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The Kremlin sets its eyes on YouTube

In Russia YouTube is becoming the main platform for political conflict and a battleground for young voters. While the opposition is able to attract followers with content, the authorities are experimenting with ways to establish control over the video portal.

The year 2017 has definitely become the year of YouTube. Already in 2016, the video sharing social network became the second most visited website in the world after Google.com. In June 2017 YouTube claimed that its monthly audience of registered users passed 1.5 billion people. In Russia, 87 per cent of internet users watch videos on YouTube and the number of monthly active viewers is more than 62 million unique users. Some research indicates the figure could be even more than 80 million. In addition to a growing audience, it is important to emphasise the main advantage that YouTube has: younger generations of Russians now prefer YouTube over traditional media as their main source of news and information. Those within the 25-34 year-old age group are the most active users of YouTube in the country.

Despite its rapidly growing popularity, the Russian authorities at first did not pay much attention to YouTube. This changed in March this year, however, when a single film brought tens of thousands of people to the streets in 82 Russian cities. The majority of the protesters were young.

October 31, 2017 - Svitlana Ovcharova

Russia is unprepared for the next world order

An interview with Bobo Lo, expert on Russia and China and author of the books Russia and the New World Disorder and A Wary Embrace: What the China-Russia relationship means for the world. Interviewer: Adam Reichardt

ADAM REICHARDT: It has been two years since you published Russia and the New World Disorder in which you concluded that Russian foreign policy is not well suited for the current geopolitical context. Yet, if we look at Russia since 2015, it has projected itself as a strong country, one that can defend against sanctions, intervene in Syria, advance its interests in its near abroad and project an image of itself as a real global player. Would you still argue that same thesis today?

BOBO LO: This is a question I often get asked. I stand by my original thesis. True, Russia is not going to become a minor power straight away, the regime will not collapse anytime soon, and Russia will not buckle under western pressure and be forced into concessions. However, we need to look at Russia and the world in the longer term. What will happen over the next decade, two decades, three decades and beyond? Can Russia adapt to a world that is changing in all sorts of uncontrollable and unpredictable ways? This is about much more than just Russia’s interaction with the United States, the United Kingdom, France or Germany. It is about whether it can operate effectively in a more complex, disaggregated and disorderly international environment crowded with competitors – not just the West and China, but many others as well.

October 31, 2017 - Adam Reichardt Bobo Lo

The Czech elections and European populism

The Czech elections have brought a number of smaller and bigger surprises over the weekend, including the comfortable victory of a billionaire businessman and the rise of anti-establishment parties. In this episode, In Between Europe talk to Michael Colborne, a Prague-based journalist, and Sean Hanley, a senior lecturer at University College London about the mood in Prague and the future of Czech democracy.

October 24, 2017 - Zselyke Csaky and Gergely Romsics

Sobchak. A presidential anti-candidate.

Ksenia Sobchak, the new Russian presidential candidate, does not pose a threat to Putin. She is too controversial to build a wide front of support, even among the critical, liberally-minded parts of the Russian society. Thus she is an ideal sparring partner for Putin, while Navalny would be too risky for the Kremlin.

October 23, 2017 - Paulina Siegień

Conspiracy theories and the fear of others

Anti-West conspiracy theories in Russia which have been instrumentalised since the 19th century became widespread during the Soviet period and are now a common tool for public mobilisation of the Kremlin. The effects of these theories on the nation and its perception of the world will have consequences for the decades to come.

October 4, 2017 - Ilya Yablokov

Has the war really changed Ukrainians?

Three years have passed since the onset of war in Ukraine. As a result some changes have occurred in the Ukrainian mentality but questions still remain: How deep are those changes? And what would it take for a reversal in attitudes towards the West? Results from recent opinion polls may come as a surprise in an attempt to answer these questions.

October 4, 2017 - Andriy Lyubka

Inside Ukraine’s ideological renewal

The Cossack House is a vibrant community centre founded in April 2016 by young nationalist activists. It is widely known for being a civil bastion of the radical Azov movement, dedicated to promoting right-wing views and bringing about a rebirth of Ukrainian nationalism.

October 4, 2017 - Nina Boichenko

A thief’s fear of punishment is incompatible with democracy

An interview with Anastasia Kirilenko, an investigative reporter based in Moscow. Interviewer: Maciej Zaniewicz

MACIEJ ZANIEWICZ: After watching your film, Who is Mr. Putin, one gets the sense that the whole Russian political system today grew out of the criminal world of the 1990s, which was created by Vladimir Putin himself.

ANASTASIA KIRILENKO: When Putin was a presidential candidate in 2000, journalists rushed to explain who he was. I remember very well the headlines: he is a man who came out of nowhere. In fact, in St Petersburg everyone knew very well who he was. There were enough criminal scandals connected to Putin. In 2000 many journalists were confused. Reporters from the Moscow Times went to St Petersburg and found people who had worked with Putin, but those people could not recall any details about what it was like to work with him.

October 4, 2017 - Anastasia Kirilenko Maciej Zaniewicz

To fight the new Cold War, we must forget the old one

Imagine a four-kilometre-long train shooting through Siberia at a breakneck speed. It is 1951. The heroic engineer Blinov knows no fear; the tireless locomotive pulls four hundred wagons at an incredible 150 km/h. Blinov is the "New Soviet Man," quite used to performing such feats; he joyfully drives more hours, and faster, every single day. The train, built with Soviet steel and sweat, puts the mighty synergy of socialist mechanics and proletarian work ethic on display. A master of his train, Blinov is but a cog in the machine of the Soviet state. He has two goals: first – to build communism and defeat capitalism through peaceful labour; second – to shame America by showing that in the USSR, the daily conquest of the impossible is the new norm.

September 27, 2017 - Patryk Babiracki

Moscow’s dubious peacekeeping proposal

The Russian President Vladimir Putin has recently proposed a deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping force to the conflict zone of eastern Ukraine. The announcement came as a surprise to the international community as it represented a marked change from Putin’s limited support for peacekeepers in the past.

September 20, 2017 - Cameron Gibson

Latvia – a potential target for Russian economic aggression?

Politically, Latvia is firmly anchored to the West through its membership of the European Union and NATO. Economically, however, the country still remains under significant Russian influence. The Kremlin has several economic instruments at its disposal which could be used to cause significant negative impact on Latvian economy. The key ones would include restricting imports of Latvian goods, banning future and liquidating existing Russian FDIs in Latvia, reducing volumes of Russian freight transit through Latvian ports, halting supplies of natural gas to Latvia, and withdrawing non-resident deposits controlled by Russia-related entities from the Latvian banking system.

August 17, 2017 - Adam Klus

Mitigating Mayakovsky: Exploring the poet’s legacy in post-Soviet Georgia

Vladimir Mayakovksy may be known as a leading poet during the events of 1917, with his name surfacing frequently as tributes pour in commemorating the revolution’s centenary. However, scholars who direct a museum dedicated to the writer in his birthplace in Georgia, are arguing that his talent transcends the political and that the time has come to “read the unread poet”.

August 16, 2017 - Elizabeth Short



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