Text resize: A A
Change contrast

Hot Topics

Russia’s young and restless speak up

Today’s young Russian generation was born in the mid to late 1990s. They grew up with the internet and mobile phones. They witnessed the country grow rich and believed they too would receive the benefits of oil revenue and live happily. But alas it has turned out that the internet is censored, the benefits are gone and they are not going to get much in life.

In early 2017 Alexei Navalny announced that he will run against Vladimir Putin in 2018. In less than a year, he managed to raise, through crowdfunding, 200 million Russian roubles (roughly three million euros), which is an unprecedented amount for a Russian politician. He opened 80 headquarters across the country and organised a series of protest rallies that were attended in March and June 2017 by tens of thousands of people. These demonstrations were the first mass gatherings that swept across Russian provinces (some were organised even in small towns) since the 1990s.

Barriers and restrictions, attempts to discredit the demonstrations, media censorship and attacks by thugs did not deter the protestors. What is more, it was clear, starting with the first March rally, that a large number of the protesters were very young. They were primarily high school students and teenagers. This is a fairly new situation for the protest scene in Russia.

January 2, 2018 - Anastasia Sergeeva

Rewriting Russian history

The battle for the future shape of Russia’s education system is now in full swing. Not only is the Kremlin increasing its control over what it considers the correct version of the past, there are also signs of a gradual ideological return to promote the glorification of Joseph Stalin.

In 2015 the 70th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany was celebrated in grand style. During that time, a larger than usual number of Stalin monuments was erected in several cities especially in south-western parts of the country upon the proposal of the communist party. The communists’ call came after a 2014 law passed by the Duma introduced a criminal penalty for rehabilitating Nazism and criticising Soviet activities during the Second World War. The law stipulates up to five years in prison for “lying about history”. Similar steps have been taken with regards to teaching history in schools.

January 2, 2018 - Dagmara Moskwa

Ukraine’s wartime education reform

In the autumn of 2017, Ukraine passed an education reform law. Its passing caused strong reactions of neighbouring states, especially Hungary, Russia, Bulgaria and Romania as well as commentators in Western Europe. Yet, these arguments largely represent an ideological narrative without any proper understanding of the provisions in the new legislation.

On September 28th 2017 Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed the long awaited educational reform into law. Unexpectedly, some of the provisions were met with sharp criticism by neighbouring states. The issue that caused the biggest dispute was related to the language of instruction in the classrooms of ethnic minority communities in Ukraine. The passing of the law, and the international reaction it received, confirmed the still low level of understanding between European Union states and Ukraine and further revealed other conflicts that lie under the surface.

The law introduces serious changes within the education system. Ukrainian children are now required to attend school for 12 years and the law foresees changes in the system of organisation of school networks, their financing and instruction. The authors of the reform stress that its consistent introduction will lead to a decentralisation of education

January 2, 2018 - Wojciech Siegień

Education reform put to the test

Druzhkivka, a small industrial town in eastern Ukraine, is one of the testing grounds for the new system of schooling recently introduced in the country. The ceremony marking the beginning of the school year in a Druzhkivka school, which is now part of a wider network of base schools, was attended by Lilia Hrynevych, the education minister. It was also watched via live stream by Petro Poroshenko who, at the same time, was opening a new base school in Pokrovsks.

Druzhkivka is a small town in eastern Ukraine with a population of around 58,000. The city is the second to last railway stop on the Donbas-Kyiv route. Located just 18 kilometres from Kramatorsk, it can be easily reached by the local bus service, which is a popular way for the residents of Druzhkivka to commute. Between April and June 2014 the city was under the control of pro-Russian separatist forces. Even though tensions were not as strong as they were in the nearby Sloviansk, the town had its share of victims, with an Orthodox priest among them.

January 2, 2018 - Kateryna Pryshchepa

How can the West promote an East-Central European security alignment?

Western decision-makers should signal to the new East-Central European NATO and EU member countries that they can, and should, engage in cross-border multilateral coalition building with Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia. There is an urgent need for institutional structures that will make Eastern Europe’s grey zone, between Russia and the West, less grey.

Most interpretations of the current geopolitical instability in Eastern Europe focus on the intricacies of the region’s peculiar past, recent resurgent Russian imperialism and Ukraine’s specific significance for the Kremlin. While these and similar approaches address important themes, many such explanations tend to miss, or dismiss, the first and foremost cause and crucial aspect of the issue at hand. The current international crisis in Eastern Europe has arisen due to concerns over the East European institutional structure – or lack thereof. One can easily explain and assess the current tensions in Eastern Europe without much knowledge about the region by simply pointing to the organisational underdevelopment of post-Soviet international relations.

January 2, 2018 - Andreas Umland

Belarus’s complicated memory

Belarus has no institutionalised historical policy. The myths that are used in forming official historical policy today are largely shaped by the previous Soviet ones as well as the official state ideology, which places the Belarusian president at its core.

A characteristic feature for many post-Soviet states is a need to develop their own national historical policy, or politics of memory. This is a way to present societies with an adequate image of the past and confirm a collective identity. Belarus is no different in this regard. Unlike its neighbouring states, however, it has one more goal to achieve: it needs to create a shared national identity in a newly independent state.

It is quite noticeable that even though a quarter century has passed since regaining independence, Belarus has still not created its own, common historical policy, nor has it built a widely accepted national identity. That is why the fragmentation of historical memory, as well as the ideological and political disputes that accompany it, are present in today’s Belarus.

January 2, 2018 - Maxim Rust

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

Partners

Terms of Use | Cookie policy | Copyryight 2018 Kolegium Europy Wschodniej im. Jana Nowaka-Jeziorańskiego
webdesign : hauerpower.com