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Have you ever wondered what Europe looked like before or during the Second World War (WWII)? Take a look at our “before and after” or “then and now” images and see what the war did to the people, the monuments and the landscapes.

Head over to our site for an interactive version of each image and many, many more!

Let us know what you think about the images below in the comments


Avenue Foch (Occupation Of Paris)

On June 14, 1940, troops of the German Wehrmacht occupy Paris. The picture shows the victory parade of the German 30th Infantry Division on the Avenue Foch in front of General Kurt von Briesen 1886-1941.


Cinema In Żnin During German Occupation

Catholic house transformed by the Germans into a cinema. 1941.


Burning Peterhof

Burning Peterhof Palace after the Nazi invasion. 1941 September



The city center and US troops in June 1944. Several US vehicles are parked on the Quai de Caligny west of the rotary bridge.




Captured German Soldiers At Juno Beach

Captured German Soldiers at Juno Beach shortly before their deportation to England. In the background, the villa “Denise et Roger” can be seen. It is one of the most famous places in the time of D-Day. 1994, June 6th.




German Prisoners At The Station In Bernières

Captured German soldiers await their transport at the railway station in Bernières-sur-mer. Today, the old station building serves as the tourist office. 1944.


Place De La Concorde (Liberation Of Paris)

A crowd celebrates the arrival of Allied troops during a victory parade for the liberation of Paris, as suddenly shots from a sniper on one of the roofs are heard. Quickly the Parisians scatter for cover. Although the city was officially abandoned by the Germans, small bands of snipers remained active, which made the victory celebrations risky. 1944, August 29.


Aachen Rathaus

Southside of the Aachen Town Hall at Katschhof at the end of World War II. The town hall is one of the most important buildings in the historic center of Aachen. It was repeatedly rebuilt and expanded over many centuries. The oldest part of the monument is the Granusturm from the time of Charlemagne. During World War II, the town hall suffered badly from several bombing raids. On 14 July 1943, the roof and both City Hall towers burned out, the steel skeletons of the tower domes bent by the heat dominated the appearance of the town hall for a few years. Rebuilding followed in the 50s; last, the two-tower caps were finished in 1978.




Notre-Dame (Liberation Of Paris)

Priest 105mm self-propelled guns of the French 2nd Armoured Division in front of Notre Dame in Paris, 26 August 1944. Photo of the Imperial War Museum (IWM).


Rentforter Straße

Destroyed tram and houses in the Rentforterstrasse in Gladbeck, end of the Second World War. The house with the gabled facade in the background is the main entrance of the St. Barbara hospital. Today there are no more tramways in Gladbeck. 1945.


Locals Welcome The German Soldiers

In the background is the Assumption Cathedral. 1941.




Rue St. Placide

August 1944. Since 1940, Paris is occupied by German troops. As the Allied army approaches the capital, this encourages the Parisian population to resist. It comes to a general strike, followed by open revolts. Everywhere in the city (such as here in the rue St. Placide) barricades are erected, and around the 20th of August, the Resistance has taken control of the city. Although militarily inefficient, these barricades had a symbolic character for of the Paris uprising.


The Dam Busters

In May 1943, the Allies dropped specially developed “bouncing bombs” on select dams in Germany’s industrial heartland. The Möhne dam was the hardest hit and 1600 civilians died in the flooding. The attack was dramatized by The Dam Busters (1955).



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German Soldier In Alkmaar

German soldier in Alkmaar at the Langestraat. 1941.


Palais Chaillot

Paris in September 1944, shortly after the recapture. To protect against potential German counterattacks, an anti-aircraft gun is provisionally installed by American soldiers in the park of the Palais de Chaillot.




View From The Castle Of Caen On The Destroyed City

June 1944.


Hoofdkwartier Wehrmacht

German officers in the headquarters of the Wehrmacht in Huize Voorhout in Alkmaar. 1942.


Pont Neuf/Quai De Conti (Liberation Of Paris)

Barricade on the Pont Neuf at the intersection with the Quai de Conti, August 1944. Since 1940, Paris had been occupied by German troops. As the Allied army approached the capital, this encouraged the Parisian population to resist. It came to a general strike, followed by open revolts. Everywhere in the city barricades were erected, and around the 20th of August, the Resistance took control of the city. Although militarily inefficient, these barricades had a symbolic character for of the Paris uprising.


San Lorenzo, Rome

San Lorenzo, Rome after the allied bombing on 19 July 1943.


San Lorenzo, Rome After The Bombing

San Lorenzo after the bombing in 1943, Princess Marie-José inspecting the damage.


Siege Of Leningrad

The school building destroyed by the Nazi bombing. 1941.



See Also on Bored Panda

Aerial shot of Lodz made at the end of WW2 (1942) compared with Google Earth’s view from 2017.


Villa Denise Et Roger At Juno Beach

The villa “Denise et Roger” is one of the most famous places of the time of D-Day. The region around Bernières-Sur-Mer was liberated by Canadian soldiers on June 6. 1944.


Battle Of Rome, Porta San Paolo

September 9th, 1943


The Battle Of Porta San Paolo, Rome

On 10 September 1943, Porta San Paolo was the scene of the last attempt by the Italian army to avoid the German occupation of Rome On the evening of the 9th, the 21st Infantry Division “Granatieri di Sardegna” moved towards the center, engaging in fierce fighting on the Via Laurentina (Tre Fontane locality), around the Exposition Hill (current EUR district) and Forte Ostiense. The German troops marched on the Via Ostiense, towards the heart of Rome. Despite the overwhelming numerical superiority and armament of the enemy, the walls of Porta San Paolo became a defensive bulwark of resistance, protected by barricades and vehicle carcasses. The grenadiers also fought here with courage, along with the numerous civilians.


Wehrmacht Soldiers In Schagen

Wehrmacht Soldiers In the city of Schagen in The Netherlands. 1940.


Alkmaar Mobilization Dutch Soldiers

Mobilization Dutch soldiers before the “Ambachtsschool” in Alkmaar, The Netherlands. 1939


Horses Bring Food To Civilians Hidden In The Abbey

After parts of the city have been liberated by the Allies, horse carts bring food to those who took refuge in the Abbey of Saint-Étienne. 1944, July 10th.




Old Bunker Alkmaar Flower Shop

An old bunker is now used as a plant shop. Old Photo is taken in 1945, the new one in 2018.




Opéra Garnier (Occupation Of Paris)

The Opera Garnier decorated with swastikas for a festival of German music during the Occupation of Paris. The Germans organized a series of concerts in the occupied city, including by the Berlin Philharmonic, conducted by Herbert von Karajan. 1941.

Note: this post originally had 39 images. It’s been shortened to the top 30 images based on user votes.

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The French city wanted to demolish large portions of its St Jacques neighbourhood as part of a wider development plan. It had not reckoned with its residents

Never schedule a demolition in St Jacques for the afternoon. Nothing much stirs in the morning in this mainly Gypsy neighbourhood of Perpignan, south-west France, but by 4pm on 27 July last year, when the diggers turned up at Place du Puig, the locals were up and full of fire.

Sixty of them, furious at what they saw as mystifying recent demolitions in other parts of the neighbourhood, and worried about a conspiracy to force the Gypsy community out of the heart of Perpignan, refused to let the workman pull another lever.

Their leader was Alain Gimenez, 54, a former St Jacques bad boy with two nicknames. The first, Nounours (Teddy Bear), nods to his cuddly frame, but his fierce and deep-tanned face exudes the charismatic vehemence that fits his second, harder moniker: Lino.

Weve told the supervisor that if they dont stop, things are going to get nasty, Gimenez said.

The demolition plan was meant to be just one small piece in the wider regeneration of Perpignan, a city of 120,000 people about 20 miles (32 km) north of the border with Spain. In 2018, seeking to address decrepit living conditions in St Jacques one of Frances poorest neighbourhoods, where 60% of households live in poverty and other areas of the city, the national government invested in a 100m (91m) project to renew the historic centre.

Then, in November 2018, two buildings collapsed in the Noailles district of nearby Marseille, killing eight people and provoking international horror at poor housing conditions in major French cities. The Marseille disaster underlined the urgency in Perpignan, and the city pressed ahead with its plan to demolish 483 buildings in St Jacques by 2024, and build 240 new ones.

It did not, it seems, reckon with the Gypsies.

The soul of Perpignan

The assistant mayor Olivier Amiel, who until recently was in charge of the regeneration, calls them the soul of Perpignan. The medieval street grid of St Jacques is the Gypsies raucous enclave, where they make up roughly three-quarters of a population somewhere between 3,000 and 7,000, depending on who you ask: the census cant accurately assess the neighbourhood.

It is not till late afternoon that the streets of St Jacques come to life, shuttered premises opening up to reveal bars and corner shops, overspilling with chatter in the local dialect of gitan (a form of Catalan mixed with the Romani language cal). Its another universe up there, a lifelong Perpignan resident tells me. You have to switch off that western, individualistic, orderly part of your brain.

Place du Puig, a lively square at the top of a hill, is the heart of the neighbourhood. The bulldozers were trained specifically on Ilot Puig (the Puig block), a clump of nine buildings that was already earmarked for the wrecking ball after the collapse of a social centre here in 2006, in which one person died and 13 children barely escaped.

A woman walks past the steel sheets sealing off the Ilot Puig. The attempted destruction of this set of houses on a corner of the Place du Puig a popular meeting point for the community sparked protests against large-scale demolitions in St Jacques

The locals had other ideas. They didnt like the vagueness of the citys regeneration plans the fuzzy timelines, the lack of information about prospective rents, and above all the total lack of construction to date on 50 other buildings in St Jacques that had already been bulldozed. Was all the urbanism talk emanating from city hall of greater mixit (social mix) and de-densification really just a euphemism for de-Gypsification?

Theyve said it, says Gimenez. We have to make 20% of the Gypsy and north African population leave, minimum. But they havent said the maximum. It is unclear where he got the number from: the citys own figures state that 30 families will be rehoused outside the neighbourhood.

Rooted in paranoia or not, the anger led to an unlikely coalition. Gypsy representatives teamed up with counterparts in the neighbourhoods north African population, with whom there had previously been little love lost after a violent confrontation between members of the two communities in 2005. They were also joined by an assortment of local middle-class groups who are keen to preserve St Jacques ragtag architectural heritage and carnival atmosphere: the city is bidding for Unesco world heritage classification, a process that could not be seen to sideline the citys Gypsies.

So when the protesters blocked the bulldozers and barricaded the building site, the wider coalition quickly rallied in support. Spooked by the growing numbers, and by the prospect of full-blown riots, the citys prefect froze demolition.

Something significant had happened. For the first time, the normally apolitical, insular Gypsies had successfully campaigned and cooperated with outside groups. St Jacques was awake.

A sense of history

The thing outsiders tend to focus on in St Jacques is the rubbish. It lines the gutters: broken bottles, ringpulls, chocolate-bar wrappers, plaster shards. But the neighbourhood overflows in other ways too. Laundry hangs off the balconies, rumba music courses out of the occasional top window. Names Bombom, Peto, Elisabeth, Anais are scrawled in permanent marker on doors and walls, giving them a veneer of love and friendship mementoes. Women pushing buggies look almost like orthodox Jews in full-length black shirts, except for the cardigans covered in sequinned slogans. Four-year-olds zip past on motorised minibikes. A cool-looking guy with a guitar says hello: a member of Perpignan Gypsy supergroup Tekameli.

The area is incongruous, shambolic, exciting and it is this unique ambiance that St Jacques defenders want to preserve. From its vantage point on the hill, you can look down over the rather gloomy historic centre of Perpignan, a raffish and secretive city caught between republican France and Catalonia. Generally marginalised and free from most multinational chain stores, it is only Visa Pour lImage, the annual photojournalism festival, that puts the city on the international map.

As well as the ambiance, the collective wants to preserve St Jacques built environment: its tumbledown stacks of rough-hewn townhouses, which prop each other up on 14th-century earth foundations.

Gypsies make up roughly three-quarters of St Jacques population, which is somewhere between 3,000 and 7,000

What was built wasnt exceptional its not palaces or anything but it has an overall sense of history, where every edifice has its own particularities, says Jean-Bernard Mathon, head of the Association for the Preservation of Roussillon Artistic and Historic Heritage.

Mathons group wants to see renovation, not demolition. It is aghast at the prospect of the brusque, Hausmannian overhaul proposed by the government, which is funding nearly half of the 100m, with the town hall and regional bodies providing much of the rest.

The locals dont trust the authorities either. At the end of the gully of Rue de Quinze Degrs, a series of concrete blocks shields a building site, with a matrix of wooden beams bracing the buildings on either side. An irate-looking pensioner on his porch shakes his walking stick at it: Its been like that for a year, and they do nothing. Does he trust the municipality to renovate? Theyre bastards!

The problem for the heritage brigade is the Gypsy communitys own lack of unequivocal support. Whereas the wider collective want to see the decrepit buildings renovated instead of demolished, many Gypsies stance is less cut and dried. Nick Gimenez (real name Jean-Franois), the uncle of Alain Gimenez, is one of the community patriarchs. He says his community would be happy to accept demolition as long as new social housing replaces it as promised. Were not bothered about heritage, he says. The question for us if that, if they demolish, they rehouse us immediately.

This bet-hedging gives the impression that the Gypsy community sees the heritage campaigners as useful allies in a bigger battle: to keep control of the neighbourhood.

It is undeniable that St Jacques is a refuge for Gypsies. And it has always been a place for the excluded. A Middle Ages leper colony, it became the Jewish ghetto after the expulsion of Jews from Spanish Roussillon in 1492. Some current inhabitants claim Gypsies have been on the hill, cresting where the turreted 13th-century Catholic church stands, for centuries. Recorded history suggests most families arrived in the 1940s after the Vichy regime banned nomadism.

Its not that joyful nomadic rootlessness

The communitys isolation truly began in the 1960s and 1970s, as the historic Gypsy trades horse-breeding, scrap-metal-collecting, knife-sharpening fell out of favour. A kind of underclass alienation started to creep in, cutting them off from other nearby Gypsy enclaves, as well as their ethnic heritage. Its not that joyful nomadic rootlessness, emphasises David Cook, a music producer who lives in St Jacques. Where youre always free to move and discover something else.

Deprivation has slowly and indelibly pockmarked St Jacques. The average life expectancy here is just 47. Diets dominated by processed food have resulted in widespread obesity and diabetes. Education might be one way out of this, but school enrolment rates are also feeble: only 25% of children attend regularly. A school, La Miranda, was created in 2007 to ease St Jacques youth into the education system, but some argue it has deepened the ghettoising effect of Gypsy-specific classes, which exist in many Perpignan schools. When I went to school, it was French kids, Gypsies and Arabs all mixed, Alain Gimenez says. Now they have classes just for Gypsies. And instead of teaching us to write, they teach us to make pancakes.

Unemployment is endemic, too. Youth unemployment runs to 90%. By and large, people in the region will not hire Gypsies. Many receive state benefits.

Keeping them further locked into this dependency is their dysfunctional relationship with Perpignan officialdom. There has been a longstanding practice of hiring influential community members for key town-hall roles: Nick Gimenez, for instance, organised St Jacques street-cleaning for several decades.

Many believe this clientelism extended to buying votes en masse: the French news magazine LExpress has reported how Paul Alduy, Perpignans mayor for 34 years until 1993, electorally controlled St Jacques via a fixer named Jacques Farran: Practically in broad daylight, he bought the Gypsy vote by handing out fistfuls of banknotes. Le Monde, meanwhile, noted that the voting rate leaped from virtually nothing in St Jacques to 80% in the 1970s.

The so-called Ilot du Paradis between Rue du Paradis and Rue des Mercadiers. A block of council-owned houses was demolished in 2017, leaving this empty square and as-yet unfulfilled promises of new affordable housing

People across Perpignan allege that this electoral malpractice continued in less blatant form under Alduys son, Jean-Paul, mayor from 1993 to 2009. LExpress also reported how, following the 1995 municipal elections, St Jacques was awash in brand-new scooters and fridges offered in exchange for the community vote. Jean-Paul Alduy today dismisses the idea as completely crazy; he says some Gypsies used their allocation de rentre scolaire, a state benefit for the September return to school,to purchase these goods.

For them, public money doesnt come from the state. Its always something that comes from the town hall, he says. That was, he says, the origin of the rumour it was the town hall who had bequeathed the new swag. One has to admit that everybody has always practised clientelism here, says Amiel.

Some of the St Jacques Gypsies, without true democratic representation through which to improve living conditions, have sometimes bridled at this deal: in the 2014 municipal elections, Nick Gimenez abruptly switched his political endorsement to the far-right Front National, a party not exactly known for its love of Gypsy culture, allegedly over a dispute with Jean-Marc Pujol, the current mayor, regarding Gimenezs annual party at the Visa Pour lImage festival.

This toxic interdependency of Perpignans political class and the Gypsy community has so far hindered true reform in the neighbourhood. Even over the Ilot Puig block, there were Machiavellian forces at play. The French alternative news site Mediapart reported that the local representative for the Rpublique En Marche party, Romain Grau, who is the current frontrunner for the citys 2020 mayoral elections, had encouraged the St Jacques collective to protest.

Grau claimed this was necessary to make the prefect intervene on their behalf; I dont want to incite [the Gypsies] to violence, but its necessary to put [the prefecture] under pressure, he said. But the report implied he was also using the community to embarrass his political rivals.The Gypsies, it seems, were still a handy pawn in Perpignans political game.

Positive gentrification

Olivier Amiel, the assistant mayor, is adamant that the pas de deux between city and Gypsies must come to an end. If the community continues to participate in clientelism, its suicidal in view of the social and economic situation, he says in the Caf de la Loge, across the street from the 14th-century town hall. And if we do it, its criminal: wed be guilty of killing a community.

As head of urbanism, Amiel has been the figurehead of the regeneration plans. It has made him a pariah in St Jacques, but his determination is obvious. The protest has become something partisan, political, clan-based and even family-based, he says, sipping a caf noisette.

Men and children gather on a corner of the Place Du Puig on a hot summer night. The gap in the background is caused by a house that fell apart during construction works. Neighbouring houses were evicted, too, but never fixed. Years later, this let to the
attempted demolition of the so-called Ilot Puig, which set off the community protest Photograph: Jesco Denzel/

He is not afraid to name names: he accuses Alain Gimenez of rousing the community in revenge for being refused a job with the municipality. Gimenez rejects the accusation: he insists that far from wanting a job, he turned down several job offers at town hall that he says were offered to him after the protests to buy him off.

The 40-year-old Amiel, spindly and debonair in a dark suit, grey hair threaded through his black curls, likes to present himself in the post-Blair progressive mould as the bright young reformer (though he has been recently stripped of his powers after announcing his intention to run for mayor next year.) On his Twitter account, he fanboyishly outs himself as the only French politician supported by Bret Easton Ellis. After visiting Detroit, another destitute city that tried to bounce back, he wrote a manifesto for positive gentrification.

Judging by a video he produced for the municipality, his vision of St Jacques reborn is the stuff of regeneration projects Europe-wide: lots of sanitised, glass-balconied, medium-density flats. When asked about the lack of reconstruction so far in St Jacques, Amiel says the demolitions must happen first. He claims that renovating the entire neighbourhood would be too expensive, citing an average price of 3,000 per square metre to overhaul the social housing, which would be too much for Gypsy tenants living in poverty to recoup in rent. Demolition and reconstruction would be half the cost, he insists.

Besides, he says, beyond preventing other Marseille-style house tragedies, he sees regeneration as a broader social project: a way of ending the ghettoisation of St Jacques and the permissive misrule that he thinks has spread in the neighbourhood.

Amiel proposes greater mixit mixing as the solution. You wonder how feasible this is. The insularity of many Gypsies here, which is reinforced by the wider prejudice toward its population across southern Europe, has a powerful social gravity all of its own. Aspects of Gypsy culture dont mix easily with mainstream French culture. For example, girls are often pulled out of school early to ensure they dont mix with boys, preserving their virginity for marriage. Many of the St Jacques Gypsies say these practices are a part of a culture that nourishes them with an irreplaceable solidarity.

We have a way of life that, for us, is better than yours, Alain Gimenez tells me. I say this to French people: go to a retirement home and youll see no Gypsy in there. We keep our old people with us.

This insularity even manifests itself physically on the streets, in what David Cook calls the Gypsies strange relationship between inside and outside. The insides are spick and span. But all this rubbish must leave this clean space immediately so out of the window! The Gypsy community has established safe boundaries in the neighbourhood, hence the acute suspicion about the town halls intentions, particularly the idea of non-Gypsies moving into new apartments. Theres a kind of critical mass of population that if they fall below it, if it becomes too diluted, their lifestyle is threatened, says Cook.

Youths gather in a car park behind the Caserne St Jacques on the Place du Puig. The former military building, which dates from the 17th century, now houses low-income families in council-owned apartments

To break down this entrenchment, the Gypsy community will need to be convinced that the St Jacques plans will benefit them. That is where the town halls communication strategy comes in. The official documents are opaque, full of complex figures and acronyms that are difficult to understand for anyone. Beyond the number of rooms, there is little functional detail about the new housing to excite any future inhabitants. Amiel mentions a series of public consultations, but they have been poorly attended.

Word of mouth remains the key medium, via community figureheads such as Gimenez and local evangelical pastors. But that leaves plenty of scope for misinterpretation and manipulation.

Terrorised by demolition

Jean-Bernard Mathon, of the heritage brigade, is suspicious of Perpignans master regeneration plan.

He says there has been widespread use of insalubrity orders, which force landlords to renovate a property but only subsidise 70% of it; if the repairs are not done, the municipality can buy up the property at market rates. He suspects the city wants to demolish as many properties as possible and hand rebuilding straight over to developers.

Renovation, he insists, is not being properly explored. He believes it can be done cheaper than the town halls estimates, and has asked for an independent evaluation. He also disputes the idea that his group is solely motivated by a middle-class preoccupation with preserving the past: Beyond the questions of demolition or renovation, you have to take into account the psychological aspect people are terrorised by demolition.

Pujol, the mayor, insists the city would prefer not to demolish, and instead to sell expropriated properties to people who would fix them up. But there are no buyers, he says. The reality, which no one wants to recognise, is that no one wants to buy in St Jacques.

This may be changing. As Pujol admits, there is a small real-estate buzz at the neighbourhoods edge; a Paris property company is rumoured to be canvassing residents about selling their houses.

What is more, nearly two-thirds of the 236 new buildings planned for St Jacques will be sold on the open market. The remaining 92 units are social housing, but many of the Gypsies believe that it in reality they are destined to be student accommodation: the University of Perpignans huge new Campus Mailly development is bringing 1,350 law students right next door to St Jacques in 2020. Amiel denies this, saying the floorplan of the proposed social housing is too large for student use.

Whatever the truth, Perpignans stealth-gentrification conspiracy theory has taken hold: an insidious plan to raise property values in a dilapidated but historic section of Perpignan while slowly siphoning off its populace, with no one responsible but the market.

Weve won

Abruptly, in April this year, a kind of murky light broke over the Ilot Puig. The Office Public de LHabitat Public (OPH), the French body responsible for social housing, announced that bids for Perpignans redevelopment had gone out to tender and also said the option of renovation is back on the table.

Weve won, says Alain Gimenez at an outdoor cafe table at Place Cassanyes, St Jacques other major square. Nearby, Nasser, the main representative for the collectives north Africans, is simultaneously sorting out Gimenezs internet subscription on the phone and selling globe artichokes from a car boot.

The streets of St Jacques, such as Rue den Calce, pictured, come alive in late afternoon

However, it also turns out that Gimenez and Nasser have been offered jobs with the OPH and both accepted. Gimenez previously insisted he had refused multiple job offers during the campaign. Does this mean he has now been bought?

No, he says, slapping the table those whove suggested this have got it wrong. They dont know how we came to an agreement. We gave the town hall two conditions for the Ilot Puig: one, you renovate the houses there. And two, its us wholl take care of the work and decide who gets to live there. I said to them: dont try greasing my palms, or Ill have the mayor for breakfast. He waves to his grandchildren, who are passing by in a car.

The OPH declined to comment on the circumstances and conditions of Gimenez and Nassers hiring. The town hall did not respond to questions on the matter.

Whatever deal they agreed, if any, the fate of Ilot Puig remains uncertain; the results of the tender will be announced in September. Gimenez never argued unequivocally for renovation: could he just be claiming it as a possibility now in order to declare a victory and save face with the rest of the collective? And what of the future of the rest of St Jacques? Gimenez claims he will not stop fighting the demolitions No, never. The fight will carry on until Pujol has left, and maybe under the next mayor but now that hes working for a government housing agency intrinsically involved in the redevelopment, its hard to see how that would work.

Lets hope he means what he says. The Ilot Puig campaign looked like a shot at self-determination for the wider Gypsy community, not just those members who enjoy privileged access to power. If the leaders of the protest abandon it for preferential treatment, this brief window for civic engagement could quickly slam shut. Whether St Jacques is regenerated or renovated, the choice should be the Gypsies, free from manipulation by ambitious politicians or from the short-term demands of the daily grind.

For now, the informal nightlife economy continues to thrive in full view of the old police station, the town hall is still claiming it wants to save the Gypsies, and the mantra of the TV show The Wire continues to apply in Perpignan as it does in cities across the world: its all in the game.

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Moscow (CNN)It’s been a heady summer for Russia’s embattled political opposition. On August 10, as many as 50,000 people rallied in Moscow calling for fair local elections, the biggest protests seen in the capital since early 2012. Now opposition leaders are calling for a protest on August 31, hoping to build on the momentum of Moscow’s summer of discontent.

Alexei Navalny is the most recognizable Russian opposition leader. In late July, ahead of unsanctioned protests, he was jailed amid a roundup of opposition figures ahead of unsanctioned demonstrations on July 27 and sentenced to 30 days for allegedly violating protest laws. While in custody, he was hospitalized with an “acute allergic reaction.” His physician suspected poisoning by an unknown substance.
Navalny was released from jail on Friday, but while he was inside another activist has emerged as a leading opposition voice: Lyubov Sobol, a lawyer and activist with Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Fund. Sobol recently ended a month-long hunger-strike after election officials refused to allow her onto the ballot in upcoming municipal elections; she was also detained and subsequently released ahead of an August 3 protest.
    Initially, the protests centered on those municipal elections, which are scheduled for September 8. Moscow’s election commission has barred a number of independent and opposition candidates from running because they had failed to obtain a sufficient number of signatures to be allowed to run. Opposition activists say the authorities are using administrative measures to block true political competition.
    But the protests have now taken on a different rationale: They have become a response to the wide-ranging crackdown on opposition activism. The slogan for the upcoming protest is “against political repression.”
    The response of the authorities to weeks of protest has been telling. In addition to the detention of leading opposition figures, police have made sweeping arrests of demonstrators. According to OVD-Info, a monitoring group, more than 2,000 people have been detained in recent large protests, both at unsanctioned marches and on the sidelines of legally sanctioned demonstrations.

    Carrots and sticks approach

    Footage of those arrests has spurred much of the outrage. One video that went viral showed a Russian riot police officer punching a woman in the stomach on August 10, the day of a sanctioned protest. Days before that protest, the Moscow prosecutor’s office said it was seeking to strip an unnamed couple of their parental rights for bringing a baby to the July 27 rally.
    Authorities have taken other legal measures. The Investigative Committee, a top Russian law-enforcement body, opened a criminal case against Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Fund, saying it was initiating a criminal probe of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Fund, or FBK, over alleged “financial transactions with funds known to be acquired by other persons by criminal means.”
    The Investigative Committee alleged that Navalny’s non-profit, which investigates official corruption in Russia, received money from third parties as part of money-laundering scheme. (Navalny and his supporters say such cases are politically motivated.)
    Russian lawmakers have also weighed in. The Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, ordered the creation of a special commission to probe “foreign interference” in Russian elections amid the wave of opposition protests.

      Vladimir Putin’s rise from spy to Russian leader

    And local authorities have carrots, as well as sticks, to deter protests. The Moscow city government organized two last-minute street carnivals that appeared timed to lure Muscovites away from protests (including one barbecue-and-music festival on August 10, dubiously titled “Meat and Beat”).
    At this stage, it’s hard to gauge where the protests are heading. After the massive turnout on August 10, demonstrations the following weekend were a more subdued affair. That protest involved “solo pickets” — individual protesters holding signs in downtown Moscow to avoid arrest for participating in an unsanctioned gathering.
    But even modest protests can have an effect. Earlier this summer, Russian authorities dropped criminal charges against prominent investigative reporter Ivan Golunov after a fierce public backlash. The Kremlin, however, does not seem disposed to make concessions to the opposition.
    Asked on Monday about the recent arrests, Putin was adamant: Russians have a right to free assembly, within limits.
      “Neither the authorities nor any groups of citizens have the right to violate the law and carry the situation to the point of absurdity or cause scuffles with the authorities,” he said in a news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron. “This is against the law, and all who committed these violations have to be held accountable under the Russian law.”
      Put otherwise: Putin is unlikely to see the upcoming protest as a legitimate expression of political grievance.

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      As the Czech Republic capital launches a crackdown, the Observer joins one of the organised pub crawls that are blighting residents lives

      Eugen Kukla could not have made his feelings clearer as 120 drunken tourists thronged noisily past his home around midnight, rudely breaking the silence of a normally sedate city-centre residential street.

      Fuck pub crawls, fuck pub crawls, he repeated over and over again, while filming the scene on his smart phone. Some of the crowd reacted in amusement, smiling and waving into the camera.

      But Kukla, 55, a photojournalist, did not see the joke. Its an expression of my personal feelings, a buildup of frustration over a long period of time, years and years and years, he said. Kukla says his and his familys lives have been disrupted by the snowballing trade in pub crawls through the centre of Prague and past their fourth-storey flat. Its been going on for 10 or 15 years but its got worse.

      Kuklas act of resistance was witnessed by the Observer, which joined one of the organised crawls along with a senior councillor from Prague 1 municipality, the local authority responsible for the Czech capitals historic tourist district now under strain as never before from a burgeoning influx of foreign visitors.

      Photojournalist and local Eugen Kukla. The pub crawls have been going on for 15 years, but its got worse. Photograph: Robert Tait/The Observer

      On a night when thousands of Czechs marched through the city marking the anniversary of the Soviet-led invasion on 21 August 1968 that crushed the liberal Prague Spring in communist Czechoslovakia, tourists from locations as varied as Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France, Brazil, Belgium and Armenia roamed the streets on a different mission to have fun and get drunk.

      The spectacle was graphic evidence that over-tourism, a phenomenon more commonly associated with destinations such as Barcelona, Amsterdam, Venice and Edinburgh, has arrived in Prague a city that was all but sealed off to western visitors until 1989 when the velvet revolution swept the former communist regime from power.

      In the years since, a rising tide of visitors has flooded in, up from 2.62 million in the year 2000, to just under 8 million last year, drawn by Pragues reputation as home to stunning baroque and gothic architectural gems and cheap beer. Numbers this year are forecast to reach just under 9 million.

      The trend is transforming Prague and risks pushing out long-term inhabitants of the city centre historically considered a residential district and turning it into a tourist-only zone. That prospect was called humiliating by Jan tern, who took office this year as the citys first nightlife mayor and has negotiated with bar owners trying to persuade them not to cooperate with pub crawls and to enforce policies prohibiting outdoor noise that would make conditions more tolerable for neighbouring residents.

      Its important that we dont give up the historic city centre, which is our most valuable legacy, and not let it become a dead zone thats just a background for nightlife and a cheap type of tourism, said tern.

      A beer-and-bike tour one of Pragues many alcohol-related activities – offers unlimited Czech beer. Photograph: Terry Dean/Alamy Stock Photo

      Now the authorities alarmed at that possibility and the citys growing reputation as a location of cheap booze and easy fun are pledging a harder line with miscreant visitors, some of whom stand accused of disrespecting Prague and its inhabitants.

      There could in the future be more action taken by the police. We want to get that message out, said one municipal official. There will be harder treatment against tourists and more harsh action when they are making noise. There are even voices calling to use riot squads. When there are 150 people on a pub crawl there needs to be a lot of policemen asking for documents. If anyone is drunk theyll be taken to alcohol stations and things could be really hard for them.

      Over-tourism, as defined by three academics last year, is the excessive growth of visitors leading to overcrowding in areas where residents suffer the consequences, which have enforced permanent changes to their lifestyles, access to amenities and general wellbeing. That definition by Joseph Cheer, Claudio Milano and Marina Novelli, writing on the Conversation website, aptly sums up the reality of many European cities that have reaped the rewards but also borne the brunt of the explosion in cheap flights and Airbnb-style accommodation that recent years have brought.

      But it is particularly pertinent to Prague, according to Pavel iinsk, mayor of Prague 1, who has vowed to transform the citys approach by cracking down on pub crawls and limiting alcohol serving times. He is also promoting information drives to encourage tourists to visit more peripheral areas instead of over-visited attractions such as Charles Bridge and the historic ninth-century castle.

      The centre of Prague is losing the quality of normal life, said iinsk, a lifelong city resident who grew up near the Jewish quarter. The centre is becoming a goldmine where you earn a lot of money, but it is not a place for living. It is a significant and crucial problem.

      The Lennon Wall, one of Pragues most popular attractions, is covered with graffiti and obscene messsages. Photograph: Petr David Josek/AP

      Too many people are coming just for a very small number of purposes, and buildings, and those who want to make profits from the presence of the tourists worsen the situation.

      The signs of such tourist-driven commercialisation are everywhere, seen in the spread of cheap souvenir shops, massage parlours painted in out-of-place garish colours an example of what officials denounce as visual smog and the dancers in giant panda suits that proliferate in Old Town Square, exploiting local busking laws. That practice will be illegal from next month.

      But it is the commercial pub crawls and other alcohol-related tours that are altering the citys previously tranquil character most dramatically and driving an increasing number of long-term residents out, leaving vacant properties to be rented out.

      Beer bikes, offering tours to up to a dozen people at a time while they drink unlimited quantities of famous Czech brews to a soundtrack of loud music, have gained notoriety as noisy nuisances, blocking traffic and disturbing passersby. A council attempt to outlaw them is currently being contested by a local microbrewery on the grounds that it is discriminatory.

      Also notorious are walking tours in Mal Strana, near Prague castle, which often culminate in visits to the Lennon Wall, a famous protest site during communist times that has since become a place of free expression for would-be graffiti artists, but is now being defaced with mindless spraying done at the urging of guides.

      After offering unlimited beer, guides have been known to push clients into posing for outrageous pictures at city landmarks, according to Prague 1 municipality, which joined one such tour. Tourists were pictured clambering on to outsize statues of babies designed by the Czech artist David ern in Kampa Park and pouring beer into the mouths of two male figurines in the courtyard of the Franz Kafka museum.

      Tourists from Germany made up the highest proportion of visitors to Prague with 13.7% in 2018

      The authority scrutinised the tour after complaints that people had urinated on a statue unveiled in 2014 by Sir Nicholas Soames, Winston Churchills grandson, to honour Czechoslovakian pilots who fought with the RAF in the Battle of Britain.

      During the tour, some participants were observed writing obscene slogans on the Lennon Wall, owned by the Sovereign Order of Malta, which afterwards filed a criminal complaint.

      Residents say such activity has made living conditions intolerable. I remember this square being a quiet area where you would rarely meet anyone, let alone a tourist, said Karolina Peake, 43, a lawyer who has lived her entire life in a house near the wall.

      Ever since the wall became part of the tourist and Baedeker circuit, it has become a bit of a nightmare, and in the last five years it has become unbearable. A lot of drunk tourists are coming and acting like they have conquered the place rather than just visiting. They have no respect for the fact that there are people living here and its making people reconsider whether they want to continue living in a place where their families have been for generations.

      A crowded bar in Prague is indicative of the snowballing trade of pub tours. Photograph: Robert Tait/The Observer

      Back on the tour that the Observer and the local councillor joined, people on the Prague Pub Crawl were led down Celetn Street, once the route of ancient Bohemian kings, to a nearby establishment that offered an open bar for two hours before the tour was taken to a series of other pubs on a crawl that lasted into the small hours.

      As the group wound from bar to bar, being greeted at each venue with a free welcome drink of cheap vodka, residents could be seen closing their windows despite warm summer temperatures against the rising din. The commotion grew louder as the night wore on. At no point did a tour guide ask the group to keep the noise down, despite local laws demanding quiet in residential areas after 10pm.

      Indeed, there appeared to be little fear of the law. At the corner of Rybn and Benediktsk Streets near the heart of Pragues infamous party district a woman vomited copiously, oblivious to a police station just yards away. She eventually required first aid, administered by the councillor. Outside a bar on 28 October Street, near Wenceslas Square, a couple lay smoking flat on their backs, while others on the pub crawl milled raucously around them.

      Only after the councillor who requested anonymity called the police did officers arrive to tell the pub crawlers to quieten down. But they left without imposing fines or making arrests.

      Such scenes are familiar to Peake. Ive remonstrated with tourists and some have been apologetic, but the guides have been aggressive and confrontational, she said. They see the residents as a threat to their business. Unfortunately Prague has become a bit of an Eldorado for these type of tour groups.

      The sometimes-obscene graffiti defacing the Lennon Wall has spread to neighbouring properties and sometimes even cars. Its pure vandalism, she added.

      One particularly ugly piece of vandalism last month prompted city authorities to up the ante, when graffiti was sprayed on the 600-year-old Charles Bridge. Two German tourists were fined and ordered to pay restoration costs. The graffiti was later removed by a Czech man acting alone and without authorisation.

      Scores of tourists take photos of the historic Astronomical Clock in Pragues old town square as it strikes the hour. Photograph: Robert Tait/The Observer

      One result will be an information campaign of dos and donts on Instagram, which could include pictures of some of the most notorious acts of misbehaviour being used in pixelated form to advise visitors of what to avoid. Posters have already been placed on the Prague metro warning visitors about the need to keep quiet in the streets after 10pm and that failure to comply could result in a 400 fine.

      City-centre residents are being officially encouraged by Prague 1 municipality to report disturbances from Airbnb properties and other short-term rentals to the police, enabling the authority to fine the owners.

      Meanwhile, pub-crawl and alcohol-based walking-tour companies will come under greater scrutiny for infractions, such as failing to offer customers receipts as required by Czech law or to check if they are over 18.

      Tourists from Germany made up the highest proportion of visitors to Prague with 13.7% in 2018

      Bars cooperating with pub crawls will face increased inspection on health and safety matters, like whether they are exceeding capacity, said iinsk, who added: We will have to be tougher I do not consider the negotiations very successful.

      Despite that verdict, Prague is the envy of Budapest, a city of comparable architectural distinction that shares its communist legacy and new-found problems with tourism.

      What I see from Budapest is that tourism in Prague is managed a lot better, said Daniel Nemet, a de facto nightlife mayor of the Hungarian capital, working under a private association of about 50 business owners. We have many of the same problems, we have two budget flights arriving from London every day. But Prague is ahead of Budapest in appointing an official night mayor, providing information on what to do and not to do and generally being proactive. Budapest could learn a lot from it.

      Over-tourism: how cities fight back


      The canal city, already under ever-present threat from natural floods, is considering radical steps to stem the deluge of humanity streaming in every year: a minimum entry fee, starting at 2.50 and rising to between 5 and 10 during peak periods.

      The measure has been proposed to limit visitor numbers that have risen to 30 million a year, many of them day-trippers who according to some city officials stop only to take pictures. It is not the first punitive anti-visitor tax that has been floated. Authorities previously threatened to levy fines of up to 500 on tourists pulling wheeled suitcases over the cobbled streets, the noise of which irritated locals. The penalty was never implemented.


      Anguish over the effects of tourism has reached such a pitch in the Catalan capital that tourists have supplanted immigrants as targets of hostility pithily expressed in the slogan Tourists go home, immigrants welcome, which began to appear on walls in the city in 2017.

      Protesters have since marched chanting Barcelona is not for sale and We will not be driven out, as a familiar pattern of budget flights and the rising availability of Airbnb rentals has brought a welter of short-term visitors to the city, threatening to trigger an exodus of locals from traditional neighbourhoods.

      Called tourism-phobia by the Spanish media, the sentiment confounds the economic reality that tourists spent an estimated 30bn, according to 2017 figures.


      The authorities have become so concerned about the effects of a certain type of tourist who visits the city in order to party excessively without regard for the consequences that they have launched a video as part of an Enjoy and Respect campaign.

      The video targets young men aged 18 to 34, from the Netherlands and UK, who, it says, engage in behaviour that creates annoyance for locals and business owners and makes parts of the city less liveable. With more than 17 million visitors a year including day-trippers Amsterdam municipal officials have moved to curb other excesses, including the growth of hotels, souvenir shops, ticket sales outlets and cheese shops.

      Palma de Mallorca

      Authorities in the capital of Spains Balearic islands voted last year to ban almost all short-term holiday rentals in private flats, such as Airbnb, after complaints from locals that the phenomenon had triggered a surge in rents. Residents had also protested that short-term renters were behaving disrespectfully and paying little heed to local norms.

      Palma is one of several European cities that have been driven to drastic action on holiday rentals. This year, 10 European cities wrote to the European Commission requesting its support for their fight against the explosive growth of short-term letting platforms.

      Read more:

      You may not have heard of Kobalt before, but you probably engage with the music it oversees every day, if not almost every hour. Combining a technology platform to better track ownership rights and royalties of songs with a new approach to representing musicians in their careers, Kobalt has risen from the ashes of the 2000 dot-com bubble to become a major player in the streaming music era. It is the leading alternative to incumbent music publishers (who represent songwriters) and is building a new model record label for the growing “middle class’ of musicians around the world who are stars within niche audiences.

      Having predicted music’s digital upheaval early, Kobalt has taken off as streaming music has gone mainstream across the US, Europe, and East Asia. In the final quarter of last year, it represented the artists behind 38 of the top 100 songs on U.S. radio.

      Along the way, it has secured more than $200 million in venture funding from investors like GV, Balderton, and Michael Dell, and its valuation was last pegged at $800 million. It confirmed in April that it is raising another $100 million to boot. Kobalt Music Group now employs over 700 people in 14 offices, and GV partner Avid Larizadeh Duggan even left her firm to become Kobalt’s COO.

      How did a Swedish saxophonist from the 1980s transform into a leading entrepreneur in music’s digital transformation? Why are top technology VCs pouring money into a company that represents a roster of musicians? And how has the rise of music streaming created an opening for Kobalt to architect a new approach to the way the industry works?

      Gaining an understanding of Kobalt and its future prospects is a vehicle for understanding the massive change underway across the global music industry right now and the opportunities that is and isn’t creating for entrepreneurs.

      This article is Part 1 of the Kobalt EC-1, focused on the company’s origin story and growth. Part 2 will look at the company’s journey to create a new model for representing songwriters and tracking their ownership interests through the complex world of music royalties. Part 3 will look at Kobalt’s thesis about the rise of a massive new middle class of popular musicians and the record label alternative it is scaling to serve them.

      Table of Contents

      Early lessons on the tough road of entrepreneurship


      Image via Kobalt Music

      It’s tough to imagine a worse year to launch a music company than 2000. Willard Ahdritz, a Swede living in London, left his corporate consulting job and sold his home for £200,000 to fully commit to his idea of a startup collecting royalties for musicians. In hindsight, his timing was less than impeccable: he launched Kobalt just as Napster and music piracy exploded onto the mainstream and mere months before the dot-com crash would wipe out much of the technology industry.

      The situation was dire, and even his main seed investor told him he was doomed once the market crashed. “Eating an egg and ham sandwich…have you heard this saying? The chicken is contributing but the pig is committed,” Ahdritz said when we first spoke this past April (he has an endless supply of sayings). “I believe in that — to lose is not an option.”

      Entrepreneurial hardship though is something that Ahdritz had early experience with. Born in Örebro, a city of 100,000 people in the middle of Sweden, Ahdritz spent a lot of time as a kid playing in the woods, which also holding dual interests in music and engineering. The intersection of those two converged in the synthesizer revolution of early electronic music, and he was fascinated by bands like Kraftwerk.

      Read more:

      The punks were sceptical of my presence. One guy even headbutted me. In retrospect, I think it was a sign of acceptance

      I was in my mid-20s when Cornell Capa, director of the International Center of Photography in New York, recommended me for a job documenting life in the American sector of Berlin while the city was still divided. As a young photographer, I was so nervous. All of these senior German officials were swanning around my studio inspecting my work.

      I blurted out that I wasnt American, that I was born in Canada, almost like a confession. I felt I had to tell them. They just looked at me quizzically, laughed and started speaking in German. I have no idea what they thought of me. But I got the job.

      I went to West Berlin in 1982 to document what was called Mauerkrankheit, which roughly translates as wall sickness. It was a disorder, identified in Berlin, caused by the fact that youre living in this divided city, surrounded by the tension between the Soviet and American sectors. Its a slow-motion trauma that culminates in depression. I heard that nearly 10% of people living in the east were diagnosed with it.

      In the west, I discovered a different side to the disorder. Every Saturday, punks would hang out, drink beer and blare music through their soundsystems. Cars would be set alight and bank windows smashed in. The cops would arrive, teargas them and send them running to find shelter in nearby bars, and the whole cycle would repeat. They were sceptical of me to begin with. One guy even headbutted me. In retrospect, I think that was a sign of acceptance.

      Getting to know them wasnt easy, and it happened in the strangest of ways. I would carry a bunch of bananas to snack on while I wandered the streets. When I found the punks, I didnt know what to say, so I offered them bananas. They just laughed at me. But they must have liked it, because they welcomed me into their crew.

      As I got to know them, I realised they fitted into the idea of the wall sickness, but they were the manic side of the depression that reigned in the east. There was something psychotic about punk at the time. These werent just weekend punks and punk wasnt just a look this was their life.

      The woman in this shot was called Miriam, and the rat on her shoulder is called Bestia. It was a week or so before Reagan was planning to visit, and there were windows smashed all over the city in protest. Despite the violence and the militancy, she was extremely gentle. She was big, much bigger than me, but she had a soft way of gesturing and moving.

      She invited me to her place, a nearby squat. We hung out, drank tea, took some shots and became friends. She introduced me to her rat, Bestia, who lived in her oven. Being a squat, it had no electricity, so it was perfectly safe. Bestia was almost like a guardian angel for Miriam, keeping her safe amid the anarchy. I think it was useful to keep guys off her back, too nobodys messing when you have a rat draped around your neck.

      People feel this image represents a moment in Berlins history, or the punk movement more broadly, but to me its a shot of someone I got to know, who welcomed me into a hard-to-reach scene. It was a doorway for me into other activist and protest scenes, and I remember the time fondly.

      People seem to think that punk has died, and maybe elements of the aesthetic have. But the spirit of punk was so much more than a look, and I think that lives on, albeit in different forms. I think we saw it in the Occupy movement, within elements of the Arab spring, and I think we are seeing it today in the UK with Extinction Rebellion.

      Philip Pococks CV

      Photograph: Heike Borowski

      Born: Ottawa, Canada, 1954.

      Training: Film and television production, New York University.

      Influences: Diane Arbus, Brassa, the Capa brothers, Eikoh Hosoe, Andr Kertsz, Dorothea Lange, Helen Levitt, Mary Ellen Mark, Lszl Moholy-Nagy, Gordon Parks, Thomas Ruff, Aaron Siskind, Francesca Woodman.

      High point: My 1997 Documenta X commission, Germany.

      Low point: A life-changing accident on a film set in 1979.

      Top tip: Draw with your eyes. Think like a writer. Earn trust and befriend!

      Read more:

      Thousands are calling for opposition candidates to be allowed to stand in the citys election, says Russian journalist Alexey Kovalev

      On a typical weekday, Moscow is a modern, rapidly developing metropolis, a far cry from its dark, litter-strewn, dilapidated self 20 years ago. Its formerly abandoned industrial parks are hipster havens serving artisanal cocoa milk lattes and avocado bruschetta to crowds that wouldnt look out of place in east London or Brooklyn, while its public transport system is one of the cheapest and most efficient in the world.

      But by the weekend, downtown Moscow is a warzone. For several weeks, Muscovites have been peacefully protesting in the streets, and the state has responded with unprecedented repression. Armies of masked riot police greatly outnumbering the protesters are viciously beating them with rubber batons. There have been multi-pronged pre-dawn raids on protesters homes and summary arrests of opposition leaders. Military recruiting officers have been hunting for draft dodgers at rallies and courts are dispensing harsh sentences for offences such as throwing an empty plastic bottle at the police. Universities are threatening to expel students spotted at protests.


      Who is Alexei Navalny?

      Born in 1976 just outside Moscow, Alexei Navalny is a lawyer-turned-campaigner whose Anti-Corruption Foundation carries out investigations into the wealth of Vladimir Putins inner circle.

      He started out as a Russian nationalist, but emerged as the main leader of Russia’s democratic opposition during the wave of protests that led up to the 2012 presidential election, and has since been a constant thorn in the Kremlins side.

      Navalny is barred from appearing on state television, but has used social media to his advantage. A 2017 documentary accusing the prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev, of corruption received more than 30m views on YouTube within two months of release.

      He has been repeatedly arrested and jailed by the authorities. The European court of human rights ruled that Russia violated Navalny’s rights by holding him under house arrest in 2014. Election officials formally barred him from running for president in 2018 due to an embezzlement conviction that he claims was politically motivated. Navalny told the commission its decision would be a vote not against me, but against 16,000 people who have nominated me, against 200,000 volunteers who have been canvassing for me.

      There has also been a physical price to pay. In April 2017, he was hospitalised after being attacked with green dye that nearly blinded him in one eye, and in July 2019 was taken from jail to hospital with symptoms that one of his doctors said could indicate poisoning.

      His main strength in opposition has been in bringing large numbers of protesters out on to Russia’s streets. At times, Navalny has seemed to find short spells in jail an energising rather than demoralising experience. There were some others in the jail, and for all of them it was their first protest in their lives,” he once said. “When they saw me walking past, they were calling out, Whens the next protest? They werent asking if there would be one, they wanted to know when.

      Photograph: Pavel Golovkin/AP

      Egor Zhukov, a political science student, was arrested and charged with mass rioting (a criminal offence that carries up to eight years of prison) for making a gesture pointing to the right, according to prosecutors. They also brought a custody challenge against a couple who brought their infant son to what was supposed to be a peaceful rally, threatening to have child protection services seize him for them endangering his physical and mental safety. Even moderate Kremlin loyalists were aghast at such vindictiveness.

      State TV offered its usual dose of lies and smears against the protesters, while Moscows authorities are busy distracting Muscovites with hastily cobbled together food and music festivals with a solid lineup of rock stars. Some of the biggest names on the bill refused to participate for political reasons, with Max Pokrovsky, the lead singer of Nogu Svelo!, joining the protests instead.

      But none of the scare tactics and attempts to distract Moscows youth from protesting with state-sponsored entertainment worked. On 9 August, an anonymous Telegram account linked to the police doxxed thousands of people who turned up at previous rallies or signed petitions for independent candidates. The next day, 50,000 people came out to protest: the biggest crowd in years.

      What makes Moscows protests unique is the almost surreal peacefulness on the protesters part. State propaganda chose the familiar route of justifying police violence: look, TV pundits and officials said, in Paris, Hamburg and Hong Kong riot police used teargas, water cannon and rubber bullets, seriously injuring some, so were going easy on you! These false equivalences couldnt be less relevant. Unlike Paris, not a single shop window in Moscow has been smashed, not a single car torched. State media talked about business losses caused by the protests, but failed to mention that it was Moscows authorities that ordered cafes and shops to shut down (and even degraded cellular service in the city centre on purpose).

      A series of protest rallies in downtown Moscow culminated in an epic crackdown with more than a 1,000 people arrested on 27 July. Photograph: Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP

      And unlike the gilets jaunes(yellow vests)grand demands, the oppositions goals seem almost insignificant in comparison: let opposition candidates stand in the Moscow City Duma council elections on 8 September. The crisis could have been averted at any point in the past few weeks without any major consequences for the authorities: independent candidates, some of whom are associated with Alexei Navalnys Anti-Corruption Foundation, could have been registered to compete in the election and lose; some could even win a token seat in one of the most powerless local assemblies in Russia, which until now very few people cared about: the turnout at the 2014 elections was about 20%. Its not uncommon for opposition candidates to win local elections, only to be co-opted or quietly unseated later.

      Instead, opposition candidates were met with such forceful resistance that it became clear that the Kremlin wont allow even the symbolic electoral presence of what its ideologues call non-systemic opposition. In order to register to run in an election, a non-partisan applicant has to gather a number of signatures from his supporters, an arcane, opaque procedure designed to discourage participation. When some opposition candidates did manage to gather the required signatures, their applications were thrown out by the electoral commission under the most cynical pretences. The refusal to register their preferred candidates led to a series of protest rallies in downtown Moscow in mid-July which culminated in an epic crackdown with more than 1,000 people arrested on 27 July.

      The massive criminal investigation into the new generation of Russias protest movement has been dubbed the new Bolotnaya Square case, after a 2012 protest rally which resulted in a violent stand-off with the police and several dozen criminal convictions for the protesters. What makes it different this time, however, is that a new civic infrastructure has sprung up specifically in response to government crackdowns: pro bono lawyers working around the clock to provide legal assistance for the arrested protesters, independent websites such as OVD-Info and MediaZona tracking down the arrests and covering the sham trials, and a much more active civil society that is no longer willing to put up with attacks on independent reporters such as Meduzas Ivan Golunov.

      Yet to change are the tired old men in the Kremlin, thinking that they can solve the problem the same way theyve always done: with rubber batons and mass arrests. In the next few years, they could find themselves sorely disappointed.

      Alexey Kovalev is head of investigations at Meduza, an independent Russian news outlet

      Read more:

      The Europas Awards for European Tech Startups came around again last week (Thursday 27th June), and once again proved that Europe’s enormous diversity in startups continues to shine through on the world stage.

      Once again TechCrunch was the exclusive media sponsor of the awards, alongside new “tech, culture & society” event creator The Pathfounder. Attendees, nominees and winners were given discounts to TechCrunch Disrupt in Berlin, later this year.

      The awards cover 20 categories, including new additions such as cover AgTech / FoodTech, SpaceTech, GovTech and Mobility Tech.

      After an intense round of public voting and judges’ deliberations, the awards were held in the ‘Summer Festival’ atmosphere of the lawns of the iconic Geffrey Museum in London’s ‘Silicon Roundabout Area’ of Shoreditch and featured street trucks, lawn games, music and a fantastic after-party!

      The judges came from the creme-de-la-creme of the European tech scene and their picks for the winners were combined with the results of a week of online voting.

      Photos from The Europas Awards are now on Flickr where you can download them. They are also on Facebook here. The Live stream hosted by Hermione Way starts here, the panel sessions are here and The Europas Awards ceremony starts here.

      You can sign up to get news of next year’s awards and similar events here.

      The sponsors this year where:
      World Datanomic Forum
      Target Global
      Bayer G4A
      FieldHouse Associates
      Burlington PR
      Home Grown





      So without further-a-do here are the winners and finalists for The Europas Awards 2019!

      The Europas Awards — Hottest AgTech / FoodTech Startup
      Small Robot Company: Building small robots to transform farming
      Presented by Gemma Evans, HealthHackers

      Agricool: grows and produces fruits and vegetables inside shipping containers
      Allplants: Delicious, plant-based meals, delivered.
      Breedr: a productivity and marketing platform transforming the livestock supply-chain
      iFarm: Data-driven urban farming technology
      Ynsect: Designs, constructs and operates giant vertical farm of beetles (Molitors) to produce high grade proteins.

      The Europas Awards — Hottest CleanTech Startup
      Solar Foods: Produces an entirely new kind of nutrient-rich protein using only air and electricity as the main resources
      Presented by Laurence Kemball Cook, Pavegen CEO

      Asperitas: a clean-tech company focused on greening the datacentre industry
      Naefos: A fintech-IoT platform for enterprises to access off-grid households
      Bulb: affordable renewable energy for homes and businesses
      Orbital Systems: a Swedish clean-tech company that develops a water recycling technology to be used in domestic appliances
      VoltStorage: Solar power storage for your home

      The Europas Awards — Hottest CyberTech Startup
      Panaseer: A continuous controls monitoring platform
      Presented by Pratik Sampat, iHorizon

      UK Barac: Using AI and behavioural analytics to detect malware hidden within encrypted traffic without the need for decryption
      Cymulate: Breach and attack simulation
      UK Immersive Labs: A fully interactive, on-demand, and gamified cyber skills platform
      Passbase: a digital identity platform to streamline the identity verification process and enable identity ownership and reuse across different services
      PixelPin: a secure authentication system using pictures instead of passwords
      uBirch: Securing IoT data using blockchain

      The Europas Awards — Hottest EdTech Startup
      Perlego: Textbook subscription service

      Busuu: Online community for language learning
      Get My Grades: online learning platform for English, Maths and Science
      MyPocketSkill: Connecting teens to pocket money earning jobs
      Pigzbe: Crypto-friendly, digital wallet for 6+
      PitchMe: Skills-based talent marketplace
      Robo Wunderkind: developing modular and programmable robots to teach children robotics and coding
      Lirica: Learn languages with the power of music

      The Europas Awards — Hottest FashTech Startup
      Metail: virtual fitting room service for fashion retailers that allows customers to create a 3D model of themselves and try on clothes

      Bump: making commerce social
      Euveka: develops connected smart-mannequins, using custom software, to assist fashion, sports and medical professionals in the prototyping and sale of individual garments
      Heuritech: anticipating brand and product desirability through the eyes of millions of fashion influencers and consumers
      HUUB: a logistics and tech platform for Fashion brands
      Little Black Door: intelligent inventory platform that captures the value of your wardrobe and opens it up to a premium managed marketplace
      Finda: Professional model booking platform

      The Europas Awards — Hottest FinTech Startup
      Auquan: data science platform for financial services
      Presented by Malin Holmberg, Target Global VC

      Curve: a platform allowing consolidation of all bank cards into a single smart card and app
      Cytora: Using AI to enable insurers to underwrite more efficiently
      Divido: a retail finance platform that allows companies to offer instant customer finance
      Holvi: digital banking for freelancers and entrepreneurs
      Monese: an online banking platform that offers quick current account opening for all EU residents
      Moonfare: a technology-enabled platform allowing individuals to invest in top-tier private equity funds
      Nuggets: Login, pay and verify ID without ever sharing or storing your data with anyone
      PremFina: White label software to manage insurance policies
      Yobota: cloud-based platform allows financial services to design and deploy financial products

      The Europas Awards — Hottest GovTech, CivTech, PubTech, RegTech
      New Vector: decentralised, secure communication for governments, businesses and individuals
      Presented by Eloise Todd, Anti-Brexit Campaigner

      Adzuna: digital service that connects jobseekers with employers online and through job centres around the UK
      Apolitical Apolitical is a global policy insights platform and network helping governments and companies advance their work and business
      Clause Match: end-to-end solution for fully automating regulatory compliance
      Luminance: document analysis software to secure big data systems
      novoville – novoville is a Citizen Engagement Platform, that bridges the gap between local governments and their citizens
      Safened: Digital KYC Solution
      SafeTeam: NHS community lone worker app

      The Europas Awards — Hottest HealthTech Startup
      BIOS, creating the open standard hardware and software interface between the human nervous system and AI
      Presented by Rafiq Hasan, Bayer Health

      Ada Health: an AI-powered health platform
      eQuoo: evidence based mental health game for young adults
      Lumeon: providing care pathway management solutions to the healthcare industry
      Natural Cycles: a digital contraceptive app
      Pregenerate: “cartilage-on-a- chip” to accelerate drug development for arthritis
      Siilo: secure messenger app for medical teams
      Straight Teeth Direct: Direct to consumer teledentistry platform that connects users to online dentists globally enabling low cost at home teeth straightening

      The Europas Awards — Hottest MadTech (MarTech or AdTech) Startup
      Ometria: a customer insight and marketing automation platform
      Videesha Bockle, signals Venture Capital

      Codec: AI-powered audience intelligence for brands
      MeasureMatch: find, book, pay & rate independent consultants or consultancies to accelerate marketing, commerce & customer experience capabilities
      PlanSnap: a social planning platform that gets friends together
      StreetBees: Connecting brands with real people on the ground to gather real time insights
      Uberall: location marketing cloud
      Vidsy: helps brands create original mobile video ads at scale
      Waive: an intelligent trend spotting platform

      The Europas Awards — Hottest Mobility Travel Tech Startup
      Voi Scooters: owns, operates, and manages electric scooters for urban commuters
      Joelle Hadfield, HelloFresh

      Culture Trip: inspiring people to explore the world’s culture and creativity
      daytrip: platform connecting independent travelers with local drivers
      Dott: scooter startup
      minicabit: an online minicab and taxi price comparison and booking service
      Snap Travel: on-demand coach service
      Trafi: Mobility solutions for connected cities
      Wejo: unlocks the value in car data to help create smarter, safer, better and greener journeys for drivers globally

      The Europas Awards — Hottest PropTech Startup
      NPlan: machine learning – based risk analysis for construction projects
      Simon Calver, BFG

      Casavo: market maker within the residential real estate market
      Good Monday: a digital office management system
      Habito: digital mortgage broker
      Home Made: property tech rental agent
      Hubble: online marketplace for office space
      Mews Systems: property management software for hospitality operations
      Planner 5D: 3D home design tool using AI, VR & AR to create floorplans and interior design
      Reposit: tenancy deposit alternative
      Urban Jungle: A fully digital insurer, for a new generation of customers

      The Europas Awards — Hottest Retail / ECommerce Tech Startup
      NearSt: building the world’s source of real-time local inventory
      Presented by Audrey Soussan, Ventech

      Festicket: marketplace to discover and book music festival tickets, accommodation, transfers and extras
      Keep Warranty: app that saves the warranties and purchase slips of your appliances
      Picnic: online supermarket, that delivers groceries for the lowest price to people’s home
      Pimcore: digital experience platform to manage product information
      Spryker Systems: a commerce technology company
      store2be: Online marketplace for short-term retail and promotion space
      Trouva: curated marketplace for bricks and mortar independent shops

      The Europas Awards — Hottest B2B / SaaS Startup
      Infobip: Full-stack Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS)
      Sally MacDonald, Partner, CommsCo

      Chattermill: Using deep learning to help organizations make sense of their customer experience
      Dixa: conversational customer engagement software that connects brands with customers through real-time communication
      Meero: On demand photography service combined with image processing artificial intelligence
      Paddle: platform for all software companies to run and grow their business
      Peakon: a platform for measuring and improving employee engagement
      ProoV: a PoC platform that enables businesses to test new technologies
      SeedLegals: platform for all the legals startups need to grow and get funded
      TravelPerk: business travel booking & management platform for companies
      Unbabel: a ‘translation-as-a-service’ platform, powered by AI and a worldwide community of translators

      The Europas Awards — Hottest SpaceTech Startup
      Open Cosmos: Simple and affordable space missions
      Presented by Dr Barbara Ghinelli, Harwell

      Aerial & Maritime: A Danish nanosatellite-based solution for monitoring aircrafts and maritime vessels
      Aerospacelab: Develops a constellation of micro-satellites for earth observation and imagery
      aXenic: Design, development and production of optical modulators for communications and sensing
      Global Surface Intelligence: Environmental data service
      Hawa Dawa: Combines proprietary IoT smart sensor data with other sources of data (including satellite data) to give highly accurate data on air quality
      Monolith: Machine Learning Platform that helps engineers to predict the outcome of unknown, new tests or simulations by reusing historical data
      Trik: Enterprise drone 3D mapping software for structural inspection
      Unseenlabs – Unseenlabs designs and develops a spectrum surveillance payload
      Xonaspace: Uses an XPS and LEO satellite constellation for extremely precise GPS systems

      The Europas Awards — Hottest Tech for Good Startup
      Beam: help a homeless person for the long-term by funding their employment training
      Paula Schwarz, World Datanomic Forum

      eWaterpay: Using mobile technology for the accountable collection of user fees to pay for the maintenance of water supply systems forever
      Idka: a platform for private groups and organizations, where they can connect, communicate, share and store anything – while their privacy remains intact
      OmoLab: develops tools that make easier for people with dyslexia to read
      SafetoNet: an app that protects children online by using AI to detect harmful content, whilst respecting children’s privacy
      Tick. Done.: a micro-video platform for instant knowledge sharing
      Winnow: digital tools to help chefs run more profitable, sustainable kitchen

      The Europas Awards — Hottest Blockchain Project
      Argent: a smart wallet for cryptocurrencies and blockchain applications

      Aeternity: a scalable blockchain platform that enables high-speed transacting, purely-functional smart contracts
      AZTEC Protocol: building privacy technology for public blockchain infrastructures
      Colendi: decentralized credit scoring protocol and microcredit platform with blockchain and machine learning technologies
      Edge ESports: blockchain-based platform for professional gamers
      FilmChain: blockchain enabled platform that collects data, verifies revenues and executes stakeholder payment splits for film, TV etc
      Orbs: a blockchain Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) for large scale consumer applications
      Veratrak: a shared workspace for collaborating with your supply chain partners

      The Europas Awards — Hottest Blockchain Investor
      Outlier Ventures: invests and partners with tokenised communities that will create the new decentralised economy
      Presented by Kaisa Ruusalepp, Funderbeam

      BlueYard Capital
      Catagonia Capital
      Earlybird Venture Capital
      Fabric Ventures: A venture capital firm that invests in scalable decentralized networks
      KR1: crypto token Investment company supporting early stage decentralised and open source blockchain projects
      Mosaic Ventures

      The Europas Awards — Hottest A/A+ Investors
      Presented by Madhuban Kumar, Metafused

      Anthemis Group
      Balderton Capital
      DN Capital
      EQT Ventures
      Index Ventures
      Project A Ventures
      Ventech Capital

      The Europas Awards — Hottest Early-Stage / Accelerator Investors
      Founders Factory
      Presented by Jenny Judova, TechHub

      Forward Partners
      Generation S
      Entrepreneur First
      Techstars London
      The Family
      7percent Ventures
      Backed VC
      Firstminute Capital
      Episode 1 Ventures

      The Europas Awards — Hall of Fame
      This category recognises a person who has gone above and beyond the call of duty to enhance the tech ecoosystem not just for themselves but for others.
      Brent Hoberman of Founders Factory, Founders Forum, Firstminute Capital, and many other initiatives for startups and entrepreneurs

      Read more:

      Elton John biopics gay sex and kissing footage edited out in effort to play down singers sexuality

      A Russian media company has reportedly cut all scenes featuring gay sex and men kissing from the Elton John biopic Rocketman because of laws banning homosexual propaganda.

      An estimated five minutes of footage have been cut from the film in an attempt to play down the sexuality of one of the worlds most famous gay celebrities for a conservative Russian audience.

      The cuts were first reported by Russian journalists after the films 30 May release in Moscow. Anton Dolin, a popular Russian film critic, wrote on Facebook that all scenes with kissing, sex and oral sex between men have been cut out The nastiest part is that the final caption has been removed from the finale.

      While the original caption said that John lives with his husband and that they are raising children together, the Russian version says instead that he established an Aids foundation and continues to work with his musical partner.

      Sorry, Sir Elton, Dolin wrote.

      On Friday, John and the films makers released a joint statement condemning the cuts: We reject in the strongest possible terms the decision to pander to local laws and censor Rocketman for the Russian market, a move we were unaware of until today.

      That the local distributor has edited out certain scenes, denying the audience the opportunity to see the film as it was intended is a sad reflection of the divided world we still live in and how it can still be so cruelly unaccepting of the love between two people.

      We believe in building bridges and open dialogue, and will continue to push for the breaking down of barriers until all people are heard equally across the world.

      John wrote about the new film in an article for the Guardian recently. Some studios wanted to tone down the sex and drugs so the film would get a PG-13 rating, he said. But I just havent led a PG-13 rated life.

      The singer added: I didnt want a film packed with drugs and sex, but equally, everyone knows I had quite a lot of both during the 70s and 80s, so there didnt seem to be much point in making a movie that implied that after every gig, Id quietly gone back to my hotel room with only a glass of warm milk and the Gideons Bible for company.

      John has remained one of the wests most celebrated rock stars in Russia even as he has used his celebrity to campaign for equal rights for LGBT around the world. He first toured the Soviet Union in 1979 and has continued to perform in Russia even after the passing of the controversial anti-gay propaganda law in 2013, targeted mainly against public events like pride celebrations.

      Conservative supporters of the law said it was needed to protect traditional family values and minors from non-traditional sexual orientation. Local organisations and foreign governments have criticised the law, saying it is both discriminatory and vague.

      John was also targeted by pranksters pretending to be Vladimir Putin in 2015, calling the chance to discuss civil rights with Putin a great privilege before realising he had been duped.

      The real Putin eventually called John, and the singer secured an invitation from the Russian leader to meet and speak about issues including HIV, Aids and equal rights for LGBT. The meeting still has not taken place.

      In 2014 Putin said of the singer: Elton John is an outstanding person [and] outstanding musician. Millions of our people sincerely love him despite his orientation.

      A Russian state news agency said the distribution company managing Rocketman confirmed that changes were made to the film in accordance with Russian law.

      Earlier reports said that 40 seconds could be cut from the film in a bid to lower the movies age rating. In his post, Dolin said that the film had been cut by as much as five minutes. Scenes featuring drug use had also been cut.

      Read more: