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tv   Focus on Europe  LINKTV  May 5, 2022 7:30am-8:01am PDT

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ñ? lara: this is “focus on europe.” i'm lara babalola. nice to have you with us. destroyed buildings and mass graves. cities and lives are in ruins as russia's war rages on in destroyed ukraine.s and mass places in the east and south of the country are under heavy attack as the war enters a new phase. in the donbass region, putin's troops appear to be readying to launch a major offensive. people around the ukrainian capital kyiv, in contrast, are
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cautiously optimistic. russian troops have seemingly withdrawn from ukraine's north. scars from the war are still visible and fears of further attacks linger. yet, day by day, a sense of normality is re-emerging in kyiv, amidst the shock and trauma. reporter: kyiv resident anna is doing something for herself after weeks of watching her world fall apart -- getting her nails done. anna: of course, you want feel clean, look good -- that's part of life. there's death everywhere anyway. now that kyiv is waking up, i'm realizing that there's hope despite everything. ukraine is going to win, but it is going to cost resources, time, and of course, lives. reporter: bunny nails has started welcoming customers again in branches all over the ukrainian
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capital. and there's plenty of demand. antonia: when you're at work, you think you've gotten used to everything. but you can't get used to bombing at night. we barely slept last night. reporter: but in certain parts of kyiv, something akin to everyday life is returning. stores and cafes are re-opening. and for now, there's less risk of a land invasion by the russian army. however, there is still the danger of air raids. despite a longing for a return to normality, kyiv's residents are preparing for the worst. we met marjanna in a wooded area on the outskirts of kyiv. at 29 years of age, she worked in an office for the city administration before enlisting as a volunteer.
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marjanna: two days after the invasion, i realized that i would go crazy if i didn't do anything. i barely have any experience with weapons, but the way i see it, when your life is at stake, you don't have a choice. i just hope that my hands and brain will do exactly what they have to if it comes to that. reporter: marjanna, and the other women and men with her, are all part of the territorial defense, the ukrainian army's voluntary units. it was formed in 2014, the year of the annexation of crimea and the war in donbas. today, they boast around 130,000 members. marjanna: this war can only end with our victory. there can't be any compromises. we can't sit at the same table with terrorists. they're killing our compatriots, our children,
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parents, sons, daughters. reporter: some 250 kilometers away in northeastern ukraine, not far from the russian border, lies the small town of trostyanets. the russian composer tchaikovsky once spent a summer here composing music. the locals here lived under russian occupation for about four weeks. ukrainian forces drove out the russian military only days ago. the residents had to survive without water or electricity, and food remains scarce. supplies are being distributed in front of this church. svitlana ruban is also waiting. svitlana: we really need this. we all hid at home for a month. i didn't have any potatoes left. the russian soldiers were in the town center and i avoided it t entire time. i was afraid. reporter:
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the russian ar shelled the surrounding towns from this central square. russian soldiers slept in the train station buildings and in stores, some of which they also plundered. the ukrainian army shelled the russian positions as it recaptured the city. most locals refused to talk to us about their experience of the occupation, saying it was too inful. but they all say that their relationship with russia is destroyed for good. svitlana: i've already had a very different relationship with russia since the donbas war of 2014. i wouldn't say i hate them, but i despise them. but not all russians. like my friend, for example. she cries on the phone with me, she understands and begs me for forgiveness. on the other hand, i've got a lot of relatives in russia who don't believe me. they say we're to blame.
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but why? because we're ukrainian? reporter: for now, the people in trostyanets are relieved that the russian occupation is over. but it will be a long time before everyday life returns to normal again. lara: the war in ukraine is also affecting food security for the local population. the country is one of the top producers of grain in the world, earning it the title of europe's breadbasket. before russia's invasion, much of ukraine's wheat was exported to europe, asia, and africa. but that food supply chain has been disrupted, driving up the price of wheat dramatically. andriy voytenko works in the agriculture industry. his top priority is to ensure the people of ukraine have enough to eat, even if it means there will be chronic shortages elsewhere. reporter: the wheat harvest this year should be a good one -- it was
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seeded last winter. andriy shows us how they worked the soil and removed weeds, but unlike previous years, he's unsure of how to proceed this time. his seed supplier has now changed over to wartime production, which means supplying what ukraine needs for its own survival. andriy: just as the fighters are doing their job at the front, we're doing ours in the wheat fields. we realize that the war affects everything. so, we're planting more spring wheat. i'm speaking for my own agrobusiness. we're producing less corn but more wheat. that's how we're enhancing our food security. reporter: at the president's request, ukrainian farmers are planting less corn, sunflowers, and canola, and more grains. the military asked us not to
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show where andriy's farm lies because an army base is located nearby. we're only allowed to show the hogs outside. inside, we can also see the snails andriy exports to spain and france. there are bags of seed-grain, too. it's labor-intensive work. andriy: we have 22 full-time employees and about 150 seasonal workers for the two or three months of the production period. and then i need someone to crossbreed the plants. that's a specific job, and i have to hire someone to do it. reporter: in the center of zhovkva, we meet the mayor, oleh volskyy, equipped with a pistol and showing off videos of target practice with a kalashnikov. suddenly, the war seems a lot closer. inside, he shows us remnants of a russian missile that struck here a few days before.
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he's worried that neighboring belarus could enter the war. but right now, he's got to win the battle for the next harvest. oleh: most of the men have volunteered to go off to war. many of them were also drafted. the only ones left behind are the men over 60 years old. now, we're looking for them to drive the tractors and work other machines. we have a big problem with our labor force. reporter: alongside russia, ukraine is africa's and asia's breadbasket. ukrainian farmers were previously exporting over four million tons of grain per month. now, the government puts the figure at just a few hundred thousand. with the black sea ports effectively blocked, wheat, corn, and cooking oil can no longer be shipped. soon, agricultural production itself may start dropping. the shockwaves are felt around
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the world. grocery prices are rising. the u.n. fears that hunger will spread, especially in poorer countries. an agricultural expert from lviv offers little hope. tatyana: if the situation continues the way it is now, we won't have any problem with food production in ukraine. if ukraine produces 100-million tons of grain, and half of that is exported, the harvest could turn out bad two times in a row, and we still wouldn't starve. reporter: even so, that would mean fewer exports to the world, especially to countries that depend on ukraine's surpluses. andriy and ukraine are likely to find ways to deliver their products through the eu by land, but the question will soon be how much they'll have left to export at all. lara: ukraine's donbas region isn't
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the only place where separatists receive support from the kremlin. putin's regime also backs serbian separatists in bosnia herzegovina. the region of republika srpska wants to become independent, sparking fears of another conflict in the ethnically-divided country. 30 years ago, war crimes were committed in bijeljina, bosnia herzegovina. it was the catalyst for the bosnian war. jusuf trbic survived the bloodshed back then. now he fears that the separatist movement could lead to a renewed conflict. reporter: they are marching once again -- bosnian serb nationalists displaying their colors earlier this year. this parade to mark the anniversary of the proclamation of the bosnian serb republic, republika srpska, is officially forbidden. but the strong man of the bosnian serbs, milorad dodik, doesn't care. he wants secession from bosnia
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and for the republic to have its own army. some people in bosnia herzegovina fear another war. the last war in bosnia, a slaughter, was just 30 years ago. jusuf: my knees were shaking. we heard gunshots, explosions. but we thought it was a war between soldiers, gunmen shooting at each other. but these were civilians, elderly people, lying there in the street. only then did i realize that this was something completely different. reporter: jusuf trbic saw it all. the war began in bijeljina with a war crime against this wall. at least 48 men, women, and children were murdered in town. this picture of a fighter kicking the dead bodies became a symbol of the bosnian war. trbic was the only male prisoner to survive the
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bijeljina massacre. that's why the former journalist decided to stay there, as a witness to the truth, which he shares over and over again. war criminals are still popular in the republika srpska. the former bosnian serb general, mladic, is a hero in this graffiti, and it's not an isolated case. trbic cannot understand the nationalist parades. jusuf: what they are celebrating here was the source of unspeakable suffering and indescribable crimes, the persecution of hundreds of thousands of people and the killing of thousands. it led to mass graves and concentration camps comparable to the model set by the nazis. reporter: if you ask the people in bijeljina, you get a mixed response. many, however, subscribe to the nationalist slogans of their leaders, and see their future and that of republika srpska in a place outside of bosnia. >> i see no way out. neither in republika srpska nor
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in the bosnian federation. the governments are corrupt everywhere. >> it's better to be a part of bosnia, but independent in every other way, like with the flag and so on. everything we already have. >> i'm for independence. with our own money, our own flag, and our own army. otherwise we're under pressure from the bosnian federation and sarajevo. reporter: christian schmidt is in bosnia on behalf of the united nations. as the so-called high representative, he is supposed to de-escalate tensions between the ethnic groups. he is extremely concerned about the general nationalist mood and also the fear shared by bosnians. christian: i don't see any danger of war. but i do see how tension could build up as a result of targeted actions or a combination of circumstances, which could erupt into violence.
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reporter: for jusuf trbic, violence has been a part of everyday life. as a journalist, he couldn't get a job in bijeljina for 10 years, finally opening up a café instead. jusuf: i had to do something, and of course i ran into a lot of problems. provocations. once, they completely destroyed my bar, and another time they tried to set it on fire. i put up with everything, because i think that all the problems i face are the price i have to pay for doing what i do. reporter: jusuf trbic has written several books about what happened then and what is happening now, irritating a lot of people along the way. he also testified before the international war crimes tribunal. his latestook focuses on nationalism among bosnian muslims. it is banned in republika srpska. lara:
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belgium is home to many distinctive regions, and we're taking you to one of them in the country's east. it's a community with a population of around 80,000. here, german is spoken in schools and court houses -- it's one of belgium's three official languages. eupen is the capital of the region, and it even has its own unique parliament. there, politicians shape policy together with ordinary citizens. it's an experiment in do-it-yourself democracy. reporter: jana hendges is 30 years old and a member of the citizens' council. mechthilde neuens is 64 years old and chairwoman of the citizens' council. their story began two years ago. jana, a student, received an unexpected letter from the citizens' dialogue in east belgium. jana: parliament drew my name at random. “you can become a member of the citizens' assembly. join in and meet 24 other citizens whose names were drawn.” what did i think at that moment? i thought, “oh, god.
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i can't do this.” reporter: but jana took on the responsibility. since then, she's been commuting regularly from her college town aachen to the citizens' council sessions in eupen, which she is now co-governing. jana: okay, i have to be present and participate. i can also vote on issues that may be of interest to me or to the young people here, so count me in. reporter: the parliament of around 80,000 german-speaking belgians called upon the newly elected councilwomen to help improve nursing care in east belgium. the region has a say in many things. the knowledge and experience of citizens here in eupen have served a purpose since 2019. mechthilde: when you watch the events going on now in ukraine, you know democracy can't be taken for granted. i think only if we all stay on the ball will democracy have a chance of surviving long-term in our world. reporter: these two women are a part of the citizens' council which meets outside the regular
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sessions of parliament. it's still an experiment for now, but will soon become a permanent institution. career politician antonios antoniadis is a parliament minister. at first, he was skeptical about making policy with ordinary citizens, or amateurs. antonios: people have certain expectations. and one of those expectations is that everything has to happen right away and fast, and eventually it will happen because we're here. and if it doesn't, it's only because somebody doesn't want it to. reporter: but the citizen council members are prepared. they can consult experts, collect information, and discuss ideas with one another and the politicians. even the career politician learned a thing or two. antonios: from the dialogue we conducted, we suddenly realized that there are many things that we cannot take for granted, and that we have to start communicating differently with one another. reporter: this time, mechthilde neuens will be speaking to parliament.
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mechthilde: the greatest cultural achievement of a nation is contented seniors. reporter: she's fought for her ideas for two years, including greater self-determination for seniors -- and for their family members -- in retirement homes. mechthilde: w, by law, every senior care fality must create a council for relatives. reporter: this is one way the citizens' councilwomen hope to make life better for everyone in the eupen region. it was a long, hard road through the planning and coordination processes. but they were determined to see it through. jana: it takes perseverance. i mean, not just for myself, but in general, because you see that these processes can take quite a long time. reporter: the day turned out very well for the chairwoman. of five recommendations made by her group, two were passed. mechthilde: i'm satisfied, relieved, and a little proud. yes, i'm happy. reporter:
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both intend to carry on in east belgium's citizens' council to keep practicing real democracy. lara: a recent study by statista shows that less than half of the world's population lives in a democracy. one of those people is sabriyah nowrozi, a professional athlete from afghanistan. she was forced to flee her country, where the taliban have stamped out democracy and imposed a dictatorship. with women's rights eroded, sabriyah feared for her life. the islamists labeled her an infidel because she plays soccer. so she and her entire team fled to the birthplace of the beautiful game. in leeds, england, they are living out their dreams on and off the field. reporter: sabriyah nowrozi can play soccer again at last. in afghanistan, she was captain of
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the junior team. but they were all forced to flee. she's been living in northern england now for several months now. sabriyah: when i play football, i am very happy. i don't have any problem in the life. reporter: this is no longer possible in her home country. she's too well-known there. she co-founded the first women's soccer team in herat, in western afghanistan. a sport forbidden to women. sabriyah: when i arrive, i think i am sleeping. now, i am so happy. all is new. i am free. i can go to football. i can work.
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reporter: when the taliban came back to power, sabriyah nowrazi was forced into hiding. she didn't leave her home for 10 days. the taliban considers soccer players like her to be infidels, and she risked her life to escape. she was scared to death when she handed her papers over to the taliban at the border. sabriyah: he treated me horribly. he opened the gate, took my bag, and pushed me towards the direction i should walk in and said, “go and don't come back because if you do, our government will kill all of you.” reporter: sabriyah nowrozi struggled before the taliban came back to power. she was even beaten up. but she'd persevered enough to enjoy success and participated in international tournaments, drawing even more negative attention. sabriyah:
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they tried to kidnap me twice. once they tried to stab me in the back, but someone helped me, so only the tip of the knife hit my side, cutting my lower abdomen. reporter: soccer player khalida popal knows what sabriyah and her team have been through. she helped them and their families escape, procuring british visas for a total of 130 people. >> afghanistan! reporter: a visit to the soccer museum in manchester, where they learn how english women too had to fight for their rights. khalida: going through the history from english women's football, and their ban, and the history of how the fa banned it. it's 100 years ago. hearing that, seeing the objects, it's very similar to
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our story, today's story. the women of afghanistan are banned from playing football, just because they are women. reporter: khalida popal is one of the pioneers of afghan soccer, a role model for young female players. khalida: we started playing football for the first time in the history of afghanistan back in 2007, where we used our platform as a movement to stand for our right as a woman of afghanistan. to change history, but also make history, and say, “we are half of the population, and you cannot just decide for us, on behalf of us.” reporter: these successes are now in ruins. sabriyah talks on the phone with her mother-in-law in afghanistan. she tells sabriyah that women today are receiving threats just for going to the market on their own. the terror catches up with sabriyah in england, too. she has nightmares about the
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taliban trying to kill her. her team and her love of the sport help her to cope with it all. sabriyah: i like football, because all the girls, we are together. we are passing, shooting, it's very amazing for me. but when there is a goal, i am so happy. goal, goal, goal! i like it. yes, it's emotion. reporter: sabriyah has already introduced herself to leeds united -- she's hoping for a professional career. because soccer, to her, means one thing above all, and that's freedom. lara: it's more than just a game. that's all from us this week at “focus on europe.” don't forget, you can watch more of our show online at bye for now. ♪ [captioning performed by the national captioning institute,
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05/05/22 05/05/22 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from new york, this is democracy now! >> there is really no true solution to the problem of global food security without bringing back the agricultural production of ukraine and the food insecurity -- russ and belarus to world markets despite the war. amy: as u.n. secretary general antonio guterres


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