UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES)


Post-Soviet Brief

The Post-Soviet Brief is the analysis blog of the SSEES Post-Soviet Press Group. The goal of the Post-Soviet Brief ("the Brief", for short) is to provide short, engaging analyses from SSEES academics and students on interesting developments across the region. This analysis is aimed at a range of audiences, including policymakers, journalists, and academics. Topics range from informal politics and corrupt practices to Crimea, from elections in Central Asia to law and courts in Russia.

New content will be posted on a rolling basis, but notices of new stories will be included in the weekly email from the Post-Soviet Press Group sent out during Terms 1 and 2. If you would like to pitch a story for the Brief, please see instructions on how to do so.

President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev

Political Repression in Azerbaijan

What explains the latest political repressions in Azerbaijan?

Putin holding a baby

Putin’s Pursuit of the Baby Boom – The Next Chapter

How should we make sense of measures announced by Vladimir Putin to tackle Russia’s ongoing “demographic crisis”?

bombed building

Bomb Hoaxes Continue to Plague Russia into the New Decade

Who is responsible for bomb hoaxes being made by anonymous telephone calls in Russia?

Russian naval ships

Russia’s Shrinking Navy

Military drills in the Black Sea and the harassment of a US Navy destroyer mask a worrying outlook for the Russian Navy.

Internet laws protest russia

What Russia’s Latest Internet Laws Mean for the Country’s Online Future

The start of a new decade heralds the first steps of Russia’s most stringent internet laws to date.

Russian ship in the arctic

Beneath the Surface: Russia in the Arctic

The security challenge of Russia’s concentration of its economic resources in the Arctic leaves the West struggling to respond.


Lukashenko’s Catch 22

Belarus has parliamentary elections on 17 November 2019. What can we expect to see?

Putin giving address

Putin’s Address to the Federal Assembly

What did Putin say in his 2019 annual Address to the Federal Assembly and how should we make sense of it?


Zelensky leads in the polls

Comedian Volodymyr Zelensky is leading in the Ukrainian presidential election polls.



More news stories coming soon


More news stories coming soon


Belarus-Russia Border

Belarus and Russia at the border

As top officials in Russia and Belarus meet to discuss drug trafficking, cracks are clear in the effort to construct a “common migration policy” for the Union State.


More news stories coming soon


Giorgi Margvelashvili

An impartial Georgian constitution at last?

After heated debate, Georgia has finally passed controversial constitutional amendments. What are the details, and what will be the likely effects? 


Nursultan Nazarbayev
Kazakhstan: The Times They Aren't a-Changin'

Who really rules Kazakhstan, Nazarbayev or Tokayev?

Kyrgyzstan-Kazakhstan Row

Tensions with neighbouring Kazakhstan did not disappear after presidential election results were published in Kyrgyzstan. What does this mean for the region and for Russia’s interests in Central Asia?


#metoo in Kyrgyzstan

Music video by Zere Asylbek continues debate about women's dress in Kyrgyzstan.


More news stories coming soon


More news stories coming soon


Moldova: How to Win an Election (Despite Coming Third)

Moldova held parliamentary elections on 24 February 2019. How did political parties do at the ballot box?


Putin at Russia Africa Summit
Russia-Africa Summit showcases increasing Russian influence on the continent

The opening of the inaugural Russia-Africa Economic Forum and Summit in Sochi, Russia, has brought Russia’s search for influence in the region to the interest of the world’s media.

Greta Thunberg
What is it about Greta?

There are few figures capable of uniting Russia’s pro-Kremlin and opposition camps, but Greta Thunberg has more than succeeded.

US Russia
US to pull out of INF treaty

President Donald Trump announced on Saturday 20 October that the US will unilaterally pull out of the landmark Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty with Russia. What does this mean for US-Russia relations?

Nord Stream Logo
Nord Stream 2: Just a Pipe Dream?

Nord Stream 2 will most likely be constructed for three key reasons, but delays in finishing the project are plausible.


Little Green Men
Little Green Men 2.0

"Russia's "little green men" played a pivotal role in the annexation of Crimea. Is the Kremlin continuing to use similar actors in other places?"

Thaw in Russia

Pre-electoral "thaw" in Russia?

Recent appointments at both regional and federal levels in Russia seem to favour a softer line, with signs of a technocratic agenda in anticipation of the spring 2018 presidential elections.  


Amplifying Assange

Russia has once again been accused of interfering in other countries’ politics – this time in the controversial vote on Catalan independence on 1 October. The fact that its repertoire of dirty tricks is now fairly standard is doubly distressing.

Fixing the Figures

Fixing the Figures

The Russian Government has prepared its draft of the federal state budget for 2018-20. Spending battles between ministries will, however, likely continue for the next few months. 

Invisible Soliders

Russia's Invisible Soldiers in Syria

President Putin recently announced Russia’s military withdrawal from Syria, but the continued presence of military contractors means that Russia’s military footprint will not be diminished in Syria for the foreseeable future. 



More news stories coming soon


More news stories coming soon


Happy Christmas, Ukraine

On 7 January 2019, Ukrainians celebrated a double-holiday: Orthodox Christmas and the independence of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.

Why Unite Ukraine’s Orthodox Church Eight Months Before the Presidential Election?
Why Unite Ukraine’s Orthodox Church Eight Months Before the Presidential Election?

With candidates rallying up for the 2019 presidential election, a united, independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church could prove a well-timed boon in winning the hearts and minds of voters.

Poroshenko Seeks Reelection

Ukraine is already in election year. Both the president and parliament chosen in the tumultuous year of 2014 are due to be reelected in 2019.

Kyiv's New Squad
Kyiv's New Squad

The sudden emergence of ‘national militias’, bent on ‘restoring Ukrainian order’ on the streets of Kyiv, has been met with a mixed public response and raises uncomfortable questions for Ukrainian law enforcement.

Petro Poroshenko and Christine Lagarde
Poroshenko's Anticorruption Waltz

Despite growing impatience in the West, President Petro Poroshenko continues to wage an undeclared war on the anticorruption sector through rogue legislation and, more recently, fake news.

Kyiv's education bill
Kyiv's education bill irks EU capitals

A recently passed Ukrainian education bill promised to bring Ukraine's education system in line with international standards. But a contentious clause seen as disadvantaging language minorities has sparked a backlash abroad.


Peace-Keepers in the East?

On the edges of the Donbas, the current peace-monitors (the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission) do their limited job. What are the chances for a real peace-keeping mission?

Sweet Shop


Ukraine’s Sweet Counter-Revolution

The fundamental question that keeps on being asked: can Ukraine really reform? This summer, Ukrainian NGOs have raised the alarm, talking of a ‘sweet counter-revolution’. 


More news stories coming soon