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Category: Interviews

The Kremlin is not going to stop

Interview with Luke Harding, British author and journalist with the Guardian, on the West's response to Russia's actions. Interviewer: Adam Reichardt

May 25, 2018 - Adam Reichardt Luke Harding

Peace is still far from reach

A conversation with Leyla and Arif Yunus, Azerbaijani human rights activists. Interviewer: Valentin Luntumbue.

VALENTIN LUNTUMBUE: I would like to begin by talking about the beginning of your engagement in the last hours of the Soviet Union, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the rise to power of Heydar Aliyev?

LEYLA YUNUS (LY): We are both historians and we began our work during the Soviet times. I was a member of the underground movement of national minorities against the Soviet regime and we were working with an underground newspaper, published in Moscow, called Express Khronika. The chief editor was Aleksandr Podrabinek. They had correspondents in different countries including Georgia, Armenia, Belarus and Ukraine; and we were responsible for Azerbaijan, together with Arif.

April 26, 2018 - Valentin Luntumbue

The Odesan myth and the Ukrainian façade

An interview with Professor Borys Khersonskyy, a Ukrainian poet, translator, clinical psychologist and Odesa’s leading intellectual. Interviewers: Tomasz Lachowski and Vitalii Mazurenko

TOMASZ LACHOWSKI AND VITALII MAZURENKO: Every now and then, the world reminds itself of the Donbas conflict, following the exchange of prisoners between Ukraine and the separatists or Kyiv’s efforts to reintegrate the region. The war thus continues. The question is: Is separatism still a real threat to Ukraine? Or, perhaps, it ended with the rebellion in Donetsk and Luhansk? You live in the Odesa region, which is ethnically diverse and borders the unrecognised Transnistria, where this question seems to be more pertinent.

BORYS KHERSONSKYY: First of all, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, independent Ukraine formed on the basis of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, which began to sovereignly govern over its territory. This place has been very diverse when it comes to historical and economic development as well as cultural and national identity. On the one hand, some of the regions in the eastern part of the country immediately fell under the influence of our northern neighbour, the Russian Federation.

April 26, 2018 - Tomasz Lachowski and Vitalii Mazurenko

On mythical identities of mythical countries

A conversation with Miljenko Jergović, a Balkan writer. Interviewer: Aleksandra Wojtaszek

ALEKSANDRA WOJTASZEK: We are meeting thanks to the recent publishing of a collection of your essays by the Kraków-based International Cultural Centre tilted Muscat, lemon and turmeric. It seems that a common denominator for these essays is Central Europe, which binds the descriptions of cities and biographies in your texts together. Do you believe that a Central European identity exists? If yes, what are its features?

MILJENKO JERGOVIĆ: I believe that we could talk about it in an unorthodox fashion. What is common to all of the peoples living in Central Europe is primarily all the traumas of the 20th century, such as the concentration camps. We are also connected by historical experiences such as being a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, or the bloc of socialist countries after the Second World War. In one sense, we lived our lives in a border region.

April 26, 2018 - Aleksandra Wojtaszek Miljenko Jergović

The Kremlin and the Internet

While the Russian regime is busy with its campaign across the world wide web, it seems to have overreached at home.

April 20, 2018 - Paulina Siegień

Macedonia is turning the page

Exclusive interview with Zoran Zaev, the prime minister of the Republic of Macedonia. Interviewer: Adam Reichardt

ADAM REICHARDT: You have been in power now since May 2017, with a promise to change the direction of Macedonian politics, including its European and NATO future. This was highlighted in your recent trip to Brussels to lobby on your country’s behalf. Can you give our readers some insight on how you plan to bring Macedonia back on the European path and what are the challenges you see ahead?

ZORAN ZAEV: My country went through a very difficult political crisis. A very big part of this crisis was the frustration that the society felt for the delayed European and NATO integration of the country. In 2005 we received candidate EU status, but nothing else beyond that. In 2008 Greece did not agree with our NATO membership at the Bucharest Summit. Now that we have emerged from this political crisis, our citizens’ expectations are very high that we will get the country back on track. This is what has been happening in the past six months. The new government has set strategic priorities for the upcoming period. This includes entering NATO – becoming a full NATO member – and then starting the negotiations for EU membership.

February 26, 2018 - Adam Reichardt Zoran Zaev

Yevpatoria. Crimea’s microcosm

An interview with Stanislav Tsalyk, a Ukrainian writer and historian. Interviewer: Katarina Novikova

KATARINA NOVIKOVA: Several years ago you wrote a book on Yevpatoria, a multi-cultural city in Crimea which seems to be a fascinating place. How did you discover Yevpatoria in the first place?

STANISLAV TSALYK: When I decided to write a historical guide to Yevpatoria, my friends were quite surprised, asking me what I could write about it. We all would visit this place as kids as it was a favourite beach resort for families in the Soviet Union. At that time, however, touring Yevpatoria was a very different experience. Sightseeing was limited to the monuments commemorating the victims of the Second World War and the Lenin monument. There were also organised tours offering visits to famous palaces in the south of Crimea, including the tsar’s residence at Livadia, the Vorontsov Palace in Alupka and others.

February 26, 2018 - Katarina Novikova Stanislav Tsalyk

We needed to create an archive of our experiences

Full interview with Nick Antipov, Nasta Mancewicz and Milana Levitskaya, activists with the Belarusian MAKEOUT project. Interviewer: Maxim Rust

February 12, 2018 - Maxim Rust

Religion, migration and the dreams of Dagestani youth

An interview with Denis Sokolov, a Russian expert on North Caucasus. Interviewer: Agnieszka Pikulicka-Wilczewska.

AGNIESZKA PIKULICKA-WILCZEWSKA: As someone who specialises in the North Caucasus and has done a lot of work in Dagestan, how would you describe the youth there? What kind of dreams do young Dagestanis have?

DENIS SOKOLOV: Certainly everyone has a different dream, but I would say that young people in Dagestan are rather ambitious and they dream of success, which means different things for different people. One can also notice some divisions among young Dagestanis. Most of the youth there are increasingly oriented towards the Arab world, towards the world of Islam, especially the descendants of those who came from rural communities and the mountainous parts of Dagestan. They dream about having a career or owning a business because financial success and the ability to feed your family are very important. Today’s youth adhere to family values, Islamic traditions and, in some degree, the values of Dagestan’s rural communities, although they are gradually disappearing.

January 2, 2018 - Agnieszka Pikulicka-Wilczewska Denis Sokolov

There is no question – we are able to defend ourselves

An interview with Raimonds Bergmanis, the Latvian minister of defence. Interviewer Linas Jegelevicius

LINAS JEGELEVICIUS: In a recent interview, your Lithuanian counterpart claimed that the situation in which the Baltics face now is “the riskiest and most dangerous since 1990”. Do you agree with this assessment?

RAIMONDS BERGMANIS: It is relative and the context should be taken into account. In the 1990s, our countries were still in the process of recovery and building our new state institutions like the armed forces, intelligence, security forces, etc. Alongside the domestic challenges, we were experiencing Russian pressure as well. We were vulnerable back then and, by no means, were these risk-free times. We were lucky that Russia was also vulnerable. However, it was not until 2004 when we joined NATO that we were able to have a real sense of security.

January 2, 2018 - Linas Jegelevicius Raimonds Bergmanis

The complex reality of radicalisation in Central Asia

An interview with Bhavna Davé, a senior lecturer in Central Asian politics with the department of politics and international studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Interviewer: Agnieszka Pikulicka-Wilczewska

October 31, 2017 - Agnieszka Pikulicka-Wilczewska Bhavna Davé

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

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