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written by
Eric Chenoweth
Guest Blogger


On April 30, 1982, in a brief five-minute broadcast, a new, illegal radio station announced itself from a temporary transmitter placed on a high rooftop in Warsaw, Poland. “Solidarity is more than a name,” the announcer declared, “it is a value that cannot be destroyed.” With those words, Zbigniew Romaszewski had done something no one else had been able to do: break through the Polish government’s absolute control over broadcast media after the imposition of martial law.

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written by
Arch Puddington
Vice President for Research
written by
Zselyke Csaky
Research Analyst, Nations in Transit

The six countries of the Eastern Partnership program lag far behind their closest neighbors in the EU. But this is a testament to the bloc’s past successes, and a sign that it must help these states build up their democratic institutions.

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written by
Kateryna Krylova
Intern, Nations in Transit


The European Union’s Eastern Partnership Summit—scheduled for November 28–29 in Vilnius, Lithuania—is rapidly approaching. But in recent days, the prospects that Ukraine would sign a much-anticipated Association Agreement and trade pact with the EU have collapsed. The parliament, dominated by the president’s allies, repeatedly refused to pass required legislation that would have allowed jailed former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko to seek medical treatment in Germany, in effect releasing her from politically motivated incarceration. Finally, earlier today, the government  suspended preparations for signing the EU agreement.

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written by
Arch Puddington
Vice President for Research

Of the great social movements that have left their imprint on the history of freedom, few rival Poland’s Solidarity trade union federation in staying power, fortitude, and connection to ordinary people. The obstacles Solidarity faced were daunting. On three previous occasions, citizens in Eastern Europe had sought to overthrow the Soviet yoke: East Germany in 1953, Hungary in 1956, and Czechoslovakia in 1968. Each time the forces of democracy were crushed by the Red Army.

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Policing Belief: The Impact of Blasphemy Laws on Human Rights

Policing Belief: The Impact of Blasphemy Laws on Human Rights examines the human rights implications of domestic blasphemy and religious insult laws using the case studies of seven countries—Algeria, Egypt, Greece, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan and Poland—where such laws exist both on paper and in practice. Without exception, blasphemy laws violate the fundamentalfreedom of expression, as they are by definition intended to protect religious institutions and religious doctrine– i.e., abstract ideas and concepts – from insult or offence. At their most benign, such laws lead to self-censorship.  In Greece and Poland, two of the more democratic countries examined in the study, charges brought against high-profile artists, curators and writers serve as a warning to others that certain topics are off limits. At their worst, in countries such as Pakistan and Malaysia, such laws lead to overt governmental censorship and individuals are both prosecuted and subject to severe criminal penalties including lengthy jail sentences.

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