rubles roll past the state. >> putin ought to make his officials pay taxes first. if they'd pay taxes on their own property, then my boys would all be working here legally. correspondent: president
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vladimir putin has finally realized the urgency of controlling unregistered businesses and ordered an overhaul of the incomprehensible and overly complicated taxation and certification systems for small businesses. but that may not be nearly enough to bring the shadow economy into the open -- not as long as russians lack anreal confidence in their state. damien: why do young europeans leave their homes and risk their lives by joining so-called islamic state in the middle east? well laura passoni can help , answer that question. she once had a normal happy family life in belgium. but when her partner abandoned the family, her life fell apart. and it was islamists on social media who offered her a solution. they persuaded her to join them in syria luring her there with the prospect of community and support. now she managed to escape after nine months. but today her aim is to help prevent other young people from making the same mistake.
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correspondent: a convicted terrorist helps students avoid learning the hard way. >> the burka is a strict rule. even your eyes and hands have to be covered. you aren't allowed to speak to a man, even when there's a male member of your family there. to speak to another woman, you have to whisper into her ear. if your voice is audible, you'll be whipped. women are there for the household -- to take care of food and children. correspondent: laura passoni is on a mission to warn young people about joining so-called islamic state or "daesh." she managed to break away from daesh after nine months in syria with her young son. with the help of a journalist, she's written a very personal book about what she calls the biggest mistake of her life.
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>> i went there because i was heartbroken. things were going badly for me. i was in a relationship with the father of my child for 10 years, and it had just ended. correspondent: 10 years, so you'd already met when you were in school? >> yes, i was 17 when i met him. he was my first big love. we had a kid together, but he cheated on me. he's with another woman now, and what hurt me most is -- he broke off contact with our child. it was unbearable. i became depressed and got mixed up with a bad crowd including an is recruiter on acebook. correspondent: using films like this, he described life in the caliphate as some kind of paradise. he promised her a devoted husband and work as a nurse. for laura, who had converted to islam at the age of 16, all of this sounded plausible.
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she grew up with a muslim friend whose family loved her. but they were not islamists. >> this recruiter was like my brother. he was the only one i trusted. the only one who was right, no matter what anyone else said. correspondent: the films were full of pious songs and enthusiastic crowds. no mention of the brutality and bloodshed of the war. laura really thought she was entering a stable family life with weapons? that was just for self-defense, she thought. >> in reality, the villas they promised were run-down houses full of vermin. of course, i didn't become a nurse as i had hoped. women aren't allowed to work, they're not allowed to go out alone, they can't do anything, absolutely no rights whatsoever.
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if your husband gets killed, you have to go to a home for women and you're immediately married off again. correspondent: videos like this confirm laura's account. they were filmed in secret in raqqa and smuggled out. just married, she headed out to syria. she met her husband through daesh in belgium just a few weeks before she left. he disappeared off to a training camp and she was sent to a home for women. >> as a woman, you're basically a baby-maker for is. you cook and provide sexual services to your husband. correspondent: daesh propaganda films replace school. laura's son was even supposed to decapitate his favorite teddy. but he came home crying with plastic knives and his toy intact.
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>> i really didn't know anything before i went. i ended up in the thick of bomb attacks. four or five a day. i lived in constant fear of being blown up. then the hunger. there wasn't enough food. and no school for my son. at 12 years old, boys have to go to the training camp, i didn't want that for him. luckily, he was only 4 years old. but if i'd stayed, the years would have flown by. i never wanted my son to become a terrorist. correspondent: but that's what daesh is all about. even playing football is banned. this village near mosul has recently been liberated. but war still rages on around them, worse than ever before. the children don't know any other life. this is current footage filmed by danish journalists just behind the front line.
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laura and her son escaped this inferno, but only just. >> i was in a bad way and they preyed upon my weakness. i was going to meet a husband who loved me, respected me, who'd help raise my son. when someone promises you everything you want, you don't think twice. my weakness was heartbreak. no matter what your weakness is, they'll find it out and use it. i want you to know that. damien: for the migrants and refugees who have come to germany, the difficulty is how to begin a new life in a country which isn't always as welcoming as they'd hoped. that's the challenge for irshad ahmad who is an asylum seeker in a small town called bautzen in former communist eastern germany. it is a town which has a reputation for being particularly unwelcoming, with a
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recent spate of shocking xenophobic attacks. but irshad is not letting any of that deter him. he is using his skills to enrich life in the local community. by bringing a sport to germany which you very rarely see played here. correspondent: the bowler throws the ball, the batsman hits it and sprints off. but caution is advised -- cricket balls can reach speeds of up to 160 kilometres an hour! usually, cricket is played on grass pitches. but irshad ahmad, who captains the msv bautzen cricket team, is glad to have a small gym to play in at least. >> you can see a lot of people here from pakistan, from afghanistan, from india. they are here together to play this game. if they dont have cricket than it means they have nothing to do. correspondent: ahmad and his teammates are proud of their cricket trophy. many of them fled to germany
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just recently. now, they're waiting to be granted asylum. they rarely leave their hostel. things can get dangerous outside. ahmad and his fellow asylum-seekers live in bautzen, in the state of saxony. the town has a picturesque 1000-year-old centre. but also a menacing neo-nazi scene. in february, unknown arsonists set fire to a building that was to house asylum-seekers. and for two nights in a row in september, a right-wing extremist mob gathered in the town centre, chanting racist slurs. ahmad and his friends have experienced direct threats. >> we met with almost 40, 45 boys with black clothes and with many things in their hands like beer bottles, bats and daggers. they said, "go away from here and don't come in the night, because the next time we will
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not forgive you and then we escaped." correspondent: afterwards, ahmad thought long and hard about whether he wanted to keep living in bautzen. ultimately, he decided that he would at least for the moment. >> if i will escape because of such things again and again, then it will be really difficult for me to survive myself in this world. correspondent: ahmad will not give up -- just like in cricket. today, his team will play a czech one. a tough side to beat. it's a complicated game -- there are many ways of scoring runs in cricket. bowling the ball and then the batsman of the other team tries to hit it as far as possible is just one way of scoring points or runs as they are called. cricket is a niche sport in germany. last year, some 40,000 afghanistan and pakistanlanka,
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migrated to germany, among them, many cricket enthusiasts. and with their love of the game, they've started a real cricket boom. the number of cricket teams has almost doubled. volker ellerbeck, who used to play for germany's national cricket team, welcomes this development. >> our cricket club has benefited. we'd lost lots of our top older players and now we've got new, ambitious, highly talented players joining up. the czech team also has some south asian players. but they don't have a steady stream of asylum-seekers eager to play cricket -- to the envy of the czech coach. >> where angela merkel is let everybody in, which is maybe controversial, zeman is keeping everybody out and its very hard.
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we have no refugees. they come through the country and they keep coming through to germany. correspondent: ahmad wants to integrate into german society and hopes that cricket can break down some of the barriers. local school children and teachers help ahmad and his team by scouting suitable pitches and gyms to play in. they also help organise matches. they hope this will bring cricket players and locals together. >> we've had people come and watch a match. many weren't familiar with the sport and were curious. some people even joined in and played. i think that's a good start. correspondent: today, msv bautzen beat the czech team. every victory makes bautzen feel a little more like home to these refugees. despite the problems. they can have something to make their life's better. a little bit forget about their problems which they have faced
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in their journey and that's it. correspondent: ahmad hopes cricket will help bring some normality to their lives as refugees. and maybe even help them tackle the racism they are confronted with in bautzen. >> whenever i go back to latvia, where i used to live, one of the things that i always notice is how empty the countryside is. that's because most of the young people have left to find work. either to the capital riga, or they've gone abroad. and that means many elderly people are left alone, in these isolated, rural areas, with no public transport, to fend for themselves. now that's where iveta comes in. she's actually a nurse. but to help older people, who can't get around, she takes to the road instead. and she does much more than just hand out medication. correspondent: iveta pasicnika provides care to elderly people in remote locations in latvia.
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before setting off, she writes down what they need. >> bread and butter? and i brought you the right things last time? we got cut off. he doesn't have reception where he lives. that's typical for the latvian countryside. now he's walking around, trying to get a better signal. correspondent: pasicnika works for the "samaritan mobile care complex," a project that supports latvia's elderly. it was given an eu award and is supported through donations. pasicnika's coworker dmitrijs hauss is filling water into the tank of their van. they'll be heading out soon. it'll be a long day.
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this care service on wheels is run by latvia's samaritans. pasicnika and her colleagues help the elderly in eastern latvia, which borders onussia. it's a sparsely populated region with farms dotted here and there. after latvia gained independence, many young latvians moved away, leaving the elderly behind. without the samaritans, there'd -- they'd struggle to get care. >> we once had to convince an elderly woman to wash herself. it wasn't easy getting her into the shower in our bus. in her house, you almost had to crawl into the oven to light it. we told her she had to wash herself and she said "a little bit of dirt never hurt anyone." correspondent: the samaritans have reached their first stop. an elderly woman lives in this remote location all on her own.
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she can't manage her shopping any more, so it's crucial the samaritans stop by twice a month. >> she's still trying to do everything by herself. we buy food for her and pay her bills for her. in the winter, we help get firewood for her oven. correspondent: pasicnika, who's a trained nurse, is always a bit nervous before she meets these seniors again. she never knows how they'll be doing. she has paid 80-year-old jefrozina supe's bills. and she returns her change. >> could you bring a doctor along next time? >> what kind of doctor? >> i'm not sure. >> a surgeon? >> no, i don't think so. >> because of your knee? what kind of a doctor do you need? a physiotherapist or a surgeon?
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>> a physiotherapist, maybe. correspondent: iveta pasicnika and dmitrijs haus stay for two hours. then, they're on their way. after 20 kilometres, the samaritans have reached janis locmeli's house. this pensioner is quite frail. he uses the hot water shower in the van. it's a rare pleasure. in the meantime, pasicnika washes his clothes. >> this job isn't for everyone. i've had people turn down this job because it can entail washing elderly people. some people aren't so keen on doing that. but it's part of the job.
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correspondent: nurse pasicnika tends to locmeli's feet and toenails after his shower. >> many people have problems with their feet, but getting foot care in cities is expensive. many people can't afford it even though they need it. correspondent: pasicnika and hauss make between 5 and 7 stops on their tour. the project is partially funded by the municipalities. but it relies on donations. many believe eastern latvia is a region in decline, certainly state funding is scarce. the two make their last stop in the late afternoon. again, they've brought this woman's shopping. they've been visiting some of
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these elderly people for years. sometimes, they even accompany them on their final journey. >> we help organise funerals. and attend them, if we're invited. we do pretty much everything that doesn't require a relative's signature. correspondent: and then she turns on the shower in the van for the last time today to offer a little comfort to someone in need. damien: what a great lady. well, that's all for this week. thanks very much for watching. remember -- do feel free to get in touch with us anytime with your thoughts and comments. always great to hear from you. check out our new facebook page, dw stories. but 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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