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Russia’s denial syndrome

The HIV epidemic continues to spread in Russia while the authorities appear to be doing very little to effectively counter it. It does not help that the dedicated NGOs that try to prevent its spread are faced with legal obstacles and conspiracy theories claiming that the HIV epidemic is a hoax fabricated by the pharmaceutical industry.

In 2015 as many as 120,000 Russians were diagnosed with HIV. This figure is 70 per cent of the total number of new diagnoses in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. That year the number of officially registered HIV carriers in Russia exceeded one million, and the Russian authorities had to finally recognise the existence of a full-scale HIV epidemic.

November 5, 2018 - Olga Irisova

Georgian presidential elections 2018

A few days before the elections, a walk along Tbilisi’s valleys or a trip between the main roads connecting Georgian towns reminds the traveller of what a state ruled by one man looks like. Catching sight of Salome Zurabishvili’s campaign, uninformed passers-by could get the impression that there is only one candidate for the presidential post. Yet despite the campaign pictures, her victory in the approaching elections is not a given.

October 25, 2018 - Bartłomiej Krzysztan

Poroshenko has achieved a second independence from Russia

As Moscow warns of repercussions, Kyiv finally rejoices with the good tidings from a tense synod.

October 15, 2018 - Taras Kuzio

A Belarusian house of cards

In the early stages of the system transformation, the division of the Belarusian political elite into the ruling-elite and counter-elite was more symbolic than a reflection of reality. Today, both demonstrate the features of the Homo post-Sovieticus, fitting into the post-Soviet model of political culture. However, while Lukashenka’s transformation and authoritarian modernisation have gained public support, the model promoted by the counter-elite has proved ineffective.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 the political elite played a key role in the process of systematic transformation within post-Soviet territories, including Belarus. The first years of the country’s independence marked a very important stage when the nature of establishing the political elite determined the further course of political, economic and social developments. It was the activities of the elite and counter-elite (i.e. the opposition) that influenced the dynamic of socio-political changes in Belarus.

September 2, 2018 - Maxim Rust

Between declarations and reality

Is Ukraine ready to regain control of the occupied part of Donbas?

Ukrainian officials are often under fire from critics due to their inefficiency in defending Ukrainian citizens in the occupied parts of Donbas. Unfortunately the criticism is deserved. Despite the creation of the ministry for the temporary occupied territories in April 2016, it is very difficult to find any positive results since its inception. Creating a ministry of information policy has not improved access to independent information. Even the rebuilding of damaged television towers and the building of new ones has been implemented very slowly and without any real success.

September 1, 2018 - Paweł Kost

Ukrainian media reforms: One step forward, two steps back

The development of the media landscape in Ukraine has taken an unconventional approach when compared to the countries of Central Europe and other post-Soviet states. While some success in terms of reform has been noted over the past two and a half decades, many barriers for a free and open media still exist.

For the past 27 years, Ukrainian media have gone through a difficult process of transformation. This process, however, is incomplete. Instead of state propaganda, private media have now emerged and developed. In the neighbouring countries of Central and Eastern Europe, the process of creating new media was closely intertwined with the processes of the democratic transformation. The media in Ukraine, in contrast, had to compete with the new Russian media after the fall of communism, which for several years afterwards was freely available in Ukraine. Russian media was well-resourced while Ukrainian media was bereaved by the similarity of the Ukrainian and Russian languages. Therefore, paradoxically, Ukrainian media had to use Russian language in order to compete with the Russian media.

September 1, 2018 - Roman Kabachiy

A clockwork orange

The media landscape in Hungary has all but collapsed, with nearly all major Hungarian online and print media in the hands of the government or pro-government forces. Only a few remaining independent sources exist, and they do so under constant threat.

There is a weekly news magazine in Hungary. It is called Figyelő. When they meet foreign colleagues, its journalists like to refer to it as the Observer (which is the English translation of the word figyelő) – it sounds dignified. On Thursdays, the day that the paper is published, everybody awaits the big story that will land on Figyelő’s front page. It was known as a reliable source of exclusive information, often prompting an official response to its stories. This was the case until the end of 2016.

September 1, 2018 - Szabolcs Vörös

Giedroyc lives on

Every few years in Poland there is a call to depart from the so-called “Giedroyc doctrine”. This is a philosophy about Eastern Europe that was proposed by Jerzy Giedroyc, the editor-in-chief of the 20th century Polish émigré journal Kultura.

June 27, 2018 - Adam Balcer

The Georgian Dream’s two sword agenda

Following this past weekend’s use of special forces in a Tbilisi night club, serious allegations and questions have emerged regarding the game of “victim and bully” between government-backed clubs where drugs are freely available to the youth and the government agencies hunting the young drug users and dealers through excessive force.

May 15, 2018 - Beka Kiria

Feeling history, 70 years on

A review of Kriegsgedenken als Event. Der 9. Mai 2015 im postsozialistischen Europa (War memory as an event. May 9th 2015 in post-socialist Europe). Edited by: Mischa Gabowitsch, Cordula Gdaniec, and Ekaterina Makhotina. Publisher: Ferdinand Schöningh, Paderborn, Germany, 2017.

May 9, 2018 - Paul Toetzke

Uncertain territory. The strange life and curious sustainability of de facto states

The international order has never been tidy or complete, always having lands with contested sovereignty. The breakdown of empires is the most common catalyst for producing new aspirant states. The post-Soviet space is especially rich in these territories, which includes Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh, South Ossetia and Transnistria, along with two more recently established shadowy entities in eastern Ukraine.

April 26, 2018 - Thomas de Waal

New separatisms. Or what could happen if the West disappeared from Eastern Europe?

In Central and Eastern Europe, the West used to play a revolutionary role while Russia was that of a reactionary usurper. Today, the West has been hoisted by its own petard and the roles of the two powers in the region have reversed.

The West was once the defender and champion of the rights for those who suffered from unfavourable geopolitical arrangements after the Second World War. At least, it played this role in the territories where it competed with the Soviet Union and later the post-Soviet autocracies which emerged after the post-Cold War chaos of the 1990s. The West helped bring down communism in the region and its remains which were trying to survive in Russia and Serbia. It defended the rights of Kosovo’s Albanians, Muslim Bosniaks and Croats attacked by Serbs. Before that it was the main defender of the residents of the Eastern bloc, and all the nations that wanted to free themselves from Soviet rule. Today, the situation is entirely different.

April 26, 2018 - Ziemowit Szczerek

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