24 Apr at 15:15, Gamla Torget 3
Seminar "EU's impact in the Eastern neighbourhood: explaining EU's rule transfer in migration and environment sector in Moldova and Ukraine" with Greg Nizhnikau (Tartu University)

2-7 June, 2014    Uppsala
"TRANSLATION IN RUSSIAN CONTEXTS: TRANSCULTURAL, TRANSLINGUAL AND TRANSDISCIPLINARY POINTS OF DEPARTURE". An International Conference at the Uppsala Centre for Russian and Eurasian Studies 2–7 June 2014. This conference explores the multifaceted practice and theory of translation in Russian contexts. By bringing together internationally leading scholars in the fields of Slavic Studies and Translation Studies, it transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries in order to achieve new conceptualizations of the practice, theory and history of translation in Russian contexts, as well as to contribute to theoretical understandings of translation and cultural exchange in general. As the first scholarly event to deal with these problems in significant scope and depth, it will mark an important step towards establishing Russian translation as a prominent object of research with relevance to both of the fields.

More information is coming shortly.

A Better Future for Ukraine – and for Europe

Matthew Kott

Of late, numerous expert commentators have offered suggestions for dealing with the complex situation in Ukraine. Unfortunately many of these – such as that Ukraine be federalized, or even “Finlandized” – not only potentially undermine further the situation in Ukraine, they are high-handed and patronizing, explicitly denying Ukrainians agency in their own affairs. I would argue that such interventionist attitudes are also potentially counterproductive for Europe in the long run.

Federalization along ethnic lines is rarely the path to state consolidation. The experience of Quebec, Catalonia, or Scotland – not to mention Aceh, Kosovo, or Chechnya – would suggest that federalization per se does not neutralize the centripetal forces of separatism once introduced to the political agenda. As for neo-Finlandization, whereby Ukraine would trade off sovereignty over foreign and defense policy in return for a privileged economic arrangement with Russia and guarantees of its diminished statehood: isn’t this, in effect, what Yanukovych did, and against what the Madian demonstrators were protesting? Finally, we must also learn the lessons of Bosnia-Hercegovina and Afghanistan, and understand that by imposing from outside a new constitution or a custodial regime (regardless of the overseer), we risk squandering decades of needed reforms as domestic politicians focus on rent-seeking within a semi-legitimate system that they feel absolves them of real responsibility.

I would thus argue that we do not need to create new fudges in a European state system already reeling from the fact that a permanent member of UN Security Council has invaded and annexed territory from a neighboring UN member state, using unidentified combatants that contravene the Hague Conventions to boot. Furthermore, seeing as the European Union and NATO are viewed as partisan by Russia, these bodies should take a back seat in order to avoid further instances where Moscow feels “obliged” to intervene in Ukraine. Instead, some of the existing tools at the global community’s disposal should be dusted off and reinvigorated. In the long run, this will not only benefit Ukraine, but also Europe.

The main institutions that should be engaged in resolving the Ukrainian crisis are the Council of Europe, the OSCE, the EFTA, and the EBRD. The first two would aim to rebuild democratic stability and societal peace. For example, the Council of Europe can help the current government in Kyiv redouble its mechanisms for implementing the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. Since Ukraine is already a state party to this treaty, creating new, better legal instruments restoring the use of Russian – and other minority languages – at the regional or local level could be achieved without it being perceived as acquiescing to foreign demands. This would also neutralize the rationale for federalization along ethno-territorial lines. Rather than NATO, OSCE’s Forum for Security Co-Operation can help Ukraine’s armed forces upgrade, modernize, and democratize. Similarly, the OSCE can help demilitarize and democratize policing and internal security structures. The involvement of these bodies would ensure that the focus remains clearly on democracy, human rights, and stability, while the engagement of the OSCE in particular would reinforce commitment to the principle of territorial integrity as enshrined in the Helsinki Accords. The Council of Europe can also be invited to help Ukraine’s interim government oversee free and fair elections – the cornerstone of democratic legitimacy. With luck, voters assured by international support from the Council and the OSCE would thus be immune to the scaremongering of the far right, reducing parties such as Svoboda back to the shadowy margins of Ukrainian political life, where they rightly belong. In the medium term, expert consultations, such as from the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission, can help Ukraine’s legislators frame important and necessary reforms, which could then calmly be presented for deliberation by the electorate. Seeing as Ukraine is a fully-fledged member of both the Council and the OSCE (as are its EU partners and Russia), this guarantees that Ukraine would be a political subject, rather than merely the object of others’ policy.

In this way, democracy and societal stability could be achieved in Ukraine; but what of the Europeanization that the majority of Maidaners have called for? If, by this, it is understood greater long-term integration into the European common social and economic space, then there are other ways to achieve this than membership of the EU, which is contentious not only for Russia, but many existing EU member states as well. For example, the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) offers a way for Ukraine to become part of the European Economic Area (EEA) without necessarily having to join the EU and give up its existing trade ties to Russia. EFTA members have access to the EU inner market, and their nationals enjoy many rights based on the freedom of movement (such studying as “home” students at universities in the EU). At the same time, there is no obligation to join the EU. Thus not all EU legislation needs to be adopted by EFTA states and they can retain sovereignty over monetary policy, the trade-off being that EFTA states have no representation in the EU’s decision-making organs. Joining the EFTA would nevertheless offer Ukrainians many of the economic advantages of closer integration with the EU, without “provoking” Russia by outright EU accession.

Membership in the EFTA would nevertheless demand Ukraine make major structural reforms of its economy, to bring standards and legislation in line with those required by the EU. This process requires large-scale investment of resources, which Ukraine sorely lacks. Hence the suggestion that the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) bankroll these transformations. The EBRD is the creature of neither the EU, nor Russia, so its partiality is less likely to be questioned. It also has decades of experience in financing reforms of cash-strapped post-Soviet economies – including learning from mistakes. As Ukraine has previously been a recipient of EBRD loans, there is already an institutional memory of dealing with Kyiv, which should make creditors attuned to the specific needs of this country.

All of this would be good for Ukraine, helping it stabilize and reform its democracy, while it modernizes and diversifies its economy for integration into the EEA. At the same time, it would not be clientized by either the EU or Russia, but remain a sovereign political actor. Further instability in the region thus would be avoided.

These processes would also be good for Europe in the long run. Not only would Europe gain a healthy, secure, multicultural democratic Ukraine with an open economy and society, but new life would also be breathed into some moribund transnational institutions. The Council of Europe and the OSCE would regain some of the clout they have lost over time, and even potentially bring back Russia more to the view that international mediation can solve conflicts amenably in the European area. It would also reinvigorate the EBRD and EFTA, particularly proffering Norway a new role as a regional fair-dealer. Indeed, the EFTA could again become a significant partner for an expansion-weary EU, as an attractive alternative for potential new members as independent Scotland or Catalonia: debates on self-determination within a European context would no longer be reduced to hotly contested either/or dichotomies, and instead there would be a variety of options to consider. 

Matthew Kott is a researcher at the UCRS. 

About UCRS

UCRS is an integrated multi-disciplinary long-term research program with an in-depth focus on recent developments in Russia, and in the post-Soviet space. It is designed to meet the highest international standards of scientific excellence and spans across the humanities and the social sciences, as well as law and theology. Read more...


The most recent commentary, articles, interviews, analyses etc. by the UCRS researchers on the situation in Ukraine. Go to the "Crisis in Ukraine" page.

22 Apr     SVT play
"Påskens vapenvila är över" Professor Elena Namli

16 Apr     Svenska Dagbladet
"Största motsättningen väst–öst sedan kalla kriget" Dr Fabian Linde 

14 Apr     SVT (Gomorron)
"Oron i Ukraina fortsätter" Professor Elena Namli

14 Apr   GIS
"Turning a blind eye on nationalist Svoboda may back fire" Professor Stefan Hedlund

11 Apr     TV4 (Nyhetsmorgon)
"Blir det krig i Europa?" Professor Stefan Hedlund

08 Apr Moscow Times
"Providing a Better Future for Ukraine and Europe" Dr Matthew Kott



To see more publications from the UCRS, please go to Publications.
Book edited by Greg Simons, Eugene Krasnov and Anna Karpenko "Crisis Management Challenges in Kaliningrad". Ashgate, 978-1-4094-7074-8.
Article by Johan Matz "German and Soviet intelligence activities in Sweden in 1944: Voldemar Blankenfelds and the deportation of Baron Bernd von Gossler". Journal of Intelligence History, 2014.
Article by Julie Hansen “ ‘La simultanéité du présent’: Memory, History and Narrative in Andreï Makine’s Novels Le testament français and Requiem pour l’Est”. Modern Language Notes, volume 128, issue 4 (Sept 2013 French Issue) pp. 881-899.
Article by Sofie Bedford "Introduction to the Special Section: Political Mobilization in Azerbaijan — The January 2013 Protests and Beyond". Demokratizatsiya: Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization, Volume 22, Issue 1/Winter 2014 pp. 3-14.
Article by Igor Torbakov “The Russian Orthodox Church and Contestations over History in Contemporary Russia”.  Demokratizatsiya Volume 22 Number 1, 2014: 145-170
Article by Dmitri Strovsky and Greg Simons "Open Communication As An Instrument of Forming the Reputation of the State (Example of Contemporary Russia)". Herald of Moscow University, Series 10 Journalism, No. 6, November - December 2013
Article by Mikhail Suslov, '“Urania Is Older than Sister Clio”: Discursive Strategies in Contemporary Russian Textbooks on Geopolitics,' Ab Imperio, no. 3 (2013): 351-387.
Article by Kåre Johan Mjør "A Past of One's Own: The Post-Soviet Historiography of Russian Philosophy". Ab Imperio: Studies of New Imperial History and Nationalism in the post-Soviet Space. Volume 14. Issue 3. 2013: 315-350.
Article by Susanna Witt “The Shorthand of Empire: Podstrochnik Practices and the Making of Soviet Literature.” Ab Imperio: Studies of New Imperial History and Nationalism in the post-Soviet Space. Volume 14. Issue 3. 2013: 155–190.
Book by Владимир Малахов [Vladimir Malakhov] "Культурные различия и политические границы в эпоху глобальных миграций". [Kul’turnye razlichiya i politicheskiye granitsy v epokhu global’nykh migratsy]. Новое литературное обозрение; Институт философии РАН, 2014. — 232 с.
ISBN 978-5-4448-0127-7
Book Review of Boris Kapustin’s “Citizenship and Civil Society” written by Elena Namli, Logos No. 3 (93) (2013).
Article by Fabian Heffermehl "Ivan Karamazov kak matematik". Dostoevskij i mirovaja kul'tura, n. 30 (I). Moskva 2013. pp. 217-234.
Article by Greg Simons "Nation Branding and Russian Foreign Policy". UI Occasional Papers, #21, October 2013.
Article by Johan Matz "SSSR i Litva v gody Vtoroi mirovoi voiny: Sbornik dokumentov, vol. 2: Litva v politike SSSR i v mezhdunarodnikh otnosheniiakh (avgust 1940–sentiabr’ 1945 gg.)" Journal of Baltic Studies Volume 44, Issue 4, 2013.