The Baltic Region

2018 Vol. 10 № 4

Information technology

The effect of cross-border fibre-optic transitions on the information and communication connectivity of the Russian cities

Abstract

The Russian cities are connected by many telecommunication lines. The information flow between any two cities can be sent via multiple routes, including those running through the networks of other countries. Cross-border transitions are created to connect the Russian lines with the international networks. The effect of these transitions on the connectivity of the cities has not been analysed earlier, either for Russia or for any other country. Using my own database on the Russian telecommunication lines, the Rosstat data on the cities’ population, and the results of the scanning of the Internet topology, I attempt to assess the effect of these transitions on the connectivity of the Russian cities. The assessment is carried out at the physical, economic, and digital levels of connectivity. For each level, I calculate the proportion of cities and their residents interacting directly with international telecommunication networks. Of the three categories of physical connectivity, the system of the Russian cities is associated with the worst option — the exogenous connectivity. This is explained by the impossibility of connecting the Kaliningrad region with mainland Russia without using international networks. An analysis of the traffic redistribution between the core cities of the autonomous systems shows that closed flows and internal economic connectivity are predominant in Russia. The calculation of information flow delays between all the Russian cities and the cores of the national and international digital agglomerations makes it possible to establish what cities are affected by the international cores. I conclude that the cross-border transitions have little effect on the information and communication connectivity of the Russian cities.

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Political technologies and international conflicts in the information space of the Baltic Sea region

Abstract

The information space of the Baltic region has gradually developed since the free exchange of cross-border messages was made possible by media technology and international law. The international conflict between Russia and some countries of the European Union has become a factor hampering its sustainable development. Moreover, the conflict has adversely affected the functioning of many civil society institutions in the Baltic Sea region. This study focuses on the publications in the scientific media associated with the political technologies that may provoke conflict but must contribute to good-neighbourly relations in the region. We carry out a comprehensive political analysis and a specific examination of the Western scientific media to develop a package of measures that Russia can take to counter the conflictprovoking influences in the region. The current condition of the regional information space and information operations aimed at inciting Russophobia and forcing Russia out of the European political process is indicative of the politicisation of social sciences and the humanities and of the mythologisation of the policies of the regional social structures. The conflict must be urgently resolved, since the political technologies, which cause instability in the information space, damage the reputations of all the states involved. To reconcile the differences that underlie the information conflict in the Baltic region it is necessary to take into account common interests. There is a pressing need to join efforts in solving the challenging social problems that cannot be overcome without either international cooperation among the countries or effective social partnership.

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Legal issues

A functional description of the model for the protection of the environmental interests of the Russian Federation in the Baltic Sea region

Abstract

This article identifies the objective conditions of the conflict between the interests of development and those of environmental security. The latter are given added urgency when, within the same ecological unit, one country needs to develop and another to protect its environmental interests. The borders of the countries and regions, the economies of which affect the safety of Russia’s interests in the Baltic, do not coincide with the boundaries of the ecosystems. This calls for a study of the legal protection of Russia’s environmental interests in the Baltic Sea region. There is no legal mechanism for ensuring a balance between the interests of development and those of environmental security of the countries that have shorelines along the Baltic Sea. Thus, it is necessary to give a functional description of the regional model for the legal protection of the environmental interests of the Russian Federation in the Baltic region. To this end, we identify the juridical content of the environmental interests of the Russian Federation. We consider the possibilities of the legal protection of the environmental interests in the national and international jurisdiction. The interests are divided into two groups respectively. We reveal the essence of the environmental interests of the Russian Federation in the Baltic Sea region. We analyse the case of the Russian regions located within the Baltic Sea catchment area to test an approach to identifying the region’s boundaries. This approach may be used in modelling the regional level of the legal protection of Russia’s environmental interests in the Baltic region. We identify the environmental interests of the Russian Federation in the Baltic Sea region, as well as the forms of legal protection of the country’s interests in this territory. We describe the elements of the system of the legal protection of Russia’s interests in the Baltic region and examine the functions of these elements. The result of this study is a functional description of the model of legal protection of the environmental interests of the Russian Federation in the Baltic region. This model may be used to strengthen the links between the elements of the protection of the legitimate interests of the Russian Federation in the Baltic region.

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Legal regime for church property in Russia and the Baltic states

Abstract

In this article, we carry out a comparative analysis of the legal regimes for church property in the Baltic States and in Russia after the demise of the USSR,. We stress the significance of this problem for the newly established relations between the state and the religious organisations, for the conclusion of agreements between these actors, and for the development of the ideas of interdenominational peace and intergovernmental relations. In this study, we aim at identifying the similarities and differences between the legal regulation of the state/denomination relations regarding church property, as well as the economic component of these relations. We analyse the regulatory documents of Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia that enshrine the transfer (return) of the church property, which was seized illegally in the first Soviet years in Russia and during the incorporation of the Baltic republics into the USSR, to the religious organisations. We compare the restitution, which was carried out in the Baltics, with Russia’s moderate approach to the transfer of religious objects to religious organisations. We conclude that the international factor affects the resolution of the church property issue and that the economic benefits of the property transfer are unclear. The transfer of the church property is associated with additional expenditure incurred by the state. In conclusion, we consider the reasons why the complete transfer (return) of the church property seized in the Soviet period is impossible.

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The special economic zone in the Kaliningrad region: towards a more effective legal regime

Abstract

In this article, I aim at identifying the main trends in the development of the laws on the special legal regime of entrepreneurship in the Kaliningrad region. I address the problems of the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in the Kaliningrad region and provide recommendations for improving its legal regulation. I analyse the 12 years experience of the practical application of the federal law on the regional SEZ and examine the gaps and conflicts in the regulatory legal acts. In this study, I consider the legal requirements for the SEZ residents and their investment projects, as well as benefits provided to the residents. Another focus is the goals of the SEZ. I investigate the effectiveness of the benefits to the investors and of the applicable procedures and analyse the factors reducing the region’s investment attractiveness. I outline the 2017 amendments to the federal law on the SEZ in the Kaliningrad region and provide recommendations for the development of regulation and enforcement. I stress the need for tax harmonisation and the introduction of special procedures for the payment of taxes on profits and properties by the SEZ residents.

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Social and economic development

Youth unemployment in the Latgale region of Latvia: causes and consequences

Abstract

Youth unemployment is a serious problem in Latvia, as unemployed young people make up 16.3 % of the total number of unemployed in the country, while in the Latgale region the number of unemployed young people aged 15—24 years was 18.8 % of the total number of unemployed in the country in 2015. The purpose of this study is to identify the main current causes of high unemployment amongst young people in the Latgale region of Latvia aged 15—24 years. This age group of young people acted as a target group for sociological research based on a quota sample (by sex and age) in an online survey of respondents in 2016. The results of the study were processed using the Statistika program. The transformation of social and economic processes in the world, Europe and the post- Soviet space has led to changes in the labor market of young people, which are objective and subjective, contradictory, which continue to this day. It is established that the behavioral rationalism of young people (labor mobility, vocational education, etc.) in the regional labor market is combined with its behavioral irrationalism (lack of desire to work for various reasons, the need for contact with family and friends, etc.). This is due to the growing uncertainty in the youth labor market due to the growth of competition, the emergence and growth of flexible forms of employment, depriving young people of the clarity of career and confidence in the future. The survey results also show that the majority of unemployed youth in the Latgale region deliberately refuses to emigrate outside Latvia and would like to link their future with the region and the country.

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Trends in the development of cross-border trade in the Russian-Finnish borderlands

Abstract

This article considers the development of cross-border trade and tourism in the Russian- Finnish borderlands in the 19th/21st centuries. We describe the evolution of cross-border trade in the Russian-Finnish borderlands at different stages of the territory’s development. The patterns of cross-border trade have always been depended on the national policies of the two countries. Since the 19th century, cross-border trade in the Russian-Finnish borderlands has been the product of two factors. The first one is the demand from local residents for certain imported goods that are either absent or much more expensive in their own country. The second factor is the possibility of receiving additional or even basic income. We distinguish several periods (peddlar trade, Soviet-Finnish tourism, shuttle trade, shopping tourism) in the evolution of Russian-Finnish cross-border trade and identify their major trends and characteristics. We describe the general patterns of cross-border trade in these historical periods and juxtapose the pertinent institutional, organisational and infrastructural settings. We explain why the direction of the flow of finance and goods changed. Until the early 20th century, goods were brought to and money collected from Finland’s borderlands. Since the 1920s, the opposite situation has been observed. The latter trend has been growing in recent years. In this article, we aim at providing a periodisation and detecting the trends in and features of the evolution of cross-border trade in the Russian-Finnish borderlands in the 19th/21st centuries. To this end, we carry out a statistics and data analysis. We describe the Russian and international approaches to studying cross-border shopping tourism. We address Finland’s experience in stimulating inbound shopping tourism from Russia and examine why the Russians are attracted to the neighbouring state.

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Regional politics of memory in Poland’s Warmia and Masuria

Abstract

A contribution to memory studies, this work focuses on Poland’s Warmian-Masurian voivodeship. Before the war, this territory and the neighbouring Kaliningrad region of Russia comprised the German province of East Prussia. In this article, we strive to identify the essence, mechanisms, key stages, and regional features of the politics of memory from 1945 to the present. To this end, we analyse the legal regulations, the authorities’ decisions, statistics, and the reports in the press. We consider such factors as the education sector, the museum industry, the monumental symbolism, the oral and printed propaganda, holidays and rituals, the institutions of national memory, the adoption of memory-related laws, and others. From the first post-war years, the regional authorities sought to make the Polonocentric concept of the region’s history dominate the collective consciousness. This approach helped to use the postwar legacy impartially and effectively. However, the image of the past was distorted. This distortion was overcome at the turn of the 21st century to give rise to the concept of open regionalism. An effective alternative to nationalistic populism, open regionalism provides a favourable background for international cross-border cooperation.

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Discussion

Two civilizations: the relations of Russia and Western Europe at the beginning of the 21st century

Abstract

The challenges of building relations between two different civilizations, which Samuel Huntington and Lev Gumilev wrote about, are currently becoming more obvious due to the cardinal geopolitical and geoeconomic changes that have taken place since the demise the USSR and the world socialist system. Today, in the West, as if in contrast to the famous project by Charles de Gaulle —“Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals”, an extremely negative image of Russia is being formed. Western ideologists stick to the axiom according to which despotism and slavery, allegedly being the basis of Russia's internal order, inevitably give rise to aggression in relations with the outside world. Of course, these ideas do not take into account the ongoing socio-economic changes in the country and have little to do with modern realities. They are a mere reproduction of the old Western xenophobic moods going back to the time when Russophobia was widely spread in a number of leading European countries. The article explores historical roots of Russophobia and their manifestations at the beginning of the XXI century in Poland and the Baltic countries.

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Review