Open doors

When the going gets tough…

On April 1, Pavel Durov posted on “his” VKontakte, Russia's largest social network, a statement announcing his departure from the General director office. What could seem an April Fools’ Day joke is the sign of great maneuvers affecting the media system in Russia.

Does the gas dispute matter in the Russia-Ukraine crisis?

It is some years that Russia has planned keep Ukraine out the gas delivery route to Europe. The previous years’ gas dispute taught Moscow and its European gas buyers that it is much better not to have anybody who could turn off the taps of the pipelines on their route to the final customer. The new crisis in Ukraine, now, seems to shuffle the cards.

Egypt and food subsidies: the end of an era?

When Hani Qadry Demian, the new Egyptian Minister of Finance, took office less than a month ago, he clarified at once that national economic conditions were even worse than one could ever imagine. The budget gap, according to Demian’s assessment, is three times higher than the figure reported by his predecessor, Ahmed Galal.

O tell me the truth about the referendum

Crimea has took its decision. And it was an incontrovertible one. Some 83% of its inhabitants went to polls Sunday to express their will about the future of the (former) autonomous republic inside Ukraine, and 97% of them voted in favor of reunion with Russia. That’s quite a plebiscite. And yet somebody have something to say about it.

Putin’s appetite for Ukraine

Seizure of Crimea is in the bag, and everybody already knows it. Russia knows it well, and Kiev knows it well. Europe and United States also are well aware that nothing can be done to convince Putin to step back.

The infowar on Ukraine. How Putin took over Crimea without firing a single shot

Vladimir Putin sent troops to Crimea; no, he didn’t. Fascists now ruling the country threaten ethnic Russians in southern and eastern Ukraine; no, they don’t. The new government in Kiev is illegitimate and Viktor Yanukovich is the only president; no, he is most wanted for crimes against humanity. Euroamaidan was nothing but a coup led by russophobic extremists; no, it was a people’s revolution against a kleptocratic autoracy.

Yet another post-soviet revolution

What we have seen in the past few days in Ukraine – and what we still have to see – is not just a mass demonstration like the 2004 Orange revolution (which did not have actually a real revolutionary spirit). The Euromaidan protests that put Kiev literally on fire last week show that Ukraine is only now closing the chapter of the Twentieth century. This is yet another post-soviet revolution in Europe.

Ecology and Research at the base of the Slovak challenge

The Eurozone is often described as an example of economic areas that are held back by monetary policy, but in this region somebody received a positive rating from feared agencies (A stable by Standard & Poor's, A + stable by Fitch Ratings, Moody's A2 with stable Inverstor Service). Slovakia adopted the euro on January 1st, 2009: today this is the fastest growing country among those who share the European currency.

The caviar paved road and other oddness of Sochi 2014

The fireworks of the grand opening are still echoing on the mountains of Krasnaja Poliana and, at long last, sport is the main topic in Sochi. But, besides the terroristic threats, many critical aspects still remain: the Games are the most expensive ever, the pomp of the venues gives a distorted image of Russia, and the city is off limits to anybody willing to demonstrate against the Kremlin.

The little dolls inside the matrioshka

Platon Lebedev, who has been behind bars since 2003, was about to end his term, which would have expired in May when, in reviewing his case, the court reduced his imprisonment to time served and instantly set him free. There is no reason not to join the chorus of “hurrahs”, but the real reasons behind his release are far from being understood.


Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan: the shapers of Central Asia

Afghanistan, the indomitable land

AUKUS: friends and nuclear submarines

The disaster of the Aral Sea and the risk of new water wars