Nieuws Democracy

Nieuws over politieke trainingen en ontwikkelingen in Oost- en Zuidoost Europa, de Kaukasus, Afrika en het Midden Oosten

Een antwoord op Rusland

In antwoord op de motie Stoffer/Verhoeven die het kabinet verzoekt om een Ruslandstrategie, stuurde minister Blok in december een brief aan de Tweede Kamer. De brief bevestigt min of meer de strategie die het kabinet in 2015 al richting Rusland aannam, en ziet in principe geen reden om hier sterk van af te wijken. De nadruk ligt op ’druk en dialoog’ die in combinatie worden aangewend om Rusland te dwingen tot ‘respect voor de internationale rechtsorde en de Europese veiligheidsordening.’ De strategie lijkt vooral gericht op tijdig en adequaat reageren op acties die het Kremlin onderneemt. Maar het zou goed zijn verder te kijken, en op zoek te gaan naar een meer proactieve langetermijnvisie.

Worries for the Kremlin?

In the past weeks, thousands of people have protested in different cities across Russia against the pension reform plans announced by the Kremlin. The protests climaxed on September 9, the day of the regional elections, with nationwide rallies called for by opposition leader Alexey Navalny, who himself had been put in jail just two weeks beforehand. Protesters at the rallies, held in 33 cities, shouted slogans like ‘Putin is a thief’ and ‘Away with the tsar.’ State police arrested, sometimes violently, and jailed more than 1,000 people, of whom 452 in St Petersburg alone. While protests in Russia are not uncommon, it seems that this time they have the Kremlin worried and looking for ways to win the public back.

To Censor or Not to Censor, That is the Question

In his annual Direct Line on Thursday, June 7th, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin dedicated four hours to addressing complaints, questions and concerns by Russian citizens on live television. The questions were submitted on a rolling basis per text message, through the website or on live video call, and were aired on screen. As opposed to the previous years, the Kremlin decided to not include a live audience, but instead to expand in regards to ministers and governors who were put on conference call in relevant matters. The Direct Line is a carefully mapped out event, allowing no room for improvisation, and every step is carefully staged to achieve a goal. Thus, certain aspects that may seem unpredicted to viewers serve a clear purpose. Overall, various aspects of the Direct Line formidably show that Putin is pursuing a new strategy to place himself at the front of his government, and the format of the show is arguably a tool to achieve the goal of both uniting his people and improving his image among youth and critics.

Dag van de overwinning, 9 mei. День Победы 9 мая

Ook dit jaar was elke zijstraat naar Tverskaya Ulitsa, de 8-baans toegangsweg naar het Kremlin, geblokkeerd met grote zicht-blokkerende vuilnis- en vrachtwagens en piepjonge agenten. Alles was afgezet tot kilometers rondom het Rode Plein, inclusief hele lijsten aan metro-uitgangen. Hier, in Moskou marcheren de opgedofte eenheden enkel voor de kleine elite van genodigden op het Rode Plein. Boodschap: als je iets wil zien, volg het maar via de TV op je hotelkamer (of de generale repetities een paar dagen eerder).

Fraud and pressure on independent observers during Russia’s regional elections

On Sunday September 13th nationwide regional elections were held in Russia in 84 of the 85 regions of the country, including the disputed region of Crimea. More than 189.000 candidates were eligible for election by 59 million voters in 10,700 different elections and 70 referendums were held in 10 regions. In 21 regions Governors were elected. The Kostroma region was the only region where an opposition party openly critical of the Kremlin, the People’s Freedom Party (Parnas), participated in the elections. Preliminary results show that Vladimir Putin’s party United Russia won the elections. Independent watchdogs registered multiple violations during the elections, including fraud and pressure on independent observers.

Youth Summer Academy Eastern Europe takes place in Lviv, Ukraine

On 19-23 August the sixth annual Summer Academy organised by the British Labour Party, Foundation Max van der Stoel, European Forum for Democracy and Solidarity and partners in Ukraine from the New Social Democratic Platform was held Lviv, Ukraine. The Summer Academy is organised for young social democrats from Eastern Europe and is aimed to help the participants learn new skills in political ideology, campaigning, communication and debating as well as gain enough confidence and knowledge to be able to repeat the training themselves. The participants were selected from social democratic parties from 4 countries - Georgia, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine. Trainers from the UK and The Netherlands facilitated the training together with trainers from Moldova and Ukraine (who were themselves alumni of previous Summer Academy editions).

Russia investigates legitimacy of Baltic States’ independence

The Russian chief prosecutor's office examined whether the Soviet Union acted legally when it recognised the Baltic states' independence in 1991. A source related to the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office, accepted an enquiry previously made by two members of the Russian Duma (parliament) - Anton Romanov, and Yevgeny Fyodorov; both members of President Vladimir Putin's United Russia party. In their letter, Fyodorov and Romanov, said the 1991 decision to recognise Baltic independence had been taken "by an unconstitutional body". The State Soviet was an interim assembly formed in September 1991, and comprised the Soviet president and the leaders of 10 of the country's republics. But the Soviet Constitution allowed no provisions for the creation of such a body. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday that the move had not come from the Kremlin "We were not familiar with this initiative in the Kremlin, and I am struggling to understand the essence of it," he told reporters. Even though, the Russian Prosecutor General's Office decided these claims have no legal grounds, it has raised strong reactions among Baltic states and their allies.

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