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Category: Issue 4 2020

The memory and experience of 1980

An interview with Cezary Obracht-Prądzyński, sociologist and professor at Gdańsk University. Interviewer: Piotr Leszczyński

PIOTR LESZCZYŃSKI: What was the phenomenon of August 1989 in Poland? What took place at that time in the Gdańsk Shipyard, and what can this experience tell us now about Polish society of that time?

CEZARY OBRACHT-PRĄDZYŃSKI: It is not easy to talk about Solidarity. We do not have one position that would allow us to interpret the events, the causes and effects of the strike – both the experience and the memory of Solidarity have been very diverse. Solidarity was a very heterogenous movement from the beginning. It is remembered differently by people who worked and lived in Gdańsk and witnessed these events, who got to see what was taking place in the shipyard. Their perspective was unlike those who lived in other parts of the country and were forced to rely on information broadcasted by state media.

August 31, 2020 - Cezary Obracht-Prondzyński Piotr Leszczyński

Issue 4/2020 The Kremlin’s Hybrid War. The case of Georgia

The latest issue of New Eastern Europe is dedicated to examining the inner workings of the Kremlin’s hybrid war against its neighbours in the post-Soviet space.

July 8, 2020 - New Eastern Europe

The many dimensions of hybrid warfare

Georgia is in the midst of a hybrid war with Russia. Among the various tools used by the Kremlin, economic pressure has been arguably the most effective strategy that has been directed at Georgia since the 1990s.

Georgia-Russia relations give great insight into the currently fashionable subject of hybrid warfare. Similar to the idea of “fourth generation warfare”, which focuses on blurring the fronts between opposing sides and waging war by means other than head-on military confrontation, hybrid warfare is a more sophisticated way of using all of a country’s available resources to achieve a specific set of geopolitical aims.

July 7, 2020 - Emil Avdaliani

How Russian propaganda works in Georgia

Russian disinformation activities in Georgia, a front-runner in the Eastern Partnership, illustrates how Russian propaganda works on a variety of levels. Understanding the Georgian case may provide an insight into how to counter such hybrid activities in the country and elsewhere in the West.

Today, no one argues with the fact that Russian propaganda is a global challenge. Over the past few years we have witnessed how well-structured disinformation campaigns can be used as a tool for achieving certain strategic goals: to shape public opinion, increase political polarisation, influence elections, demonise opponents, undermine state security, boost nihilism and cripple democracy. As the Soviet-born British journalist, author and TV producer Peter Pomerantsev wrote: “The Kremlin weaponises information!”

July 7, 2020 - Grigol Julukhidze

Borderisation. The Kremlin’s unending war

Twelve years since the August 2008 Russian-Georgian War – when Russia’s aggressive policies divided neighbouring Georgia into different parts – the Kremlin still permanently reminds Georgians of this reality with barbed wire, border-signs, kidnappings and creeping annexation.

In order to describe the occupation lines which separate Georgia from the territories occupied by the Kremlin (Tskhinvali /Abkhazia), we first have to define the very concept of “borderisation”. This is because, just like the “little green men” in Crimea, the process of “borderisation” in Georgia has been managed by the secretive FSB (formerly the KGB), in recent years. Borderisation is the process of installing equipment (fences and barbed wires) on the line of occupation between territory controlled by Tbilisi and the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and the so-called South Ossetia (known to Georgia as the Tskhinvali Region), which are de facto controlled by Russian security forces.

July 7, 2020 - Egor Kuroptev

Religion as a powerful foreign policy tool

Russia’s principal aim towards Georgia is to reverse its Euro-Atlantic integration strategy and return Tbilisi to the Kremlin’s political orbit. One of the main tools to achieve this aim is the use of the Orthodox Church, with the main narrative being that Russia is the last bastion of Christianity and conservative values in the world.

The conflict between Russia and Georgia dates back to 1801 when the Russian Empire annexed the eastern part of Georgia. The country was under the direct rule of the Tsarist regime until May 26th 1918 when Georgia regained its long-awaited independence as a consequence of Russia’s ongoing civil war. Yet Georgia’s democratic republic was short-lived. When the civil war ended in Russia, the Bolsheviks once again subdued the South Caucasus region, including Georgia.

July 7, 2020 - Giorgi Jokhadze

The Kremlin’s fake news machine swirl COVID-19 conspiracies

To quell the impact of pro-Kremlin disinformation campaigns ahead of the milestone October parliamentary elections, the government, Facebook and civil society organisations will need to take more proactive measures.

Georgia has been particularly affected by Russian information operations, especially in light of its troubled political relations with Moscow and the country’s generally unabated pro-western course. Over the last few years, large numbers of Kremlin-funded and domestic news websites and social media pages have carried out a massive information offensive against the country, undermining societal trust towards the West, public institutions and civil society organisations. They have been particularly active in the electoral periods, campaigning extensively against liberal values and liberal-minded politicians.

July 7, 2020 - Tornike Zurabashvili

Far-right radicalisation and Russian soft power

The growth of the far-right in Georgia is a dangerous development and it especially threatens the country’s Euro-Atlantic integration. Russian soft power appears to have played a role in this process. The question remains whether Georgian authorities have enough power and desire to reverse this worrying trend.

Radicalisation, and in particular far-right radicalisation, is one of the most pressing issues in Georgia today. Recent developments, such as the mobilisation of far-right and conservative groups, have demonstrated the need to strengthen efforts to prevent radicalisation and to raise public awareness of the issue. The rise of the radical right threatens the country's democratic development, its peace and the operation of state institutions.

July 7, 2020 - Ucha Nanuashvili

Understanding the silent war

It is important to understand the philosophy behind Russia’s cyber capabilities since eastern and western actors have a different outlook. Cyber operations conducted from the West are government and military affiliated, while in the East they are mostly non-state players. The point is to have no proven link to a governmental entity allowing for plausible deniability.

I have been researching Russian cyber warfare and intelligence capabilities for more than a decade, and for all that time its significance and soft power was underestimated in Georgia. In order to assess the nature of ongoing Russian cyber operations against Georgia, we should start with the basics to better understand the role of cyber-security in today's global security environment. For decades, the world’s most harmful threats were radical groups, terrorists and criminal organisations, intelligence agencies and military regimes.

July 7, 2020 - Lasha Pataraia

The South Caucasus conundrum in the Black Sea

In the context of new levels of co-operation between western-aligned countries in the Black Sea region, NATO should focus on pursuing meaningful actions with regional partners that share its vision. At the same time, the Alliance should take advantage of every opportunity to make the region a platform for decreasing conflict and accommodating competing interests.

The recent NATO-Georgia Public Diplomacy Forum held in October 2019 rightly underlined the need for new ideas, skills and partnerships. It also stressed the need for viable security structures that are capable of meeting modern challenges. These needs are especially relevant when considering the current geopolitics and geoeconomics of the Black Sea region.

July 7, 2020 - Victor Kipiani

COVID-19 not to spare Eastern Europe from great power competition

Despite official pleasantries on overcoming COVID-19 together, the pandemic still has not instilled a spirit of good faith co-operation between global actors. The crisis, to the contrary, has accelerated, exacerbated, and laid bare rivalrous trends that pre-dated its existence. While there is little reason to hope that the countries of Eastern Europe will be spared from this competition of great powers, the changes will be less profound than it might first seem. Europe, Russia, China and the United States will, in particular, be the outside players to watch.

July 7, 2020 - Alena Kudzko

Post-COVID Eastern Europe: Equation with many unknowns

From the very early days of the global COVID-19 pandemic, discussions about how it will change the world began. The overwhelming majority of commentators of international affairs believe that Europe (and the rest of the world) will be a completely different place than before the coronavirus. Although the social and economic consequences of the pandemic are already obvious, it is definitely too early to tell that the crisis will fundamentally change the international political order and the way the economic system will be organised.

July 7, 2020 - Wojciech Konończuk

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