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The ghosts of past wars live on in Russia’s Victory Day

Victory Day has become the main secular holiday in Vladimir Putin’s Russia. It is also an occasion for the government to showcase Russia’s military might and rally people around the flag. This year, the authorities used the celebration to bolster public support for the war in Ukraine, which they described as a necessary measure designed to "denazify" the country and prevent an imminent attack on Russian soil.

“Here in Leningrad people were dying of hunger during the blockade. We don’t want that to happen again,” says 31-year-old Valery. He was explaining the reasons why he supported Russia’s “special military operation” against Ukraine. Valery was among the tens of thousands of people who took to the streets of St. Petersburg to celebrate May 9th, or, as it is called in Russia, Victory Day.

July 14, 2022 - Adam Reichardt

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

The Russo-Japanese War. A forgotten lesson?

The Kremlin appeared very confident as it launched its invasion of a comparatively weaker Ukraine in February. In light of this, the Russian authorities appear to have forgotten their country’s defeat at the hands of a relatively untested Japanese military at the start of the 20th century.

Russia’s Tsar Nicholas II (1868-1918) was a model nobleman, a gentleman with a decidedly British air about him. His face was well defined and he had a well-cut beard, similar to the ones seen on Royal Navy officers. Should you be shown his photograph among a group of British naval commanders, you would not see much difference. Some people argue this was the result of genetics. Of course, Nicholas II was the grandson of Queen Victoria, who was also grandmother to Wilhelm II of Hohenzollern, the emperor of Germany. In addition to having the same grandmother, Nicholas and Wilhelm also shared the same dream – they both wanted to become admirals of a sea fleet.

July 14, 2022 - Andrzej Zaręba

In search of Baron Kurtz in Bucharest

In the summer of 1990, I found myself sitting on the platform of Wien Sudbahnhof waiting for a train to Bucharest and dreaming of waltzing down the River Danube. In the dream, my partner and I spiralled through rooms that had hosted the secessionist salons of Mitteleuropa. We landed on the couch of Freud’s 20th century, before spilling onto the streets and the opening scenes of The Third Man.

This is where my imagination takes me: Holly Martins has arrived in a burnt-out city. There are traps and ambiguities for a visitor from the New World; there are harsh and shifting choices forced on refugees. The lush romance of the Danube waltz lingers in the background, but my appetite for suspense has me gripped. In Vienna at the end of the 20th century, I searched in vain for the slippery labyrinths containing an enigma in the shape of a moon-faced man. I never found him, so I took the train to Bucharest.

July 14, 2022 - Lilian Pizzichini

The world has changed. Time for the US to take note of the strategic importance of the South Caucasus

The US has proven itself to be a firm supporter of Ukraine in resisting Russian aggression. Despite this, however, Washington has still not taken advantage of the various opportunities now presenting themselves in Eurasia and the strategically important South Caucasus.

July 13, 2022 - Taras Kuzio

Moldova’s path towards a better future is paved with many crises

Moldova recently made headlines as the country finally achieved EU candidate status alongside neighbouring Ukraine. Despite this, the country and its pro-EU government still face a great number of internal and external challenges on the way to further socio-economic success.

July 11, 2022 - Alexandru Demianenco

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

Ukraine’s health care system was not prepared for this war

An interview with Olena Chernenko, founder and CEO of the Ukrainian Medical Alliance. Interviewer: Adam Reichardt.

July 6, 2022 - Adam Reichardt Olena Chernenko

Is Poland a rising power and what are the implications?

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has highlighted the growing influence of Poland in regional affairs. Indeed, some have even suggested that the country is quickly becoming a power in its own right. Various issues will decide whether or not such a prediction comes true.

July 4, 2022 - Nikolas Kozloff

Colonialism and trauma in Central and Eastern Europe

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has provided the region with an opportune moment to examine its own deep-rooted legacies of colonialism. Subjected to outside rule in various forms over the past two centuries, the region could now finally grasp the chance to overcome this trauma and truly claim its “subjectivity” on the international stage.

July 1, 2022 - Miłosz J. Cordes

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