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Category: Issue #5/2017

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

Not dedicated to big political visions

An interview with Jan Šerek, social psychologist and political scientist at the Masaryk University in Brno. Interviewer: Tomasz Lachowski

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.

October 4, 2017 - Jan Šerek Tomasz Lachowski

Polish encounters

Zbigniew Brzezinski's death this year is a huge loss to me and my wife. He was America's greatest strategic thinker and had a significant impact on my professional life, as did many other Polish and Polish-Americans throughout the last 40 years or so. I have visited Poland frequently since the 1970s. As an American teacher and scholar on Central and Eastern Europe, I found it useful to meet not only academics but politicians as well. Although I do not speak Polish, I could pronounce most of the names fairly well; the name of Janusz Onyszkiewicz was among the more difficult ones. My Polish encounters were largely limited to those who spoke English. The irresistible Adam Michnik was an exception: our conversations needed an interpreter. If I may say so, our friendship has managed to develop nevertheless. I try to see him every time I am in Warsaw, most recently in the autumn of 2016.

October 4, 2017 - Charles Gati

Connecting histories and geographies: The Jews of Central Asia

Since the late 19th century much has been published about Central Asian Jews who came under Russian – and later Soviet – dominance and who became commonly known as the Bukharan Jews. Yet, it is only now when there are almost no Jews left in Central Asia that the study of Bukharan Jews has seriously started.

October 4, 2017 - Thomas Loy

On prayer and politics in the GDR

A conversation with Markus Meckel, a German Lutheran pastor, theologian and politician. Interviewer: Łukasz Grajewski

October 4, 2017 - Łukasz Grajewski Markus Meckel

Poland’s Protestant diversity

In the 16th century, Polish Protestantism began to flourish and this tolerance brought European civilisation many noble thinkers, including Jan Hevelius, Kazimierz Siemienowicz, Józef Naronowicz-Naronski and Krzysztof Arciszewski.

October 4, 2017 - Andrzej Zaręba

The humble pastor

Juris Rubenis, a Lutheran pastor, helped organise some of the largest anti-Soviet demonstrations in the 1980s. He co-wrote the founding documents for the Latvian Popular Front and signed the official document declaring the independence of Latvia from the Soviet Union. Today, he tries to help Latvians overcome the post-Soviet mentality through spirituality and meditation.

October 4, 2017 - Naphtali Rivkin

The Reformation’s unexpected legacy in Ukraine

In Ukraine the history of Protestantism spans for centuries, marked by four major waves. The most recent one came after the collapse of the Soviet Union. As with all newcomers, however, Protestants are often faced with biased attitudes from a significant part of society. Despite this, Protestant communities have emerged as significant players in providing charity relief to war victims as well as in the politics of the post-Maidan Ukraine.

October 4, 2017 - Kateryna Pryshchepa

Whose hostages?

A review of Hostages. A film written and directed by Rezo Gigineishvili, Georgian-Russian-Polish co-production, 2017.

October 4, 2017 - Yulia Oreshina

When hard words break democracy’s bones

A review of How Propaganda Works . By: Jason Stanley, Princeton University Press: Princeton, New Jersey, USA, 2015.

October 4, 2017 - Matteusz Mazzini

The neoliberal world was made for autocrats

A review of Dictators without Borders: Power and money in Central Asia. By: Alexander Cooley and John Heathershaw. Published by: Yale University Press, New Haven, USA, 2017.

October 4, 2017 - Millie Radović

In Russia’s near abroad, storylines matter

A review of Near Abroad: Putin, the West, and the Contest Over Ukraine and the Caucasus. By: Gerard Toal. Publisher: Oxford University Press, United Kingdom, 2017.

October 4, 2017 - Joseph Larsen

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