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Analysis

Resign and rule: Latvia’s local elections analysed

The low voter turnout and inconclusive results in the Latvian municipal elections are likely to be repeated in next year’s general election.

July 13, 2021 - Samuel Kramer

Crisis like a dream

Georgia has been trapped in a political, economic and social black hole. It is affected by crisis after crisis. There is no prospect for improvement. Thus, at a certain point apathy may turn into social eruption.

For many months now Georgian politicians have been busy. After last October’s parliamentary elections, the ruling Georgian Dream and the opposition got themselves stuck in a months-long jam from which they could not escape. The opposition accused the authorities of rigging elections and they boycotted the parliament, while the ruling coalition downplayed the accusations and claimed the opposition was unable to accept defeat.

June 23, 2021 - Wojciech Wojtasiewicz

A fortress of human rights

Europe will either be united or not. It cannot be ruled out that an unforeseen event may lead to the disintegration of the EU. But it can also not be ruled out that an unforeseen event will cement it. Paradoxically, the COVID-19 pandemic, which is currently devastating the global economy, may prove to be such an event.

Prior to the creation of the European Union, Europe did not exist. It did not exist in the political sense, that is. It is true that François Guizot, the 19th century historian and statesman, believed that there is something like a European civilisation because a certain kind of unity permeates European countries despite countless differences dividing them. This unity, however, was manifest only to a select number of Europeans and only through comparisons with the brutally colonised European “Others” across Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Americas. Certainly, the thus conceived civilisational unity did not translate itself into political unity. The geographical concept of Europe made political sense only as an unstable system of volatile states linked more frequently, and tightly, by their mutual hostilities than their alliances.

June 23, 2021 - Adam Chmielewski

NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan: What it means for the Central Asian neighbourhood

NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan will leave its Central Asian neighbours with a number of challenges. Central Asian states are likely to address these issues with the help of Russia and China, who are eager to advance their status and role in the region.

June 22, 2021 - Yegor Vasylyev

Information operations and the 2020 Georgian parliamentary elections

Outside attempts to influence the parliamentary elections in Georgia in 2020 began long before the voters went to the polls. A multi-layered disinformation campaign was accompanied by cyber-attacks.

May 5, 2021 - Givi Gigitashvili

Russia’s police state showed its real face in latest protest crackdown

Facing the largest street protests in a decade, Russian authorities responded with an unprecedented wave of repression. The harsh crackdown seems to have had the desired effect: Navalny’s allies were forced to put their protests on hold.

Russian police detained Dmitry Gliuz, aged 30, on Sennaya Square, in the centre of St Petersburg, shortly after he came out from the metro. “I wasn’t doing anything wrong, just standing and looking at my phone, when suddenly policemen grabbed me and punched me in the stomach”. Gliuz was among the thousands of people detained on January 31st during the nationwide protests in support of Russian opposition leader, Alexei Navalny.

April 11, 2021 - Giovanni Pigni

Everyone understands what is happening

The space for freedom is shrinking in Russia. Many see a repetition of 1937 – a period of the most severe Stalinist terror, when government agents, at any moment, could come to any house and throw you in jail. The reason does not matter and it can happen to anyone. Yet still, everyone continues to stand by and stay silent.

On January 17th this year, the return of Alexei Navalny to Russia was being watched by the entire politically-minded society, or at least a large part of it. People across the political spectrum were equally fixated. I know many leftists (or liberals) who were sincerely worried, and many rightists (or conservatives) who rubbed their hands maliciously. All were watching via the internet livestream or traditional media, and some with one eye closed. The arrest of Navalny at Sheremetyevo airport became the starting point not only for street protests and clashes, but for intra-family disputes.

April 11, 2021 - Victoria Odissonova

Zelenskyy takes on Russia’s information warfare campaign against Ukraine

On February 2nd Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed a presidential decree sanctioning Lviv oligarch Taras Kozak’s companies which owns three pro-Russian television channels. Unofficially, these channels are controlled by Viktor Medvedchuk, Putin’s right-hand man in Ukraine. The US election victory of Joe Biden has stiffened western and Ukrainian resolve to take on Russian President Vladimir Putin at a time when he is facing growing opposition at home.

The question of information warfare and disinformation have become hot topics since the 2014 crisis in Ukraine. Nevertheless, one should not assume that this threat was invented by Russian President Vladimir Putin as the Soviet Union had practised dezinformatsiya and mokryie dela (wet affairs – assassinations) for decades.

April 11, 2021 - Taras Kuzio

Joe Biden needs Eastern Europe as a success story

The European Union currently faces several domestic issues. It is still a union of member states, whose leaders have different approaches towards many challenges, and still has no common army or military strategy. That is why US engagement in the region is still necessary, just as it was in the 1990s after the fall of communism.

“America is back” – that is how Joe Biden began his speech regarding his foreign policy priorities. What does that mean for the world and Europe in particular? Since the Second World War, no US president has brought so much foreign policy expertise to the White House. Biden probably has the most significant international experience among current world leaders, and especially amongst American politicians.

April 11, 2021 - Vladyslav Faraponov

Georgia’s household debt crisis deepens in the wake of COVID-19

Georgia’s household debt crisis existed long before COVID-19 hit, but it has been exacerbated by the current pandemic. To make matters worse, the credit environment is plagued with predatory conditions and a lack of regulation which has put many of Georgia’s most vulnerable citizens in a perpetual debt cycle.

Approximately 150 kilometres north of Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi, and nestled into a valley below Mount Kazbek lies the town of Stepantsminda. Home to a population of fewer than 2,000 permanent residents, Stepantsminda has become a popular destination over the last decade and has economically benefited from Georgia’s growing tourism sector. Keti, a local woman from the Kazbegi region, joined the area’s emergent hospitality sector in 2015. She opened a hotel with the help of a loan from one of the country’s largest private banks, Bank of Georgia.

April 11, 2021 - Mackenzie Baldinger

What is really behind Ivanishvili’s decision to quit politics

The announcement earlier this year of Bidzina Ivanishvili’s departure from the political arena came at a time of domestic political unrest, and has been questioned by many in Georgia. Ivanishvili had already resigned from political life in 2013. Yet, kept ruling from behind the scenes. Will this time be any different?

On January 11th this year, Bidzina Ivanishvili, founder and chairman of Georgia’s ruling Georgian Dream party and the country’s most influential politician announced his retirement from politics “as party chairman, as well as from the party itself”. The 65-year-old billionaire declared his mission was accomplished, having decided to return to his “private lifestyle” and to “completely withdraw from politics and let go of the reins of power”.

April 11, 2021 - Soso Dzamukashvili

Farewell, nation!

The symbols and language of the 2020 Belarus protests circumvented the terminological deadlock of Belarusian identity, which for years had been attempted to be explained by national templates. Unconventional actions by the public have revealed a hidden picture of the mentality in Belarus, which has become a huge step towards a post-national future.

The ongoing Belarusian protests in addition to its obvious political aims, also solves a much more important issue. The public is abandoning the national template of self-determination as a civil order. For Belarusians in 2020, so many things have changed. For the first time in more than a quarter century, the authorities in Minsk felt a real danger to their existence and lost control over public opinion.

April 11, 2021 - Anton Saifullayeu

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