Archive for 2017

The prequel to “Finding Tito”

(this post is now published also on balcanicaucaso.org)

A few weeks ago, out of curiosity, Davide Denti asked me if I knew how to parse OpenStreetMap data in order to find all streets and squares dedicated to Tito in the former Yugoslavia. I was unfamiliar with how OpenStreetMap stores data, but after a few quick attempts I managed to extract some data and produce a map that looked meaningful. Early feedback suggested that the data were incomplete, and I did not fully polish the data, but – aware that I would not have the time to work on this in the following weeks, and perhaps I would never pick it up again – I decided to make public the draft document I created. I included a notice highlighting that the document was in draft form, that it was only based on OpenStreetMap data, that the data have not been revised and may include substantial inaccuracies. I also made clear that I welcomed suggestions on how to improve it.

Having done this, I thought it was fine to share the result on Twitter. Continue reading…

Confidence building, by any other name? Surpassing the triple bottleneck of assistance to de facto states

Originally published on postsoviet.eu

In spite of their contested nature, de facto states in the post-Soviet space engage in substantive external relations across a number of sectors, well beyond the dominant relationship they have with their patron. In recent years, confidence building programmes sponsored by the European Union have represented a venue for interactions between local actors in de facto states and the outside world. Such assistance – including capacity building projects and relatively small initiatives aimed at enhancing the social infrastructure in the health and education sector – contributes to the welfare of the local population and is welcomed by de facto authorities. However, for the most part, it is not conducive to more confidence between de facto authorities and parent state, or between local societies and the European Union. This is partly due to the context of the conflicts and contrasting long-term perspectives, but – as will be argued – is also consequence of the way in which these initiatives are framed. Changing the framing of at least some of these initiatives may be a small but meaningful step towards building a more enabling environment around these territories. Continue reading…

Abkhazia’s parliamentary elections: not for the famous?

Is being famous nationally an asset or a liability for candidates competing in a single-constituency electoral system in a small polity? Judging from the recent elections in Abkhazia, certainly not a big asset, and probably a liability, in particular in the second round.

In this post, “being famous” is operationalised as “number of mentions of given candidate” in Abkhazia’s main news agency. Relevant data are presented in a few graphs below. While only those familiar with political figures in Abkhazia will recognise the names, colour schemes should make this post intelligible also to readers interested in the general question, rather than to election dynamics in this specific case. Continue reading…

Word frequency of Ukraine, Crimea, DNR/LNR and Novorossiya on 1tv.ru

The data included in this post were prepared for publication on the online journal Ukraine-Analysen 182 (http://www.laender-analysen.de/ukraine/pdf/UkraineAnalysen182.pdf).

This is a quick update to the data presented in a previous post published on this blog in November 2015 on “Word frequency of ‘Ukraine’, ‘Crimea’, and ‘Syria’ on Russia’s First Channel“.

The dataset has been created by extracting textual contents of each news item published on Pervy Kanal’s website between the beginning of Putin’s presidency on 7 May 2012 and 1 March 2017 (115.369 articles in total). Continue reading…

Russian media: more Trump than Putin

Recently, Scan Interfax revealed that in the month of January 2017, for the first time since 2011, Vladimir Putin has not been the most frequently mentioned individual on Russian media: Donald Trump was. The news quickly made the rounds on American media (e.g. on Washington Post, Newsweek, CNN, and others).

According to an article by Konstantin von Eggert published by Deutsche Welle, on 15 February Russian state-owned media of the VGTRK group were instructed to stop talking about Trump so much. This does not sound unreasonable, as overtly positive coverage of Trump was increasingly at odds with the explicit anti-americanism that has characterised Russian public discourse in recent years. Yet, how do we know that such instructions have been actually given? Continue reading…