New Eastern Europe

Poland

The great Polish poet and novelist Zbigniew Herbert was an ‘aesthetic dissident’ during communism whose frequent travelling was a form of escape. He became a figurehead of Solidarity yet was forgotten after 1989. Ukrainian poet Andriy Lyubka on Herbert’s life and the revival of interest in his work.

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Having turned the law into an instrument of state policy and private vendetta, and having turned the legislature into a caricature without power or independence, can Vladimir Putin afford to become an ex-president? As the Russian leader prepares to be re-anointed in an election on 18 March, Mark Galeotti explores Putin’s options.

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The Russian region of Kuzbass is entirely dependent on the extraction and export of coal. But the environmental toll of coal mining there is heavy. Despite some resistance by local communities and indigenous peoples, there appears to be no will among the authorities to slow the spread of coal extraction, which has already devastated several towns and villages in the region.

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The international order has never been tidy or complete, always having had lands with contested sovereignty. The breakdown of empires is the most common catalyst for producing new aspirant states. The post-Soviet space is especially rich in these territories, as Thomas de Waal explains.

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A battle for the future shape of Russia’s education system is under way. Not only is the Kremlin increasing its control over what it considers the correct version of the country’s history, there are also signs of a gradual ideological turn towards promoting the glorification of Joseph Stalin.

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