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Tag: politics

What do Aliyev, Ivanishvili and Zelenskyy have in common?

There is a recurring pattern among some of Russia's neighbours. Centrists look to avoid a confrontation with Moscow, while national democrats tend to blame it for their ills.

November 24, 2020 - Taras Kuzio

Do European values still matter in Ukraine?

Politics in Ukraine is still not driven by ideas or ideologies, but rather by personalities and money. While on the pro-western flank there are at least signs of demarcation between more liberal forces and more patriotic/identity politics, the pro-Russian flank is still characterised by a chaotic mixture of ideas.

When Volodymyr Zelenskyy won the 2019 presidential election in Ukraine, Ukrainian philosopher Vakhtang Kebuladze called his phenomenon a “non-Maidan”. I repeated this expression in my interview for New Eastern Europe published in May this year. Kebuladze meant that Zelenskyy’s election undermined the 2013-2014 confrontation between the pro-European “Maidan” and the pro-Russian “anti-Maidan”, and his political project – Servant of the People – intuitively or consciously sought a different approach: more inclusive, but also more vague, a comprehensive platform attracting voters with different origins and values.

November 17, 2020 - Volodymyr Yermolenko

Moldova’s oligarch mayors go global

The experience of Moldova reveals that in Central and Eastern Europe’s highly politicised and oligarchised environment, city diplomacy can be an easy tool for wealthy politicians suspected of corruption to gain more popularity and shield themselves from the judicial system. Ilan Șor and Renato Usatîi have been particularly adept in this realm.

Orhei, a medium-sized city about an hour north of Chișinău, is an unlikely rival to Monaco. Yet mayor Ilan Șor – one of the country’s oligarchs – promised in 2018 that Orhei’s residents would “live as they do” in the European principality. Farther north, in Bălți, mayor Renato Usatîi – yet another oligarch – claimed to have started a revolution in the city’s contacts with the world.

November 16, 2020 - Cristian Cantir

Clan war instead of fighting coronavirus and corruption

Chaos is probably the most accurate word to describe what has been happening recently in Kyrgyzstan. Political pluralism in this Central Asian state is so advanced that the Kyrgyz people find it difficult to understand who is currently seeing eye-to-eye with whom, who is against whom, and who calls the shots.

Nearly a month has passed since the October 4th parliamentary elections in Kyrgyzstan, but it remains unclear who is actually holding power in the country. There were as many as three individuals claiming the prime minister’s seat. President Sooronbay Jeenbekov announced that “as soon as the situation stabilises” he would be ready to step down. After the resignation of subsequent Supreme Council speakers, two of the deputies argued which one had the right to preside over the Supreme Council (the country’s parliament).

November 16, 2020 - Ludwika Włodek

The line between politics and friendship

A review of Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism and Twilight of Democracy. The Failure of Politics and the Parting of Friends. By Anne Applebaum. Publisher: Penguin/ Allen Lane, London, 2020.

November 16, 2020 - Simona Merkinaite

A triumphant referendum?

Russian officials and state media outlets have called Russia’s recent vote on constitutional amendments a “triumph”. What does the result tell us about the state of Russian society? How did Russians living abroad vote? According to official data, Russians living in the Baltic states voted in favour of the amendments to the constitution at a higher rate to Russians living in Russia or Russians living in other EU countries. Why was this?

On July 1st Russia’s nationwide voting on constitutional amendments – designed primarily to give the current Russian president, Vladimir Putin the opportunity to remain in power until 2036 – came to an end. According to Russia’s Central Electoral Commission, more than 57.7 million voters, or 77.92 per cent of those who voted, supported the amendments, while 15.7 million, or 21.27 per cent, voted against it. The turnout, according to official reports, reached almost 68 per cent.

September 7, 2020 - Olga Irisova

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 society. A proposal by several anti-establishment political groups on November 14th last year called for the dissolution of the national legislature. It was at that point when it became clear that the groups had started a movement that would cause an unprecedented rift in civil society.

There exists a very common misconception in modern-day Latvian politics that all political conundrums can be solved by the most radical expression of civic action one can find within a democracy. However the idea of a movement pushing towards dissolving the national parliament, which is very popular, is flawed to the core and has the potential to stir up domestic and regional politics to an unprecedented level.

April 7, 2020 - Ričards Umbraško

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

Thinking in dark times

An interview with Roger Berkowitz, Professor of Political Studies and Human Rights and Academic Director of the Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and the Humanities at Bard College. Interviewer: Simona Merkinaite.

April 6, 2020 - Roger Berkowitz Simona Merkinaite

Talk Eastern Europe 33: Ukraine reshuffles the government

In the latest Talk Eastern Europe podcast Adam and Maciek open the episode with a discussion on how the coronavirus situation is developing in the Eastern Partnership countries. They also highlight one small bit of good news in recent days, despite all the bad news that has been dominating the headlines.

March 27, 2020 - Adam Reichardt Maciej Makulski

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