Text resize: A A
Change contrast

Stories and ideas

A tale from under the shelling. Living through war in a Ukrainian community at the Russian border

The inhabitants of Krasnopillia have been living under continuous Russian artillery fire from across the border, just 15 km away, since April 2022.

January 27, 2023 - Kateryna Pryshchepa

Modern East Germany’s dependence on Russian oil evokes old divisions

Germany’s decision to pursue the European Union’s plans to stop importing crude oil from Russia has stirred up social tension in the East German town of Schwedt. Despite reassurances from the government in Berlin, the town, which hosts Germany’s largest oil refinery dependent on Russian oil, is fearful of the aftereffects of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

From her office on the outskirts of the quiet town of Schwedt in Brandenburg, a German town bordering Poland that stretches for miles, Gabriele Manteufel points to a huge, sprawling maze of pipes, furnaces and tankers. It all comes together to make a gigantic refinery. Every day the CEO’s sons come by to fill up the family-owned tankers with propane, a by-product of refined oil. They then dispatch the gas to their customers in this north-eastern region.

December 7, 2022 - Isabelle de Pommereau

Ukraine’s defiance goes beyond the battlefield

Poetry may not have the power to stop Russian missile strikes but Ukraine’s literary festival season, which carried on in spite of the horrors of war, became a testament to the importance of defending culture during the invasion. After all, the Russians have been very clear that they do not recognise the Ukrainian identity.

In Chernivtsi, a small Western Ukrainian city located on the border with Romania, September begins with poetry. Artists from throughout Ukraine and all over the world have been gathering there for the past 13 years during the annual Meridian Czernowitz Festival. Due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, this year’s festival was different, and, in the words of Meridian’s chief editor Evgenia Lopata, “a small miracle”.

December 7, 2022 - Kate Tsurkan

Belarusian language and culture: is the patient more alive than dead?

One of the ways to save the Belarusian language is to maintain courage in preserving and displaying the Belarusian identity. This includes pride in Belarusian history and language, which should be used especially in everyday life. Since it is nearly impossible to do this inside the country, perhaps the best place to start is within the Belarusian diaspora.

The consistent and managed destruction of the Belarusian language and culture has become one of the hallmarks of Alyaksandr Lukashenka's rule and a distinctive feature of his regime’s activities since 1996 (together with the increase in Russian influence). As a result, in today’s Belarus, people who use the Belarusian language in their everyday life are discriminated against, while representatives of the Belarusian culture are persecuted. Belarusian citizens can be arrested for displaying their Belarusian identity in the streets of Minsk even when they speak Belarusian while offering guided tours, or wear socks with white-red-white stripes.

December 7, 2022 - Katarzyna Bieliakowa

How Russia’s war estranged us, probably forever

Differences of views on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have not only split two nations, but also many families as well. The stories of Sasha and Daniil offer just two examples of how families have been split by toxic propaganda and war, with little chance for reconciliation.

When Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24th, it brought much more than political and ideological discord. For thousands of Ukrainians, who had family connections in Russia, it was a turning point. The ground of common understanding that had been eroding since the occupation of Crimea and parts of Donbas in 2014, completely cracked in one night, when Russian forces crossed the Ukrainian border in an attempt to take Kyiv. What had been thought of as western exaggeration prior to February 24th, became real, and the wall of misunderstanding split many friendships and family connections; some of them forever broken.

October 3, 2022 - Iryna Matviyishyn

The bees of war

Ukraine’s honey business is one of the largest in the world. Sadly, as a result of the war, dozens of apiaries and beehives are being destroyed every week. In some cases, beekeepers are able to get some financial support from the government, but it is not enough. Yet, the beekeepers remain optimistic. They share everything they have: their honey, knowledge and optimistic spirit.

The honey that you enjoy so much might be one that is produced in the Donbas region. Ukraine’s eastern and southern territories contain rich melliferous plants. Most people who produce this honey had to flee their homes and move to safer regions following the outbreak of the war. Their families might now even be living in your neighbourhood. Some have attempted to save their bees and take them to a new place. This is very difficult, as it is not as easy as transporting a cat. But those beekeepers who were able to stay found themselves at risk, trying to visit beehives despite the constant Russian shelling.

October 3, 2022 - Alisa Koverda

Contemporary left in Georgia

A conversation with Bakar Berekashvili, Georgian political scientist and sociologist. Interviewer: Veronika Pfeilschifter

VERONIKA PFEILSCHIFTER: Thinking about today’s left in Georgia, how can we characterise it and who promotes left ideas in Georgia, in your view?

BAKAR BEREKASHVILI: First of all, I believe that we must analyse the left in Georgia in two dimensions: the left in the field of political parties and the left outside of it. In the political field, when speaking about the left, the so-called mainstream political parties have power and resources that they use to dominate the political field. There is no leftist political party that considers positions that we can describe as left in today’s Georgia.

September 29, 2022 - Bakar Berekashvili Veronika Pfeilschifter

Forced into exile, young Russian activists continue the fight against the regime

The story of Liuba and Anzhela, two young Russian activists, shows that causes mobilising young people in Germany, Italy or Finland are just as much a concern to some young Russians. Yet as Russians, they are also fighting on several other fronts. The most important is the imperialism that their country is forcing on the world.

On a sunny May 8th in Berlin, the day before a highly contested Victory Day march, pro-Ukrainian activists set up stands and a small stage opposite the city’s Soviet war memorial. There is Ukrainian music playing and people walk around dressed in yellow and blue. A political activist speaks in Russian before the assembled crowd and a woman next to her translates into German.

September 29, 2022 - Cristina Coellen

Russia’s war has turned Hasidic pilgrimage site into safe haven

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has forced many to flee the country’s East. Whilst some have fled abroad, others have found shelter in settlements in other regions. One of these places is Uman, a city renowned for its rich Jewish history.

On the day Vladimir Putin gave the order to launch a “special military operation” to “denazify” Ukraine, Russian rockets fell on Uman, a city between Kyiv and Odesa famous among Hasidic Jews around the world. After more than two months of war, the Jewish quarter surrounding the grave of Tzaddik Nachman of Breslov has turned into a safe haven for people fleeing from fierce fighting.

July 14, 2022 - Aleksander Palikot

A lot at stake for Estonia as it shifts away from oil shale

Amidst rising concerns over climate change, the Estonian government has pledged to stop burning oil shale for power generation by 2035. Tallinn will also give up the fossil fuel altogether by 2040. Oil shale, however, has a long history in Estonia and is the country’s main source of electricity. Abandoning its use is not only a climate-related issue, but a geopolitical one as well.

In the weeks immediately following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Estonia’s top brass showed up, one after another, in Narva, Estonia’s third largest and overwhelmingly Russian-speaking city. This included the country’s president, prime minister and defence and interior ministers. They gathered in places never far from the “Friendship Bridge” connecting Estonia’s most eastern city with its Russian sister city Ivangorod. Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said that she had come to assert her government’s “commitment to the region's development”.

July 14, 2022 - Isabelle de Pommereau

The Way of the Land: a podcast sheds light on the forgotten history of Roma slavery in Romania

Romania is not the first country people usually think of when it comes to slavery. Despite this, the country possesses an almost unknown history of Roma slavery that occurred over five centuries. The Way of the Land is a podcast that shows how this hidden history bleeds into the present discriminations against the Roma community.

In the small room of Romania’s National Theatre, the public frets in their seats, waiting for the play to start. They came to see a one-woman show written, directed and staged by Alina Șerban. She is the first Roma woman to ever direct a play for the National Theatre in Bucharest. Tonight, she plays in The Best Child in the World, a play about her life. The only poster displayed remains inside the theatre, where only the spectators can see it. It features Șerban wearing a traditional Roma dress. The curly haired woman stands back to back with a grotesque figure, a symbol of the most crushing insult against Roma, the crow. Șerban smiles.

July 14, 2022 - Miriam Țepeș-Handaric

Ignorance of history? Germany’s culture of memory and response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine

Whilst Germany’s work to keep alive the memory of the Holocaust is commendable, its uncertainty following the invasion of Ukraine flies in the face of this historical legacy. It is high time that German society fully stood up and supported Kyiv in its struggle against Russian aggression.

July 8, 2022 - Marcel Krueger

Partners

Terms of Use | Cookie policy | Copyryight 2023 Kolegium Europy Wschodniej im. Jana Nowaka-Jeziorańskiego 31-153 Kraków
Agencja digital: hauerpower studio krakow.