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Stories and ideas

Where did I park my Bentley?

Almaty, Kazakhstan - a travel portrait of a Central Asian flower in the steppe.

July 20, 2018 - Sandra Lambert

Culture in a conflicted region

The Republic of Abkhazia is a partially-recognised small de facto state located in the South Caucasus between the Russian and Georgia. In 2014 the first contemporary art initiative of its kind emerged here – the cultural project SKLAD.

The history of Abkhazia is complex, multifaceted and quite dramatic. A small landmass on the Black Sea, Abkhazia has been historically located between the vast Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman and Russian Empires. This explains not only its multi-ethnic population, numerous historical and cultural monuments, and international trade, but also the number of conflicts it has experienced. The most recent conflict was the Georgian-Abkhaz War of 1992-93, the result of which was the declaration of independence by Abkhazia as an autonomous republic. This conflict, directly linked to the collapse of the Soviet Union, is known in the newly created republic as the Patriotic War of the People of Abkhazia.

April 26, 2018 - Anton Ochirov

A recognised pub in an unrecognised state

Two bottles of whiskey and a small location was all Azat Adamyan had to start with. Today, the pub Bardak (Russian for “mess”) is one of a kind in the city of Stepanakert – the capital of the unrecognised Nagorno-Karabakh. His success has led him to branch out into other business ventures.

At eight o'clock every evening Azat Adamyan kick starts his motorcycle – which he named Charlotte – and drives to work. The 27-year-old from Stepanakert (the capital city of the de facto state of Nagorno-Karabakh) is the founder and only employee of Bardak, the one and only pub in Karabakh. Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Artsakh, is the de facto unrecognised republic located in the South Caucasus. For more than 20 years Artsakh Armenians have lived in a state of “neither war, nor peace”.

April 26, 2018 - Knar Babayan

The red shoes of Transnistrian women

Domestic violence and human trafficking are some of the key issues facing Transnistrian women but while local NGOs focus on victim support, the patriarchal attitudes towards women in society remain mostly untouched. Young female activists hope to fight them through art.

There is no high quality statistical data on the state of women in Transnistria. A report on the situation of human rights in the Transnistrian region of the Republic of Moldova by UN senior expert Thomas Hammarberg in 2013 remains the most in-depth analysis available. According to Hammarberg’s report, the main issues women in Transnistria face are domestic violence and sex trafficking. Two Transnistrian NGOs (Resonance and the Apriori Information Centre) highlight the same issues in their 2013 report to the UN committee on the elimination of discrimination against women.

April 26, 2018 - Marina Shupac

Veterans of the Bosnian War struggle for their rights

For nearly a year, veteran combatants from the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina have been protesting in front of the government building in Sarajevo, demanding financial aid and access to free medical services. Despite a mass nationwide protest on February 28th, the government has yet to adequately respond. Meanwhile, public support for the protesters continues to increase.

“My name is Amir Sultan, I come from the Sarajevo Canton. At the age of 14, I exchanged a classroom chair for a gun. I joined a special unit, criss-crossed the country and was wounded three times. I survived, but two of my brothers did not.” Seated on an improvised wooden bench outside a tent that he has called home for the past half a year, Sultan recalled the realities of the 1992-95 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina that he fought in: “I gave my all. As a result of the injuries I sustained in combat I am sick and I live with a pacemaker. But, since the war ended, I have not received any assistance from the government, not even one fening.”

April 26, 2018 - Lidia Kurasińska

Witnessing another Putin victory

The results of the March presidential election in Russia have come as no surprise. Yet, the election victory of Vladimir Putin was not his only success. The high voter turnout, together with a low level of voting irregularities in comparison with previous elections, indicate that Putin’s system has not lost the people’s hearts and minds.

I arrived in Moscow a few days ahead of the 2018 presidential election. The weather was cold and the city was plastered with flyers and banners reminding Muscovites of the upcoming election – in which the outcome was all but certain. On every street corner, young Russians were handing out refrigerator magnets and balloons with similar reminders. They are reluctant to talk about their political preferences, but they do not have to. In the end, what the authorities are aiming for is a strong voter turnout.

April 26, 2018 - Wiktoria Bieliaszyn

Mickiewicz reactivated

For the first time in 190 years, music has been added to the poetry of Poland’s greatest poet – Adam Mickiewicz. The project is a collaboration between a Ukrainian folk rock band and a contemporary Polish writer.

The album, titled Mickiewicz-Stasiuk-Haydamaky, includes 10 poems put to the music of the Kyiv-based band Haydamaky. Andrzej Stasiuk, a renowned Polish writer, is one of the initiators of the project, and appears in some of the tracks reading Mickiewicz’s poetry. The cross-border collaboration reflects the heritage of the poet himself. “Mickiewicz has it all,” Stasiuk says. “The lyrics, rhythm and energy.”

April 26, 2018 - Grzegorz Nurek

The Church’s social activism in post-Maidan Ukraine

During the times of crisis of Ukrainian statehood and Russian aggression, churches proved to be trusted leaders who promoted the consolidation of the emerging civil society.

April 17, 2018 - Mykhailo Cherenkov

Bosnia: Young people with the courage to stay

Two decades after the war that tore their country apart, citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina are still hoping to join the European Union. It’s a dream that some don’t wait for, as several thousands flee to the West in hope of a better life. While others, less conformist, choose to stay in order to rebuild what has been lost.

April 13, 2018 - Linda Lefebvre

Debunking Russia’s Crimean myth

A review of Serhii Hromenko's "#CrimeaIsOurs. History of the Russian Myth," Publisher: Himgest, Kyiv 2017.

April 12, 2018 - Kateryna Pryshchepa

How to clean up Russian politics

The reality of a one-person autocracy - like in Russia - is that there is no alternative political activity, besides an armed attempt at overthrow, in which the citizens can engage. But to participate in any public political act, in the eyes of those who do not understand, is to cooperate with the regime. But what other choice Russians have?

April 4, 2018 - Vitali Shkliarov

In the wake of post-Atlanticism

In a chain of political reactions, Russia acts as a protective fence to China, hindering the US rebalancing strategy against China while the European security structure is challenged by Russia. In this geopolitical game, the western position must refocus on practical co-operation and extended dialogue with the Central Asian region since geographically, Central Asia is divided between Russia and China. Currently, institutional outreach of the EU and NATO is almost non-existent there.

April 3, 2018 - Beka Kiria

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