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Author: Adam Reichardt

Andrzej Zaręba political cartoons

Political cartoons by New Eastern Europe's illustrator Andrzej Zaręba.

November 20, 2020 - Andrzej Zaręba

Issue 6/2020: Understanding Values in Uncertain Times

If the experience of the year 2020, and indeed the last several years, has taught us anything, it is that we surely are living in uncertain times. In this issue, we take a look at the values that define us and how these experiences are changing them.

November 17, 2020 - New Eastern Europe

A shining city on a hill. What if anything can American values teach a free Belarus?

The United States may not be the best model for a fledgling democracy looking for fresh values. America's values have never been as pure as its rhetoric, and in recent years they have been obscured by bitter partisanship.

November 17, 2020 - George Blecher

Do European values still matter in Ukraine?

Politics in Ukraine is still not driven by ideas or ideologies, but rather by personalities and money. While on the pro-western flank there are at least signs of demarcation between more liberal forces and more patriotic/identity politics, the pro-Russian flank is still characterised by a chaotic mixture of ideas.

When Volodymyr Zelenskyy won the 2019 presidential election in Ukraine, Ukrainian philosopher Vakhtang Kebuladze called his phenomenon a “non-Maidan”. I repeated this expression in my interview for New Eastern Europe published in May this year. Kebuladze meant that Zelenskyy’s election undermined the 2013-2014 confrontation between the pro-European “Maidan” and the pro-Russian “anti-Maidan”, and his political project – Servant of the People – intuitively or consciously sought a different approach: more inclusive, but also more vague, a comprehensive platform attracting voters with different origins and values.

November 17, 2020 - Volodymyr Yermolenko

A country of grumblers? Hungarian values and how to misunderstand them

Are Hungarians ill-fated and determined to be incapable of overcoming their historical baggage? Some seem to think so, including some sociologists. Yet, it is worth remembering that political trajectories do not follow pre-drawn patterns, so we should look at the circumstances which can hold societies back in their democratisation.

Something is rotten in Hungary and the international media coverage seems quite keen on pointing this out. However, it offers very little explanation for why it is happening. International interest in Hungarian politics has increased, especially since the Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s election in 2016 – which illustrated how serious the far-right shift of mainstream politics has become. Yet, Hungary had already been under the illiberal supermajority for six years, and by then it was well past all the major battles in which its democratic institutions had faced.

November 17, 2020 - Réka Kinga Papp

A timeline, interrupted

The politics of today’s populist leaders is nearly always the eternal return to the past. 1989, however, represents a normative stop they would prefer to skip.

The past does not exist. It is what one makes of it. From a purely axiological point of view, every one of us is constructed of different pasts and we have different memories at our disposal. The non-existence of the past as a tangible point of reference is a subject of individual or collective creation and interpretation; it is the founding assumption of any sociological research devoted to mnemonic subjects.

November 17, 2020 - Mateusz Mazzini

We took our victories for granted

An interview with Vladimir Tismaneanu, a political scientist at the University of Maryland, College Park. Interviewer: Simona Merkinaite.

November 17, 2020 - Simona Merkinaite Vladimir Tismaneanu

Our common heritage

The region of today’s Central and Eastern Europe was mostly part of the eastern half of the Roman Empire. Its religion, writings, customs and traditions came from Byzantium rather than Rome. One exception is Poland, which was baptised in the western style and not by Cyril and Methodius. This fact, however, could be interpreted as the main cause of Poland’s great tragedy.

The world we came to live in today should not have come to us as a big surprise. Neither should the internal problems of the European Union, which, the late Polish science fiction writer, Stanisław Lem, even predicted some time ago. Earlier events such as the Arab Spring, or the weakening position of the United States, and Russia’s imperial aspirations should not have shocked us either.

November 17, 2020 - Jacek Hajduk

On Russia and resignation

In Russia, it remains unclear whether the current discontent will coalesce into a lasting challenge to the Kremlin. Both journalists and analysts tend to hastily predict Putin’s downfall when protests mount. But at the very least, the all-encompassing nature of the coronavirus has provided citizens with a moment of heightened consciousness about their relationship to power.

Liberal-leaning Russians like to remind us that the most common last surname in their country is Smirnov. It is also the name of a well-known vodka brand, Smirnov, etymologically rooted in smirenie, often translated as submission or resignation.

November 17, 2020 - Natasha Bluth

A Belarusian clash of civilizations

It can already be seen that in regards to today’s Belarusians the political and state identity dominates over an ethnic and national identity. The political nation is more adapted to the challenges that have emerged both in Belarus’s near region and around the world. This year’s protests show that for the common cause Belarusians can unite. Unquestionably, this unity is a new quality.

The protests that have been taking place in Belarus for over three months have now become widely covered by international media. Unfortunately, western media reports, in many cases, are not very specific and somewhat biased. Their publishers may opt for nice photographs of demonstrators carrying banners praising freedom and democracy, but do they capture the real changes taking place within Belarusian society?

November 17, 2020 - Maxim Rust

Revolution in Belarus. Surprisingly female?

The unexpected female dimension of the Belarusian opposition has made it fresh, emotional and empowering. These three women who did not give up after the most popular candidates were eliminated from the election race gave people “a last hope for change”. The women were authentic, they told personal stories, talked about love and asked people to believe in themselves.

Inspiring images of the Belarusian revolutionary female trio of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Maria Kalesnikava and Veranika Tsapkala as well as the numerous images of women peacefully protesting after the falsified August election, seem to have reached every corner of the globe. International audiences admired their strength, courage and wholesomeness. The high visibility and important role of women in the mass protests is not unique to Belarus, however.

November 17, 2020 - Olga Dryndova

In Belarus, national solidarity, not nationalism, leads the day

What unites the protestors in Belarus is not a devotion to the purity or glory of their “people”. Rather, it is their common attachment to ideals of popular sovereignty and fundamental rights shared by all citizens. What is happening in Belarus is very much a legacy of the French Revolution, which placed the figure of the oppressed citizen at the heart of the struggle against tyranny.

Protestors raise their nation’s historical red-and-white flag in the streets. Op-eds exult in Belarusian national poetry and history. And everywhere in this tiny ex-Soviet republic, there seems to be a surge of national feeling. For many westerners, who have become accustomed to reading about increasing nationalism in Europe and beyond, it may be tempting to assume that these are the gestures of yet another nationalist movement.

November 17, 2020 - Christian Gibbons

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