Our weekly digest of articles about emerging Europe published elsewhere this week, all of which caught our eye and all of which are well worth your time. Listing them here, however, does not necessarily mean that we agree with every word, nor do they necessarily reflect Emerging Europe’s editorial policy.
Dóra Maurer: The dissident who rebelled in colour
From black and white films made in her kitchen to glorious geometric designs, the Hungarian artist’s career has blossomed since the end of communist rule.
From child refugee to president: Latvia’s Vaira Vike-Freiberga
The little girl who fled from war-torn Latvia spent more than 50 years in exile – but soon after returning she became president. Not only that, Vaira Vike-Freiberga became the first female head of a former Soviet bloc state.
In Ukraine, a rival to Putin rises
He’s a quick-witted politician who understands the power of television, has broad public support at home and, perhaps not so important, sometimes takes off his shirt in public. And he is not President Vladimir Putin, Russia’s paramount leader of nearly 20 years. This is Volodymyr Zelensky, the former comedian who became Ukraine’s president in May and has followed his unconventional rise to power with an equally unexpected display of diplomatic flair.
Istref Begolli: Kosovo’s tragic actor
The only child of the legendary Kosovo actor Istref Begolli recalls a loving father who enjoyed life but died tragically, in keeping with his greatest roles.
How Poland almost conquered Russia
For centuries, Eastern Europe was a battleground between two Slavic peoples: the Russians and the Poles. More often than not, the more numerous Russians emerged victorious, so much so that Poland was wiped off the map more than once. However, there was one moment in history when the Poles had a real opportunity to bring their rival and neighbor to its knees. That was at the turn of the 17th century, when Russia was in the throes of political turmoil following the death of Ivan the Terrible, known as the Time of Troubles. Forces of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth occupied the Kremlin, and the Polish heir to the throne was elected Russian tsar.
Serbian doctor finds hospital voluntary work more rewarding
Some ambitious young medics in Serbia, pushed into the private sector out of necessity, are working at weekends as volunteers in public hospitals to express their true vocation.
America and its allies are helping Ukraine to get its sea legs back
When Russian annexed Crimea in 2014, Ukraine’s navy, which was headquartered in the Crimean port of Sevastopol, lost three-quarters of its personnel and warships virtually overnight. Ukraine is now rebuilding.
Historian unearths evidence that Istanbul directed Armenian genocide
New documents suggest the Armenian genocide was both sanctioned and assisted by leaders of the Ottoman Empire in Istanbul.
Why they thrive: The secret of bliss in Georgia
In the 1970s a series of stories swirled claiming Georgia, couched between the Black Sea and the high Caucasus, and then a part of the Soviet Union, as a place of preternatural longevity. It was not a nook visited by Americans, but the myths that seeped out were that many thrived to be over 100 years old, and one man, celebrated with a postage stamp, made it to the ripe age of 168, a supercentenarian.
Photo: © Dóra Maurer Photography © Vintage Galéria / András Bozsó