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Stories and ideas

Why Poland needs a post-Giedroyc doctrine towards Ukraine

Today’s Polish-Ukrainian disputes can no longer be resolved by referring to Jerzy Giedroyc’s ideals alone. Although it has largely gone unnoticed, the Ukrainian component of the Kultura programme has already been achieved.

March 22, 2018 - Wojciech Konończuk

The trials of Ahmed H.

During an electoral campaign dominated by anti-migrant rhetoric, a Hungarian court has upheld a verdict of terrorism against a Syrian citizen — and the symbolism is lost on no one.

March 19, 2018 - Maxim Edwards

Satan’s hand: Russian meddling behind Budapest’s metro chaos

The head of Budapest's public transport was in the way of a Russian metro company's business with more than 200 million euros at stake. A KGB-style provokatsiya was utilised to get him fired and force the Hungarian capital to buy malfunctioning and expensive Russian metro cars.

March 8, 2018 - Szabolcs Panyi

Georgia on no one’s mind

A decade after Georgia captured international attention, its development seems to be on no one’s mind—neither on the minds of international actors, nor on the minds of most domestic actors, who seem to care more about keeping their hands on the levers of power.

March 6, 2018 - Giorgi Lasha Kasradze

Helping refugees in Russia. An act of bravery?

The influx of refugees has become one of the major challenges for Europe in recent years, which has required a response and mobilisation. In Russia, on the contrary, only a few non-governmental organisations are trying to help those who arrive to the country in a search of asylum. They face little compassion and a lot of bureaucracy.

According to the most recent figures from last October fewer than 3,000 people have refugee or provisional asylum status in the Russian Federation – a ridiculously small number for a country of 140 million. Thousands more who have applied will never receive such status and will be eventually deported. Yet, in Russia no one really pays attention to this problem.

February 26, 2018 - Natalia Smolentceva

Activists fight for Ukraine’s disappearing Soviet mosaics

Following the implementation of Ukraine’s decommunisation law in 2015, many Soviet-era mosaics have faded from the country’s landscape. One group however, is making a stand against their disappearance, arguing that the works hold significant artistic, educational and even touristic value.

The last decade has witnessed the release of countless coffee table books dedicated to Soviet-era architecture, reflecting a growing interest, particularly in Western Europe, in buildings often typecast as “relics of a forgotten future” and “remnants of a failed utopia”, among others. Such interest has veered beyond an affection for the buildings themselves, centring on design elements such as socialist mosaics.

February 26, 2018 - Elizabeth Short

In Macedonia it takes tourism to raise a dying village

Many of the 1,733 villages of rural Macedonia face a grave fate. Over a quarter have fewer than 50 residents. More than 150 have been entirely depopulated, according to official data. As families and the youth move to cities, these areas are destined to become little more than a memory. However, for these dying villages, tourism could breathe new life into them.

The sun is high in the sky while the 74-year-old Petko Tošeski toils away. The thudding of his axe echoes throughout the red-roofed village, punctuated by the odd crack of success. Log after log splits, ready to eventually nestle in the stone hearth indoors. Tošeski is the only sign of life in a place that seems to have been petrified for decades. The village of Bonče in southern Macedonia appears on the verge of abandonment.

February 26, 2018 - Fieke Snijder and Samantha Dixon

Becoming the promised land once again

The city of Łódź was once touted as the Promised Land of Poland. But in 2004, it was the fastest depopulating city in the country. After the modernisation of Poland and a revitalisation of the city which saw old factories turned into hip shopping malls and cultural centres, Łódź is back on track to living up to its old epithet.

Our Uber driver takes us through the city of Łódź (pronounced woodge) as he happily tells us about life in Poland. “Not bad,” he says. “Things have gotten much better over the last couple of years.” At one point, he turns around and asks if we know an old movie called The Promised Land (Ziemia obiecana in Polish). “It’s about Łódź, you know,” he tells us. The movie depicts the story of Karol Borowiecki, Max Baum and Moritz Welt’s struggles with building a factory during the industrial revolution in the 19th century. The film, which takes place in Łódź, was adapted from the 1899 novel written by the well-known Polish writer Władysław Reymont. The 1975 film was directed by Andrzej Wajda and depicts greed, lust and dreams during the industrial high.

February 26, 2018 - Emil Staulund Larsen and Emily Jarvie

Coming out in Minsk

The start of this year was an important moment in the socio-political history of Belarus. In late December 2017 a local feminist and anti-discriminatory group of activists called MAKEOUT published a unique LGBT magazine in Belarus. The journal bears the same name as the organisation and was already presented to the public in Minsk. Its content is a summary of the last 20 years of the Belarusian LGBT movement.

Why I am writing about this magazine here and why should we regard it as something significant? First and foremost, MAKEOUT is a professionally-printed publication which deals with a very sensitive topic, especially in a socially conservative post-Soviet country. When considering the regional context it is also quite remarkable that the publication does not come from Russia or Ukraine, but from Belarus, a country that was the least likely to allow such a publication, mainly because of the amount of negatives stereotypes and attitudes towards non-heterosexuals that still exist there. Against these odds, MAKEOUT has succeeded in creating something without precedence.

February 26, 2018 - Maxim Rust

Kraków’s smog free project

Daan Roosegaarde's Smog Free Tower in Park Jordana in Kraków, Poland, works like a giant air purification vacuum cleaner. Such towers may in time dot the landscape, both rural and urban, just as solar panels and wind farms that are continuing to spread and provide cleaner energy across the world.

February 26, 2018 - Jim Blackburn

Azerbaijan’s ongoing crackdown on democracy

Interview with Arif Hacılı, the leader of the Musavat opposition party in Azerbaijan. Interviewer: Malgosia Krakowska.

February 23, 2018 - Małgosia Krakowska

Georgia: Ideas and struggles of the “workshop generation”

Interview with Nugzar Kokhreidze, head of the Georgian NGO Dialogue of generations (RICDOG). Interviewer: Yulia Oreshina.

February 22, 2018 - Yulia Oreshina

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