ZOiS Spotlight

ZOiS Spotlight features analyses, insights and background information on current developments in Eastern Europe by ZOiS researchers and guest contributors. ZOiS Spotlight is published each Wednesday in English and German.

ZOiS Spotlight 23/2017 by Tomila Lankina

On 10 September, elections to provincial assemblies, municipal councils, and regional executives were held in some Russian regions. As expected, most pro-Kremlin United Russia party candidates claimed victory. Can the ballots be seen as a dress rehearsal for the March 2018 presidential election? more...

ZOiS Spotlight 22/2017 by Gwendolyn Sasse

On 5 September, Russia caused surprise by proposing a UN peacekeeping mission for the Donbas. Reactions by many Western and Ukrainian officials were cautious given previous fruitless attempts to negotiate with Russian president Vladimir Putin. However, there are good reasons to take the proposal seriously. more...

ZOiS Spotlight 21/2017 by Anna Litvinenko

In Russia, journalists and political elites still use democratic rhetoric, despite the country’s authoritarian tendencies. This discourse is not simply a trick of the regime but is a legacy from Russia’s period of democratic transition. However, young Russians are searching for their own language. more...

ZOiS Spotlight 20/2017 by Nina Frieß

The year 1937 with its NKVD Order No. 00447 was the sad climax of Stalin’s Great Purge, which cost approximately 700,000 lives. A new Russian survey shows once again that Russian society is deeply divided on questions of remembrance, but the findings also reveal a few surprises. more...

ZOiS Spotlight 19/2017 by Pavla Homolová

For the first time in the modern parliament’s history, the Czech Republic may turn neither to the centre-left ČSSD nor to the centre-right ODS, but to the populist ANO. That party is led by the businessman Andrej Babiš, who is the second-richest Czech and wants to manage the state as a company. more...

ZOiS Spotlight 18/2017 by Gwendolyn Sasse

Expectations for the meeting between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin on 7 July and the G20 summit in Hamburg had been high. However, three developments before and after the summit have a more direct bearing on the relations between Russia and the West and on the war in Ukraine. more...

ZOiS Spotlight 17/2017 by Hannah Heyenn

During the 2015 refugee crisis, the Hungarian government stoked racist sentiments among the population. This strategy seemed to be effective with most people. However, an unprecedented number of Hungarians also helped the refugees. Who were those people and why did they decide to help? more...

ZOiS Spotlight 16/2017 by Dominique Arel

Twenty-three Crimeans have been charged with ‘terrorism’ since the annexation, the most famous being film-maker Oleg Sentsov. As a disturbing new documentary makes apparent, Sentsov is meant to personify the grave threat that Crimea fell under with the collapse of the regime of Yanukovych, the justification for the annexation. more...

ZOiS Spotlight 15/2017 by Julia Glathe

On 17 June, the FIFA Confederations Cup started in Russia. The tournament is essentially the dress rehearsal for the men’s FIFA World Cup which will be hosted by Russia next year. Against the background of crowd troubles during the European Championship in France in 2016, the question arises of whether Russian hooligans will turn the mega-event into a ‘festival of violence’. more...

ZOiS Spotlight 14/2017 by Neil MacFarlane

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) brings together four Central Asian states – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan – with Russia and China and, as of recently, India and Pakistan. Its remit is broad, the practical achievements modest. more...

ZOiS Spotlight 13/2017 by Gwendolyn Sasse

On 7 June another round of negotiations about the implementation of the Minsk II Agreement of September 2015 got under way in Minsk at the level of the Trilateral Contact Group (TCG) under the auspices of the OSCE. Is an end of the stalemate in Eastern Ukraine in sight? more...

ZOiS Spotlight 12/2017 by David Cadier

On 29 May 2017, the new French president Emmanuel Macron received his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, at the Castle of Versailles. His paramount aim was to open a channel for dialogue. For Macron, this was more than just a diplomatic exercise, however. more...

ZOiS Spotlight 11/2017 by Nadja Douglas

On 27 May 1997, the NATO-Russia Founding Act was signed. Against the backdrop of a drastically changed overall political climate, the question may be raised to what extent this international agreement still bears relevance for the relations between NATO and Russia? more...

ZOiS Spotlight 10/2017 by Robert Deam Tobin

Under the slogan “Celebrate Diversity” Ukraine hosted the Eurovision Song Contest 2017. The tensions surrounding this year’s competition revealed the conflicting forces within the country – especially when it comes to the rights of homosexuals. more...

ZOiS Spotlight 9/2017 by Cas Mudde

After a lacklustre performance by Geert Wilders in the Netherlands on 15 March, a resounding defeat for Marine Le Pen in France on 7 May, and an internally divided Alternative for Germany (AfD), journalists and experts will soon pronounce the end of populism. And they will be wrong again. more...

ZOiS Spotlight 8/2017 by Félix Krawatzek

Protests across Russia in late March 2017 led to enthusiastic comments in Western media about the democratic revival of the country’s youth. How does this picture of a critical youth fit into broader patterns of an apolitical and economically opportunistic young generation? more...

ZOiS Spotlight 7/2017 by Nadja Douglas

More than twenty-five years after gaining independence, Armenia is yet to undergo a democratically instigated change of power. The parliamentary election of 2 April 2017 was no exception in this regard. According to the international NGO Freedom House, Armenia is a ‘semi-consolidated authoritarian regime’. more...

ZOiS Spotlight 6/2017 by Nina Frieß

In March 2017, Zakhar Prilepin presented his new book. At about the same time, a broader audience learned that since autumn 2016 the author had held the position of major in a voluntary battalion in the so-called People’s Republic of Donetsk. Asked what motivated him to join the fighters, ‘I answer seriously: Pushkin’. more...

ZOiS Spotlight 5/2017 by Tatiana Golova

For just over a year now, immigrants from the (post-)Soviet space, who in the public perception are often reduced to the largest group of ethnic Germans from Russia (Russlanddeutsche) or even spoken of simply as Russians, have repeatedly been exposed to collective discursive suspicions. more...

ZOiS Spotlight 4/2017 by Grigore Pop-Eleches

In late January and early February 2017 Romania witnessed the largest popular protest in its history as hundreds of thousands took to the streets for several consecutive days to protest against a government ordinance that would have decriminalized certain types of corruption. more...

ZOiS Spotlight 3/2017 by Nadja Douglas

The Republic of Moldova currently faces a deep political rift. This becomes apparent when looking at the state leadership: a pro-European, liberal, but fairly discredited government on the one hand and a pro-Russian, conservative, but fairly obscure president on the other. more...

ZOiS Spotlight 2/2017 by Nina Frieß

On 23 February 1917, thousands of female workers in Petrograd, now again St. Petersburg, took to the streets demanding bread and peace as well as the right to vote for women. This was the beginning of the first Russian revolution in 1917 ending of the rule of the tsars and paving the way for the second revolution of 1917. more...

ZOiS Spotlight 1/2017 by Gwendolyn Sasse

Russia’s annexation of Crimea was formalized through a carefully staged process which quickly created facts on the ground. International law was violated and subsequent Western sanctions have done little to change the situation. The anniversary of the 2014 events brings into focus. more...