Transformation Processes in Eastern Europe and Central Asia – Public Discussion

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Anti-corruption in Moldova, Covid-19 in Central Asia, Civil Society in Belarus – the fellows of the Eurasia Lab & Fellowship program have presented their research projects and discussed the findings with external experts.

“Today’s event marks a bridge between the first program period and the start of a new program cycle”, said Katrin Boettger when opening the online event ‘Trans­for­mation Processes in Eastern Europe and Central Asia – Presenting the Research Findings of the Eurasia Lab Fellows’ together with Anton Artemyev, Division Director of the Eurasia Program of the Open Society Foundation. After six months of research, the fellows presented their findings and also discussed them with inter­na­tional experts.

In Kyrgyzstan and Tajik­istan, NGOs and multiple volunteer groups have, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, filled the gaps from state negli­gence. Azizjon Berdiqulov, Muslimbek Buriev and Sergey Marinin discussed the respon­si­bility of civil society in handling the crisis. State author­ities should perma­nently involve them in crisis management. Dr. Sergiusz Bober from the European Centre for Minority Issues (ECMI) suggested while commenting this project, to expand this relevant research to other Eurasian countries.

The Belarusian manip­u­lated elections and subse­quent brutal repression of the mass protests by the government have upstaged the pandemic and public health crisis in 2020/2021. Vasil Navumau and Olga Matveieva traced more than 70 civic initia­tives that emerged as a response to this repression. The discussion with Katsiaryna Shmatsina from the Belarusian Institute for Security Studies (BISS) confirmed that the diverse movement, which has been titled ‘Belarusian awakening’ should be seen as a contin­u­ation of a broader trend in Belarusian civil society since the 2010s.

A compre­hensive anti-corruption legal framework could not have been estab­lished by the EU in the Republic of Moldova. The fellows Eliana Coraci and Mihai-Razvan Corman analysed why the EU’s ability in combatting corruption varies substan­tially, for example when comparing measures against fraud and illegal party-funding. In discussion with the researcher Dr. Nedim Hegic, they came to the conclusion that especially insti­tu­tional struc­tures might be hard to change from the outside.

Conclud­ingly, Dr. Katrin Boettger congrat­u­lated the fellows for their research and welcomed the new Eurasia Lab fellows: “I think the first program period has produced substantial and relevant research findings, and I am looking forward to the new program cycle with other inter­esting research topics.” Both former and new Eurasia Lab fellows met after­wards in an informal session to connect and exchange on lessons learned.

Author: Lennart Belke