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tv   Focus on Europe  PBS  December 10, 2016 6:00pm-6:31pm PST

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♪ host: hello, and welcome to "focus on europe." on today's program, we take a look at a few people who stood by the courage of their convictions despite cing overwhelming adversity. for instance, in russia, where the government has helped finance a film promoting the legend of 28 red army guardsmen who stopped the germans from advancing on moscow during world war ii. the story has been proven a myth, but even so, it seems to suit the current regime -- which is troubling, say researchers. this is a relapse into totalitarian ideology or, if you will, into the soviet ideology.
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reporter: politically, northern ireland is relatively stable. the violence that plagued the country for years was brought to an end by the good friday agreement. but for the victims and their families, it is still a deeply divided society, where many catholics and protestants never mix. some people from the region worry that if brexit -- britain's decision to leave the e.u. -- goes ahead, it could undermine the peace accord. such as victims rights campaigner, raymond mccord, who fears that without ties to the eu, the justice he seeks will remain elusive. and it's personal for him too. his son was killed by a loyalist paramilitary group. reporter: his son, raymond jr. was just 22-years-old when he was killed by the paramilitary group the ulster volunteer force. it's now been 19 years since raymond mccord buried his eldest son at this graveyard in
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northern belfast. raymond mccord: i never heard of him being in trouble. he went out, when he came home he was always laughing and smiling. everybody thinks about their own kids. reporter: over 3600 people were killed during the northern ireland troubles. what's unusual about raymond mccord's case is that those thought to be responsible for the killing are known to the police. they belong to the loyalist uvf paramilitary group that still controls residential areas in belfast. the man thought to have ordered the killing, mark haddock, was reportedly an informer for the british police. he tipped off the authorities about planned bomb attacks and other vital details. mccord believes that's why he has never been convicted for raymond's murder. he's fought for years to get haddock and others brought
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before a court and has written a book about his story. he believes the police are simply protecting their informers. raymond mccord: 19 years from raymond's murder, we haven't had an inquest. the police keep saying, what they tell journalists, it's an ongoing investigation. 19 years. it's part of the cover-up. reporter: but he and his lawyer are not giving up. they are even appealing to britain's supreme court to try to get brexit overturned. they believe that with the uk in the european union, there's more pressure on the authorities to investigate the crimes of the northern ireland conflict. ciaran ohare: what we believe is that if there's a brexit, the next natural step for the uk government is to withdraw from the european convention on human rights. there's already been some
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discussion on a uk bill of rights. so if that is the case, then no we wouldn't have that option of going to the courts in europe. reporter: but mccord and his lawyer have powerful opponents. many in northern ireland's parliament voted for brexit. jim allister: a democratic decision has been taken and it's not for individuals like mr. mccord to hold up their puny hand and try and thwart that. we should be pulling together to make a huge success -- as it will be -- of brexit and to embrace the opportunities. reporter: mccord fears that brexit could further deepen the divisions in northern ireland. the scars of the past are still very evident here. huge walls divide the catholic and protestant areas. mccord has often received death threats because of his outspoken criticism of the loyalist paramilitaries and his refusal to the let the murder of his son rest. raymond mccord: no problems in
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the car but if i was to walk up and down here, and these people on the other side of the road see me, there's a possibility car loads of guys would come down looking for me. reporter: mccord regularly meets with relatives of other murder victims from the northern ireland conflict. ciaran foxs father was killed over 20 years ago. he too spent years trying to get the case brought to court -- but to no avail. once again, the suspected murderer was said to be a police informer. ciaran fox: my father was 42 when he died. he was just like us sitting here. he was shot for being a catholic. shot in the face. him and another guy both shot in the face. my father had six kids, i was the eldest. yeah, it had a big impact.
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raymond mccord: the police lie to these families, have continued to lie to them. it's not about people turning round and it's just about me and my son -- it's nothing like that -- it's about all of us together. reporter: mccord believes the european court of human rights is his last hope of seeing his son's murderers brought to justice. now he hopes brexit won't get in his way. host: in russia, a story about the bravery of soviet soldiers in world war ii is so legendary that not only do children learn about it in school, it has recently been made into a multi-million dollar feature film. but historians say the story is not true. and they are now fighting for the truth to be heard. the kremlin has talked about the need to counter the rewriting of history, in this case they apparently oppose
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interpretations that deviate from the established narrative. experts say that russian revisionism is now a looming threat to europe. reporter: november, 1941, about 100 kilometers outside moscow. the germans launch an assault. 28 young soldiers of the panfilov brigade are determined to stop them. a legend of heroism is born. in the end, all 28 will have laid down their lives - after destroying 18 tanks. now, it's a feature film. a monument 12 meters tall commemorates the sacrifice of general panfilov's 28 soldiers. the 28 became national heroes thanks to an article by a war correspondent at the time. since then, they've been honored by generations -- as the men who helped stop the germans. but then, more and more of the
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martyrs began turning up alive. in 2015, the director of the russian historical archive revealed the cold hard facts behind the story. he had already posted some documents on the internet showing that, in 1948, a soviet military prosecutor had found that it had all been invented. russian television reported that, in fact, many of the supposed martyrs had surrendered and survived the war. the director of the new russian war blockbuster responded to the revelations with outrage. andrey shalopa: this unmasking and demystification of heroic actions is pointless and immoral. reporter: the kremlin seems to have been unconcerned with the story's exposure as a myth -- about 1/3 of the movie's production costs were provided by state sources. "panfilov's 28 men" was also brought up at this year's
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meeting of the national historical assembly. a prominent military historian stated with apparent confidence. mikhail myagkov: these 28 heroes -- real people -- existed. and to communicate that fact in good, normal, human language, based on existing documents is our most important task. reporter: an academic institution appears to be collaborating with political interests to re-write an already documented history. the historian evgeny ponosenkov, here in a cultural center in the heart of moscow, is one of the critics who dare to question the "sacred legend" of the 28 men. the russian culture minister has called him "dirty scum." evgeny ponasenkov: if the culture minister's saying, yes, thanks to the archive documents, we know the truth, but we're
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going to perpetuate the lie anyway and put 30 million roubles into a film about a lie -- and make publicity for a disgrace -- that is outrageous in the 21st century. certain groups are pushing our country toward marginal fascism. they're creating a bogeyman and artificially stirring up hatred in society, because otherwise, they can't hold onto power. reporter: other signs of this tendency are the new monuments to stalin. his victory over fascism is stressed -- his crimes against humanity swept under the carpet. ivan the terrible has a new monument, too -- after all, he made russia strong. the director of the levada polling institute has been he's been accused of acting as a foreign agent. lev gudkov: it's backsliding into a totalitarian ideology, or, if you will, an imitation of soviet ideology.
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so the individual would have no value -- only the greatness of the state has any real meaning. >> to what extent is the population actually willing to go to war? how strong and persistent are the actual effects of this propaganda? lev gudkov: the effects are very intense. i'd definitely keep an eye on it. this is in fact very serious. reporter: the russian culture minister vladimir medinsky earned his phd in history. when several academics called for him to be stripped of the title due to serious flaws in his work, medinsky replied that his work was in the interests of russia. but few scholars would agree that patriotic rhetoric can excuse incompetence. at a private showing of "panfilov's 28 men" for president putin and kazakhstani president nazarbayev, medinsky's topic was the new patriotism.
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in addition to the state sources, a number of private russian citizens have invested in the movie. after all, it promises handsome returns. host: fawad is one of many thousands of refugees who live on the streets of paris. but he says, its not a life -- its barely an existence. he allowed our team to spend 24 hours with him as long as we hid his face -- back in pakistan he was a skilled computer scientist until his life was threatened by the taliban. in france, he is caught in a game of political football as the presidential election appraches next spring. reporter: it's 8:00 in the morning by the canal saint martin in paris. fawad -- he asked to use this name to remain anonymous -- is a migrant from pakistan, and he's camping out on the sidewalk. that's against the law, but he has no other option. fawad lives in constant fear that the police could come back
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and take away his few possessions again. fawad: we have two sleeping bags and one blanket. but it's not enough. the ground is cold and the cold is coming from the ground, so you feel too much cold. you cannot sleep well. sometimes my friend wakes up sometimes i wake up, but it's not good for us. the night was terrible. reporter: his first port of call is a private aid organization. he's hoping to get something to eat, but mostly all that's on offer is a cup of tea, served up by local residents. fawad sleeps close to the building where migrants are registered. the organization terre d'asile has been put in charge of this process. the association was originally set up to fight for the rights of asylum seekers. but the director rejects the idea of providing temporary shelter inside.
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pierre henry: i don't have any space inside. i can't just let in 300 people. i have a responsibility to protect my employees. that would break safety rules and it isn't allowed. reporter: fawad spends the rest of the morning waiting. he wants to take a shower in a public bath, but there's already a long queue outside. fawad gives up -- today he'll have to go without washing. but despite such abject living conditions, the stream of migrants arriving in france continues to grow. more than 110,000 are estimated to have come in 2016. their favored destination is paris. fawad is not the only one who first wanted to go to germany and then decided for france. he had heard that every one gets residency here, if they wait long enough. fawad: germany is good for the
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refugees at first. they will give you proper food, shelter, good money. but they won't give you any papers. they will say you are lying and send you back to your country. i heard it from the other fellows on the way that the french are not sending the people back, but opening their doors to refugees. reporter: the number of deportations has fallen in france ahead of next year's presidential elections. francois hollande's center-left government appears keen to avoid making headlines that could be unpopular with left-wing voters. by the afternoon, fawad still hasn't had anything to eat. he hadn't expected to be simply ignored here. from time to time, fawad considers returning to pakistan -- even though he says he's frightened of the taliban there, because he worked for an it organization which also trains young women.
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that was in the pashtun region close to the border with afghanistan. fawad: they were shooting directly at me. but thanks to god, i had a car and they were on foot, so i escaped. then they threatened me again with the letters, as they can do. they threatened me, so my father suggested to me i should leave the country as soon as possible. reporter: his family sold a lot of land to pay for fawad's passage to europe. he set off full of hope six months ago. people smugglers took all his money. now, he's in another line to try and get an appointment with the authorities. sometimes he waits all night. his hope has dwindled. fawad: your mind gets twisted and you think dying is much easier than this. because a bad life is worse than dying. if you die, at least you rest in peace. this is no life.
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it is worse than death. reporter: no one really wants to take on responsibility for people like fawad. the influence of the far-right front national is too strong. the party -- with its constant anti-migrant rhetoric -- is now one of france's strongest political forces. terre d'asile is feeling overwhelmed. pierre henry: people first have to register as an asylum seeker. but the prefecture only gives us a contingent of 80 appointments a day. but we have 250 to 300 people arriving here each day. we don't know what to do with the people. it is an impossible task. reporter: in the evening fawad heads to the railway station in search of food. but when he arrives, the residents who normally hand out
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food aren't around. fawad: i think i'll be hungry tonight. no food tonight and we are out of luck because tomorrow at the breakfast place they are not serving proper breakfast. we'll just have a tea. reporter: our camera team buys fawad a few packets of food, so that he's got enough for tonight at least. neither rejected, nor accepted. fawad has ended up in limbo land, like so many other migrants arriving in france. host: in the meantime, fawad's situation has slightly improved -- he's now staying in a former barracks--so he has a roof over his head. but his future is still uncertain. ever since the end of communism, poland had been seen as eastern europe's strongest democracy and a model for struggling post-soviet states. that is, until last year, when the country made a sudden lurch to the right under the newly elected law and justice party. after poland's minister for
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justice removed about 140 prosecutors from their posts, many citizens are now worried that judicial independence in their country is under attack. they are fearful that their days as a flagship in the east, are numbered. reporter: zbigniew ziobro is both poland's justice minister and public prosecutor general -- a lot of power concentrated in one person. he's taken up the battle against the polish judiciary reputation for corruption and inefficiency. but does that include purging individuals who are out of favor? 140 state prosecutors have been transferred on short notice. until recently, state prosecutor krzysztof parchimowicz investigated major financial scandals, complex murder cases and organized crime. now, he's been demoted to a warsaw district prosecutor. he's joined 49 colleagues in a joint complaint to the european court of human rights in strasbourg.
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krzysztof parchimowicz: we were demoted -- that was a humiliation -- a slap in the face after so many years of professional experience and well-respected work. reporter: what reasons were given? there had been no scandals or criticism of his work. he suspects the decision may have been influenced by a bitter dispute some years back over the department for organized crime. his adversary was zbigniew ziobro. was a score being settled? krzysztof parchimowicz: i'd like him to look each and every one of us straight in the eye and explain why he no longer wants to work together with us. reporter: justyna koska-janusz has also been removed from the judge's bench. she had rejected demands for a speedy trial in a case of driving under the influence of alcohol and causing an accident. justyna koska-janusz: as far as i know, there hadn't been any complaints filed. and there hadn't been any
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allegations of disability or anything. reporter: but there was a trial she presided over, in which the plaintiff lost a libel suit. the plaintiff was none other than the current justice minister ziobro. these and other similar cases have come to the attention of the polish association of judges. they suspect political motives and pressure. krystian markiewicz: this might well act as a kind of deterrent among judges -- they could start wondering if the rulings they hand down might end up costing them their jobs. reporter: the polish justice minister has also been the subject of other heated debates in parliament. state investigators had searched -- or even raided doctor's offices in pursuit of medical records on the death of zbigniew ziobro's father. this raised questions about the minister using his position for private purposes. he was obliged to give a written
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account of his actions. in it, he alleged possible attempts at fraud and personal enrichment and said his family risked being subjected to intimidation. justice minister zbigniew ziobro: this case will definitely be reviewed by the court. reporter: the justice ministry has given assurances that the separation of powers will be respected. but there are always exceptions. marcin warchol: in a civilized country, the justice minister does not exert influence on court rulings. but if there are chronic excesses, they have to be eliminated. reporter: but who's to define what chronic excesses are? perhaps somewhat ironically -- it's the governing law and justice party. host: many men struggle to find just the right romantic gift to show their wives how much they care. but a retiree in wales found just the ticket. this meant a walk down memory lane.
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or to be more exact, a bus ride. reporter: the broad variety of vintage buses in this museum in wales have one thing in common -- they're slow-moving but still working. in a sense, that could also be said of this gentleman, 82-year-old retired bus driver ken morgan. and he's still in perfect working order. but these days, he owns the bus. he bought it a while back for his wife, shirley. shirley was a "clippie" or conductress on a bus like this, working the gloucester-to-cardiff route when ken first saw her. he was in the royal air force and became a bus driver because of her. but that's a long story. he can tell it better.
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ken morgan: one day, the younger girl introduced me to an 18-year-old blondenamed shirley. and we talked together on the way down as far as chepstow, when i got off. and that was the first time we met. and i asked her, if she had a boyfriend. she said no, so we arranged a date. reporter: it was love at first sight on the gloucester-cardiff line. in 1959, they married. they might not have been able to work together otherwise. these were the 50's, after all. the marriage lasted, and now, they're all three united again -- husband, wife, and bus. shirley morgan: since he's had the bus -- it is the bus that keeps us together, isn't it? it was the bus all the time now. ken morgan: yeah. it's 60 years since we first met -- this year.
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reporter: now they take the bus on outings nearly every weekend, even if they've only ever got one passenger. ken will soon be surrendering the special driver's license allowing him to transport more than eight passengers. but he has no trouble at all parking the double-decker leviathan's tons of steel. shirley and ken say they're now a threesome -- the bus is just like an old friend. host: he's certainly set the romantic gifts bar quite high for husbands the world over. i hope mine is watching and taking notes. if you'd like to know more about our stories, have a look at our new facebook page, dw stories. see you next time. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] ♪
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