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From Berlin Wall to New Conflict: Eastern European Cleavages and Encounters

Celebrating 70 Years of the Institute for East European Studies

12-13 November 2021


The international symposium organized in cooperation with the German Association for East European Studies (DGO) served as a core event of the celebration and, at the same time, as a platform for discussing the cultural, political, economic and social complexities of Eastern Europe in the last thirty years. Prominent researchers from a variety of countries and disciplines came together to take stock of the fault lines dividing Eastern Europe and linkages connecting Eastern European countries to each other and to the rest of the world.

Three panels of the symposium took a look at the consolidation of authoritarian regimes in Eastern Europe; state capitalism and its role in economic and social development; as well as civic culture, protests and dissidence in Eastern European countries. Thus, they adressed issues, which both are crucially important for Eastern European societies themselves and make Eastern Europe important for the world. Furthermore, two special events of the symposium looked at Berlin as a place of encounters – both between Western and Eastern Europe and between political practice and academic research on Eastern Europe.

The whole list of participants included Taciana Arcimovič, Paul Gregory, Henry Hale, Tomila Lankina, Viktoria Lomasko, Andrei Melville, Mitchell Orenstein, Richard Sakwa, Gwendolyn Sasse, Laura Solanko, Andrei Yakovlev and Klementyna Suchanow.

On the first day of the symposium, the participants learned about the perspective of the development of authoritarianism in Russia (Henry Hale), the estate system and the role of the social classes back in Tsar's Russia, the Soviet Union and today (Tomila Lankina), varieties of capitalism and why not all systems could work for Russia (Anrei Yakovlev), and why is putinism so strong in Russia today (Andrei Melville). The first panel was moderated by Prof. Alexander Libman.

The speakers of the second panel discussed the social consequences of the 1989 revolutions (Mitchell Orenstein), Russian economy and the role of the state in it (Laura Solanko), and the early Soviet Command Economy (Oaul Gregory). The panel was moderated by Prof. Teocharis Grigoriadis.

On the second day, Taciana Arcimovič (Belarus), Klementyna Suchanow (Poland) and Victoria Lomasko (Russia), the participants of the third panel moderated by Prof. Susanne Strätling, shared their personal impressions from civic protests in their countries and how they are reflected in the art.

The symposium concluded with a roundtable discussion led by Prof. Katharina Blum, in which Gwendolyn Sasse and Richard Sakwa participated, discussing the East-West relations and such topics as the Crimea crisis, a new or the old Iron Curtain that never fell down, and the possibility of integration of the East into the West.

We express our gratitude to all the panelists, moderators and participants and are looking forward to meeting them at other events in the future.