A Night in Bosnia’s Ghost Town
By Sami Lotila
The night train from Munich to the Croatian capital city of Zagreb is often full, particularly on Friday nights. Croatians, Muslims and Serbs working in Germany and Austria are returning to their homes for the weekend. War, politics and nationalities are subjects to avoid in conversation, for there are always those ready to pick a fight. A fight is usually on by the time the train reaches Austria, and tonight is no exception. While the other passengers yawn and turn their heads, a business man dressed in a suit ends his disagreement by kicking his beaten adversary twice in the ribs.
The train station in Zagreb is in panic when we arrive, the Croatian attack on a nearby region is expected to produce a retaliatory attack from the Serbs on Zagreb. Continuing is out of the question as the train moves through active war grounds. My waiter at a near deserted restaurant tells me a draft of all able men from 18-55 was instated last week in Croatia. He explains, “They come in the middle of the night and bring you out to a waiting bus. Plenty of men are in hiding. A lot of my friends, too. Maybe I should be.”
My youth hostel companion Robert works for the Croatian army as a war advisor and isn’t shocked by much. He has seen war in Vietnam, Angola, Afghanistan, and Honduras. “Negotiation was always possible in other places, but not in Bosnia. The hate is too deep. The situation in Croatia and Serbia may subside, but not in Bosnia.” Robert accuses all parties of brutalities. 3,000 muhajis have come to Bosnia from the Arab countries, soldiers of Islam known for their atrocities like cutting their Serb prisoners’ ears, noses, limbs and genitals. “Their favorite pastime, besides cutting throats, is skinning people alive,” adds Robert.
By Pauliina Remes
Bosnia has become a mecca for reporters and photographers, and yet reporting the real facts of the war has proven impossible. The results of a recent Helsingin Sanomat survey found that Finnish reporting about the situation in Bosnia is poor, regardless of the fact that foreign reports are full of news from the war daily.
Janne Hopsu, a student of history and freelance news reporter for MTV3 comments, “The survey, which revealed that many people simply don’t understand what is happening in Bosnia was quite a shock for us.” Respondents were even unclear as to which warring party was in control of Sarajevo. “We are ardently looking for reasons to explain this and we have found fault with not only our audience but ourselves.” He continues, “The situation in Bosnia is nevertheless so complicated that its difficult to compact the truth into a package. A true understanding of the actual situation would require a lot from our viewers as well.”
The Versatile Vice-Rector
By Jarno Forssell
Vice-Rector Arto Mustajoki has had a busy summer, not writing university critiques or selecting peak departments, but creating Russian language lessons and computer games for television. Kapusta, a new series to begin next month on YLE TV is more than it appears. “It is for the most part entertainment, not a beginning language course,” explains Mustajoki, a professor of Russian philology.
Every episode is composed of different parts. In one, Mato Valtonen from the Leningrad Cowboys searches St. Petersburg for his beautiful lost Russian teacher Natasha. In another part of the show, Finnish celebrities play a computer game that requires some familiarity with the Cyrillic alphabet and simple words. “We hope to show that Russian isn’t difficult at all. There’s an unbelievable amount of familiar words, over 2000 or so. The letters should be no obstacle either,” believes Mustajoki. Minister of Education Olli-Pekka Heinonen and the recently deceased actor Matti Pellonp€ž€ž are among the guests to appear on the series.
The show is part of a campaign now underway in Finland to make the Russian language more approachable. “We have tried to make positive use of the stereotypes that exist,” adds Mustajoki. “Ambassador Yuri Derjabin once asked me hope they could improve the Russian language’s image. I gave him two bits of advice: First, expand the Interrail network into Russia and make Russia safe enough to use it, and second, create good television shows for young people in which people speak Russian.”
Love and Anarchy Festival Begins
By Sami Hyrskylahti
The eighth annual Love and Anarchy Film Festival begins this weekend. Over the years, the Festival has become one of the hottest events in Helsinki, with over 6,222 advance tickets sold in the first three days this year. Mika Siltala, the creator of the event, explains, “It all began when my mother wouldn’t let me watch Psycho on TV when I was young. I decided then that no one should ever prohibit others from watching films.” The films featured in the Festival since have make Psycho look like children’s fare. Siltala confesses that this year is different, “This year’s festival is gentler. It could well reflect not only those producing the films but the world at large, which has become more open-minded and tolerant, although not enough.” This year’s festival focuses on Canadian films and the films of Wayne Wang, while new feature films offered include Spike Lee’s Clockers and Gus Van Sant’s new film To Die For . The Festival runs from September 22-28. Tickets can be purchased at Maxim, Amanda and Kino Engel.
Renovation of the Athletic Facilities
By Pirkko Tuominen
During the summer break, the gym in the basement of the University Administration Building got a facelift. Broken equipment, split flooring and horrible colors have been replaced, revealing a new more open environment. The cost of the renovation was FIM 120 thousand. Porthania’s facilities have also been improved, with new showers and a sauna. “Our intention was to make the facilities pleasant for its users,” comments Jukka Korhonen of the Athletics Office.
`Pleasant’ is indeed a new word for university athletics, until now the norm has been dilapidation and congestion. Complaints were few because services were free. That could change, however. Korhonen says, “Students could pay 50 marks for the entire academic year, and receive better quality activities.” The Helsinki Student Union has condemned the idea, but the matter is still being discussed.
The Small Crowd of Assyriologists
By Pauliina Remes
Each year, one student or so begins their studies in Assyriology at the University. Pirjo Lapinkivi was once one of these beginners. “We only have a few language lectures, we have to learn about the culture on our own from books. Monographs are rare because the time span is so long that it is difficult to create a general overview. There are far less researchers in this field than in Egyptology, for example.” Researchers of antiquity and Jewish history have found it difficult to admit that many things were developed long before and far from their studied era, making Assyriology a rare but growing field today.
To celebrate 10 years of cuneiform material collection in Finland under the supervision of University of Helsinki Professor Simo Parpola, the Science Center Heureka has opened an exhibit entitled `Niniv€š 612 B.C.’, complete with a scale model of the city of Niniv€š, destroyed in 612 B.C. in a Babylonian and Medean siege, clay tablets belonging to the State Archives, sculptures and ceramics. The exhibit will continue until December.
Jobs On the Internet
By Antti Kolari
Those looking for work may just find one on the Internet network. The home page of an employee recruiting service can be found at the Web address http://www.mined.fi/rekrytointi. The intention is to help employers and thousands of graduates find each other. The service also collects any important information found on the Net about international job opportunities and gives tips on everything from evaluating your own job inclinations to writing a resume in another language. The service is operated by the University of Tampere Recruiting Services and is funded by the ministries of education and labor.
The Worst Band of the Year
By Miska Rantanen
The competition for the `Shittiest Band in Finland’ began last year at Prole-Klubi. An all girl band, Parjat , won the honors. The contest brought in a huge audience and proved such a success that the owners have made it an annual affair. After local live music organizations do the initial band elimination by municipality, demo tapes are sent on to Rauno `Rauski’ Ilmonen, organizer of the event. He comments, “When I listen to the tapes I begin to think that live music certainly does has different levels. But this kind of contest questions the audience’s behavior as well. Normally nothing is good enough, and then we have this kind of contrast.” This year, after five hours and nine bands utilizing nine different ways to embarrass themselves and try their worst, the Hämähäkki (Spider) Band from Jyväskylä won the title of shittiest band hands down. During their show, some members of the audience were heard to comment, “Get the fuck off the stage, you heteros!”
Translation by Pamela Kaskinen