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Tag: Russia

Protestants in Russia: An active minority

Russian Protestants are considered one of the most religious groups in the country. While they are relatively small in number, they are actively involved in the lives of their communities. What do we know about the often overlooked religious denomination?

October 12, 2017 - Oksana Kuropatkina

Supplying weapons to Ukraine: How to make it right?

The best possible way to provide weapons to Ukraine is by not substituting its NATO membership perspective. If Ukraine is to pay for Javelins with its NATO membership, it would hardly make it a good deal.

October 11, 2017 - Mykola Kapitonenko

Traces of the Soviet Union

Is talking about a post-Soviet reality justified? Or is it more of an offence? Does the term “post-Soviet” even make sense today – 26 years since the Soviet Union collapsed? Political scientists tend to answer this question with a “no”. Yet, the works of a collective of photographers, known as Sputnik Photos, show that what we are seeing now is something of a “Soviet afterlife”.

In early April this year I attended a presentation in Berlin of a photo project titled Lost Territories. The project was carried out between 2008 and 2016 by a group of photographers, collectively referred to as Sputnik Photos. During the Berlin event one of the photographers, a Pole named Michał Łuczak, presented the main purpose of the project. His presentation was followed by a discussion with a Russian writer, Sergey Lebedev and me. During the conversation we came to the conclusion that the greatest value of the project did not lie in the artistic quality of the photographs or the interesting travel recollections that were shared by the photographers. Rather, it was how it captured the traces of the Soviet Empire, both material and non-material, which can still be found today in what some call the post-Soviet space. Does this fact mean the Soviet Union, which formally ceased to exist over a quarter century ago, has survived, despite conventional wisdom? Or perhaps, its death is a slow and painful process?

October 4, 2017 - Wojciech Górecki

Tired of the status quo

An interview with Nikolay Artemenko, co-ordinator at the Vesna Youth Democratic Movement. Interviewer: Iwona Reichardt IWONA REICHARDT: What is the face of the Russian youth that we saw on the streets in March and June 2017? NIKOLAY ARTEMENKO: There is no single face of those who came to the streets this year. They represent different social groups, different professions, different lifestyles, etc. What brings them to the street is the feeling of being very tired.

October 4, 2017 - Nikolay Artemenko

What is a Russian oligarch?

The use of the term “oligarch” or “oligarchy” in the Russian context speaks to debates about the very nature of the Russian political system. Historians and political scientists have long described Russia as oligarchic.The problem with using the term oligarch, however, is that its usage has changed repeatedly since Soviet times. Today, it seems to be much more about power than anything else.

The term “oligarch” is applied so flagrantly to Russians, it is hard to tell where Russia’s oligarchy begins and ends, who exactly inhabits this coterie and what ring do the oligarchs orbit around Vladimir Putin. Indeed, the meaning of the word oligarch is difficult to separate from Russia. According to the Oxford English Dictionary an “oligarch” means “a very rich business leader with a great deal of political influence”. Though this definition could easily apply to most countries, the OED added a curious addendum: “Especially in Russia.”

October 4, 2017 - Sean Guillory

Conspiracy theories and the fear of others

Anti-West conspiracy theories in Russia which have been instrumentalised since the 19th century became widespread during the Soviet period and are now a common tool for public mobilisation of the Kremlin. The effects of these theories on the nation and its perception of the world will have consequences for the decades to come.

October 4, 2017 - Ilya Yablokov

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

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

Striking down Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law

Last month’s European Court of Human Rights case of Bayev and others v. Russia is important in a legal sense and inconsequential in a practical sense. The Court decisively said that Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law violated freedom of expression and was discriminatory. Of the seven judges, six decided that Russia was in the wrong. Only one judge—the judge from Russia—said that the law complied with human rights. This is a decisive legal victory in favor of freedom of expression, but it is doubtful that the court case will influence views of LGBT people in Russia and the region.

August 22, 2017 - Gabriel Armas-Cardona

The perils of hybrid threats in Central Europe

Some 25 years ago, warfare and international security were understood more or less solely through the lens of military features. The changing nature of threats to security has determined a change in the way security is perceived, encompassing today threats from a variety of sectors such as political, economic, societal, militarily or environmental. Although not new, hybrid threats pose one of the biggest risks in the contemporary security and political environment since they comprise a mixture of means (i.e. technological, financial, diplomatic, legal, economic and military) intended to exploit weaknesses and undermine governments, government agencies and the democratic process hinder the decision making process.

August 21, 2017 - Agnieszka Pikulicka-Wilczewska

Russia and Putin: A dysfunctional family

In one of the most famous opening lines in literature, Leo Tolstoy wrote, “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” What he meant by that was it is possible to fail in many ways, but there is only one way to succeed. The interesting thing about Russia’s ongoing failure, in contrast to its most famous writer’s wisdom, is that it is unrelenting in its uniformity. Nothing happening in Russia today is a surprise. It looks exactly like Russia's entire painstaking history played out year after year, decade after decade. Russian history, which is full of unique and different historical events, always seems to arrive back at the same place. 

August 18, 2017 - Agnieszka Pikulicka-Wilczewska

Latvia – a potential target for Russian economic aggression?

Politically, Latvia is firmly anchored to the West through its membership of the European Union and NATO. Economically, however, the country still remains under significant Russian influence. The Kremlin has several economic instruments at its disposal which could be used to cause significant negative impact on Latvian economy. The key ones would include restricting imports of Latvian goods, banning future and liquidating existing Russian FDIs in Latvia, reducing volumes of Russian freight transit through Latvian ports, halting supplies of natural gas to Latvia, and withdrawing non-resident deposits controlled by Russia-related entities from the Latvian banking system.

August 17, 2017 - Adam Klus



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