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Tag: Russia

Pragmatic Eurasianism. Four approaches for better understanding the Eurasian Economic Union

In May 2019 we will celebrate the fifth anniversary of the signing of the Treaty on the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and the 25th anniversary of the idea of modern Eurasian integration. Since then, the Eurasian Economic Union established itself as a quite successfully developing, open and attractive integration block, which has indeed become the indisputable reality of the economic processes in Eurasia. Perhaps enough time has passed so that we might begin to think about a “theory of Eurasian integration” in itself, as well as to outline its potential contents.

March 15, 2019 - Yuri Kofner

Belarus in the multipolar world

Strong political and economic ties with Russia prevent Belarus from becoming a fully neutral and independent state. And any change of geopolitical orientation or integration with the West is out of the question. The only option Minsk has, if it wants to maintain sovereignty, is to find its place in the multipolar world, one that is now coming into view.

Recent talks about the possible incorporation of Belarus into the Russian Federation have brought wide attention to the country and its place in the changing world. It sparked a series of discussions on Belarus’s neutrality and multipolarity, which have been the foundation of the republic’s foreign policy since the collapse of the Soviet Union. First stipulated in Article 18 of the 1994 Constitution, it was repeated and further developed in official state documents. Yet for almost two decades, these two important principles were reduced to words on paper while the behaviour of the Belarusian authorities, especially President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, displayed a completely different approach. Indeed, almost since the beginning of his rule, Lukashenka was tightening co-operation with Russia. The milestone agreement in this regard, concluded in 1999, established the Union State of Russia and Belarus.

March 5, 2019 - Krzysztof Mrozek

How to buy a republic

The strategic dynamics of elite capture often take place when three main interests fall in line. First, it is the clear geopolitical interest of a foreign power. Second, it is the political interest of a significant portion of the domestic political establishment which has reason to turn its politics and policies in that direction. And third, a major domestic economic actor, in line with the new policy, drives and lobbies for it. The Czech Republic is a good case study of how the processes of elite capture works.

Security policy discussions across Europe in recent years have focused on hostile Russian disinformation, cyber attacks, military aggression in Ukraine, support for extremist groups and classical Russian or Chinese espionage. One major tool of foreign influence, however, has been underrated. It is relatively cheap and often not seen as particularly aggressive, but it takes quite a long time to achieve (intelligence professionals nickname it “boiling up a frog”). This method is called “elite capture” and, in some countries, it is a relatively easy way of arranging the desired strategic dependence of a targeted country, if there is not much resistance.

March 5, 2019 - Jakub Janda

Russia’s grassroots are more active than the West may think

Despite the Russian government's crackdown, Russia’s civil society is still alive and far stronger and more active than many in the West may think. In order for it to thrive, it needs to gain more self-confidence and more consistent cross-border co-operation.

According to international human rights organisations, in the past six years Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian rule has dramatically shrunk the space for actors of civil society with alternative views of government policy, who are often labelled as disloyal, foreign-sponsored or even “traitorous”. An enduring central feature to the current situation has been the Russian legislation introduced in 2012 requiring independent non-profit organisations to register as foreign agents if they receive any foreign funding and engage in broadly defined political activity.

March 4, 2019 - Andreas Rossbach

Domestic violence in Russia: Interview with Yulia Gorbunova

Smith Freeman and Olivia Capozzalo of the She’s In Russia podcast interviewed Yulia Gorbunova about the latest Human Rights Watch report.

February 13, 2019 - Olivia Capozzalo Smith Freeman

Oiling the wheels of Belarus-Russia relations

Arguments about oil and gas prices have become a recurring feature of the Belarusian and Russian relationship. Is this year’s discord different from earlier bouts, and is there any merit to the speculation of potential changes to the Union State agreement between the two countries?

February 7, 2019 - Paul Hansbury

Shortparis and a strategy of defiance against the Kremlin

2018 saw increasing political repression against independent artists in Russia. Artists who are outside the mainstream have become a new target for the regime. Amidst such repression, they have also been exploring new strategies of resistance.

February 1, 2019 - Wojciech Siegień

In the deepness of Siberian closets

Until recently a flag, painted on the balustrade, contrasted the otherwise concrete-grey waterfront next to the Angara River, which trenches the city of Irkutsk into halves. Its rainbow colors attracted attention of disapproving minds. Now it is gone, but those who painted it to hint at their irrevocable existence are still here. One of them stands at […]

January 23, 2019 - Dario Planert

Fact check of a Washington realist’s views of Ukraine

Portraying Ukraine as unstable and on the verge of greater instability has been raised by realist scholars since the early 1990s and continues to dominate much of the pro-Putin western critics of Ukraine and realists writing in the West on the Russian-Ukrainian war.

January 4, 2019 - Taras Kuzio

Tsars and boyars on the Muscovite court

Two prominent historians of the second half of the 20th century – Richard Pipes and Edward Keenan – delivered two radically different explanations for the Russian phenomenon. Clearly, these two competing theories are the offspring of their time. The Pipes perspective stems from the harsh 1960s while the Keenan concept of “Muscovite folkways” was the product of the 1970s era of détente.

Since the rise of the Russian Empire, western scholars, diplomats and politicians specialising in Kremlinology have been trying to resolve the great conundrum about the core of the Muscovite power structure. Two prominent historians of the second half of the 20th century – Richard Pipes and Edward Keenan – delivered two radically different explanations for the Russian phenomenon.

January 2, 2019 - Tomasz Grzywaczewski

Overcoming the damage of disinformation

Since 2014 Russian malicious activities against foreign targets in cyberspace, such as espionage and hacking, have been expanded to include political and electoral interference operations. It is clear that there is still much to be done to protect the West and its societies from these actions.

"Russian despotism not only counts ideas and sentiments for nothing but remakes facts; it wages war on evidence and triumphs in the battle” – Astolphe-Louis-Léonor Marquis de Custine.

It seems that not much has changed since Astolphe-Louis-Léonor Marquis de Custine, an illustrious French aristocrat, made this observation during a three-month tour of tsarist Russia nearly 180 years ago. Just as in 1839, in the last two or three years the Russian state seems to employ the tactics of deception, distortion and manipulation of information to gain political advantage. What has changed, however, is the technology

January 2, 2019 - Przemysław Roguski

How to profit from education in Russia

The year 2013 marked the beginning of a revolution in Russian education. After Vladimir Putin declared that the country needed a single history textbook, a process was set into motion that removed textbooks the regime viewed as unsuitable for schools.

Modern-day Russia is a place where speaking openly about the Second World War could lead to a five-year prison sentence. It is a country where buying academic degrees is publicly accepted and high positions are handed out based on loyalty to the regime. The illegal circulation of funds surprises no one in Putin’s Russia. Without the right connections, there is no way to run a business or develop a career. In this climate, there are growing restrictions on the type of school textbooks and who is allowed to publish them.

January 2, 2019 - Dagmara Moskwa

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