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A Tale of Two Putins

Having turned the law into an instrument of state policy and private vendetta and having turned the legislature into a caricature without power of

February 26, 2018 - Mark Galeotti

To challenge Putin’s regime

The Kremlin has nothing to offer Russian citizens except stability without economic growth and no clear perspective. This will eventually bring down Vladimir

February 26, 2018 - Konstantin Eggert

Is Putinism sustainable?

At its core, Putinism is characterised by a fundamentally kleptocratic system that appears incapable of meaningful reform. For this reason, it is far more

February 26, 2018 - Łukasz Kondraciuk

Russia’s generation P

Russian digital natives have espoused a national identity that unites several governmentally sponsored narratives. The question, however, is how long

February 26, 2018 - Elizaveta Gaufman

In the name of Matilda

The controversy surrounding the recent Russian film Matilda reveals a great deal about Russian society today. While the film, billed as a big-budget

February 26, 2018 - Zbigniew Rokita

Russia’s Middle East crusade

Russia’s growing influence in the Middle East is a result of the United States’ lack of strategy in the region. Through its engagement in Syria, Moscow

February 26, 2018 - Paweł Pieniążek

A German riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma

The definite re-election of Vladimir Putin in Russia will consolidate his authoritarian model of governance and assertive foreign policy for another six

February 26, 2018 - Liana Fix

How Russia could leave Crimea

The illegal annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation is becoming a huge burden on the Russian economy and is limiting its modernisation potential.

February 26, 2018 - Pavel Luzin

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

February 26, 2018 - Natalia Smolentceva

Ukraine’s aviation fiasco

Ryanair’s decision to pull out of a deal with Ukraine in late 2017 will be a blow to the development of the country’s aviation sector. Experience has shown that as long as the market is dominated by Ukraine International Airlines, owned by oligarch Ihor Kolomoyskyi, there is little chance for market expansion. Nevertheless, there is some hope for 2018.

Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 opened a dark chapter in the history of Ukraine’s civil aviation sector, lighting a fuse that would see Donetsk International Airport razed to the ground and Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 shot out of the sky. Though hostilities rumble on in the eastern Donbas region, life has gradually returned to normal for most Ukrainians. The number of passengers carried by local airlines grew 22 per cent in 2016 to reach 5.7 million – just shy of pre-conflict levels – thanks in large part to the flag-carrier Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) which has stepped up its role as a transit carrier linking Asia with Europe. Kyiv’s Boryspil International Airport, UIA’s home base, accommodated more than ten million passengers last year and expects 20 million by 2023.

February 26, 2018 - Martin Rivers

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

Seeking the Eastern Partnership’s greatest integer

In many regards, the 2017 Eastern Partnership Summit in Brussels illustrated that the “old normal” has disappeared. Instead, another disenchanting reality – crisis as the “new normal” – needs to be reckoned with.

The next Eastern Partnership (EaP) Summit in 2019 will mark the tenth anniversary of the project as a joint initiative involving the European Union, its member states and six Eastern European partners: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. Perhaps it is for this event that the partners are keeping their solemn and ambitious statements. And, moreover, they are right to do so. After surviving the Riga Summit in 2015, the 2017 Brussels Summit became a sobering moment – and not a celebration. It was the summit where mesmerism met discernment, aspiration met disenchantment and one reality met another reality.

February 26, 2018 - Andriy Tyushka

The redrawing of the Eastern map

Over the past five years a counterintuitive picture has emerged in the Eastern Partnership. On the one hand Moldova, which was praised for its exemplary progress in adopting EU sanctioned reforms, has been on a downward spiral. Georgia, on the other hand, has now arisen to the status of peak performer in the region.

The most striking result from last November's Eastern Partnership (EaP) summit, held in Brussels, has been the EU’s contrasting approaches to Moldova and Georgia. The EU signalled displeasure with Moldova by withdrawing its latest funding that was intended for reforms, whilst rewarding Georgia’s progress with an increase in funding. That outcome might be because the EU has seen Georgia as the region’s last hope, with Tbilisi’s willingness to put shared values into practice through the implementation of reforms. By granting the country financial support, the EU has been able to ensure Georgia’s continuation as the role model, despite some shady performances, especially its behaviour regarding ongoing internal conflicts.

February 26, 2018 - Nina Lutterjohann

Eastern Partnership and the final frontier

Since ambitious geopolitical objectives are not necessarily available for the Eastern Partnership in the foreseeable future, it is worth prioritising economic activities. One instrument which supports such development is the Earth Observation for Sustainable Development programme being carried out by the European Space Agency and which has its own Eastern Partnership component.

The European Union is looking to provide assistance to countries that in the past found themselves in the exclusive sphere of Soviet influence and continue to struggle today with incessant provocations or pressure from Russia. This is precisely the aim of the EU’s active Eastern policy within the framework of the Eastern Partnership (EaP). One innovative opportunity for the countries in the region has emerged: a new programme called Earth Observation for Eastern Partnership (EO4EP). This project aims to closely co-operate with the Eastern Partnership countries so that they can better manage agricultural and environmental programmes. It is envisioned that better management in these sectors could help strengthen public management in other sectors as well as supporting the ultimate aims of the EaP.

February 26, 2018 - Paweł Ziemnicki

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

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

A “Eurasian” Ukraine

In Ukraine it has become popular to view the country as a bulwark of democratic Europe, one that protects the continent from Moscow’s expansion or Eurasian despotism. This vision, however, neglects the fact that for centuries Ukraine was connected to the Great Steppe, stretching from the Carpathians to Korea.

The Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine has given new life to the archetype of Ukraine as a bulwark which defends Europe. As Mykhailo Hrushevskiy, the father of Ukrainian historiography, once wrote, Ukraine has played “an honourable role in protecting European civilisation from Asiatic hordes”. Ukrainian nationalists tend to orientalise Russia which is portrayed as an Asiatic or Eurasian tyranny formed by the allegedly authoritarian Mongols.

February 26, 2018 - Adam Balcer

The forgotten border

Following the First World War, the new border established between Poland and Germany, finally implemented in 1921, stretched from the Upper Silesian Coal Basin all the way to the Baltic Sea. The border, however, remained a primary source of conflict; especially as the political decisions of the Weimar Republic allowed for a revision of the Versailles Treaty. Today it is the focus of a joint Polish-German project.

Only during concerts would he receive applause like this. Ignacy Jan Paderewski, a pianist and composer, arrived in Poznań on December 26th 1918 (18 days after the end of the First World War) and was greeted with much excitement by the Poles. Earlier, he had played a concert at the White House in Washington, DC and met with the US President Woodrow Wilson, whom he tried to convince that an independent Polish state had to be created. It was still yet unclear as to where exactly the borders of this state would lie.

February 26, 2018 - Uwe Rada

Justice delayed not denied. Stalin and history on trial in Kyiv

There is no question that transitional justice plays a significant role for a society in overcoming a past trauma. This was the case for Ukrainians seeking justice for the Holodomor events. It may also be the case as Ukraine seeks to end the conflict in Donbas.

On January 13th 2010 the court of appeals in Kyiv adopted a ruling stating that the Great Famine, known as Holodomor, which took place in 1932-33 was an act of genocide against the Ukrainian people. It further ruled that the crime of genocide was organised and committed by the Bolsheviks, specifically naming Joseph Stalin, Vyacheslav Molotov, Lazar Kaganovich, Pavel Postyshev, Stanisław Kosior, Vlas Chubar and Mendel Khataievich. However, the accused and principle architects of one of the most heinous crimes of the 20th century, in which several million people died, were unable to hear the final statement of the court – all had passed away decades before the proceedings were even launched.

February 26, 2018 - Tomasz Lachowski

Detangling Putin’s web in the West

A review of Russia and the Western Far Right: Tango Noir. By: Anton Shekhovtsov. Publisher: Routledge, London and New York, 2018.

Anton Shekhovtsov, a fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna, is already a familiar name to those working on the far right in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. He has previously written on Aleksandr Dugin and Russian neo-Eurasianism as well as on white power racist music subcultures. With his recent book, Russia and the Western Far Right, he is reaching out to a much broader audience than the relatively intimate academic world of comparative fascist studies.

February 26, 2018 - Matthew Kott

The Soviet revolutionary

A review of Gorbachev: His Life and Times. By: William Taubman. Publisher: W.W. Norton & Company, New York, USA, 2017.

The mere utterance of the name “Gorbachev” is one that can incite adulation and scorn – sometimes even simultaneously. In his long awaited masterpiece (11 years in the making), William Taubman, using previously inaccessible memoirs and diaries, alongside the hundreds of hours of personal interviews conducted with a large number of major and minor players in this narrative, has managed to capture the complexities of a man both idealised by his admirers but even more vehemently demonised by his adversaries.

February 26, 2018 - Matt Andersen

A right to remember, a right to forget

A review of Law and Memory: Towards Legal Governance of History. Edited by Uladzislau Belavusau and Aleksandra Gliszczyńska-Grabias. Publisher: Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK 2017.

With the most recent wave of illiberal governments rising to power in Central and Eastern Europe, memory politics was reintroduced at the top of the policymaking agenda. Following years of relative abnegation, in which various liberal, social-democratic and post-communist partisan formations deemed this area a politically unrewarding dimension, the present-day authorities of the region have prioritised it as one of the paramount pillars of their identity politics. Oftentimes seeing themselves as monopolistic memory agents, proprietaries of the only true vision of the past and collective memory, these groupings deliberately blur the distinction between the politics of the past and the present.

February 26, 2018 - Mateusz Mazzini

A history lesson on European integration

A review of Under a common sky. Ethnic groups of the Commonwealth of Poland and Lithuania. Edited by: Michał Kopczyński and Wojciech Tygielski. Publisher: Polish History Museum in Warsaw and PIASA Books, New York, USA, 2017.

Many historians and academics have seen the multiculturalism of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth as Poland’s unique contribution to a unified and integrating Europe. As Saint John Paul II famously stated: “From the Union of Lublin to the Union of Europe,” the Polish-Lithuanian state can be viewed somewhat as a prototype or socio-political laboratory for contemporary solutions to European integration. And while the ethnic and religious diversity of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth is a well-documented fact, it is hardly part of Poland’s collective conscience today. The temptation to view the history of the Polish-Lithuanian state through the lens of the contemporary Polish nation is shared by both ordinary citizens and the political elite.

February 26, 2018 - Dominik Wilczewski

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