Stories written by Pavol Stracansky

Russia Plays the Pardon Game

An amnesty freeing high-profile detainees and convicts and the pardoning of arguably Russia’s most famous political prisoner have failed to move critics of the country’s appalling human rights record.

Kremlin Tightens Grip on Media

Russia is set to lose one of its few relatively objective news outlets as the Kremlin moves to tighten its grip on the country’s media.

Ukraine Crackdown Turns Sinister

As anti-government protests in the Ukraine move into their third week, there are growing concerns among individuals and civil society organisations in the country over the regime’s approach to protestors.

Foul Play Ahead of Russian Olympics

Despite an endorsement from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for their adherence to environmental standards in preparations for next year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russian authorities are cracking down harder and harder on people trying to expose the environmental cost of projects related to the Games.

HIV ‘Wave’ Feared in Central Asia

Healthcare systems in Eastern Europe and Central Asia remain woefully unable to cope with HIV/AIDS as the region’s raging epidemic – the fastest growing in the world – takes on a new dimension, a senior UN official has told IPS.

Russia Invents a Migrant Enemy

Growing anti-immigrant sentiment in Russia which spilled over into violent riots in Moscow earlier this month is playing into the hands of a government keen to promote the image of a popular ‘enemy’ to a discontented public, rights groups claim.

Russia May Do Better Than its Nuclear Rhetoric

Despite a seemingly entrenched resistance to change on its nuclear disarmament policy, the Kremlin’s recent initiative to get Syria to destroy its chemical weapons provides hope that Russia could play a more positive role in reducing the world’s global nuclear stockpiles, experts say.

Homosexuals Cornered in Russia

“It's okay to be gay in Russia if you live in a big city such as St. Petersburg or Moscow, study at university or work at a liberal company, but even here you can't feel absolutely safe,” says Nikita Mironov, describing the climate of fear that many homosexuals face in Russia.

Disarmament Deal Takes Two Steps Back

A Kremlin compromise on nuclear disarmament looks as far away as ever as Russian president Vladimir Putin and his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama use their countries’ strained relations to bolster their own domestic political agendas, experts say.

Roma See the Writing On The Wall

The European Commission (EC) has demanded that Slovakia’s second city, Kosice, tear down a wall put up to segregate Roma – the 14th such wall in the country and the eighth built in the last four years.

Curbs on Abortion Spread Across East Europe

A “virus” of restrictive abortion legislation is spreading from Eastern Europe, health experts and rights campaigners have said, amid Church pressure and misguided government attempts to stop falling birth rates.

Polio Fear at Europe’s Door

The Ukraine is facing a “real threat” of a return of polio as well as outbreaks of other serious diseases such as mumps, rubella and measles because of a combination of state inefficiency and public mistrust of vaccinations, health experts have said.

‘Grand’ Corruption Grips East Europe

A deeply-engrained culture of graft across Eastern Europe is destroying bonds between politicians and the people as populations lose faith in what they see as a self-serving elite “enriching” themselves at their expense, anti-corruption campaigners have said.

Ukraine Injects Addicts With Hope

As former presidents, senior diplomats and experts meet in the Lithuanian capital to discuss a litany of rights abuses, lethal epidemics and social destruction caused by repressive drug policies in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, pockets of hope for drug reform are emerging across the region.

Failed Drug Policies Building Global Hepatitis C ‘Time-Bomb’

As a hepatitis C pandemic rages among drug users and threatens the lives of millions around the world, a group of high-level leaders called today on governments to reform their drug policies and raise awareness about the public health threat of hepatitis C.

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