Country News Digest Issue #3

September 18 - September 24

Tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia have increased since the former’s pardon of murderer Ramil Shavarov earlier this month. In the past week, Azerbaijan has conducted military drills on its own soil and Azerbaijan’s deputy speaker condemned Armenia’s plan to build an airport in the contested territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Azerbaijan

Country News Digest
Russia

PanArmenian

Articles:

On Tuesday, the Kremlin issued a statement barring USAID activities in Russia and asking the organization to withdraw from the country by Oct. 1. The regime has accused USAID of trying to influence Russian elections. Cessation of funding from USAID will hurt groups such as human rights watcher Memorial and elections monitor GOLOS. Reuters

Trend.Az

Articles:

The L.A. Times

Riots broke out in Tbilisi this week in response to leaked videos of prison guards abusing inmates. Several of the perpetrators have been arrested, and the minister in charge of the prison system has resigned. Some speculate that this scandal will hurt President Saakashvili’s ruling party at the election on Oct. 1.

Georgia

Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski warned Ukraine that it must make a decision on where its future lies: with the East or with the West. Ukraine had sought EU ascension, but the process has stalled over Tymoshenko’s incarceration. Tymoshenko is currently fighting tax evasion and embezzlement, charges that the West sees as politically motivated.

Ukraine

San Francisco Chronicle

Articles:

The Voice of America

FinChannel.com

Articles:

The Guardian

This week the CSTO held military exercises in Armenia for its Collective Rapid Reaction Forces. The Russian defense minister met with Armenian president Serzh Sargsyan to discuss military and security cooperation.

Armenia

Major opposition parties boycotted the Parliamentary elections on September 23rd, because Lukashenko’s government refused to release political prisoners. During a small protest to promote the boycott, plain clothes policemen beat and arrested several opposition figures and journalists, later releasing them.

Belarus

Jamestown

Articles:

News.am

Huffington Post

Radio Free Europe

Articles:

CBS News

Turkey has extended its mandate as part of the USled military coalition in Afghanistan for another year. Turkey has around 1,800 soldiers serving in Afghanistan.

Turkey

Representative of the Irish Chair-in-Office of the OSCE, Lucinda Creighton, is on a three-day visit to Moldova this week. The visit is seen as important, as Ireland will hold the EU chairmanship in 2013, when Moldova is scheduled to conclude the negotiations on the Association Agreement by the Eastern Partnership Summit.

Moldova

Business Recorder

Articles:

Euro News

Moldova.org

Articles:

All Moldova

Russia and Kyrgyzstan signed a series of agreements this week regarding Kyrgyz debt, energy projects and the presence of Russian military bases on Kyrgyz soil. Moscow has agreed to write off $500 million in Kyrgyz debt while Bishkek has agreed to a new 15-year lease for a Russian military base.

Kyrgyzstan

Country News Digest

The American-led military coalition has scaled back joint operations with Afghan security forces due to an increase in “green-onblue” attacks. Joint operations, ranging from joint patrols to hands-on training, will now require approval of a twostar general.

Afghanistan

RIA

Articles:

Reuters

Hurriyet

Articles:

New York Times

Scientists examining the former Semipalatinsk nuclear test site say that some areas may be suitable for agriculture. The study has so far covered 4 out of 18.5 thousand square kilometers and found some areas to not pose considerable threats to agricultural production. The project to identify the borders of the hazardous zone is set to be completed by 2020.

Kazakhstan

Iran has acknowledged that two separate explosions targeted the power supply lines to its two main uranium enrichment facilities. Iranian nuclear chief Fereydoon Abbas alleged that “terrorists and saboteurs” may have infiltrated the IAEA, which asked to visit the facilities the day after the explosions.

Iran

Caspionet

Articles:

New York Times Articles: Los Angeles Times India’s Communications Minister offered to help Turkmenistan improve its educational and information technology infrastructure during a visit this past week. Suggestions included joint ventures, satellites which would deliver lectures by Indian professors, and a provision of inexpensive “Aakash” tablets to Turkmen students. Newstrack

Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon visited the Gorno-Badakhshan autonomous region this week. The region has witnessed a recent surge in unrest and violence. President Rakhmon promised amnesty for any rebels or warlords that voluntarily turn in their weapons, but vowed that he would not negotiate with criminals.

Tajikistan

Turkmenistan

Chicago Tribune

Articles:

Montreal Gazette

Articles:

FirstPost

An Uzbek court ordered the seizure of all subsidiary holdings of Russian mobile operator MTS in the country after charges of embezzlement and tax evasion were brought against four employees of the company. MTS has denied all charges and declared the seizure illegal. MTS’s holdings in Uzbekistan are believed to be valued at $700 million.

Uzbekistan

Russian-Mongolian military exercises will begin in Buryatia. The RussianMongolian combined force will carry out an imaginary anti-terrorist operation. The Selenga 2012 exercise, the code name for the military operation, involves about 250 Mongolian troops.

Mongolia

Businessweek

Articles:

Turkish Weekly

ZeeNews

Articles:

Mad Mongolia

Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are committed to building a nuclear plant in Lithuania. The Baltics want to cut their dependence on Russian energy sources. There will be a referendum on October 14th to decide the future of the nuclear project.

Country News Digest

Estonia

Baltic Course

Articles:

The Czech Republic has banned the sale of any liquor over 20% ABV, after 19 people have died in recent weeks from contaminated bootleg liquor that was passed off to kiosks and sold as legitimate. The liquor has contained methanol, which in low doses can cause illness and in high doses, blindness and death. Wall Street Journal

Czech Republic

Bloomberg

Articles:

Washington Post

Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius opened up an exhibit dedicated to the children of the Holocaust. The exhibit, titled “Butterflies,” is named such because the butterfly “symbolizes childhood cut short abruptly for so many children by the Holocaust tragedy, whose life was as short as that of a butterfly.”

Lithuania

After a similar move from Poland which also borders the Czech Republic, Slovakia has banned all imports of Czech liquor, the Slovak Health Minister announced this week. This follows the hospitalization of ten people for methanol poisoning, traced back to “plum brandy” originating from the Czech Republic.

Slovakia

Lithuania Tribune

Articles:

Government site

Slovak Spectator

Articles:

Prague Monitor

Latvia still plans to join the Eurozone in 2014, despite the current euro crisis. Latvian Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis said next year his government will ask the European Central Bank and the European Commission for their assessment of Latvia’s fitness to join the single currency and apply for membership.

Latvia

Opposition parties have staged a hunger strike against Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s proposal to require voter registration ahead of upcoming elections, saying that such a measure would have a detrimental effect on the fairness of elections. MTI news service has estimated that registration could cut voter participation by 25%.

Hungary

The Guardian

Articles:

Leta

New York Times

Articles:

Businessweek

Bootleggedliquor containing toxic levels of methanol from the Czech Republic has killed five people in Poland. Poland has since banned the imports of all Czech liquor. The ban will last for one month, giving the Czech government time to sort out the issue. In the meantime, the ban does not apply to Czech wine or beer.

Poland

The Romanian Const. Court ruled that an ordinance preventing the Court from hearing challenges to Parliamentary decisions was unconstitutional. The decree was passed by PM Victor Ponta and the center-left Parliament during their unsuccessful attempt to impeach center-right President Traian Basescu this summer.

Romania

Chicago Tribune

Articles:

Wall Street Journal

Fin Channel

Articles:

NineO’Clock

Bulgaria’s accession to the Schengen Zone has been delayed due to concerns over neighboring Romania. Dutch and German officials have so far opposed expansion of the Schengen Zone while they seek to determine if Romania is capable of fulfilling the requirements of membership following the recent political turmoil in the country.

Country News Digest
Croatia

Bulgaria

Slovenia is threatening Croatia’s ascension to the EU over a banking row worth at least €160 million. The dispute concerns the now defunct Ljubljana Bank and the break up of the former Yugoslavia.

Standart

Articles:

Novinite

EU Observer

Articles:

EuroPolitics

Albania is in the process of turning Communistera bunkers into tourist attractions. The government is planning to put beds in the bunkers, then rent them out to tourists. In one coastal town, they are turning a bunker into a hostel that will allow residents to “savor the countryside through the bunker’s slits.” Travel-News Serbia is creating programs to helped its impoverished Roma population. The country is setting aside 50-70 million euros in aid to the Roma people, but they continue to live in destitution.

Albania

TheParliamentar y campaign officially kicked off in Montenegro this week, about a month before the official election day scheduled for October 14. The process will be monitored by the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and the Oranization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Montenegro

Articles:

Financial

Balkan Insight

Articles:

Balkan Insight

Serbia

The Deputy Prime Minister of Serbia has announced that a referendum might be held forcing citizens to choose whether to recognize Kosovo or join the EU. Although the EU so far has only required Serbia to normalize relations with Kosovo, Serbian officials speculate that the EU might stiffen requirements to full recognition.

Kosovo

Turkish Weekly

Articles:

Eurasia-Review

Business Week

Articles:

Balkan Insight

Macedonia has officially descended into recession according to the State Statistics service. This past quarter marked the second consecutive quarter of negative growth and saw Macedonia suffering from a massive 31% unemployment rate, according to estimates.

Macedonia

Leaders of Slovenia’s largest Union have signaled they are ready to negotiate with the government on proposed reforms. The reform plans include raising the retirement age to 65, making it easier to hire and fire employees, and setting up an agency that would take over the bad debts of state banks.

Slovenia

Washington Post

Articles: Focus Info Agency

Reuters

Articles:

Slovinian Times

Country News Digest
The ICTY will give former Bosnia & Bosnian Serb leader Herzegovina Radovan Karadzic threehundred working hours for his defense. The amount is the same that was given to the prosecution to prove Mr. Karadzic’s guilt on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Mr. Karadzic had requested six-hundred hours but was denied. The presentation of the defense is scheduled to begin October 16. Balkan Insight

Articles:

Calgary Herald

The Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies is a U.S. Department of Education Title VI-funded National Resource Center (NRC) that strives to increase understanding and appreciation of the cultures and challenges of the region stretching from Central Europe to the Pacific and from the Baltic to the Mediterranean, Black and Caspian Seas

Box 571031, ICC 111, Washington, DC 20057-1031 Email: ceres@georgetown.edu Tel.: (202) 687-6080 Fax: (202) 687-5829

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