President Viktor Yanukovych’s estate

The People of Ukraine Have Spoken: What Now?

A Moment Series: Democracy in Retreat  After massive demonstrations & new elections, Ukrainians have let it be known that they are ready for democratic and economic reforms. But that won’t be easy, given the country’s history of corruption and the bloody war with Russian-backed separatists. By Yigal Schleifer Picture this: An ostrich-filled menagerie, a petting zoo with cows and sheep, an antique car collection, several lavish residences fitted with gold bathroom fixtures and an artificial lagoon where a replica of a Spanish galleon that served as a floating banquet hall is docked. That’s Mezhyhirya, sprawling across 350 acres on a high bluff overlooking the Dnieper River, about a 30-minute drive from Ukraine’s capital of Kiev. One of the country’s largest and certainly most unusual estates, Mezhyhirya evokes both the overwrought grandeur of Versailles and the unhinged loopiness of Michael Jackson’s Neverland...

Continue reading

Prime Minister Viktor Orban

Hungary at the Turning Point

It’s a few days before the May 25 European Parliament elections, and the streets of Budapest are awash with colorful campaign posters urging Hungarians to vote for delegates to represent their country in Brussels. It would be a shining display of democracy in action, a comforting reminder of Hungary’s ten-year membership in the European Union after decades of repressive communist rule, if not for the fact that…

Continue reading