Belarus Crisis Highlights Europe’s Energy Problem

Map of Belarus and Environs, adapted from images at cia.gov

(Oilprice.com – Vanand Meliksetian – Sept. 24, 2020) The ongoing demonstrations in Belarus and the looming instability are a threat to both Russia and the EU. Moscow prefers the continuation of Lukashenko’s regime due to political reasons. Europe, on the other hand, faces an energy crisis if the situation escalates which could lead to a disruption of supplies. Belarus’ geographic […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “A dozen countries refuse to recognise Lukashenko’s inauguration; Spontaneous protests broke out in the evening following Alexander Lukashenko’s secret inauguration for a sixth term” – bne Intellinews/ Ben Aris

Alyaksandr Lukeshenko file photo, adapted from image at usembassy.gov

“A dozen countries refused to recognise … Lukashenko as … legitimate president of Belarus after he secretly inaugurated himself … September 23. Tensions were high in Minsk after the news broke, with protesters in Minsk flooding the streets and clashing with police trying to disperse them. The only leader that sent a message to congratulate Lukashenko was Turkmen President Gurbanguly […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Lukashenko inaugurates himself in secret” – bne Intellinews/ Ben Aris

Alyaksandr Lukeshenko file photo, adapted from image at usembassy.gov

“Fearing mass protests, Belarus’ self-appointed President Alexander Lukashenko held an inauguration for himself in secret to complete the legal process of winning the disputed August 9 presidential election. … [T]he entire perimeter surrounding the presidential palace … was closed to traffic. Some companies told their employees not to come in, as … roads were closed. Police trucks and army vehicles […]

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RUSSIALINK: “‘Harsh Times Ahead’: Russia’s Emergency Loan to Belarus Changes Little for Embattled Lukashenko” – Moscow Times

Map of Belarus and Environs, adapted from images at cia.gov

The $1.5 billion will largely go towards refinancing debt owed to Russia, and is only a fraction of what Belarus needs to avoid a crash in living standards. (Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Jake Cordell – Sept. 17, 2020) Russia’s emergency $1.5 billion loan will do little to help Belarus’ embattled President Alexander Lukashenko prevent his economy from spiraling into […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Russia says Belarus leader plans to change constitution; President Lukashenko began raising the question of changing Belarus’s constitution several years ago.” – Al Jazeera

Alyaksandr Lukeshenko file photo, adapted from image at usembassy.gov

“Russia said … Lukashenko … confirmed … plans to change the constitution as the two leaders held talks in Sochi …. Lukashenko faces mass protests at home …. Lukashenko, who has been in power for 26 years … previously changed the constitution to increase his presidential powers. The opposition wants to change the constitution back to its original form … […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “After Weeks of Pressure in Belarus, Protesters and Lukashenko Locked in Dangerous Stalemate” – Wall Street Journal/ Thomas Grove

Map of Belarus and Environs, adapted from images at cia.gov

“More than 100,000 people protest; country’s longtime leader set to meet Putin on Monday.” “More than 100,000 … poured into the streets of … Minsk [Sunday], sparking a show of force and mass detentions by riot police[,] … one of the largest in a string of demonstrations aimed at keeping pressure on … Lukashenko[] [i]n the month since [an election] […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin Backs Lukashenko as Belarus Leader Vows Closer Ties” – AFP

Alyaksandr Lukeshenko file photo, adapted from image at usembassy.gov

“… Putin on Monday backed embattled … Lukashenko[,] …. [who] thanked Putin for his support and vowed to stick closer to ‘elder brother’ Moscow during … talks at … [Putin’s Sochi] residence …. [Lukashenko’s] first foreign trip since his disputed [election] win … prompted mass protests against [Lukashenko’s] rule …. Putin appeared to endorse Lukashenko’s political future, praising … plans […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Belarusian leader set to visit Russia as protests continue” – AP

Map of Belarus and Environs, adapted from images at cia.gov

“… Protesters in Belarus have spent a month denouncing the results of the country’s Aug. 9 presidential election as rigged and demanding the resignation of President Alexander Lukashenko from the sixth term he won. Facing criticism from the West, Lukashenko has worked to cement ties with his main ally and sponsor, Russia. … set to head to Russia … Monday […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Travel Ban, Oil Supplies on Russia-Belarus Agenda” – Moscow Times

Map of Belarus and Environs, adapted from images at cia.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Sept. 4, 2020) Russia and Belarus are preparing to reopen borders that were closed because of the coronavirus pandemic and are discussing rerouting Belarusian oil exports through Russia, news outlets reported after high-level talks Thursday. Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin and his delegation met Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and his government in Minsk amid continuing […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Belarus Leader Proposes Vote on Constitution Reforms” – AFP

Alyaksandr Lukeshenko file photo, adapted from image at usembassy.gov

“… Lukashenko on Monday discussed plans for a referendum on constitutional reforms …. The 66-year-old … fac[es] his greatest challenge yet [in his 26-year rule,] following three weekends of giant protests in Minsk over a disputed August 9 [election] where he claimed victory over … popular opposition candidate[] Svetlana Tikhanovskaya. Lukashenko has twice before held such referendums, pushing through changes […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Belarus protests stoke sea change at state media outlets” – Financial Times/ Max Seddon, James Shotter

Map of Belarus and Environs, adapted from images at cia.gov

“Hundreds of journalists have gone on strike demanding fair coverage of demonstrations.” “… [In] a sea change at … [Belarus’s] normally pliant state media[,] [h]undreds of journalists have gone on strike demanding fair coverage of the [anti-Lukashenko] protests and … brutal police crackdown …. Several have resigned …. [S]tate media … remains a crucial tool in … Lukashenko’s attempt to […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Belarus’ Soviet-era economy still propped up by Moscow” – Deutsche Welle/ Nik Martin

Cash, Calculator, Pen

“Belarus has one of the lowest poverty rates in Europe, but economic growth is anemic due to archaic state-run industries and the ending of Russian energy subsidies. Its biggest political crisis is even more of a threat.” “… Belarus’ dependence on energy-rich Russia is ever more evident …. Moscow has already offered to help bolster security [amidst the current crisis] […]

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RUSSIALINK: “Lukashenko declares readiness for dialogue with ‘reasonable’ opposition members” – Interfax

Alyaksandr Lukeshenko file photo, adapted from image at usembassy.gov

MINSK. Aug 27 (Interfax) – Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has announced that he is ready to establish a dialogue with labor collectives, students, and “reasonable” members of the opposition, but said that won’t happen under the pressure of street protests. “Let us sit down, representatives of all labor collectives, student collectives (these are the future elites of our country, and […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Thousands gather on Belarus’ Independence Square in the rain to maintain protest momentum” – bne Intellinews/ Ben Aris

Map of Belarus and Environs, adapted from images at cia.gov

“Thousands of Belarusians … gather[ed] once again on [I]ndependence [S]quare in central Minsk … [T]he police … [have again] started to randomly arrest protestors …. The protests have become as large as those in 1991 during the collapse of the Soviet Union. … [After] fears that the protest movement was losing … momentum as Lukashenko launched an increasingly effective counter […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “In a Shift, Belarus Leader Seeks to Stem Protests Gradually” – AP

Alyaksandr Lukeshenko file photo, adapted from image at usembassy.gov

“When Belarusians filled the streets to protest what they called a fraudulent election that kept authoritarian … Lukashenko in power … blunt repressions came first. … emboldening more protesters, triggering strikes at state-run factories and forcing authorities to back off. With the protests now in their third week – including rallies that brought out an estimated 200,000 people in Minsk […]

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As Lukashenka Turns To Geopolitics, The West Faces Learning Curve In Belarus

Alyaksandr Lukeshenko file photo, adapted from image at usembassy.gov

… The embattled strongman has been back-footed by the massive, unprecedented demonstrations demanding he resign in the wake of the August 9 presidential election the protesters view as fixed […]

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Belarusians Expected a Maidan but Instead have a Revolution, Kagarlitsky Says

Belarus city file photo, adapted from image at state.gov

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, August 19, 2020) Belarusians expected a Maidan like in Ukraine with a dispute about falsification of election results leading to the ouster of a dictator; but what has occurred, as a result of Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s earlier successes and recent failures, is the beginning of a revolution with many more far-reaching consequences, Boris […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Biegun Says U.S. Sees No Indication of Russian Military Plans in Belarus” – Reuters

Cropped File Photo of Stephen Biegun, adapted from image featured at state.gov

“Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun [was in Lithuania,] signal[ing] a greater U.S. role … trying to settle … strife … erupt[ing] when Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko cracked down on peaceful protesters … reject[ing] his claim of a landslide election victory [claiming it was rigged]. … Asked about possible Russian military intervention … [Biegun] said: ‘Of course that would be […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Putin bets on Lukashenko keeping power in Belarus for now: sources” – Reuters

Alyaksandr Lukeshenko file photo, adapted from image at usembassy.gov

“… Putin believes … Lukashenko will probably cling to power for now despite protests … and is content to let him sweat it out, two sources close to the Kremlin said. … [T]he two countries usually have no border controls, … culturally, linguistically and economically intertwined. Putin has pushed hard to make [their] union state [concept] more of a political […]

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Only Six Percent of Russians Think Lukashenka About to Lose Power, VTsIOM Poll Finds

Alyaksandr Lukeshenko file photo, adapted from image at usembassy.gov

(Paul Goble – Window on Euarasia – Staunton, Aug. 16, 2020) While one Russian in four thinks Alyaksandr Lukashenka falsified the results of the presidential vote there and only one in five thinks that the official reports are entirely trustworthy, only one Russian in 16 – six percent – thinks the demonstrations in Belarus are about to drive Lukashenka from […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Merkel and Putin discuss political crisis in Belarus” – Financial Times/ Guy Chazan, Henry Foy, James Shotter, Max Seddon

Brandeburg Gate in Berlin, Germany, file photo adapted from image at state.gov

“German leader’s talks with counterpart acknowledge Russia’s crucial role in deciding fate of Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko.” “… Merkel called … Putin … Tuesday to discuss Belarus[,] … tacit acknowledgment of his pivotal role …. Moscow has propped up … Lukashenko financially and militarily throughout [Lukashenko’s] 26 years in power … the Kremlin has remained on the sidelines since his […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Belarus Opposition Seeks to Reassure Russia as Strikes Go On” – Bloomberg/ Aliaksandr Kudrytski

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

“Opposition leaders in Belarus are seeking to reassure Russia about future relations as the biggest challenge to … Lukashenko’s 26-year rule continues with nationwide strikes. Russia is an important partner for Belarus and ‘we recognize and accept that,’ Maria Kalesnikava … top ally of opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya[] wrote in a message published … on Telegram by … [Ekho Moskvy] […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Tikhanovskaya to hold first transition council meeting, EU opens talks with opposition” – bne Intellinews/ Ben Aris

Belarus city file photo, adapted from image at state.gov

“The focus of the opposition is shifting from street protests to a legal assault on Lukashenko’s administration and the creation of a transition government.” “… nominal president-elect of Belarus Svetlana Tikhanovskaya’s Transfer of Power Coordination Council … [seeks a] process of bringing in a new government ahead of fresh elections. ‘We’re starting to form the Coordination Council. … an extended […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Lukashenko Says He Is Ready to Share Power in Belarus as Protests Mount” – Reuters

Alyaksandr Lukeshenko file photo, adapted from image at usembassy.gov

“[Belarus’ leader] … Lukashenko … [says] he would be ready to hold new elections and hand over power after a constitutional referendum, an attempt to pacify mass protests and strikes … pos[ing] the biggest challenge … to his rule. … He faces the threat of [EU] sanctions after a bloody crackdown on protests following what demonstrators say was his rigged […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Why Vladimir Putin is unlikely to invade Belarus” – Atlantic Council/ Anders Åslund

Map of Belarus and Environs, adapted from images at cia.gov

“… Lukashenka seems to be on his way out. … he could only gather a few thousand press-ganged ‘supporters’ for a regime rally … [C]olossal crowds gathered [in Minsk] … hours later to demand his departure. Lukashenka’s blatant theft of the … presidential election has united the Belarusian people against him. Presumably, the only support he can now count on […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “Will Russia invade Belarus?” – bne Intellinews/ Ben Aris

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

“Russia has a lot more to lose than to gain from an annexation of Belarus. But it will be hard to lose anything in a post-Lukashenko Belarus” “… Lukashenko … [said] he would ask … Putin to help Belarus ‘restore order[,]’ … [that] protests ‘threaten the whole former Soviet space’ …. [Social media] [v]ideo … show[s] Russian army trucks … […]

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JRL NEWSWATCH: “How Russian imperialism could bring down Putin” – The Hill/ Janusz Bugajski

File Photo of Vladimir Putin at Podium with United Russia Logo, Gesturing

“… Putin has based his domestic support on economic growth and restoring the ‘Russian World.’ With the Russian economy in a nosedive, the Kremlin looks increasingly likely to attack a former Soviet neighbor to revive its imperial credentials. … Russia invaded Georgia to divert public attention from the 2008 financial crisis, and … invaded Ukraine to help quash growing protests […]

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New Russian Policy Toward Ukraine: Citizenship Beyond the Borders

Map of Ukraine, Including Crimea, and Neighbors, Including Russia

(Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – Kennan Cable No. 54 – Igor Zevelev, Global Fellow; Former Professor at George Marshall European Center for Security Studies; Former Director, MacArthur Foundation, Moscow Office – July 9, 2020) A major change in Russian policy towards Ukraine is underway. Policymakers, experts, and the media across the world have focused mostly on the conflict in eastern […]

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Unplugging the Baltic States: Why Russia’s Economic Approach May Be Shifting

Map of Baltics and Environs, Including Kaliningrad

(Russia Matters – russiamatters.org – Emily Ferris – July 1, 2020) Emily Ferris is a research fellow in the international security studies department at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). Russia’s approach to the Baltic states is occasionally framed as an imminent territorial takeover. This view has become salient since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, when other nearby countries […]

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Kremlin Denies Eyeing Territorial Claims After Putin’s Comments In Documentary

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

The Kremlin has denied it has any territorial claims on former Soviet republics after … Putin appeared to question the redrawn borders of Russia after the breakup of the Soviet Union […]

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Post-Soviet State Responses to COVID-19: Making or Breaking Authoritarianism?

Coronavirus File Photo adapted from image at cdc.gov

(PONARS Eurasia – Marlene Laruelle, Madeline McCann – March 24, 2020) Marlene Laruelle is Research Professor, Director of the Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies (IERES), Director of the Central Asia Program, and Co-director of PONARS Eurasia at George Washington University. Madeline McCann is Program Coordinator for PONARS Eurasia at George Washington University. (PONARS Eurasia Policy Memo) Pandemics are […]

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Awakening a new generation of activists in Eurasia; An emerging young, urban population has begun to challenge the lasting legacies of the Soviet era

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Opendemocracy.net – Erica Marat – September 5, 2019) Erica Marat, PhD, is an Associate Professor at the College of International Security Affairs, National Defense University. She is the author of The Politics of Police Reform: Society against the State in Post-Soviet Countries (Oxford University Press, 2018). A new wave of anti-government mobilization has swept across the Eurasian countries that once […]

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Flouting The Law In Nostalgia’s Name: Russia’s Growing Movement Of ‘Soviet Citizens’

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Article text ©2019 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – Matthew Luxmoore – MOSCOW, May 25, 2019 – article text also appeared at rferl.org/a/flouting-law-in-nostalgia-s-name-russia-s-growing-movement-of-soviet-citizens-/29962523.html) Konstantin Vyatkin has never acknowledged the Soviet collapse. “For the past 28 years I’ve tried to live in this country called Russia,” he says. “But in my heart I still live there, in the […]

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10,000 Windows on Eurasia

Eurasia Map

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, April 29, 2019 – windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2019/04/10000-windows-on-eurasia.html) This is the 10,000th Window on Eurasia in the new series I launched seven years ago after our house burned and I was diagnosed with leukemia. I did not expect to reach this milestone; in fact, I did not even expect to reach the number of roughly […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Saint Nick of Armenia: how protest leader Nikol Pashinyan ‘rescued’ Armenia and made it merry; Armenia’s intensive street mobilisation over the past month has taken many by surprise. Who is the man at the centre of these protests? [Excerpt]” – OpenDemocracy/Emil Sanamyan

Armenia Map and Flag

(opendemocracy.net – Emil Sanamyan – May 5, 2018) Based in Washington DC, Emil Sanamyan writes mostly about the South Caucasus region and its adjacent states. Recently, he has been editing the Focus on Karabakh page at the USC’s Institute of Armenian Studies and blogging about Armenian politics at Eurasianet.org. [Complete text: opendemocracy.net/od-russia/emil-sanamyan/saint-nick-of-armenia-how-nikol-pashinyan-rescued-armenia-and-made-it-merry] Four months ago, Armenian parliamentary deputy Nikol Pashinyan, […]

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NEWSWATCH: “How Russia’s Economic Recession Benefits Moscow Politically in its ‘Near Abroad’ [Excerpt]” – PONARS Eurasia/Mariya Omelicheva

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

Mariya Y. Omelicheva is Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Kansas. “Over the short run, Russia’s acrimonious relations with the West are serving the Kremlin’s broader effort of heightening its influence in its ‘near abroad.’ In 2014, Russia was hit by a triple whammy of low oil prices, Western sanctions, and Moscow’s counter-sanctions. During the […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Event Recap: Post-Soviet Political Theater” – NYU Jordan Center/ Ben Dalton

Arm and Torso of Person in Brown Sweater Placing Paper Ballot into Ballot Box

“In many post-Soviet countries, a hybrid regime has emerged that is neither full democracy nor pure authoritarianism. Sometimes called ‘competitive authoritarian regimes’ or ‘unconsolidated democracies,’ these governments adopt the trapping of democracies – elections, public debates, opposition parties – but in most cases electoral outcomes are preordained, and everyone knows where the real power lies. Perhaps the best example is […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Russia has been meddling in foreign elections for decades. Has it made a difference?” – Washington Post/ Lucan Ahmad Way, Adam Casey

Multilingual Polling Place Sign from U.S. Election Polling Place

“… Russia has been intervening in foreign elections for decades. Has it been effective? …. we put together and examined a data set of all 27 Russian electoral interventions since 1991. …  First wave: In the former Soviet states, 1991 to 2014 … Second wave: in Western democracies, 2014 to now …. It’s true that Russia has been increasingly trying to […]

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Russia’s wild decade: how memories of the 1990s are changing; A time of freedom and survival, memories of Russia’s first post-Soviet decade have come to divide people. The editors of a new collection on the 1990s share their thoughts.

File Photo of Kremlin Aerial View, adapted from .gov source

(opendemocracy.net – Thomas Rowley – September 15, 2017) Tom Rowley is Lead Editor at oDR. He is currently finishing a PhD on Soviet dissent at the University of Cambridge. Check out the latest in our Unlikely Media series, which profiles independent (and independently-minded) publications from across the post-Soviet space. As part of this series, we interview editors who are trying […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Ukraine’s TB problem is ticking time bomb for Europe; Controlling the airborne disease takes on additional urgency this year as the country seeks to integrate into EU with a new visa-free regime” – Politico/ LILY HYDE

Medical Symbol with Pole, Serpents, Wings, adapted from image at lanl.gov

“… Odessa has the highest rate of TB in Ukraine, with 110 cases per 100,000 people in 2016, and rising fast. Closely linked with migration, instability and poverty, controlling this airborne disease takes on additional urgency this year as Ukraine seeks to integrate into Europe thanks to a new visa-free regime. Part of a migration corridor from Central Asia and […]

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Russia setting priorities of its EAEU presidency – Medvedev

Dmitri Medvedev file photo

ASTANA. Aug 14 (Interfax) – The Russian presidency of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) in 2018 will focus on trade barriers, interaction with international partners, labor standards, and support for exports, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said at the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council’s meeting in Astana on Monday. “Russia will be presiding in the Eurasian Union next year. We are setting […]

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NEWSWATCH: “The Front Line Drawn Across Russia’s Backyard” – Stratfor

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

“Globalization has changed how we think about time, space and distance, but geography is still the same where it counts: national security. … former Soviet states lining Russia’s border know this better than most … their proximity to the eastern giant renders them more vulnerable to Moscow’s hybrid warfare …. Nations like Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova sit on the front line of […]

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Is the anti-corruption agenda all that it’s cracked up to be?

File Photo of Two Persons Shaking Hands and Exchanging Cash

The fight against corruption is often sold as the pill to end all postsocialist ills. Activists and researchers in Poland, Russia and Ukraine give their views on why we need to challenge it. (opendemocracy.net – Editors of Opendemocracy Russia – April 21, 2017) Recent years have seen a rise in anti-corruption protest movements across postsocialist states. In January, thousands took […]

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The Putin Doctrine

Russian Soldiers Marching

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore – August 17, 2016) Eight years ago, Georgia’s government apparently started a war with Russia — even though Georgian troops never left Georgian territory. Two and a half years ago, the Ukrainian people apparently started a war with Russia — by overthrowing a corrupt and autocratic ruler in a popular uprising. You really gotta […]

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OPPORTUNITIES: Research fellow openings at Centre for East European and International Studies (Zentrum für Osteuropa – und internationale Studien)

Bookcase file photo, adapted from image at nlm.nih.gov

Subject: Job advert Date: Mon, 30 May 2016 From: Lejly Agamuradova <agamuradova@dgo-online.org> Job advert Centre for East European and International Studies (Zentrum für Osteuropa- und internationale Studien) The German Bundestag has allocated funds to enhance expertise on Russia and Eastern Europe in Germany. On this basis, the Federal Government is establishing the Centre for East European and International Studies (ZOiS) […]

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Degradation of Russian Elites Underlies Russia’s Decline, Pastukhov Says

Russia Map

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, May 24, 2016) “The thinning out of the Russian ‘cultural stratum’ and, as a result, the degradation of elites who have turned out to be incapable of responding to new historical challenges,” Vladimir Pastukhov says, is the underlying cause of the current decline of the country. All other causes, technological, societal and […]

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