The Conversation

The Conversation is an independent source of news and views, sourced from the academic and research community and delivered direct to the public. Academics from all over the world contribute to discussion on The Conversation, including those here in the School of Government and Society.

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Latest articles from across the school:

Huge Russian rate hike plays roulette with the economy

Huge Russian rate hike plays roulette with the economy
Description
Written by Dr Richard Connolly. Russia's Central Bank has raised its key interest rate from 10.5% to 17% in an emergency move that is designed to halt the ongoing collapse of the rouble, which has accelerated in recent weeks. The dramatic intervention comes after the rouble suffered its worst one-day fall since the August 1998 financial crisis.
Date:
Tuesday 16th December 2014

Russia's economy is failing, but that gives it a chance to reform

Russia's economy is failing, but that gives it a chance to reform
Description
Written by Dr Richard Connolly. Since the summer, the global price of oil has plummeted. After hovering above the US$100 per barrel level since 2010, prices have declined by around 40% in the space of just a few months. Brent crude has fallen below the $70 a barrel mark, with OPEC's recent decision to leave production levels unchanged raising the possibility that oil prices may have further to fall.
Date:
Tuesday 9th December 2014

FIFA offers a surprise lesson on how to reform post-conflict Bosnia and Herzegovina

FIFA offers a surprise lesson on how to reform post-conflict Bosnia and Herzegovina
Description
Written by Dr Laurence Cooley. Bosnia and Herzegovina recently held its seventh general election since the end of the 1992-1995 war – a conflict that left more than 100,000 dead. On the face of it, the obvious victors of these elections appear to be the country's dominant nationalist parties, which have held power for almost two decades.
Date:
Friday 5th December 2014

Moldova's future in the balance after uncertain election result

Moldova's future in the balance after uncertain election result
Description
Written by Professor Stefan Wolff. Moldova has gone to the polls in a vote seen as crucial for determining the country's future direction. Preliminary results indicate that the pro-European parties together achieved about 44% of the vote, while those parties considered to be more pro-Russia came in with just under 40% of the vote, on a turnout of around 56%. These headline figures, however, mask a more complicated picture.
Date:
Tuesday 2nd December 2014

Recent articles:

2014

Huge Russian rate hike plays roulette with the economy

Huge Russian rate hike plays roulette with the economy
Description
Written by Dr Richard Connolly. Russia's Central Bank has raised its key interest rate from 10.5% to 17% in an emergency move that is designed to halt the ongoing collapse of the rouble, which has accelerated in recent weeks. The dramatic intervention comes after the rouble suffered its worst one-day fall since the August 1998 financial crisis.
Date:
Tuesday 16th December 2014

Russia's economy is failing, but that gives it a chance to reform

Russia's economy is failing, but that gives it a chance to reform
Description
Written by Dr Richard Connolly. Since the summer, the global price of oil has plummeted. After hovering above the US$100 per barrel level since 2010, prices have declined by around 40% in the space of just a few months. Brent crude has fallen below the $70 a barrel mark, with OPEC's recent decision to leave production levels unchanged raising the possibility that oil prices may have further to fall.
Date:
Tuesday 9th December 2014

FIFA offers a surprise lesson on how to reform post-conflict Bosnia and Herzegovina

FIFA offers a surprise lesson on how to reform post-conflict Bosnia and Herzegovina
Description
Written by Dr Laurence Cooley. Bosnia and Herzegovina recently held its seventh general election since the end of the 1992-1995 war – a conflict that left more than 100,000 dead. On the face of it, the obvious victors of these elections appear to be the country's dominant nationalist parties, which have held power for almost two decades.
Date:
Friday 5th December 2014

Moldova's future in the balance after uncertain election result

Moldova's future in the balance after uncertain election result
Description
Written by Professor Stefan Wolff. Moldova has gone to the polls in a vote seen as crucial for determining the country's future direction. Preliminary results indicate that the pro-European parties together achieved about 44% of the vote, while those parties considered to be more pro-Russia came in with just under 40% of the vote, on a turnout of around 56%. These headline figures, however, mask a more complicated picture.
Date:
Tuesday 2nd December 2014

Iran nuclear deal will come down to economic pressure

Iran nuclear deal will come down to economic pressure
Description
Written by Professor Scott Lucas. Iran has failed to reach an agreement with six world powers about the future of its nuclear programme after talks. Talks in Vienna about the future of Iran's nuclear programme have failed for the time being. The countries involved have agreed to resume discussions in December with a view to reaching a political agreement by March 1 next year and a final deal by the end of June.
Date:
Thursday 27th November 2014

Tower Hamlets residents must be wondering why they bothered to vote

Tower Hamlets residents must be wondering why they bothered to vote
Description
Written by Chris Game. With a forced smile and through gritted teeth, Tower Hamlets' elected mayor, Lutfur Rahman, has announced himself willing to accept – and even "welcome" – the intervention package set out for his borough by Eric Pickles, secretary of state for communities and local government.
Date:
Friday 21st November 2014

Jerusalem attacks are no isolated incident: the third intifada is here

Jerusalem attacks are no isolated incident: the third intifada is here
Description
Written by Dr Asaf Siniver. The attack on a Jerusalem synagogue in which four Jewish worshippers were killed and eight were injured has sparked new fears that fighting between Israel and Palestinian could flare up once more. The attack, by two Palestinians carrying meat cleavers and a gun, has the potential to kick off fresh religious confrontation and a third intifada.
Date:
Thursday 20th November 2014

Abe can win Japan's snap election but he needs to win big

Abe can win Japan's snap election but he needs to win big
Description
Written by Dr Julie Gilson. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's decision to call a snap election for December 14 comes after what has been a rather bad week for him. Japan has slipped back into recession for the first time since 2012 and Abe has seen his popularity ratings drop below 50% for the first time.
Date:
Wednesday 19th November 2014

Czechs and Slovaks still search for truth and love, 25 years after the Velvet Revolution

Czechs and Slovaks still search for truth and love, 25 years after the Velvet Revolution
Description
Written by Dr Tim Haughton. At the top of Wencelas Square on the front of the Czech National Museum in Prague hangs a giant poster depicting the playwright dissident and former president Vaclav Havel. The poster has been hung, in part, to mark 25 years since the Velvet Revolution, or as it is known to Slovaks, the Gentle Revolution.
Date:
Monday 17th November 2014

Hezbollah and the West unite to fight IS? Don't hold your breath

Hezbollah and the West unite to fight IS? Don't hold your breath
Description
Written by Dr Asaf Siniver. The Shia militant group Hezbollah has suggested its fight against Islamic State has given it a common purpose with the West. In an interview with the BBC, Mohammed Fneish, a Lebanese Hezbollah minister, said the Sunni group is bad for Muslims and kills more of them than his party's original enemy – Israel.
Date:
Friday 14th November 2014

Fixing aid: we can't turn off the tap at the first sign of corruption

Fixing aid: we can't turn off the tap at the first sign of corruption
Description
Written by Dr Heather Marquette. Over the past 15 years, those working in aid have changed the way they talk about corruption. Detecting and measuring corruption when money is sent overseas has become a hot topic since the United Nations...
Date:
Tuesday 11th November 2014

In Ukraine, the start of a new Cold War that Russia can't win

In Ukraine, the start of a new Cold War that Russia can't win
Description
Written by Professor Stefan Wolff and Professor Tatyana Malyarenko (Professor of Public Administration at Donetsk State Management University). Twenty-five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall that ushered in the end of communism in eastern Europe and the break-up of the Soviet Union, all the signs point to a new Cold War between Russia and the West.
Date:
Monday 10th November 2014

Jerusalem, Israeli settlements and why a third intifada could be about to kick off

Jerusalem, Israeli settlements and why a third intifada could be about to kick off
Description
Written by Dr Asaf Siniver. Does this month's escalation in violence in Jerusalem and the West Bank mean that a third intifada – a Palestinian uprising against the Israel's occupation, following those of 1987 and 2000 – is imminent? The latest events in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict prove that the next round could kick off at any moment.
Date:
Friday 31st October 2014

Pro-Western bloc set for majority in elections that expose deep divisions in Ukraine

Pro-Western bloc set for majority in elections that expose deep divisions in Ukraine
Description
Written by Professor Stefan Wolff and Professor Tatyana Malyarenko (Professor of Public Administration at Donetsk State Management University). Ukrainians have voted for a new parliament. The exit polls, in line with earlier predictions, indicate that the Petro Poroshenko Bloc – which also includes the UDAR party of Kiev's mayor, former boxing champion Vitali Klichko – came out on top (predicted to achieve around 23% of the vote), but will need partners to form a stable coalition that will give Poroshenko a majority in parliament.
Date:
Monday 27th October 2014

Japan's Shinzo Abe will struggle to recover from ministerial scandal

Japan's Shinzo Abe will struggle to recover from ministerial scandal
Description
Written by Dr Julie Gilson. In a country that has had nine leaders since 2000, Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe appeared to have found the recipe for longevity. But the resignation of two ministers from his government has left him in serious trouble.
Date:
Wednesday 22nd October 2014

Ukraine steels itself for winter as Novorossiya forges ahead

Ukraine steels itself for winter as Novorossiya forges ahead
Description
Written by Professor Stefan Wolff and Professor Tatyana Malyarenko (Professor of Public Administration at Donetsk State Management University). The EU-Asia Summit in Milan, Italy, delivered little, if any, tangible progress to resolve the crisis in Ukraine. Relations between Russia and Ukraine's major European allies remain just a few degrees above a new Cold War-style ice age. And with only a preliminary gas deal achieved between Kiev and Moscow this may be quite literally true for Ukrainians as winter approaches.
Date:
Monday 20th October 2014

Albania-Serbia football drone farce shows Balkan nationalism is still a dangerous powder keg

Albania-Serbia football drone farce shows Balkan nationalism is still a dangerous powder keg
Description
Written by Dr Gëzim Alpion. Few thought that Serbia's Euro 2016 qualifying fixture against Albania on October 14 2014 would be an easy match. But the depths to which it sank are shocking even to those familiar with the potency of anti-Albanian feeling among Serbia's nationalist factions.
Date:
Thursday 16th October 2014

Why Brooks Newmark is a twit, but not a knit-wit

Why Brooks Newmark is a twit, but not a knit-wit
Description
Written by Chris Game. Two topics now compete for the opening paragraph in MP Brooks Newmark's political obituary. One is of course his hubris in thinking that a 26-year old woman – be she Tory or not – would be interested in photos of his genitalia. The other, though, are his thoughts, as the short-lived minister for civil society, about charities and knitting.
Date:
Thursday 2nd October 2014

China and India's border dispute rises to dangerous new heights

China and India's border dispute rises to dangerous new heights
Description
Written by Dr Tsering Topgyal. On September 19 the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, concluded a three-day trip to India. As he set off to meet Narendra Modi, Xi wrote in The Hindu that China and India "need to become co-operation partners." This does not explain why his soldiers entered Indian territory without authorisation on the first day of his visit.
Date:
Monday 29th September 2014

EU pragmatism has rewarded Russia's brazen trade bullying

EU pragmatism has rewarded Russia's brazen trade bullying
Description
Written by Dr Kataryna Wolczuk and Rilka Dragneva-Lewers. Few bilateral agreements have ever had such turbulent history and implications as the Association Agreement between the EU and Ukraine.
Date:
Monday 29th September 2014

Ban pre-election opinion polls at your peril

Ban pre-election opinion polls at your peril
Description
Written by Chris Game. I really thought we might make it. We'd got past the publication of YouGov's potentially constitution-changing poll showing a minuscule lead for the Yes campaign without anyone grabbing for an easy headline by calling for opinion polls to be banned in the run-up to elections and referendums.
Date:
Thursday 18th September 2014

Scotland vote appears to be defying usual referendum swing

Scotland vote appears to be defying usual referendum swing
Description
Written by Chris Game. It seems Scottish voters are warming to the whole independence idea, then – bucking the trend that the experts have been telling us for months they're almost bound to follow.
Date:
Monday 15th September 2014

BRICS keep supporting Russia in bid to rebalance world power

BRICS keep supporting Russia in bid to rebalance world power
Description
Written by Dr Marco Vieira. While Western nations beef up economic sanctions and Nato discusses what stance to take toward Russia, the BRICS are maintaining tacit support for Moscow despite the Ukraine crisis.
Date:
Tuesday 9th September 2014

Why 'fools rush in' is Obama's watchword in Iraq and Syria

Why 'fools rush in' is Obama's watchword in Iraq and Syria
Description
Written by Dr Adam Quinn. US president Barack Obama has yet to work out exactly what America's strategy is in confronting Islamic State (IS), and has been foolish enough to say so in public. Cue the foreseeable torrent of point-scoring from opponents.
Date:
Friday 5th September 2014

Forgotten South Sudan tangled in factionalism and failed politics

Forgotten South Sudan tangled in factionalism and failed politics
Description
Written by Dr Jonathan Fisher. Largely knocked out of the news by the crises in Ukraine, Iraq, Syria and Gaza (to name a few), a civil war has nonetheless devastated South Sudan since December 2013. It has left thousands dead, and more than a million have been internally displaced or forced into refugee camps.
Date:
Wednesday 3rd September 2014

Douglas Carswell by-election is a rare and honourable event

Douglas Carswell by-election is a rare and honourable event
Description
Written by Chris Game. The least surprising part of Douglas Carswell's defection to UKIP was surely his decision to resign his Clacton seat and seek re-election in a by-election.
Date:
Friday 29th August 2014

Nationalism sparks a summer of deadly violence in the Caucasus

Nationalism sparks a summer of deadly violence in the Caucasus
Description
Written by Kevork Oskanian. The world has been brutally reminded of the unresolved conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, an enclave in the South Caucasus which Armenia and Azerbaijan have locked horns over for more than 25 years. While the situation is clearly at a low ebb, the facts of what is happening are far from clear.
Date:
Thursday 28th August 2014

If lauding Thatcher was cause to recall parliament, why not Iraq?

If lauding Thatcher was cause to recall parliament, why not Iraq?
Description
Written by Chris Game. MPs from all parties have called in recent weeks for parliament to be reconvened to enable them to debate the ongoing crisis in Iraq. They have met with unbending opposition. But David Cameron's decision to bring everyone back last year to eulogise Margaret Thatcher might make it difficult for him to resist indefinitely.
Date:
Thursday 21st August 2014

Inside Donetsk, a city at war, while the jaw-jaw over Ukraine continues

Inside Donetsk, a city at war, while the jaw-jaw over Ukraine continues
Description
Written by Professor Tatyana Malyarenko (Professor of Public Administration at Donetsk State Management University) and Professor Stefan Wolff. The past few days have seen another round of the seemingly endless cycle of escalation and de-escalation that has characterised the crisis in Ukraine for several months.
Date:
Tuesday 19th August 2014

Is Boris Johnson a sop to the Tories' UKIP tendency?

Is Boris Johnson a sop to the Tories' UKIP tendency?
Description
Written by Dr Peter Kerr. There is a certain section of the Conservative Party – and not necessarily a minority – which has a penchant for self-destruction. This is the same section which takes its leadership cues from Nigel Farage rather than David Cameron; that section which has repeatedly frustrated the latter's attempts to modernise the party, while steadfastly drawing the leadership back towards the types of agenda, on Europe and immigration and so on, which proved so electorally damaging for the party throughout the noughties.
Date:
Monday 11th August 2014

The secret economic slowdown behind Putin's strategy for Russia

The secret economic slowdown behind Putin's strategy for Russia
Description
Written by Dr Richard Connolly. If you want to understand the sometimes confounding moves played by Russian premier Vladimir Putin, then you could do worse than look at the accounts. On the face of it the country has seen 14 years of growth in the past 15, but that hides a persistent slowdown in the rate of growth. And although sanctions imposed over Ukraine have grabbed the headlines, the truth is that economic weakness in Russia is homegrown.
Date:
Monday 11th August 2014

Self-styled people's governor of Donetsk tells us: these areas have always been Russian

Self-styled people's governor of Donetsk tells us: these areas have always been Russian
Description
Written by Professor Tatyana Malyarenko (Professor of Public Administration at Donetsk State Management University) and Professor Stefan Wolff. There are two competing and irreconcilable narratives about the crisis in eastern Ukraine that divide public opinion and media coverage in the region and the country – as much as they divide Russia and the West.
Date:
Thursday 7th August 2014

The Conversation: Lack of trust and tit-for-tat escalation brings Ukraine to the brink of all-out war with Russia

The Conversation: Lack of trust and tit-for-tat escalation brings Ukraine to the brink of all-out war with Russia
Description
Written by Professor Stefan Wolff and Professor Tatyana Malyarenko (Professor of Public Administration at Donetsk State Management University). The renewed escalation of the Ukrainian crisis, following the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, shows no sign of abating. Fighting in the east has continued both in and around the rebel stronghold of Donetsk and at the Russian-Ukrainian border where, according to reports, Russia has now started shelling Ukrainian military positions.
Date:
Monday 28th July 2014

The Conversation: How harsher sanctions could help Putin turn Russia back into the Soviet Union

The Conversation: How harsher sanctions could help Putin turn Russia back into the Soviet Union
Description
Written by Dr Richard Connolly. The downing of flight MH17 has caused attention to shift once again to the prospect of even harsher penalties being imposed upon Russia by Western countries. Up to this point, sanctions have been limited to individuals within or close to Russia's ruling elite, as well as a few associated companies.
Date:
Thursday 24th July 2014

The Conversation: As Russia votes with Security Council, could MH17 be providing a wake-up call?

The Conversation: As Russia votes with Security Council, could MH17 be providing a wake-up call?
Description
Written by Professor Stefan Wolff. The unanimous vote in the UN Security Council on the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over rebel-controlled territory in eastern Ukraine is a welcome step. The resolution, drafted by Australia which lost 37 people in the tragedy, condemns the downing of the aircraft and calls for all states to co-operate with the investigation and demands that armed groups allow open access to the crash site.
Date:
Wednesday 23rd July 2014

The Conversation: How far were Russia's 'little green men' involved in the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17?

The Conversation: How far were Russia's 'little green men' involved in the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17?
Description
Written by Dr Kataryna Wolczuk. The shooting down of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 in Eastern Ukraine on 17th June has placed the conflict which has engulfed that part of Ukraine into an entirely new context. It has transformed the event from a localised, regional rebellion into a crisis that brings Russia's role into the open.
Date:
Monday 21st July 2014

The Conversation: Thaw in UK-Iran relations will depend on Rouhani's actions, not his words, say MPs

The Conversation: Thaw in UK-Iran relations will depend on Rouhani's actions, not his words, say MPs
Description
Written by Dr Adam Quinn. The House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee's new report on policy towards Iran contains no surprises – startling new departures aren't in the nature of such documents – but does help crystallise a couple of important features of the present posture of the Western coalition's posture towards Iran.
Date:
Thursday 17th July 2014

The Conversation: The BRICS plan for a new world order begins with a bank

The Conversation: The BRICS plan for a new world order begins with a bank
Description
Written by Dr Marco Vieira. Could history one day judge the latest BRICS summit as significant as the Bretton Woods conference of 1944? That is the hope of leaders from Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa as they meet in the city of Fortaleza, Brazil to establish a new institutional architecture to counter (or maybe complement) the Western-controlled finacial system.
Date:
Thursday 17th July 2014

The Conversation: Bush's folly has left Obama out of options as ISIS surges in Iraq

The Conversation: Bush's folly has left Obama out of options as ISIS surges in Iraq
Description
Written by Dr Adam Quinn. Since 2003 (and, really, for years before that) Iraq has become, with only the most fleeting exceptions, a source of nothing but the most exquisitely awful sort of news. But even by its own standards, the events of the past 72 hours have surely exceeded the expectations of even connoisseurs of tactical disaster.
Date:
Monday 16th June 2014

The Conversation: Watered-down recall bill proves MPs just don't get it

The Conversation: Watered-down recall bill proves MPs just don't get it
Description
Written by Chris Game. "Meaningless", "a stitch-up", "a breathtakingly cynical attempt to convey an impression of democratic reform" – this was how Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith reacted to his own government's announcement in the Queen's Speech that ministers would, after all, be introducing a recall of MPs Bill before the 2015 election.
Date:
Tuesday 10th June 2014

The Conversation: Both Labour and the Tories are pursuing a cynical 15% strategy

The Conversation: Both Labour and the Tories are pursuing a cynical 15% strategy
Description
Written by Chris Game. The "35% strategy" – the idea that a party could win the 2015 general election on 35% of the vote – entered political discourse last year, generally as a Conservative taunt directed at Labour. The 35% comprised Labour's supposed "core vote": the 29% it managed in 2010 and brought it 258 or nearly 40% of Commons seats – plus a guesstimated 6% for Lib Dem defectors.
Date:
Thursday 29th May 2014

The Conversation: NATO must take responsibility for spiralling violence in Libya

The Conversation: NATO must take responsibility for spiralling violence in Libya
Description
Written by Professor Paul Jackson. Libya has drifted out of our news recently, swamped and obscured by other conflicts. But the repercussions of the NATO intervention, and the subsequent failure of any credible central government to control the powerful militias, have led to a series of increasingly serious incidents.
Date:
Wednesday 28th May 2014

The Conversation: 'Chocolate King' Poroshenko wins Ukraine presidency but violence continues

The Conversation: 'Chocolate King' Poroshenko wins Ukraine presidency but violence continues
Description
Written by Professor Stefan Wolff and Professor Tatyana Malyarenko (Professor of Public Administration at Donetsk State Management University). With the outright victory of Petro Poroshenko in Ukraine's presidential elections on May 25 now confirmed, hopes are running high for a new beginning that will deliver a swift way out of a protracted crisis.
Date:
Monday 26th May 2014

The Conversation: Whoever wins Ukraine election faces an uncertain mandate and no easy path to peace

The Conversation: Whoever wins Ukraine election faces an uncertain mandate and no easy path to peace
Description
Written by Professor Stefan Wolff and Professor Tatyana Malyarenko (Professor of Public Administration at Donetsk State Management University). The presidential elections in Ukraine on May 25 were meant to offer the country the beginning of a way out of a protracted crisis. Some of the signs were quite positive. Presidential candidates were stressing the need for unity and dialogue. Ukraine's richest man, Rinat Akhmetov, a powerful tycoon based in eastern Ukraine, took a strong public stance against the separatists there.
Date:
Sunday 25th May 2014

The Conversation: Meriam Ibrahim death sentence: West needs to give Sudan a bit of face time

The Conversation: Meriam Ibrahim death sentence: West needs to give Sudan a bit of face time
Description
Written by Dr Jonathan Fisher. The case of Meriam Ibrahim, a pregnant woman sentenced to death for apostasy by a Khartoum court, has rightly refocused international attention on the dire state of human rights in Sudan.
Date:
Friday 23rd May 2014

The Conversation: The other pivot to Asia and why success in China is not all it seems for Putin's Russia

The Conversation: The other pivot to Asia and why success in China is not all it seems for Putin's Russia
Description
Written by Dr Richard Connolly. The headline accomplishment of Vladimir Putin's trip to China is hard to deny: a 30-year deal estimated to be worth US$400 billion for Russia to deliver gas to China. But it isn't the unqualified win that Putin's supporters might claim. For Russia has been backed into a corner.
Date:
Friday 23rd May 2014

The Conversation: London aside, Farage's UKIP now has its imprint on England

The Conversation: London aside, Farage's UKIP now has its imprint on England
Description
Written by Chris Game. You'll be expecting, understandably, UKIP stuff – and there will be, but later. These were elections to determine the political and policy control of 161 English local authorities. Working for a department known in the wider world as the Institute of Local Government Studies, it would be inappropriate for me not to look first at those councils where we know control has changed hands, none of which directly involve UKIP – almost inevitably, given its almost baseline starting point.
Date:
Friday 23rd May 2014

The Conversation: Labour should be the biggest local winner – this year anyway

The Conversation: Labour should be the biggest local winner – this year anyway
Description
Written by Chris Game. Two countries have synchronised their EU election and local election dates this cycle: Greece and parts of the UK (England and Northern Ireland).
Date:
Thursday 22nd May 2014

The Conversation: Ukraine separatists engaged in high-risk game as they press on with referendum plan

The Conversation: Ukraine separatists engaged in high-risk game as they press on with referendum plan
Description
Written by Professor Stefan Wolff and Professor Tatyana Malyarenko (Professor of Public Administration at Donetsk State Management University). Vladimir Putin's statements giving qualified support for presidential elections in Ukraine on May 25, calling on separatists in eastern Ukraine to postpone their planned referendums and announcing a pull-back of troops from Ukraine's border, has been greeted with scepticism in Kiev, Brussels, London and Washington.
Date:
Friday 9th May 2014

The Conversation: With Geneva deal dead Ukraine could be pivotal moment for international relations

The Conversation: With Geneva deal dead Ukraine could be pivotal moment for international relations
Description
Written by Professor Stefan Wolff and Professor Tatyana Malyarenko (Professor of Public Administration at Donetsk State Management University). The Geneva Agreement appears to be dead in the water. Achieved only a week ago, it was widely considered a surprising breakthrough, albeit one which offered major concessions to Russia.
Date:
Friday 25th April 2014

The Conversation: Breakthrough in Ukraine talks is a win-win situation, especially for Russia

The Conversation: Breakthrough in Ukraine talks is a win-win situation, especially for Russia
Description
Written by Professor Stefan Wolff. The four-party talks on the crisis in Ukraine have apparently produced a significant breakthrough towards the diffusion of an increasingly dangerous situation.
Date:
Friday 18th April 2014

The Conversation: Ukraine crisis: is the West powerless to stop Russian aggression?

The Conversation: Ukraine crisis: is the West powerless to stop Russian aggression?
Description
Written by Professor Stefan Wolff. As the situation in Ukraine rapidly spins out of control, various Western leaders have stepped up their verbal warnings to Russia.
Date:
Tuesday 15th April 2014

The Conversation: Now Crimea's in the bag, where next for Putin and Russia?

The Conversation: Now Crimea's in the bag, where next for Putin and Russia?
Description
Written by Professor Stefan Wolff and Professor Tatyana Malyarenko (Professor of Public Administration at Donetsk State Management University). The Ukrainian government has announced that it will mount a full-scale military operation to regain control of the east of the country and has set a deadline of 6am on Monday morning for occupied government buildings to be evacuated by armed protesters.
Date:
Tuesday 15th April 2014

The Conversation: Ukraine a pawn in high-stakes global game with no quick win in sight for EU, US or Russia

The Conversation: Ukraine a pawn in high-stakes global game with no quick win in sight for EU, US or Russia
Description
Written by Professor Stefan Wolff and Professor Tatyana Malyarenko (Professor of Public Administration at Donetsk State Management University). Ukraine appears to be heading towards another crisis. Protests in the eastern cities of Kharkiv, Luhansk and Donetsk have turned violent and pro-Russian protesters occupied government buildings, calling for a referendum on independence. In Donetsk, in an eerie echo of events in Crimea, separatists went one step further and have now proclaimed their own independent Donetsk People's Republic and asked Russia for support.
Date:
Thursday 10th April 2014

The Conversation: Ukraine crisis: are Moldova and its Transnistrian region next on Moscow's to-do-list?

The Conversation: Ukraine crisis: are Moldova and its Transnistrian region next on Moscow's to-do-list?
Description
NATO foreign ministers have agreed to suspend all cooperation with Russia and bolster their defence posture in the Baltic states and Poland. This move reflects the continuing perception of a Russian threat to Ukraine, a point made abundantly clear in a statement by the German chancellor Angela Merkel – which is particularly significant given that Germany is usually seen as Russia's closest ally in the West.
Date:
Thursday 10th April 2014

The Conversation: 20 years on, Rwanda exhausts its 'genocide credit' with donors

The Conversation: 20 years on, Rwanda exhausts its 'genocide credit' with donors
Description
Written by Dr Danielle Beswick. On 7 April 2014, Rwanda commemorates the 20th anniversary of the genocide against the Tutsi. The events of 1994 continue to cast a long shadow over both Rwanda and the international community. As the world remembers along with Rwanda, it is important to reflect not only on the lessons and legacies of the genocide itself, but also the role of Western donors in supporting Rwanda's transition to a peaceful and more prosperous future.
Date:
Friday 4th April 2014

The Conversation: Despite the rumble of Russian tanks the main weapon in Ukraine is information

The Conversation: Despite the rumble of Russian tanks the main weapon in Ukraine is information
Description
Written by recent CREES PhD graduate Victoria Hudson. In the information age, success is not merely the result of whose army wins, but also of whose story wins." The words of Harvard scholar Joseph Nye have been borne out in Ukraine.
Date:
Wednesday 26th March 2014

The Conversation: Now Crimea's in the bag, where next for Putin and Russia?

The Conversation: Now Crimea's in the bag, where next for Putin and Russia?
Description
Written by Professor Stefan Wolff and Professor Tatyana Malyarenko (Professor of Public Administration at Donetsk State Management University). Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has now apparently formalised the annexation by announcing two new laws that make Crimea and Sevastopol subjects of the Russian Federation and has signed a treaty to this effect with Crimea's pro-Russian leaders.
Date:
Wednesday 19th March 2014

The Conversation: Crimea votes to secede from Ukraine as EU considers sanctions against Russia

The Conversation: Crimea votes to secede from Ukraine as EU considers sanctions against Russia
Description
Written by Professor Stefan Wolff and Professor Tatyana Malyarenko (Professor of Public Administration at Donetsk State Management University). Crimeans have voted by a huge margin to secede from Ukraine. According to early reports released after 50% of the ballots had been counted more than 95% of votes were in favour of joining Russia.
Date:
Tuesday 18th March 2014

The Conversation: Seizing EU and US assets won't help Russia – it needs the investment

The Conversation: Seizing EU and US assets won't help Russia – it needs the investment
Description
Written by Dr Richard Connolly. With the Crimean parliament voting to join Russia, and EU leaders discussing potential sanctions, the Ukrainian crisis continues to escalate. But what if Russia's next seizure wasn't further territory but rather Exxon Mobil's gas fields, or Volkswagen's factories?
Date:
Wednesday 12th March 2014

The Conversation: How can Ukraine, Crimea and Russia secure a stable future?

The Conversation: How can Ukraine, Crimea and Russia secure a stable future?
Description
Written by Professor Stefan Wolff and Professor Tatyana Malyarenko (Professor of Public Administration at Donetsk State Management University). The situation in Ukraine is still highly volatile, especially in relation to Crimea and continuing uncertainty about Russia's intentions. But there is a need to consider what a longer-term solution might look like in light of the different demands being made.
Date:
Wednesday 12th March 2014

The Conversation: A divided Ukraine could see two radically different states emerge

The Conversation: A divided Ukraine could see two radically different states emerge
Description
Written by Dr Richard Connolly. It is increasingly difficult to predict what the future holds for Ukraine. One scenario sees the country becoming divided along roughly ethnic lines, with an ethnic Ukrainian western state and a more Russia-oriented eastern state comprising today's southern and eastern Ukraine. So what would the economies of these potential new states look like?
Date:
Tuesday 11th March 2014

The Conversation: Putin calling all the shots in Ukraine: what next for relations between Russia and the West?

The Conversation: Putin calling all the shots in Ukraine: what next for relations between Russia and the West?
Description
Written by Professor Stefan Wolff and Professor Tatyana Malyarenko (Professor of Public Administration at Donetsk State Management University). After days of heightening tensions and increasingly aggressive rhetoric, Russian president Vladimir Putin requested, and was promptly granted, authorisation to deploy Russian troops in Ukraine until the situation there had "normalised". Yet, after further diplomatic efforts, including a 90-minute telephone call between presidents Obama and Putin, there has so far been no actual military escalation, even though the increased presence of Russian troops in Crimea and Ukraine's announcement to call up military reservists have heightened the potential for serious violence.
Date:
Tuesday 4th March 2014

The Conversation: Crimea flashpoint raises stakes in Russia's regional power play

The Conversation: Crimea flashpoint raises stakes in Russia's regional power play
Description
Written by Professor Stefan Wolff and Professor Tatyana Malyarenko (Professor of Public Administration at Donetsk State Management University). As events in Crimea escalate and become a focal point in the broader struggle within Ukraine, between Ukraine and Russia, and between Russia and the West, one key question is about Russia's larger game plan.
Date:
Monday 3rd March 2014

The Conversation: Crimea: the polarised peninsula threatening to rip Ukraine apart

The Conversation: Crimea: the polarised peninsula threatening to rip Ukraine apart
Description
Written by Professor Stefan Wolff and Professor Tatyana Malyarenko (Professor of Public Administration at Donetsk State Management University). These are dangerous times in Crimea. While the ongoing crisis in Ukraine has exposed the division between the country's pro-Western and pro-Russian populations, another divide is more clear-cut and arguably more imminently threatening: the divide between supporters and opponents of separatism in Crimea.
Date:
Friday 28th February 2014

The Conversation: Ukraine a pawn in high-stakes global game with no quick win in sight for EU, US or Russia

The Conversation: Ukraine a pawn in high-stakes global game with no quick win in sight for EU, US or Russia
Description
Written by Professor Stefan Wolff and Professor Tatyana Malyarenko (Professor of Public Administration at Donetsk State Management University). It was just last Friday that the Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych and three leaders of the parliamentary opposition – Vitaliy Klichko, Oleh Tyahnibok, and Arsenij Yatseniuk – signed an agreement on how to end the two-month crisis that has engulfed Ukraine. They did so as the protests turned increasingly violent, with up to 100 people killed in the days immediately before the agreement.
Date:
Wednesday 26th February 2014

The Conversation: Al-Qaeda: thinking local in regional turmoil spells trouble for the West

The Conversation: Al-Qaeda: thinking local in regional turmoil spells trouble for the West
Description
Written by Professor Stefan Wolff. In his 2014 State of the Union address, President Obama noted that the threat from al-Qaeda had evolved with affiliates of the terror group taking root in places as diverse as Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, and Mali.
Date:
Thursday 6th February 2014

The Conversation: Ugandan intervention holds little hope for South Sudan conflict

The Conversation: Ugandan intervention holds little hope for South Sudan conflict
Description
Written by Professor Stefan Wolff. As the rival factions in the current conflict in South Sudan are about to sign a ceasefire deal in Addis Ababa, concerns remain that Uganda's military intervention in the South Sudanese civil war continue to threaten further regional escalation along well-established and predictable patterns.
Date:
Wednesday 29th January 2014

The Conversation: Ariel Sharon dies at 85 after decades as polarising presence

The Conversation: Ariel Sharon dies at 85 after decades as polarising presence
Description
Written by Dr Asaf Siniver. To his critics he will forever be the "Butcher of Beirut", the master of Israel's disastrous invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and the man responsible for the horrendous massacre of hundreds of Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps. His supporters will celebrate him as one of the most daring and ingenious military commanders in Israel's history and the prime minister who engineered the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005, bringing an end to 38 years of military occupation. Ariel "Arik" Sharon, Israel's 11th prime minister, was certainly a controversial figure.
Date:
Tuesday 14th January 2014

2013

The Conversation: Peace and Security in Africa: from summitry to solutions

The Conversation: Peace and Security in Africa: from summitry to solutions
Description
Written by Professor Stefan Wolff. The death last night of Nelson Mandela serves as a reminder of the enormous potential of African leaders to bring positive and lasting change to the continent. It is a reminder also of the obligations that African leaders have towards their own countries and citizens.
Date:
Tuesday 10th December 2013

The Conversation: Obama must face down hawks and Israel over Iran deal

The Conversation: Obama must face down hawks and Israel over Iran deal
Description
Written by Dr Adam Quinn. The nuclear deal reached between the United States and Iran represents both a breakthrough and a risk for Barack Obama. A breakthrough because it stalls Iran's progress towards nuclear weapons capability for six months, in exchange for only moderate concessions on sanctions, while a bigger final settlement is haggled over.
Date:
Friday 29th November 2013

The Conversation: Iran's nuclear weapons deal will rebalance the Middle East

The Conversation: Iran's nuclear weapons deal will rebalance the Middle East
Description
Written by Stefan Wolff. Signed by the P5 + Germany and mediated by the EU's foreign policy chief, Baroness Catherine Ashton, the deal achieved with Iran on the latter's nuclear programme has important implications for regional and international security dynamics that go well beyond nuclear weapons.
Date:
Wednesday 27th November 2013

The Conversation: Joseph Kony peace talks may be just another tactic

The Conversation: Joseph Kony peace talks may be just another tactic
Description
Written by Professor Paul Jackson. The government of the Central African Republic claims to be in talks with one of the world's most enigmatic African guerrilla leaders, Joseph Kony. But Kony has entered talks before with no intention of backing down. This latest announcement follows all the same patterns and should be treated with scepticism.
Date:
Monday 25th November 2013

The Conversation: Hard Evidence: is it possible to forecast HS2's benefits?

The Conversation: Hard Evidence: is it possible to forecast HS2's benefits?
Description
Written by Rebecca O'Neill, INLOGOV PhD researcher. The recent publication of the government's strategic case for HS2 has added to mounting concerns about the strength and validity of evidence put forward to support the project. Previously, the business case report written by KPMG stated that the high-speed rail link could benefit the UK by £15 billion a year – a claim made just days before a critical vote in parliament that secured further funding.
Date:
Thursday 21st November 2013

The Conversation: Recovery from the Arab Spring will take a generation or more

The Conversation: Recovery from the Arab Spring will take a generation or more
Description
Written by Professor Stefan Wolff. At a meeting at the Wall Street Journal this week, Martin E Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, noted that the United States' ability to exercise influence in the Middle East had significantly diminished over the course of the Arab Spring. He noted in particular that there are fewer and fewer good options left for dealing with the conflict in Syria.
Date:
Wednesday 20th November 2013

The Conversation: After a slow start, police commissioners hit their stride

The Conversation: After a slow start, police commissioners hit their stride
Description
The "plebgate" saga has once again raised questions about police integrity and dented public trust and confidence in policing more generally. Building such trust was, of course, one of the coalition government's arguments for introducing police and crime commissioners (PCCs). Elections for the first PCCs took place exactly a year ago and despite initial criticisms, they do appear to be making a difference.
Date:
Friday 15th November 2013

The Conversation: Back towards the brink in Iraq as old tensions are renewed

The Conversation: Back towards the brink in Iraq as old tensions are renewed
Description
Written by Stefan Wolff. Things have not been going well in Iraq for a while. Sectarian violence is on the increase, having reached levels last seen in 2008. As a consequence, the government of Nouri al-Maliki is in dire straits. The same prime minister who negotiated a restrictive status-of-forces agreement with the United States in 2008, now comes begging to Washington for military aid and support.
Date:
Wednesday 13th November 2013

The Conversation: Obama's soft power a hard sell after NSA revelations

The Conversation: Obama's soft power a hard sell after NSA revelations
Description
Written by Dr Adam Quinn. For presidents, like sports team managers, the tough weeks tend to outnumber the jubilant. But even by the standards of an unforgiving job, Barack Obama could be forgiven for feeling unusually buffeted of late. Many of the blows have come on the domestic front, with the all-consuming stand off of the government shutdown segueing into frantic efforts to defend and repair the roll-out of Obamacare amid charges of fatal technological incompetence.
Date:
Thursday 7th November 2013

The Conversation: Electoral deadlock means no end to Republican extremism

The Conversation: Electoral deadlock means no end to Republican extremism
Description
After 16 days of anxiety, grandstanding and acrimonious finger-pointing, the experiment in American democracy that was the government shutdown has been run, and for the Republicans, the results were devastating.
Date:
Monday 21st October 2013

The Conversation: Trust crucial in high-stakes nuclear talks with Iran

The Conversation: Trust crucial in high-stakes nuclear talks with Iran
Description
Written by Nicholas J. Wheeler. Talks begin in Geneva on Tuesday to discuss with Iran the thorny issue of its nuclear program, an area that has previously proved to be a stumbling block in normalising relations between the Islamic Republic and the West. But this time Iran has a new president – the moderate Hassan Rouhani – and hopes for progress towards a deal are high.
Date:
Tuesday 15th October 2013

The Conversation: Progress on Syrian WMDs but real test for UN lies ahead

The Conversation: Progress on Syrian WMDs but real test for UN lies ahead
Description
Written by Nicholas J. Wheeler. The Organisation for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has announced it is sending a second team of weapons inspectors to Syria where, director-general Ahmet Üzümcü reports, destruction of al-Assad's chemical stockpile has commenced with the co-operation of regime officials in what he describes as a "constructive beginning".
Date:
Friday 11th October 2013

The Conversation: Morsi indictment shows failure of transitional justice in Egypt

The Conversation: Morsi indictment shows failure of transitional justice in Egypt
Description
Written by Professor Stefan Wolff. Transitional justice, a common feature of most regime changes whether they are the result of a civil war or a revolution, has been practised in different ways in the course of the Arab Spring. In Tunisia, we have seen the indictment and sentencing in absentia of exiled ex-president Ben Ali; in Libya, the lynching of dictator Muammar Gaddafi and the on-going uncertainty over the trial of his son, Saif and in Yemen, the quasi-blanket amnesty for ex-President Ali Abduallah Saleh.
Date:
Friday 11th October 2013

The Conversation: Black Hawk Down returns: how local conflicts become regional

The Conversation: Black Hawk Down returns: how local conflicts become regional
Description
Written by Professor Stefan Wolff. Twenty years ago, on 3 and 4 October 1993, the so-called Battle of Mogadishu, also referred to as Black Hawk Down, raged in the Somali capital. Two decades on, this region of East Africa still suffers from the instability anchored by the collapsed Somalian state, and the inability of local and international actors to deal with it effectively.
Date:
Monday 7th October 2013

The Conversation: Boehner risks his reputation in Obamacare shutdown

The Conversation: Boehner risks his reputation in Obamacare shutdown
Description
Written by Dr Adam Quinn. Republican Speaker John Boehner faced a choice between two unappetising gambles on Monday night. One option was to cut a deal with Democrats to continue federal government spending at present levels, and in so doing trigger a revolt from the radical wing of his own party that might end his speakership. The other was to dig in, precipitate a partial shut-down of the government, and risk the public assigning the blame to congressional Republicans.
Date:
Thursday 3rd October 2013

The Conversation: There are no positive outcomes for military intervention in Syria

The Conversation: There are no positive outcomes for military intervention in Syria
Description
Professor Stefan Wolff recently wrote an article for politics.co.uk. As Western resolve to 'do something' over the use of chemical weapons in Syria hardens, military intervention has emerged as the last resort.
Date:
Friday 27th September 2013

The Conversation: Kenya is Somalia's latest victim in region of failed states

The Conversation: Kenya is Somalia's latest victim in region of failed states
Description
Written by Professor Stefan Wolff. The terrorist attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, has come to an end now with five more terrorists killed and eleven in custody. The attack raises a number of questions over security and stability in East Africa that need to be asked and answered. This region has suffered from a prolonged crisis primarily connected to the collapse of any semblance of order in Somalia more than two decades ago.
Date:
Wednesday 25th September 2013

The Conversation: Prepare for more drones, and less all-out war

The Conversation: Prepare for more drones, and less all-out war
Description
Written by Professor Stefan Wolff. Much of the current debate about drones (or unmanned aerial vehicles, UAVs) is about whether their deployment to countries such as Pakistan and Yemen is legal or ethical. This debate is predominantly focused on armed drones and their use to carry out targeted and signature strikes against known or suspected terrorists and insurgents.
Date:
Monday 23rd September 2013

The Conversation: Odds on Merkel to head grand coalition in German election

The Conversation: Odds on Merkel to head grand coalition in German election
Description
By Isabelle Hertner. Germans go to the polls this weekend to elect a new four-year parliament – the Bundestag. Barring something extraordinary a coalition headed by Angela Merkel will be returned.
Date:
Monday 23rd September 2013

The Conversation: Syria and the wider crisis of international diplomacy

The Conversation: Syria and the wider crisis of international diplomacy
Description
Written by Professor Stefan Wolff. Two weeks ago airstrikes against the Syrian regime in retaliation to its assumed use of chemical weapons seemed a foregone conclusion, despite Russian and Chinese resistance. US-led Western resolve, albeit against a groundswell of public opinion and rather underwhelming backing from major allies, appeared unstoppable.
Date:
Friday 13th September 2013

The Conversation: Obama v Putin as G20 meets in Syria's shadow

The Conversation: Obama v Putin as G20 meets in Syria's shadow
Description
By Dr Adam Quinn. The G20 begins today and whether this is the best or the worst of times depends on how important one considers Syria to be. Because the manoeuvring and diplomacy surrounding the increasingly vicious civil war – and the prospect of international intervention – is likely to consume a good deal of the oxygen in the environs of St Petersburg.
Date:
Thursday 5th September 2013

The Conversation: Commons vote on Syria is a first step in the right direction

The Conversation: Commons vote on Syria is a first step in the right direction
Description
Yesterday's debate and vote in the British House of Commons on Syria has demonstrated how little common ground there is between supporters and opponents of military action against the Assad regime in response to the use of chemical weapons last week.
Date:
Friday 30th August 2013

The Conversation: From Egypt to Syria, this could be the start of the Arab Winter

The Conversation: From Egypt to Syria, this could be the start of the Arab Winter
Description
Last week violence in Syria intensified again with new allegations of the large-scale use of chemical weapons. Western leaders, still seeking confirmation of President Assad's culpability, debated an appropriate response.
Date:
Monday 26th August 2013

The Conversation: Syria casts its shadow as G8 leaders gather

The Conversation: Syria casts its shadow as G8 leaders gather
Description
President Obama's confirmation that the United States would begin arming Syrian rebels has prompted an urgent debate about both the legality and the effectiveness of the decision. The announcement, ahead of the G8 leader's summit in Northern Ireland that starts today, closely followed a joint statement by the US secretary of state, John Kerry, and the UK foreign secretary, William Hague, that their priority remains to see a diplomatic process "that succeeds in reaching a negotiated end to the conflict".
Date:
Saturday 17th August 2013

The Conversation: Tears and terror as Egypt slides towards civil war

The Conversation: Tears and terror as Egypt slides towards civil war
Description
More than 300 dead and many thousands more injured since June. An elected president in custody. Army units using deadly force to clear protesters off the streets. Egypt appears to be spiralling out of control.
Date:
Thursday 15th August 2013

The Conversation: West has key role to play amid Yemen's al-Qaeda resurgence

The Conversation: West has key role to play amid Yemen's al-Qaeda resurgence
Description
Yemen is once again at the centre of a major terrorist threat. The Yemeni government has announced the uncovering of a major Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) plot aimed at the country's critical oil and port infrastructure and deployed armed forces to protect potential target sites (including Western embassies in the capital, Sana'a).
Date:
Thursday 8th August 2013

The Conversation: Mixed messages from the EU won't help solve Egypt's crisis

The Conversation: Mixed messages from the EU won't help solve Egypt's crisis
Description
The stand-off in Egypt continues. A sit in by supporters of deposed president Mohamed Morsi has been put on notice that they will be cleared out by force if necessary.
Date:
Thursday 8th August 2013

The Conversation: EU ban on Israeli settlements could be a game changer

The Conversation: EU ban on Israeli settlements could be a game changer
Description
Asaf Siniver, Senior Lecturer in International Security at University of Birmingham recently wrote and article for The Conversation: "EU ban on Israeli settlements could be a game changer". After years of declarations, warnings and internal bickering, the European Union has finally done it. On Friday, Brussels is expected to announce that future agreements between the EU (or any of its member states) and Israel will include a clause which explicitly excludes the funding of and co-operation with Israeli institutions that operate in territory seized by Israel in the Six Day War of 1967.
Date:
Friday 19th July 2013

The Conversation: Little cause for celebration on South Sudan's birthday

The Conversation: Little cause for celebration on South Sudan's birthday
Description
Stefan Wolff, Professor of International Security at University of Birmingham recently wrote and article for The Conversation: "Little cause for celebration on South Sudan's birthday". The second anniversary of South Sudan's independence is overshadowed by the release of the annual State Failure Index by the Fund for Peace, which ranks the country as the world's fourth most failed state. It is a sobering balance sheet after two years for a state born of two civil wars and a "comprehensive peace agreement" that was all but comprehensive.
Date:
Wednesday 17th July 2013

The Conversation: Morsi's authority ebbed away, but Egypt is dangerously divided

The Conversation: Morsi's authority ebbed away, but Egypt is dangerously divided
Description
Dr Michelle Pace, Reader in Politics and International Studies at POLSIS recently wrote and article for The Conversation: "Egypt is split" is how many Egyptians describe the current crisis rippling through the country. Before Wednesday night's apparent military coup, journalists had reported on pro and anti-Morsi demonstrations, the battle between liberal secularists and Islamists (symbolised by Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood) and the fight between secularism and religion.
Date:
Wednesday 10th July 2013

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