North Macedonia’s choice to support Ukraine has exposed it to intensified hybrid attacks. But internal divisions and festering disputes with neighbouring Bulgaria create a fertile ground for Russian interference, feeding existing resentment and a sense of encirclement.
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Held hostage to the Russian veto, the UN has gradually abandoned the Syrian population. Russia’s war in Ukraine worsens the situation still, but also offers hope for democratic forces in Syria that their tormentors will one day be brought to justice.
The war crimes charges brought by the ICC against Putin are a breakthrough. But built-in safeguards of national interest, combined with an incomplete patchwork of mechanisms and jurisdictions, mean a long way ahead before Russia is prosecuted under international law for the crime of aggression.
Sexual violence is being used systematically by the Russian military in Ukraine to achieve the political goals of the Russian leadership, and is not just the result of ‘indiscipline’ or abuse of power.
Well-intentioned appeals from the collective West to encourage cultural dialogue between victim and aggressor reflect existing power structures. Reconciliation, Kateryna Botanova explains, cannot be imposed from outside.
Ode to a dying village
Old age and loneliness in the Romanian countryside
In a rural village in northwestern Romania, church bells ring ever more rarely and memories are the only refuge from loneliness. The few inhabitants are the last witnesses of a dying way of life, but their stories and experience reveal something universal.
Ever since the French Revolution, all modern regimes that have claimed to be democracies have rested on some form of people power. Can we really be so sure of the principle that divides the democratic ‘us’ from populist ‘them’?
The responsibility for family and home, often while holding down a job, is still largely considered women’s work. When crises strike and recession looms, those in precarious jobs tend to suffer the most. In Italy, the burden of economic fallout has fallen on female shoulders. But women’s acumen is behind a turnaround.
Britain’s royal family seeks to preserve the myth of the ‘neutral monarchy’ by blocking access to the archives. But as historians of the Commonwealth further investigate Britain’s colonial past, Buckingham Palace will not be able to maintain its tight control of the historical narrative.
Rhapsody of emancipation
On the interventions of Gáspár Miklós Tamás
An anarchist philosopher turned right-leaning libertarian and anti-capitalist critic of the illiberal order, Gáspár Miklós Tamás (1948–2023) embodied what east European thinkers have tended to be best at: making paradoxes intelligible.
Voters have always overlooked breaches of democratic principle as long as they are getting what they want. This mattered less when politicians held each other in check. But with the tribalisation of public debate, democratic gatekeeping breaks down.
A response to John Keane
In his sweeping survey of ‘democides’, John Keane associates democracy with all that is deserving of respect, including nature itself. But ‘true democracy’, as Marx put it, is much less polite. Can we really invoke it to save the planet?
‘There are either heroes or enemies, with no in-between. There is no room for indulgence or softness – just demands, judgments and relentlessness.’ How war makes a taboo of pleasure and the erotic.
The war in Ukraine is said to be the most documented war in history. But can Ukrainians ever convey their true experiences to outsiders? And can outsiders ever fully empathize? Bleak reflections of a Ukrainian cultural diplomat.
One year on from the escalation of Russia’s invasion and there’s no sign of conflict resolution in Ukraine. While controversy abounds over political negotiations, constructive discussions about bearing witness to war and what of Ukraine’s cultural heritage should be preserved are forward thinking.
Ukraine denial is the root cause of Putin’s genocidal war. Since he is unwilling and unable to abandon this ideological obsession, talk of negotiations by western ‘peacemakers’ looks like an attempt to avoid responsibility.