Populist Leaders in Eastern Europe Run Into a Little Problem: Unpopularity 東歐民粹領袖的小麻煩：顧人怨
A right-wing populist wave in Eastern Europe, lifted by Donald Trump's surprise victory in 2016, has not crashed as a result of his defeat last November. But it has collided with a serious obstacle: Its leaders are not very popular.
After winning elections by railing against widely disliked elites, right-wing populists on Europe's formerly communist eastern flank, it turns out, are themselves not much liked. That is due in large part to unpopular coronavirus lockdowns, and, like other leaders no matter their political complexion, their stumbling responses to the health crisis.
In Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orban is being countered by an uncharacteristically united opposition. In Poland, the deeply conservative government has made an abrupt shift to the left in economic policy to win back support. And in Slovenia, the hard-right governing party of the Trump-loving prime minister is slumping disastrously in the polls.
Slovenia's leader, Janez Jansa, who made international headlines by congratulating Trump on his "victory" in November and is a self-declared scourge of liberal, or what he calls communist, elites, is perhaps the most at risk of the region's unpopular populists.
Propelled by nationalist promises to bar asylum-seekers from the Middle East and "ensure the survival of the Slovenian nation," Jansa's Slovenian Democratic Party won the most votes in a 2018 election. Last year, a new coalition government led by the party had an approval rating of 65%.
This has since plunged to 26% and Jansa is so unpopular that allies are jumping ship. Street protests against him have attracted as many as tens of thousands of people, huge turnouts in a normally placid Alpine nation with a population of just 2 million.
Jansa has staggered on, narrowly surviving a no-confidence vote in parliament and a recent impeachment attempt by opposition legislators and defectors from his coalition.
楊薩勉強保住位子，以微幅差距挺過國會不信任投票，還有最近一次反對派議員及從聯合政府出走者發動的彈劾。But he has been so weakened "he does not have the power to do anything" other than curse foes on Twitter, said Ziga Turk, a professor and Cabinet minister in an earlier government headed by Jansa.
An English lawyer named Chris Hardman, a partner at Hogan Lovells, one of the biggest law firms in the world, flew into Moscow while his firm helped draft a tantalizing offer: Tyshchenko could be freed if she provided information that could be used to help his client in a sprawling web of litigation in London.
The twist is that Tyshchenko was one of the lawyers on the other side. To win her freedom, she would have to turn on her client. It was a ruthless exchange. But the Moscow prison had been ruthless, too, and she reluctantly agreed. In a later interview, she said what seemed "most abnormal" was that lawyers opposing her in a trial in London could play a role in her fate in Russia.
A Moscow prison. A London courtroom. One is part of a Russian legal system widely considered corrupt and subordinate to the Kremlin. The other is a symbol of an English legal system respected around the world. Yet after Hardman returned to London, an English judge would accept into the case the evidence obtained from the Moscow prison.
The episode is a vivid illustration of how the brutal politics of authoritarian countries like Russia and Kazakhstan have spilled into England's legal system, with lawyers and private investigators in London raking in huge fees and engaging in questionable tactics in the service of autocratic foreign governments.
An investigation by The New York Times and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism — involving a review of hundreds of pages of case documents, leaked records and more than 80 interviews with insiders, experts and witnesses — reveals how London's courts are being used by autocrats to wage legal warfare against people who have fled their countries after falling out of favor over politics or money.
Four out of the past six years, litigants from Russia and Kazakhstan have been involved in more civil cases in England than have any other foreigners. Authoritarian governments or related state entities are often pitted against wealthy tycoons who have fallen from favor and fled. Neither side elicits much pity — but both pay generous legal fees.