What did communism look like, daddy?

As the years go by, memories of communism fade. And finding pictures to explain what it was really like can be surprisingly difficult – as I explain in this column, from September 2005.

An inauspicious August for Poland

I returned from my summer holiday in 2005 having kept half an eye on the news. The most worrying developments concerned mistreatment of Poles, by Belarus and by Russia.

Lukashenka’s brand image is the real thing

Relations between Russia and Belarus are both opaque and tricky. In this column, written back in 2005, I looked at the different role that ideology plays in Russia under Vladimir Putin and in Belarus under Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

The disgraceful party line on eastern Europe

Brexit seemed a distant and unlikely prospect back in 2005, but the first whiffs of euroscepticism were already in the air—and it was clear to me at least that the frontline states would be the losers.

Dealing with thieves, liars and their bumf

Back in mid-2005, it was still possible to take on the politics of the region in a light-hearted way. So the subject of this column was the whys and wherefores of my dealings with London-based diplomats.

Where did Transdniestria’s missing missiles go?

Transdniestria is a self-proclaimed Russian-backed puppet state on Moldovan territory. It’s home to a huge cold-war-era arms dump—and as I found out on trip there in 2005, some of the weapons, MANPADS in military parlance, have gone missing.

The unbearable brilliance of post-Soviet songs

Why should the devil have all the best tunes? Written in 2005, this piece takes a look at parody, history and symbolism of political songs.

Mari—the language the Russians want to kill

The Mari are a hard-pressed ethnic minority within Russia—ethnic cousins of the Estonians and Finns. They were having a tough time in 2005—and it’s worse now.

Estonia, Russia and the war on truth

Propaganda is now the central front of the New Cold War. But Estonians were on to the role of the Kremlin’s media machine much earlier than most countries – as this column, written in June 2005, shows.

Hypocrisy and the ghost of British betrayal

It’s easy to be smug about the Russian denial of history. But the West has guilty secrets too, such as the repatriation of thousands of anti-communist Russians and others after the second world war.

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