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Tag: coronavirus

On Russia and resignation

In Russia, it remains unclear whether the current discontent will coalesce into a lasting challenge to the Kremlin. Both journalists and analysts tend to hastily predict Putin’s downfall when protests mount. But at the very least, the all-encompassing nature of the coronavirus has provided citizens with a moment of heightened consciousness about their relationship to power.

Liberal-leaning Russians like to remind us that the most common last surname in their country is Smirnov. It is also the name of a well-known vodka brand, Smirnov, etymologically rooted in smirenie, often translated as submission or resignation.

November 17, 2020 - Natasha Bluth

What is the best response local governments can have in today’s reality? How to find a balance between openness and responsibility?

The Cross-Border Cooperation Congress - Lublin 2020 will take place on October 6-9, 2020, online

At the Cross-Border Cooperation Congress, we will discuss the key questions of the present time: How to reconcile openness to people, change and new technologies and a responsibility for safety? This is a question about a new understanding of participation, both externally, from citizens, and internally, one that would maximise the use of resources within organisations, while empowering employees in the decision-making and strategy-building processes.

October 2, 2020 - New Eastern Europe / Sponsored Content

Coronavirus pandemic seriously challenges Russian economy

A combination of socio-economic factors observed in Russia not only indicates that the impact of the coronavirus crisis on the country's economy will be profound, but that the recovery might take longer than it appears today. Much will depend on the authorities’ readiness to support household incomes and business activity through accumulated reserves and borrowings.

Russia has approached the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic with the economy not in great condition. Back in 2010-2012 the Russian economy was growing faster than the world economy. Yet since then, its global share has fallen by about one-fifth. In 2014, following the events in Ukraine, the Russian economy suffered a double blow as a result of lower oil prices and the impact of sanctions imposed on it by the United States, the European Union and a number of other countries.

September 7, 2020 - Oleg Buklemishev

Russian digital authoritarianism at the time of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly accelerated the use of digital surveillance technologies in Russia which had been planned earlier but tested only on a limited scale. Their increased use by the state will not end with the pandemic, but will determine the “new normal” where civil liberties are restricted more than ever before.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is a classic example of an extraordinary situation which adds to the discussion regarding the ideal balance between public security and civil liberties. As expected, in Vladimir Putin’s Russia, security has been treated as a pretext to expand the state’s authority at the cost of individuals’ rights. The pandemic has been a catalyst which accelerates and expands implementation of advanced digital technologies that are aimed to tighten the authoritarian hold over society. The authorities use them to monitor the citizens, manipulate behaviour, coerce people into political loyalty and to repress the opposition.

September 7, 2020 - Maria Domańska

The pandemic’s toll on Lviv

Lvivians have much in common with Italians. They enjoy the company of others and lead social lives. They cannot live without coffee and gossip, and they gladly start conversations with strangers. Maybe this is why we have the highest infection rates in Ukraine.

I live in Lviv, where I work as a tour guide. I tell people stories. Today I have a story to share with you. It is about Lviv, Ukraine and guided tours in the time of coronavirus. The pandemic did not come to us unexpectedly. After all, we had been watching the news. It did, however, come suddenly, like a wave that covered the entire tourist sector and beyond. On March 9th, I was returning to Lviv from a weekend away in the mountains. Life was going on as usual. That day I picked up an advance payment for a hotel group stay that was planned for June. I also received an e-mail informing me of a cancelled a trip scheduled for March 21st. This request surprised me and seemed unfounded at the time. After all, we only had one confirmed case of coronavirus in all of Ukraine!

September 7, 2020 - Katarzyna Łoza

Hardly a Georgian dream. Confronting COVID-19 in the midst of an election year

Like much of the world, Georgia has experienced the first half of 2020 in a way that could not have been predicted. The ruling Georgian Dream party faced the difficult choice of sparing economic losses or imposing strict regulations to maintain public health. The COVID-19 virus, while largely curtailed in Georgia by decisive action, has left many economic woes in a country that will only be intensified by an imminent election.

This year is shaping up to be unlike anything that could have been anticipated. This was a year that many expected to see dominated by Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, the Summer Olympics in Tokyo and a highly-contested US presidential election in the autumn. Instead, the first six months saw a global shutdown and subsequent economic and health crisis caused by COVID-19. The country of Georgia, which anticipated ten months of mud-slinging and campaign promises in the run up to its October parliamentary elections, quickly found itself as pre-occupied as the rest of the world with mitigating the effects of the virus.

September 7, 2020 - Mackenzie Baldinger

The cost of saving Europe’s asparagus harvest

In our “Europe without borders” that stipulates all European citizens have the same inalienable rights, the reality is very far from the ideal. The COVID-related scandals surrounding seasonal workers, slaughterhouses and overcrowded living facilities have brought an unspoken societal consensus to the forefront – namely, which lives we deem most valuable and worthy of protection.

As the economic plunge caused by COVID-19 erodes prosperity across the European Union, the distinctive vulnerability of migrant workers and minorities has been increasingly exposed. Although this discussion has focused on the staggeringly high mortality rates among the black and minority populations in the United States and the United Kingdom, a much less discussed, yet equally beleaguered, group includes seasonal and precarious workers from Central and Eastern Europe employed along both sides of the Dutch-German border, whom the economic slump provoked by the pandemic has turned into a disposable resource at greater risk of infection.

September 7, 2020 - Alexandra Wishart

Even before the pandemic, we have been living in isolation

The coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on both Moldova and the breakaway region of Transdniestria. Moldova remains on the so-called “red list” of countries due to its high number of COVID-19 cases. Transdniestrians, meanwhile, face even more severe restrictions. Since March 16th a state of emergency was declared in the para-state and its borders with Ukraine and Moldova have been closed.

COVID-19 harshly hit the population on the banks of the Dniester River – those from Moldova, on the right bank, and those from the breakaway region of Transdniestria, on the left bank. While the people of Transdniestria have been living in a symbolic isolation for the past number of decades, the measures imposed by the de-facto authorities there during the outbreak made the region even more isolated. However this has not stopped the people of the region from exploring alternative ways of connecting with the outside world and with each other.

September 7, 2020 - Marina Shupac

Will China’s facemask diplomacy pay off?

China has recently engaged itself in Central and Eastern Europe. Its influence in the region may become even stronger as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Central and Eastern Europe’s location is strategically very attractive – geopolitically and economically. That is why Washington has often called this region a pivot area, a term popularised by the late Zbigniew Brzeziński. With a large part of the region now part of western integration structures (especially NATO), the Kremlin sees it as a threat to its spheres of influence. Thus, the language of Russian strategists includes phrases such as the “American cordon sanitaire” or (alternatively) the “Western Limitrophe”.

September 7, 2020 - Jakub Bornio

Picking strawberries in a pandemic

Recently, there were over two million migrant workers in Poland. When the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic closed down companies and factories, many of them were left out of work. Some of them went back to their homes. Then came another problem – it turned out that the Polish economy does not function so well without foreign workers.

Every few minutes, a new van arrives at the market in Czerwińsk nad Wisłą – a village about 65 kilometres northwest of Warsaw. Crowds of merchants converge around every one of them. The driver does not even have time to park or open the door, the merchants surround him. The vehicle stops, the door opens. Another one arrives, with only a few goods, taking up a third of the van. There are several dozen boxes of strawberries inside. These are the only ones available. The crowd shouts: “How much? How much?”

September 7, 2020 - Magdalena Chodownik Omar Marques

Pandemic response in Gdańsk

Interview with the mayor of Gdańsk, Aleksandra Dulkiewicz. Interviewer: Paulina Siegień.

July 20, 2020 - Aleksandra Dulkiewicz Paulina Siegień

The Kremlin’s fake news machine swirl COVID-19 conspiracies

To quell the impact of pro-Kremlin disinformation campaigns ahead of the milestone October parliamentary elections, the government, Facebook and civil society organisations will need to take more proactive measures.

Georgia has been particularly affected by Russian information operations, especially in light of its troubled political relations with Moscow and the country’s generally unabated pro-western course. Over the last few years, large numbers of Kremlin-funded and domestic news websites and social media pages have carried out a massive information offensive against the country, undermining societal trust towards the West, public institutions and civil society organisations. They have been particularly active in the electoral periods, campaigning extensively against liberal values and liberal-minded politicians.

July 7, 2020 - Tornike Zurabashvili

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