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Author: Miłosz Zieliński

Streamlining soft power

Over the last five to seven years, there has been a growing understanding in the West that engagement in the post-Soviet area needs to be differentiated. As much as we need to keep communication channels open in order to prevent the emergence of new divisive blocs, we must not forget about our values and what stands behind them. Therein lies the potential to build, to improve and to unite. A positive agenda is all the more important given what the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed.

We will all remember 2020 as the year when the COVID-19 pandemic arrived. The rapid spread of the virus brought significant changes to our lives: closed borders, businesses closing and limited social interactions. More importantly, it forced us to rethink the present and the future – an exercise that is increasingly needed as the scale of challenges continues to overwhelm us. At the dawn of 2021, the world’s attention has been drawn to the first steps to sort things out – namely, the vaccination process.

June 23, 2021 - Miłosz Zieliński

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 year-long history, the semi-exclave has exceeded one million inhabitants and continues to grow. Yet only the city and its immediate surroundings benefit from this trend.

The Kaliningrad Oblast, which is located on the Baltic Sea between Poland to the south and Lithuania to the north and east, was built on the ruins of the German province of East Prussia together with its capital city, Königsberg. The majority of its population, mostly ethnic Germans, fled in late 1944 and early 1945 as the Soviet Red Army advanced beyond the borders into pre-war Germany and started to encircle the region. The remaining thousands were resettled by the new authorities at the beginning of the 1950s. The repopulation of the region, now under Soviet control, was gradual and slow. By the beginning of the 1980s, the number of inhabitants in Kaliningrad had reached its pre-war levels.

April 7, 2020 - Miłosz Zieliński

Between Kant and Kalinin. The identity of Kaliningrad

Are inhabitants of the Kaliningrad Oblast “European Russians”? Is the region a different Russia, being influenced more by Polish food, German highways and Spanish beaches than by Russian empty spaces, traditional boots and cuisine? How has the identity of almost a million people living in the westernmost part of Russia been shaped since the collapse of the Soviet Union?

Russia’s Kaliningrad Oblast is a region that usually appears in the media in the context of Russia's tense relations with the European Union and the NATO. It is presented as an "aircraft carrier", as well as "a great military base of Russia”. Rarely can one hear or read about the everyday life in the region, the developmental challenges it faces and the values ​​and symbols which are important to ordinary Kaliningraders. In particular, the question of identity changes among the region’s populations remains widely unknown both in Poland and in wider Europe.

May 5, 2017 - Miłosz Zieliński

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