Saving Poland’s Białowieża Forest: Elsewhere in emerging Europe

emerging europe Bialowieza Forest poland

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.

Saving Poland’s Białowieża Forest

News that the Polish government wanted to increase logging in one of Europe’s last primeval forests shocked environmentalists throughout Europe. Polish people, for whom the forest holds great importance, were particularly worried about its future.

Read the full story here.

Belarus crowdfunds to fight coronavirus as leader denies it exists

The healthcare system in Belarus is being propped up by volunteers and crowdfunding campaigns as the country grapples with a coronavirus pandemic its president has been hesitant to admit exists.

Read the full story here.

Fires near Chernobyl make Kyiv air most polluted in world

Fires around the defunct Chernobyl nuclear plant and elsewhere pushed pollution levels in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv to the worst in the world on Friday, giving inhabitants another reason to stay indoors on top of the coronavirus lockdown.

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In Slovakia, politics is still a gentlemen’s club

The election a year ago of Slovakia’s first woman president was seen as a stride towards gender equality. So why are there so few women in the country’s new government?

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First Hungary, now Poland. It’s time for Europeans to speak out against Covid-19 power grabs

If Hungary has become the European Union’s first coronavirus autocracy, Poland looks set to be the second. The Polish government’s plan to hold a presidential election on May 10 makes a mockery of democracy and poses a massive risk to millions of people. If it goes ahead, the election will deal the final blow to democracy in Poland and throw the country into a political crisis of unprecedented proportions. Yet it is not too late to stop this folly – and Europe must not remain silent.

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Amid lockdowns, European mayors face a complex array of economic crises

The city of Tirana marks its 100th anniversary as the capital of Albania this year, but the centennial celebration is starting out on an undeniably difficult note. Still reeling from a magnitude-6.4 earthquake that struck towards the end of 2019, Tirana now must manage its recovery from that disaster amid a pandemic that’s forced all city officials to work from home.

Read the full story here.

Are Western Europe’s food supplies worth more than east European workers’ health?

The coronavirus threat facing fruit and vegetable pickers flown in from quarantined Romania underlines Europe’s inequalities.

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Vaccine hesitancy and pro-Kremlin opportunism

The Vaccine Scare has been present in the pro-Kremlin disinformation network for a long time, usually in the “undergrowth” of the disinformation jungle, spreading through social media – notably Twitter. But since January, the anti-vax trend in pro-Kremlin media is no longer limited to social media.

Read the full story here.

Uzbekistan calls for end of cotton boycott amid coronavirus pandemic

Uzbekistan has called on a global human rights coalition, the Cotton Campaign, to lift an international boycott of Uzbek cotton and textiles, citing progress in eliminating forced labour and the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

Read the full story here.

The crumbling structures of Romania’s Jewish past

Like much of Eastern Europe, Romania’s synagogues and other symbols of Jewish life are in decay. As the community dwindles and cemeteries become parking lots, will Jewish history also fade away?

Read the full story here.

Photos: Alex Iacob /

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