In the Former Soviet Bloc, the Democratic Dreams of 1989 Continue to Fade

Par Marie Lamensch

Following a period of democratization in the late 1990s, democracy is now rapidly waning in former Eastern Bloc countries, including Hungary, Serbia and, to a lesser extent, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and North Macedonia.

Eastern and Southeastern Europe, the Western Balkans in particular, are home to geopolitical disputes, polarized internal politics and ethnic tensions that make them fertile ground for digital violations, including disinformation, online harassment and surveillance. Indeed, according to a 2021 European Parliament study of disinformation, it “thrives most virulently … in environments that are already riven with internal conflicts, and where social and public trust already struggles to bridge political, regional, ethnic, religious or other divides.”

Domestic actors are taking advantage of these fault lines to attain and maintain power, control public opinion, and pursue other political ends, increasingly using social media and the internet.

Through a range of uses from disinformation campaigns and harassment to spyware and facial recognition, information and communications technologies (ICTs) and surveillance technologies are playing a growing role in the decline of democracy in Eastern and Southeastern Europe.

20 juillet 2022
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