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We are still searching for our strategy with Russia

An interview with Linas Linkevičius, a Lithuanian politician and diplomat and former foreign minister (2012–2020). Interviewers: Adam Reichardt and Maciej

April 11, 2021 - Adam Reichardt Linas Linkevičius Maciej Makulski

The Baltic states. Three peas in a pod?

The three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are often together associated as a bloc, with a similar history, culture and politics. While there

April 11, 2021 - Andres Kasekamp

The Baltic phoenix

The dissolution of the Soviet Union resulted in defragmenting of the world map into fifteen pieces – most of which were new entities. However, three of

April 11, 2021 - Grzegorz Szymborski

Russians in Estonia. We are not “them”, we are “us”

Access to good education, healthcare, social welfare and general public services has all contributed to the often difficult process of better integrating

April 11, 2021 - Kristina Kallas

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

April 11, 2021 - Ričards Umbraško

How far right politics derailed Estonian higher education success

Estonia’s success story in education recently made a U-turn. In less than two years, a grand coalition of populist parties have affected Estonia’s

April 11, 2021 - Anastasiia Starchenko

Russia’s police state showed its real face in latest protest crackdown

Facing the largest street protests in a decade, Russian authorities responded with an unprecedented wave of repression. The harsh crackdown seems to have had

April 11, 2021 - Giovanni Pigni

Everyone understands what is happening

The space for freedom is shrinking in Russia. Many see a repetition of 1937 – a period of the most severe Stalinist terror, when government agents, at any

April 11, 2021 - Victoria Odissonova

Zelenskyy takes on Russia’s information warfare campaign against Ukraine

On February 2nd Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed a presidential decree sanctioning Lviv oligarch Taras Kozak’s companies which owns three pro-Russian television

April 11, 2021 - Taras Kuzio

Joe Biden needs Eastern Europe as a success story

The European Union currently faces several domestic issues. It is still a union of member states, whose leaders have different approaches towards many challenges, and still has no common army or military strategy. That is why US engagement in the region is still necessary, just as it was in the 1990s after the fall of communism.

“America is back” – that is how Joe Biden began his speech regarding his foreign policy priorities. What does that mean for the world and Europe in particular? Since the Second World War, no US president has brought so much foreign policy expertise to the White House. Biden probably has the most significant international experience among current world leaders, and especially amongst American politicians.

April 11, 2021 - Vladyslav Faraponov

Georgia’s household debt crisis deepens in the wake of COVID-19

Georgia’s household debt crisis existed long before COVID-19 hit, but it has been exacerbated by the current pandemic. To make matters worse, the credit environment is plagued with predatory conditions and a lack of regulation which has put many of Georgia’s most vulnerable citizens in a perpetual debt cycle.

Approximately 150 kilometres north of Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi, and nestled into a valley below Mount Kazbek lies the town of Stepantsminda. Home to a population of fewer than 2,000 permanent residents, Stepantsminda has become a popular destination over the last decade and has economically benefited from Georgia’s growing tourism sector. Keti, a local woman from the Kazbegi region, joined the area’s emergent hospitality sector in 2015. She opened a hotel with the help of a loan from one of the country’s largest private banks, Bank of Georgia.

April 11, 2021 - Mackenzie Baldinger

What is really behind Ivanishvili’s decision to quit politics

The announcement earlier this year of Bidzina Ivanishvili’s departure from the political arena came at a time of domestic political unrest, and has been questioned by many in Georgia. Ivanishvili had already resigned from political life in 2013. Yet, kept ruling from behind the scenes. Will this time be any different?

On January 11th this year, Bidzina Ivanishvili, founder and chairman of Georgia’s ruling Georgian Dream party and the country’s most influential politician announced his retirement from politics “as party chairman, as well as from the party itself”. The 65-year-old billionaire declared his mission was accomplished, having decided to return to his “private lifestyle” and to “completely withdraw from politics and let go of the reins of power”.

April 11, 2021 - Soso Dzamukashvili

Farewell, nation!

The symbols and language of the 2020 Belarus protests circumvented the terminological deadlock of Belarusian identity, which for years had been attempted to be explained by national templates. Unconventional actions by the public have revealed a hidden picture of the mentality in Belarus, which has become a huge step towards a post-national future.

The ongoing Belarusian protests in addition to its obvious political aims, also solves a much more important issue. The public is abandoning the national template of self-determination as a civil order. For Belarusians in 2020, so many things have changed. For the first time in more than a quarter century, the authorities in Minsk felt a real danger to their existence and lost control over public opinion.

April 11, 2021 - Anton Saifullayeu

This conflict was always on the edge of Europe

An interview with Thomas de Waal, a senior fellow with Carnegie Europe. Interviewer: Bartłomiej Krzysztan

BARTŁOMIEJ KRZYSZTAN: The second Nagorno-Karabakh war left the South Caucasus in new geopolitical circumstances. What do you perceive as the main changes from the perspective of the international order? 

THOMAS DE WAAL: This war was a defeat for the attempt to achieve a multilateral, international peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Since the early 1990s that has been the vision: that this was a conflict which had not just Russian mediation, but also mediation from the United States and France. Part of the vision was that it would be some kind of multilateral peace, maybe similar to the one we have seen in the Balkans, but hopefully without its flaws, one which would take into account human rights abuses and be accompanied by some democratisation and a European integration agenda. That was the hope.

April 11, 2021 - Bartłomiej Krzysztan Thomas de Waal

Navalny is a symbol of the opposition, not its leader

An interview with Boris Vishnevsky, a columnist and opposition member of the St Petersburg legislative assembly. Interviewer: Linas Jegelevicius

LINAS JEGELEVICIUS: Did you take part in the recent protests in support of Alexei Navalny?

BORIS VISHNEVSKY: No, I did not. I act in a different role. Most recently, there were only two Russia-wide demonstrations in support of Navalny – on January 23rd and January 31st. Instead of marching with the demonstrators, I helped those who, as a result of these marches, ended up in the hands of the militia and security forces. Setting them free takes much longer and requires a lot of painstaking and time-consuming work. My assistance includes various forms, including legal aid in the courts.

April 11, 2021 - Boris Vishnevsky Linas Jegelevicius

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

A book judged by its cover

A review of Revolution. By: Victor Martinovich. Published in Belarus by Knihazbor, Minsk 2020.

April 11, 2021 - Maxim Rust

Living with the beast

A review of Potwór pamięci (The Memory Monster). By: Yishai Sarid. Published in Polish by the Jan Nowak-Jeziorański College of Eastern Europe in Wrocław, Poland, 2021.

April 11, 2021 - Maciej Makulski

A sort of magic realism

A review of Yupak. By: Serhiy Serhiyovych Saigon. Publisher: Bilka, Kyiv, 2020

April 11, 2021 - Kateryna Pryshchepa

The thieves in law

A review of The Vory: Russia's Super Mafia. By: Mark Galeotti. Publisher: Yale University Press, New Haven/London, 2018.

April 11, 2021 - Lasha Bregvadze

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