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The intellectual in Central Europe: Havel, Orbán and Walter

What option is open to Central European intellectuals today? How can they maintain their independent stance and moral principles, yet find a position where they can support democracy in their countries? This is a particularly pressing question today, when Central Europe is again traversing a rocky road paved with nationalism and populism.

At a recent conference of European editors of cultural journals, an English participant remarked, a bit puzzled, how only in Central Europe do people still talk in all seriousness about – and even quarrel passionately over – the role, place and responsibility of intellectuals. First, I felt slightly embarrassed recalling that Kritika & Kontext, the journal I founded in 1996, had devoted a whole issue to “The Intellectual and Society”. The debate then was both serious and passionate and, rereading it now, seems still valid today. Perhaps after all there is a special place for intellectuals in the heaven and hell of Central Europe.

January 2, 2019 - Samuel Abrahám

Ukrainian intellectuals after Maidan

The war with Russia creates a difficult task for Ukrainian intellectuals. We must take care of decommunisation and de-Sovietisation not only by renaming our streets and cities but also in the consciousness of our citizens. Ultimately, decommunisation is a part of the decolonisation process in Ukraine.

The Maidan has changed our lives forever. This might sound a little pathetic, but for anyone who was directly involved in the events of 2013/2014, the Maidan has far-reaching significance and harkens great emotional stress. The same applies to those who were not concerned about these events or those who opposed it. And, of course, it definitely applies to Ukrainian intellectuals.

January 2, 2019 - Vakhtang Kebuladze

Overcoming the damage of disinformation

Since 2014 Russian malicious activities against foreign targets in cyberspace, such as espionage and hacking, have been expanded to include political and electoral interference operations. It is clear that there is still much to be done to protect the West and its societies from these actions.

"Russian despotism not only counts ideas and sentiments for nothing but remakes facts; it wages war on evidence and triumphs in the battle” – Astolphe-Louis-Léonor Marquis de Custine.

It seems that not much has changed since Astolphe-Louis-Léonor Marquis de Custine, an illustrious French aristocrat, made this observation during a three-month tour of tsarist Russia nearly 180 years ago. Just as in 1839, in the last two or three years the Russian state seems to employ the tactics of deception, distortion and manipulation of information to gain political advantage. What has changed, however, is the technology

January 2, 2019 - Przemysław Roguski

How to profit from education in Russia

The year 2013 marked the beginning of a revolution in Russian education. After Vladimir Putin declared that the country needed a single history textbook, a process was set into motion that removed textbooks the regime viewed as unsuitable for schools.

Modern-day Russia is a place where speaking openly about the Second World War could lead to a five-year prison sentence. It is a country where buying academic degrees is publicly accepted and high positions are handed out based on loyalty to the regime. The illegal circulation of funds surprises no one in Putin’s Russia. Without the right connections, there is no way to run a business or develop a career. In this climate, there are growing restrictions on the type of school textbooks and who is allowed to publish them.

January 2, 2019 - Dagmara Moskwa

The dramatic turn of political discourse in Romania

Never in recent memory has Romanian society been so divided. Over the course of the last decade, political rhetoric has become more violent and polarising. The recent referendum to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman in the constitution, which did not legally pass, can be considered the height of these developments.

Anyone watching the speeches of Romanian MPs and discussions between members of the different Romanian political parties from the late 1990s and early 2000s would be amazed to see how different they were from the debates of the last decade. It is a matter of fact that the political discourse has taken a radical turn in the past number of years, and it would not be difficult to pinpoint the moment when the discourse began to deteriorate – when ad hominem attacks, name calling, and the demonisation of one’s political adversaries and their supporters became the norm.

January 2, 2019 - Paul Gabriel Sandu

The state of decentralisation in Ukraine

Decentralization seems to be the least controversial of all the post-Maidan reforms in Ukraine. Yet it is one that has directly affected a large number of citizens.

The Lyubar unified territorial community in Zhytomyr oblast was established in October 2017 during the decentralisation reforms in Ukraine. The community is made up of the majority of the Lyubar administrative district within the Zhytomyr oblast. It includes 37 villages and the town of Lyubar itself.

January 2, 2019 - Kateryna Pryshchepa

Georgia in the move to a multi-polar world

Georgia finds itself in an increasingly multipolar environment. Internal tensions within the West mean Georgia can no longer count on the same policy stability from its traditional partners.

The flag of the European Union remains ubiquitous on the government buildings of a country on Europe’s outermost fringes: Georgia. Tbilisi International Airport welcomes visitors with signage highlighting Georgia’s status as an “EU-associated state”. The platforms of all its leading political parties include an aspiration to join not just the European Union but NATO as well. Ten years after Georgia’s war with Russia, Tbilisi’s geopolitical orientation appears unwavering, as frozen as the conflicts with the Russia-backed breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

January 2, 2019 - Maximillian Hess

Georgia after presidential elections. Old order, new rules.

Temporarily uniting the opposition, an active campaign and intensive negative rhetoric towards his opponent was not enough to bring Grigol Vashadze to victory in the Georgian presidential elections.

December 7, 2018 - Bartłomiej Krzysztan

Talk Eastern Europe – Episode 3

Ukraine on the defence, Moldova on the cusp & Transnistrian identity

December 6, 2018 - Adam Reichardt Maciej Makulski

Is the lesser evil still evil? How Poroshenko will run for re-election

The next presidential and parliamentary elections in Ukraine, which will take place in spring and autumn 2019 respectively, are likely to be the most brutal and emotional in the country’s history. Both the stakes and the level of popular discontent are higher than ever.

December 4, 2018 - Oleksandra Iwaniuk

At the forefront of the battle for a clean energy future

Interview with Adam Koniuszewski, co-founder of the Bridge Foundation. Interviewer: Adam Reichardt

December 3, 2018 - Adam Koniuszewski Adam Reichardt

There is clear progress in Ukraine

Interview with Paweł Kowal, a post-doctoral fellow at the College of Europe in Natolin and former Member of the European Parliament. Interviewer: Iwona Reichardt

November 26, 2018 - Iwona Reichardt Paweł Kowal

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