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Country News Digest Y Y Y Vol.2, Issue #9
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Editor: Eugene Imas Contributors: -Joseph Gates -Matthew O’Brien -Bree Swineford -Jillian Tetirick -Grace Tran

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03/18/13-03/22/13

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On Thursday, several leading human rights groups condemned the crackdown on journalism in Azerbaijan. According to the the groups’ statements, March 2013 has seen seven journalists arrested, and the human rights groups called on the Azerbaijani government to work towards more freedom of expression.

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Azerbaijan

Country News Digest
Russia

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Last week, Russia concluded its investigations into Sergei Magnitsky’s death and stated that the Hermitage lawyer suffered no physical abuse while in prison. These findings contradict those by the 2011 human rights council under thenPresident Medvedev, which found that Magnitsky was killed by being denied urgent medical care. Businessweek

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CPJ.org

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HETQ.am

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Bloomberg

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Georgia was among several countries that the European Union has identified as cooperating well with the EU under the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy. The report praised Georgia’s “mostly free and fair” parliamentary elections but pointed to the judiciary’s lack of independence as an area for improvement.

Georgia

The Agricultural Ministry is near to closing a deal on grain exports through July. The Ministry has overseen grain exports as a result of last year’s drought that caused a 29% decline in wheat harvests. Ukraine has so far exported over 800,000 metric tons of grain this month alone.

Ukraine

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Eurasia Net

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EurActiv

Bloomberg

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BusinessWeek

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The runner-up in the recent Armenian presidential elections, Raffi Hovannisian, has vowed to extend his hunger strike, which began on March 10, until the winner, Serzh Sargsyan officially renounces the election results. Experts doubt that Hovannisian’s efforts will pay off, pointing to his inability so far to convince the public that the elections were rigged.

Armenia

Global Post

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In an interview with Russian TV channel Russia Today, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko made a backhanded remark towards Germany’s homosexual Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle. “I forgive women for their lesbianism,” he said. “But I will never in my lifetime forgive men for being gay.” Last week the EU and Belarus withdrew their ambassadors over a new round of sanctions for human rights violations.

Belarus

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RFERL

Euronews

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Spiegel

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The leader of the Kurdistan’s Worker’s Party (PKK), Abdullah Ocalan, called for the militants to cease active combat with the Turks. In a letter read out to a large crowd gathered in Southern Turkey, Ocalan wrote, “We reached the point where weapons should go silent and ideas speak...A new era starts when politics, instead of guns, comes to the forefront.” Many view Ocalan’s declaration as a critical step towards peace. Articles: The NY Times Bloomberg

Turkey

The European Commission’s report on neighboring states praised Moldova for its significant reforms and progress. EU-Moldovan relations are governed by the European Neighborhood Policy. The latest report will be used in determining the availability of EU funds for Moldova and other EU neighbors.

Moldova

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Europa

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The Kyrgyz government has declared its willingness to renegotiate the 2009 agreement with Canadian mining company Centerra Gold Inc. (CG). Last month Parliament gave the company three months to agree to new terms before the government reneged on the Kumtor mine deal. This will be the fourth round of negotiations with Centerra since the mine was first developed in the 1990s. Articles: Eurasianet Bloomberg

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Kyrgyzstan

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The US has agreed to gradually withdraw its troops from Wardak, a strategically important region of Afghanistan where insurgents are known to operate. Afghan security forces will fill the void left by the American troop withdrawals. The plan follows weeks of accusations by President Karzai that US troops were engaged in abusive behavior towards the civilian population of Wardak. Articles: Washington Post VOA

Afghanistan

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A court in northern Kazakhstan has ordered that over one hundred confiscated Bibles and other pieces of Christian literature to be burned. Freedom watchdog organizations, such as Forum 18, have decried the ruling, blaming Kazakhstan’s recently adopted harsh religion law for the crackdown on “non-traditional” faiths.

Kazakhstan

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In a strongly-worded speech, Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei threatened to raze Israeli cities Haifa and Tel Aviv to the ground should Jerusalem make a preemptive strike against Iranian nuclear facilities. While US President Obama expressed hope for a diplomatic solution during his visit to Israel this week, Khamenei stated that Israel was too small to be Iran’s main adversary and instead pointed to the US as a “center of animosity.”

Iran

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Dushanbe is now demanding Russia allocate additional military aid and investments in hydropower systems before it ratifies an agreement signed in October 2012 for a Russian military base in Tajik territory. Last year Russia promised a $1.3 billion military aid package to Kyrgyzstan but only $200 million to Tajikistan. The 201st military base is Russia’s largest military contingent in Central Asia.

Tajikistan

The presidents of Afghanistan,Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan met in Ashgabat and signed a preliminary agreement on a railway that would link the three countries. Construction is slated to begin in July in Turkmenistan.

Turkmenistan

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Central Asia Online

Eurasianet

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RT

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Khaama

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Conflicting reports have surfaced about a recent skirmish on the UzbekAfghan border. According to Uzbek authorities, on March 14 ten Afghans crossed into Uzbek territory, attacked the border guards, and tried to seize their weapons. The border guards responded with fire, killing three Afghans. However, Afghanistan’s border guard commander insisted that on March 17 Uzbek border guards attacked and shot seven Afghans, killing three. Articles: Trend Eurasianet

Uzbekistan

A high-ranking Mongolian official has announced that the government plans to open 66 percent of the Sainshand Industrial Complex to private investment. The industrial park will be positioned adjacent to a railway that connects China and Russia and is intended to serve as a developmental model for other provinces in Mongolia.

Mongolia

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Bloomberg

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NZweek

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Standards of living are on the rise in Estonia. According to the most recent census, average dwelling space for Estonians has increased from 24 to 30.5 meters since the last survey ten years ago. The number of rooms per person has also risen to 1.25. The majority of dwellings included in the survey were apartments rather than separate houses.

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Estonia

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MND Group, a Czech oil and gas producer, has reached an agreement with Gazprom to build a $128 million underground gas storage facility. Construction will begin in 2014 with an intended operational date sometime in 2016.

Czech Republic

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ERR News

Articles: The Baltic Course

4-Traders

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Lithuania has decided to grant political asylum to former Belarusian intelligence officer Stepan Zakharchenko, Lithuanian authorities announced last week. Zakharchenko fled his native country last year when he refused to give an oath stating that he would shoot unarmed protesters if ordered to do so. He was severely beaten and hospitalized for his stance before escaping to Lithuania.

Lithuania

Slovakia joined Slovenia as the only two states to vote against the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Slovakia’s opposition is unlikely to alter the course of CAP reform. Irish Agricultural Minister Simon Coveney says the 25-2 vote represented a strong mandate for him to proceed with drafting CAP reform before Ireland’s EU presidency ends in June.

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Global Post

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RFE/RL

Euractiv

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European Voice

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Hundreds of Latvians marched through the streets of Riga this week to commemorate the service of Latvian troops that fought alongside Nazi forces during World War II. Protesters who gathered alongside the march displayed large pictures of Holocaust victims and blared sirens and music to disrupt the procession. Four protesters were arrested following the incident.

Latvia

The Minister of Human Resources of Hungary has requested that journalist Ferenc Szaniszlo return the prestigious Tancsics Prize that he was awarded last week, after Israel and the United States complained about the journalist’s record of antiSemitic reporting. Minister Zoltan Balog claims that he simply did not know of Szanislo’s record when he awarded him the prize.

Hungary

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Associated Press

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RIA Novosti

Bloomberg

Articles: Israel National News

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Nineteen miners were trapped underground in western Poland this week when a small earthquake caused tunnels in a copper mine to collapse. The mine, which has operated since the late 1960s, is owned by Poland’s largest copper mining company KGHM. The miners were trapped nearly half a mile underground for seven hours before being dug out early on Wednesday.

Poland

On Tuesday Romanian President Traian Basescu met with US Vice President Joe Biden, who assured Basescu that Romania will not be affected by Washington’s recent decisions on the antimissile shield. Last week US Defense Minister Chuck Hagel said the US was altering its plans by placing missile interceptors in Alaska, but interceptors in Romania are to be ready by 2015.

Romania

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BBC News

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Huffington Post

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Romania Insider

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The number of selfimmolations in Bulgaria has grown to seven, after two more protesters set themselves on fire. The protesters who committed acts of self-immolations this week did so out of desperation and poverty. According to hospital staff, one of the protesters constantly repeated, “I am fed up, there’s no bread, I cannot stand this anymore.”

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Croatia

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Bulgaria

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Zdravko Mamic, the Executive Director of Croatia’s most successful soccer team, Dinamo Zagreb, was arrested this week after making racially charged remarks about Education and Sports Minister Zeljko Jovanovic, an ethnic Serb. Mamic has been released pending trial and has been criticized by officials throughout the country. Business Recorder

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Global Post

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The Economist

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RFERL

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Albania has agreed to accept 210 members of the Iranian opposition group Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) who are living at a former US military base in Iraq. Last Saturday UN envoy in Iraq Martin Kobler and US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Barbara Leaf held talks with Albanian authorities on the security and housing situation for the MEK members. The arrangement is temporary while the UN works to permanently relocate the Iranian oppositionists.

Albania

With the presidential election only a few weeks away, Montenegrin political observers favor DPS candidate and current president Filip Vujanovic’s chances to hold onto his position. Municipal elections in Niksic showed strong support for the DPS and will likely carry over into the presidential election. Vujanovic is up against independent candidate Miodrag Lekic in the April 7 election.

Montenegro

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RFE/RL

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AFP

S.E. Times

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Glas Srpske

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Serbian President Nikolic met with US VicePresident Biden while both were in Rome to celebrate the inauguration of Pope Francis I. Nikolic told reporters that he had informed Biden of the real status of Belgrade-Pristina relations as “certain information arriving in the US did not correspond to the actual situation.”

Serbia

On Thursday, the Kosovar Minister of Trade and Industry met with Pakistan’s first ambassador to Kosovo to discuss new business relations. Pakistan’s ambassador to Kosovo stated that he was optimistic about the new partnership and hoped to initiate joint business ventures with Kosovo.

Kosovo

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The Nation

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HispanicBusiness

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The Tribune

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Macedonia is going to extend its visa-free regime to Ukraine for another year. Ukrainians who enter the country must have valid passports and sufficient funds to cover their stay.

Macedonia

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Prime Minister Alenka Bratusek’s new center-left government was approved by lawmakers this past week. The speedy acceptance of the new four-party coalition was seen as a necessity as the country struggles with the economic downturn affecting many European states. Bratusek is the first female prime minister since the country seceded from Yugoslavia in 1991.

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ForUm

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Kyiv Post

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Chicago Tribune

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The European Bank Bosnia & for Reconstruction and Herzegovina Development (EBRD) has agreed to lend €35 million to cofinance the Vranduk hydroelectric plant on the Bosna river and upgrades to the Kostela hydroelectric plant on the Una river. EBRD has invested a total of €1.5 billion in 100 projects in Bosnia and Herzegovina with a focus on infrastructure, support for small and medium businesses, and strengthening the financial sector. Balkans.com

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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

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

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