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Whither Democracy?

And what lies ahead for our region. Issue 1-2 of New Eastern Europe is now available.

February 4, 2021 - New Eastern Europe - Issue 1-2 2021Magazine

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We start this new year with a lot of questions, some hope and certainly plenty of reflections. The previous year, 2020, will for sure remain in our memory as the year of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Yet we also all know that beyond the public health crisis, the region of Central and Eastern Europe continued to confront political challenges as well. Most visibly, this is seen in Belarus. However, the recent elections in Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova indicate significant changes too.

These developments have compelled our authors and interviewees to posit the question on the current state and direction of democracy in the region and the world at large. Do they symbolise optimism for a turn away from illiberal practices? Such seems to be the case of Lithuania and Moldova. Or will authoritarian rulers use the illusion of elections to consolidate even greater power – as this year’s Duma elections in Russia will certainly demonstrate.

Likewise, the election of Joe Biden as president in the United States signifies a political shift that reverberates well beyond domestic American politics. The new administration has already suggested an ambitious agenda for its foreign policy which includes a strong emphasis on transatlantic relations and a renewed focus on human rights in many parts of the world. That is why in this issue, our authors also reflect on what a Biden presidency might mean to some key parts of our region, including Russia, Ukraine and Central Europe.

Hence, we are left wondering how hopeful we should be when thinking about 2021. As Václav Havel once said: “Hope is the deep orientation of the human soul that can be held at the darkest times.” Perhaps the stories from our region demonstrate that even in dark times and in difficult circumstances, hope can steer us in the right direction.

We hope you enjoy this provocative issue!

The Editors


Whither Democracy? And what lies ahead…

We need innovation and courage to rejuvenate democracy
An interview with Basil Kerski

Russia in the starting blocks for the 2021 parliamentary election
Maria Domańska

2020’s electoral lessons. Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine
Denis Cenusa

When institutions fail, boycott and street protests remain the only instrument
Anastasia Mgaloblishvili

Lithuanian elections provide new opportunities and women empowerment
Kristina Smolijaninovaitė

When trust in institutions is lacking, we have a problem
An interview with Henrik Müller

What 1989 can (and cannot) teach us
Simona Merkinaite

Opinion and Analysis

The failure in binary thinking about Belarus
Iwona Reichardt and Maxim Rust

Belarus. Fighting for the future or the past?
Wim van Meurs and Olga Morozova

Bulgaria’s veto for North Macedonia’s European hopes spells trouble for the region
Bojan Stojkovski

Turkey, Russia and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict
Natalia Konarzewska

Far from being over. Injustice, revenge and suffering in Nagorno-Karabakh
Bartłomiej Krzysztan

A renewed focus on Ukraine’s nuclear power sector
Mykola Voytiv

Biden and the East: Implications of a New US Administration

What the incoming Biden administration means for Central and Eastern Europe
George Soroka

Whither US-Ukraine relations during a Biden presidency?
Nadiia Bureiko

Andrei Gromyko congratulates Joe Biden
Kuba Benedyczak

History and Memory

International law and the Soviet wild-goose chase
Grzegorz Szymborski

Art, Culture and Society

Women’s face of the opposition
Yulia Galiamina

An unambiguous legacy. Women and Solidarity
Shana Penn

The shame of Dagestan
Anna Efimova

Stories and Ideas

Why do they stay?
Kevin Le Merle

A prayer for peace in Belarus
Iris Kempe

Critically uncritical. Reforming education in Central and Eastern Europe
Darya Podgoretskaya and Anna Theodoulides

Eastern Café

An exemplary 20th century Eastern European life
Gabriel Paletz

History of facts. Dispassionate and detached
Anastasiia Starchenko

The journey of revisiting 1989
Kinga Anna Gajda

The sword of Damocles and the mirror
Anna Fedas

An underappreciated contribution to European history
Zbigniew Rokita


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