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How to respond to Putin’s undeclared war

The readiness to view the conflict in Ukraine as a kind of civil war because Russia never openly declared war goes beyond what strategists in Russia had

April 7, 2020 - Rebecca Harms

Does Zelenskyy have a strategy for managing the Donbas conflict?

The road to peace in Donbas has not appeared smooth and straightforward, as had been expected by President Zelenskyy and his team. The emphasis on

April 7, 2020 - Hanna Shelest

The challenge of reintegration

A secure reintegration policy for Donbas should include two dimensions: de-occupation and strengthening of national cohesion. Every political step that

April 7, 2020 - Igor Mitchnik Tim Bohse

A tale of two collapses

Today’s Sievierodonetsk reflects wider processes that are taking place in the Donbas region. In the summer of 2014 de-oligarchisation and decommunisation

April 7, 2020 - Wojciech Siegień

Evolution of an identity

The war has destroyed and continues to devastate Donbas. A majority of the region’s residents have no place to work or means to make a living. One way or

April 7, 2020 - Volodymyr Rafeenko

Donbas veterans establish their place in Ukrainian society

An interview with Anton Kolumbet, the (former) first deputy minister for veteran affairs in Ukraine. Interviewer: Kateryna Pryshchepa

April 7, 2020 - Anton Kolumbet Kateryna Pryshchepa

Youtubers, influencers and creative activists are the new vanguard in Central Asia

It is a decisive moment for Central Asia. Societies of the region are receptive to the EU’s messages of transparency, democracy and rule of law, but they

April 7, 2020 - Barbara von Ow-Freytag

Who is behind the plot to topple the Latvian parliament?

What started as a justifiable reason for protest was quickly hijacked by a handful of individuals looking to profit from the growing polarisation in Latvian

April 7, 2020 - Ričards Umbraško

rsz kaliningrad-9

Kaliningrad’s first million

Although Russia as a whole suffers from a continuous population decrease, Kaliningrad Oblast keeps attracting newcomers. For the first time in its 75

April 7, 2020 - Miłosz Zieliński

The broken promises of Ukraine’s police reform

Gains of reform are threatened amid an exodus of Ukraine’s revolutionaries from patrol police. And failure to reform the upper echelons of the police could mean a return to the old corrupt and inefficient practices.

When Ukraine introduced a new and radically reimagined patrol police in 2015, Nazar Franchuk was one of the first to sign up. Franchuk, who spent the winter of 2013-2014 splitting his time between university exams and protesting in Ukraine’s Revolution of Dignity, wanted to bring his revolutionary energy to the new law enforcement body which was intended to replace the country’s notoriously corrupt police force.

April 6, 2020 - Chris G. Collison

The price of power

For the last 25 years the Belarusian society has been living under an authoritarian regime led by Alyaksandr Lukashenka. Even though the Belarusian leader is no longer perceived as the “last dictator in Europe”, he is the post-Soviet leader who has held onto power the longest.

Many of the post-Soviet countries, especially in Eastern Europe, experienced revolutionary moments after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Some saw them more than once: Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia. Almost all of these states have tried to implement the difficult, and at times dramatic, process of establishing democracy and getting closer to the European Union and other western structures. In Belarus a fossilised conservative system, which impedes its political and economic development, has been preserved, maintaining the republic in Russia’s sphere and under its influence.

April 6, 2020 - Pavel Usov

Moldova (re)balancing its foreign policy

For the time being, Machiavellian principles dominate Moldova’s foreign policy. With pressure from the European Union targeting the rule of law and the need to find material benefits, the current Moldovan ruling elite is heading to the widest doors.

Since the first days of independence in 1991, the political class in Moldova has chosen to tie the country’s foreign policy to a bifurcated East-West orientation. This is reflected in the state’s governance as leaders constantly search for quick fixes from the outside. Thus, this geopolitical oscillation has become a modern Moldovan political tradition with the foreign policy dichotomy as a sort of "trademark" used to quickly interpret, not always accurately, public perceptions or the conduct of the political parties by observers both at home and abroad.

April 6, 2020 - Denis Cenusa

Grim reality after a colourful revolution

The left-wing government that came to power in North Macedonia after the 2016 mass protests is facing new challenges. Symbolic politics is significant for showing that the new North Macedonia is indeed a country for all, but it may not be enough. What the citizens want, first and foremost, is a functioning state.

When you use a water pistol filled with paint as a weapon against the government no one takes you seriously. The situation changes, however, when tens of thousands of enraged fellow citizens join you in this fight. This is exactly what happened when Macedonian citizens succeeded in overthrowing the nationalist government that had been in power for a decade. They wanted to put a stop to corruption and the mafia connections but also set up extremely high demands for the Social Democrats who have gained power. The new government brought along a change in the name of the country – now called North Macedonia – and long-awaited freedom, but also many disappointments.

April 6, 2020 - Aleksandra Zdeb

A crisis in Georgia’s politics

Georgia’s parliamentary elections are scheduled for October this year, and they will be held in the face of great politico-economic instability. The level of social dissatisfaction is at a record high, but there seems to be no easy alternative to the Georgian Dream.

It would be difficult to find a more telling symbol of Georgia’s continued political tensions than the green fabric that covers the fence surrounding the square around the Georgian parliament building and which has become a billboard for both anti- and pro-government graffiti. The fence was set up in January this year. Officially, it was explained that the fence was erected because of renovation works which were needed to fix the destroyed sections. Yet it is impossible not to have the impression it was meant to halt the continuation of protests that were taking place in front of the parliament.

April 6, 2020 - Mateusz Kubiak

Poland becomes a convenient target in Putin’s memory crusade

An interview with Ernest Wyciszkiewicz, director of the Centre for Polish-Russian Dialogue and Understanding. Interviewer: New Eastern Europe

NEW EASTERN EUROPE: On December 20th 2019 Vladimir Putin delivered a speech where he blamed Poland for the outbreak of the Second World War. These remarks caused outrage in Poland. The ministry of foreign affairs issued a statement in which it blamed the Russian leader for undermining joint efforts to find a way to truth and reconciliation in Polish-Russian relations. As director of the Polish-Russian Centre for Dialogue and Understanding in Warsaw, what was your institution’s response?

ERNEST WYCISZKIEWICZ: First let me start by saying that I was not outraged because what took place in December 2019 was actually nothing new. In the past ten years Poland has often been under historical – sometimes a bit hysterical – pressure from Russia. Periods of peaceful coexistence were rare and were quickly followed by stormy exchanges. So we have been there before. Yet, what we have been witnessing since Putin’s infamous comments in December is a new level of aggressiveness in Russian historical propaganda, as well as the fact that Poland was specifically chosen as enemy number one in this domain.

April 6, 2020 - Ernest Wyciszkiewicz

Evolution of memory policy in Germany

When it comes to memory of the Second World War, Germany is regarded as the world champion of reprocessing. Yet German memory politics has never been free from controversy. This is especially true for the past few years which saw national-conservative parties questioning the consensuses that had been worked out in the course of the past 75 years.

Prior to Germany’s unification in 1990, the official memory of the Second World War developed differently in the two German states. The first period that marked a divergence in memory was that of the Allied occupation which lasted from 1945 to 1949. This was followed by a long period when both states built their own narratives of the Nazi past, and created their own response to the guilt for the committed crimes. With unification came a consensus that is now at risk of being undermined.

April 6, 2020 - Christoph Meissner

20 years of NATO’s flagship Multinational Corps Northeast

An interview with Lieutenant General Sławomir Wojciechowski from NATO’s Multinational Corps Northeast. Interviewer: Jakub Bornio

JAKUB BORNIO: Both the status of the Multinational Corps and the international security environment is very different today from when the corps was created in 1999. How would you assess these changes?

SŁAWOMIR WOJCIECHOWSKI: Preparing for the 20th anniversary of the corps and examining its beginnings, I came across some documents that surprised me. It turned out that even though there has been a changing security dynamic, the unit that I have come to lead (since 2018 – editor’s note) has always had objectives that corresponded to the geographical location, being able to function on a defined area. At the time the threats associated with the region were perceived as very unlikely, and objectives outside of our region seemed more likely. The difference today is that we don’t speak of the same elements that were on the agenda back then, they have been somewhat erased. Today, we only speak of ensuring security for the region.

April 6, 2020 - Jakub Bornio Sławomir Wojciechowski

Lane Kirkland Scholarship Program Celebrates its 20th anniversary

For 20 years, the Lane Kirkland Scholarship Program has been providing one-year stays at Polish universities for young professionals from Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and the Southern Caucasus. Its primary objective is to share Poland’s experience of systemic transformation with the citizens of other countries.

April 6, 2020 - Lane Kirkland Program

The transformation as a learning process

A conversation with Andrew Nagorski, journalist, writer and chairman of the board of the Polish-American Freedom Foundation. Interviewer: Iwona Reichardt

IWONA REICHARDT: Let us start with the memories of a reporter. For many years, you were working for the American press. When was your first encounter with the communist system here in the region?

ANDREW NAGORSKI: My first encounter was as an exchange student at the Jagiellonian University in 1968. After graduating from college and teaching history in the United States, I joined Newsweek in 1973. Eventually I ended up being stationed in Moscow from 1981, but after 14 months the Kremlin decided they did not want me and expelled me. At that point I went to Rome where I was covering the Vatican, including Pope John Paul II. As lovely as that assignment was, I really wanted to get back to covering this region. I ended up going to our regional hub in Bonn in 1985 and from there I started going in and out of all the countries of the then Soviet Bloc.

April 6, 2020 - Andrew Nagorski Iwona Reichardt

Ukraine. Going West despite everything

In 2014 Ukraine found itself at a turning point when the government signed the political and (later) economic parts of the Association Agreement with the European Union. Six years later it has become evident that too little time has passed to fully evaluate this period, but one thing is certain: Ukraine is determined to stay on the path to the West.

In the spring of 2014, shortly after the EuroMaidan victory, I attended regular meetings of bank executives from the National Bank of Ukraine to discuss system stabilisation and reform. The smell of burned tyres lingered in the air as a constant reminder. A feeling of hope and expectation was growing within Ukrainian society. However the annexation of Crimea and the war in Donbas were in their active phases and the Ukrainian economy was in chaos.

April 6, 2020 - Volodymyr Kuzyo

Moldova. A captured state that remains captured

Despite a brief moment of hope at the end of last year, Moldova continues to experience a period of instability which goes back to 2014. The institutions remain weak and are influenced by the politicians. Their autonomy is on paper only, justice is highly politicised and the economy is in poor shape. Unfortunately the outlook remains grim.

The Republic of Moldova has had its fair share of turmoil over the last several years. After a few years of positive developments on the path towards European integration, the trend reversed in 2014 when three of the country’s biggest banks had been robbed of about one billion dollars, or about one-eighth of the country’s GDP. In a matter of just one month, both the public outrage and the fall of the local currency that followed wiped out the five years of effort that culminated with the association of the Republic of Moldova with the European Union, the signing of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with the EU and the adoption of a visa-free regime for travel to the EU. Moldova’s political life has stood under the sign of the events of 2014 ever since.

April 6, 2020 - Dan Nicu

Georgia. A successful transformation and a challenge to the oligarchs

Georgia is one of the most successful examples of transformation and reform within the post-Soviet space. However current events – the weakening of democratic institutions and informal ruling – threaten the achievement of modernisation as well as the country’s trajectory towards the West.

Starting after independence, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Georgia faced a number of critical challenges. First, a civil war broke out between the supporters and opponents of the first president, Zviad Gamsakhurdia. This was followed by the bloody conflicts in Abkhazia and the South Ossetia/Tskhinvali region. As a result of these events, Georgia lost control over a part of its territory, its industry and infrastructure were destroyed, and its GDP fell by 44 per cent. Under the leadership of President Eduard Shevardnadze from 1995 to 2003, the country experienced relative stability, yet this period was characterised by corruption of the state, criminality, and the inability of the state to cope with its functions.

April 6, 2020 - Dimitri Avaliani

The slow shift of the status quo

As of the end January 2020, 52 Polish municipalities have adopted a resolution on being “free from LGBT ideology”. As a result, the French municipality of Saint-Jean-de-Braye has broken off its partnership with the town of Tuchów in southern Poland and the Central Region - Loire Valley suspended co-operation with Małopolskie Voivodeship.

On September 16th 2019, the city council meeting room in Lębork (a town of about 40,000 people in the north of Poland) is full of media and observers from local civil society organisations. There are also two members of the Polish parliament (one from the ruling party, one from the opposition). The session is being broadcasted on the city’s website, but apart from that two television cameras are also recording.

April 6, 2020 - Anna Fedas

A peek into the shadows of history and the present

A review of The Shadow in the East. Vladimir Putin and the New Baltic Front. By: Aliide Naylor. Publisher: I.B. Tauris, London, 2020.

April 6, 2020 - Adam Reichardt

Jáchymov. A little spa town and the horrors of forced labour in communist Czechoslovakia

A review of Jáchymov. Jeviště bouřlivého století (Jáchymov. A Theatre of the Stormy 20th Century) By: Klára Pinerová (ed.). Publisher: ABS, Prague, 2019.

April 6, 2020 - Josette Baer

An investigation into Putin’s useful idiot

A review of Crime in Progress. The Secret History of the Trump-Russia Investigation. By Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch. Publisher: Allen Lane, London, 2019.

April 6, 2020 - Taras Kuzio

Stimulating local memory

A review of "Everyday Life – Politics – Combat Training. Soviet armed forces in germany 1945-1994." An exhibit at the German-Russian Museum, Berlin-Karlshorst, Germany, August 28th 2019 – January 15th 2020.

April 6, 2020 - Kinga Gajda

In search of the wow effect

A review of the exhibit Ukraine WOW Interactive Exhibition. November 14th 2019 – March 29th 2020, Kyiv Ukraine.

April 6, 2020 - Nataliya Parshchyk

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