October 4, 2017 - Nikolay Artemenko
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.
TOMASZ LACHOWSKI: Lately we have witnessed an increasing popularity of populist politicians winning elections on a conservative agenda and with a relatively high support of young voters. We have seen this in our region of Central Europe – such was the case of Jarosław Kaczyński and the current-ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party in Poland as well as Marian Kotleba and the People’s Party of Our Slovakia in Slovakia. Do you see a similar tendency towards populism among young voters in the Czech Republic?
JAN ŠEREK: Without a doubt this new tendency of young people being more conservative is also visible in the Czech Republic. However, we cannot put a whole generation into one box – we need to recognise that their political behaviour and choices depend on many factors, including education. Regarding the popularity of populist movements, especially among adolescents, I have to emphasise the huge role being played by the media.
An interview with Sijbren de Jong, a strategic analyst at The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies. Interviewer: Małgosia Krakowska
MAŁGOSIA KRAKOWSKA: When the Chinese president announced the One Belt One Road Initiative (OBOR), it was hailed as the “project of the century”. A report that you co-authored for the Hague Centre on Strategic Studies sheds much less optimism. What raises your concerns?
SIJBREN DE JONG: The answer is hidden in the modus operandi of the project. “The One Belt” refers to the land, economic belt, while the “One Road” refers to the maritime corridor. Under the scheme, Chinese financial institutions issue loans to countries in which the proposed OBOR related infrastructure will be constructed. Countries with a poor trade balance, for example in the Western Balkans, may benefit from the Chinese loans but also see their debt burden increase as a result.
Interview with Mark Galeotti, a senior researcher at UMV, the Institute of International Relations Prague. Interviewer: Agnieszka Pikulicka-Wilczewska.
July 31, 2017 - Mark Galeotti
An interview with Charles King, professor of international affairs and government at Georgetown University. Interviewer: Aleksander Kaczorowski
ALEKSANDER KACZOROWSKI: You have written some excellent books on the Black Sea, Caucasus, Istanbul and Odesa. How did you first get involved in Eastern European issues?
CHARLES KING: Where I grew up, if you wanted to be strange at that time, the best way was by being interested in communism. I grew up in a rather conservative part of the United States, in the south, in Arkansas. During the Cold War in the 1980s this part of the world might as well have been on another planet, at least to the society that I grew up in. And I think I was always fascinated by the idea that people who live as far away as Europe or even in the Soviet Union must be real people, need not have two heads...
You know, “the Russians love their children too”?
You mention this song, of course it was a silly pop song, but in a way I think to the 15-year-old me that was a bit of a revelation: “Oh yes, I guess they must”. So then I just became fascinated by the communist world, as we used to call it, and my first time out of the United States was to the Soviet Union. I had never left the US before. I got my passport, they sent it to you through your post office back then, and headed to my Russian classes in Leningrad and Moscow.
July 14, 2017 - Charles King