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Category: Issue 1-2 2021

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

The history of inter-ethnic hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan is a long series of repeating pogroms, massacres and violence. The recent war in Nagorno-Karabakh, which has ended with a Russian-led ceasefire agreement, constitutes just one more chapter in this never-ending conflict.

Almost 30 years ago, on May 9th 1992, Armenian forces captured the Azerbaijan city of Shusha after a spectacular offensive. In a world without Twitter, the narrative about liberation and escaping the Azerbaijani army spread instantly. The story of the restoration of historical justice for Armenians deprived of their ancient lands for years covered the catastrophe of thousands of Azerbaijani families forced to flee the Nagorno-Karabakh. Two years later, a ceasefire was signed in Bishkek, yet the war did not end for good.

February 3, 2021 - Bartłomiej Krzysztan

A renewed focus on Ukraine’s nuclear power sector

Ukraine is the eighth country in the world in terms of nuclear power plant capacity. The country is now in the process of repairing, modernising and finding new technologies to meet the electricity demand. However, a focus on management and transparency is still necessary in order to have a safe, effective and publically profitable nuclear power sector.

Nuclear energy began to develop actively and significantly in the second half of the 20th century. This boom was primarily due to the dynamism felt in all sectors of industry which was based on large numbers of labour and massive electricity demands. Yet, the beginning of the 21st century started to see a decline in this sector. Today competition in the energy sector contributes to the fact that energy markets are developing very rapidly and energy resources are becoming more affordable.

February 3, 2021 - Mykola Voytiv

What the incoming Biden administration means for Central and Eastern Europe

Democracies are defined by the holding of regular elections that are free and fair, resulting in an alternation of leaders and the orderly transition of power. A central characteristic of this process is that while electoral outcomes are unpredictable, the manner in which politicians are replaced is highly routinised. Donald Trump, however, is a maverick and rule-breaker the likes of which the United States has never seen before.

February 3, 2021 - George Soroka

Whither US-Ukraine relations during a Biden presidency?

The United States is among Ukraine’s key foreign partners and one of the main providers of substantial political, economic and military aid. Ever since Russia’s aggression in 2014, the US has been a staunch supporter, both in word and deed, of Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and security, as well as the implementation of democratic reforms.

February 3, 2021 - Nadiia Bureiko

Andrei Gromyko congratulates Joe Biden

In 2011 Joe Biden, as the US vice president during his visit to Moscow, said to Vladimir Putin: “Mr Prime Minister, I’m looking into your eyes, and I don’t think you have a soul.” Putin replied: “We understand one another”. This anecdote seems to be a prophecy of a rough co-existence without any signs of fondness. Clearly Putin and most of the current Russian political elite are very sceptical towards Biden.

February 3, 2021 - Kuba Benedyczak

International law and the Soviet wild-goose chase

Soviet political proposals from before the war and the legacy of the United Nations established as a result of the Soviet victory over Nazism are often recalled in the Kremlin’s contemporary narratives. Yet, a look at the historical development of the Soviet understanding of international law reveals a chaotic and political, rather than legal, approach.

The 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War and the proclamation of the United Nations was a topic intensively exploited by Russian diplomacy which attempted to highlight the Soviet input into the triumph over the Nazis and the creation of an international organisation. The Kremlin’s rhetoric was expressed directly by Vladimir Putin twice last year – once thanks to an article published in The National Interest in June and then, via a speech delivered virtually during the annual summit of the United Nations, in September.

February 3, 2021 - Grzegorz Szymborski

Women’s face of the opposition

The topic of women in protests has not been on the agenda in Russia until the election campaign in Belarus. And then we suddenly saw them – strong, stylish, beautiful, and, most importantly, exuding love not hate.

February 3, 2021 - Yulia Galiamina

An unambiguous legacy. Women and Solidarity

During the 1980s, I witnessed the momentous events in Poland from afar and worked with human rights groups to lend support to pro-democracy activists. By 1988, I prepared for my first research visit to Poland to examine Solidarity’s gender dynamics. What stood out was that Solidarity was a democratic movement that did not advocate gender equality.

In mid-November of 2020 I participated in a roundtable at the annual conference of the Association of Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES) on the theme, “Polish Solidarity: A Glorious Revolution and its Unexpectedly Tortuous Aftermath.” Joining me virtually were Timothy Garton Ash, Ireneusz Krzeminski, Jan Kubik, and David Ost. We were to reflect on the trajectory of this once enormous social movement in the post-communist reality. I, in particular, was invited to reflect on my work initiated by Solidarity’s Secret: The Women Who Defeated Communism in Poland, which I had published in 2005 and again in 2014. By the time of the academic roundtable, the world was riveted on the third, exhilarating week of wildly audacious, feminist-initiated, grassroots nationwide demonstrations across Poland in support of reproductive rights, democratic rule of law and separation of state and church. The euphoria of revolution was palpable.

February 3, 2021 - Shana Penn

The shame of Dagestan

Women’s rights is probably the most controversial topic in Dagestan, Russian’s North Caucasus republic. Svetlana Anokhina, a women’s rights activist and journalist, who had fled the republic after receiving a death threat, now carries on with her work from far away.

In July 2020 Svetlana Anokhnina a women’s rights activist and journalist based in Dagestan, received a telephone death threat as part of a wider “sorting out the feminists” campaign taking place in the republic. This was not the first threat issued to Svetlana but, unlike before, this time the caller tried to reach her by phone several times, making sure she received his message. And he took no effort to hide his own identification. Svetlana tracked the cell phone number and established the name of its owner. She passed this information to the police. After the investigation had been completed, Svetlana hoped that justice would be fast. Yet, soon after the detective set a meeting with the caller, the local police abruptly stopped providing updates on her case.

February 3, 2021 - Anna Efimova

Why do they stay?

What motivates state security officers to remain in the service of a tyrant, and end up in a situation where the people they beat, torture and kill, are their fellow countrymen? The story of Andrei Ostapovich provides some insight to this key question in understanding the overlapping borders of morality and immorality, democracy and authoritarianism.

February 3, 2021 - Kevin Le Merle

A prayer for peace in Belarus

On December 13th 2020 an ecumenical service was held in Berlin Cathedral to pay tribute to the protesters in Belarus. It was followed by a political debate, which focused on a new European Eastern policy, a new Ostpolitik. Through the organisation of these two events, the churches showed, once again, their eagerness to engage in building bridges for the way to peace and democracy.

February 3, 2021 - Iris Kempe

Critically uncritical. Reforming education in Central and Eastern Europe

The communist legacy has left a crucial critical thinking gap in the educational curricula throughout the region. Yet, skills are of utmost importance in today’s globalised world. A pioneering critical thinking course at Matej Bel University in Slovakia aims to change this trend.

Anyone who has done due diligence research into higher education options is painfully familiar with university ranking tables. Based on several criteria, including teaching, research, citations, international outlook and graduate employability, these tables are a popular education quality measurement amongst prospective students and employers alike. Yet, scrolling through these listings, such as the Times Higher Education Ranking, no institution from Central and Eastern European is found in the top 400. Most CEE universities are positioned somewhere between the 1000 and 2000.

February 3, 2021 - Anna Theodoulides Darya Podgoretskaya

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