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  • Author: Arkady Moshes, Ryhor Nizhnikau
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Since the Euromaidan Revolution, self-identification and attitudes within Ukrainian society have changed profoundly. This report takes stock of the identity changes both nationwide and in three major oblasts, namely Lviv, Kharkiv and Odesa, representing in this study the Western, Eastern and Southern regions of the country respectively, to identify new differences and unity points. To this end, the report focuses on two major issues, looking firstly at the trajectory of the identity shifts nationwide and in three key regions, and secondly, at their political effects. The question of the sustainability of the changes is also addressed. Taking the regional aspect into consideration is crucial given that cleavages have traditionally had a visible regional pattern, and that the identity shifts coincide with a realignment of centre-periphery relations within the context of the ongoing reforms, particularly decentralization. The report also furthers understanding of the potential risks – or lack thereof – of this process for the Ukrainian state. This publication is part of a research project “Ukraine after Euromaidan” conducted by the Finnish Institute of International Affairs. The project is implemented with the financial support of the Nordic Council of Ministers 2020.
  • Topic: Revolution, Local, Decentralization , Identity, Euromaidan Revolution
  • Political Geography: Europe, Ukraine, Eastern Europe
  • Author: Veera Laine, Jussi Lassila
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: In Russia, the confirmed Covid-19 infections have been suspiciously few. The official numbers do not reflect reality as there has been no systematic testing at any phase of the epidemic. Now, however, the number of cases has risen rapidly, and the new situation has an effect on the Kremlin’s position in the eyes of the people.
  • Topic: Leadership, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Eastern Europe
  • Author: Arkady Moshes, Ryhor Nizhnikau
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Alexander Lukashenko’s “victory” in the election cannot bridge the gap between the president and the modern part of Belarusian society. Turbulent times may lie ahead for Belarus. This will require the West to revise its current approach and invest more in supporting forces that want reforms and the country’s Europeanization.
  • Topic: Reform, Elections, Europeanization, Transition
  • Political Geography: Europe, Eastern Europe, Belarus
  • Author: Ryhor Nizhnikau
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: During his first year as President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky prioritized presidential power-building. In order to do so, he relied heavily on the old system and established practices, such as “hands-on” management and the personalization of state agencies. Institution-building was replaced by the targeted fine-tuning of the dominant system. Some important reforms launched by the government in autumn 2019 were later stalled and reversed. As before, the adoption and implementation of comprehensive reforms will largely depend on Western pressure and conditionality. The major problem is that there are multiple centres of power in the country and the president’s actions only produce an illusion of control, while in reality the system is fragile and unstable. During the rest of his presidency, Volodymyr Zelensky will increasingly depend on oligarchs and govern through situational alliances. In exchange for their support, he may have to acquiesce to their continued dominance over the economy and the restoration of their influence in politics. Instability will intensify as his personal popularity wanes and economic and political crises deepen.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Leadership, Institutions, State Building, Transition, Elites
  • Political Geography: Europe, Ukraine, Eastern Europe
  • Author: Jussi Lassila
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Peopleʼs grievances were not reflected in Russia’s regional elections this year. The Kremlin is reaping the benefits of increasingly blatant electoral fraud and citizensʼ political apathy.
  • Topic: Authoritarianism, Elections, Rigged Elections , Opposition
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Eastern Europe
  • Author: Jussi Lassila
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The Kremlin is trying to learn lessons from old problems regarding its electoral authoritarian system, but new ones are constantly emerging. At the heart of these is the Kremlin’s party system.
  • Topic: Authoritarianism, Elections, Election watch, Local, Party System
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Eastern Europe
  • Author: Jussi Lassila
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Along with Vladimir Putinʼs third presidential term, intensified repression has manifested itself in line with the countryʼs increasing economic challenges. The starting point for this political trend was the so-called Bolotnaya Affair in May 2012. Since then, the regime has tightened the screws: non-governmental organizations receiving foreign funding must register as ‘foreign agents’; there are numerous restrictions on the use of the internet, as well as conditions for organizing demonstrations. The regimeʼs policies aim to send signals to the rest of society about the serious consequences that unwanted political and civic activities might cause. However, measures become inflated when the repressive deterrent targets too many. By 2019, along with the changed social mood, unparalleled solidarity against repressive policies, particularly around the regional elections in Moscow, has forced the authorities to retreat from some of their initial repressive goals. The Kremlin duly has to re-evaluate the usage of its repressive deterrent against the political opposition and civil society.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Elections, Repression, Fear, Opposition
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Eastern Europe