Malta election 2017: a smashing victory for the big business

~ 8 minute read

A lot has been said and written about the outcome of the elections yet some aspects still remained unmentioned. Here they are:

  1. Why are the majority of the comments (be it by LovinMalta or by Malta’s most influential sociologist Michael Briguglio or by the columnist Raphael Vassallo) focused mainly on the faults of the strategy of the PN’s campaign and not on its essence? What difference would have the PN victory made in terms of battling corruption?
  2. Why were so many people surprised by the PL’s landslide win?
Cartoon by Mikiel Galea for MaltaToday editorial on tax avoidance

So, would have there been any difference in terms of corruption if the PN won the election?

It is safe to say “unlikely”.

The PN campaign did not truly challenge corruption nor did it suggest how it can be defeated. It only focused on the reputation of its opponents. It was not the quality or the long-term social impact of the PL’s policies that PN criticized but the public image of Joseph Muscat and that of the key figures in his administration. In a nutshell, the PN’s campaign claimed that “the reputation of Joseph Muscat became stained with corruption scandals and that threatens the reputation of Malta. Corruption scandals are detrimental to our economy because it will discourage big business from investing in Malta”. However, there was no single mention whether or not the businesses Malta is so reluctant to lose are themselves legitimate and ethical.

Contrary to their own claims, the PN electoral campaign was NOT about battling corruption but keeping it away from too much exposure. Malta’s financial services have become a regular feature in Der Spiegel. The 70 thousands offshore firms have already brought Malta to the attention of German authorities which will certainly not encourage entrepreneurs setting a company in Malta. Certainly, the Panama accounts of Keith Scembri and Konrad Mizzi, followed by Egrant accusations, yet again brought Malta to the headlines, however, the criticism of “offshore banking and the legalised world of tax avoidance that Maltese corporate services providers are part of” has already been there.

As MaltaFiles have revealed, “legal” does not mean right: Malta harbours companies with dubious records and the financial services in Malta are involved in dubious transactions on an unprecedented scale. In other words, the statements such as “I do not have an account in Panama” are laughable because, according to North Rhine-Westphalia finance minister Norbert Walter-Borjans, “Malta is a Panama of Europe”. Note – the criticism was addressed to the Malta’s tax system and its relationship with the financial services and not to the reputation of Malta’s key figures as such.

The level of Malta’s relationship with corruption extends further than Panama accounts owned by a few Maltese high officials. The financial services in Malta carry out the same tasks as those in Panama – offshore banking which serves as a cover for money laundering and tax evasion for the ultra rich.

Boasting a claim of moral superiority, did the PN challenge Malta’s love affair with the financial services and the betting companies? On the contrary, the main argument of the campaign was to airbrush Malta’s reputation in order to keep the shady businesses away from the international media spotlight – to camouflage the tip of the corruption iceberg. While the offshore accounts of Keith Scembri and Konrad Mizzi were condemned by the opposition and the members of the civil society, the offshore banking (read “corruption”) in Malta is being fiercely defended by the both parties alike. Such an attitude exposes the double standards: while opening an account in Panama is regarded a moral failure, Malta encourages this moral failure when it brings extra cash to the country.

According to the PN, the Labour Party is not careful enough and has brought too much undesirable attention to the country’s relationship with corruption. The shady practices ought to be implemented hush-hush, discretely while the overall image of the country must be beyond reproach. In other words, the crystal reputation of Simon Busuttil fits best to safeguard the beneficial flow of corruption from further investigations and penalties. Apparently, keeping up appearances is necessary to help the country prosper economically. Judging by the same standards, if the shady businesses are so welcome to contribute to Malta’s economy, then the Panama accounts of Konrad Mizzi and Keith Scembri are mere contributions to the economy of Panama – almost a broad charity gesture.

The businesses won. Daphne Caruana Galizia might have not realised that stirring further corruption scandals and investigations does not favour the country’s love affair with big business. Both parties rely heavily on big business, both are in the same boat, both will go down if the boat sinks. Businesses prefer calm waters and, luckily for them, the election result has made the status quo beyond reproach. Financial services and gaming giants do Malta a favour by not relocating to a different place (so far), meaning that the country will continue profiting off unethical businesses rooted in money laundering, thinning welfare of other countries and exploitation of vulnerable individuals.

The election hysteria was not about morality and ethics but hypocrisy. The true ethically-conscious campaign would have challenged Malta’s relationship with the corporate services providers, tax avoidance and their rotten ethical foundations in the first place. Alas, such reasoning was not on the agenda.

Why were so many people surprised by the PL’s landslide win?

The PL’s smashing victory is surprising mainly to those who were not paying attention to the rapid changes the Maltese society is going through. The result is not as surprising as it might seem.

There are two kinds of voters in Malta: the core and the floaters. These two groups made their choice for contrasting reasons: while the core supporters voted for the party assuming it did not change, the floaters did so precisely BECAUSE the parties have changed.

Although the core voters would follow their party even if it suddenly started praising Holocaust, the roots of such loyal affiliation are far from ideological. The core voters are influenced by the memories of the treatment received from the parties in the past. The core PL voters support the PL in gratitude for its past standing with the lower and working classes and/or personal favours received from the party when it was in power – plots of land, jobs, promotions, housing etc.

The core PN voters cling to their party for similar reasons – either for its devotion to Catholic values and/or resentment for the treatment themselves or their families received from the Labour Party in the 1980s. Not all core PN voters belong to the propertied classes – some low earners follow it in gratitude for its past personal favours or sentimental attachment to their seniors who would be the core PN voters themselves.

Voters can be easily bribed by personal favours and handouts which is why candidates rely on house visits and coffee mornings when approaching the electorate. Doctors and lawyers make more successful candidates because they can trade some feasible services in return for a vote, unlike academics, for example. Sadly, the Maltese prioritise their private interests and care little for the interests of a collective.

a FB comment of a die-hard PN supporter. One of the comments had it “anke Alfred Sant”

The core voters of both parties have more in common with one another than with the floaters: they simply refuse to admit that the parties have changed. Although the Labour Party hardly justifies its name, to some die-hard Nazzjonalisti it still remains the same PL of the 1980s (“whatever a Labour leader is named, whatever he says and however he poses, in his heart he is still and always be a Lorry Sant”).

The stubbornness of the PN zealots only reaffirms the merits of the Labour Party in the eyes of its core supporters and reinforces “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” line of thinking (“if they hate him, he still must be good for us”).

Daphne Caruana Galizia’s blog is another helping hand for the PL because it portrays Joseph Muscat as though he is a clone of Mintoff. She openly flaunts class prejudice and insists on a specific interpretation of the corruption which she accuses Labour of: anybody coming from a low class background always remains morally inferior and is motivated by low concerns, thus the inferior species, who tend to gravitate towards PL, are not fit for governing and should never attempt at climbing up the social ladder. Her frequent remarks deriding the lack of proper manners and unsophisticated taste of the PL administration and the party supporters strengthen the false impression that the leaders and the common people are one.

The snobbery and elitism of the PN works wonders for the PL. In fact, the latter needs a minimum effort to keep up a false display of the true leader of the common people – going to Serkin for pastizzi is enough. Never mind the reluctance to increase the minimum wage to match the increasing costs of living or a promise to clamp on social housing – so long as you have pastizzi on a paper napkin you are the voice of the people .

The floaters, however, are able to see the parties for what they are at the moment. While the core PL supporters still think the party stands for their interests, the floaters see it as a “liberal, business-friendly force of modernization”. The decades of economic stability gave Malta a goldfish generation which never experienced significant economic difficulties and does not hold to the family’s past. They do not remember the thugs of both parties, nor do they remember the violent clashes between the core supporters of both sides. To be even more precise, they do not care for the past at all and do not feel obliged to be grateful or resentful for the past family affairs with the parties.

What the young generation does remember though is the conservative times when the Nationalist Party was in power. The civil liberties introduced by the PL felt like a great leap and challenged the image of Malta as a conservative Catholic stronghold. The LGBTIQ rights, the introduction of a morning after pill, the promise of marihuana legalization outweighed the accusations in corruption. Besides, the career interests of Malta’s ambitious, individualistic and cosmopolitan young generation are better addressed by the PL. Not only had the PL continue cultivating business-friendly climate, they also encouraged the Maltese to take on their career ambitions and to climb up the social ladder. Unfortunately, the fact that Malta’s business-friendly climate rests on dubious ethical foundations is conveniently dismissed as “old-fashioned”.

Individual ambitions and ethics are rarely part of the same package. Sadly, the unethical business ventures provide excellent career opportunities and hence they won as they would have won anyway.

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What Malta EU Presidency brochure is telling you

Here is the brochure “Moving Forw>ard” issued by the Government of Malta. First (but not foremost), let’s give it a credit for the sexy design. Do not worry, your government is not embarrassing you with the exposure of bad taste as you might suspect, on the contrary, the design is quite artistic. Now, if you are one of those overly sensitive individuals who put the aesthetics before the content, rejoice and read no further because further is all about the content.

1. Maltese have grown fonder of environment

“Have we moved forward as a country?” asks Sarah Haider from Communication Office of OPM. “Indeed, we have” she replies and supports her confidence with sound evidence. “Families now worry less about the costs of utilities and more about environment”.

Let’s give this argument a credit for both, its relevance and unmasked cynicism. On the one hand, it is a spot-on observation: the number of environmentally-concerned Maltese is certainly on the rise, proportionally to the steadily growing Maltese middle class. The environmental discourses are traditionally harboured within the middle class because

  1. exploitation of environment is not visibly linked to their source of income
  2. a pursuit of such concerns requires having the basic needs covered, the access to education which promotes environmental awareness and the free time to follow this awareness up.

Thus, the brochure conspicuously implies that the Maltese have a luxury to worry about the environment more than about the costs of utilities because their material prosperity has significantly improved and – important! – the government is to be thanked for that. In other words, the worries about environment are powered by the economic advantages of the exploitation of this very environment. Had the environment not been exploited, the Maltese would not have the privilege (or the opportunity) to express such virtuous concerns.

But could the material prosperity be the only explanation for the growing public concern for nature conservation?

This is where the unmasked cynicism steps in: the concerns about environment are not only a luxury, sustained by the generally high prosperity level, but also are fueled by the objective reasons. The both parties in government gave the green light to the development of Tigné Point, Manoel Island, Zonqor, industrial aquaculture and the privatisation of the beaches.

Another reasonable question to ask is whether environment alone is central to the concerns of the Maltese people. And the answer is: unlikely. The remnants of undeveloped countryside and the lifestyle are being sacrificed in the name of the profit for the selected few. Thus, what is described as “worrying more about environment”, in reality refers to a broad spectrum of social and economic issues.

Take a deep breath and remember: the more you “worry about environment”, the more pride the major parties can take for mobilising your civil concerns.

2. Top priorities: digital single market and entrepreneurial ambitions

As follows from the brochure, the government is convinced that the digital single market is a way forward. The massive new digital monopolies and tech companies have amassed the power to move entire economies and Malta cannot resist the temptation to flirt with the world’s most powerful business lobby. The rapacious belly of iGaming companies and tech start-ups craves new food for their growth– consumers such as us.

The brochure advises, boldly and in caps, to stop relying on government as a source of income and to set-up a business instead. The government is committed to facilitate the perfect conditions for such endeavors: “start-up businesses will benefit from the abolition of the trade licences for a number of commercial activities”. “The law regulating shop-opening hours will also be changed. Businesses in Gozo will benefit from better IT connectivity” and “€3.2million will be invested in a second fibre optic link between Malta and Gozo”.

It wouldn’t harm to ask who benefits most from this new policy. The answer is: a number of foreign investors, tied up with the international tech giants and digital monopolies. While the construction business still remains a powerful lobby, the IT lobby is gaining strength and deserves your attention – the majority of the investors are foreigners who set foot in Malta to pursue their own mercenary interests and NOT for charitable, nor philanthropic reasons. The investors believe that “society works best when it’s organised around the entrepreneur.” If you don’t happen to be one, your only place in a society is to serve one.

In case you have any questions, these ladies and gentlemen should be able to answer them.

It’s time to stop referring to the money- and fame-grabbing rat race in such Christian terms as “greed”. The official governmental policy gives its full support to the manifestation of entrepreneurial skills and to the fulfillment of ambitions which hardly have any reference to God (except for that of profit).

3. Gozo: the new “nurse of the Mediterranean” (or selling Gozo to foreign investors)

Another chapter of the brochure is dedicated to the branding of Gozo as “the Medical hub of the Mediterranean, with visitors arriving throughout the year to receive first-class healthcare in a state-of-the-art hospital with world-class facilities in a tranquil environment”.

The upbeat and enthusiastic tone of this chapter might be misleading if you do not pay attention to such important detail as healthcare privatisation for the benefit of foreign investors. Quoting Times of Malta, “privatisation of national health services has become a source of concern in those countries which have opted to entrust state-funded health services to commercial companies. Their experience suggests that privatisation of health provision serves neither the best interests of patients, nor the state’s finances.”

Privatisation has led to lower priority being allocated to patient care because of the profit-driven nature of such an arrangement. There has been a severe loss of accountability with scrutiny of public spending being obscured by complex contracts. It has not been unknown for private health companies to reduce staff to a minimum and overcharge the state for outsourced services once they have won the contract.

The arrival of the “world-renowned Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry” puts the free medical education in Malta at risk. Maltese medical students held a mock-up protest against this move.

“Our resources at hospital have been set up at the expense of the Maltese taxpayer. Barts are not building any new facilities, bringing in doctors of their own, or expanding infrastructure. They are hijacking what we have cultivated over decades. How will the Maltese working class, who paid for our NHS, benefit from a medical school that charges such exorbitant amounts?”

The access to healthcare services is not only a basic need but a fundamental right and this right should never be sacrificed in the name of profit. Wake up or lose your healthcare!

Coincidentally, these news is followed by tax cuts on the purchase of property in Gozo. Not only the island is promised to receive a better IT connectivity to enable its full incorporation into EU’s single digital market, but also the special conditions are set to promote the sales of property there. In 2017, a buyer of property in Gozo is required to pay 2% on the purchase transition instead of 5%.

Gozo as you know it will soon seize to be. The implications of this change vary depending which side you are on. If you are weary of “the misdeeds of the canny Ghawdxin and their overindulgence of hunting”, rejoice – the foreign investors will not tolerate the lack of discipline from the provincial small folk, especially if it interferes with the running of their business. The investors will certainly attempt to tackle hunting and, most likely, they will succeed.

On the other hand, if you appreciated Gozo as the Malta’s prettier sister, an oasis of tranquility of immense charm, be prepared to mourn it – that place will soon exist only in your memories and photos. The cost of living in Gozo will shoot up to the sky and so will the cost of your previously affordable weekend holidays.

4.Wi-Fi State instead of the Welfare State

This point deserves a specific mention. Despite the claims that the digital age empowered literally everyone with a unique opportunity for self-education, the reliability of this “digital age” brochure leaves much to be desired. The welfare state is quite a recent achievement, brought by the social democracy in the second half of the 20th (not 19th!) century.

“The welfare state is a concept of government in which the state plays a key role in the protection and promotion of the social and economic well-being of its citizens. It is based on the principles of equality of opportunity, equitable distribution of wealth, and public responsibility for those unable to avail themselves of the minimal provisions for a good life.” The Nordic countries such as Iceland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland, which regularly score high on the quality of life and democracy, are all described as social-democratic welfare states.

How can Wi-Fi access be an alternative to the free education and healthcare? Could it be that the government is dressing up the budget cuts on healthcare and education as the “modern and progressive” measures? If you truly believe that the “Wi-Fi state” taking over the welfare state signifies progress, try connecting to Wi-Fi next time you are in need for a medical assistance and see whether it will do just as good.

5. Minimum wage will increase … by €4 per week

Now, that’s a sound commitment! The Maltese on minimum wage can finally feel privileged. It is time to get the message: the government does not favour the unfortunate who are unable to start their business and stand on their own feet.


In the case of the PL, the torch fits more as a symbol of the Statue of Liberty, not Labour which is more often represented by the rose.

In a nutshell, if the PL’s past alliance with the working class left you sleepless at night, worry no more: Laburisti are completely cured from the bug of socialism. On the contrary, in case you thought the PL was a Labour Party, you are in for disappointment because Laburisti are completely cured from the bug of socialism. The “PL” abbreviation now stands for the “Liberal” Party, not ”Labour”.

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The four political parties to appear in Malta if PL&PN were abducted by aliens

The collage includes a cartoon of Malta traffic by Steve Bonello

Just imagine! ~7 minute read~

Just imagine: one fine morning you wake up to the news of an unexpected late night visit of an extra terrestrial mission which abducted ALL the politicians from the both major political parties. What a shocking loss! Your mind quickly runs through all the stages of grief (joy?) from denial to acceptance, finally hitting a question: “what does Goebbels Daphne Caruana Galizia have to say about it?” Oh, my! She is absolutely certain it is yet another PL conspiracy: “the PN are taken hostage to the PL’s shady deal on the new intergalactic hotel for adult entertainment!”. You wonder if such allegations are a tad too much for an “internationally acclaimed journalist” and look for some objective proof, alas in vain.

You are enviously picturing how freely the former officials (and un-officials) are speeding through the Universe towards Kepler-442b while you are stuck in traffic on your way to  work. You stare at the sky once more before another question hits your mind like an asteroid: “what about the elections?!” “Who on Earth am I going to vote for?!” Do not panic! Well, although this wake of sudden and refreshing anarchism is nothing to be afraid of, you’d better make up your mind on where your interests belong.

One option to do so is to take this test. Its disadvantages, however, are significant: the questions and the options to choose from are too limited and standardised to represent one’s realistic political worldview. So here is another option: choose which worldview fits you most and see which local party would best represent it.

Worldview type 1:

  • The social hierarchy is necessary and justified: some people are clearly worth more than others because they are born that way. Titles and degrees help to distinguish the capable from the rest.
  • Thinkers are worth more than manual workers. Manual work is for plebs.
  • Intelligence and propriety can never be evil. It is a duty of the educated, well-mannered and sophisticated to rule over those who are none of that.
  • People do not change: a person born into an uneducated family will always be driven by inferior concerns unless reading comes to the rescue.
  • The main responsibility of the government is to discipline the people. The plebs should never be let into power because they ruin everything.

Briefly: you approve of the social ladder but you dislike the climbers.

Worldview type 2:

  • The social hierarchy is justified: some people are clearly more capable than others. I hold entrepreneurial skills and creativity in particularly high regard.
  • The job of an artist or a scientist is more important than that of a farmer or a cleaner because the former are responsible for progress. Innovations lead us to the brighter future; mundane and non-creative work does not count.
  • Personal ambitions should be encouraged. Talents should be rewarded by higher income and a higher social status.
  • A person is what he makes of himself. Take risks, compete, build yourself, climb up and the world is yours!
  • The creative mind are the main asset of the country. Their non-conformism is part of their nature. They should always be free to create. The government is there for the mob.

Briefly: you approve of the social ladder and you disrespect those who fail to climb up.

Worldview type 3:

  • The social hierarchy is unjustified and unfair. Everyone’s input is equally valuable.  Personal altruism is as high on my scale as creative and technical skills.
  • Everyone deserves an equal respect for his contribution to the society. A farmer, an artist, a manual worker and a lecturer are all valuable.
  • Personal success is a fallacy – nobody becomes successful on his own. Individual success can never be possible without the help from the other members of society.
  • The more prosperous ones need to help the others to reach the higher levels of prosperity. Equal opportunities must be provided to everyone.
  • The main responsibility of the government is in sustaining of the social welfare.

Briefly: you think the social ladder is a bad idea but you do not blame the climbers.

Worldview type 4:

  • The social hierarchy is never justified. A fair society should have no distinctive social classes.
  • Material needs come first. Contributions of a manual worker and a farmer are more crucial than those of an artist and a writer unless their art is devoted to mass empowerment.
  • Personal ambitions need to serve a purpose of collective success and social justice. Individual advancement is unethical.
  • Collective effort and cooperation is the key to a better society. The collective success is more important than the individual success. From each – according to his ability to each – according to his need.
  • The government is an administrative tool to redistribute wealth and to sustain egalitarianism. Good enough is enough.

Briefly: you think the social ladder is a bad idea – everybody should be equal in opportunities and results.

Ready to see which of the parties would represent you best? Here they are:

mpp1Worldview type 1 (Conservative / fascist)
Party: Malta’s Patrician Party
Slogan: Save Malta from savages!

Agenda: Our agenda is short but effective. We must defend the country from the continuous attacks of the common and crude! Only we can protect Malta from the dark and unenlightened masses.

Ħamalli and the penniless migrants are the root of all our problems. We promise to re-establish order: no more pastizzi in the public places, no more tacky shoes in the parliament! To rule is our birthright and we do know how to rule in style. Panama accounts are for the ħamalli, we state that the British Virgin Islands is a much more appropriate place to evade tax.

We propose to build a few reservations in the south of Malta where we will keep all the peasants. We will keep them disciplined with the help of the army. We will make them work more for less! The festa “celebrations of sweaty polyester” will also be banned because we ought to teach the peasants some discipline. The low cost of labour will bring the established and respectable foreign companies to Malta. We will make Malta sleek sophisticated, polished and attractive to the most distinguished people in the world – green lawns, best architecture, golf courses and high culture. We will make Malta great again!



Worldview type 2 (Liberal)
Party: Malta’s Liberal Party
Slogan: Entrepreneurial and creative mind for modern Malta!

Agenda: the absence of the PL&PN has opened the door towards true meritocracy. It is time for the creative, innovative and entrepreneurial mind to lead the country towards modernity. Liberal values are the key to the modern, prosperous Malta.

We are liberal economically and socially and promise to ditch the old-fashioned religious morality as unfitting to the new liberal order.

We stand for the free market economy with maximum transparency. The income tax for the higher tax brackets will be lowered to encourage the businesses to declare their profits. We will not increase the minimum wage not to harm the business. Malta is a tax haven and will remain it.

Privatisation is the solution to all our problems – it will unburden the tax payers and the government from extra spending. The country is to be governed by entrepreneurs and the creative mind. Malta will be promoted as a cultural hub of the Mediterranean, welcoming the artists and the writers to live and create in the country. Festa celebrations will be restricted to facilitate the perfect conditions for the innovative creativity.



Worldview type 3 (Social democrat)
Party: Malta’s Social Democratic Party
Slogan: Malta deserves better!

Agenda: the absence of PL&PN has given us a chance to turn Malta into a better, fairer society. It is time to ensure the greater equality by revising the country’s tax laws and introducing stricter repercussions for tax evasion and tax avoidance.

We stand for immediate abolishion of healthcare privatisation plans. No to the privatisation of the country’s main assets!

Wealth redistribution is our major commitment. The country’s welfare will be strengthen by the new tax laws. Tax rates for the lower income brackets will be reduced from 15% to 9%. Average family incomes above €80K will be taxed by 45%. The tax refunds for foreign companies are to be reduced from 6/7 to 4/7 highest. VAT on luxurious products and services will be increased up to 25%. The purchase of the third and the consecutive residential properties per household is to be taxed higher. Top earners and all the local companies are to publicly declare their revenues and bank statements.

The welfare funds will allow to increase the minimum wage and to ensure the better standards of living. Working hours will be reduced – that will ensure employment of more people and will create more free time. Civil liberties and gender equality will be encouraged.

We promise to regulate the rental market. The maximum amount of rent will be established for the different kinds of property and locations. We promise to improve public transport by building a monorail. The latter will also create jobs, decrease the amount of cars from the roads and improve quality of air.



Worldview type 4 (Socialist)
Party: Malta’s Socialist Party
Slogan: Together for social justice in Malta!

Agenda: The people have finally got a chance to reclaim what is rightfully theirs.

We propose to implement partial or complete nationalisation (with minimum or no compensation) of Malta’s major assets which were previously given to the private sector. Malta International Airport is to be nationalised to keep AirMalta afloat.

Construction industry tycoons are a threat to democracy – their lobbying is the major source of corruption in the country. For as long as they continue exploiting the country’s beauty for profit, the well-being of Malta and the Maltese is at risk. We propose to nationalise the major construction companies on the ground of their harm to the country. All profits from the nationalised industry will go to the national funds.

Priorities to the Maltese producers! We will encourage the local small-scale cooperatives in tourism. Malta will be an exporter of the great quality food: olive oil and pastizzi. Pastizzi global export will be an excellent source of national funding.

We promise to improve the housing conditions: 1) the amount of rent will be fixed for the different kinds of property and locations and 2) more social housing will be built.

Minimum wage will be increased to €15/hour. Jobs in construction sector will be created from building more of cooperative and social housing as well as from building a monorail. The latter will improve efficiency of the public transport, decrease the amount of cars from the roads and improve quality of air.

confused-smiley-cliparts-co-rmsgwn-clipart“Hmmm” you say. “Doesn’t the Patrician Party look a bit like a cross between the PN and Emperium Ewropa? And the Liberal Party sounds pretty much like an airbrushed wholesome kind of PL… And the Social Democrats is AD plus some substantial propositions. Imma vera ma nafx who the socialists in Malta are.” To which we reply: we had no slightest intention to mock any of the Malta’s political parties, thus all the possible similarities are apparent and strictly coincidental.

Did you find your political party? Any party to add?

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What it means to be a ‘global citizen’, an ‘expat’, a ‘migrant’ and a ‘refugee’ (in Malta and not only)

The state of affairs described below is not unique to Malta but the size of the country and the physical proximity of its different elements makes it more obvious.


In a nutshell, the terms ‘expat’ and ‘migrant’ echo the profound class and racial inequality which is still present in the world. ‘Expat’ is usually reserved for an individual from the EU&Co, North America and Australia who left his native country for work in a multinational company or for leisure. ‘Global citizen’ describes the specific, most privileged kind of expat, who sees the world “without borders” because the borders literally do not exist for him. The advantages of his golden passport and the financial assets spare him from the humiliating struggles for the freedom of movement.

A migrant, on the other hand, is everyone else who leaves his place of birth in search of a better life. A migrant only aspires to become a global citizen because his opportunities for re-settlement are institutionally restricted. ‘Refugee’ is the most disadvantaged kind of arrival: his resettlement is not driven by the free will but is forced upon him by war, natural disasters and/or extreme poverty.

‘Global citizens’, migrants and refugees do not receive an equal treatment. In fact, the treatment they receive directly corresponds to their status. Where a wealthy expat is greeted with an open gate, a migrant finds endless bureaucracy and a refugee – a barbed wire. For instance, this inequality of treatment was exposed by the favourable attention to the insensitive rant of the white, privileged, proud-to-be-expat Canadian who labelled Malta a “developing country”. Unsurprisingly, many Maltese swallowed the offence with resignation. Too many just nodded with embarrassment, apologising for the lack of sleek sophistication they could offer to such a distinguished guest.


While some expats bathe in public attention, homeless migrants die in poverty. The three-paragraphs-short articles reported the tragic events in a plain and casual manner, stating that one migrant was found dead under the bridge and the other – in a games room at Xatt il-Mollijiet in Marsa. Both Somali men came from afar only to find their lonely death in Malta. They left their native countries but poverty stayed with them until the very end.

Identity Malta office is a migrant’s torture chamber. Applicants have to queue from the early hours often just to be dismissed

While a refugee and a migrant constantly live in fear of deportation and repercussions, a wealthy ‘global citizen’ is welcomed with open arms and with the exclusive offer of a Maltese passport (if he happens to need one). On the other hand, a refugee is unwelcome: due to an alleged mysterious deal between Italy and Malta, a few refugees disembark here.

While refugees risk their lives and constantly battle the exhausting bureaucracy for a better life in Malta, the fat-walletted expats claim that the country is not good enough for them. Isn’t it profoundly disrespectful to wave the privileges and the superior demands in front of those to whom these privileges are out of reach?

Just like the natives, expats and migrants often complain about the treatment they receive in Malta – but they do so in a different manner and for very different reasons. When a privileged expat complains about Malta, he implies that the country fails to meet his exclusive demands, suitable for his high rank. A migrant (myself included) complains about the frustrating experience which obtaining of a residence permit involves. Anyone is likely to derail having to battle for their rights on a day-to-day basis, yet the luxury of the “hassle-free residency” do not stop a wealthy expat from expressing his constant dissatisfaction. The migrant’s complaints are the cries of distress whereas those of a privileged expat are a means of morally instructing the locals.


Overall, migrants contribute to their new home country much more than do the ‘global citizens’. Migrants perform the most necessary jobs – care taking, nursing, cleaning. If employed by the local companies, migrants pay their tax in Malta and contribute to the Social Security funds. An ordinary migrant is not too different from an ordinary local. All he aspires to is a secure job and a stable, decent quality of life.

The privileged expat hops from one country to the other with a mission to verify whether or not the many dots on the world map live up to his expectations. He wishes to customise every country according to his demands. He has no interest in participating in the celebratory, eccentric and often absurd spectacle of life which makes Malta so special.

Integrating into a foreign society is below a ‘global citizen’. He has the whole world to cater for his demands – and everybody seems eager to respect his privilege. Yet, concerns on integration immediately raise when migrants and refugees happen to pursue their cultural habits. In fact, the cultural particularities of migrants and refugees are always blamed on their ‘lack of civilisation’ while the disdainful attitudes of ‘global citizens’ are excused for their superiority.



Migrants are part of the crowd and for that reason they are visible. A crime committed by a migrant causes an outrage and quickly leads to an anti-migration movement. Though much more grave, the crimes of a ‘global citizen’ are invisible to the majority. These crimes are executed in an elegant, quiet manner: tax evasion, tax avoidance and shady business investments to mention a few.

The crimes of a global citizen are legalized. He prides his intelligence for tax avoidance and that is why he specifically chooses Malta to save – not spend! – money. While most of the inferior mortals – migrants and natives alike – are struggling to keep up with the soaring high rent, more luxurious property is designed to lure the ‘global citizens’ into the country. The luxurious apartments are built by the migrants for the expats to benefit a few tycoons.

A ‘global citizen’ rejects the blame for being the cause of global inequality. He pretends to be a charitable philanthropist. The facts, however, prove the opposite: the recent research has established that the wealthy investors extract more profit from the poorer countries than vise versa. They set foot in a country to take – not give – money.


the proposed residential development in St. George’s Bay is designed for the ‘global citizens’ (the estimated price of the apartments is over 1 million Euro each)

The new luxurious development projects in Malta are not designed for the ordinary Maltese and neither they are affordable to the migrants. Have a look at this website to see who owns the country. Malta is being given on a plate to the wealthy ‘global citizens’ – to that same cast of the privileged who call it a “developing country” and come here for “sun and the low tax”. And if the economic reasoning prevails, ask yourself: is it even worth to be humiliated by someone who comes to Malta to save – not spend! – money?

Venting anger is a physiological need in a setting of high economic pressure and social injustice. The universal tolerance is a poor response to the deepening inequality of opportunities and results. How can we pretend to treat the people, whose status and life conditions are profoundly unequal, in an equal way? Contrasting attitudes can be the basic act of justice, aiming to compensate for the abundance of privileges or the lack of them.

Do not keep “go back to your country!” to yourself but use it justly. Venting your anger towards the least privileged, the most vulnerable, the lowest levels of social hierarchy is too easy, not to mention unfair and unkind. Vent your anger with a purpose – channel it at the privileged representatives of corrupt institutions. Stand up for those in need of help –  tell the parasites to go back to wherever they belong and tell them to quit tax avoidance for good.

Who gets the Maltese audience: DCG’s Notebook vs LovinMalta


Have you noticed that the Maltese blogosphere has finally lost its unipolarity? LovinMalta, the new media company everyone is talking about, has finally offered the local broad audience an alternative to Daphne Caruana Galizia’s Notebook which, until very recent, enjoyed its unique status of the only unofficial largely followed source of updates on Maltese life, entertainment and political revelations.

Controversy surrounding DCG’s Notebook is as undeniable as its fame. On one hand, the Running Commentary challenges political establishment (Labour side, to be precise) and points out relevant corruption-related issues, while on the other, it is a pillar of Malta’s segregation, class-frustration and the constant “Nazzjonalisti vs Laburisti” rival. The infamous “pesants vs pedigree” concerns might be well-understood and supported by the Maltese older than 40, yet the accentuated cast symbolism is no longer meaningful to the younger bunch whose adolescence happened well after the 1990s. The younger bunch, which certainly could no longer uphold these views, was in great need of a breath of fresh air – a new media source reflecting their vision of Malta 2016 and not Malta 1980.

Both, DCG’s Notebook and LovinMalta, approach their topics in ironic and playful manner yet their targets differ significantly. While the Running Commentary primarily focuses on deriding the ’embarrassing low class habits’ of Labour Party establishment, LovinMalta covers a broad range of topics appealing to the audience from diverse backgrounds, aiming to shake the existing symbols of segregation. LovinMalta is gaining momentum not only in “7 ‘Subtle’ Ways Your Maltese Family Calls You Fat“-like stories but also as a source of political irony. If until very recent, the Running Commentary was the only credible source of such (rather bitchy) humour, LovinMalta contested it with their “Muscat On Cannabis Law, Property Prices And His Strict Diet Regime”. The cleverly spotted vacant niche, the witty content and the refreshing style resulted in a blast that is more than a million views in just four months.

Here are three reasons why LovinMalta wins over DCG’s Notebook in a longer run:


  1. Target audienceaudience
  2. Contentcontent
  3. Vision of Maltavision of Malta

LovinMalta has indeed made a historical shift away from the persisting dualism in anything politics, society and culture. Let’s see whether it will succeed to eventually blend the isolated social clusters into something new and refreshing.

Malta 2016: all you see is cranes

We all know how Malta looks on tourist booklets: turquoise sea, Azure Window, Blue Grotto, luzzu boats. While the tourism sector of economy profits from these pretty landscape features, construction boom is actively reshuffling the cards and screwing everything up. Look around and picture what tourists see most frequently during their holiday in Malta? What do you see on your daily home-office-shopping routine? Blue Lagoon? Azure Window? No, what you see is cranes.

Since my first arrival to Malta in 2007, never have I seen as many cranes here as in 2016. They literally dominate the horizon. Malta 2016 is a perfect location for filming a blockbuster where cranes turn into carnivorous monsters and some superhero comes to the rescue by exploding all the construction sites. The concentration of cranes this high looks intimidating and inspires a pessimist vision.

I’ve lost count of cranes seen on a daily basis following a weekday route Valletta-University and a weekend Valletta-Sliema route. These two routes are also the most common among tourists and students visiting/living in Malta. So is it cranes/construction sites/future skyscrapers that attract visitors to Malta for or is it pared-down Mediterranean lifestyle and views that they are after? Unsurprisingly, Malta is painted as ‘a lifestyle destination’. The slogan, however, is not verified by reality.

Ads versus reality. Never mind the ‘sunny temperatures’ bit.

So let the routine crane count begin.

Crane count begins on a bus to the University. How many cranes do you see on this photo? The correct answer is 3.

On the way from the bus stop to the office I see another one, right on campus. That makes 4 cranes.

The crane on campus

After work, I walk to the other bus stop and see two more construction’s skeleton silhouettes (that makes it 6).

Two more cranes from the University bus stop

Right upon arrival to Valletta, I am greeted by three more cranes (9 so far). Walking through Melita Street I see another one: 10 cranes on the way from Valletta-University and back through the main roads.

Valletta city gate
A “Welcome to Valletta” message from cranes

Concentration of cranes along the University-Sliema-Valletta route outnumbers this count. Density of construction sites on the way from Gzira to St. Julians raises proportionally to the concentration of tourists. Therefore, what guests of the country experience most during their stays in Malta is cranes, noise and construction dust.

Over a 30 minute walk from Msida to Tigne cranes are the most frequent encounter. Malta Tourism Authority should advertise crane sightseeing in Malta.

A massive construction site in Gzira (Manoel de Vilhena Street) – 3 cranes so far.
The Strand, Gzira: more cranes. That makes it 4.
Another crane at the Strand (5 cranes)
A playground and a few cafeterias share the space with 4 cranes in close proximity. Scary stuff, indeed (9 cranes)
On a ferry from Sliema to Valletta: cranes are from either side of the boat. These two are on Sliema side (11 cranes)
Two more cranes grace Valletta skyline (13 cranes in total).

In case you fancy a walk from Tigne to St. Julians, crane sightseeing becomes even more exciting.

tower road
The guy on the graffiti is evidently escaping from the crane behind him
Even on the beach it’s impossible to escape the signs of local Apocalypse
And here are two more.
St Julians
St. George’s bay in St. Julians is where the crane concentration is above the survival limit. And it’s only a start.

Anyone whose routine journey includes Valletta-University-Sliema route is likely to come across at least 23 cranes per day. That makes one of the most tourism-dense areas in Malta also one massive construction site with all its cons. If the tourism industry plans to survive the construction boom, about time it starts planning crane sightseeing trips, as there might soon be nothing else to see. 20 cranes:1 Blue Grotto is a great reason to visit the country, isn’t it?

Support Kamp Emergenza Ambjent and Front Harsien ODZ to defend the country from the ongoing crane siege.

2014 in Pictures

Traditionally, the final post of the year is dedicated to a selection photos and the stories behind them. Many thanks to all the followers for their interest and shares! Happy New Year 2015!



On a cold windy Saturday a woman was selling narcissi at the farmer’s market. The contrast between the tender, sunlit flowers and the gloomy sales person was striking. She seemed absolutely uninterested in what was going on around her, not even paying attention to a few potential customers.



The Malta Experience

If Maltese population is to be described in two words, it would be ‘politicized’ and ‘segregated’ that fit best ( Truly, politics in Malta is a very sensitive topic, thus, in previous years poking fun at politicians in a direct manner at carnival was not allowed. This year, however, the taboo was finally abolished and politics became the central topic for the carnival in March 2014. Politicians caricatures were waving from the floats and walking down streets in Valletta – finally, Maltese got a permission for something they had been longing for. On the photo below, Nationalist party leader, Simon Busuttil, floats above the crowd of Labour supporters.

The Malta Experience
The Malta Experience


The First Feast of the Year

Passion for celebrations is another signature of Malta. Starting from St. Publius feast in Floariana, the country dives into enormous bustle of street celebrations, ‘bombi’ and fireworks ( To be fair, not everyone in Malta is a fan of fireworks yet sounds of blasts rolling from one shore to the other silence their disagreement.

The First Feast of the Year
The First Feast of the Year


Midsummer Evening

The view from the Hastings Gardens in Valletta is one of the best on the island, many came to enjoy it on the longest day of the year. I could see a group of teen-aged guys, jumping on the thick walls of the gardens – such a good shot! – yet missed the moment of the jump by a split second. Every missed good shot feels like a dream which will never come true. Thankfully, midsummer nights are filled with joy and leave little time to revisit moments of sadness.

Midsummer Evening
Midsummer Evening



BirdLife Malta organised a few boat trips for the public to admire colonies of Yelkouan shearwater, migratory species of birds that can be easily recognised by specific raucous cackling calls in the breeding season. When the boat came closer to the colony raft, most of the passengers reached the state of delight and euphoria, seeing the birds flying very close by. Cameras were clicking hundreds of times per minute, exclamations of excitement and wows dominated our little boat. I was standing there, in the middle of it, failing to share this passion and unable to feel that way, once again struck by the evidence of how many different passions there are in the human world. What possibly is the most exciting thing in the world for one might mean nothing to the other.



Fireworks of Mqabba

The little village of Mqabba in the south of Malta is renowned for it’s state-of-the art pyroshows. The show attracts thousands of visitors, Maltese and foreign, eager to see what is claimed to be the finest fireworks in the world.

Fireworks of Mqabba
Fireworks of Mqabba

The New Valletta Entrance

As has been mentioned above, in a simplified yet still realistic manner, the Maltese population is divisible into ‘Labour’ vs ‘Nationalist’, ‘pro-hunting’ vs ‘against-hunting’ and in 2014 it also became ‘Renzo Piano’s project fans’ vs ‘Renzo Piano’s project haters’. Whereas the new City Entrance is praised by some, it is passionately rejected and criticized by others. The Entrance and the New Parliament Building are often called an ‘eye-sore’ and a ‘pigeon house’. In my opinion, the Entrance is simply stunning with its clear lines and the beauty of architecture which calls for associations with Ancient and Medieval times. The new steps, however, unite the fans and the haters. Yes, I love them too!

The New Valletta Steps
The New Valletta Steps


One Funny Russian Wedding

Unlike the current Maltese wedding customs, Russian weddings are easy and informal. Frankly, most of Russians experience more than one wedding ceremony in their lifetime and keep it easy and informal. In Astrakhan (my hometown are registered at the Wedding Palace the place where love oaths are part of every day routine. The formal wedding procedure does feel like routine: couples and their friends gather in front of the Palace, entering one by one, the continuation is standard: ‘I do’, signatures, kisses, a glass of champagne, walk out of the Palace on the path, covered with rose petals, a group photo. If you stay next to the Palace for longer, you would see a long line of couples walking in and out, taking the photo on those steps and you would also hear the elderly woman complaining about the mess (the petals) that she has to swipe after each and every couple. And off it all goes – couples drive away in cars, rose petals end up in garbage bags. Everything passes, love shall not :).

One Funny Russian Wedding
One Funny Russian Wedding

The Sun Worshiper

Mnajdra Temples in Malta are among the world’s most ancient man-made constructions, designed for the cult of equinox worship. On the 23rd September A broad range of audience gathered inside the walls of the Temples waiting for the first sunray. The misty sunrise almost ruined the scene leaving no trace of light on the altar. Slowly but surely, we all were becoming disappointed when at 7.30 am the sun finally managed to cut through the clouds and to light a path straight onto the altar. Greeting the sunrise at the ancient place over 5000 years old, where the mysterious civilization used to perform its cult, felt magical.

The Sun Worshiper
The Sun Worshiper


The Reflexion

This photo free from any stories and interpretations apart from the fact that it features Castille Place, the office of Prime Minister. Make your own, if you like.

The Reflexion
The Reflexion


Footprints on Sand

On one very sunny November day we ended up in Gozo for a field trip. The weather and the atmosphere was calling for an adventure (and it did come, not on that same day but later on). After a picnic, our group headed to Ramla bay, beautiful sandy beach in Gozo. Our footprints on the sand are now gone and we are not there but the memory of it survived.

The Footprints on the Sand
The Footprints on Sand

Big hugs, small kisses and best wishes! See you in 2015!

Malta: lovely yet overly politicized

When politics is not about ideology.  ~5 minutes read~

Maltese politicians game-1
Politicks, the card game created by Log Hob Games was a smashing success on crowd-funding site Indiegogo. The game finally gave Malta a chance to play with politicians.

What would you call Malta’s signature trait, a specialty that can be experienced only here? Besides its relaxed and life-appreciating lifestyle, it is the extremely polarised and passionate political involvement that makes Malta so exiting to witness. With its two-party system, Malta is divided into Laburisti (red) and Nazzjonalisti (blue) with a [growing] pinch of liberal-minded citizens. It was utterly surprising to me as foreigner to discover that almost every Maltese above 30 has a strong political opinion and is assigned to either one of the political parties. Politics literally infiltrates every aspect of life in the country. Everything here – from universal concerns such as environmental conservation and development to personal preferences like the colour of car and dressing style – might be seen as political.

To even bigger surprise, I learnt that political views are often inherited from family members. Open support for one of the parties eventually becomes a label, strongly associated with the rest of personality and is often used as description. A phrase like “He is Labour” or “She is Nationalist” is a piece of information, sufficient for indictment. Members of the two clusters support their party’s decisions with near religious fanaticism, at times bordering with complete intolerance towards the other party’s members. To liberal-minded Maltese and outsiders, numerous examples of such passionate devotion look similar to fights between football fans during big championships. Not only such association comes to mind from direct observations of supporters’ delirious performance but also they result from a failure to logically comprehend the reasons behind such fanaticism with a touch of serfdom.

Steve Bonello
Sometimes it is hard to tell whether politics inspire carnival satire or the opposite is true. Cartoon by Steve Bonello.

What is the difference between the two confronting ideologies? Are they ideologies at all? It would be unjustified to say that one represents the interest of underprivileged while the other stands for more established citizens. So, if not ideology, what makes one Labour or Nationalist? After a few years of wondering, I have come to a conclusion it is [hopes for] personal benefits for oneself and his/her family or paying off for the benefits/lack of them in the past. In a nutshell, it is gratitude or rancor. To be fair, not everyone in Malta is enthusiastic about the two-party system. There are a number of independent thinkers siding with Alternattiva Democratika, and those utterly skeptical about politicians as a class, labeling them all immature.

To a Russian, all these observations are more than surprising. At the beginning, Malta’s political realities were incomprehensible for a citizen of the country with a very low, almost non-existent, trust in the political elite whichever side it represents. Yes, despite the ever-alarming political and economic situation in the country, Russians do not believe their vote would make any difference or that it has any power at all – that is why the political climate in Malta was a whole new experience.

Red vs Blue. Cartoon published on MaltaToday in 6th January 2016. The original is available here.
 Even though at times Maltese political scene looks like a verbal gang fight, there are still some undeniably positive facts about it – facts regular for the Maltese and incredible for foreigners. Politicians here are very close to their electorate – they literally are part of the crowd. You are very likely to meet them on streets, at restaurants or on the ferry. A minister might be living just a few doors away and a Member of Parliament might hang out at your bar.

The powerful guys are just one handshake away and they do remember to whom they owe their power. The very fact that reaching for the Prime Minister’s hand in Malta is quite realistic is already surreal to me. Living in a nearly totalitarian country, I got used to the fact that politicians exist in some parallel universe, completely isolated from mortals with high fences and protected by armed guards. While  Russia’s leaders might well be virtual remote characters or realistic game-generated images, in Malta they are mere humans made of flesh and bones. And that alone gives the public a very powerful mechanism of controlling them.

Politics in Malta is a very delicate personal issue. Personal, because by declaring their vote to one party or another, the Maltese very often follow practical, not ideological, interests: contracts, job promotions, boathouses, customised business offers, little treats for the party clubs and so on. At the end of the day, an outsider understands there is a lot more sense in overwhelming political involvement of the Maltese than it seemed at the beginning. Behind the curtain of fanaticism, there is a very logical desire to be well-connected. Whereas in many other countries voting for ideas will get you nowhere, in Malta a vote can transform into a very feasible matter and the gang can eventually throw a bone or two.

Votes are Malta’s priciest currency. Cartoon published in MaltaToday on 6th January 2016. The original is here.

Liked the article? Send it to your expat friends living in Malta. Follow this blog on Malta Sketches Facebook page. Grazzi ħafna!


2013 in Pictures

The photos selected for this post capture moments of daily life, important events on the island of Malta and just curious accidents. I thank all my followers for supporting the blog, for their interest, and hope not to disappoint them in the future. Wishing you all Happy New Year!

Hidden Danger

On Janury 22nd the field outside of Chemistry Building (University of Malta) was no longer the same – a bulldozer arrived on the field full of green grass and poppies. It mercilessly passed over the flowers, dipping its bucket into the soil. In a matter of hours the blossom was gone from the field. Almost a year later there are offices for the university staff instead of flowers and weeds. Functional necessity won over beauty.


Faces of the Street

Via Cavana in Trieste is a paradise for street photographers. Mysterios portraits on the old building’s wall watch over passers-by as if they were guards of the street.


Red for the Labour

On the 10th March Malta’s Opposition Labour Party won a general election for the first time in 15 years. Party’s supporters organized an improvised march, celebrating the victory. The scale of these celebrating activities was vast, exotic and unprecedented for a foreigner. A girl waving the Labour Party flag from the top of her parent’s car is just an example of the total mass euphoria on that day.


Three Men for St. Publius

On April 14th St. Publius feast was celebrated in the town of Floriana. The feast opens the long-going season of feasts which brings galore of fireworks and street celebrations to Malta in summer. The photo tells nothing about the feast itself but shows three man, separated from one another yet still connected in some invisible manner – a symbolic picture in my opinion.


March against Monsanto

March against Monsanto held on May 25 in Valletta gathered a crowd of protesters against food monopolization in general and MONSANTO corporation in particular. The youngest protesters were among the most active ones.


Silence of the Doves

L-Imnarja Feast in Buskett garden on the June 29 celebrated two very important Saints in Maltese religious lore. It is one of the oldest feasts on the islands. Buskett garden was turned into a tradition fair with fruits and vegetables from local farmers, yummy food and folk music. The caged animals, however, did not seem to enjoy the celebration.


Malta Jazz Festival

Malta Jazz Festival is an annual event and a treat for all true music admirers. Still under the impression of Chano Dominquez’ performance last year, I was not equally delighted by Michel Camilo’s Trio. The photo features Lincoln Giones (bass) from Michel Camilo Trio.


Meeting with Big Friday and His Friends

August was an unforgettable month because I met Big Friday, a wonderful horse from Gozo. This glorious and tender animal wins races and cherishes friendship of those who care for him.


New Face of Aeroflot

Another discovery in the month of August was Aeroflot (its new image, to be precise), the Russian company at the stage of re-inventing itself and improving its service.


Old Astrakhan

In September I paid a visit to my home town, Astrakhan. The city, a unique oriental character of which was sacrificed for modernization, is sinking into alcoholism and drug addiction. This photo signifies hope for the place to resurrect in its former glory.


Sails for Two

On October 30th both, locals and visitors, witnessed a spectacular show of the 34th Rolex Middle Sea Race. One by one boats were leaving the Grand Harbour, opening their sails of all colours to the wind, in order to return in a few days.


Bethlehem in Gozo 

Christmas is taken very seriously on the island of Gozo. Bethlehem Village takes visitors two millennia back to the town where Christ was born. The festive atmosphere was infused with warmth of mulled wine, children’s laugh and enthusiasm.


Happy New Year!

2012 in pictures. Part 2

2012 was an awesome year for me. Besides a number of interesting activities, it brought many photographic opportunities. The results of these opportunities are shared on this page,  I would call it a summary of my photographic activity.

For more photos please check


Farmer’s market in Ta’ Qali
Farmer’s market in Ta’ Qali, Malta, was my main food supplier this summer. Locally grown, fresh food and vegetable of great quality from friendly and cheerful farmers, make it a great place for food shopping. Besides all the other advantages of this place, prices for such quality products are more than appropriate. With 20 Euro be prepared to fill up 5 or 6 bags – the amount of food enough for two weeks!

Farmer's market in Ta' Qali. Farmers are selling the freshly harvested fruits and vegetables
Farmer’s market in Ta’ Qali. Farmers are selling the freshly harvested fruits and vegetables

Fireworks of Lija
Fireworks of this small Maltese village (Lija) are among most impressive on the world’s scale.

Fireworks of Lija, Malta
Fireworks of Lija, Malta

State funeral of Dom Mintoff
25th August  was a hot sunny day, when thousands of Maltese citizens gathered in Valletta to give a final farewell to the former Prime Minister Dom Mintoff. Before heading to Saint John’s Co-Cathedral, where the funeral mass was held, the body was kept at the Palace in Valletta. Once public tribute was over, the doors of the Palace closed, leaving a great emotional tension in the air. Few minutes after the doors revealed a coffin covered with the national flag. The crowd greeted the deceased Prime Minister with applauses and weeps, chanting “Viva Mintoff! Mintoff! Mintoff”.

More photos can be found here (check my fellow photographer’s blog):

Once public tribute to the former Prime Minister was over, the doors of the Palace closed leaving emotional tension in the air. Few minutes will pass before the doors will reveal a coffin covered with a national flag. The guards are ready to give the final farewell,
Once public tribute to the former Prime Minister had been over, the doors of the Palace closed leaving emotional tension in the air. Few minutes passed before the doors revealed a coffin covered with a national flag. The guards were ready to give the final farewell.


A man with harmonica
This photo was snapped in my home town Astrakhan at the City Day feast (16th September). Ethnic Tatar man with harmonica was playing, singing Tatar national songs and, by all means, he was having fun despite the surprised looks of the passers-by.

A man with harmonica (Astrakhan, 16th September 2012)

A man with harmonica (Astrakhan, 16th September 2012)


The stairway to heaven
Two schoolboys climbing up the ladder on the school playground. This photo was taken in my home town, Astrakhan, on 2nd October.

Two schoolboys climbing up the ladder on the school's playground. Astrakhan, 2nd October.
Two schoolboys climbing up the ladder on the school’s playground. Astrakhan, 2nd October.

Happy birthday to Tango!
On Saturday, 27th October, all tango lovers living in Malta gathered to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the introduction this dance to the  Maltese public. The event took place at Palazzo del Piro in Malta’s medieval capital, Mdina, and was organized by Isla del Tango.

More about Isla del Tango here:

Tango passion. Celebration of the 15th anniversary of tango in Malta (27th October, Mdina, Malta)
Tango passion. Celebration of the 15th anniversary of tango in Malta (27th October, Mdina, Malta)


Exhibition of greeting cards “A window to our past”
Exhibition of vintage Soviet greeting cards from my (family and own) collection was held in Valletta, Malta, from 7th till 15th November at the Russian Centre for Science and Culture.  The exhibited cards symbolized the epoch gone with the wind.

Exhibition of vintage Soviet greeting cards. Valletta, Malta, 15th November.
Exhibition of vintage Soviet greeting cards. Valletta, Malta, 15th November.


Ban animal circus!
The protest against animal circus in Malta was organized by movement Graffiti and happened in Valetta, Malta on 12th December. Around a hundred of protesters gathered in Valletta to express their disapproval  of the animal abuse at the circus.

Ban animal circus! The protest in Valletta, Malta, on 12th December, organized by movement Graffiti
Ban animal circus! The protest in Valletta, Malta, on 12th December, organized by movement Graffiti

For more photos of Malta check the blog of Darrin Zammit Lupi, one of Malta’s most renown professional photographers: