Both, in the so called “First World” and “Third World”, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic registers at many levels, from the still-growing death toll and health-related issues, to an increase of inequality and other political-economic effects. However, while all kinds of reporting try to account for those impacts, it is noteworthy that the “Second World” –the “post-communist” space designated as “the East”– is not featured in such discursive rituals.
Against this backdrop, the Post-Covid-19 States workshop wishes to explore the following questions: What is the fall-out of the Covid-19 pandemic-related multiple crises in the post-Soviet Union, post-Communist Eastern Europe, post-Yugoslavia? What kind of information is available? What are the criteria to measure the consequences? Moreover, who in the West and “the East” benefits from the pandemic-related disaster in the “Second World”? What are the political and economic dynamics in “the East” that in the course of the pandemic further aggravate structural problems?
I will definitely survive; by Distributed Cognition Cooperative (Anna Engelhardt and Sasha Shestakova), Mark Cinkevich and Dzina Zhuk
The invisible map of COVID-19 protests in Eastern Europe; by Andrada Fiscutean, Géraldine Delacroix, Martina Freyja Kartelo, Monisha Martins
I will definitely survive
“Activism no longer feels like a solution / There is no energy left for it / I will breathe heavy air under my mask / Looking at the fields of couple graves” – feminist punk band from Russia LONO described a feeling of overlaying dystopias, experienced by many people in Belarus in Russia during the COVID pandemic. The sanitary restrictions are used as excuses for the various forms of political violence. In order to address the ways, how COVID has contributed to the deterioration of the political climate in our countries, we took inspiration and some templates from the meme page autogyniphiles_anonymous, which uses the print-screens from manga and anime as background for quotes. For us the anime and manga were the sources of the non-Western visions of the technological dystopian world, which have been found relevant to our and our friends’ experiences in Russia and Belarus during the COVID pandemic. While the conversation around (post)COVID ends of the world remains mainly Eurocentric, we have made some memes, which allowed us to navigate the ends of the worlds we find ourselves in. The song by LONO ends with “I will definitely survive”, repeated like a spell several times, we would love to sing along to that.
Credits for ‘Distributed Cognition Cooperative’: (Anna Engelhardt and Sasha Shestakova), Mark Cinkevich and Dzina Zhuk.
The invisible map of COVID-19 protests in Eastern Europe
The pandemic has been synonymous with protests – protests for lockdowns, protests against them, vaccine-skeptic rallies, and demos against mask mandates.
Across the world, many are resisting the “new normal” — and in Eastern Europe, the push-back is stark.
The seven countries with the highest number of COVID-19 deaths in proportion to their overall population are in central and eastern Europe, according to an AFP tally published in May.
The pandemic’s spread in the region, however, has been largely ignored by Western media.
For our project, we took a closer look at the upheaval caused by COVID-19. We mapped COVID-related demonstrations in Eastern Europe for a broader view — and then focused on an act of arson as well as note-worthy protests in Poland and Bosnia. What we’ve found is the difference and division between east and west has magnified.
Borders closed and shifted. People who traveled freely across the EU felt suddenly trapped.
Thirty-one years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the pandemic has demonstrated that the systems that promoted democratic change and unity are still fragile — and still regarded with immense distrust.
Good evening ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the invisible COVID news report.
Thousands of people who live in Poland but work in Germany or Czechia protested against the COVID-19 quarantine. One of the demonstrations took place on a footbridge that connected the Polish town of Zgorzelec with the German town of Gorlitz. Around 300 people gathered on the Polish side, and 100 more on the German side. The two groups were separated by a metal fence erected in the middle of the bridge. Another protest happened in Szczecin. “Warsaw doesn’t understand how Poles and Germans function along the border,” doctor Rafal Krysztopiak told Balkan Insight. Poland was among the first European countries to close its border, imposing a mandatory two-week quarantine for those entering its territory.
“Since the border crossing rules changed due to the coronavirus, residents of border towns have had to choose – family or work. On Friday and Saturday, they protested at the borders with Germany and the Czech Republic.
They are demanding the abolition of mandatory quarantine for cross-border workers, as well as allowing goods to be transferred across the border without crossing it and a specific date for the planned opening of the border. Currently, they have to choose, work or family.
During Friday’s protest in Zgorzelec (Lower Silesia Province), one man saw himself through a fence with his several-year-old son. As soon as the boy approached the netting, police officers immediately had to push him away. However, the man managed to greet the child.”
A coronavirus vaccination center was set on fire last night in the city of Zamość in southeast Poland. Health Ministry Adam Niedzielski said the incident was an “act of terror,” and offered a 10,000 euros reward for anyone who can help find the perpetrator. He also announced more security for vaccination centers in the country.
Arsonists also targeted the headquarters of the health agencies tasked with enforcing COVID restrictions. The total damage was around 30,000 Zloty. Poland is among the European countries that are struggling to convince their population to accept the vaccine.
Hundreds of Bosnians gathered in the capital Sarajevo calling for the resignation of the government mismanaging the vaccination program.
“This is a cry for help by Bosnian citizens,” said Maja Gasalo-Vrazalica, one of the organizers.
The Bosnian government ordered 1.2 million doses under the COVAX scheme designed for poorer countries, but only a batch of 50,000 vaccines has arrived so far. Protesters say that it’s not enough for a population of 3.3 million people.
The protesters also demanded the introduction of a mandatory negative PCR test for everyone entering Bosnia and Herzegovina.
More information on the invisible protests can be found on our website. Thank you for listening. Stay safe, and good night.
Our map brings together the protests that occurred in relation to the pandemic – at least those we were able to document. We have chosen a flexible definition of Eastern Europe, from Berlin to Tbilisi, from Warsaw to Tirana, without taking into account the borders as they are drawn today. To make this map, we conducted our own research and also drew on the work of Alain Bertho, a French anthropologist, and the Carnegie Protest tracker. Thanks to them.
Credits for ‘The Invisible Covid News Report’: Andrada Fiscutean, Géraldine Delacroix, Martina Freyja Kartelo, Monisha Martins.
VIDEO FOOTAGE CREDITS:
News intro: Video by bellergy from Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/videos/world-globe-international-global-1992/
Corona virus insert: Video by dianakuehn30010 from Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/videos/virus-corona-coronavirus-pandemic-33131/
Poland-Germany border protest footage: Blaulichtreport Zittauer Gebirge (YouTube): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xpPqgwohzfY
Photo: Family playing board game- Bill Branson/National Cancer Institute (NCI): https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Family_playing_a_board.jpg
Photos: Coronavirus vaccine centre: Martin/Marcin Mycielski Twitter: @mycielski
Video: Security footage of arson attack: https://zamosc.policja.gov.pl/lza/informacje/aktualnosci/117002,Nowe-nagranie-i-specjalna-linia-telefoniczna-w-sprawie-podpalacza.html?fbclid=IwAR1p_lKrj7_VPKAUewOLM9qyaU_4y2Wav4ISuPtb-HP1SEQeQ6U97JQe2jQ
Video: Protest “Fight for Life” in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpkfLWhbhNY
Photo: Website: https://www.aa.com.tr/ba/balkan/protest-gra%C4%91ana-u-sarajevu-na%C5%A1a-borba-za-%C5%BEivot-se-nastavlja/2212041
The ‘Post-Covid-19 States’ workshop consisted of: Jose M. Calatayud, Mark Cinkevich, Géraldine Delacroix, Anna Engelhardt, Andrada Fiscutean, Adriana Homolova, Martina Freyja Kartelo, Monisha Martins, Lira Ramadani, Sasha Shestakova, Sotiris Sideris, and Dzina Zhuk.
This project was conceived at the Berliner Gazette’s annual conference 2021 entitled BLACK BOX EAST.
If not stated otherwise, all text and images: Creative Commons License 4.0 (CC-BY 4.0).