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Stories and ideas

Soviet mosaics of Tbilisi. What they reflect and why they vanish

Soviet mosaics as artwork can tell a lot about Georgia’s recent history and its socio-cultural transformation. Reducing them to communist propaganda to erase their artistic value is a destructive attempt to wipe out the legacy of the Soviet past from cultural memory.

April 30, 2021 - Natalia Mosashvili

Latvia prepares for big step in LGBTQ+ rights

The issue of granting parental rights to same-sex partners has become the most important fight for equality in modern day Latvia. As parliament prepares to decide on key amendments to the country’s constitution, Latvians are struggling to understand that their freedom should not infringe on the freedom of others.

No one embodies the individual and collective fight for one's liberties and freedom in modern-day Latvia as much as Evita Goša. When her fiancée found out she was not entitled to a ten-day paid leave usually granted to fathers of new-borns, she petitioned the Constitutional Court of Latvia which agreed to hear the case.

April 11, 2021 - Ričards Umbraško

Remembering Mark Verlan. The artist who bridged poetry and apocalyptic jest

The style of the late Moldovan artist Mark Verlan is not easy to classify. According to his nephew, the artist created a style that cannot be found in any other movement. He coined the term “ultra-stiobanism” to describe his uncle’s artistic approach.

Talk to anyone who met Mark Verlan and they will have a story to tell. Like that time when the famous Swiss curator, Harald Szeemann, travelled to Chișinău just to meet him and offer him the opportunity to exhibit his work in BLUT & HONIG (Blood and Honey), a retrospective hosted by the Vienna Essl Collection. During the time that Szeemann spent in Chișinău, Verlan was nowhere to be found, but 25 of his paintings (more than any artist’s present at the exhibition) made it to the retrospective. His friend and fellow artist Pavel Brăila recalls that, at the same exhibition, someone asked Verlan why he did not speak English and the artist sarcastically replied: “It was already difficult for me to learn Russian.”

April 11, 2021 - Giovanna Di Mauro

Preserving Soviet-era mosaics in Georgia

A conversation with Nini Palavandishvili, a curator and researcher involved in the process of documenting and mapping Soviet-era Mosaics in Georgia. Interviewer: Natalia Mosashvili

NATALIA MOSASHVILI: Can you say a few words about the meaning of Soviet-era mosaics and why they are often reduced to propaganda of the Soviet system?

NINI PALAVANDISHVILI: I would like to start by saying that my position is the following: of course, these mosaics were created during the Soviet times, but they are not necessarily “Soviet” mosaics. During this period mosaics were created in Mexico, America, France, Spain, Portugal, and many other places. Emphasising them as "Soviet mosaics" is not right.

April 11, 2021 - Natalia Mosashvili Nini Palavandishvili

Who is afraid of the letter Ł? Łacinka and the Belarusian dictator

Since the beginning of the 21st century, the regime in Belarus has progressively made Belarusian into a monoscriptal language, with Cyrillic as its single official script. This Russification and the Union State with Russia appears to be Aljaksandar Łukašenka’s only constant programme for Belarus and its citizenry.

Former Russian Deputy Prime Minister and opposition leader, Boris Nemtsov, did not hold Belarusian dictator Aljaksandar Łukašenka in high esteem (in this text we allow the author to use the national Latin script for Belarusian as explained later on in this essay – editor’s note). Nemtsov deemed him to be “a Slavic Qaddafi. He is an outrageous murderer and dictator, a completely insane person. He has nowhere to retreat. It is not worth waiting for a velvet revolution to happen.” No one cared to listen.

April 11, 2021 - Tomasz Kamusella

Not all that glitters is gold

The completion of a gold mine construction project on Armenia’s Amulsar mountain, headed by the multi-national company Lydian International, remains in serious doubt. Years of corruption, local protests, regime change and war with Azerbaijan have taken their toll on the massive initiative. Yet, the negative impact of the half-way completed mine has left the local community scarred.

Lydian International’s half a billion USD dollar goldmine on Armenia’s Amulsar mountain is the largest greenfield mining project ever financed in the country. Poised to be the leading goldmine to open globally in 2018, no gold has yet to be extracted. Nor is it expected that any gold will be mined anytime soon since Lydian entered bankruptcy litigation, is winding up its assets in Toronto, its Canadian headquarters, and was appointed liquidators. The project became marred by allegations of corruption and environmental negligence.

April 11, 2021 - Dylan van de Ven

Redeeming Europe

In the first half of the 11th century, the Byzantine Empire, a global empire with the capital in Constantinople, had a territory which comprised of the lands that belong to today’s Greece, the Balkans, Turkey, Armenia and Crimea, as well as Syria and Italy. The Byzantine Empire, which played an important role in the Middle Ages, had contacts with Slavic countries and directly influenced the statehood and religious life in what today we call Eastern Europe.

Europe is an idea. Matter-of-factly, the European civilisation, as we call it today, had come into being before states and nations, its capricious children, were born. Throughout the ages, it matured, was formed and clashed with other civilisations. It learnt from them and shared its achievements with them. Finally, as a result of these clashes, as well as the less noticeable internal transformations, this concept has undergone numerous metamorphoses.

April 11, 2021 - Jacek Hajduk

Zenit 36 – COVID-19. Can football help defeat the Coronavirus?

For fans of the reigning Russian champions, Zenit St. Petersburg, football can often seem more important than life and death. Undeterred by the growing spread of COVID-19, in March 2020, Zenit’s Gazprom Arena was one of the only places in Europe where it was still possible to watch live sports. The club’s supporters took full advantage of this, packing the stadium to capacity for their side’s 7-1 thrashing of FC Ural. “We’re all gonna die, we’re all gonna die,” they chanted gleefully, as the rest of the world closed down around them in a desperate attempt to contain the virus.

April 6, 2021 - Michael Cole

The case of Tallinn’s Telliskivi Loomelinnak and the ‘Belarus. Protest. Art.’ exhibition

How the former Kalinin factory became a creative space to raise awareness for Belarus’s internal crisis and its artists who were forced to flee.

March 29, 2021 - Antonio Scancariello

Poor legal regulation threatens health of Ukraine’s egg donors

Paid surrogacy and the practice of egg donation remain unresolved regulatory issues in both Poland and Ukraine.

March 15, 2021 - Kate Baklitskaya Magdalena Chodownik

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

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

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