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Annabelle Chapman

Eastern Notebook: Kupala, Women of North Caucasus, Chantrapas

The idea behind this weekly column is to explore the six Eastern Partnership countries “beyond the Kremlin” (so, beyond Lukashenka, beyond Saakashvili…). Too often, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine are presented one-dimensionally or distorted by the western media. Eastern Notebook juxtaposes Culture with culture, and brings together reflections from inside and outside the region. Read last week’s Eastern Notebook.

Kiev, Ukraine - Petrivka Book Market, author: Vasenka, source: Flickr

Make English a regional language in Kyiv? Absurd – but almost feasible under Ukraine’s new language law, writes Katya Gorchinskaya, editor of Kyiv Post. Her article makes fun of this law that “so far has only caused trouble”. Meanwhile, she sees English as a longer-term solution to the political situation inUkraine, as it would

eventually help to modernize government by bringing a younger, new English-speaking generation to power. … The threat of Russian taking over Ukraine as a language would vanish. Activists and patriots would, hopefully, keep Ukrainian alive. The country would change within a generation.

Good bye, “Eastern Europe”! Edward Lucas, who edits The Economist’s international section, has long argued that “Eastern Europe” is an outdated and even offensive term – as summarized in this video presentation. That’s one perspective from London – but do you agree?

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Google honoured Belarusian poet Yanka Kupala, born on 7 July 130 years ago. He is considered one of the great fathers of the Belarusian language.  The Minsk rock group Lyapis Trubetskoy recorded a song, “Ne byts skotam” (Don’t be cattle), based on one of his poems. It became associated with the opposition and was banned by the regime. Watch the music video here.

Google logo with Yanko Kupala, source:

Internally displaced persons: women from Chechnya run a small bakery in the vicinity of Magas Collective Centre for displaced Ingush people from North Ossetia, author: United Nations Photo, source: Flickr

Feminine voices. Open Democracy Russia has just run a series of articles on “women, tradition, and power” in the North Caucasus. Read about Chechnya’s fashion dictator, the black widows of Dagestan, and other pieces written by local women. The Arab Spring has publicised the question of women and Islam – these articles add voices fromRussia’s largely Muslim regions.

Poster of Chantrapas, source: Wikimedia Commons

From Tbilisi to Paris – a young film director’s journey, in Georgian film Chantrapas (2010). Last week I finally had a chance to watch it, on television. Director Otar Iosseliani’s career spans over half a century, and the film somewhat resembles his own life story. It explores the dilemmas faced by artists under the Communist regime, but also the challenges of creating abroad, in France.  The title is based on the French for “don’t sing!” – watch the trailer here.


Eastern Notebook Nr 1: Terra Malecognita, Shakespeare and Adjika


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Annabelle’s Eastern Notebook

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Journalist focusing on Eastern Europe. Her articles have been published in the journal New Eastern Europe. She has a degree from Oxford University and a weakness for languages (most recently Georgian). At Eastbook, she writes a weekly column, Eastern Notebook.

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