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TOPIC: eastern europe

FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

In Wartime Ukraine, That Fine Line Between Surviving And Collaborating With The Enemy

More than 6,000 collaboration cases have already been filed in Ukraine — but how does the law distinguish between wilful collaboration and simply trying to survive? And what should happen to the guilty?

KYIV — After the start of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, many more Ukrainians have been forced to survive under occupation. That means the question of collaboration with the Russian occupiers, and how to determine responsibility for it, is a pressing issue.

The term "collaboration" appeared in Ukrainian legislation only in March 2022, but it has a far longer history. Collaboration was first used to describe the cooperation of local residents with occupying German authorities in France and Belgium during World War I. At the time, it did not yet have a sharply negative connotation.

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The more widespread use of "collaboration" appeared during World War II, when it became the official name for cooperation between Germany and France's Vichy government.

But how to define the term remains ambiguous, and it is difficult to draw a clear line between actions necessary to survive an occupation, and true cooperation with the enemy.

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How To Stop Thinking About Russia — A Message From Eastern Europe To The West

David Stulik, senior research analyst at the Prague-based European Values Research Center, explains the risks of continuing to calculate all our choices according to hypothetical fears of and future compromises with Russia.


KYIV — There’s a school of thought among some in Europe that the energy crisis is due to the war “between Ukraine and Russia,” not because of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. It’s a subtle, but important difference in language — and one that reveals the partial success of Russia's non-stop propaganda and disinformation campaign.

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Even some very pro-Ukraine politicians consistently use the phrase “the war in Ukraine” for saying what caused energy prices to increase, or why household incomes in the West are going to drop.

It is of course unfair to blame Ukraine for these problems.

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What Happens When Soviet Monuments Are Torn Down

The toppling of statues and other political symbols creates new spaces that are themselves a reckoning for society.

In the Latvian capital of Riga, an 80-meter concrete obelisk came crashing down in late August to the loud cheers of a nearby crowd. It was created to commemorate the Soviet Army’s capture of Latvia in 1944.

Days earlier in Estonia, another Soviet monument, this time of a tank adorned with the communist red star, was removed and taken to reside in a museum.

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Such scenes are happening all over central and eastern Europe – in Poland, Lithuania and the Czech Republic. The removal or destruction of Soviet-era monuments is a powerful reminder of the complex relationship that exists between history, memory and politics.

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We Can't Choose Our Refugees Or Enemies — What Racists Don't Understand About War

The European far-right's sympathies for "white and Christian" Ukrainians shows its devotion to the idea of the "clash of civilizations." But it fails to see the basic paradoxes of war, where you may be fighting those who most resemble you and be forced to welcome those who look different.


In a recent tweet, Hermann Tertsch, a far-right member of European Parliament, clarified what his ilk understood refugees to be. The member of Spain's populist Vox party wrote that "in Ukraine, they are real refugees. Christian, white refugees."

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He was supposedly listing criteria relevant only to the state of Ukrainians, while ignoring the fact that the Russian soldiers who have brutally turned them into refugees are just as white and Christian.

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Anna Mierzyńska

Poland, A Case Study In Modern Political Tribalism

Poles are divided into hostile tribes. Radicalization is on the rise, and institutions do little to support those trying to tame it.


WARSAW — If you're not with us, you're against us. The enemy must be destroyed. He has no rights or dignity. This way of thinking is, unfortunately, becoming more and more popular in Poland. It justifies hate speech and violence. And even though we know that polarization and radicalization is a growing problem, almost no one is working to slow down the process. Those who are trying to confront the issue get little support in Poland.

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Eastern European Models Cash In For China's 'Singles Day'

BEIJING — These days, it is not rare to bump into blond, slim, pretty teenage girls on the streets of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. The majority of them, typically between 16 and 22 years old, come from Eastern Europe and are working temporarily as models in China.

The pace picks up in the late summer and autumn, as China's cross-border e-commerce portals prepare their fashion catalogues for the Christmas season, but also for Nov. 11, China's so-called "Singles' Day," celebrated each year by a fanatic e-commerce shopping spree, China News reported.

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Alexandre Lévy

A Quarter-Century Late, "Romanian Nuremberg" Finally Begins

A full 25 years after the fall of Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, the brutal commandant of a labor camp for political prisoners is finally being tried for alleged atrocities.

BUCHAREST — Born in 1925, Alexandru Visinescu lived a quiet, remorseless and very comfortable life until last year. The former commandant of the Ramnicu Sarat forced labor camp in eastern Romania was enjoying the equivalent of a $1,700 monthly pension, eight times more than the minimum pension paid to most Romanians of his age.

It was a pension he believed he definitely deserved because he did nothing more than "follow orders" at the camp where political opponents to the Communist regime were detained. Researchers from the Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes and Memory of the Romanian Exile (IICCMER) beg to differ.

After a first, failed attempt to bring him to court, last year IICCMER leaked the story of the abuses Visinescu and more than 30 of his then-colleagues committed: tortures, summary executions, food and sleep deprivation, beatings, exposure to the cold, etc. The list is so long and terrifying that the justice system spent a good time of time pondering how the crimes should be classified. "Genocide" or "crimes against humanity?" Then, encouraged by public opinion, the justice machine ignited.

Visinescu has the dubious distinction of topping this "list of 35" criminals. His trial, which some are already dubbing the "Romanian Nuremberg," began last month, 25 years after the fall of repressive Communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu, and almost 50 years after the atrocities for which he is being tried. After Visinescu appeared in court, the case was adjourned until October 22.

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