Pozdrowienia z Noworosji [Greetings from Novorossiya]
by Paweł Pieniążek
Entscheidung in Kiew. Ukrainische Lektionen [Decision in Kiev: Ukrainian Lessons]
by Karl Schlögel
The new Russian wars are a Bonapartism without a Napoleon, temporarily resolving domestic tensions in doomed foreign adventures, but lacking a vision for the world. Ideals are recognized in order to be mocked.
Ukraine is not a theater for the historical propaganda of others or a puzzle from which pieces can be removed. It is a major European country whose citizens have important cultural and economic ties with both the European Union and Russia. To set its own course, Ukraine needs normal public debate, the restoration of parliamentary democracy, and workable relations with all of its neighbors.
On paper, Ukraine is now a dictatorship. President Viktor Yanukovych, in having the deputies of his Party of Regions endorse an extraordinary packet of legislation, has arrogated decisive political power to himself. After hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians spent weeks in the cold demonstrating for basic human rights and a …
The aspiring tyrants of today have learned the lesson of the Reichstag fire of 1933: that acts of terror—real or fake, provoked or accidental—can provide the occasion to deal a death blow to democracy. The most consequential example is Russia, so admired by Donald Trump, but the use of terrorist threats to create or consolidate authoritarian regimes has become increasingly frequent worldwide.
In early 2017, Poland was supposed to unveil what is perhaps the most ambitious museum devoted to World War II in any country. Yet the current Polish government, led by the conservative Law and Justice party, now seems determined to cancel the museum, on the grounds that it does not express “the Polish point of view.” It is hard to interpret this phrase, which in practice seems to mean the suppression of both Polish experience and the history of the war in general.
Trump correctly says that Putin respects strength. But of course Putin prefers weakness, which is what Trump offers. It is precisely Trump’s pose of strength that reveals his crucial vulnerability. As anyone familiar with Russian politics understands, an American president who shuns alliances with fellow democracies, praises dictators, and prefers “deals” to the rule of law would be a very easy mark in Moscow.
The chronicles of Svetlana Alexievich, this year’s laureate of the Nobel Prize in Literature, are the opposite of escapism. Her relentlessly consistent interrogation of the experiences of Soviet citizens in the 1970s and 1980s has made her an acute critic of the abuse of memory in contemporary Belarus and especially contemporary Russia.