"It’s not just party politics that are messy. The social protection system itself is officially state-funded, but unofficially it’s semi-privatised. On paper, right across eastern Europe, we have preserved free (or almost free) healthcare, nursery, school and university education. But in reality, particularly in Ukraine, Moldova, Romania, Lithuania and Hungary, many people have to pay informally for these services. Patients are often expected to give a fat tip after a medical consultation, or, in the case of more expensive surgeries, to pay up front to have it performed in the first place, regardless of insurance cover. Parents, too, are widely expected to pay for extra classes, exams and “presents” for teachers."