Category Archives: Eurasia

Europe & Eurasia Research | Religious & Belief Minorities

Religion and National Identity in Eastern Europe and Eurasia

The Pew Research Center recently conducted a survey on the relationship between religious and national identity in Eastern European and Eurasian countries, noting changes in the way that religious identification has influenced national identity since the fall of atheist fundamentalism with the USSR. For religious and belief minorities—now including atheists—the relationship can be a troubling one, particularly as resurgent nationalism in the region has been accompanied by xenophobia and religious discrimination.

Here are highlights from the findings:

70% (Orthodox-majority) / 57% (Catholic-majority)

Average among countries who believe majority religious identity is very or somewhat important to national identity

82% (Armenia)
81% (Georgia)
78% (Serbia)
76% (Greece)
74% (Romania)
66% (Bulgaria)
63% (Moldova)
57% (Russia)
51% (Ukraine)
45% (Belarus)

Percentage within Orthodox-majority countries who believe Orthodox religious identity is very or somewhat important to national identity

64% (Poland)
58% (Croatia)
56% (Lithuania)
43% (Hungary)

Percentage within Catholic-majority countries who believe Catholic religious identity is very or somewhat important to national identity

Read

Religious Belief and National Belonging in Central and Eastern Europe (Pew Research Center | May 2017)

Russia News | Gay Men

Russia begins investigation into abduction, torture, and massacre of gay men in Chechnya
  • Government officials reportedly launched an investigation as international pressure increased following reports from human rights organizations about the rounding up of gay men into camps.
  • Gay Chechens have allegedly been held in extrajudicial detention and subjected to physical and psychological abuse including beatings, electroshock torture, outing to family, and murder.
  • President Vladimir Putin was reportedly briefed by the country’s human rights ombudswoman and is set up for a showdown with Ramzan Kadyrov, the authoritarian leader of the republic.
Read

Russia investigates ‘gay purge’ in Chechnya” (The Guardian | May 2017)

Chechnya’s anti-gay pogrom: Too much even for the Kremlin?” (The Christian Science Monitor | May 2017)

‘They Have Long Arms and They Can Find Me’” (Human Rights Watch | May 2017)

(Image Credit: Arden Arkman/AP, via The Christian Science Monitor)

Russia News | Gay Men

Scores of gay men reportedly sent to concentration camps in Chechnya
  • According to reports from human rights organizations, more than 100 men have been imprisoned in camps the Russian republic of Chechnya where they have been tortured.
  • The abducted men have ranged in age from 16 to 50, some having been lured via social media and with three among them having reportedly been killed.
  • The abductions began as an LGBT advocacy group began applying for permits to hold parades in provincial cities around the country, although the group avoided applications in much of the predominantly Muslim North Caucasus region given the volatile climate.
Read

Chechen Authorities Arresting and Killing Gay Men, Russian Paper Says” (The New York Times | April 2017)

Chechen police ‘have rounded up more than 100 suspected gay men’” (The Guardian | April 2017)

More than 100 gay men ‘sent to prison camps’ in Chechnya” (The Independent | April 2017)

(Image Credit: Musa Sadulayev/AP, via The Guardian)

Russia News | Dissidents

Hundreds arrested across Russia after thousands take to streets in protest
  • Police reported detaining some 500 protesters in the largest anti-Kremlin demonstrations since 2012, including a Guardian journalist and opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
  • Numbering as high as in the tens of thousands, protesters rallied against government corruption and called for the resignation of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
  • Polls indicate Putin, who enjoys high approval ratings in Russia, is unlikely to be unseated as many expect a bid for a fourth term.
Read

Russian police detain opposition leader, hundreds of protesters” (Reuters | March 2017)

Russia just had its biggest unsanctioned protests in years and hundreds are now in jail” (The Washington Post | March 2017)

Hundreds detained as opposition activists hold protests in several Russian cities” (RT | March 2017)

(Image Credit: Maxim Shemetov/RT)

Estonia News | Ethnic Russians

Estonian government reaches out to Russian Estonians to counter Kremlin influence
  • Anxious about a repeat of Ukraine in their country, government officials have begun learning Russian and conducting outreach to increase the integration of ethnic Russians in Estonia.
  • Russian speakers comprise roughly 25% of Estonia’s population, with many concentrated on the country’s border with Russia where a mix of Estonian and Russian media provide differing views on regional geopolitics.
  • Although Russians have been in Estonia since pre-WWII times, many ethnic Russian immigrants in Estonia lack Estonian citizenship after post-Soviet language tests left many holding Russian passports.
Read

Wary of divided loyalties, a Baltic state reaches out to its Russians” (Reuters | February 2017)
Nervous in Narva: a town caught between East and West” (The Irish Times | February 2017)
Baltic Russians: Are They Sudetendeutsche?“* (Forbes | February 2017)

* Commentary/Opinion

Russia News | Women

Putin signs law reducing punishment for domestic violence in Russia
  • Perpetrators who physically assault family members but do not cause broken bones will now only be subject to 15 days in prison or a fine if the violence only occurs once a year.
  • Previously, the crime had carried a maximum jail sentence of two years, but conservative politicians and advocates argued the state was intruding in private affairs.
  • A spike in reports of domestic violence in Russia’s fourth-largest city following the passage of the law has sparked concerns that the law has increased women’s vulnerability to violence in a country that sees 12-14,000 women die a year as a result of domestic violence.
Coverage

Putin approves legal change that decriminalises some domestic violence” (The Guardian | February 2017)
Domestic violence reports soar in Russian city following partial decriminalisation” (The Independent | February 2017)
Majority in Russia See Domestic Violence as Serious Problem” (Gallup | February 2017)

 

Armenia Feature | Blind & Visually Impaired

Raising the Voices of the Visually Impaired in Armenia

As the Internet has created new channels for the inclusion of marginalized communities, people with disabilities in particular have looked to the technology as a chance to discover and create new, accessible labor and creative opportunities. In Armenia, government agencies and international NGOs have worked together to promote information literacy and use among blind and visually impaired Armenians. One new program, Radio MENQ, has bridged the technical with the creative, offering blind and visually impaired people the chance to work as presenters and sound technicians for an internet radio station focused on issues and interests of relevance to the visually impaired community. Global Voices sat down with two of the project’s leaders to discuss the history and future of Radio MENQ and how opportunities like the station help combat pervasive unemployment and marginalization in the community.

Read:
How is Online Radio Helping to Empower Visually Impaired People in Armenia?” (Global Voices)

(Image Credit: via Global Voices)