Alexander Rayko Alexiev was named for his father, the famous painter, caricaturist, and satirist Rayko Alexiev, who was tortured and killed by Bulgaria’s Soviet-backed communist regime in 1944. His mother was dispatched for many years to Bulgaria’s gulag from which she was fortunate to emerge alive. These events created the context for their son’s life and work, which was intense, focused, intellectually profound, spirited, and inspirational. Unsurprisingly, Alex harbored a deep-seated hatred of communism and those who claimed to follow it, or who advanced preposterous claims on its behalf. He was raised largely by his grandparents and other relatives, for whom he had the deepest love and respect. His grandfather, in particular, figured in many of Alex’s recollections of his childhood, which were invariably full of dark humor.
Russia’s president Vladimir Putin will fall from power when another cataclysmic event reveals to his supporters among Russia’s rich and corrupt oligarchs that the emperor has no clothes, that his credibility as the country’s authoritarian leader is exhausted. This was the conclusion of several groups of senior Russian strategists convened in 2016 for The Jamestown Foundation’s “Russia in Decline” project. What might such a cataclysmic event be? Most of the strategists pointed to either “another Kursk,” referring to unexplained accident that sank Russia’s nuclear submarine in the Barents Sea in 2000 killing all 118 sailors, or a major military defeat. Imagine the Russian leader’s skimpy wardrobe in the aftermath of the horrific Syrian regime’s gas attacks on civilians, apparently with Russia’s sanction or support, which bears the hallmarks of
Not far from Bulgaria, just across the Black Sea, Georgia will hold an important election on November 8. Georgia is Bulgaria’s maritime borderland, so it is also Europe’s borderland, not just some mythical far-flung geographic hinge at the junction of Europe and Asia where Jason sought the Golden Fleece. What happens in Georgia now resonates in many directions, not least toward Europe itself, with implications that should not be ignored. Georgia has been one of the great success stories of the Soviet demise. Despite having Russian troops seize 20 percent of its territory in 2008, Georgia has remained a stable democracy and an increasingly prosperous free market. It ranks high on just about every index Europeans hold dear. Independent media, a vibrant democracy, low corruption, and strong human