Stories written by Claudia Ciobanu
Claudia Ciobanu covers Central and Eastern Europe for IPS. Romanian, she is currently based in Warsaw, Poland. She is particularly interested in environmental issues and social activism in post-socialist countries. | Twitter |

Little Money to Promote Gender Equality in Eastern Europe

Despite pushes from international bodies such as the United Nations (UN) or the European Union (EU) to promote gender equality in Central and Eastern Europe, access to funding for such initiatives remains largely conditional upon national governments’ willingness to embrace this agenda.

Poland Leads a New Struggle for Freedom

Last weekend saw tens of thousands of people across Europe taking to the streets in protest against the international treaty to enforce intellectual property rights. European politicians are gradually distancing themselves from the treaty, largely as a result of citizen mobilisation initiated in Central Europe.

Romanians Discover Street Protest

For more than a week, thousands have been demonstrating in cities across Romania. Participants from all walks of life bring to the fore the broadest array of demands in what looks like a celebratory discovery of street protest. The main call is against lack of transparency and accountability in decision-making.

RUSSIA: ‘Repression May Lead to Revolt’

The Russian opposition movement which has risen to prominence since the Dec. 4 parliamentary elections has not said its last word, says 35-year-old Sergey Udaltsov, one of its most visible figures.

EUROPE: Co-ops Off to a Promising Start

A small wave of consumer cooperatives is rising in Central and Eastern Europe, attempting to provide food that is locally produced and healthy, and to build conviviality.

ROMANIA: Fixing the Economy, Not Lives

The economic crisis has led Romanian authorities to take some of the toughest austerity measures in Central and Eastern Europe. While no big opposition movement emerged as a result, a special kind of protest has taken place: some have committed suicide to get their messages across.

BELARUS: Clap Again This Wednesday

For the past nine weeks, Belarusians have been getting out in the hundreds into the main squares of big and small cities across the country on Wednesdays at seven in the evening. They clap, or let their mobiles ring all at once. The ‘Revolution through Social Networks- movement’ started by five students, and growing on the Russian equivalent of Facebook, Vkontakte, is posing a new threat to the Lukashenko regime.

At the Equality Parade in Warsaw. Credit: Claudia Ciobanu/IPS.

POLAND: Transgender Rights in Forefront of Equality Parade

About 5,000 people attended the Equality Parade in Polish capital Warsaw this weekend. Among them, the country’s first transgender rights activists, who in the last couple of years have made great strides in gaining recognition for the country’s transgender community.

Public Unrest Boils Over in Albania

The Albanian opposition is set to hold another mass rally on Friday, even though three people were killed during an anti-government demonstration last week, allegedly by armed forces of the Ministry of Interior.

EASTERN EUROPE: Playing Dice With Migrants

Over the past years, acceptance rates for asylum-seekers in Central and Eastern Europe have been decreasing slowly but steadily. Even for those who do receive protected status, life is a gamble.

EUROPE: Legally, and Dangerously High

Eastern European youths have been getting high on "plant feed" or "bath salt" for over two years, catching up fast with Western European trends in drug abuse. Governments in the region are now scrambling to control use.

KOSOVO: Dragging Corruption Into the Net

Kosovo youths looking to address issues treated as taboo by mainstream media are taking increasingly to online activism. The new platform is being used particularly to fight high-level corruption.

Senegalese women at the Slow Food festival. Credit: Claudia Ciobanu

Slow Food Picks Up Steadily

It's been a steady, even if slow growth for the Slow Food movement around the world.

Elias Alvarado and Carlos Pozo from the Kallari chocolate producing co-op in Ecuador. Credit: Claudia Ciobanu

Europe to Slow Down on Food

The Slow Food movement has won significant support from the European Union. Dacian Ciolos, the European Union Commissioner for Agriculture, spoke to IPS in support of the movement at Terra Madre, a biennial reunion of promoters of the Slow Food movement.

EUROPE: Poor Safeguards Against Further Spills

The red sludge spill at the Ajka alumina plant in Hungary has been called one of the three worst environmental disasters in Europe in the last 20-30 years. But environmentalists warn other waste depositing sites in Central and Eastern Europe are prone to similar accidents.

Tsira Chanturia Credit:

Q&A: Georgian Lifers Spared Death, Stuck in their Cells

Georgia's punitive criminal justice system has resulted in one of the highest imprisonment rates worldwide. Overcrowding of jails now hampers an ambitious government plan to reform the penitentiary system.

Gabriel does small but promising business in used shoes. Credit: Claudia Ciobanu

EUROPE: Where the Roma Begin to Prosper

The "gypsy market" in Brasov is bustling with activity on a Saturday morning. It's one of the few places left where pensioners and other low-income Romanians can buy decent clothes cheaply. And also here, the power dynamics between Roma and non-Roma is silently shifting.

ROMANIA: Austerity Deals Mortal Blow to Health System

Five newborns died last week in a fire caused by an airconditioning fault at a Bucharest maternity. Insufficient, overworked staff and deficient maintenance -- results of inadequate funding of the health system - -were listed among the causes.

EUROPE: Citizen Rights Don’t Apply to Roma

All major European countries plan mass expulsions of Roma or demolitions of Roma settlements. Rights groups warn that these measures entail the criminalisation of an entire ethnic group, and break EU law.

Slow Food Makes Some Rapid Advances

"We are trying to change children's attitude to food and to make sure there are still farmers in our countries in a decade or two," says Marta Pozsonyi, one of the Romanian representatives at the first Terra Madre Balkans meeting that took place in Sofia last week.

BULGARIA: Refuge Can Get Worse Than Rejection

A protest to close down Busmantsi, a detention centre for undocumented migrants in Sofia, highlighted the obstacles faced by refugees and asylum- seekers in Bulgaria.

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